NMMU PhD graduate attributes success to mother’s sacrifices

APRIL 14, 2016

Nigerian-born Kayode Ayankoya, 41, who is graduating with his PhD in Computer Science from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, values the sacrifices his mother made for him to be educated.

Bolaji Ayankoya was denied the opportunity to have education beyond primary school, not because she was not bright enough but because she was female – her twin brother was able to study further. As a result, she insisted that Ayankoya and his five sisters be educated.

“I will never forget the day my mother pawned her well-treasured wedding dress for me to go back to school and continue my eighth grade. I feel very indebted to her and my late father for all they have done for me,” he said.

Now, he is once again supported by an important woman in his life. ”I am blessed to have the support of my wife, who granted me the time I needed, to complete my qualification.”

Ayankoya had the added challenge of being an ordained minister and juggling family-life, the ministry, academics and work.

“My kids are very young and I felt like I abandoned them for four years.” He has three children under the age of 10.

His wife, Yemi, a full-time minister with two Master’s degrees, assists him in pastoring 16 congregations in Port Elizabeth.

“I always encourage my congregation to improve themselves so I decided to literally practise what I preach and study further.”

In 2012, Ayankoya started his MBA at NMMU and has since completed his PhD in the minimum required time of two years. “It was very difficult and I spent long hours on campus but I knew I had a goal and that kept me going.”

His thesis, titled “A framework for grain commodity trading decision support in South Africa”, investigated evolving Big Data concepts, tools and techniques for acquiring, integrating and processing relevant data from several sources, to provide decision support for grain commodity farmers in South Africa.

“The purpose was to enable the farmers to get the best prices for their commodities in real-time. Previously, grain commodity farmers struggled to get the best prices for their commodities because of the need to monitor and interpret a vast amount of data from several sources. They did not have the time, skills or resources to do this,” said Ayankoya.

His thesis proposed a framework for building a decision support system, which was then implemented to create an integrated data source.

“Furthermore, a predictive model was implemented as part of my thesis, using artificial neural networks for predicting what the price of grain commodities would be in the future. Price predictions from the model out-performed price predictions by several industry experts over the same period,” he said.

Ayankoya currently works as a Statistical Programmer at Quintiles Transnational in Johannesburg, and commutes to Port Elizabeth, where his family lives.

“I would like to specially thank Profs Andre Calitz and Jean Greyling and all the academic and non-academic staff in the department of Computing Sciences, who create an environment where people can grow. I would also like to thank Prof Margie Cullen of the NMMU Business School for being such a wonderful mentor. I am a Madibaz at heart forever,” says Ayankoya.

Image: Nigerian-born Kayode Ayankoya (third from right), who is graduating with his PhD in Computer Science from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, is surrounded by those who helped him attain his qualification, (from left) mentor Prof Margie Cullen, co-supervisor Prof Jean Greyling, wife Yemi, mother Bolaji and co-supervisor Prof Andre Calitz.