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Honours student selected to attend Commonwealth University network

Date Released: Thu, 25 July 2013 12:59 +0200

Honours Political and Social Sciences student, Mlamuli Hlatshwayo has been selected from 200 student applicants, who have demonstrated excellent qualities as future leaders, to attend the Association of Commonwealth Universities’ Residential School 2013.

“The Commonwealth Universities this year celebrates 100 years of being the world’s first and oldest international university network,” says Deputy Secretary General, Mr John Kirkland.

“Each student will be awarded their bursary once they have secured the relevant travel documents and travel tickets. Mlamuli is to be congratulated in putting forward such a strong application, as is Rhodes University,” he says.

In his essay Hlatshwayo wrote: “I believe the year 2113 would be characterised by bottom up processes of change whereby citizens (oppressed and liberated alike) are playing an instrumental role in the governance of their country through active meaningful participation, not only in elections but throughout the whole democratic dispensation.”

The talks and events are structured around various pertinent issues affecting today’s youth, with a strong focus on discussing the impact of today’s decisions on the future. The theme: “The World in 2113” was also the subject of the mini-essay students wrote as part of the application process.

After hearing about it from the Postgraduate Financial Administrator, Mr John Gillam, Hlatshwayo applied in June this year to attend the five-day course from 8-12 August. The ACU residential school is held once a year, bringing together a selection of 70 students from as far afield as the Caribbean and East Asia.

Never expecting to be chosen, he was surprised and elated to receive an email requesting him to travel to Port Elizabeth for a visa interview. “It was then that I thought, this is really happening!” he says.

With a particular interest in global governance, Hlatshwayo has been inspired by the work of American intellectual Richard Falk, who promotes more humane governance at a grassroots level, implementing a vibrant democracy that holds governments accountable and shifts the power from multi-national corporations back to the people.

Mentioning global shifts such as Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring, he wrote: “Humane governance is the type of governance which appreciates the importance of empowerment over dependency, one which attempts to transport a country’s population into a citizenship and thus ensuring that they are protected by the state.”

After recently completing course work on global governance and regionalism, he says, he has encountered many new ideas that he is keen to discuss and share with his fellow delegates.  

“I enjoy critical thought and I’m looking forward to making use of this privileged space and return to South Africa with a fresh perspective and different ways of approaching knowledge and practice when it comes to life issues.”

He believes that it is important to be able to “apply knowledge to our own respective real world contexts and change the thinking of the people around us”. Having come from what he calls “the ambitious political project borne out of post 1994 South Africa,” he believes that he has unique experiences to share with his fellow citizens of the world.

A real go-getter, Hlatshwayo has written articles for The Star newspaper critiquing President Zuma’s presidency and what it means for the youth and the nation’s marginalised. He is currently involved in a dynamic project, the FES Fort Hare School of Democracy, which is funded and run by a German foundation called the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (FES).

Photo and story by Anna-Karien Otto