The story of Matthew Ncube

Matthew Ncube (Zimbabwe, MSc International Development Studies)
I like grass roots action. By helping my brothers grow their own food to get them through the Covid-19 lockdown I immediately bring the knowledge and skills I learn in Wageningen to positive practice.
Matthew Ncube (Zimbabwe, MSc International Development Studies)

Matthew Ncube studies International Development at Wageningen University. He grew up as part of a large family in a small village in Zimbabwe. As the 13th of the 15 children, he is the first and only to study at university. His sisters got pregnant at an early age and his brothers did not continue their education after high school. ‘I come from a very big family and a region with many problems, which has shaped the way I approach challenges and partly explains why I chose development studies in the first place.’

Matthew’s good results in high school enabled him to study in South-Africa, where he got a merit-based scholarship for an (honors) bachelor in Development Studies at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. During his studies he was an intern for various NGO’s, among which Oxfam Novib and an organization for women’s rights. A guest lecturer told him about Wageningen University. He enrolled for the master International Development and after a few unnerving months heard he was selected for an Anne van den Ban scholarship. ‘I was so happy! Tears of joy.’

The province where Matthew grew up struggles with major problems such as poverty, famine, drought and unemployment. ‘Matabeleland needs to catch up with the rest of the country. We need to make sure that at least everyone goes to school. Now there are not enough teachers, and the schools are far away. Education makes people self-dependent. It makes families free from depending on one breadwinner, as the consequences of that person’s death would be devastating for all people depending on him.’

'What I like about the courses in Wageningen is that they are highly applicable. You learn what you can do with the means available. I like grass root action’ It inspired Matthew in one of his study assignments to start working with his own brothers. ‘I convinced them to start growing their own crops to make sure they get through the Covid-19 lockdown with enough food. In that way I can immediately put the knowledge and skills I learn in Wageningen into positive practice.’