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Timely and historic MoU set to transform Africa

On 26 June 2019, Unisa’s Institute for Dispute Resolution in Africa (IDRA) and the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) in Nigeria signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to promote peace, security and development in Africa.

David Letsoalo (Acting Head: IDRA), Dr Motlatso Mlambo (Researcher: IDRA), Prof Thenjiwe Meyiwa (Vice-Principal: Research, Postgraduate Studies, Innovation and Commercialisation), Dr Joseph Ochogwu (Representative: IPCR), Prof Bakut tswah Bakut (Director General: IPCR), Mabel Jacobs (Legal Advisor: IPCR), Dr Olaotse Kole (Acting Executive Dean: College of Law) and Sunday Daji (IPCR)

This MoU seeks to preserve and support the knowledge of Africans through student interventions, research programmes, exchange programmes, conferences, capacity building and public lectures in South Africa and Nigeria. It also identifies research opportunities dealing with African problems, identities, concepts, cultures and histories to further bring peace in Africa.

Programme Director, Adv Sipho Mantula (Researcher: IDRA)

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Unisa’s Vice-Principal of Research, Postgraduate Studies, Innovation and Commercialisation, Prof Thenjiwe Meyiwa, highlighted the importance of research and execution to boost collaboration between IDRA and IPCR. "We need to make impactful contributions in the continent," she said. "This collaboration should not end by signing a contract but also be meaningful beyond paper."

In his welcome remarks, Acting Deputy Executive Dean of the College of Law (CLAW), Dr Olaotse Kole, said: "Today we are going to make sure that we conclude what we have started to change negative perceptions about Africa through MoUs like this. We have a mammoth task ahead and let us pave a way forward to achieve the objectives stipulated in the document."

"IDRA is premised under Unisa which is the African university on the continent. Therefore, it cannot escape the general mandate of being an African university in the service of humanity," said David Letsoalo, Acting Head of IDRA. "But to say you are an African university is just words; it’s rhetoric. We like saying things and do the total opposite," he said. "An African university should not focus on projects that are Eurocentric in nature and grounded on foreign notions - we should be grounded in African roots, stems and foundations."

According to Letsoalo, Africa should be respected as a name, especially in South Africa where people can say "I am an African" doing "un-African things". “We need to work towards peace to assist those countries engulfed in conflicts. Africa should be respected not only as a name but in its soul, substance and perspective. Through this MoU, we will move beyond rhetoric, and we will be concrete and practical. I strongly believe the challenges of Africa need to be tabled to be dealt with in a tangible way - changing a generation, changing history," he concluded.

Prof Bakut tswah Bakut, Director General of IPCR, said this partnership would have to answer the questions many people have about Africa. "I believe Africa is the continent of the future; we can do things to transform the world. The world needs to know we are just not making noise," he affirmed.

* By Lesego Ravhudzulo, Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2019-06-28 00:00:00.0