Change the world


Despite his father’s wish for him to be become a mine worker, Khulekani Yakobi (30) has managed to become an academic, and will be graduating with a PhD in Computing Science and Information Systems at Nelson Mandela University on 12 December. 
“Ufunde mntanam” (you have learned my child) were my mother’s last words in the hospital encouraging me to study further, just before she died when I was 11 years old. Since my mother died, education has become a priority in my life, says Khulekani, a lecturer and Acting Manager for the Directorate of Short Learning Programmes at Walter Sisulu University. 
His dream job is to be an established academic, researcher and consultant to business and government. He enjoys lecturing, research and doing community engagement and is passionate to share ideas, collaborate and develop concepts. He also plans to commercialise his research findings in the future. 
“My father, a mine worker, in Rustenburg, North West, would say “ndizozama ukufaka ezimayini” because all youth in my hood, after completing grade 12 would become mine workers”, Khulekani said. 
He had no money to study further and his father would not support any studies so a friend advised him to go to the Eastern Cape where he was admitted as a walk-in at Walter Sisulu University (WSU) in Mthatha for a National Diploma in Office Management and Technology. He struggled financially and found a job as library assistant in his second year. 
He used his savings to go to Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) where he studied for his BTech and MTech Office Management and Technology, and also worked as a library assistant. In his second year of his MTech studies, he enrolled in a graduate training programme (virtual banking programme) with Guarantee Trust. 
“My life drastically transformed when I started working full-time job as lecturer at WSU and then enrolled for a PhD at Mandela University”. He married, became a father of a son and a daughter, lost his father, and lived through the pandemic. He believes that if you are determined to achieve something in life, you need to be ready to face turmoil”.
Khulekani always knew that he wanted to obtain a doctorate degree as he was now exposed to world-class scholars and academics. What motivated him to do a PhD was the gap that he identified as the need to extract knowledge from social media data and convert it into actual intelligence. He developed a framework that provides guidelines, including methods and tools, to incorporate social media analytics into decision-making for citizen relationship management in governments.
His aim was to finish his PhD when he was 30 years old, but because of his brother’s tragic death, he was unable to submit it in 2021. The journey was tough and full of challenges but he achieved a lot. He published three articles, two book chapters, and one conference paper, and attended international conferences as a result of his PhD research. 
For his research, he worked with different government offices, such as the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG), the Free State Provincial Government (FSPG) of South Africa, and the German North-West Metropolitan Region.
“What kept me moving was having time for everything and not always focusing on my PHD. I had time for family, time for the gym, time for church and time for my PhD”, he said.  
His research focused on a social media analytics framework for decision making in citizen relationship management. Khulekani conducted focus group discussions with government decision makers and analysed Twitter data. The Tweets related to Covid-19 and vaccination perceptions of citizens. 
One department has already successfully used social media analytics to identify trends in Covid-19 and to respond and adjust service delivery accordingly. His research also discovered some new and advanced features of PowerBI for data visualisation to assist the South African government in conducting social media analytics projects. 

Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160