Kopano lives up to its name

23 March 2011 | Story by Newsroom

'Kopano' is a Sesotho word that means a place of unity, and Kopano Residence at UCT aims to live up to its name.

Attendees Alumnus Pete Duys
Renewed friendships: Derek Wilson, Patricia Wilson, Marie-Elisabeth Wood, Philip Wood and John Osterberg attended the 50th anniversary reunion of Old Belsen Boys. Good memories: Alumnus Pete Duys enjoys a presentation during the reunion.

The residence boasts a diversity of students, be it race, class, academic disciplines and levels of study, said warden, Professor Evance Kalula, at the 50th anniversary reunion of Old Belsen Boys, named after the residence's original name.

"Despite many changes over the years, the values are still the same; we are still a united and the strongest residence at UCT," Kalula assured the group.

The four-day event gave the group of 40-odd members - about 50% of the 1961 Belsen intake - an opportunity to meet up again with old buddies, tour the university and perhaps be persuaded to give back to the residence. The reunion was organised by alumni Ken Price and John Osterberg.

The residence was originally named Belsen, after the Bergen-Belsen Nazi concentration camp in north-west Germany, as the residence initially housed students who had served in World War II. The name was changed to Driekoppen to mark the beheading of three slaves around the Mowbray area in 1724, but was changed to Kopano after 1994 as a celebration of unity.

Dr Stuart Saunders, one of Kopano's former wardens and former UCT vice-chancellor, is turning 80 this year, and the residence is using that occasion to bring back as many old boys as possible, and persuade them to support the residence.

Appealing to the old boys, vice-chancellor, Dr Max Price, said the number of students at UCT has increased five-fold over the past 60 years, and the university is under pressure from the government to take on even more students. A key constraint to growth is the lack of residences, and former residents were urged to come on board.

"Investing in residences is investing in transformation," Price said.

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