Identical twins who joined UFH with a dozen matric distinctions combined, transitioning well at Varsity

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Identical twins Aphindile and Ziphindiwe Mpenge walked through the doors of the University of Fort Hare (UFH) at the beginning of this academic year armed with twelve matric distinctions between them, ready to embark on their journey towards academic excellence as first-year students.

Hailing from Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape, the 19-year-old duo is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Nursing qualification within the Faculty of Health Sciences. As the first semester draws to a close, they reflected on their transition from high school to university life, attributing much of their ease to the welcoming campus community.

"At first, we were anxious, navigating a new environment but we discovered that the university community was friendly and we quickly found support among our peers and lecturers, which has made the journey much smoother."

Adjusting to the academic workload has been their primary focus, acknowledging the significant shift from high school. "It's a different ball game but with proper planning and preparation, we believe it's manageable."

The Mpenge twins were born on 11 November 2005, to a mother who is a teacher by profession and a father who is a former miner, and they have been inseparable since.

According to them, their remarkable intellectual abilities were evident from early as Grade R.Top of Form

“Our Grade R teacher noticed that our learning capabilities were advanced when compared to our classmates. As such, she would send us to the Grade 1 class where we would spend some time learning and interacting with the study materials, and we were able to grasp it with ease.”

 Despite being labeled as naturally gifted by the people around them, the twins emphasize the role of hard work in honing their abilities. “All our lives we have been told that we are clever by nature. As we grew older, we realized that it is a gift that is further appreciated through hard work.”

Never leaving each other’s side throughout their 12 years of primary and secondary schooling, the Mpenge twins obtained their matric at Thabazi Senior Secondary School in 2023. Aphindile scored level sevens (between 80% and 100%) in all her seven subjects while Ziphindile obtained five level sevens.

According to them, Fort Hare became an obvious choice to further their studies. “A lot of people that we know back home studied at Fort Hare, even the majority of past pupils from our high school studied here and we witness how they attained success after obtaining their degrees.”

In addition to having physical resemblance and being equally intellectually gifted, the twins also do a lot of stuff together. They wear the same clothes, eat the same food at the same time, and often say the same words at the same time.

Asked what their favourite module was this far, they both exclaimed in excitement: “Psychology!” followed by soft chuckles from both.

They also seem to share the same aspirations for the future and that is to graduate with their first degrees together and further their studies up to doctoral level.