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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

Afrikaans Language Day invites greater university community to celebrate the language
2015-08-26

On 14 August 2015, the Vuur en Vlam Committee hosted an event which provided the university community the opportunity to celebrate Afrikaans Language Day. The occasion celebrated the establishment of the language in South Africa. With the unexpected arrival of the Dutch in 1652, the language transition proved a struggle for the indigenous peoples domiciled on African soil.

The committee’s primary objective was to change existing cultural connotations associated with the Afrikaans language.  The use of diversity can help undermine the African stereotype held about the Afrikaans language, and thus bring about a mindset shift. It is important to remember that not all Afrikaans speakers are white, and emphasis is rarely directed to the diversity of Afrikaans speakers.

Approaching the celebration, a sensitive discussion around the Afrikaans language was hosted, in which various panel members discussed the state and current outlook of the language. Prof André Keet, Director of the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, who was part of the panel said, “No language gets to be misused to maintain the privilege of the past.” Director of the Free State Arts Festival, Ricardo Peach, shared the notion that “We must build on what we have, and not break it down,” while he describes himself as a “polluted language boer”. While there is a strongly-expressed hatred for the Afrikaans language, Peach maintained further that there is much work to be done in order to “Break down the link between the language and the Holocaust which took place in the homes of Afrikaans people.”

Lindiwe Kumalo, chairperson of the Vuur en Vlam Committee, said: “We are creating an awareness around campus that Afrikaans is not dead. Once you know the language, you can interact with other people, and there is no longer that language barrier.” Amongst other things, the event encouraged dialogue by creating fun and interactive activities which exposed visitors to the language.

The Vuur en Vlam Committee is committed to creating an awareness of, and vibrancy around, the Afrikaans language, and to engaging the broader university community.

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