Press Release


Rhodes University Psychology Department Acknowledges Leading South African Psychologists who have contributed to social change in South Africa

By: Natalie Donaldson

On the evening of 1st September 2008 a celebration was held in which Prof. N Chabani Manganyi, a leading South African psychologist, was honoured by the Psychology Department of Rhodes University for his decades of contribution to social change in the country. This is the first of five events which are to take place annually.

Prof. Catriona Macleod, Head of the Psychology Department, started off the evening by explaining the aims of the project and the reasons why the department has decided to host these events. The nature of Psychology, she stated, lent itself to the side-lining of social issues. During the Apartheid era, Psychology formed part of the conservative and racialised society that existed and, even today, the discipline of Psychology continues to be overwhelmingly white and dominated by stances that may ignore deep political and social issues. As a result, the Psychology Department of Rhodes University wants to acknowledge and make visible the courage of South African psychologists who have stepped out of this traditional mould and who have used their intellectual, professional and personal work, to contribute to social change in South Africa and to the field of Psychology.

Prof. N Chabani Manganyi satisfied the requirements for the D Litt et Phil degree in Psychology in 1970 and became one of the first black South Africans to be granted admission into the Register of Clinical Psychologists of the then South African Medical and Dental Council. His intellectual contribution to South African Psychology has spanned many decades and has included books such as Being Black in the World (1973), Treachery and Innocence: Psychology and Racial Difference (1991), Gerard Sekoto: I am an African (2004). In the 1980s he conducted pioneering research and work with the victims of violence and undertook psycho-legal work in defence of political activists. He has worked in many management positions from Head of Department at the University of the Transkei in the late 1970s and early 1980s to, more recently, Vice-chancellor, University of the North, Executive Director, PSI Joint Education Trust, Director General, Department of Education, Advisor to the Vice-chancellor, University of Pretoria, Vice-Principal, University of Pretoria.

Dr S Badat, Professors Manganyi & Macleod

Prof. Manganyi structured his public lecture by thinking in terms of three specific “moments of awakening” within his life that enabled the development of his intellectual and professional attributes as well as the coming into being of self-realisation and a sense of professional identity. Prof. Manganyi stressed the importance of believing in one’s self and determination to achieve one’s goals during times of adversity as well as the importance of having professional role models in the socialization of health professionals. One of the main aims of launching this Social Change Project is to provide Psychology students with these role models. Prof. Manganyi ended his talk by stating that, as a psychologist, one needs to think more fully about and develop a psychology that applies to ordinary women and men and that aims to advance our society as a whole towards a non-racist and humane society.

Last Modified: Sun, 01 Jul 2012 17:11:33 SAST