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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

“I, too, am an African,” says visiting US drama professor
2013-03-06

 
Africans are of blood and of soil, says Prof Charles Dumas in his inaugural lecture at the UFS. Speaking on the topic I, too, am an African, Prof Dumas reminisced about his life and experiences on the continent.
Photo: Minette Grove
05 March 2013

Lecture (pdf)

What is an African? Is it those born in Africa, defined in racial and genealogical terms, or those who identifies with the continent in nationality and ancestral location? Did the descendants of enslaved Africans in the US, the Caribbean or Brazil lose their Africaness when their ancestors were put on slave ships to the New World?

These were some of the questions raised by Prof Charles Dumas, visiting senior professor in the Department Drama and Theatre Arts, in his inaugural lecture at the university.

Proclaiming attachment to the continent, Prof Dumas told his audience there are two types of Africans: Africans of the blood and Africans of the soil. In a speech titled, “I, too, am an African,” he stated that he lay claim to his ancestral birthright not because of blood relationship to an identifiable ethnic group or birthright to the continent, but because he earned it.

“I suggest another way that one can be an African, is through trial and struggle to be reborn an African in spirit. It is a ritual journey that may be taken by anyone. For, after all, if we are to believe the anthropologists who tell us that human life as we know it began in the Olduvai Gorge, genetically we are all African in origin.”

Prof Dumas, a senior professor at Penn State University in the USA, took the audience on a journey of his experiences on the continent, starting in 1978 when he first came to South Africa as a legal observer. Noticing the changes between Apartheid and today’s South Africa, he said this generation are committed to learn from each other – and that is the most important, he said.

“With their hopes and aspirations they earnestly desire to live in the new South Africa that we promised them. We must support them in their effort. It is time we stored our old baggage in the closet.”

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