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HomeWealthMusawenkosi Donia: Africa's Youngest Female PhD Holder At 23

Musawenkosi Donia: Africa’s Youngest Female PhD Holder At 23

By Prudence Minayo

Musawenkosi Donia Saurombe is a mother, a wife and a professor at the University of Johannesburg. Unlike before when professors came from a much older stock, young people are now changing this narrative. Not only has Musawenkosi become a professor before the age of 30 but in 2017, aged 23, she graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Industrial Psychology, becoming the youngest female PhD holder in Africa. She is a part of a number of global organizations and her research has been printed in various publications. 

Here is the story of Musawenkosi Donia Saurombe as told by WoK


Her family lived in Botswana when her mother, out of love for her country, went back to Zimbabwe to give birth to her. Both her parents were teachers although her mother did not pursue teaching professionally in order to raise her three children. However, she took the time to homeschool her children before they began going to school. She instilled in them a very strong foundation in education, teaching them things other children their age had no knowledge of. 


She began her education at Phakalane Primary School in Gaborone, Botswana. Afterwards, she proceeded to Legae Primary School followed by Legae Academy High School. By the age of 16, she was a student at South Africa’s North West University where she pursued a Bachelor of Commerce in Human Resource Management. At the age of 20, she graduated with a Bcom Honors in Human Resource Management and at 21, graduated with a Master of Commerce in Human Resources Management, with distinction. Musawenkosi Donia PhD thesis was based on the Management perspectives on a talent value  proposition for academic staff in a South Africa Higher education Institution. The thesis passed without any directions. 


In 2017, she was working as a postdoctoral research fellow at North-West University before she was made a senior lecturer at the University of the Free State Bloemfontein, South Africa in 2019. 

In 2021, she became an Associate Professor at the University of Johannesburg. In this role, she gives lectures on Human Resource Management and Industrial Psychology courses. She also supervises postgraduate research at honors, masters and doctoral levels. 

The professional has been recognized for the various roles she has played in education in the society. She is a strong fighter for the empowerment of women and youth and also believes in equality. In a part interview, she said that the male also need to be empowered so that empowered females have strong counterparts. Musawenkosi Donia believes that God has been the center of her journey and milestones and would like to be remembered as a true African child.