To answer the big questions about human existence often requires one to critically look at the small things that shape people’s daily lives. This is what guides the thinking of University of Johannesburg (UJ) Master’s Philosophy cum laude graduate Keolebogile Mbebe, when tackling the little things in life through her academic research at the University.
Originally from the North West province, the 27-year-old optimist started school in Grade 2 in Hillbrow, Johannesburg. She went back to Mogwase in North West to do her Grade 3 in a semi-Catholic school where she later completed her matric.
Mbebe completed a BA Journalism degree and a BA Honours in Philosophy (cum laude) degree before embarking on her Master’s qualification. She is currently working as a Communications Officer at UJ’s Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA). The young hopeful, who describes herself as a dreamer and social scientist, says she chose to study Journalism and Philosophy because she is too inquisitive about life and has always been interested in understanding human stories and experiences.
According to Mbebe, her academic journey at UJ was full of ups and downs, nevertheless with a wonderful undergraduate experience. Her postgraduate years at the University were emotionally exhausting due to the intensive work she had to complete – demonstrating her cum laude capabilities in the Honours and Masters programmes!
She says she managed to complete her degree with the help of the good mentors in the Philosophy Department at UJ. Also, her husband was her cheerleader during her studies. “Postgrad studies were mentally and emotionally taxing. I saw a couple of psychologists,” says Mbebe.
Mbebe’s research topic sought to illustrate that emotions can be rational and should not be feared or dismissed irrationally. Her research topic in completing her Master’s degree was: “Should a judge in a criminal case employ mercy based on compassion in the sentencing process?”
“My research goes a long way in contributing to how society views the role of emotions in moral judgement. Philosophy helps us shape our thoughts so that they resemble what we desire them to, and it helps us to have a critical approach to the things we take for granted in life. Nothing is left unquestioned and unanalysed,” she explains.
Looking into the future, Mbebe plans to explore a career in academia. She is the last born child in a family of five raised by both parents.