Honouring opportunity on the steps of change


Dali Tembo’s climb up the career ladder has been swift – a rise fuelled by determination, drive and purpose. But no matter how high he goes, Tembo won’t forget where he began or the people who supported him along the way. He received his first degree at the University of Cape Town in 2005. “This is the place that made me the man I am today,” Tembo says.

On the day of his graduation, Tembo called his father to celebrate. “I’ll never forget that phone call or how proud he was,” Tembo says. “I remember having him remind me that he wasn’t even allowed to be on Jammie steps.” Knowing that apartheid denied his father the chance to be where Tembo was added to the significance of his achievement. “Graduating here was so much more important because I had the chance to make the most of my opportunities,” Tembo says. After studying marketing and business management, he started out as a junior market researcher. Through hard work and perseverance, Tembo worked his way into management. He now advises students and professionals, presents at conferences, and is the managing director at his company.

While Tembo may have racked up the accomplishments, he is nowhere close to slowing down. “I’m always looking to the future,” Tembo says. “But I like to remember where it all began.” The Jammie steps, as they’re known to UCT students, represent change – for Tembo who had the chance to graduate there, as well as for students who have in recent years used the location as a place of protest. “Where I come from, not everyone gets to make it, gets the opportunity to study,” Tembo says.  “I hope that one day soon, all South Africans get the same chance.”