IN THE BEGINNING
Khuzwayo’s energy is electric and tangible. He’s excited, exudes positivety,
and proclaims much of his success is due to fate, and life’s “connecting of the
dots”. Life, for Khuzwayo, started in 1977 in Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal where
he went to primary school and in the afternoons would tend to the family’s
cows and goats dotted along the landscape of rolling hills and mud huts.
“There was nothing there. I only saw a TV for the first time when I was 13,” he says. Khuzwayo’s father worked at a mine in Roodepoort. “We would only see him once a year when he was on leave. That’s the way things were at the time,”
Khuzwayo said. “I remember thinking that pain is a great motivator. I wanted nothing more than to make more of my life. Looking at my situation I thought to myself: is this as good as it’s going to get? I decided, I could either complain about it, or use it as inspiration. I thought, I’m going to study to buy my freedom,” he says.
Khuzwayo’s early years were characterised by many “wow” moments. He
was an avid reader and an excellent learner and so he followed his father to
Johannesburg to start high school. He arrived in Jozi to one of the first of these
moments — “I couldn’t believe the tall buildings and tarred roads,” he says. High
school came easy, and upon finishing, Khuzwayo accepted an Eskom bursary to study electrical engineering at the Vaal University of Technology.
This was Khuzwayo’s foray into the world of computers, which up until then,
he had only imagined or seen in newspapers. “I attended a basic computer class where we were introduced to Windows 4.0 — I was amazed that I could type an ‘M’ on a keyboard and it would appear on the screen,” he says.
“Computers gave me that feeling of controlling my destiny. For the first time I could determine the outcome of what I wanted.” Khuzwayo tried to change his bursary to study information technology (IT), but he was told to stick it out, which he’s now grateful for. “Engineering gives you an analytical way of viewing problems,” he says, which in turn has transformed the way he embarks on new business. “I started building websites during my in-service training with Eskom — the first one, in 1999, was actually called Eskom Young Professionals, which was a portal to connect and collaborate with other employees.”
This kind of network is a testament to Khuzwayo’s way of thinking. “So often,
if you open yourself up to an opportunity, you let in the right kind of people.”
Case in point: Lisa and Fanie van der Merwe, a couple Khuzwayo met at Eskom
who became his mentors. “Fanie actually taught me how to write my first line
of code and gave me a book called the Front Page Bible,” he says. “He also lent
me these tapes by Tony Robbins called Awaken the Giant Within. Something
changed after my introduction to these motivational tapes — he inspired me.
Tech entrepreneur Madoda Khuzwayo talks to Wanted about his life’s series of fortunate events, collaborating with Rémy Martin, and his latest appventure.