Taking focus: Prof Thandabantu Nhlapo and guests check out UCT Connections, an exhibition that celebrates the university's academic links in the rest of Africa.
Those passing through the foyer of the Leslie Social Building on UCT's upper campus for the past week would likely have stopped and inspected the sizeable exhibition set up there to showcase UCT's academic ties with the rest of Africa.
Dubbed UCT Connections by deputy vice-chancellor Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo, the exhibition formed part of Celebrating Africa, a weeklong programme run in collaboration with Iziko Museums to coincide with Africa Day on 25 May. And as the title suggests, the exhibit set out to draw attention to the many collaborations, research ties and projects that UCT academics play a part in across the continent.
Exhibitors included DataFirst, co-operating with a number of statistical offices around Africa under the aegis of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; the African Cultural Heritage Sites and Landscapes Project run by Professor Heinz Rüther; the Occupational Therapy Africa Regional Group; the Centre for Contemporary Islam, whose Professor Abdulkader Tayob recently took part in a workshop in Kenya to discuss the role of Kadhis' Courts there; and the Africa Earth Observatory Network. (The exhibition has now been disassembled.)
"There are so many different and good, solid linkages that UCT academics have," says Nan Warner, manager of the Africa Academic Links initiative in the International Academic Programmes Office, and the person who put up the exhibit with help from Norbert Musekiwa, a fellow of the UCT-run University, Science, Humanities and Engineering Partnerships in Africa project, and master's student Thando Vilakazi.
Warner is setting up another project to bring more academics from other African countries to UCT, in a project funded under the Vice-Chancellor's Strategic Initiatives. And, working under the oversight of deputy vice-chancellor Professor Jo Beall, developing an international partnerships database that will keep track of UCT's African and other international ties.
UCT has always had such strong links with institutions, groups and individual academics in Africa, said Nhlapo at a recent Celebrating Africa event. In keeping with its new Afropolitan strategic goal, the university will now simply invest more resources to cement and grow such relationships, he added.
"In simple terms, Afropolitanism is leveraging - a bit more than we've done in the past - our geographical location in this beautiful corner of the continent, and striving to make sure that we become excellent at generating, with other Africans, knowledge from the continent for everybody else," noted Nhlapo.
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