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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

Researcher transforms despair into diamonds
2016-01-18

PhD candidate, Lerato Machetela and some members of the group Diamonds in the Rough having some fun between rehearsals.

Awash in hopelessness, substance abuse, violence, and sexual promiscuity. This is the lived reality of the youth in Jagersfontein. But now Lerato Machetela is using her research to change it.

As a PhD candidate in Trauma, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation Studies at the University of the Free State (UFS), Machetela assembled a group of 14 young men – ranging between the ages of 9 and 18 – who call themselves Jagersfontein’s Diamonds in the Rough. Combining elements from psychology, education, and entertainment, Machetela has established a platform that grounds these young ones adrift in circumstances. By means of song and dance, these young ones have become grounded through creativity.

While discussing what it means to be free in the new South Africa, Machetela asked the group to come up with a song similar to the struggle song, ‘Nelson Mandela usi litheli ixolo’.

Jagersfontein’s Diamonds in the Rough Researcher, Lerato Machetela, combines psychology, education, and entertainment to ground local youths through creativity.

The result: He’s a teenager, but he drinks Hansa.

“This then developed into a dance routine depicting what the youth is doing with their freedom,” Machetela says. With each beat of their boots and rhythmic clap of their hands, the group illustrates the ways in which the youth has constructed – and come to understand – their daily realities. “The routine includes the expression of alcohol and drug abuse, and ends of with the importance of education.”

Through the creative expressions of Diamonds in the Rough, Machetela is able not only to explore the reality of the youth in Jagersfontein, but also to investigate intergenerational trauma. “I am looking at whether there is a relationship between these young people’s current circumstances and the experiences of their parents’ generation during the apartheid years. That is, what sort of meanings do they construct as young, black South Africans growing up in the new South Africa?”

What started off as a research project is now rippling beyond academic spheres, though. The Free State Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation has taken note of this initiative. As a result, the group has already performed at the Bloem Show, International Museums Day, and Heritage Day celebrations, as well as at the Mangaung African Cultural Festival (MACUFE).  

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