29-years Old Jilata Makes SA Proud

As Ghana boasts of producing Africa’s first black female Neurosurgeon to be accepted for a residency at the prestigious Johns Hopkins medical school, SA proudly presents Africa’s youngest neurosurgeon.

At only 29-years of age, Ncumisa Jilata is among the new batch of fellows for the Council of Neurosurgeons of South Africa, following her graduation in Durban last Thursday.

Dr Ncumisa Jilata completed her Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree at Walter Sisulu University in 2009 and now she becomes Africa’s youngest neurosurgeon.

“First interested in neuroscience in high school, Jilata says, “I was already in Grade 11 when I decided I want to be a doctor, but at the time I wasn’t doing biology, so when I got to matric I had to do three years of biology in one year, in addition to the subjects I had already selected from Grade 10.

” During that period I discovered the concept of a neurone, which is amazing, and the fact that society as a whole is influenced and controlled solely by the existence of this structure intrigued me,” says Dr Ncumisa Jilata who explained how she developed an interest in the field.

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Of course, the road wasn’t that easy for the now Africa’s youngest neurosurgeon who had to fight had to prove herself throughout her studies in the male-dominated medical field.

Jilata admitted that it is commonplace to be second-guessed when you are a woman, but she is also aware that ultimately, someone’s work ethic is what shines through.

“I worked hard to break through barriers of patriarchy in the field, and to pave the way for other young women, to give them someone to look up to.

“My support system was Dr Coceka Mfundisi, who broke most of the barriers for me so that my time as a registrar was smoother than it would have otherwise been,” she said.

Jilata gave Dr Coceka Mfundisi a call to inform her of the good news and as expected, the Mfundisi was elated by the news as she recalled how Jilata approached her.

“She had heard about me because I had worked in Mthatha for about a year while I was still training as a neurosurgeon at the University of Pretoria; I was the only woman among men and when she told me she wanted to be a neurosurgeon I could already see her working with me at the University of Pretoria, where she later joined me”

“Ncumi’s success is a proud moment for the impoverished community of the Eastern Cape and a victory for every woman, especially because she did everything in record time, at a very young age,” said Dr Coceka Mfundisi.

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The Walter Sisulu University’s spokesperson Yonela Tukwayo said, “We congratulate her on her notable achievement and hold her up as an exemplary role model for all those who are determined to reach for the stars.”

She and many other WSU alumni who are leaders in different fields of medicine and other professions represent the true spirit of our university namesake, Walter Sisulu, Tukwayo added.

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