VUT CELEBRATES AFRICA MONTH
By Qhawekazi Memani and Phetogo Mabuza 07 June 2022
Throughout the African continent, 25 May has been set aside for holding Africa Day celebrations.
The VUT’s main theme this year was” Africa is the Future” which was aligned to the sub-theme “Strengthening Resilience in Nutrition and Food Security on the African Continent: Strengthening Agro-Food Systems, Health and Social Protection Systems for the Acceleration of Human, Social and Economic Capital Development.”
Africa Day celebrates, commemorates, and symbolizes the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation. The day also affords the people of Africa and the diaspora an opportunity to acknowledge the continent’s progress, reflect on its challenges and look toward to a more prosperous future.
The Vaal University of Technology (VUT) set aside a couple of days to celebrate Africa Day. The first event on 25 May was organized through the Centre for Academic Learning (CAD) and African Languages Development Unit (ALDU) and challenged members of the VUT Community to dress up in their traditional attires and share what it means to be an African.
On Friday 27 May the following VUT departments: Community Engagement, Advancement and Internationalisation, Social Justice and Transformation, Research and Faculty of Human Sciences; collaborated to host an Africa Day dialogue. The event was held at the Desmond Tutu Great Hall in partnership with the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture.
VUT Management, led by the Vice-Chancellor and Principal (VC), Professor Dan Kgwadi, members of staff, students, members of parliament (MP’s) and other dignitaries graced the occasion with their presence.
This year’s celebration was particularly poignant for the institution as it celebrated its new unique brand. Currently, the VUT international students’ community represents almost 25 African countries.
In his welcoming address, Professor Kgwadi stressed the importance of collaborating with all stakeholders in building the VUT brand. “All stakeholders are appreciated in terms of where we are going as a university and Africa as a whole, “he said.
Keynote Speaker- Professor Godwell Nhamo: Chief Researcher and Exxaro Chair in Climate and Sustainability Transitions at the University of South Africa (UNISA) and VUT Vice-Chancellor and Principal (VC), Professor Dan Kgwadi
The Keynote Speaker, Professor Godwell Nhamo: Chief Researcher and Exxaro Chair in Climate and Sustainability Transitions at the University of South Africa (UNISA) spoke on the topic: Re-thinking African mineral wealth under the NetZero Emissions by 2050 Movement. Some of the insights shared in his presentation included the following:
“Although we are celebrating Africa month, Africa still bleeds and is not leading due to lack of development and the technological advancement which leads to raw minerals and resources being manufactured across the northern hemisphere. Africa needs leadership that will influence, with hybrid competency skills and live a legacy through the key fundamentals of Re-thinking African mineral wealth under the NetZero Emissions by 2050 movement”.
According to him, Africans cannot talk of food security without mining and other securities. To address complex global challenges. “Social and development partners must ask difficult questions and find simple solutions.”
With regards to higher education, Prof Nhamo said, “Eradicating history in African curricula remains the greatest heist of all times – without a vision, the continent will perish.” On what must Africa do, Prof Nhamo offered the following five pointers;” come back to our senses; realise there is a future that needs this mineral wealth; realise that the mineral wealth is ours, and our terms and conditions must be upheld; and time to act is now, before we are left with many more Kimberley holes”.
Panelist, Mr Khulekani Mondli Skhosana: Vice President: International Union of Socialist Youth and coordinator of Global Youth Parliament in Africa, urged higher education institutions across Africa to introduce a new programme that will give birth to future masters in refining resources and minerals while acquiring the land. “Africa is the future… ours is through the liberation of education with pen and paper other than throwing stones.”
Professor Maggie Linington, VUT Deputy Vice Chancellor: Teaching and Learning and Student Support Services made valuable inputs regarding food security. “In a future that will be inspired by agricultural science, we need to look at how we do things better and effect efficiency and effectiveness. Africa is full of diversity not only human diversity, but it is also full of plant, animal diversity too. Food security has over the years gone through different traditions, and we always talk about nutritious food not just food securities because it is important that you don’t just give people food, but you give them nutritious food, “she said.
Different cultural groups rendered beautiful performances that included song and dance. The event was sponsored by the Social Cohesion Program led by Mr Joseph Norman Radebe: Acting Director Community Engagement.
The Meaning of Africa Day: by VUT Staff and Students
Mr Jacob Thamaga: Acting Manager African Languages Development Unit.
“This day reminds Africans to celebrate and be proud of our cultural diversity, multilingualism, and heritage and to love our beautiful continent. Language policy and language planning issues are designed to promote historically marginalized languages, but implementation remains a challenge. As Africans, we need to love our languages, encourage kids to learn their mother tongues, and allow the education sector to transform by encouraging multilingualism.”
Ms Nondumiso Lufele: Director Stakeholder Relations; Advancement Division
“I am not only born in Africa, but Africa lives within me. Its pains, successes, victories, struggles, and inventions are part of my DNA. I identify myself with its many different cultures and languages, and when they speak of Mother Africa, they speak about ME; I am a proud African woman.”
Ms Millicent Seripe: Administrator – African Languages Development Unit
“In the past, women were allowed to do certain things because almost everything was for men/was done by men. Women can now do things themselves, work, pay bills and sustain themselves. Everyone is equal! We thank the African leaders for freeing women from oppression and exploitation.”
Sanele Sithole: Legal Assistant and 3rd year Student
“My mind is formed of knowledge passed down by traditions, Ubuntu and rich history, which does not only make me an African by origin but an African at heart.”