28 May 2019 Photo Charl Devenish
UFS Africa celebration
I am not African because I was born in Africa, but because Africa was born in me,” Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president, and a founding father of the African Union.

Since the African Union’s establishment in 1963, the continent marks Africa Day on 25 May annually. To commemorate the achievements made by African leaders 56 years ago to decolonise the continent and pave the way for a united front on the global stage, the University of the Free State (UFS) hosts various events.

Ubuntu our beginning, ubuntu our ending 

The university celebrated Africa Day a day early this year. The Office for International Affairs coordinated the 2019 Africa Day Reflection and Celebration on 24 May 2019 at the Bloemfontein Campus. A dialogue session delved into the question of what ubuntu has evolved to mean in modern-day society and how best it can be embodied.

Moderator of the dialogue, Ace Moloi, reckoned that “we have a right not only to give ubuntu but to demand and invoke it from other people.” Staff, students and panellists engaged on the aphorism umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu and whether the philosophical principle is a pragmatic way of doing things or is only referred to when self-correcting.

Prof Colin Chasi, from the UFS Department of Communication Science, touched on how ubuntu is embedded in many Nguni languages. A case in point being the implied presence and connectivity typical found in indigenous language greetings. Other panellists including Prof Karin van Marle( Public Law lecturer at the UFS), Thapelo Mokoatsi,History lecturer at the UFS and Matau Setshase, UFS researcher, made contributions on decolonisation, individual identity, reconciliation, social issues, and traditional healers. The consensus reached was that a lot work still needs to be done in understanding and living the values represented by ubuntu.

Qwaqwa Campus Celebration

The Office for International Affairs (OIA) also hosted the first Annual Africa Day Student Dialogue on the Qwaqwa Campus under the theme: Health, Wellbeing, Access, Social inclusion, Equity and Equality on the African continent.

Africa Day Memorial Lecture

Presenting the 2019 Africa Day Memorial Lecture, Prof Francis Nyamnjoh, from University of Cape Town, delved into the topic of Ubuntuism and Africa: Actualised, Misappropriated, Endangered and Reappraised. “I seek to give currency to concepts such African communitarianism, ubuntu, Africanness, Afrocentricity, Afrocentrism, Africanity, Afrikology, humanness, wholeness and reciprocal altruism,” he said.

Hosted by the Centre for Gender and Africa Studies on 22 May 2019 the annual lecture is a calendar constant which reflects on the importance of celebrating the continent and its people.
Migration debate unpacked borders 

The UFS Debate Society reflected on borders and migration in Southern Africa on 21 May 2019. The debate unpacked the topic: The Southern African Development Community should develop a free internal migration policy. 

Lecturers also delivered presentations that dissected African societies, the nine frontier wars between the British and amaXhosa that formed South Africa’s borders, and the influence of labour and capital on migration. In closing, African international students shared their lived experiences, hardships and triumphs within the continent.

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