Rhodes University engages in several Internationalisation at Home activities during Africa Month

Rhodes University engages in several Internationalisation at Home activities during Africa Month
Rhodes University engages in several Internationalisation at Home activities during Africa Month

In May, Rhodes University dedicates a month-long celebration to Africa, encompassing International Week and culminating in Africa Day on the 25th. In response to a call from the Rhodes University International Office, numerous departments collaborated and organised activities, exhibitions and displays independently to acknowledge and celebrate Africa Month.

The International Office, in collaboration with the Student Representative Council (SRC), signalled the start of Africa Month by showcasing the 16 Southern African Development Communities (SADC) flags, including the Africa Union flag, at the student hub at the Steve Biko Building. On Tuesday, 02 May 2023, the International Students Forum took place, focusing on international students' lived experiences in South Africa, specifically at Rhodes University. Building upon previous discussions, the forum sought to identify the remaining challenges international students face while providing them with essential information. The forum, organised by the SRC International Affairs Counsellor, Ms Tshdiso, received support from the International Office, which provided coffee/tea and muffins to over 90 attending students.

To promote Internationalisation at Home and enhance awareness of the cultural diversity at Rhodes University, the SRC hosted a Language Carousel in front of the Day Kaif on Wednesday, 03 May. Encouraging students to engage in multi-lingual conversations, this event served as a platform to showcase the richness and diversity of African cultures on campus. Live performances, a display of flags from different countries and refreshments for the participants, supplied by the International Office, created a memorable experience for the students.

Meanwhile, the School of Journalism and Media Studies (JMS) organised an online interschool dialogue exploring Africa's contribution to "Word Press Freedom Day", which was held on 03 May. The panel, moderated by JMS Lecturer Thandeka Gqubele-Mbeki, featured Jeanne Du Toit, the Head of JMS; Zubeida Jaffer, an award-winning JMS alumnus, Nancy Baker, Dean of the Graduate School of Media and Communications at Aga Khan University, Kenya and Jelani Cobb, Dean of Columbia Journalism School, United States.

On Thursday, 04 May, the SRC distributed 500 cupcakes, provided by the International Office, as study treats to the students, internationalising the weekly-observed Rhodes University tradition of "Purple Thursday".

On 05 May, the International Office organised the Internationalisation Awards Ceremony at the Oppidan Hall in the Steve Biko Building. This ceremony recognises the Rhodes University academic achievers who have incorporated internationalisation into their academic pursuits. Approximately 100 staff, dressed in formal or African attire, attended the African-themed event.

From 09-10 May, the Community Engagement Learning Symposium, hosted by Rhodes University Community Engagement (RUCE) at Amazwi Museum, brought together a wide range of South African and international speakers to Makhanda. Among these were Professor George Openjuru, the Vice-Chancellor of Gulu University in Uganda and Chair of the Uganda Vice-Chancellors Forum and Dr Marisol Morales, Executive Director of the Carnegie Elective Classifications at the American Council on Education.

On 20 May, the Rhodes University Department of Music and Musicology, in collaboration with the International Library of African Music, presented Rhodes University African Chorus' Hymns and Songs in the Chapel, performed a wonderful afternoon of choral music, with African flavour, showcasing a repertoire comprising indigenous South African choral pieces, traditional folk songs (izitibili), Gospel songs, and hymns in vernacular language(s). Athenkosi Nelani conducted the Rhodes University African Chorus.

On 22 May, the Rhodes University African Studies Centre organised a research seminar titled: "Feminisation of Learning Institutions and Religious Activities: Reflections from Female Muslim Scholars in Kenya".

On 23 May, the Amazwi Museum hosted the launch of Dr Carol Leff's new book: The "Afropolitan Flaneur in Literature". The book explores twelve novels published between 1999 and 2015, focusing on six African and six non-African publishers with a geographical focus falls on three cities in Africa (Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Lagos), as well as three cities in the Global North (New York, Paris, and London). The book launch, promoted as part of International Week, was well attended. Dr Leff expressed delight with insightful questions from the broader audience, including the Rhodes University creative writing student society, The Ink Society.   

Meanwhile, on 24 May, the Student Wellness hosted a special event called #AskAProfessional Series as part of the Africa Month celebrations. They invited Professor Enocent Msindo, the Dean of Humanities, to be a guest speaker. This series provides an invaluable opportunity for students to engage with professionals passionate about sharing their knowledge and advice with the next generation of leaders.

On Friday, 25 May, Rhodes University collaborated with the Eastern Cape Provincial Government and various stakeholders in a grand celebration of Africa Day. The celebration featured a vibrant cultural parade, an interesting colloquium, captivating live performances, inspiring art and craft art exhibitions and diverse African cuisine stalls. The International Office was critical in raising awareness of the event throughout Rhodes University. They also arranged for journalists from Grocott's Mail, Rhodes Music Rhodes, Rhodes University Communications Department and Rhodes University JMS to cover the event. To ensure the colloquium on Makhanda and the 1819 Battle of Egazini ran smoothly as part of the Africa Day celebrations, the panellists, including Professor Julie Wells, Dr Jongi Klass and Dr Pascall Taravinga, received pre-event administrative support from the International Office.