Two friends who always had each others back at their rural KwaZulu-Natal school, have netted sixteen distinctions between them – beating a system lacking even the most basic resources with little more than willpower and a hunger to better themselves.

Having the school principal in their corner hugely boosted their efforts, and putting in the hours with them, has brought the rewards.

Lindokuhle Mazibuko, 18, received nine As, and his best friend, Samukelo Nxumalo, 17, got seven As in their 2015 matric year at Amangwane High School, a quintile two school in Oliviershoek in Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal.

The no-fee school depended on government hand-outs. The money allocated to the schools has to stretch a long way.

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There’s the maintenance, the electricity bill, paying for extra study aids, to name a few.

So when the 2015 matric results were announced, two names jumped out – Lindokuhle and Samukelo – best friends since they met in Grade R.

Now both are going to further their studies at the University of Stellenbosch. Concerns about paying for their tuition is a reality though, but they have already overcome so many hurdles that “praying for miracles” is a phrase they use with practiced ease.

At their school, as many as three children were forced to share a textbook and many had never seen the inside of a well-equipped science laboratory or a library.

Now the two friends hoped to give back to their rural community.

Mazibuko, one of two children, came to Amangwane in Grade 11 after relocating from Johannesburg where his mother was a teacher. He was currently living with his grandparents.

“To be honest, I did not put in any extra effort. I just worked hard from the first day until the last day of school”

“To be honest, I did not put in any extra effort. I just worked hard from the first day until the last day of school,” he said.

Mazibuko thanked his dedicated principal, Nhlanhla Dube, for pushing him to work hard.

“We have a matric programme called the 6-4-6 turnaround strategy. We go to school at 06:00 until 14:00 and then we have a break until 16:00 where we attend class until 18:00 in the evening.”

After school he would do his homework, take a break until 22:00, and study until the early hours of the morning.

“We struggled because we did not have the most sophisticated science equipment, a library full of books, or many computers. We just managed with what we had because we did not have a choice.”

Mazibuko has been accepted to study Medicine at the University of Stellenbosch.

“I want to specialise in neurology and when I am done I am going to come back to my community and open a clinic where the poor can come and see specialists for free.”

He said doctors only visited the area once a week.

“The problem is that nurses can only give you medicine, but they cannot diagnose you and I want to change that.”

Mazibuko was surprised when he got a call from South African DJ and music producer Euphonik (Themba Nkosi), informing him he was willing to pay for some of his tuition

“He said he would help with flights, food, and help out whichever way he can. We met him last week with my gran and I am very happy that he has offered to help.”

DJ Euphonik told News24 he saw Mazibuko’s story on Twitter.

“I was impressed and wanted to see how I could help. It is a very inspiring story. I got in touch with the journalist who helped me find him and I’ve been in discussions with him about what he needs.”

He said he would assist Mazibuko financially and wherever else he could.

“I also just try ease as much pressure off him as possible so he can focus on his studies,” he said.

“Lindo has will power and has achieved amazing things in terrible circumstances. Most of us would have given up or come up with excuses [not to succeed] or blame someone else. In one of his subjects that he got 80% for, he didn’t have teacher, nor a text book,” said Nkosi.

Nxumalo said he was excited to start a next chapter in Cape Town, with his best friend still on the same journey.

The eldest of four children, he was raised by a single mother. He wanted to study Earth Science and specialise in Hydraulics.

He attributed his success to listening and asking questions in class and doing past papers.

First in family to attend university

Nxumalo said he would be the first in his family to go to university. He was praying for a miracle because his family could not afford his tuition.

“I am worried that I have to be in Cape Town in a few days and if I don’t get a bursary or a sponsor, I will have to stay behind.”

He said he and Mazibuko met in Grade R and went all the way to Grade 7 together.

“We parted ways and met again in Grade 11 when he came to Amangwane, and now we are going to go to the same university.”

He said Mazibuko’s dedication inspired him.

“We do everything together, we study together and we love to sing gospel songs. When we put our minds on something, we do it,” said Nxumalo.