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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

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Prestigious awards, membership and two A-ratings from the NRF indicate a boom in research
2014-12-04

Several UFS researchers were honoured with awards this year. This includes, from the left: Prof Jeanet Conradie from the Department of Chemistry, Dr Aliza le Roux from the Department of Zoology and Entomology on the Qwaqwa Campus of the UFS, Profs Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS.
Photo: Hannes Pieterse

The University of the Free State (UFS) had several highlights in the field of research this year. This includes two A-ratings, which were awarded by the National Research Foundation (NRF) to Prof Maxim Finkelstein from the Department of Mathematics and Actuarial Science, and Prof Melanie Walker, Senior Research Professor and Director of the Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development (CRHED) and DST/NRF Chair in Higher Education and Human Development.

Prof Finkelstein’s A2-rating makes him the only A-rated researcher in ‘Probability and Statistics’ regarding Mathematical Sciences in the country. Prof Walker was evaluated in the division for Research, Innovation Support and Advancement and received an A1-rating.

Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, considers these ratings as one of the clearest signs that the standard for research across the institution has increased significantly.

Prof Jansen was honoured with the Academy of Science of South Africa’s (ASSAf’s) Science-for-Society Gold Medal for his outstanding achievement in scientific thinking to the benefit of society.

"An award such as this recognises the power of science and scholarship to improve the human condition," Prof Jansen said.

A further highlight at ASSAf’s prestigious annual awards ceremony was the induction of Prof Jeanet Conradie from the Department of Chemistry and Dr Aliza le Roux from the Department of Zoology and Entomology on the UFS’s Qwaqwa Campus as new members of ASSAf.

Prof Conradie was also this year’s first runner-up in the senior category for Distinguished Women Researchers: Physical and Engineering Science in the Department of Science and Technology’s 2014 Women in Science Awards.

Prof Corli Witthuhn: Vice-Rector: Research, describes Prof Conradie as a highly productive researcher who publishes in high-impact journals.

“Not only is she the first female professor in the Department of Chemistry, but she also has extensive international networks and collaboration which elevates the impact of her work even further,” Prof Witthuhn said.

Dr Le Roux is one of ten young researchers inaugurated as members of the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS). She was also elected to serve on the executive committee of SAYAS. According to Prof Witthuhn, Dr Le Roux is an outstanding young scientist.

“I am very excited about the young researchers on our Qwaqwa Campus, with Aliza as one of the leaders, and I am looking forward to what they will achieve in the next five years,” she said.

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