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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

First Dementia Care Mapper in Africa receives international award
2015-11-17

The first Dementia Care Mapper from Africa,
Dr Sanet du Toit.

Photo: iFlair Photography

“In one facility, four elders who needed minimal assistance to eat were provided with an opportunity to sit at a separate table, and enjoy their breakfast as preferred – that is, to spread bread with butter, jam or marmite; to add their own milk and sugar to their tea.”

Dr Sanet du Toit
described a scenario where staff members at an old-age home implemented recommendations she made following an observation she conducted.

“We do not think twice about doing this but, within institutional care settings, these ’normal’ routines are often replaced with practices that could be viewed as ‘time savers’. For example: everyone gets milky, sweet tea to drink,” she explains.

Yet, by creating an environment where the elderly living with dementia were at liberty to determine the amount of milk in their tea, active participation meant an improved well-being.

She was honoured with the International Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (IAHSA) Award for Excellence in Applied Research on 1 September 2015, at a joint conference held by the Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) and IAHSA in Perth.

This exceptional Occupational Therapist from the University of the Free State (UFS) emerged as the first Dementia Mapper from Africa. Dementia Care Mapping is a method used internationally to assess with the purpose of improving the quality of care given to residents in institutionalised settings.

The IAHSA award acknowledged her person-centered care training and research in South African residential care facilities while working at the UFS as a senior lecturer from 2003 to 2013. Currently, she is based at the University of Sydney, but remains an affiliated lecturer at the UFS Department of Occupational Therapy.

In 1992, she graduated with a BA in Occupational Therapy at the UFS, and went on to further her studies at various institutions. Also, she is one of the founding directors of the Eden Alternative South Africa, an advocacy for older persons’ rights within old-age homes. Over the years, Dr du Toit has won numerous awards for her research.

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