“Higher education is a powerful engine for the construction of inclusive, integrated, innovative and sustainable democratic developmental states and societies,” said Prof Paul Zeleza, Vice-Chancellor and President of the United States International University-Africa during his keynote address titled The Role of Higher Education in Africa’s Resurgence, at the inaugural Eric Molobi memorial lecture, hosted by the University of Johannesburg (UJ), on Saturday, 15 October 2016.
The first instalment of the memorial lecture, was attended by Mr Eric Molobi’s family, and distinguished dignitaries including Minister of Finance: Mr Pravin Gordhan, former Chief of the South African Defence Force: General Siphiwe Nyanda, former Premier of North West Province: Mr Popo Molefe, and the University’s Executive Leadership Group, members of council and students.
The Eric Molobi memorial lecture is in honour of the late struggle stalwart, Eric Molobi who steered the development of education policy for a post-apartheid future. It represents a proud and joyful landmark moment in UJ and in higher education as Eric would have thrived in this circumstances, said Prof Ihron Rensburg, the University’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal in his welcoming remarks. The VC also highlighted efforts of the University in its transformation that shouldn’t go unnoticed.
An amazing orator and an outstanding leader, that’s how Molobi was described by those who knew him. More than a hundred people graced the lecture, during which Prof Zeleza said Molobi remained a democrat until the last day. He said Molobi models for all of us the indefatigable spirit of struggle for emancipation and empowerment through his political activism in the dark days of apartheid, and in his commitment to inclusive and innovative economic and social development, and to transformative education in democratic South Africa.
Prof Zeleza held it was imperative for key constituencies in African higher education including government, general public, students, staff and administrators in the academic institutions raise the value proposition of African higher education. Getting into detail, he said: “Higher education is indispensable for fulfilling the dreams of generations of struggles against imperial and neo-colonial exploitation and marginalization and realizing our peoples enduring aspirations for emancipation and advancement.” Prof Zeleza went on to explore the intertwined challenges facing African higher education and the prospects for sustainable development.
The daughter of the stalwart, Tiisetso Molobi, spoke on behalf of the family. She said in spite of various challenges facing the country, she believes that her father’s diligence, good governance, accountability and ethics would have contributed greatly in shaping the future of the country.
Another tribute was made by friend and Comrade, Mr Popo Molefe who accentuated that Molobi was a stroke of political genius.
Prof Zeleza concluded: “Only then will our universities contribute meaningfully to the ‘Africa rising’ narrative, turning it from a momentary rhetoric reflecting the fortunes of the few into a lasting reality for the well-being of the many.”
Click here to read the full address: The Role of Higher Education in Africa’s Resurgence, delivered by Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, Vice-Chancellor and Professor of the Humanities and Social Sciences, United States International University-Africa.