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03 April 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Vhugala Nthakheni
Uhuru Qwaqwa Arrival
The #UFSWalkToUhuru team arrives at the UFS Qwaqwa Campus on Friday 22 March.

The University of the Free State (UFS) Division of Student Affairs, in collaboration with the UFS Office for International Affairs, have joined hands to drive a fundraising and student-accessibility initiative dubbed, ‘The Walk to Uhuru’ (#UFSWalktoUhuru), which is aimed at raising funds and advocating for the educational rights of the less privileged. 

The project aims to raise funds in excess of R2 million from the public and stakeholders affiliated with the UFS (Kovsie staff and students). The project derives from the 2018/2019 UFS Institutional Student Representative Council (ISRC) mandate ‘Students Must Graduate’. The ISRC mandate aims to source funding opportunities for UFS students to register, and to complete their studies across all three campuses in 2020 and beyond.

The first leg of the project, a 350 km walk from the Bloemfontein to the Qwaqwa Campus, has already taken place and concluded on Friday, 22 March 2019 as planned. The #UFSWalkToUhuru team successfully completed the first leg of their journey to academic freedom for financially disadvantaged students at the UFS. The Uhuru team is now focusing its attention on the second leg and is determined to take on Mount Kilimanjaro (Uhuru) from 20 June to 20 July 2019.

The team sat down for a debriefing session to unpack the overall experience and result of the first half of the initiative, and they all agreed that the walk to Qwaqwa was an enlightening experience. It was a walk that comprised learning opportunities, team building, and goal crushing.

According to Rethabile Motseki, member of the #UFSWalkToUhuru team, the walk to Qwaqwa made a significant impact on the project, as the university community is now aware of the significant goals that the team is trying to accomplish. The team has also resumed their fitness-training programme to ensure that they are ready to take on the Uhuru climb in June.

A media briefing will take place shortly (date to be confirmed) to detail the ongoing fundraising initiatives rolled out by the #UFSWalkToUhuru team.  We implore you, and the nation as a whole, to help establish a better future for disadvantaged UFS students by donating to the initiative.

Students, staff, and the public can support the cause and make contributions/donations to the initiative by visiting the UFS Walk to Uhuru #givengain account page.

For more information, contact UFS SRC President, Sonwabile Dwaba, on DwabaSJ@ufs.ac.za  or Rethabile Motseki on MotsekiR@ufs.ac.za  

News Archive

Expert in Africa Studies debunks African middle class myth
2016-05-10

Description: Prof Henning Melber Tags: Prof Henning Melber

From left: Prof Heidi Hudson, Director of the Centre for Africa Studies (CAS), Joe Besigye from the Institute of Reconciliation and Social Justice, and Prof Henning Melber, Extraordinary Professor at the CAS and guest lecturer for the day.
Photo: Valentino Ndaba

Until recently, think tanks from North America, the African Development Bank, United Nations Development Plan, and global economists have defined the African middle class based purely on monetary arithmetic. One of the claims made in the past is that anyone with a consumption power of $2 per day constitutes the middle class. Following this, if poverty is defined as monetary income below $1.5 a day, it means that it takes just half a dollar to reach the threshold considered as African middle class.

Prof Henning Melber highlighted the disparities in the notion of a growing African middle class in a guest lecture titled A critical anatomy of the African middle class(es), hosted by our Centre for Africa Studies (CAS) at the University of the Free State on 4 May 2016. He is an Extraordinary Professor at the Centre, as well as Senior Adviser and Director Emeritus of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation in Sweden.

Prof Melber argued that it is misleading to consider only income when identifying the middle class. In his opinion, such views were advanced by promoters of the global neo-liberal project. “My suspicion is that those who promote the middle class  discourse in that way, based on such a low threshold, were desperate to look for the success story that testifies to Africa rising.”

Another pitfall of such a middle-class analysis is its ahistorical contextualisation. This economically-reduced notion of the class is a sheer distortion. Prof Melber advised analysts to take cognisance of factors, such as consumption patterns, lifestyle, and political affiliation, amongst others.

In his second lecture for the day, Prof Melber dealt withthe topic of: Namibia since independence: the limits to Liberation, painting the historical backdrop against which the country’s current government is consolidating its political hegemony. He highlighted examples of the limited transformation that has been achieved since Namibia’s independence in 1990.

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