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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

Afrikaans Language Day invites greater university community to celebrate the language
2015-08-26

On 14 August 2015, the Vuur en Vlam Committee hosted an event which provided the university community the opportunity to celebrate Afrikaans Language Day. The occasion celebrated the establishment of the language in South Africa. With the unexpected arrival of the Dutch in 1652, the language transition proved a struggle for the indigenous peoples domiciled on African soil.

The committee’s primary objective was to change existing cultural connotations associated with the Afrikaans language.  The use of diversity can help undermine the African stereotype held about the Afrikaans language, and thus bring about a mindset shift. It is important to remember that not all Afrikaans speakers are white, and emphasis is rarely directed to the diversity of Afrikaans speakers.

Approaching the celebration, a sensitive discussion around the Afrikaans language was hosted, in which various panel members discussed the state and current outlook of the language. Prof André Keet, Director of the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, who was part of the panel said, “No language gets to be misused to maintain the privilege of the past.” Director of the Free State Arts Festival, Ricardo Peach, shared the notion that “We must build on what we have, and not break it down,” while he describes himself as a “polluted language boer”. While there is a strongly-expressed hatred for the Afrikaans language, Peach maintained further that there is much work to be done in order to “Break down the link between the language and the Holocaust which took place in the homes of Afrikaans people.”

Lindiwe Kumalo, chairperson of the Vuur en Vlam Committee, said: “We are creating an awareness around campus that Afrikaans is not dead. Once you know the language, you can interact with other people, and there is no longer that language barrier.” Amongst other things, the event encouraged dialogue by creating fun and interactive activities which exposed visitors to the language.

The Vuur en Vlam Committee is committed to creating an awareness of, and vibrancy around, the Afrikaans language, and to engaging the broader university community.

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