“I think supporting young people is the most important responsibility that people with over 50  years of life experience have. It is an easy investment in the future of society.”

A love of the environment is what drove Nokwazi Moyo to devote his entire career to renewable energy and the reduction of carbon emissions. His passion also led him to a role in mentoring young people along the way.

Moyo (61), is an agricultural engineer, working as the national project manager at the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) in South Africa. Zimbabwe. 

Moyo’s work with the youth became one of his passions after he mentored university student Patrick Ebewo (32) who is now a professor of business management and entrepreneurship at Tshwane University of Technology. 

“Working with Patrick was when I came to the realisation that the most important contribution I can make to this planet is by mentoring the youth that will inevitably shape the future of our society. However, Patrick did not only take guidance and support from me, he also ended up marrying my assistant,” said Moyo.

Ebewo remembers his time with Moyo fondly, and says that most of the projects he is involved in today are because of the elder man’s guidance. 

“Moyo’s ability to mentor comes from his willingness to share the wealth of his wisdom with the youth. When you seek help from him, he asks you whether you need money or advice. The money can take you a short distance, but his advice and attention is something you can rely on for a lifetime,” said Ebewo

“I hadn’t done anything to do with agriculture before I met Moyo, and it ended up opening many doors which eventually led to me achieving a doctorate. The funniest part of our story is the fact that I fell in love with Moyo’s assistant, which he was unaware of until he received the invitation to our wedding, where he delivered a memorable speech,” Ebewo said.

Currently, Moyo mentors several university postgraduates on a voluntary basis and in his spare time. Some of his mentees were passed on to him by Ebewo, and many others approached him directly. 

“I have been lucky enough to encounter many more brilliant youths that end up taking on scientific projects that they fully commit to,” said Moyo.

Moyo helped a doctoral student in urban planning, Gamuchirai Mutezo (27), start a project she now calls Madame Waste, which is a 100% black female-owned company based in Johannesburg. Madame Waste is aimed at re-engineering the handling of waste in South Africa, and converting it to energy.

“Coaching Gamuchirai through the Madame Waste project put me deep within my element, because she took an interest in the science behind renewable energy and biofuels, which happens to be my forte. Right now we are mainly working on getting her into the Harvard fellowship program,” said Moyo.

Mutezo said, “ Mr Moyo’s knowledge about renewable energy is what took my initial waste removal plan into a sustainable one, which then gave birth to business, Madame Waste. Even though Mr Moyo is an industry leader, he always finds time to guide and nurture. ”

“It is impossible to count all the ways he has and continues to guide me professionally and academically. I remain ever grateful and look forward to continued growth,” Mutezo added.

One of the youngest people Moyo is mentoring is a University of Pretoria honours student in Occupational Hygiene named Nomsa Mbuyisa (23), who Moyo describes as a “genius type”. 

Moyo said, “Nomsa became one of the most remarkable students I have worked with, because she has been able to take on her academics, as well as the projects I have been getting her involved in, all while raising a baby and maintaining a marriage in her early 20s.”

Moyo is also mentoring another student named Tebogo Maleka (26), who shares his passion for environmental conservation. Maleka, who is currently doing a masters degree in biochemistry at the University of Johannesburg, approached Moyo for help with her quest to engineer biodegradable microbeads.

“Tebogo’s project is very important, because the microbeads that we currently find in our facial scrubs are often made of plastic, and when they get into the water system they do not biodegrade, instead they permanently contaminate the system and negatively affect river and sea life,” said Moyo.

Even past the retirement, Moyo remains passionate about the conservation of the environment,  the principle of efficiency and supporting the youth.

Moyo said, “I think supporting young people is the most important responsibility that people with over 50  years of life experience have. It is an easy investment in the future of society.”

As someone who manages many projects simultaneously, Moyo says that his philosophy in life “is to converge all that [he] does into one project”.

FEATURED IMAGE: Nokwazi Moyo after visiting an hydroponics farm in Midrand. Photo: Thobekile Moyo.