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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

Meet our Council: Ndaba Ntsele – Inspiring entrepreneurs
2016-04-19

Description: Ndaba Ntsele Tags: Ndaba Ntsele

Mr Ntsele
Photo: Stephen Collett

 To call Mr Ndaba Ntsele just a businessman seems like a bit of an understatement. The Executive Chairman and co-founder of Pamodzi Group Limited lives and breathes business, entrepreneurship, and wealth creation. He is also a member of the Council of the University of the Free State (UFS) since September 2013.

His greatest passion is entrepreneurship, and sharing his ideas of self-employment with young (and old) South Africans. “I preach self-employment wherever I go. Everyone knows that unemployment is a major problem in our country. However, people often expect the government or big corporations to provide them with jobs. I like to influence people to start thinking about working for themselves, thereby creating opportunities for employing others,” he says.

His entrepreneurial drive extends even to his time on the UFS Council. Now in his second term, Mr Ntsele has been well placed to get a sense of the kind of contribution the university and its students could make to South Africa, and even further afield.  

“In addition to training students for all the other important industries in South Africa, I think the UFS is ideally situated to create agricultural entrepreneurs. The Free State is one of South Africa’s prime agricultural areas, after all. Food security is an issue worldwide, and it is an area in which we could make a real contribution by training food producers, food technologists, and agricultural specialists. In fact, I think the UFS could become the leading agricultural institution in the country.”

Being the best is something that he strives for continually, while high standards are not something he shirks. In fact, he believes that Council members should hold an institution accountable for maintaining the highest standards possible, whether it is in governance, financials, procurement, or any other areas of importance in an institution.

As the executive chairman of a multi-billion African-owned group with assets across the globe, Mr Ntsele does not have a great deal of free time. However, he enjoys sitting down with MBA students and graduates to share his views about entrepreneurship.

“If I can change their mind-set from ‘others must employ me’ to ‘I need to create my own employment’, then I will feel as if I have accomplished something,” he says.

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