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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

First Black Rag Queen wants to give voice to voiceless
2017-02-22

Description: Coronation ball 2017 Tags: Coronation ball 2017

The winners of the 2017 Amanzi Coronation
ball are, from the left: Devina Harry,
Second Princess; Kgomotso Sebusi,
First Princess; Prudence Mahlaba, Rag Queen;
Suhail Peerbhai, Mr Rag; Jordan Nadasen,
First Runner-up; and Mohlale Matlala,
Second Runner-up.
Photo: Gerhardus Bosch


“It is true what they say about your purpose driving you towards your goal. The ride to eventually becoming the first black RAG Queen was motivated by a pure desire in my heart to help other people.”

This is the moving words of Prudence Mahlaba, who was crowned Rag Queen at the Amanzi Coronation Ball on Friday 17 February 2017. Suhail Peerbhai, a second-year BCom Economics student, was crowned Mr Rag 2017.

Giving a voice to the voiceless

Mahlaba says she wants to make a positive impact, “not only on the less fortunate, but also on the voiceless.” The fourth-year LLB student strives to adhere to the vision of the acronym RAG (Receive and Give). RAG is mainly about a good cause in order to make a difference.
“It is beauty with a purpose, practising what you preach, and doing unto others what you want them to do unto you,” Mahlaba said.

It was a night of glitz and glamour as the finalists made a last bid for the sought-after titles at the prestigious event held at the Student Church on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State.

Role provide foundation for change
“Becoming Mr Rag is an exceptional feeling; however, this role entails much more responsibility,” Peerbhai said. “At a time like this, it has given me a solid foundation to make a difference in communities that are less fortunate.”

His advice to future participants in the contest is, “to go for it, since it entails the most life-changing challenges students in our era can face. No classroom teachings can provide you with the same values and experiences.”

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