Mabizela takes University to town

The new Vice Chancellor of Rhodes University Dr Sizwe Mabizela has an ambitious vision for Grahamstown, based on the fact that the University is an integral part of the community.

In a press conference yesterday, he discussed the three pillars which he believes will ensure that the town is functioning to its full potential, and that every individual is included and benefits from Mabizela's efforts. The first pillar is the university's relationship with the municipality, Mabizela said.

"The functioning of Rhodes is dependent on the municipality discharging their responsibility competently," Mabizela said.

"Specifically for Grahamstown East, because they experience more of the disfunctionality of the municipality."

To this end, Mabizela said, the University had set up a working group to explore various issues of mutual concern. With the blatant education divide in Grahamstown, Mabizela’s second pillar is education. He referred to the visibility of this divide and how on one side there are expensive high-quality schools. And then “within a stone's throw” are some of the most dysfunctional schools in the province.

“It breaks my heart to see that. "We have an excellent University, and the best private and public schools in this town - yet there are young people whose potential remains unfulfilled,” he said.

Mabizela grew up in a small village outside Ladysmith, the son of two working class parents. Mabizela said he understood the grief of having potential, but needing an outsider to enable things to happen. He spoke of a time when he wanted to further his studies and had to write a letter to the then-Prime Minister explaining why he should be allowed to do a degree and, specifically, the course he had chosen.

"So with democracy supposedly ensuring that we these things do not happen to others, why is it still happening?" he asked.

"Why are those who are capable and talented unable because of what they are born into?"

To address this, the university has set up a group that will discuss ways in which the University plays a catalytic role in ensuring young people in Grahamstown have access to quality education.

"I want to see Grahamstown as the centre of academic excellence, starting from early childhood development to University level," he said.

The third piillar Mabizela named was Grahamstown becoming a wireless city. In this day and age, he said, this plays a vital role in the success of the other two pillars.

"Other cities have achieved this. We can also achieve this," he said.

Using a motto adopted from a song whose lyrics go, “Brighten the corner where you are,” Mabizela says his aim is to brighten this corner which is Grahamstown - and which has become part of him.

'One of our own'  

Mayor The appointment of Dr Mabizela as Vice-Chancellor of Rhodes University has been well recieved, with congratulatory messages coming from the Executive Mayor of Makana Municipality, Zamuxolo Peter, among others.

"Dr Mabizela is a natural born sheperd," Peter says.

"[His] life story conjures up in one’s mind... the Bible story about the shepherds who were led by the light from the East."

"Not only do we share... in his joy for his new accomplishment but we claim him as one of ours in the quest for better education in our country.

"Here is another black man being recognised for his sterling dedication in contributing to the development of our country," Peter said in his statement.

"The municipality at large takes off their hat as a sign of great respect for what he has achieved... they wish him to lead the institution and produce future leaders as the true shepherd."

Article by: Nomfundo Lukwe

Article source: Grocott's Mail

Source:  Grocott's Mail

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