NMMU officially rebrands as Nelson Mandela University

2017-07-21 15:48
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers a keynote address during the official renaming ceremony of the Nelson Mandela University at the Missionvale Campus in Port Elizabeth. (Lulama Zenzile, Gallo Images, Die Burger)

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers a keynote address during the official renaming ceremony of the Nelson Mandela University at the Missionvale Campus in Port Elizabeth. (Lulama Zenzile, Gallo Images, Die Burger)

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Port Elizabeth - The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University has officially relaunched as the Nelson Mandela University on Thursday, despite the name having been officially gazetted by Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Blade Nzimande in 2016.

Addressing guests at the official name-change event at Missionvale campus on Thursday, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said the university should be at the forefront of solving inequality, poverty and unemployment, as it was now carrying the name of one of the greatest statesmen the world had ever seen.

"The decision to become Nelson Mandela University is not simply an exercise in corporate re-branding; it is a statement of intent, of values. It is a validation of the struggles of our people against colonial occupation and apartheid oppression," Ramaphosa said.

"It is an affirmation of their history and identity, of their dignity and rights."

Ramaphosa said in re-branding, the university also shouldered the responsibility of giving life to Madiba's dream of social equality.

"That means that this university must be at the forefront of efforts to make higher education accessible to the poor and marginalised. This university must be at the forefront of efforts to ensure that higher education is an instrument for the achievement of social equality - that it does not simply perpetuate privilege," he said.

NMU must decolonise curriculum

Ramaphosa also called on the university to address its curriculum, looking at what and how it taught.

"We must decolonise our higher education system. We need an education system that will see Africans as worthy contributors to the development of curriculum content.

"A university that associates itself with Nelson Mandela must necessarily review its curriculum, and examine the subtle layers of colonial and neo-colonial norms that underlie its thought systems," he said.

Ramaphosa said the university would have to be an African university that served the continent.

"By naming this institution after Nelson Mandela, you are making the commitment that out of your teaching will emerge African scholars and academics that can bring a diversity of thought to traditional knowledge systems," he said.

The university said the launch marked an important milestone in the journey it had set for itself, working toward building a new-generation, dynamic African university.

"The hard work has resulted in government granting the university permission to establish the country's 10th medical school and helping it establish the country's only dedicated Ocean Sciences campus," said Nelson Mandela University's spokesperson, Zandile Mbabela.

"Both these initiatives will go a long way in enabling learners, particularly from township and rural schools and communities, to study and gain specialist qualifications in areas that were previously inaccessible and only dreamt about," she said.

Mbabela said the university had elected not to formally use the new name when it was gazetted, as it believed adequate preparations were necessary to ensure that, in using the name of Nelson Mandela, the former president was honoured respectfully and appropriately in ways befitting his stature.

Also among those present at the launch were human rights lawyer, advocate George Bizos SC, former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, university chancellor Santie Botha and outgoing vice chancellor, Derrick Swartz.

Read more on:    nmu  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  port elizabeth  |  education

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