31 May 2018
Celebrating Africa the UFS way
The various events and initiatives that took place during the #UFSAfricaWeek.

The African Union was founded on 25 May 1963 and Africa Day is celebrated to mark the Union’s anniversary. However the entire month of May is dedicated to the commemoration of the continent’s freedom from colonialism and the unity of its diverse people.
 
A series of exuberant events were held on the Bloemfontein Campus last week. The UFS Debate Society officially opened the week, followed by the Annual Africa Day Memorial Lecture. The UFS Sasol Library then facilitated the Voices book launch. A group of students also served the community with meals in the spirit of ubuntu. The week culminated and closed with the UFS Africa Day Commemoration Panel Discussion.

UFS Debate Society: Africa Day Debate
Collectivism and striving for a unified African identity were the key debate points for the day. Tshiamo Malatji, chairperson of the UFS Debate Society, reflected on African histories, presenting a strong case for why indigenous Africans deserve liberation from a brutal past.
 
Lehakoe Masedi, one of the student speakers, outlined the role of communism in conjuring up an image of unity for African citizens and the diaspora. 

10th Annual Africa Day Memorial Lecture
Dr Rahul Rao shed some light on the topic of colonial statues from an international perspective by reflecting on the controversy surrounding the US Confederate statues and drawing from contemporary South African student activism. Dr Rao, a senior lecturer in politics at the SOAS University of London, presented this year’s memorial lecture titled, What do we mean when we talk about statues?, which was hosted by the Centre for Gender and Africa Studies.

UFS Library Africa Day Book Launch

Voices, a book by Kenyan author Abenea Ndago, was launched by the Department of English in collaboration with the Library and Information Services. The book is a compilation of short stories that encapsulate the experiences of Kenyan people living in rural villages and towns. The book explores the balance between two sides of the African story. “I wanted to bring to the fore a balanced story such as the role that was played by Africans in enslaving, disenfranchising and oppressing their fellow Africans, as well the role that was played by European sympathisers who supported liberation movements that stood against oppression, racism and discrimination,” said Ndago.
 
A meal in a jar
Members of the Student Representative Council together with residents of House Kestell spent the morning of 24 May 2018 preparing more than 100 meals. They then went to Heide Primary School and spent the afternoon sharing a hot and healthy meal with the learners.

UFS Africa Day Commemoration Panel Discussion
A panel of intellectual powerhouses such as the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof Francis Petersen; Director of UFS Department of Internationalisation: Mr Cornelius Hagenmeier; Acting Director of the UFS Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice: JC van der Merwe; founder of Embrace a Sister organisation: Pumla Mgobhozi; attorney of the High Court of South Africa and former President of the Student Representative Council (SRC): Richard Chemaly; former SRC President and spokesperson for the ANC Chief Whip in the provincial legislature: Phiwe Mathe; and senior lecturer in the Centre for Gender and Africa Studies: Dr Stephanie Cawood, fielded critical discussions of issues of the continental significance on Africa Day.
 
To quote one of the panellists, Dr Cawood, in her address on decolonising knowledge: “No form of knowledge is absolute. In order to decolonise knowledge we must first acknowledge and incorporate different world views in our curriculum.” Dr Cawood said this in reference to the Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) which she views as a vital driving force for sustainable living and economic development.

Africa Day, at the end of the UFS Africa Week, which ran from 22–25 May 2018, marked the beginning of Africa Month and an endless effort geared towards maintaining unity in diversity.

 



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