Talent Excellence and Equity Scholarship winner, Mr Ntokozo Khuzwayo, is congratulated by his fiancé, Miss Sanele Mhlongo, and his mother, Mrs Thabi Khuzwayo.

Scholarship for Pure Mathematics Masters Student

Masters Mathematics candidate Mr Ntokozo Khuzwayo has won a Talent Equity and Excellence Acceleration Scholarship, awarded to Black South African students who achieve academic excellence and aim to follow a career in academia.

The prestigious award, funded by UKZN, enables the University to grow the next generation of academics.

Khuzwayo, the only South African student on the Pietermaritzburg campus to have registered for a Masters in Pure Mathematics, graduated summa cum laude with an Honours degree in Mathematics during the April 2019 graduation ceremonies, at the same time receiving the Hanno Rund Mathematics Award for the Best Honours Project in Pure Mathematics.

His Masters research is focused on differential geometry, involving the study of the geometry of curves, surfaces and manifolds. ‘I study the geometry of manifolds called the Kähler manifolds, a special type of complex manifold,’ said Khuzwayo. ‘I intend to determine the relationship between locally conformal Kähler structures and Kähler structures, as these structures have important applications in classical mechanics.’

Khuzwayo chose this field because of its abstract nature and its applicability to other fields including general relativity. ‘By doing research in this field, I am positive that my work will be used someday to solve real life problems,’ he said.

Khuzwayo grew up in the village of KwaKhoza in Eshowe where he attended Imfihlo Primary School and Phindulimi High School, being raised by his grandmother while his parents were away working. He chose to study at UKZN because of its good reputation in research and teaching.

He said receiving the Talent Equity and Excellence Acceleration Scholarship was a great honour and would make it possible for him to help increase the number of mathematicians in South Africa.

‘I enjoy making a lifelong impact on other people’s lives. I hope to be one of the world’s best mathematicians.’

Khuzwayo aims to be a source of inspiration to students attending disadvantaged high schools, and plans to encourage them to work hard, believe in themselves and to consider mathematics as a career choice.

Khuzwayo thanked his supervisor, Professor Fortuné Massamba, for his guidance and for being available whenever Khuzwayo needed him. He also thanked his parents for their support and his primary school and high school teachers for being a source of inspiration.

He acknowledged the support of postgraduate colleagues he shares an office with, especially Mr Tebogo Kgothi and Mr Mohamed Hamed.

While his studies do not leave him with much free time, when he does have a gap, Khuzwayo uses this time to attend church or play chess.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal