The School of Social Sciences under the College of Humanities hosted a colloquium under the theme: The Empowerment of Councillors on Heritage Development and Maintenance.
The colloquium is one of many contributions from the School that seek to assist the country by assisting communities and ensuring that heritage remains intact.
Historical Studies academic, Professor Kalpana Hiralal welcomed participants on behalf of the Dean and Head of School, Professor Vivian Ojong, saying the colloquium is significant and important as it provides a space and platform for higher education to play an important role in community engagement.
‘The School of Social Sciences is committed to working with communities, to engage in constructive dialogue, to work towards solutions, and to enhance community development and heritage. This colloquium will not only enhance collective initiatives and partnerships, but also shift community engagement histories and heritage from the margins to the centre of our society,’ she said.
Organiser and acting Academic Leader of Community Engagement at the School, Dr Maserole Kgari-Masondo, explained the purpose of the day, saying, ‘UKZN believes that Higher Education Institutions should play a major role in community engagement and to foster heritage development, management, preservation, and conservation.’
‘Institutions of higher learning are supposed to make sure that they work collaboratively with communities and the state through research to bring solutions to the country’s problems. This colloquium with councillors contributes to our communities to ensure that any kind of heritage in our communities does not deplete,’ she added.
Topics covered during the session included Social Cohesion and Community Engagement, Needs Analysis in Wards, and Construction of Relevant Projects to Uplift the Community.
Speakers who addressed the conference included South African anti-apartheid activist, storyteller, poet and author, Dr Gcina Mhlophe; UKZN Youth Representative and Masters in Anthropology student, Mr Ntokozo Vundla; UKZN lecturers, Mr Siyabonga Ntombela, Mr Sandile Mnguni, and Dr Gerelene Jagganath; Academic Leader: Community Engagement at the School of Education, Professor Angela James; Gandhi Project Group’s Hersheela Narsee; and Mangosuthu University of Technology lecturer, Professor Busisiwe Nkonki-Mandleni.
The day ended with an awards ceremony where college staff, academics, social-change activists, students, and student representatives were honoured for their efforts in community engagement receiving certificates, awards and gift packs.
Among those who were honoured was Professor Albert Modi, DVC and Head of the College of Agriculture Engineering and Science, for outstanding College in community engagement at UKZN, recognizing the College’s innovations, especially that sought to assist communities in the aftermath of the devastating KZN floods.
The awards ceremony’s gift packs were sponsored by Icebolethu Funerals.