Isivivane inspiration: A bursary lights the path for emerging artist Sami Qoko

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Sami Qoko
Sami Qoko

By Chubeka Kulu, Development Fundraiser, Rhodes University


In the heart of Motherwell, Eastern Cape, Siphiwe-Sami Qoko's journey unfolded amidst the contrasting experiences of a middle-class upbringing and the trials of financial difficulties. Her childhood was shaped by the comfort of a loving home and the challenges of economic uncertainty. Still, it was underpinned by her parents' unwavering belief in the power of resilience and education.

Choosing to study Fine Arts at Rhodes University was a pivotal decision for Sami. Though initially uncertain, the welcoming atmosphere of the university and the familiar streets of Grahamstown (Makhanda) — her father's hometown — quickly felt like home. Here, Sami wasn't just following her passion; she was honouring her family's legacy of dedication and perseverance.

Sami's academic path, however, was fraught with hurdles. The spectre of financial instability loomed large, threatening to curtail her aspirations. But relief came in the form of the Isivivane and Hillensberg Trust bursary, a crucial support that eased the financial strain and allowed her to channel her energies into her studies. This support wasn't merely monetary; for Sami, it represented hope and the embodiment of her parents' sacrifices to ensure she received a quality education. With the bursary's assistance, she excelled academically, securing academic merit at the end of 2023, a testament to her hard work and dedication.

Looking to the future, Sami is not only focused on completing her degree but also on laying the groundwork for a career that transcends financial limitations and embraces the full spectrum of her talents and aspirations. The bursary, in her eyes, is more than just funding; it's the foundation upon which her dreams and ambitions are built.

Sami's narrative is a rallying cry for today's youth, advocating for love, empathy, and self-awareness as drivers of change. She dispels doubts about self-worth with a message of relentless pursuit of one's passions, asserting that determination and belief in oneself will eventually lead to recognition and achievement. "Don’t ever doubt that you’re good enough," she says.

Her story is more than a personal success story; it's a reflection of the transformative impact of education, the importance of perseverance, and the strength derived from the support of loved ones. Sami's journey is a beacon of hope for aspiring artists and dreamers, a reminder that with passion, resilience, and support, anything is achievable.

To contribute to the nurturing of future leaders like Sami, consider making a donation. Your support can pave the way for the next generation of artists, thinkers, and leaders to realise their potential and make a lasting impact. For more information on how you can make a difference, please visit