College of Human Sciences

Celebrate Mother Africa says iconic storyteller Gcina Mhlophe

The alumni of Unisa’s College of Human Sciences call every South African province, all parts of Africa, and many parts of the world, home. This was the sentiment echoed by the College’s Dean, Professor Andrew Phillips when he welcomed CHS alumni from the Tshwane region and those joining live via the College’s Facebook page to the alumni cocktail and poetry evening.

Taking place during the week in which South Africans observed Freedom Day, the poetry evening was held by the College to honour their alumni and remind them that they form part of the Human Sciences’ and Unisa family.

“We are so glad that you have graced us with your presence, you are very important to us,” he said as he reminded alumni of how important they are to the College and University. “We could use and benefit from your wealth of knowledge, we need you in our consultations, you are an integral part of our College. Together we can make a great difference to all our communities,” he said.

Echoing the Dean’s sentiments was David Farirai, the Director for Institutional Advancement at Unisa. He said it was important for alumni to stay connected to the university by involving themselves in the work of the university and engaging on topics of relevance. In this way, he said alumni can continue to take something back to the communities they serve.

Following the formal part of the programme were outstanding and inspirational poetry performances by three of Africa’s daughters. Nkateko Masinga who performed first enacted a poem related to the ground-breaking play Sarafina. Masinga who is off to the USA for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders said she is grateful to the College for giving her the opportunity to share her poetry with its alumni. Also thanking the College for the opportunity to perform alongside the incomparable Gcina Mhlophe was poet Busisiwe Mahlangu who recited poetry related to freedom, saying that for her freedom means having no fear.

Pictured are Dr Britta Zawada (Deputy Dean, College of Human Sciences); Busisiwe Mahlangu; Gcina Mhlophe; Nkateko Masinga; and Prof Puleng Segalo (Head: Research and Graduate Studies, College of Human Sciences).

The star of the evening was the amazingly talented Mhlophe, well-known South African freedom fighter, activist, actor, storyteller, poet, playwright, director and author. Given that storytelling is a deeply traditional activity in Africa and Mhlophe is one of the few woman storytellers in a country dominated by males, the College saw it fit to invite her to entertain and inspire its alumni. True to her charismatic and multilingual performance style, she took the audience on a journey of her work explaining along the way why it is important to preserve storytelling. Keeping history alive and encouraging South African children to read are two of her main reasons.

As she was about to conclude, she told alumni that we have to celebrate Mother Africa. “This is a beautiful continent, we need to remember how to embrace each other, we need to rebuild,” she said, reminding everyone that the fight for freedom is never over.

* Rivonia Naidu-Hoffmeester (CHS communications and marketing)