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24 May 2019 | Story Eloise Calitz | Photo Charl Devenish
Gangster book Discussion
From left: Jacques van Wyk from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) Cathy Dlodlo, news editor from OFM; Pieter Roux from the UFS Business School; Alta Vermeulen from the UFS Department of Political Studies and Governance and Pieter-Louis Myburgh, author

A packed Odeion Auditorium at the University of the Free State was welcomed by Professor Helena van Zyl, Head of the UFS Business School. The reason being, a panel discussion with award-winning investigative reporter and author, Pieter-Louis Myburgh, on his much-publicised book Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule's Web of Capture. The programme took the form of a panel discussion. The panellists included Pieter-Louis Myburgh, author; Jacques van Wyk from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE); Cathy Dlodlo, news editor from OFM; Alta Vermeulen from the UFS Department of Political Studies and Governance; and Pieter Roux from the UFS Business School.

In his introduction, Myburgh said he was happy that he was able to come to Bloemfontein and have the discussion, since South Africans should cherish freedom of speech and a free press.

The research for the book took 13 months to conclude, and during this time he spent a lot of time in the Free State and Bloemfontein. He mentioned that the book gave him the opportunity to present a condensed account of what he discovered; he could therefore share more, as opposed to just reporting on a story in the newspaper. For him, investigative reporting should always be fact based and open to scrutiny.

Some of the topics raised by the panel was concern about the perception that investigative journalists are focusing more on corruption in the public sector and less on the private sector. This was, however, discarded as a myth, as Myburgh pointed out that he exposed both private and public sector dealings in order to provide the full scope of involved parties.

Focusing on whistle blowers, the panel challenged the verification of whistle-blower information. Myburgh responded that journalists never use only one whistle-blower’s evidence, since that is merely the start of the investigation. Further investigation was necessary, and facts had to be verified. With that said, there is still a lot to be done with regard to the protection of whistle-blowers, he concluded.

The floor was opened to the audience, which provided the opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns about what was mentioned during the panel discussion. The audience eagerly participated in the discussion. In conclusion, Myburgh reiterated that society plays a vital role in keeping those in power to the promises they make.

After the discussion, the audience had the opportunity to have their books signed by the author.

News Archive

Africa the birthplace of mathematics, says Prof Atangana
2017-11-17


 Description: Prof Abdon Atangana, African Award of Applied Mathematics  Tags: Prof Abdon Atangana, African Award of Applied Mathematics

Prof Abdon Atangana from the UFS Institute for Groundwater Studies.
Photo: Supplied

 

Prof Abdon Atangana from the Institute for Groundwater Studies at the University of the Free State recently received the African Award of Applied Mathematics during the International conference "African’s Days of Applied Mathematics" that was held in Errachidia, Morocco. Prof Atangana delivered the opening speech with the title "Africa was a temple of knowledge before: What happened?” The focus of the conference was to offer a forum for the promotion of mathematics and its applications in African countries.

When Europeans first came to Africa, they considered the architecture to be disorganised and thus primitive. It never occurred to them that Africans might have been using a form of mathematics that they hadn’t even discovered yet.

Africa is home to the world’s earliest known use of measuring and calculation. Thousands of years ago Africans were using numerals, algebra and geometry in daily life. “Our continent is the birthplace of both basic and advanced mathematics,” said Prof Atangana. 

Africa attracted a series of immigrants who spread knowledge from this continent to the rest of the world.

Measuring and counting
In one of his examples of African mathematics knowledge Prof Atangana referred to the oldest mathematical instrument as the Lebombo bone, a baboon fibula used as a measuring instrument, which was named after the Lebombo Mountains of Swaziland. The world’s oldest evidence of advanced mathematics was also a baboon fibula that was discovered in present-day Democratic Republic of Congo.

Another example he used is the manuscripts in the libraries of the Sankoré University, one of the world’s oldest tertiary institutions. This university in Timbuktu, Mali, is full of manuscripts mainly written in Ajami in the 1200s AD. “When Europeans and Western Asians began visiting and colonising Mali between the 1300s and 1800s, Malians hid the manuscripts in basements, attics and underground, fearing destruction or theft by foreigners. This was certainly a good idea, given the Europeans' history of destroying texts in Kemet and other areas of the continent. Many of the scripts were mathematical and astronomical in nature. In recent years, as many as 700 000 scripts have been rediscovered and attest to the continuous knowledge of advanced mathematics and science in Africa well before European colonisation. 

Fractal geometry

“One of Africa’s major achievements was the advanced knowledge of fractal geometry. This knowledge is found in a wide aspect of Africa life: from art, social design structures, architecture, to games, trade and divination systems. 

“The binary numeral system was also widely known through Africa before it was known throughout much of the world. There is a theory that it could have influenced Western geometry, which led to the development of digital computers,” he said. 

“Can Africa rise again?” Prof Atangana believes it can.

He concluded with a plea to fellow African researchers to do research that will build towards a new Africa.

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