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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 have a responsibility in SA, says Ntuli
2016-02-19

Description: 2016 SRC presidents Tags: 2016 SRC presidents

Lindokuhle Ntuli (left), President of the Student Representative Council (SRC) on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS), and Paseka Sikhosana, president of the SRC on the Qwaqwa Campus, are in agreement about their vision for the UFS in 2016.
Photo: Johan Roux

You and I have a role to play in building the new South Africa built upon the Constitution of 1996.

These are the words of Lindokuhle Ntuli, President of the Student Representative Council (SRC) on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS). They echo his and the SRC’s message of a “campus for all students, locally and internationally, irrespective of colour.”

Ntuli and Paseka Sikhosana, president of the SRC on the Qwaqwa Campus, were in agreement about their vision for the UFS in 2016.

According to Sikhosana, a well-known slogan accentuates a feeling of uniqueness at the university. “United in diversity. No wonder we say only a Kovsie knows a feeling,” he says.

“As the SRC, we believe that complete transformation on campus is through promoting a non-sexist, non-racial, but democratic student society that acknowledges diversity and change. That further promotes and embraces one student’s difference in terms of culture, tradition, religion, and sexual orientation.”

A new South Africa

Ntuli means students have a responsibility. He referred to a quotation from Frantz Fanon’s book, The Wretched of the Earth, to illustrate this. Fanon was a revolutionary and writer whose works are influential in post-colonial studies. “Every generation has a mission. It is the responsibility of every generation to discover its mission. Once you have discovered it, you have to fulfil it or betray it into relative obscurity,” Ntuli quoted.

According to him, the South African Constitution holds pious promises of a better life for all, and each citizen needs to help to achieve that.

SRC has open door policy 

Ntuli says the UFS remains committed to human embrace, diversity, integration, and human togetherness. He added that the SRC has an open door policy, and will avail itself in helping students.

According to Sikhosana, it is the objective of the SRC to represent the student community in all interactions within the university and externally.

“There is nothing for us, about us, without us students,” he says.

• The above excerpts have been taken from Ntuli and Sikhosana’s respective welcoming speeches to first-year students on the Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa Campuses.

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