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New sculpture celebrates the legacy of Unisa’s awesome alumni

During an event that took place on Saturday, 16 March, Unisa unveiled an alumni sculpture at the heart of its Muckleneuck campus in Pretoria. This unveiling marked the celebration of 150 years of alumni ambassadorship, showcasing the institution's legacy and global impact.


Flanking the new sculpture are (from left) Kabelo Maja (lead artist and project manager), Dr Phumzile Dlamini (Acting Director, Human Resources), Matsiababa Motebele (Vice-Principal: Operations and Facilities) Dr Colen Tuaundu, (Chairperson: Unisa Alumni Chapter Convenors’ Committee), Frankie Mojapelo (Director: Unisa Foundation and Alumni Relations), Prof Zethu Nkosi (Executive Dean: College of Human Sciences), Khanya Mahlare (Executive Director: Department of Institutional Advancement), and Gerald Motau (Johannesburg Alumni Chapter Convenor)

Crafted by artist, academic and Unisa alumnus Kabelo Maja and his team, the sculpture stands as a symbolic masterpiece, weaving together themes of education, accomplishment and global connectivity.

At its core lies a graduation cap, symbolising academic success and the limitless opportunities education affords. Perched atop a globe, the cap signifies the culmination of knowledge and the interconnectedness of Unisa's vast alumni network, spanning over a million individuals worldwide.


Artist Kabelo Maja

“The concept of this sculpture is to signify Unisa’s global reach,” commented Maja. “ This is a living concept that depicts the life that Unisa has given and will give in future to individuals, communities and countries.”

Messages of support and appreciation poured in from Unisa alumni chapters across Africa, underscoring the impact the institution has had on their lives and careers. Dr Colen Tuaundu, chairperson of Unisa’s Alumni Chapter Convenors’ Committee, highlighted the role alumni have played in shaping the institution’s legacy and propelling it forward into a future brimming with promise and opportunity.

In his introduction to the messages received from alumni chapters across the globe, Tuaundu said: “Today, we celebrate the mark our alumni have left on this institution; let us reaffirm our  commitment to honour their legacy and continue the journey of excellence together.   Our alumni chapters actively plough back into the university via a number of academic opportunities as well as by donating.  In the past two  years, alumni were able to assist 300 students to successfully complete their programmes by paying their final years’ outstanding tuition.”

Reflecting on the significance of the sculpture, convenors from various chapters shared their sentiments. From Namibia to Mauritius, Ethiopia to Lesotho, and across South Africa, alumni chapters expressed gratitude for the transformative impact Unisa has had on their lives and communities.

The chapters acknowledged their alma mater as a beacon of knowledge, a promoter of multiculturalism and a catalyst for social change, sharing sentiments of pride and appreciation.

Looking ahead, alumni chapters committed to further enhance collaboration, mentorship and career guidance initiatives. They envision an ecosystem of support and opportunity, supported by the collective expertise and resources of the alumni network.

The unveiling ceremony served as a moment of reflection on Unisa's remarkable journey over the past 150 years. From pioneering distance learning to embracing the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Unisa has remained steadfast in its commitment to education and societal advancement.

About the creative team

Leading the project was Kabelo Maja, who developed the concept and managed the creative process. Maja holds a Master of Visual Arts (MVA) from Unisa and is an academic at the university. He works in diverse art media with research interests mainly in art and sport. He has served in various professional capacities as a board member for various art fraternities and adjudicated numerous national art competitions in South Africa and Internationally. As an artist, Kabelo has exhibited locally and internationally, and has created illustrations for stamps for various national states.

The following artists joined Maja to contribute to the design of the sculpture: Unisa MVA students Sello Mahlangu (graphic design), Johannes Nkomme (maquettes production) and Caira Summers (maquettes production), and Unisa alumnus Xolela Sogoni (maquettes design and production).


* By Cilla Boucher, Unisa Alumni Relations Officer

Publish date: 2024/03/25

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