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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

UFS History lecturer becomes Visiting Fellow at Harvard
2015-05-25

Dr Chitja Twala
Photo: Eugene Seegers

Prestige Scholar and lecturer of African/South African History at the UFS, Dr Chitja Twala, was recently accepted as a Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS).

A Visiting Fellow status is available to individuals holding a doctoral degree to pursue independent research at Harvard. The Fellowship is for non-degree purposes but aims at the enhancement and further intellectual development of those involved. It focuses on enrichment and development programmes.

Twala was appointed in the Department of History at the UFS in the beginning of 2003. His research field is Liberation History, with specific reference to the liberation movements on the SADC region. He has published extensively on this field and presented papers in local and international conferences.

“I applied (to Harvard GSAS) in April 2014 for the Fellowship through the South Africa Harvard Fellowship Programme,” says Twala.

“After being successful in the interviews conducted by the GSAS panel in July 2014, I had to apply for admission in the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard, and got accepted for the Fall Semester of 2015.”

At Harvard, Twala will be mentored by Prof Emmanuel Akyeampong (African History Expert).

“Firstly, my main assignment will be to grasp a much deeper theoretical knowledge/framework in historical studies and a broader repertoire of methodologies in the field of African History. Secondly, if time permits, I will be presenting seminars and attending some in a very challenging, stimulating, and intellectually demanding environment where my ideas can be tested and expanded. Thirdly, I will be exposed to new trends as far as African historiography is concerned. Lastly, I will informally engage and exchange some ideas with some experts in the field of African History.”

The programme was recommended to Twala by the Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Jonathan Jansen and Prof Ian Phimister, Centre for Africa Studies Senior Professor at UFS.

“As per the priorities of the Prestige Scholarship Programme, the Fellowship will assist in inculcating in me the intellectual breadth and depth required to pose critical questions and generate ground-breaking knowledge for History as a discipline. It is important for the UFS to establish and sustain international networks with other leading universities and scholars around the world.

“I applied for this Fellowship in order to advance further and broaden the scope in the three areas of scholarship in higher education: discovery, teaching, and public engagement,” says Twala.

Twala will be leaving for Harvard by mid-August and will return by the end of December 2015.

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