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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

Students excel in legal interpreting programme
2010-02-24

Prof. Ezekiel Moraka, Vice-Rector: External Relations at the UFS with one of the students who received a diploma.
Photo: Mangaliso Radebe


A success rate of 90% was achieved by the first group of 100 students that successfully completed the two-year Diploma in Legal Interpreting at the University of the Free State (UFS).

The group recently received their diplomas at the ceremony held on the Main Campus in Bloemfontein.

The programme, offered by the university’s Department of Afroasiatic Studies, Sign Language and Language Practice, in collaboration with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority (SASSETA), is the only one of its kind in South Africa.

“The numbers that we are talking about here, if one looks at the needs of the country as such, is a small fraction,” said Advocate Simon Jiyane, Deputy Director General: Court Services in the Department of Justice.

“This is our first programme in collaboration with the UFS and I am hopeful it will lay a very solid foundation for other such programmes to follow.”

The diplomas were conferred by Prof. Ezekiel Moraka, Vice-Rector: External Relations at the UFS, on behalf of the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Jonathan Jansen.

He urged the students to use their skills as qualified court interpreters in the context of the challenges that face South Africa such as HIV/Aids, racism, transformation, unemployment, poverty, job losses, and many other such challenges.

“This is the reality we are faced with, all of us,” he said. “It requires skilful and morally upright people to address it adequately and effectively. You are adding up to the number of skilful people in our country and that means you have a critical role to play.”

He said the UFS, as a societal structure, is equally affected by those challenges because of being accountable to and economically dependent on society.

He also urged the students to use their skills to make contributions to the processes of transformation that are underway at the UFS.

“For instance, the UFS as a national asset has to transform to that level of being a true national asset. We need your full participation in this process so that we can together ensure the relevance of this university as a true South African university,” he said.

Advocate Jiyane urged universities to also look at some of the initiatives that the government takes to improve service delivery. One such initiative is a pilot project focusing on the use of indigenous languages in courts.

“Its aim is to ensure that our courts begin to recognise all official languages in terms of conducting their business,” he said.

“It is our responsibility as a department that, through this project, we begin to build those languages so that they are on a par with the other languages that are being utilised in our courts.”

The department has permanently employed two of the students who received their diplomas, while one of them, Ms Nombulelo Esta Meki, was awarded a bursary by SASSETA to study for a BA in Legal Interpreting. Ms Meki was the top achiever of the programme with an average of 86%.

Media Release:
Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt@ufs.ac.za  
3 March 2010

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