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German Ambassador speaks on universities as agents for transformation
2016-05-25

Description: German Ambassador speaks on universities  Tags: German Ambassador speaks on universities

Eva Ziegert, JC van der Merwe, Lindokuhle Ntuli, Anita Ohl-Meyer, Ambassador Walter Lindner, Tali Nates, and Prof Leon Wessels at the dialogue session hosted by the IRSJ
Photo: Johan Roux

“Change is facilitated through education, not by means of radicalism, violence, or revolution.” Speaking at the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS) on Thursday 12 May 2016, the German Ambassador, Walter Lindner, urged students to engage in profitable dialogue instead, keeping their values and ideals in mind while changing the system from the inside.

The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ) hosted a full day of dialogues and discussions, the highlight of which was a critical dialogue with Ambassador Lindner, entitled “Universities as agents of transformation in society—Germany’s experience with the student protests of the 1968 movement and the difficulties it has reconciling with its past.” This was followed by a student colloquium, hosted by the Student Representative Council, which concluded with the second in the Africa’s Many Liberations seminar series, co-hosted by the IRSJ and the International Studies Group (ISG), with the title of “Fanon and the relevance of personal and collective decolonisation in today’s South Africa”.

Mr Lindner related his experience of student protests in Germany during the late 1960s, drawing certain parallels with South Africa’s own recent protests. According to Ambassador Lindner, it is “the impatient youth that drives forward change”, but cautioned against radicalism as a long-term solution.

Pointing out the various challenges facing humankind today, such as the lack of natural resources, unbridled climate change, and population growth, Mr Lindner stated that politicians (and the youth of today) would do well to focus on these greater issues, rather than focusing on the more mundane issues with which they are faced on a day-to-day basis.

The subsequent dialogue session was facilitated by Tali Nates, Director of the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre. A diverse array of questions and comments, both radical and more conservative, was directed at the ambassador, which he handled with unflappable aplomb.

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