College of Human Sciences

CHS scholar honoured by UWF

Dr Vuyolwethu Seti-Sonamzi from Unisa’s Department of Communication Science in the College of Human Sciences was recently the recipient of the 2020 Transformative Leadership Award from the Unisa Women’s Forum.

She was announced the winner at the annual Feroza Adam Memorial Lecture which was held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. The lecture is held to honour Adam, a South African political activist, who was elected to Parliament in 1994, and who died shortly thereafter in a car accident. According to SA History Online, Adam’s considerable personal power, ability to communicate, organise and speak with conviction in public meant that she was a force to be reckoned with. She identified as a feminist and political activist with pride and an irrepressible optimism.

Just like Adam, Seti-Sonamzi, who was nominated by her colleague Melusi Mntungwa, can also be described as a force to be reckoned with. According to Mntungwa, Seti-Sonamzi is one of the country’s foremost decolonial scholars and she has let this goal guide and influence her work in all areas of her career at Unisa. “I chose to nominate Dr Seti-Sonamzi for this award because of the critical role that she is playing currently as an emerging scholar and her growing achievements across various areas from leadership, research, teaching and learning and community engagement. As an emerging scholar she has the capabilities and represents the type or robust and humanitarian of women leaders that Unisa deserves in the future,” he said.

Mntungwa added that Seti-Sonamzi is guided by and lives the values and the guiding principles of the university. “She has in her young career dedicated her work and time to the upliftment of her people, namely her students and her community of women, and colleagues and the institution at large. At this early stage in her career she has presented a model for what a Unisa women academic can achieve through conviction, dedication, and commitment to staying the course.”

He further explained: “This prestigious award is a well-deserved and necessary acknowledgement of her achievements so far. Her receipt of this award is history making and a nonconformist act of acknowledging that outstanding achievements and efforts are not informed by age and time. Rather that acknowledgment can be granted to young women Unisans such as Vuyolwethu who are dedicating their careers to the improvement and development of the others and in doing so have exhibited what transformative leadership can be.”

In expressing her gratitude, Seti-Sonamzi said: “I see this win as a great achievement. I am honoured to be seen as deserving of this award, particularly that it is the transformative leadership stream, as this is an area I have dedicated my life to. I believe in a kind of leadership that is intuitive, compassionate, and grounded in African cosmology. It means that much more because I do truly see myself as a leader in the making. The award affirms my efforts and boosts my confidence.”

She said that everyone in her circle is incredibly happy for her. “The reaction has been great across the board. My former CoD said he knew I would make a difference when he interviewed me in 2010. My parents are very proud; they have believed in my innate abilities all my life and I thought they were just gassing me up. This validated their undying belief in me, for me, and for them. My colleagues all sent congratulatory emails and texts. I am proud to be a member of just an affirming department and college. My husband knows he got himself a pretty boss wife, lol.”

Speaking on how she plans to build on this in her career and personally, she said: “I plan to grow and build my confidence even further and use this award as a stepping stone to greater academic and leadership heights.

Chair of the Department of Communication Science, Professor Siyasanga Tyali, also expressed his delight at Seti-Sonamzi’s win. He said she is one of those individuals who brings positive energy even when handling difficult matters that pertain to core aspects of the future of the department. “She has played an important part in the department’s quest to review its curriculum offering especially when it comes to matters of decoloniality and Africanisation. I am extremely proud of her award and this achievement. The award is an indication that the institution is affirming the direction of her transformation endeavours.”

*By Rivonia Naidu-Hoffmeester, Communications and Marketing Specialist, College of Human Sciences

Publish date: 2020/09/04