Steadfastness and fortitude needed for transformation

11 March 2011

Dr Pregs GovenderLooking forward: Dr Pregs Govender helped launch UCT's Month of Transformation.

UCT formally kicked off its Month of Transformation programme on 2 March.

At a gathering at the Baxter Theatre Centre, UCT executives and guests reflected on the aims of the month's events, and on transformation in general. Vice-chancellor Dr Max Price began proceedings by outlining the challenges facing UCT and the role that the institution can play in transformation in the country, through the calibre of its graduates and the work of its units and departments.

Glenda Wildschut, director of the newly-configured Transformation Services Offices, then spoke of how transformation touches every element of life at UCT, and how individuals can shape transformation. Deputy vice-chancellor Professor Crain Soudien added that UCT finds itself in a time and place in which it is "thinking deeply" about what it is and how it goes about its business - and how to create a university that is "hospitable" to all.

In turn, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, chair of UCT Council, compared transformation to running a marathon, which requires "steadfastness, fortitude and resilience"; especially in a time when the country is in need of real moral leadership, he said.

Finally, guest speaker Dr Pregs Govender, deputy chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), placed transformation at UCT into a national and global context. She spoke of how young people can be pivotal in changing the world, as illustrated by recent events in the Middle East.

Govender also spoke of the SAHRC's recent Reconciliation Seminar at the University of the Free State, the "culmination of a long process" that followed the release of the videos depicting four white Free State students subjecting black employees to a series of initiation-like activities.

"The courage shown by the workers in pursuing their dignity also helped catalyse the process of transformation within the University of the Free State," said Govender.

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