Life Beat Me. Then I Beat it Back (Hard)

My name is Teaman Manzini and I am a boy who was born in a rural village called Cork, in 1987. I grew up in a big family: both parents, four brothers and six sisters.

No-one ever spoke to me and my siblings about education.

When I was 19, both of my parents died, as well as three of my sisters and my grandmother. School became extremely difficult: I was not good at writing and reading because I was traumatised. I lost focus and was not coping at all. It was so difficult to see my friends reading newspapers and books, while I could not.

I started to lose hope and instead focused my attention on girls. It wasn’t long before my girlfriend became pregnant.

I became a father at the age of 21. I didn’t have an education and I was jobless.

I decided to move to Johannesburg to look for a job – I needed to feed my son. After a couple of months I found a job and things started going well for me. I had money. I had parties. I had girls. In fact, life was so good that I forgot about my son. I stopped sending money to my girlfriend so that she could feed my son.

I stopped calling home.

And then I lost my job.

As you know, when the days are dark, friends are few. My decision was to run home with my tail between my legs. Many of my friends had matriculated and many were working. I had neither, and even worse, I had to face my family, including my son, who I had abandoned.

My aunt Glory – who works at Londolozi – was the one who said to me: “Teaman, go and study. Learn computers.”

I was afraid to study and I still did not understand the importance of learning. My first day at Hazyview Digital Learning Centre was so difficult: I was scared to say something in the classroom and once again, my reading and writing were so far behind.

That’s when I asked for help.


Teaman at his ICDL Advanced graduation ceremony in March 2014.

Today I have my International Computer Driving License (ICDL) certificate, and my advanced ICDL in Excel (I am studying for Word at the moment). I have completed an online course in Food & Beverage Management. I have just finished the vida e caffè Barista theory module, and will soon be training baristas in Mpumalanga. I also volunteer as a digital facilitator at the Open Learning Academy, helping grade four students from rural schools to improve their English and math’s literacy using apps. I am reading K Sello Duiker’s 13 Cents and I am a member of the Good Work Foundation Media Academy.

I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t believe in goals. I didn’t believe in education.

Now I am proud to say that I believe in myself. My aunt taught me that lesson. She gave me hope. She told me I could make it in life.

Written by Teaman Manzini. Created by the Good Work Foundation Media Academy.


Teaman making a cappuccino at vida e caffe 24 central in Sandton.