At the end of March, Confidence graduated from University of Johannesburg (UJ) with a diploma in accounting.
Graduating from university is a big achievement. It's been over 20 years since my college graduation and I'm still a little surprised that I was able to do it. Not because the school work was all that difficult but because at the time, it would have been easier for me not to go to college than it was for me to go if that makes any sense at all. Now, as a forty-something year old, I realize that I was given every opportunity in life so while graduating was something to celebrate, not graduating would have been a travesty. But enough about me.
Confidence was not given every opportunity in life. If she had not gone to university, or if she had tried and found it too difficult because of the fees and costs, her government school education prior to, or the fact that she slept on a dirt floor with rats because she didn't have enough money to live in better conditions while in school it would have been understandable. But somehow she did it. Which tells you all you need to know about Confidence.
Confidence invited me to attend her graduation ceremony. Each graduate was given just three tickets and Confidence invited her mother, her father and me. Usually in life when we are invited to a big event to celebrate an important occasion, it's not a surprise, we expect to be invited and we are angry if we aren't. But I didn't expect to be invited and without question Confidence inviting me to attend her graduation is one of the greatest honors of my life.
At the same time, I felt a little bad about it. I wondered if Confidence had extended the invitation to me and then immediately thought of thirty other people that she'd wished she'd invited instead. I gently gave her several opportunities to un-invite me. Not because I didn't want to go, but because if she decided that one of her brothers or an old friend or someone else should attend in my place, I wanted her to be able to invite that person. But she insisted that she wanted me there and so I went.
Being one of the three invitees meant that I spent most of graduation day with Confidence's parents. I had never met them before and I couldn't help but wonder if they were wondering what I was doing there. Keep in mind, I only met Confidence in December of 2016 and by then, she was already poised to graduate. I played no role in helping her or assisting her throughout her college career.
|Confidence, her parents and her diploma.|
After the ceremony we took lots of photos of Confidence and her family and friends out on the UJ campus in the hot summer sun. We posed on the perfectly green lawn and in front of the fountains (does every college have a fountain?) And there I am in some of the photos, where I will remain for eternity as the sole white face. Maybe one day when Confidence is old she will look at the photos and ask herself "what was the name of that white lady?" Hopefully not, as that would mean that she and I would have lost touch.
|Who is that second from the left?|
|Confidence and her mom.|