Bheku-Baba Tembe was born on the 27th of August 1985 and raised in KZN in an underprivileged environment and an impoverished home. Bheku became deaf at the age of two, but this handicap did not demoralise him in the least. He attended the V.N. Naik School for the deaf in Newlands East, Durban and matriculated in 2008. Bhekubaba was undecided as to which career path to follow.
In the interim, the National Institute of the Deaf (NID) conducted an intensive search countrywide, as they were looking for new learners for the jewellery trade. During their search, they came across the motivated Bheku who was immediately selected and invited to enrol at the Institute. Being inspired, he then had to make a difficult decision to move away from his family to follow his newly chosen career path.
Hence in 2011, he left KZN and travelled to the Western Cape, where he enlisted at the NID based in Worcester. During the training period, he learnt all about the jewellery industry at reputable jewellery manufacturing companies in Cape Town. In 2014, he went on to graduate from the NID where he successfully completed the NQF levels and obtained certificates in Level 2 – National Certificate in Jewellery Manufacturing, Level 3 – National Certificate in Jewellery Manufacture in a Mass Production Environment and Level 4 – Further Education and Training Certificate in Jewellery Manufacturing Operations.
Being away from home for such an extended time took a toll on Bheku and as a result, he then opted to return to KZN to commence the Graduate Development Programme (GDP) in jewellery manufacturing, which is funded by the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA). He started a two-year internship training at a jewellery manufacturing company in 2015. However, as the training was inadequate, midway through, he requested from the MQA to transfer him Pneuma Jewellers in Johannesburg and so in 2016, he again moved away from home.
Due to the lack of quality training, his skill level was at a lower standard than that of his peers, who also commenced in the same year. With the assistance of our in-house trainers, Bheku caught up and has accomplished a high skill level and successfully completed the GDP in 2017. Bhekubaba is currently being trained in the MQA Learnership for Diamond and Gemstone Setter and is one of the “Super Artisans” being trained at Pneuma. Upon completion of his training, he will be one of the highest-skilled jewellery artisans entering the market and will therefore also be eligible to obtain employment at a top manufacturing company. Pneuma has focused on empowering the deaf learners with extra skills to compensate for the disadvantage of being deaf and are proving that high-quality skills and a positive attitude, rise above being disadvantaged.