“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” — Nelson Mandela




The University of Johannesburg, SACHi Chair Teaching and Learning

At the age of 30, Mthobisi Ndaba has completed his PhD and written three books. He tutored and lectured at the University of the Witwatersrand before recently joining the University of Johannesburg as a postdoctoral fellow. He primarily conducts research in the fields of higher education and teaching and learning. He is part of a team conducting a study on epistemic disruptions at four universities in South Africa. This entails data collection, organising and analysis and knowledge dissemination in the form of writing for publications and giving seminars and conference presentations. It also involves research supervision. 

Mthobisi is passionate about education and runs a successful publishing company which is focused on inspiring young black writers who would otherwise not be able to put their work out there. Mthobisi has a large social media following and regularly inspires youths via podcasts, YouTube channels, Instagram and Facebook videos, and live chats on topics around subjects such as education, mental health and well-being. Mthobisi says what drives him to excel is the desire to inspire others to do and be better. “From my time in high school, I learned that my academic excellence made many young people in my school and community look up to me. I decided that my drive to excel should be to help others,  especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds like myself, to see that they can do it too.”

  • PhD Education, Wits
  • MA Sociology, Wits
  • B. Social Work, Wits

  • 2016 Award of Excellence in Sociology Master’s Degree
  •  2015 Certificate of First Class (SOCW 4004) Research Report
  • 2015 John Grey Medal (Social Work)
  • 2015 Certificate of First Class (SOCW4001)
  • 2014 Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship
  • 2014 Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship
  • 2014 Certificate of Merit (SOCW3001)
  • 2014 Certificate of First Class (SOCW3005)
  • 2014 Certificate of First Class (PSYCH3023)
  • 2014 Certificate of First Class (PSYCH3022)
  • 2013 Certificate of First Class (SOCW2001)
  •  2013 Certificate of First Class (SOCW2001)
  •  2013 Certificate of First Class (SOCL2012)
  • 2013 Certificate of First Class (PSYCH2020)
  • 2013 Certificate of First Class (PSYCH2005)
  • 2012 Certificate of First Class (SOCW1005)
  • 2012 Certificate of First Class (SOCW1001)
  • 2012 Certificate of First Class (PSYCH1009)
  • The greatest milestone so far has been completing my PhD in Education in 2022.

One day, my mom and I did not have enough food. I ate my plate and I wasn’t satisfied. She gave up hers, so I could have enough. This pushes me to fight to never get back to that situation again. I work hard to achieve my dreams, so that my family and my children in the future can have a better life than we had in the past.

I would say: Always build and cherish relationships because it takes more than what you can do by yourself to achieve something great in life.

I dream of a South Africa where young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, have equal access to quality basic and higher education and training. South Africa with a rapidly growing economy that can provide decent jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for young South Africans to thrive. I am hoping for a South Africa with a stronger reading and writing culture than we have right now. I would like to see more South Africans writing and reading their own stories. I would like South Africa to have high levels of active citizenship among young people, who I believe have the potential to provide the solutions to many of our social, economic and political challenges as a country. I would like to see a united South Africa.

View previous winners from 2018 to 2022

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