Vice-Chancellor Message – 11 November 2022


Dear UJ Community,

This week, I and some members of the University leadership had the honour to host the 2021 Nobel Prize laureate in Literature, Professor Abdulrazak Gurnah, for dinner. Prof Gurnah is the first black African to win the Nobel Prize in this category since world-acclaimed novelist Wole Soyinka in 1986, so you can imagine what an honour it was to have him as our special guest. On Wednesday, 9 November 2022, our University conferred upon him an Honorary Doctorate at a special graduation ceremony.

The Doctorate is for his invaluable contribution to literature, through which he has demonstrated what it means to be a public intellectual, an academic and an engaged author exploring the fractured past with a deep desire to reimagine the future. Prof Gurnah also delivered a public lecture under the theme Colonialism and the Refugee Experience. I hope that those of you who attended the lecture were inspired. If you missed it, you can watch it here.

Unfortunately, I could not attend the event because I was travelling to the University of Venda (UNIVEN) in Limpopo, where I too was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate, albeit it was of a different kind (in science). The conferral took place at a special ceremony yesterday, and I am thrilled to have been recognised by a University that is based in my hometown. Although my career has followed a different path and taken me to distant lands overseas, the occasion reminded me that growing up in a region surrounded by formidable institutions allowed me to dream big. It really felt like a true homecoming! I wish to thank the UNIVEN leadership for acknowledging me, and my journey. I am truly humbled. I dedicate this award to my grandmother Vho-Tshianeo Nyamande Marwala and my parents, my mother Vho-Khathutshelo Regina Marwala and late father Vho-Shavhani Alpheus Marwala.

On a different note, I am pleased to announce that the UJ Faculty of Humanities has partnered with the Manzini Zungu Foundation for a project that seeks to unearth and develop the potential of African storytellers through creative activism while still paying homage to Afrocentric influences and nuances. The Foundation is led by its founder, businessman, and award-winning filmmaker Manzini Zungu. The Manzini Zungu Foundation and UJ have already started collaborating on projects, including literature projects based on the award-winning animation film uShaka Inkosi Yamakhosi, which is currently streaming on Netflix.

I wish to thank Prof Suzy Graham, the Vice Dean of Teaching & Learning within the Faculty of Humanities and her team for this exciting venture that will accelerate new creative perspectives and applications of the humanities at UJ. As Prof Graham aptly put it, “The Humanities Faculty is cognisant of the fact that creativity is an essential 21st century workforce skill”. This partnership with the Manzini Zungu Foundation is an opportunity for UJ students and staff to exercise their creative talents in an enriching learning environment.

The month of October may have come and gone, but I thought I should reflect on its significance after being recently reminded that it is cyber security month, with many activities taking place globally to spread awareness of this scourge. As part of the events to mark the month, our Information and Communication Systems (ICS) Division has been focusing on initiatives to help our staff, postdoctoral research fellows and students safeguard themselves against cyber threats.

South Africa remains one of the most targeted countries in Africa in terms of cyber security threats. The Interpol African Cyberthreat Assessment Report of 2021, for instance, found South Africa to have had the highest incidents of email compromise and ransomware attacks, which makes institutions and, by extension, our staff and students increasingly vulnerable. In closing this campaign, I am excited to inform you that our ICS Division is implementing Multifactor Authentication (MFA) for the Microsoft Office 365 environment. This move illustrates our commitment to your online security in the ever-changing 4IR landscape. Please visit the links below for voice-over video tutorials:

Please join me in congratulating the CEO of Resolution Circle, Mr. Gideon Potgieter for leading the entity, a subsidiary of UJ Invent, which is wholly owned by the UJ to B-BBEE Level 1. As our country is an emerging democracy, which still grapples with the triple challenges of inequality, unemployment and poverty, this is a positive and exciting development. Congratulations to Mr. Potgieter and his team. Well done!

Finally, I again remind our students to remain focused as they continue with their end-of-year examinations and assessments, which commenced at the end of October. Once again, I urge them make full use of the various academic support programmes that are offered by our University. We are aware that you might feel anxious and overwhelmed during the exam period. Please do not hesitate to consult our psychological support services units at any of the four campuses. The Centre for Psychological Services and Career Development (PsyCaD) aids students in various ways. This includes a walk-in service, individual counselling sessions, and a faster emergency response through our 24-hour Crisis Line (082 054 1137).

Kea leboga, enkosi, baie dankie, ndi a livhuwa, thank you!

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala                     

Vice-Chancellor and Principal[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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