Noni Khumalo

The end of a decade

Allow me to take you on a journey of this Cinderella dress:

After 2 years at the African Leadership Academy (ALA), I had finally reached the end. In June 2010, I left the ALA premises to go graduation-dress shopping with my family. My friend Simone and my cousin Thando came along to ensure that I got exactly what I wanted.

We decided to go to Maponya Mall in Soweto to look for a traditional dress. We were never ready for how ridiculously priced the dresses were; so we started looking for alternatives. We roamed around the mall for a while until we walked into Bogart Ladies.

My eyes were immediately captured by this upper-sequence, olive-green and loud-pink tutu dress. I don’t know what it was about the dress, but I knew it was the one the minute I laid my eyes on it. I walked towards the dress and obviously looked at the price tag because my mom always says: “We buy the price”.

For some strange reason, there was no price tag on the dress. I went and asked the shop assistant for the price and she confidently said: “R4,000.00”. I nearly fainted. There was no way I was going to allow my parents to purchase a dress for that price. She saw the disappointment on my face and encouraged my parents to bargain – who knew one could negotiate prices inside a mall?

After negotiations, the lady took the price down to R2,500.00 which was still quite pricey for an 18-year-old girl. We sadly left Maponya without a dress; but Simone and Thando ensured that my parents went back and bought it – they purchased the dress for R1,500.00. My mom was convinced that the shop assistant thought that we were tourists because of Simone’s unmissable American accent. Bare in mind that we went dress shopping during the ‘2010 FIFA World Cup’ frenzy. 

As I take a moment to think back to 2010, this dress was literally the only thing that made me smile. I had three college acceptances in the USA with no financial aid, namely Depaul University, Emerson College and Eugene Lang College. The worst part was that I didn’t apply to South African universities, let alone know their entry requirements. I was graduating from ALA with no clear picture of where to next – terrifying.

My moment in the dress was short lived because I was drenched in graduation regalia. I immediately had to change into jeans and a t-shirt for a dance performance thereafter. After graduating from ALA with shattered dreams and a bruised ego; I promised myself to change the sad narrative of my Cinderella dress and wear it again when I graduate from university.

After years of hardship, on March 25th 2019 my story changed forever. I was capped by the phenomenal and powerful Dr Judy Dlamini with a BCom degree from the University of the Witwatersrand.

This was by far the best day of my life and the proudest my parents had been after a decade full of tears. I was surrounded by my loving family and that was the only thing that mattered.

It took me 10 years to get here with a couple of angels by my side, let’s meet them…

6 thoughts on “The end of a decade”

  1. Interesting ❤️❤️❤️ And I mean you have been an overachiever that might have pulled you down but you came out stronger…..

    1. You know me well – the “overachiever”. It definitely bruised my ego, but I got through it stronger. Thank you for reading 🙂

  2. Oh wow my Nonners. I really loved this. Just goes to show that we control the narrative and if we’re willing to believe in ourselves and bet on us, we’ll go further💖

  3. Lillian Maboya

    Beautiful, Noni 🙂
    Thanks for sharing and congratulations on the achievement! There’s gonna be more in this new decade!

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