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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

Mandela statues and the issue of public representation
2015-09-04

   

Prof Grant Parker, Associate Professor of Classics and Co-Director of the Centre for African Studies at Stanford University, USA, presented a public lecture on the Bloemfontein Campus on 27 August 2015, in which he explored the topic of ”Memorialising Mandela after Rhodes Must Fall”. What stories do the multitude of Mandela statues tell us about the man? Our society? Ourselves? These were some of the questions Prof Parker addressed during his lecture.

Paradoxes
Prof Parker discussed some of the paradoxes presented by the Mandela statues. The huge 9m high Mandela statue at the Union Buildings in Pretoria does not necessarily reflect his humility. Iconic statues strewn across the world do not reveal Madiba’s appeal. “Madiba’s charm,” Prof Parker said, “was all about his ability to relate to people of very different backgrounds. People who were his enemies would – to their surprise – find a humanity they were not expecting. It’s very hard to reconcile that with the colossal statues.”

Rhodes Must Fall
On the topic of the Rhodes Must Fall campaign, Prof Parker said that “the debates around it seem to express the frustration of deepening equality in general and lack of demographic change.” He also believes that, although the campaign centres on statues, there are much deeper issues at play that need to be addressed.

Artists should be part of the conversation
Prof Parker also advocated that artists’ voices should be incorporated into the creative processes of public art. “There is a much greater need for creative artists,” he concluded, “to be part of conversations, not only about what we as South Africans want to commemorate, but how we do that. I would very strongly suggest that this be done by non-figural representations.”

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