Acting Dean Professor Vivian Ojong and the Dean of Humanities at UB, Professor Anderson Chebanne met Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize for a ceremonial signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two universities.
Professor Mkhize welcomed the University of Botswana delegation, which comprised Professor Nathan Mnjama (Information Studies), Ms Malebogo Kgalemang (Theology and Gender Studies) and Professor Chebanne (Dean of Humanities) and spoke about the significance of the MOU and the partnership it heralded between the two African Universities. The MOU had been formalized already, and the coming together of both the universities with the DVC of the College, was meant to mark the significance of the linkage.
‘This is a momentous occasion, where we look to the side, our neighbours, and not to the North, but rather to our partners in the South,’ said Prof Mkhize. He congratulated the School of Social Sciences for working hard over the last few months to bring the MOU to actualization.
The MOU was made possible through the efforts of the School Internationalisation Task Team. The Team was made up of Professor Ojong (Acting Dean of School), Professor Maheshvari Naidu (Academic Leader of Researcher), Dr Christina Kgari-Masondo (School Cluster Leader) and School manager Mr. Sifiso Zulu.
Ojong commented on the significance and immense value of forging equal partnerships with African universities that shared a common strategic vision and transformation agenda. We need to see ourselves as equal knowledge producers, she said.
Naidu added that while MOUs are common, many sit dormant and inactive. ‘The task team was thus clear that we wanted to move rapidly and actualise the collaboration with concrete engagement between the universities that transcends the act of signing and documenting the collaboration,’ said Naidu. She also thanked the International office and Dr Tasmeera Singh for assisting with the processing of the MOU.
In addition to meeting with the DVC, the UB delegation were invited as part of an inaugural School MOU event and the day was marked with a series of seminars entitled, ‘Conversations around, De-coloniality, Indigenization and Africanization’. The Botswana delegation presented three papers while the UKZN respondents were Dr Francis Garaba (Information Studies), Dr Fikile Vilakazi (Political Science and Gender) and Dr Janet Muthuki (Gender Studies). Early career academics, postdocs and postgraduate students in the School attended the seminars.
‘It was good to see our emerging academics participating. It gives them exposure to how academics in other universities and countries approach issues of research. I am sure our postdocs and PhD students also benefited and enjoyed engaging with other African Scholars on issues of coloniality and decoloniality,’ said Zulu.
‘Learning collaboratively with UB academics through seminars like these is already bringing the fruits of partnership as two projects have been identified. For me personally as an emerging academic, I have learnt that collaboration is the best strategy to help academics and students to publish and learn the ethics and practice of collaboration,’ said Kgari-Masondo. ‘This venture ties in with the philosophy of Ubuntu/botho as it focuses on the values of collaboration, participation, care and respect between partners. This MOU speaks directly to Africanisation ethics as it promulgates collaborative work rather than individualism which is more commonly practiced in the Humanities.’
‘The Dean and the Task Team are currently working with UB to send a group of PhD students to UB to participate in a research methodology workshop and engage with international staff and students, It is important that our students see themselves as positioned within the wider space of Africa and African scholarship, said Naidu.
‘We are also excited to begin working on collaborative projects with our new partners and create further research and teaching opportunities for our staff, especially emerging academics.’