Taxi Boss
Photo Credit: University of Fort Hare

Dr Stamper, the Taxi Boss who has an affinity for academic quests, recently achieved his PhD. He wanted to make his grandmothers proud; reminding people not to be so quick in judging someone by what they do for a living in the process. His story:


Eastern Cape, South Africa (19 May, 2023)—Dr Stamper knows well that people shouldn’t be defined by one part of their lives. Still, when he’s not hitting the books as an academic or the road as a Taxi Boss, Dr Stamper’s on a journey to debunk myths about judging people for their industries, leading by example as a recent PhD graduate.

“I am proud to say, I am a Taxi Boss who is an Academic Doctor,” he shares of his recent graduation at the University of Fort Hare and a family dream come-true. 

Humble Beginnings

Dr Sakhumzi Stamper (32) was born the youngest of seven, raised by his grandmothers in Mount Coke, Eastern Cape. One was a cleaner, the other, a social grant recipient. Stamper knew things weren’t easy for the family financially, so to take the weight off his grandmothers’ shoulders, he became a savvy business owner in primary school already.

“I used to lend my peers R1 and charged interest of 20%. I saved up the money and stocked up on sweets to sell to my mates when I got to high school,” he recalls. 

When he wasn’t building his side hustle, he was soaring through school as an academically gifted student. Looking back, it isn’t surprising that he’d end up combining business skills, academics and determination to achieve his dreams.

Still, the road to where he is now was long, and filled with many winds. Eager to continue learning after graduating high school, he got the opportunity to buckle down for his first degree at Walter Sisulu University thanks to a family friend’s assistance. Human Resources wasn’t his be-all-and-end-all, but it inspired something in him—a curiosity for Commerce.

He graduated cum laude, but the study bug had bitten him. Soon, a B-Tech followed, then an Honours Degree and eventually his Masters in Commerce.

Funding his studies was another story though, leading Dr Stamper onto numerous different paths, sometimes at the same time.

“At some stage I sold airtime, I held down a part-time job at a local pharmaceutical, tutored junior students and worked as an Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) supervisor.”

After his grandmothers passed on during the course of his studies, he felt more than ever that he wanted to honour them with his journey. He shares that they’d been his pillars of strength in making ends meet and support, and so he often pushed on to make them proud.

The Taxi Boss Who Lectures

Along the road in 2018, Dr Stamper pulled his part-time lecturer salary at Walter Sisulu and his tax returns together to invest in a taxi. One became three, and soon, he and his wife Aphiwe were running the business while Dr Stamper continued his academic journey.

His purpose was “to make a name for a child raised by a cleaner and a social grant recipient”, something his wife would remind him when those demotivating feedback notes came in hot.

He also became a full-time lecturer along the way, but the gold at the end of the rainbow was still that doctorate. Working closely with Prof Willie, his supervisor, Dr Stamper finally made it to the academic land of milk and honey, earning his Doctoral Degree in Business Management!

Of his Prof Willie, Dr Stamper shared that the Prof “showed him Ubuntu”.

But, his journey and its recent milestone moment were never for himself alone. For Dr Stamper, the achievement also serves a message for other people in the taxi industry who are often misperceived as uneducated or under-ambitious.

“I hope my story sends a message that taxi owners are also ambitious people with quests for educational advancement. In this industry, we have people with degrees,” he shares.

Source: University of Fort Hare
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About the Author

Ashleigh Nefdt is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Ashleigh's favourite stories have always seen the hidden hero (without the cape) come to the rescue. As a journalist, her labour of love is finding those everyday heroes and spotlighting their spark - especially those empowering women, social upliftment movers, sustainability shakers and creatives with hearts of gold. When she's not working on a story, she's dedicated to her canvas or appreciating Mother Nature.

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