On 27 February 2018, Senate formally approved the transition from the Centre for Africa Studies (CAS) to the Centre for Gender and Africa Studies (CGAS). This new identity is the result of the natural convergence of the cognate fields of Gender and Africa Studies at the UFS.

Before 1998, learning and research on Africa and African issues at UFS were focused mainly on comparative religious and cultural studies between Africa and the Near East. In 1998, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) approved a bachelor programme for Africa Studies. The Programme for Africa Studies was finally implemented in 2002 as a postgraduate programme and resided in the then Department of Afro-Asiatic Studies, Sign Language and Language Practice. Since 2002, the University of the Free State engaged in discourse about its positioning as regional and international institution resulting in the acceptance of the Africa focus as strategic priority in 2006.

A brief history of the Centre for Africa Studies (CAS) 2007-2017:

  • An Executive Approval was issued on 16 June 2007 to establish an independent Centre for Africa Studies as part and parcel of the University of the Free State’s accelerated endeavour to further implement its policy of Africa focus. The establishment of the Centre of Africa Studies at the University of the Free State, the fourth one on the continent, acknowledged that no university can exist in isolation from its immediate context and underscores the necessity that all disciplinary knowledge bases have to be contextualised, and that the choice for contextualisation as well as the particular choices made is closely related to a context of justification and a particular logic related to these choices. The name itself reflected the reality that Africa Studies is not a discipline in the narrow sense of the word, but a field of study in which the African continent and its dynamics and challenges are spearheaded in disciplinary and interdisciplinary programmes. The postgraduate offerings were designed to allow articulation from various academic disciplines, but mainly from human and social sciences.
  • The Centre for Africa Studies was officially launched on 5 November 2007 at a gala function held at the University of the Free State.
  • Since its inception, the Centre has emphasised knowledge exchange and cooperation with institutions in Africa and elsewhere through programmes of exchange and joint research projects and was therefore mandated to support the UFS declared policy of regional commitment and an internationalisation of academic activities, with preference given to the African context. This included an agenda of recognition and critical engagement of historical realities of the continent as well as engagement with neglected modes and values of knowledge production and dissemination.

A brief history of Gender Studies:

  • In 2001, the Gender Studies programme was established in the Faculty of the Humanities to address broader societal challenges in terms of gender equity and equality. This was in response to the inequitable promotions policy in the Faculty at that time and the establishment of an Employment Equity Group.
  • Since its establishment, Gender Studies have been affiliated with various departments and divisions (Sociology, English, Office of the Dean) depending on the location of its programme director at the time. This lack of stability has meant that Gender Studies had little administrative support and could not develop to its full capacity.
  • In July 2010, the Faculty of Humanities approved the housing of the Gender Studies programme at the Centre for Africa Studies due to the inherent similarities in both sets of programmes in terms of structure and delivery. The decision enabled the Gender Studies programme to benefit practically in terms of office space and seminar rooms, and from the administrative support and mentoring made available by the Centre.
  • By 2017, the Africa and Gender Studies programmes shared a fully integrated management structure with processes, rules and requirements aligned and integrated. After an external departmental review, a name change was proposed and set in motion.


T: +27 51 401 2240 or humanities@ufs.ac.za

Marizanne Cloete: +27 51 401 2592

Neliswa Emeni-Tientcheu: +27 51 401 2536
Phyllis Masilo: +27 51 401 9683

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