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27 August 2018 Photo Sonia Small
Prof Thuli Madonsela persuades women to pursue their purpose
Discovering that she was “pretty” for her purpose gave Prof-Adv Thuli Madonsela’s life direction.

What does embracing womanhood mean? For Prof Thuli Madonsela it is about loving yourself and whatever you believe is your purpose in life. 

“All of us are designed for our purpose and are fit for our purpose, you should embrace that and make the best of it,” said South Africa’s former Public Protector in her keynote address to the Women’s Breakfast. In commemoration of Women’s Month, the University of the Free State (UFS)’s Employee Wellness Division hosted the annual event on 21 August 2018 where 900 women gathered under the theme: ‘Embrace your womanhood.’ 

Being a woman today


Law Professor and Law Trust Chair in Social Justice at Stellenbosch University, Prof Madonsela, urged the audience to look beyond the exterior and recognise “that we as individuals have a lot in common”. Speaking of unity in diversity, she praised some of the giants on whose shoulders modern women stand, such as Charlotte Maxeke, Olive Schreiner, Una Wookey, Albertina Sisulu, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Helen Joseph, Pam Golding, Bessie Head, and Ellen Khuzwayo.

These leaders are the epitome of following the purpose of “embracing everyone’s humanity and challenging things that diminish the humanity of others”, according to Prof Madonsela.

Remaining resilient and resolute 

Despite having to contend with a patriarchal system and face challenges such as gender-based violence, femicide, poverty, inequity, media stereotypes, as well as poverty, women continue to rise. Prof Madonsela called for women to capitalise on positives such as freedom and possessing a certain degree of power, legal equality, playing a role in political spaces, economic progress, and owning a public voice.

Drawing inspiration from her humble beginnings and the lessons learnt in leadership, Prof Madonsela conveyed a simple message to all women: “You are exactly as you should be. You are a perfect expression of your creator’s magnificence. You were created for a purpose and whatever you do, just step up and pursue your purpose.”

A word from an inspired woman

It was a memorable event for Burneline Kaars, Head of Employee Wellness. “This year it was an honour to host Prof Madonsela who could share both her academic background and professional experience. She accomplished this by skilfully incorporating lessons from our country’s history and her passion for justice,” she said.

News Archive

Tutu-Jonker Prestige Lecture Series tackles reconciliation
2017-11-13

Description: ' 000 a Tutu Jonker Prestige Lecture Tags: Tutu Jonker Prestige Lecture

Prof Rian Venter; Prof Eddy van der Borght, guest speaker from Vrije
Universiteit, Amsterdam; and Prof Fanie Snyman, Dean of the Faculty
of Theology and Religion at the UFS.
Photo: Supplied

The Faculty of Theology and Religion recently hosted the annual Tutu-Jonker Prestige Lecture Series at the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS). The purpose of the lecture series is to address modern-day and pressing social challenges from a theological and religious perspective.

With the theme Religions and reconciliation of conflicting identities, guest speaker and Desmond Tutu Chair on reconciliation at the Faculty of Theology: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Prof Eddy van der Borght, spoke about the reformation in the context of shifting European identity formations.

Reconciliation versus social identity

“My focus is on what the Christian concept of reconciliation means for reconciliation in society,” said Prof Van der Borght. He deliberated the global problem of conflict generated by diverse social identities. He also emphasised that religion has huge resources to contribute towards overcoming conflicting identities.

“The theory is that religions know about reconciliation, while in practice it is much more complicated, because often religions are part of the problem of conflict,” he says. He said religions are often the problem in social cultural identities, especially regarding conflict involving different nations, racial, and ethnic groups.

Honouring prominent theologians Tutu and Jonker

The name Tutu-Jonker originates from the two theologians, Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the late Prof Willie Jonker, who are both regarded as prominent theologians known for their emphasis on reconciliation in South Africa. The significance of combining the two names is said to bring together two different theological traditions (Anglican and Reformed), cultural groups, and races.

Prof Fanie Snyman, Dean of the Faculty of Theology and Religion, said, “This will also serve the purpose of a welcoming culture at the faculty, embracing diversity and embodying reconciliation.” Both of these theologians received honorary doctorates in Theology from the UFS.

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