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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

Beauty personified through written word
2016-07-29

Description: Zubeida Jaffer Tags: Zubeida Jaffer

Dr Thozama April, University of Fort Hare
historian, Zubeida Jaffer, current Writer-in-Residence
in the Department of Communication Sciences
at the UFS and author of Beauty of the Heart:
The life and times of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke
and Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector
of the UFS at the book launch of Zubeida Jaffer.
Photo: Rulanzen Martin

“It is quite easy to write a book in a professional capacity but very difficult to write a book from the heart.”

These were the words of Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State (UFS), at the launch of Beauty of the Heart: The life and times of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke by Zubeida Jaffer, the current Writer-in-Residence in the Department of Communication Sciences at the UFS.

Perseverance and dedication yields results

Writing a book from the heart is exactly what Jaffer, an award-winning South African journalist and author, set out to do. “When you make the choice to write a story, you need to be very dedicated,” she said.

As this is Jaffer’s third book, one would think that she would have no difficulty in putting pen to paper. On the contrary, she mentioned that it was, in fact, the hardest book she has written because the narrative was not easy to get hold of.

“I wanted Charlotte’s voice to come through, and it took my team and I three years of research and writing,” she said.

Maxeke’s story helps to shape South African society

The three-person panel, hosted by the UFS Sasol Library and SUN MeDIA, and chaired by Prof Jansen, included Jaffer and Dr Thozama April, University of Fort Hare historian who had done her PHD thesis on Maxeke.

Dr April said that Maxeke’s life story is an inspiring one, as it encourages a rethinking of established narratives. “These established narratives have made it possible for historians and researchers to write about the shaping of South African society,” she said.

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