On July 17th, 2018, the University Of Johannesburg Confucius Institute and the University of Johannesburg Library in partnership with China National Publications Import & Export Group held a China exhibition launch at the University of Johannesburg Library.
The UJ Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tshilidzi Marwala welcomed the Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Mr Buti Manamela and China’s Executive Vice Minister of Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, Mr. Wang Xiaohui. The two Deputy Ministers opened the book exhibition that would run for a month and thereafter the books which are priced at (RMB 90 000.00 which is R178 112 at today’s exchange rate) be donated to the University of Johannesburg Library.
There were 80 people in attendance of the event and these were UJ Members of staff, students, and the public. The exhibition could not have come at a better moment than now because it preceded China’s President Xi Jinping’s two visits to South Africa; one state to start on the 23rd of July 2018 visit and the other a BRICS summit visit to be held in Johannesburg from the 25th to the 26th of July 2018. The year 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the South Africa-China relations. Both countries could use this opportunity to look back and reflect on the mutual benefits the countries have derived from their relationship as this could also help in finding ways of deepening the relations as we enter into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The book exhibition proves to be a good start as it would help deepen the people-to-people relations and gaining of knowledge on African and Chinese civilizations through literature.
The Vice-Chancellor and the Principal of the University of Johannesburg, Professor Marwala also used the book exhibition to belabour the importance of education in economic development. He emphasised that China provides numerous lessons to South Africa and Africa as China has made considerable progress in using education as a tool of liberation as exemplified by the reduction of adult illiteracy from 80% since the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949 to 10% by the year 2000.
The Vice Chancellor further stated that, “In 1963, with the formation of the Organisation of African Unity, or the OAU, China showed itself a reliable friend and ally to Africa’s cause, and the relationship has fermented into what is now the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation. Underlying it is also the booming trade volumes between Africa and China. As the African Union marches its own path from 1963 to 2063, key lessons are to be learned from China. Most crucial among these lessons is China’s opening up in the late 1970s.”
He concluded by saying that, “Moreover, it is in this spirit that the University of Johannesburg has set itself on a bold journey to harness and then shape the 4th industrial revolution that we welcome this book exhibition and welcome you, Minister Wang. The Minister’s presence here is testimony to the University of Johannesburg’s attempts to strengthen ties with its counterpart universities in China.”
The book exhibition came a few weeks after the successful Summer Camp visit by 29 UJ students to China. It is hoped that the Book Exhibition will encourage more exchange of views between Africans and Chinese with more literature written by Africans seeing its way into the Chinese society.