Exiled Army General, Street Seller and Graduate
From exiled army general to street seller to BSc graduate at UKZN – it’s been quite a journey for Mr George Ilangila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
After completing his first degree in the DRC in 1988, he joined the army and served as a general in his home country before being forced to flee to South Africa as a refugee during a time of conflict.
Before the commencement of his studies at UKZN, Ilangila worked as a security officer for Enforce Security Services in Durban. He then became a street vendor in Durban, selling sweets and chips.
Determination and strong will, however, ensured that he made numerous enquiries about funding opportunities that would enable him to resume his studies.
Ilangila registered for a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus and finally, thanks to a bursary from the Gift of the Givers, he was able to complete his degree successfully.
Ilangila believes that it was his perseverance and strong faith that brought Gift of the Givers to his rescue.
Readapting to study schedules and to new study methods and technologies, compounded by the language barrier (his previous studies had been in French), Ilangila found the first year of study torturous. With the assistance and encouragement of the staff within the discipline of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, however, and with the support of Mr Aslam Safla of the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, he managed to regain his confidence academically.
Ilangila also drew his solace, strength and inspiration from members of the Carbis Road Jamat Khana.
Ilangila is currently registered for a post-graduate Diploma in Community Nutrition. ‘My undergraduate degree is not the end of the road,’ he said. ‘I aspire to complete a PhD one day and perhaps remain in academia.’