Themba Muchaneta was a much-loved MBA2021 alumnus who sadly passed away in 2022. The Themba Muchaneta scholarship will support one Black in Business MBA scholar, who will commence study in 2023. This scholar will carry forward the legacy of Themba’s impact at LBS; the positive impact he had on everyone around him and on all the important initiatives he was a part of. Like Themba, the scholar will contribute to racial equality at LBS and beyond and the Black in Business Club.
Getting to know Themba; the gentle giant, the symbol of hope, the change-maker
Within this article, we are honoured to share some heartwarming contributions from those that knew Themba best, his family and friends. We hope the following contributions shine a light on how wonderful Themba was as a person, how he advocated for equality, and how he became a voice for anyone that was struggling.
Themba’s early years can best be described as a symphony of struggle and success. Themba attended St Augustine’s Missionary School in Zimbabwe and studied Systems Engineering at Loughborough University in the UK. Themba strived and evolved to be the best, he recognised that there was always so much to learn and so many ways to grow, and through it all, he was never deterred by challenges. Themba had to take on part jobs to supplement his tuition and living expenses when financing his studies. He would later comment that the experience built his resilience to succeed in whatever circumstance. It was this life journey that gave birth to his quote, “Failure was not an option.”
Themba’s early professional years, the next nine-year period prior to London Business School, was captured by Themba’s work with Mott Macdonald. He took on different roles in the London and South Africa offices as a systems engineer consultant. In this role, he travelled a lot and was exposed to wealth disparities in different communities. He learned to lead by example, seeking potential in every individual, and finding huge satisfaction in seeing individuals thrive under his leadership. He was known for connecting the dots to processes, providing a fresh perspective for those he worked with. Themba had a brilliance of mind that excelled and illuminated other’s paths.
The man, the dream, the legacy. Themba constantly challenged himself, pushing himself to move forward. It was this drive that led him to LBS. Themba chose to study for a Master of Business Administration (MBA), and while studying he interned for the startup company ALCHERA Technologies.
Themba actively contributed to the LBS Africa Club where he found space to highlight the disparities that exist within societies due to unequal distribution of wealth and lack of opportunities, especially among minority, marginalised and poor communities in Africa, the UK and all around the world.
He was appointed the President of the Africa Club in 2020. Themba Muchaneta in many ways became the opportunity and the possibility that we all needed. He became a symbol of hope, and he was the light that beckoned to all who knew him and those who came to know him to aim higher. Just as fire gives off warmth and draws people to it, so did Themba’s legacy of inclusion.
London Business School, as an international institute, gave Themba the opportunity to have influence locally and internationally, using the space of his presidency of the LBS Africa club and his involvement with the Black in Business community. These platforms allowed him to shine a light on issues close to his heart like social injustice, wealth distribution disparities and lack of educational opportunities.
Even as Themba embarked on his next phase at Amazon, he did so with passion, dedication, integrity and a sense of adventure that made everyone want to participate. His curiosity and imagination challenged him to step into uncharted territory. He sought to facilitate change. At times from the background, he played a significant role as a change-maker, remaining present, consistent, engaged, and graceful yet full of energy, life and ideas.
Themba’s presence and impact will forever be felt because it remains in all of us whose lives crossed his as we carry the ideals forward, by being forces of change in our spheres of influence. He saw beyond the horizon.
Themba volunteered his time at the Greenlight refugee response, where he connected with people searching for opportunities. He shared this with his friends and family at the time, “I volunteered to go to Calais thinking I was going to make a difference by helping individuals who had no hope. Instead, I met resilience at its best. I met individuals who were not deterred by obstacles but were stirred forward by dreams and the hope that lay ahead. I was challenged to dream and hope! I count it a blessing that I do not have to face some of the challenges that these determined individuals face.”
Themba’s legacy embodies humanity at its best, selfless and seeking out the best in everyone. Whether brief or long, Themba never touched a life and left it the same.
With this honour, we imagine a huge smile on Themba’s face, yet still not satisfied that the work is done, but feeling that there is more to be done to make the world a better place for everyone. He believed if we all played our part, individually and collectively we could turn dreams into reality.
We trust that this scholarship, named in honour of Themba K.I.G. Muchaneta will transform a life which in turn will transform lives. To London Business School, we thank you for nurturing the best in Themba. You created and allowed him space to flourish and indeed he did flourish. Within these walls, he evolved as he turned his dreams into reality. Themba thrived and he was happy at LBS. He was proud to be part of its community. He dreamt of a future he wanted for himself and for others with a smile that belied the long hours of assignments.
For those who didn’t know Themba well, you would assume he was quiet, maybe reserved, but you would never underestimate his strength. For those of us who were fortunate enough to share close moments with him, he was our beloved gentle giant. He was our fearless sole leader of The Africa club. He was our photographer during hikes in the UK and travels in South Africa and Kenya. He was a basketball player in his free time whether through the LBS Basketball club or in his neighbourhood and could be spotted in the distance by his bright yellow Warriors cap. He never hesitated to pick up the phone for a quick or hours-long call to catch up. He would always show up and lend an ear to anyone in the LBS community, even after graduation. He was a comedian in his own right, his humour coming across as subtle, yet refreshing. He taught us that you don’t need to be the biggest or loudest person to have a great impact. He put thought into the words he spoke, often captivating our attention and expanding our minds. Themba was a classmate, a resource, and a friend who genuinely cared about the people he came in contact with.
It is fitting that a BIB scholar will have the honour of receiving a scholarship bearing his name because we’re sure that in some way he will have contributed to that student’s presence at LBS. It was a pleasure to feel the passion he had for promoting opportunities for people of Black and African descent. Themba, we look forward to carrying on your good work and ensuring that your legacy lives on in all of us.