03 March 2021 | Story Giselle Baillie | Photo Supplied
Residence members who led the project, included: Bohlokwa Rantja, the Residence Prime, and Transformation Committee members Nsuku Mutemela, Ofentse Motlakeng, Phindile Tjale, Madinku Mabala, Mmapopi Motshoso, Karabo Shuping, and Tagane Sekete.

The University of the Free State (UFS) Council approved and adopted Lehakwe House as the new name for the NJ van der Merwe residence on the Bloemfontein Campus. The approval on 26 November 2020 followed a lengthy process of deliberation, consultation, and public engagement that has taken place since November 2019 and is aligned with the UFS Policy on Naming and Renaming. The name-change process was initiated by the Prime and Transformation Committee of the residence, guided by the Unit for Institutional Change and Social Justice and supported by a multi-stakeholder committee representative of the residence, the Housing and Residence Affairs Office, the Department of Student Affairs, the Student Representative Council, and alumni.

Lehakwe – a precious gem

Following a lengthy evaluation process of the names submitted through a public voting and recommendation platform in July 2020, ‘Lehakwe’ – a Sesotho word referring to a ‘precious gem’ – emerged as the front runner. As many current and past members of the residence attest, this womxn’s residence has come to occupy a significant space within the hearts and minds of UFS students and the UFS community, given that its spirit has always been closely aligned with the constitutional values of dignity, equality, and freedom and with the human values of ubuntu. In this vein, the new name of ‘Lehakwe’ presents a consolidation of constitutional and university values into the day-to-day thinking, learning, living, and legacy spaces of students, as well as everyone who interacts and engages with the UFS. 

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