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07 May 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Noko Masalesa
Noko Masalesa, Director of Protection Services, in conversation with students and stakeholders to plan a safe way forward.

Safety and security are human rights that constitute social justice. At the centre of the agenda at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Social Justice Week held on the Bloemfontein Campus from 17-22 April 2019 were discussions about off-campus safety. Stakeholders agreed on an upgrade to security measures in order to ensure the success and wellbeing of the student population.

A call to students

Prof John Mubangizi, Dean of the Faculty of Law, in his capacity as representative of the UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, expressed his view on institutions of higher learning no longer functioning as ivory towers. “For any initiative to succeed, collaboration is necessary between key roleplayers,” he said.

He aptly pointed out that: “We cannot underscore the importance of safety and security, not only for the university but also for the communities around us. What the university does benefits the community and vice versa. I pledge the university’s commitment to play a leading part to ensure that the collaboration works,” said Prof Mubangizi.

Beefing up security: Who is involved?

In view of the collaborative effort Prof Mubangizi alluded to, the engagement was twofold. First was the roundtable discussion facilitated by Protection Services which then escalated into a public dialogue where students had the opportunity to interact with external delegates.

The South African Police Services, Community Police Forum, Private Security, Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, Provincial Commissioner, and Deputy Minister of Police were well represented in this critical conversation. Internally, members of Protection Services, Housing and Residence Affairs, Student Affairs, Institute for Social Justice and Reconciliation, Student Representative Council, and the Department of Criminology heard the plight of off-campus safety faced by students.

Changes in the horizon

The discussions culminated with recommendations which will see the future of student safety take a different direction. According to Skhululekile Luwaca, former SRC president, these include “the municipality’s commitment to immediately address issues such as street lights and enforcing by-laws, ensuring an integrated accreditation system, and drafting a policy for off-campus accommodation, running more crime awareness campaigns, and giving police patrols more visibility.”

In addition to resolving to set up a student safety forum with all the stakeholders, the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has invited the UFS to join Reclaim the City – a safety forum where practical solutions to crime are devised and implemented on a weekly basis.


News Archive

Renowned writer for Africa Day
2012-05-31

 

Attending the lecture were, from left: Dr Choice Makhetha, Vice-Rector: External Relations; Prof Kwandiwe Kondlo, Director of the Centre for Africa Studies;Prof. Ngugi wa Thiong'o; Prof Lucius Botes, Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities, and Prof Andre Keet, Director of the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice..
Photo: Stephen Collett
25 May 2012

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Lecture: THE BLACKNESS OF BLACK: Africa in the World Today

Audio of the lecture

Profile of Professor Ngugi wa Thiong'o (pdf format)

“Flowers are all different, yet no flower claims to be more of a flower than the other.” With these words Kenyan writer and one of the continent's most celebrated authors, Prof. Ngugi wa Thiong’o, delivered the tenth annual Africa Day Memorial lecture on 25 May 2012 in the University of the Free State's (UFS) Odeion Theatre on the Bloemfontein Campus. The lecture was hosted by the Centre for Africa Studies.

Long before Prof. wa Thiong’o was led inside the venue by a praise singer, chairs were filled and people were shown to an adjoining room to follow the lecture. Others, some on the university's Qwaqwa Campus, followed via live streaming.

In his speech titled the Blackness of Black: Africa in the world today, Prof. wa Thiong’o looked at the standing of Africa in the world today. He highlighted the plight of those of African descent who are judged “based on a negative profile of blackness”.

Prof. wa Thiong’o recalled a humiliating experience at a hotel in San Francisco in the United States, where a staff member questioned him being a guest of the hotel. He shared a similar experience in New Jersey, where he and his wife were thought to be recipients of welfare cheques. He said this was far deeper than overt racism.

“The certainty is based on a negative profile of blackness taken so much for granted as normal that it no longer creates a doubt.”

Prof. wa Thiong’o said the self certainty that black is negative is not confined to white perception of black only.

“The biggest sin, then, is not that certain groups of white people, and even the West as a whole, may have a negative view of blackness embedded in their psyche, the real sin is that the black bourgeoisie in Africa and the world should contribute to that negativity and even embrace it by becoming participants or shareholders in a multibillion industry built on black negativity.”

“Africa has to review the roots of the current imbalance of power: it started in the colonisation of the body. Africa has to reclaim the black body with all its blackness as the starting point in our plunge into and negotiations with the world.”

Prof. wa Thiong’o concluded by saying that Africa must rediscover and reconnect with Kwame Nkrumah’s dreams of a politically and economically united Africa.

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