From Gwabalanda to world’s top tech firms, Twitter

The Chronicle

Lumbidzani Dima, Chronicle Reporter
RAISED by a single mother who worked as a maid, a young man from Gwabalanda suburb in Bulawayo found himself landing at one of the world’s top tech companies, Twitter.

Eric Khumalo (26) did his primary at Matshayisikhova Primary School in Luveve, Ordinary Level at Mzinyathini High School in Esigodini and then moved to Mpopoma High School for his Advanced Level.

His father passed away when he was seven years old, there was a new twist in Mr Khumalo’s life as it unfolded.

In an interview, Mr Khumalo said the trail of love left by his father kept them going as a family.

“I was raised by my single mother, with four of my siblings, me being the middle child. My father passed away before I started my first grade, but his love for his queen still keeps us moving, hopeful and together,” said Mr Khumalo.

He said his mother worked as a maid to help take care of them.

“She raised us well, just look at what a fine young man I turned out to be!” he said.
Mr Khumalo said he received two special gifts that shaped his life, from his mother and uncle; an interest in Mathematics and Sciences.

“The first was given to me by my uncle when I was doing my Grade Six in 2006. He visited from Botswana and brought me a scientific calculator, an atlas and a second-hand copy of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

“The second and most heartfelt gift I have ever received was from my mother. She copied an entire Student’s Companion on an A5 Croxley 3-Quire Counter Book. She even used that four colour pen to make sure that the book was very captivating to read. She could not afford a new one,” said Mr Khumalo.

His education was financed through BEAM and other agencies since grade three.

“I benefited from BEAM, and multiple individuals and agencies to finance my education. The Methodist Church, Luveve branch played a pivotal role in supporting my mother with raising us,” said Mr Khumalo.

He finished his Advanced Levels at Mpopoma High School in 2013 attaining straight As in Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Further Mathematics.

In March 2014, he started volunteering as an A-Level Maths teacher at Nketa High School as payback to school’s headmistress, Ms Siphathisiwe Ncube who once gave him a lift in 2011 on his way back home when he was tired of walking from extra lessons.

“I also taught at Mate Secondary School, John Landa Nkomo High School in the second term of 2014 and first term of 2015 respectively. I spent the time in between as an Intern at the American Corner in Bulawayo, now Nust American Space.

“While teaching at J Landa, I used to visit Tsholotsho High School on weekends to volunteer with teaching Advanced Level Maths. The school hired me as an assistant and teacher for the month of April and May, before I went to study in the US,” said Mr Khumalo.

He started his undergraduate studies in 2015 and graduated last year with a BA in Data Science from the University of California, Berkeley, USA where he was a MasterCard Foundation Scholar.

“I was initially supposed to study chemistry at Bekerley, but then I met some professor who told me how cool studying computer science is, and shifted my focus. Creating something out of nothing is indeed cool so I went for it,” he said.

Mr Khumalo was an intern at Twitter every summer in 2016, 2017 and 2018 working on Account Security, AntiSpam and Information Quality Teams respectively.

He now works as a data scientist and privacy engineer at Good Research in Silicon Valley in the US.

“The year after finishing my first-year computer science class, I applied for an internship in a number of companies. I then got it at Twitter after every summer when we closed at university.

I learnt so much about the system, users, how to build tools, how to protect user privacy, among other skills,” he said.

Mr Khumalo also worked with Berkeley Research IT on High-Performance Computing in partnership with the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.

Mr Khumalo has created online coding classes for Zimbabweans with the aim of helping them attain scholarships abroad.
He is the founder and head instructor at Emzini weCode, an initiative focused on democratising access to computer science education in sub-Saharan Africa.

He is currently enrolling 1 200 students, with 1  000 of them being Zimbabweans for the class that will be offered online from January 30 to April 29, 2022.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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