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13 October 2020 | Story Prof John Mubangizi | Photo Sonia du Toit
Prof John C Mubangizi is Dean: Faculty of Law, University of the Free State.

South Africans are sick and tired of corruption. They are angry, frustrated and despondent. And they have every reason to be. South Africa has many problems: crime, unemployment, poverty, gender-based violence, inequality, low economic growth and now – in common with many other countries – COVID-19. The list goes on and on. What makes corruption the biggest threat among all these is that it cuts across all of them and impacts on their gravity in different ways. 

The South African Constitution envisages a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights. The way things are going, that society is never likely to happen. That is because corruption has been, and continues to be, the greatest threat to any possibility of realising that constitutional dream. In South Africa, like everywhere else where corruption is rampant, it occurs both in the public and private sectors, where it affects democracy and human rights by deteriorating institutions and diminishing public trust in government. It impairs the ability of government to fulfil its obligations and ensure accountability in the delivery of economic and social services like healthcare, education, clean water, housing, and social security. This is because corruption diverts funds into private pockets – which impedes delivery of services – thereby perpetuating poverty, inequality, injustice and unfairness. The problem is aggravated when government is the main culprit. “Government” here, of course, refers to the dictionary meaning of the term, namely, “the group of people with the authority to govern a country or state”.

Corruption existed in ancient Egypt, China and Greece

There are those who argue that corruption is as old as mankind and, therefore, it is here to stay. Indeed, corruption is known to have existed in ancient Egypt, ancient China and ancient Greece. In Robert Bolt’s 16th Century play A Man for All Seasons, Richard Rich’s opening remark is “But every man has his price.” In the 1836 play The Government Inspector, Nikolai Gogol cleverly satirised the human greed, stupidity and extensive political corruption in Imperial Russia at the time. And in a recent article in The Conversation (28 August 2020), Steven Friedman wonders why South Africans express shock at corruption when “it is perhaps the country’s oldest tradition.” He locates the advent of corruption in South Africa at the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck in 1652, through to the ensuing colonialism and apartheid. He argues that in reality, “corruption has been a constant feature of South African political life for much of the past 350 years. It is deeply embedded and it will take a concerted effort, over years, not days, to defeat it”. 

Agreed, but does it have to be that way? At the time of Jan van Riebeeck and during the 350 years of colonialism and apartheid, we did not have the legal framework that we have now. Here is a brief overview of that framework.

Read full article here

Opinion article by Professor John C Mubangizi, Dean: Faculty of Law, University of the Free State


News Archive

Translation Day Seminar
2007-10-22

Subverting the West? Engaging language practice as African interpretation.

With the above-mentioned title in mind, about 30 people gathered at the Main Campus of the University of the Free State (FS) in Bloemfontein for a Translation Day Seminar. The day was attended by academics, language practitioners, government departments, students, and other stakeholders in language practice.

Prof. Jackie Naudé, the Programme Director for the Programme in Language Practice at the UFS, gave a short historical overview of developments in research and training in language practice of the past decade. He argued in favour of a socio-constructivist approach to teaching and research in language practice. His point was that students need to be given the opportunity to engage with the complexities of real-life problems, specifically the complexities of the African context.

Dr Kobus Marais, Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies at the UFS, gave an overview of the state of the art of translation research. This meant that language practitioners are agents in communication, not mere conduits of meaning. He argued that translators’ agency implied that they have to make informed choices, the most important of which is whether to indigenise or foreignise when translating. He developed wisdom as a notion in translation, indicating that translators need to be wise to interpret their context and translate in such a way that (Western) ideology does not ride piggy-back on their translations into the African target culture.

Prof. Joan Connoly, Associate Professor in the Centre for Higher Education Development at Durban University of Technology (DUT), took the audience on a breathtaking journey on the topic of oral knowledge. Her presentation showed examples, both European and African oral knowledge and had a clear message for language practitioners: What can Africans learn from the Western mind? Her answer: "Africans can learn how easy it is to loose one’s oral knowledge base. Africans can look at the West and see what the consequences are when a culture loses its oral-based knowledge. Language practitioners have it in their power to consider this possible loss and do something about it."

Lastly, Ms Lolie Makhubu, Head of the Department of Language and Translation at DUT, spoke about enticement in interpreting to use loan words to impress either the audience or peers or clients. Her argument boils down to the interpreter’s attitude towards African culture and language. If Western culture is regarded as higher than African culture, interpreters will be tempted to boast their knowledge of Western culture by means of their choice of words. However, if interpreters are “Proudly South African”, as she put it, they have not need for showing off by using loan words.


 

Dr Kobus Marais (Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies at the UFS) during the seminar.
Photo (supplied)

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