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22 August 2018
Prof Coetzee is retelling old stories in a new book
"Failing to Learn Doomed to repeat" was one of the bookworks on display.

The title of Prof Jan K Coetzee’s latest book, Books & Bones & Other Things, says it all. The book looks into the many aspects that have built our society by presenting in a new way the stories contained in old books collected over the years. 

Prof Coetzee is a Senior Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of the Free State (UFS). Books & Bones & Other Things was launched on 14 August 2018 and coincided with an exhibition of various “bookworks”   art installations by Prof Coetzee that feature old books, sculptures, artefacts, and fossils.
 
Book resulting from research programme 
   

“This is a book on books so the library is the perfect venue to launch a book on old texts as documents of life,” said Prof Coetzee.

For the past seven years he has been directing a Master’s and PhD programme in Sociology called The Narrative Study of Lives. His project, Documents of Life, from which this book came, focuses on a collection of old texts the oldest of which dates back to 1605.

“We live in storytelling societies and for as long as we can remember we have been telling stories. Over time the ability to produce books was born. Any collection of books can tell you a lot about your own life and the society you live in."

“I cannot read the stories of many of these old books because their narratives are closed. I have to re-narrate the books, change the narrative convention and present them in a way that makes sense to me. By combining the books with art and artefacts I want the books to tell their ancient stories in new ways.”

Book launches and intellectual discussions

At the book launch, Prof Corli Witthuhn, Vice-Rector: Research said: “What we have achieved with this launch and exhibition is unbelievable. We always try to create an intellectual space in the library.

“A book such as this is the pinnacle of an academic career. It is multidisciplinary and it looks at the world in a different way. That is what scholarship is about.”

A painting by Robert Hodgins was also handed over to the Johannes Stegmann Gallery, home of the corporate collection of the UFS, at the event. 

News Archive

Leadership is about people, Tsedu
2009-09-16

 
Mr Mathatha Tsedu, Head of the Journalism Academy at Media24
Photo: Dries Myburgh

Modern-day leaders have neither the inclination nor the will to lead the very people who have entrusted them with that responsibility, said Mr Mathatha Tsedu, Head of the Journalism Academy at Media24.

The former City Press editor delivered the 2nd King Moshoeshoe Memorial Lecture at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein last night.

He said the current state of leadership in South Africa was characterised by patronage and self-enrichment.

“The poorest of the poor and our affection for them extends only to public meetings where we mouth socialist slogans. But in reality we want nothing to do with them and they have to fend for themselves,” he said.

“Leadership has to be more than just the power of a mayor, premier, MEC or minister to dish out tenders to friends for projects that never get completed. Projects whose real legacy is the fact that the friend of the leader now drives a Hummer.”

He said leadership had to be about people but acknowledged the fact that it would not happen unless people themselves insisted on that.

“King Moshoeshoe teaches us that leadership is about taking decisions and taking risks. Not only as leaders but more especially as members of the community,” he said.

“We can address our critical challenges only if citizens’ groups, business, labour and broader civil society actively engage with the state to improve delivery and enforce an accountable government.”

He appealed to leaders to follow the example of King Moshoeshoe and always put people first, and involve them, in the decisions that they take.

“This is about concern for others and for self. It is about compassion in leadership and in society, it is about caring beyond own concerns. It is about being involved and engaged. These are the attributes that I feel King Moshoeshoe left us as a legacy of leadership. Leadership not only of the leaders but of the led,” he said.

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt.stg@ufs.ac.za  
10 September 2009

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