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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

Nigeria’s Boko Haram: Why negotiations are not an option
2014-10-23



There has been much speculation if the recently announced ceasefire in Nigeria as well as talks with Boko Haram will indeed secure the release of about 200 girls kidnapped by this religious militant group.

Talks already started between the government and Boko Haram but there are still doubts if the girls will be freed and if the Nigerian government can successfully negotiate with Boko Haram. Prof Hussein Solomon, Senior Professor at the University of the Free State, regards this current negotiations as a terrible idea.

“At a time when Boko Haram’s strength is escalating, the correlatory weakness of the Nigerian government is increasingly exposed. As Nigerians prepare for the next presidential elections, embattled President Goodluck Jonathan is increasingly desperate to negotiate with Boko Haram to secure the release of schoolgirls seized by the terrorists earlier this year and to negotiate a ceasefire. This is a terrible idea. It makes a mockery of the rule of law and of the thousands of innocent victims of the militant violence. More importantly, it will only serve to fuel the terrorists’ ambitions further as the powerlessness of the government is exposed.”

Prof Solomon says religious intolerance is on the rise on the African continent, with a concomitant rise in terrorist incidents. In Algeria, extremist terrorism carries the name of Jund al Khilafah or Caliphate Soldiers in Algeria. In Mali it is Ansar Dine or Defenders of the Faith. In Somalia it is Al Shabaab (The Youth). But none of these organisations come close to the carnage wrought by Nigeria’s Boko Haram (literally meaning Western education is forbidden).

Boko Haram has carried out more than 1 000 attacks since 2010, which has resulted in the deaths of 10 000 people and a further 6 million affected by this terrorist violence. The 300 000 Nigerian refugees who have fled this tsunami of terrorism and have sought refuge in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, provide adequate testimony to the human costs of such terrorism. Boko Haram, meanwhile, has formed tactical alliances with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Al Shabaab and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which means that the groups are sharing intelligence, tactics and material support. This cooperation has also resulted in increasingly sophisticated terror attacks mounted by Boko Haram.

Read more about Prof Solomon and his research.


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