UKZN hosted an instalment of its Dialogue series titled: Unpacking UKZN’s Perspectives of Transformation in the 25th Year of Democracy: Where Are We Now and Where Are We Going? The debate was hosted on the University’s Westville campus in the run up to Human Rights Day.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the College of Health Sciences, Professor Busi Ncama, said transformation aimed to “eradicate the legacy of apartheid”, reminding the audience that lack of access for rural students was of particular importance for universities in South Africa.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Teaching and Learning, Professor Sandile Songca, examined the Curriculum Perspective during the robust debate, saying a key mandate of universities was to ensure talented students became ‘impactful members of society.’ Songca emphasised the need to produce job creators rather than job seekers and advocated life-long learning.

Representing the labour perspective, Chairperson of the staff union UKSU Mr Raymond Parkies said the culture of the University needed to be ‘fostered as per the Transformation Charter.’ Parkies said transformation would be achieved ‘if we all work together.’

Law lecturer Ms Lindiwe Maqutu cautioned against an ideology that ‘propagates white supremacy.’ She emphasised the importance of remembering that modern South Africa was founded on racism and suggested that historical context was taken into consideration when examining transformation.

PhD intern at UKZN’s Maurice Webb Race Relations Unit and well-known social and political analyst, Mr Lukhona Mnguni, critiqued transformation charters which he said were often generic and ‘don’t even do the bare minimum that they promise.’

UKZN academic Dr Lubna Nadvi examined the political and gender perspective, reflecting on roles the founding universities of UKZN – the University of Natal and the University of Durban-Westville – played in the emancipation of the country.

Nadvi asked: ‘Where are the Bikos and the Rick Turners of today – do they even exist?’

She also discussed toxic masculinity and said the University needed to create a platform for staff and students to engage on matters relating to gender-based violence.

Co-ordinator at UKZN’s Aerotropolis Institute Africa Dr Rudi Kimmie explored transformation and the economic perspective, saying ‘transformation doesn’t live in a democracy, transformation lives inside of you.’ He encouraged those present to pursue excellence and to fully use the 86 400 seconds we are all given every day.

The dialogue was hosted by UKZN’s Corporate Relations division as part of the University’s efforts in advancing transformation and the REACHt principles.

Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer 

Photograph: Albert Hirasen