Stellenbosch University
Welcome to Stellenbosch University
African University Day celebrates young people
Author: Amanda Tongha & Refiloe Nkhasi
Published: 30/11/2018

​​​​Youth should be placed at the centre of Africa's development. This was the key message as Stellenbosch University (SU) celebrated African University Day 2018. Every year, higher education institutions on the continent mark this day on 12 November, which coincides with the birth of the Association of African Universities in 1967. The theme for this year's celebration was “Achieving the Africa we want: The role of young people". At SU, the two-day celebrations included a seminar, film night and gala dinner.

“Africa has the largest youth population in the world. If we want a sustainable and prosperous Africa, we need to ensure that the youth are involved in that prosperity," said Farai Mubaiwa, co-founder of the youth-led organisation Africa Matters and one of three panellists at the African University Day seminar on 15 November. Speaker after speaker echoed her message, arguing that youth involvement can help address social issues such as inequality and unemployment.

Paying particular attention to the challenge of unemployment, Dr Nyambura Mwagiru, International Affairs Coordinator: Academic Customised Programmes at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, told the audience: “We have come to a point where we absolutely have to include the young people in Africa. More than telling young people they can do it and they are the future, we have an opportunity now to actually let them do it."

Panellist Eduard Beukman, Students' Representative Council (SRC) member and chair of SU's Academic Affairs Council, expressed the need for an Africa where “development is people-driven, relying on the potential offered by people, especially women and youth". In this regard, Beukman asked: “Are our teaching and learning systems creating and developing individuals with the competencies to address the complex problems of the 21st century? Modern-day challenges require transdisciplinary and participative education."

Following the seminar, students were treated to an African film night. They enthusiastically filled up the Pulp cinema to watch the movies Five fingers for Marseilles and Half of a Yellow Sun.

The following night's gala dinner was a colourful affair with students from various nationalities gathering in the VV Hall in the Neelsie Student Centre. Hosted by SU International and the African Students' Board, the event showcased Africa at its finest – from arts and poetry, to fashion and music.

The gala concluded with a recognition ceremony where SU International awarded African leadership scholarships to Josephine Chileshe and Pamela Ncube, both members of the research group on host-pathogen mycobactomics in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. The scholarship is awarded to African students who have shown dedication and leadership, not only in their academic work, but also in the co-curricular field. Josephine was instrumental in creating the international student representative portfolio on the Tygerberg Postgraduate Student Council, and served as the first ever incumbent of this portfolio. Pamela, in turn, served as the sponsorship and events manager for the SRC arts and culture portfolio in 2015/16, is a member of the TH Children's Foundation, and tutors at a school in Kayamandi.

Watch a videoclip of the African University Day seminar here