29 September 2022 | Story Gerda-Marié van Rooyen | Photo Stephen Collett
Prof Irikidzayi Manase
On 8 September 2022, Prof Irikidzayi Manase gave his inauguration lecture, themed, The stories of our lives, being human, and the literary and cultural imaginings thereof – past, present and future, in the Equitas Auditorium.

Earlier this month, Prof Irikidzayi Manase gave his inauguration lecture, themed, The stories of our lives, being human, and the literary and cultural imaginings thereof – past, present and future, in the Equitas Auditorium. Prof Manase, who completed his PhD in English Studies in 2007, has 15 years’ experience as a full-time university lecturer. He joined the University of the Free State (UFS) in 2014 as Senior Lecturer of Literary and Cultural Studies in the Department of English. This academic is a C2 NRF-rated researcher who has published a book and various articles and chapters. He joined forces with several South African and African academics and researchers on topical issues such as pandemic literature and being human. Intrigued by stories, this academic started reading at an early age. 
Being human

Prof Manase is interested in the power of stories to make sense of being in the world, everyday stories, and stories that make sense of this world. "I am interested in stories that draw the social-political and aesthetics of our past, present, and future. I aim for stories that, upon our close listening and reading, make us realise our shared location on this global space and the commonalities we have."
He says narrated stories enable people to conceive new opportunities, identities, goals, communities, and practical paths to realise such possibilities.
“Being human is to learn from others and to see that our story interacts and links with stories of others, which should influence us to think that the future is dynamic and offers possibilities … These stories should make us realise we are in this world linked together by shared experiences and through similar social-political aesthetics. The idea of where you come from or what you experience can make us feel like having a shared experience, considering that the same social-political and economic-historical circumstances influence most of our lives.”
The pandemic’s influence 

He referred to his family’s return to Zimbabwe during COVID-19, the difficulties they endured at the border post, and the stories shared. “These stories were vibrant … We create stories. We sometimes don't understand or do not seem to think theoretically about the footsteps we make when we create stories.” He referred to the work of Paolo Giordano, which puts things into perspective. “One of the scholars who influenced our project on how contagion works says pandemics force people to think. Crisis moments have that effect, as it engages us in storytelling to create understanding out of the crisis as told by others.” This story lover draws on perspectives from Foucault and Muskovit that state stories are always dialogue-bound. “Stories speak to each other. When you create or leave a story, it should speak to other stories lived by other people.” He says everybody has a story on the COVID pandemic, whether it is about survival or death. "It created a global sense of shared courage and empathy in humanity.”

Prof Manase dedicated his lecture to his family, friends, colleagues, and his late mother, who taught him the value of hard work.

Prof Manase Inaugural lecture
From the left; Prof Heidi Hudson, Dean: Faculty of The Humanities, Prof Irikidzayi Manase, and Prof Chitja Twala, Vice-Dean: Faculty of The Humanities. Photo: Stephen Collett

Watch recording video below:

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