Very few people have the stamina and courage to change their career paths at the age of 79. NWU student Jacob Seboko is one of those few. Here he has a friendly chat with vice-chancellor Prof Dan Kgwadi.

Prof Linda du Plessis, deputy vice-chancellor for planning and campus operations in Vanderbijlpark, listens attentively as Jacob outlines future plans.

For first-year student Jacob, 79 is just a number

They say age is a case of mind over matter, and if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter! For Jacob Seboko, almost eight decades of existence is a sign of maturity rather than old age.

Jacob is an excellent example of life-long learning and an inspiration to his fellow students.

At the beginning of the year, he joined 9 954 other students starting out as NWU first years. At 79 years of age, Jacob – who has lovingly been dubbed “Madala Jacob” by his fellow students – proudly sports his purple first-year t-shirt.


“You are never too old to learn something new. And not just the ordinary, but something that could change how you understand the world.”


Having said this, Jacob, who is registered for several subjects at the campus in Vanderbijlpark, hopes to qualify for admission to the Postgraduate Certificate in Education in 2020. His ultimate goal is to be a professional educator.


“I have a head for figures and a knack for accounting and economics, both subjects that are in great need of qualified teachers.”


Back at varsity after 23 years


This is not his first experience of higher education or the university. He completed a bachelor’s degree in public administration in 1996 at the former Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education’s campus in Vanderbijlpark. He followed this up with a diploma in Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) at Unisa.


After his wife passed away in 2009, Jacob – who practised as an ABET educator – increasingly felt the need to fill the hours of loneliness by keeping mentally fit.“I have so much time on my hands and by the grace of God, I am still blessed with good health,” he explains. Education is a way for him to keep busy and at the same time accomplish a lifelong dream.


Education changes you


Asked what his fellow first-year students think of his return to the books, he says: “I would like to think that I motivate them to take their education seriously.


“There are those who say that my time has passed, but I believe in perseverance. They will come to see: education changes a person’s being. It humbles you, but also lifts you up. Education is a blessing.” Jacob, who hails from Heilbron “in the old Transvaal”, completed his schooling in 1966.




The NWU & U


Please send us your comments, suggestions and any other contributions you would like to make, for instance photographs or news snippets.


We value your opinions and input – after all, the NWU & U belongs to us all.




Next Article

previous article



more info



Jacob enjoys the company of members of the Student Life Directorate, Thami Mangezi and Setshego Mholo.

Learn more about Jacob in the video below, in which SABC News interviews him.

NWU & U  |

NWU & U  |