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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

Book Prize for Distinguished Scholarship awarded to Dr Christian Williams
2016-03-24

Description: Dr Christian Williams Tags: Dr Christian Williams

Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State and Dr Christian Williams, senior lecturer at the UFS Department of Anthropology.
Photo: Johan Roux

When Dr Christian Williams moved from the United States to Namibia in January 2000 as part of the WorldTeach volunteer programme for teachers, he had not anticipated an award-winning piece of scholarship in his future. It was during these visits to Namibia, though, that the seeds for his highly-acclaimed book were sewn.

While volunteering at the St. Therese Secondary School in Tses at that time, Dr Williams – now a senior lecturer at the University of the Free State (UFS) Department of Anthropology – became acquainted with some of the school’s alumni. The stories these individuals started sharing with him soon revealed personal histories of exile and violence by fellow SWAPO (South West Africa People’s Organization) members.

These experiences ultimately resulted in Dr Williams’ book, National liberation in postcolonial southern Africa: a historical ethnography of SWAPO’s exile camps, published last year. Due to the book’s literary impact, the university awarded Dr Williams the UFS Book Prize for Distinguished Scholarship on Friday 19 February 2016. Dr Williams is the second academic to be awarded this prize.

Politics of the past


In the 1960s, Namibians mobilised and retaliated against colonial rule under the liberation movement known as SWAPO. This created political tension which resulted in the flight of many SWAPO members to exile camps administered by the party.

“Over its three decades in exile, SWAPO was responsible for the welfare of roughly 60 000 Namibians. This was about 4% of the total Namibian population at independence – most of whom lived in camps,” says Dr Williams. The research originally used as a basis for his doctoral thesis was subsequently developed into this prize-winning book.

Advancing the Human Project

“It’s an honour to receive recognition from the university; it means that they value the kind of work that I am doing. I think it’s great for universities to have such prizes,” Dr Williams says.

Supporting the UFS Human Project, Dr Williams will donate a portion of the R25 000 prize money towards the UFS Student Bursary Fund Campaign, as well as the school in Namibia.The rest will subsidise the purchase of the book for distribution to libraries and as gifts.

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