Dr Musa Manzi grew up in a rural village at Ndwedwe, KwaZulu-Natal, with his late single mother who could not write her name.
However, years of potholes, poverty and poor schooling did not destroy him but rather inspired him to focus all his energy on God and education.
As a matric student he found himself without a teacher so he taught himself and other students maths, physics and biology and still managed to get 100% for higher grade maths.
“It is a lesson to all young Africans, black or white, that they shouldn’t let the troubles of their past prevent or limit them from reaching their potential,” he says.
“‘Don’t let your past steal your future’ is one of the quotes I live by.”
Manzi’s internationally ground breaking work on 3D seismic reflection data from the Wits Basin has opened up new ways of understanding, among other things, the location of methane gas along underground faults, improving safety, resource evaluation and facilitating economic growth.
He has also collected a host of prestigious local and global awards for his work. This includes becoming the first African to win the international award for the Best Research Paper published in Geophysics of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists in 2012.
He’s currently based at the University of the Witwatersrand where he teaches undergraduate students and supervises postgraduate students.
He is applying for sponsors to fund a 3D seismic imaging lab at the university that will be used to provide students with the skills required to work in the mineral resource industries.
During his spare time, Manzi teaches maths and physical science in township schools, and also works through various churches to help young people enhance their understanding of science.
“It melts my heart to hear a lot of people referring to me as their role model and God’s living testimony.” — Fatima Asmal