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29 January 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Francis Petersen speech
“We can create an institution that operates and lives in the times of embracing and celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence by ensuring that students own their time at university,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

25 January 2019 marked the official welcoming of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) first-year students, as they moved into their respective residences and were warmly welcomed on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. This day also marked the start of the registration process for first-year students.

According to first-year Psychology student Keisha Claasen, who moved into her residence earlier on 25 January, her first experience of the UFS was daunting but exciting, as she had never been in a similar environment. According to Given Gwerera, who dropped his son off at the Karee residence earlier the day, “the UFS is an institution with great culture and an overall good academic record.” He further explained that he trusts his son to make full use of the opportunities presented to him, as he has a cool head on his shoulders.

On the evening of 25 January, an eager group of millennials, joined by their parents, took the first sip from their cup of varsity life as they assembled on the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus to meet the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, members of Rectorate, the deans of all faculties, and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS.

“2019 will be a year of continued change; the UFS is thrilled about the prospect of bringing about opportunities for adaptation and realignment to the future,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

He further explained that the university prides itself in moulding its students into well-rounded individuals who will develop into globally competitive graduates as required in a diversity of landscapes. Prof Petersen urged first-years to remain open to the technological developments that go with globalisation, because of its permanent effects on society today.

First-years were further advised to take advantage of the rich pool of academic research and knowledge that is characteristic of the university and is piloted by UFS scholars, by engaging with and learning from them.

The inspiring night concluded on a colourful note, as the audience enjoyed an artistic laser show in front of the Main Building. Caption:

“UFS academics conduct research that forces the world to take note,” said Prof Francis Petersen at the official first-year welcoming ceremony on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

News Archive

Premiere of the documentary on King Moshoeshoe - Address by the Rector
2004-10-14

Address by the rector and vice-chancellor of the University of the Free State, prof Frederick Fourie, at the premiere of the documentary on King Moshoeshoe, Wednesday 13 October 2004

It is indeed a privilege to welcome you at this key event in the Centenary celebrations of the University of the Free State.

We are simultaneously celebrating 100 years of scholarship with 10 years of democracy

Today is a very important day with great significance for the University. This Centenary is not merely a celebration of an institution of a certain age. It is a key event in this particular phase of our history, in our transformation as an institution of higher learning, in taking the creation of a high-quality, equitable, non-racial, non-sexist, multicultural and multilingual university seriously.

This is about building something new out of the old, of creating new institutional cultures and values from diverse traditions.

It is about learning together - as an higher education institution - about who we are where we come from – to decide where we are going.

It is about merging the age-old tradition of the university, of the academic gown, with the Basotho blanket, the symbol of community engagement.

Then why is it important that we remember Moshoeshoe, where does he fit into our history?

In the Free State province, where large numbers of Basotho and Afrikaners (and others) now live together, a new post-apartheid society is being built in the 21st century.

The challenge is similar to that faced by Moshoeshoe 150 years ago. As you will see tonight, he did a remarkable thing in forging a new nation out of a fragmented society. He also created a remarkable spirit of reconciliation and a remarkable style of leadership.

Not all people in South Africa know the history of Moshoeshoe. Many Basotho – but not all – are well versed in the history of Moshoeshoe, and his name is honoured in many a street, town and township. Many white people know very little of him, or have a very constrained or even biased view of his role and legacy. In Africa and the world, he his much less known than, for instance, Shaka. (In Lesotho, obviously, he is widely recognised and praised.)

We already benefit from his legacy: the people of the Free State share a tradition of moderation and reconciliation rather than one of aggression and domination.

With Moshoeshoe, together with Afrikaner leaders and reconciliators such as President MT Steyn and Christiaan de Wet, we have much to be thankful for.

Our challenge is take this legacy further: to forge a new society in which different cultural, language and racial groups – Basotho, Afrikaners and others – will all feel truly at home.

Bit by bit, on school grounds, on university campuses, in each town and city, people must shape the values and principles that will mould this new non-racial, multicultural and multilingual society.

A shared sense of history, shared stories and shared heroes are important elements in such a process.

Through this documentary film about King Moshoeshoe, the UFS commits itself to developing a shared appreciation of the history of this country and to the establishment of the Free State Province as a model of reconciliation and nation-building.

Moshoeshoe is also a strong common element, and binding factor, in the relationship between South Africa / the Free State, and its neighbour, Lesotho.

For the University of the Free State this also is an integral part of real transformation – of creating a new unity amidst our diversity.

Transformation has so many aspects: whilst the composition of our student and staff populations have been changing, many other things change at the same time: new curricula, new research, new community service learning projects.

In also includes creation of new values, new (shared) histories, new (shared) heroes.

It includes the incorporation of the Qwaqwa campus, which serves a region where so many of the children of Moshoeshoe live, including her majesty Queen Mopeli.

We see in Moshoeshoe a model of African leadership – of reconciliation and nation-building – that can have a significant impact in South Africa and Africa as a whole.

We also find in the legacy of King Moshoeshoe the possibility of an “founding philosophy”, or “defining philosophy”, for the African renaissance.

To develop this philosophy, we must gain a deeper understanding of what really happened there, of his role, of his leadership.

Therefore the University of the Free State will encourage and support further research into the history, politics and sociology of the Moshoeshoe period, including his leadership style.

We hope to do this in partnership with National University of Lesotho.

The Moshoeshoe documentary is one element of a long-term project of the UFS. The other elements of the project that we are investigating are possible PhD-level research; a possible annual Moshoeshoe memorial lecture on African leadership; and then possible schools projects and other ways and symbols of honouring him.

It is my sincere wish that all communities of the Free State and of South Africa will be able to identify with the central themes of this documentary, and develop a shared appreciation for leaders such as King Moshoeshoe and the legacy of peace, reconciliation and nation-building that they have left us.

Prof. Frederick Fourie
Rector and Vice-Chancellor
University of the Free State
13 October 2004.

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