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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

Afrikaans speakers should think differently, says Coenie de Villiers
2016-06-08

Description: Coenie de Villiers Tags: Coenie de Villiers

Coenie de Villiers was the speaker at the DF Malherbe
Memorial Lecture, held in the Equitas Building on the
University of the Free State Bloemfontein Campus on
24 May 2016.
Photo: Stephen Collett

Do not ask what can be done for your language, but what your language can do for others. With this adaptation of the late John F. Kennedy’s famous words, Coenie de Villiers stressed that the onus for the survival of their language rests with Afrikaans speakers.

According to the television presenter and singer, the real empowerment of Afrikaans does not necessarily take place in parliament. He was the speaker at the DF Malherbe Memorial Lecture, presented in the Equitas Building on the University of the Free State Bloemfontein Campus on 24 May 2016. The lecture by De Villiers, a UFS alumnus, was titled Is Afrikaans plesierig? ’n Aweregse blik.

Government not the only scapegoat
He used Kennedy’s famous phrase, Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country, as framework. “I believe that, if we reverse our sights and do not ask what the world can do for Afrikaans, but ask for a change what Afrikaans – and in particular each and every user thereof – can do for others, then we have, in good English terms, ‘a fighting chance’ that Afrikaans will not only survive, but that it will thrive.” He said it would be too easy to just blame the government’s language policy and/or its lack of application for the language’s uncertainties.

Speakers should act correctly
He said the actions of speakers, sometimes motivated by a love for the language, often causes more damage. “It is not the language that should squirm under the microscope. It isn’t Afrikaans that is being tested: it is us, the speakers, writers, thinkers, doers, and tweeters of the language that are being measured.”
De Villiers believes one should stand up for your language without hesitation or fear, but not necessarily in the middle of the road, and never in such a way that you abandon the moral compass of humanity.

Language will live on

He told the audience that Afrikaans speakers should maintain their language every day with the merit, humanity, and respect that they believe the language – and they themselves – deserve. The language will “live on as long as we use it to laugh, and talk, and sing, and do not kill it off with rules and directives.”

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