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18 April 2019 | Story Rulanzen Martin

The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice IRSJ) has initiated a Social Justice Week at the University of the Free State (UFS), which started on Friday 12 April  until Wednesday 17 April 2019. 

Ten key events took place during the week. It ranged from dialogues, workshops, talk shows, debates, and interactive displays and events on issues of multilingualism and diversity, social innovation, engaged scholarship, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, gender sensitisation, sexual consent, sexual preparedness, universal access, disability, anti-discrimination, and security.

There was also a round-table discussion on 17 April 2019 with various UFS stakeholders on off-campus student security as well as an inter-institutional discussion on the same topic. The UFS Debating Society will take on the topic of the UFS Language Policy, while Olga Barends from the Free State Centre for Human Rights will host a dialogue on sexual consent.

The IRSJ has also designed and implemented SOJO-VATION: Social Innovation/ Social Change, which strives to create a foundational platform where ideas of social justice, innovation, and engaged scholarship at the UFS and in society can be hosted. SOJO-VATION partners with the Office for Student Leadership, Development, and Community Engagement.

The collaborating partners for the Social Justice Week includes various UFS stakeholders such as the Sasol library, the Gender and Sexual Equity Office, UFS Protection Services, the Free State Centre for Human Rights, the Student Representative Council (SRC), the Office for Student Leadership Development, Kovsie Innovation, GALA, the FFree State Centre for Human Rights, SRC Associations, the Office for Student Governance, Kovsie Innovate, Start-Up-Grind, EVC, EBL, Community Engagement, the Institutional Transformation Plan (ITP) Dialogues Office, Residence Dialogues, UFS Debating Society, Debate Afrika!, the Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS), and the Gateway Office. 

News Archive

From peasant to president; from Samora Machel to Cahora Bassa
2015-03-25

Prof Barbara Isaacman and Prof Allen Isaacman
Photo: Renè-Jean van der Berg

When the plane crashed in Mbuzini, the entire country was submerged in a profound grieving.

This is how Prof Allen Isaacman, Regents Professor of History at the University of Minnesota, described the effect President Samora Machel’s death in 1986 had on Mozambique. In a public lecture, Prof Isaacman spoke about the man, Samora Machel, and the influences that shaped Machel’s life. The event, recently hosted by the UFS International Studies Group on the Bloemfontein Campus, was part of the Stanley Trapido Seminar Programme.

Samora Machel: from peasant to president
Born in 1933 into a peasant family, Machel was allowed to advance only to the third grade in school. “And yet,” Prof Isaacman said, “he became a very prominent local peasant intellectual and ultimately one of the most significant critics of Portuguese colonialism and colonial capitalism.” Machel had a great sense of human agency and firmly believed that one is not a mere victim of circumstances. “You were born into a world, but you can change it,” Prof Isaacman explained Machel’s conviction.

From herding cattle in Chokwe, to working as male nurse, Machel went on to become the leader of the Liberation Front of Mozambique (Frelimo) and ultimately the president of his country. To this day, not only does he “capture the imagination of the Mozambican people and South Africans, but is considered one the great leaders of that moment in African history,” Prof Isaacman concluded his lecture.

Displacement, and the Delusion of Development: Cahora Bassa and Its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965–2007
Later in the day, Profs Allen and Barbara Isaacman discussed their book: ‘Displacement, and the Delusion of Development: Cahora Bassa and Its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965–2007’ at the Archives for Contemporary Affairs. As authors of the book, they investigate the history and legacies of one of Africa's largest dams, Cahora Bassa, which was built in Mozambique by the Portuguese in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The dam was constructed under conditions of war and inaugurated after independence by a government led by Frelimo. The dam has since operated continuously, although, for many years, much of its electricity was not exported or used because armed rebels had destroyed many high voltage power line pillars. Since the end of the armed conflict in 1992, power lines have been rebuilt, and Cahora Bassa has provided electricity again, primarily to South Africa, though increasingly to the national Mozambican grid as well.

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