AllCommunity NewsJosh Kerwick

Whiz Kids of The Hills

Watching eight-year-old Micah Manyumwa effortlessly spin the sides of a jumbled Rubik’s Cube until it returns to six faces of solid colour is remarkable.

With a personal best of 29 seconds, the amount of time the young Micah has spent learning how to spin each individual part of the cube is apparent as he moves columns and rows seamlessly with different fingers.

Micha Photo Brightened1 Whiz Kids Of The Hills

Micah recalls when he first became interested in the art of speedily solving Rubik’s Cubes, affectionately called ‘Speedcubing’ in the community: “I saw a documentary called ‘The Speed Cubers’, and that one of the guys Max Park had a lot of world records. And I wondered if I could get a record one day.”

Becoming involved with the local speedcubing community has been really healthy for Micah, according to parents Kuda and Ernest. The family of five, which includes younger siblings Joelle and Gabe, moved to Sydney in November 2022 from Johannesburg, South Africa.

Micha Solving Cube 2 Whiz Kids Of The Hills
Micah solving a rubik’s cube speedily

The huge move brought both great excitement and challenges for the family. Kuda says: “We were at a point where we were looking for a new adventure as a family. We were looking at Canada and Australia as possibilities, and when the offer to Australia came through, we were packing our bags within three months. I think we’re grateful we came here, because the Canadian weather would have been on the cold side for us!”

The family decided to settle down in The Hills due to its high number of Christian schools, initially living in Bella Vista but having now recently moved to Glenorie. Ernest says: “We’re loving it here, it’s a great place. We settled in well in Bella Vista, but the kids’ schools are closer to where we are now, so we decided to move. And it’s also a pretty cool place, and very peaceful.”

Though the area has been great for the family, the initial move 14 hours away from home was understandably difficult. Kuda says: “Adjusting wasn’t easy for everyone, but I think Micah found himself something to help him. At first, we didn’t even notice that he was learning to solve a Rubik’s Cube. One day we picked up on it, and we saw that he watched YouTube videos and learned all by himself.

“It really helped him to find a hobby that he enjoys, and attended his first competition for speed cubing in December at Knox Grammar School. There, he was able to meet new friends and solve cubes under different circumstances, which he really enjoyed!”

The communal aspect is part of what makes it so much fun for Micah. He explains: “I can solve the cubes with my friends at school – we all come together and often have a Rubik’s cube session after we put our bags down.”

The Manyumwas Clockwise From Left Whiz Kids Of The Hills
The manyumwas, clockwise from left: ernest, gabe, kuda, joelle and micah

Micah isn’t the only prodigy in the Manyumwa household though: twoyear- old Gabe is able to count past 100 and has some of his times tables already memorised. Ernest says: “Gabe loves numbers – he caught onto them more quickly than anything else. You’ll just hear him counting and then suddenly he’s doing times tables. And we’re thinking ‘Hey, you can’t be doing times tables at two years old!’ Even driving around, he’s reading all the number plates.”

Gabe’s numerical ability has been somewhat of an accepted fact in the family, to the point it shocks others who casually hear him counting or multiplying up to double or triple digits. Kuda says: “A friend of ours highlighted it once and said that Gabe really does have a gift. I think you take these things for granted sometimes, but we’ve been really paying attention to his abilities.”

Kuda and Ernest hope to continue nurturing the respective abilities of their children and seeing them continue to flourish. Kuda says: “With Gabe, I think his siblings have helped a lot, and we’ll keep helping him count higher. For Micah, our aim is to keep exposing him to the local Cuber community, and hopefully see him advance and have some local role models. It’s really good that he has local people that he can look up to who have reached similar heights.”

Micah is hoping to trim his best Rubik’s cube solve time down to 14 seconds. “After that, I’ll be aiming for 3 seconds, which is the world record,” he says. With his speed and commitment at such a young age, there’s zero doubt Micah will be able to achieve this goal in no time.

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