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UFS intensifies its advocacy on humanity and solidarity to Japan
2011-03-08

Staff and students from our university, marching for humanity
Photo: Stephen Collett

Staff and students from the University of the Free State (UFS) representing various associations and student bodies, together with Kovsie supporters, braved the cold and wet weather yesterday (17 March) as they embarked on a march for humanity. This occurred just two days after an urgent meeting had been called by the Dean of Student Affairs, Mr Rudi Buys to create a platform for students to deliberate on mechanisms to be used in supporting Japan, which is facing immense challenges, thereby responding to their unfortunate current situation. It is also a day after the direct conversation between the UFS and the South African ambassador to Japan, Mr Gert Grobler, a Kovsie alumnus.

The visibly spirited group started their march from the Main Building on the UFS Main Campus in Bloemfontein. Within minutes the Callie Human Centre – assembly point for the participants – was occupied by students and staff members who arrived in their numbers, carrying banners with messages of support for Japan.

Modieyi Motholo, ISC Chairperson, read a memorandum in the presence of more than 300 students. “We, the community of the University of the Free State, as sons and daughters of South Africa and the world, by our very action in this march today, celebrate our shared humanity, declare our solidarity with the people of Japan, and join the movement to build a culture of Human Rights. We declare our commitment to the cause of human dignity and equality, and the promotion of human rights, non-racialism and non-sexism,” read the memorandum. 

“Japan is far; we shall never be able to take the entire Kovsie community there to assist the Japanese in rebuilding their homes. However, we can show our solidarity and raise an awareness for their unfortunate circumstances by our numbers,” Modieyi said.

Mr Buys admitted to being overwhelmed by the united Kovsie community he witnessed standing up for a cause they believed in. On receiving the memorandum on behalf of the UFS management, he stated: “There is a different and new set of values in our student community. We have the best students in the world, driven by a pioneering spirit aimed at building a new society. We have come so far in a short period of time. You deserve recognition as a student population.”

The march was also organised to declare the UFS’s support and solidarity for the people of Japan. The solidarity campaign has further been intensified with the establishment of committees comprising fundraising, research, marketing and awareness, spirituality and volunteers. Nida Jooste, the ISC Vice-Chairperson, said that the research committee was busy conducting a comprehensive study on how the UFS can be of assistance to the Japan. “With the report we will be able to design and implement programmes that will be aligned with the needs of the people of Japan. “In the meantime, we will carry out small projects that will keep the flame of solidarity burning on our campus,” she concluded.

Noticeable amongst the attendees were Mr John Samuels, the current Director of the International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice.

 

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