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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

UFS involved in project to light up the townships
2006-06-06

The parties involved with the project are from the left: Prof Hendrik Swart (Departmental Chairperson of the UFS Department of Physics), Dr Thembela Hillie (CSIR), Prof Neerich Revaprasadu (Department of Chemistry at the University of Zululand) and Dr Wynand Steyn (CSIR).

UFS involved in project that could light up the townships   

The University of the Free State’s (UFS) Department of Physics is involved with a project that could make life easier in the townships through the use of artificial light.

“The project is based on the use of sunlight to activate nano material in for example cement and paint during the day. At night the cement or paint can then radiate light,” said Prof Hendrik Swart, Departmental Chairperson of the UFS Department of Physics.

According to Prof Swart an amount of R3,9 million has been made available by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for the further development of the project.   

Prof Swart visited the University of Florida in America in 1995 for a year where he researched luminescent phosphor material that is suitable for flat panel television screens.  The red, green and blue spots on the television screens originate from these kinds of phosphor materials.  “At that stage plasma television screens were only a dream.  Today it is sold everywhere,” said Prof Swart. 

“Upon my return I started a research group at the UFS which investigated the degrading of phosphor material.  We also started to concentrate on the effectiveness of nano phosphors.  In the mean time our cooperation with the Americans was strengthened with follow-up visits to America of my colleagues, Prof Koos Terblans and Mr Martin Ntwaeaborwa,” said Prof Swart.

“Nano phosphors are basically luminescent powders that consist of particles that are 1 millionth of a millimetre.  These particles can provide light as soon as they are illuminated with, for instance, sunlight.  The amount of time these particles can provide light, is determined by the impurities in the material,” said Prof Swart.

According to Prof Swart nano particles are developed and linked to infrastructure materials in order for these materials to be excited during the day by sunlight and then it emits light during night time.

“The nano material is of such a nature that it can be mixed with materials, such as paint or cement. The yellow lines of roads can for example emit light in a natural way during night time,” said Prof Swart.

About a year ago Prof Swart and Dr Thembela Hillie, a former Ph D-student of the UFS Department of Physics, had discussions with Prof Neerich Revaprasadu from the University of Zululand and the CSIR about the possibility of mixing these nano phosphor particles with other materials that can be used as light sources in the building of roads and houses.

“Prof Revaprasadu is also actively involved in the research of nano materials.  Our efforts resulted in the CSIR approving the further extension of the project,” said Prof Swart.   

“The UFS and the University of Zululand are currently busy investigating ways to extend the light emitting time,” said Prof Swart.  

“There are eight M Sc and Ph D-students from the UFS and about five students from the University of Zululand working on this research project.  The Department of Physics at the Qwaqwa Campus of the UFS, with Francis Dejene as subject head, is also involved with the project,” said Prof Swart.

According to Prof Swart the further applications of nano materials are unlimited.  “Children whose parents cannot afford electricity can for instance leave any object such as a lamp, that is covered with these phosphor particles, in the sun during the day and use it at night as a light for study purposes,” said Prof Swart.

According to Prof Swart the further extension of the project will take about two years.  “During this time we want to determine how the effectiveness of the phosphors can be increased.  Discussions with the government and other role players for the possible implementation of the project are also part of our planning,” said Prof Swart.


Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel:   (051) 401-2584
Cell:  083 645 2454
E-mail:  loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
6 June 2006

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