“By the time a black and a white South African at the age of 18 come to the university, they are already messed up in their heads. Depending on which schools they went to; the homes they grew up in; the churches, mosque or synagogues they went to – they are either struggling greatly with social cohesion, with being together with others that do not look like them, pray like them or speak their language … or they are able to get along more easily."
These were Prof Jonathan Jansen's opening words when he delivered the inaugural African Day Lecture at Stellenbosch University (SU) last night. Jansen was introduced by SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Wim de Villiers, who described him as Distinguished Professor of Education at SU, President of the South African Institute of Race Relations, and President of the Academy of Science of South Africa Prof Jansen is regarded as one of South Africa's most prolific scholars.
The topic of his lecture was: “Can schools build an inclusive African identity? Tracing changes in the racial demographics of schools since 1994". According to Prof Jansen, settled patterns of school desegregation are discernible presently, 20 years after apartheid. These patterns are an indication of the prospects for social cohesion in South Africa.
He warns that young people cannot be thrown together just like that, and expected to get along. They need to be guided and taught how to get along. Prof Jansen is convinced that it is easy to change young people's thinking.
People with cell phones click here.
At the same occasion, Prof De Villiers launched the SU Africa Day Lecture Series as an annual institutional event to commemorate Africa Day. He highlighted the important role that SU will continue to fulfil in collaborating towards higher education, specifically research in Africa.
Prof De Villiers said that the University was already involved in more than 400 active projects with more than 600 partners from Africa in 42 countries on the continent. He also mentioned the valuable work of the Centre for Collaboration in Africa, which resorts under Stellenbosch University International.
“We are an African university. Yes, we are located in Africa, but it is also true that approximately 14% of our student body come from 117 countries across the world, and 56% of our international students are from African countries other than South Africa," Prof De Villiers said.
Africa Day commemorates the formation of the Organisation of African Unity – the forerunner of the African Union – in 1963. SU also celebrates African University Day, on 12 November, to mark the foundation of the Association of African Universities (AAU) – of which SU is a member – in 1967.
Photo gallery: People attending the Africa Day Lecture at SU. Artist Wilken Calitz and singer Devonecia Swartz performed at the event after Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela ( Research Chair in Historical Trauma and Transformation) had a conversation after the delivery of the lecture.
Photos and video: Stefan Els