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30 November 2020 | Story Nonsidiso Qwabe | Photo Supplied

Acclaimed South African writer, author, and UFS research fellow Zubeida Jaffer was honoured with a lifetime achievement award for her career in journalism during the Standard Bank Sivukile Awards ceremony. 

Passion for journalism spans decades
During the award ceremony on 15 October 2020, Jaffer received the prestigious Allan Kirkland Soga Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognises a sustained and extraordinary contribution to journalism. Jaffer said she never chose journalism, but journalism chose her. She said when she first stepped into a newsroom looking for a holiday job in the 1970s, she did not know she had stepped into her future in news reporting. Since then, Jaffer has earned many accolades in the journalism industry as well as in academia. She also became an acclaimed author, and wrote her third book, Beauty of the Heart: The Life and Times of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke, during her time as a writer-in-residence at the UFS. While at the UFS, she founded the online media platform, The Journalist, a platform that provides history and context for key issues facing South African journalists. This portal also links students with academics across the country and will soon be extended to the African continent and the diaspora.

Jaffer said she felt blessed to be recognised among the many journalism pioneers in South Africa. 

“It’s extremely wonderful because it came so out of the blue. This year, with COVID-19, I was digging deep, and trying my best to keep focus. I’m very thankful. It’s made me pause, reflect, and realise that a lot of things I’ve done have been of value. When living your life, it’s not that you’re aware of that all the time. There are many people doing great things who don’t always get this kind of recognition,” Jaffer said.

Still a great need for journalists in South Africa 

Talking about journalism today, Jaffer said: “I am often overwhelmed to witness the enthusiasm and determination of young journalists across the country who come from humble backgrounds and inspire those around them. Our country is gripped in a bipolar condition. It is not clear how the healing will come, but it will. The challenge is to keep our minds in balance so that we can be strong enough to root out corruption and gender-based violence, while at the same time fully understanding our blessings as a people.”

UFS alumna Rising Star in Journalism 

In another accolade for the UFS, the Upcoming/Rising Star of the Year award went to former UFS Journalism student Brümilda Swartbooi for her article titled ‘Sy het hard vir ons gewerk’. The article highlighted the senseless killing of a woman outside her workplace, minutes after her husband dropped her off.

Brümilda Swartbooi. Photo: Supplied

News Archive

Kovsie student aims for the record books
2011-10-11

 

Potential Guinness World Record-holder, Hermann van Heerden
Photo: Phelekwa Mpono

The Guinness World Record for the longest continuous wheelie in a wheelchair was achieved by Michael Miller of the United States, who covered a distance of 16,12 km on the rear wheels of his wheelchair on 8 August 2009.

On 11 October 2011, Hermann van Heerden, a second-year Kovsie student, will attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the longest wheelie in a wheelchair in a stationary position. The 22-year-old disabled student from the University of the Free State (UFS) will manoeuvre his wheelchair so that the front wheels lift off the ground.

Hermann, who is studying for a BEd degree, was born with spina bifida, a developmental congenital disorder caused by the incomplete closing of the embryonic neural tube. He has been in a wheelchair since he was a toddler.

Hermann’s Guinness World Record attempt forms part of the ten-year celebrations of the Unit for Students with Disabilities (USD) at the UFS. The unit was established in February 2001, with fifteen registered students, but currently supports 143 registered students. The USD focuses on promoting equity for students with disabilities, including access to courses, buildings, learning materials, residences, leisure and sports activities and the opportunity to succeed in such activities.

The unit supports students with specific learning difficulties (dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder); mobility–impaired students (wheelchair users and amputees, as well as those suffering from cerebral palsy, muscle dystrophy, spina bifida and multiple sclerosis); visually-impaired students; hearing-impaired students, students suffering from “other” conditions (mental impairment ((schizophrenia)), epilepsy, panic disorder) and those with temporary impairments (broken hand).

Hermann said that he would like to use his record attempt as a means of raising money for the USD and welcomes sponsorships. “The USD has only been good to me ever since I registered at the UFS. Every time I had a question, they answered it. Every time I had a problem with a class, they resolved it. This year, the unit has its ten-year anniversary and I thought it was time for me to give back.”
 

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