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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

Nat Nakasa the inspiration behind UFS academic’s PhD thesis
2017-01-09

 Description: 001 Dr Willemien Marais Tags: 001 Dr Willemien Marais

Photo: Supplied

“I’m interested in alternative ways of approaching things, so I wanted to look at how journalism can be used in an unconventional way to contribute to a developing society.”

This is why Dr Willemien Marais, a lecturer in the Department of Communication Science at the University of the Free State (UFS), decided to title her thesis: Nat Nakasa as existential journalist, describing a form of journalism that places emphasis on the individual’s experiences.

“Existentialism is a philosophy that provides scope for an individual approach to life, and I like Nat Nakasa’s writing because of his excellent sense of humour despite his horrific circumstances as a black journalist during apartheid,” she says.

A practical approach to writing

Dr Marais analysed Nat Nakasa’s approach to journalism through articles he wrote in the early 1960s. She searched for relevant themes of existentialist philosophy in Nakasa’s work in order to prove that he could be read as an existential journalist.

She mentions that in terms of contemporary relevance, Nakasa’s approach to journalism suggests that existentialism could provide the journalist with a practical approach to writing, especially for those journalists working in developing societies.

“The relevance of this approach lies in the fact that any society is always between things – the old and the new – which might require the journalist to operate outside the boundaries of conventional journalism.”

This study was qualitative in nature because of the interpretation required. She mentions that it was basically one of many possible interpretations of Nakasa’s work; with this one using existentialism as a lens.

An intellectually stimulating thesis

Dr Marais quotes French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre, who said that interpreting someone’s work, especially someone who was no longer alive, was open to “thousands of shimmering, iridescent, relevant meanings”, and her research represents one of these possible meanings of Nakasa’s work as a journalist.

When asked how long she had worked on her thesis, Dr Marais simply answered “too long!” She mentions that her thesis was initially more of an intellectual exercise. Whereas the actual act of writing took about four months, she spent many years thinking about the topic. “Now that all is said and done, I realise I had to grow into the topic. It took me a while to realise that true understanding does not come overnight!”

Dr Marais mentions that other than herself and the work of Nat Nakasa, there were no other roleplayers involved. “For many, many years it was just Nat Nakasa and I. It was frustrating and exhilarating all at the same time.”

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