UKZN Opens Historic Buildings Named after Struggle Icons
UKZN’s School of Education recently opened three of its new buildings on the Edgewood campus, Pinetown.
The University received infrastructure funding from the Department of Higher Education and Training to build the state-of-the-art facilities that have now been named after renowned struggle icons and educators. They are the Ellen Kuzwayo Building, Phyllis Naidoo Lecture Theatre and a reconfigured conference centre named after Dulcie September.
The Ellen Kuzwayo building further boasts three lecture theatres, staff offices and a commercial space.
The naming and inauguration of the three spaces culminate a three-year project around the decolonisation of UKZN spaces, and marks a “rebirth” for the Edgewood campus.
Dean and Head of the School of Education, Professor Thabo Msibi said, ‘From being founded as an all-White College of Education, the campus has transformed into a vibrant space; housing staff and students of diverse backgrounds. However, the naming of its buildings, including its spatial configuration, still largely reflects its founding history.’
The launch celebrations therefore mark an important political and academic milestone for UKZN. ‘The three spaces have been named after Black women who were struggle icons and educators. This is to recognise the powerful role that Black women educators played in the liberation of our country and also to address the lack of Black people in the naming of the existing buildings at the campus,’ added Msibi.
UKZN Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Nana Poku said, ‘It is fitting that we honour these liberation icons through our University spaces. We are committed to transformation and will continue to pioneer the work of these revolutionary women to inspire a future of inclusivity and harness leadership. The work we do in these facilities will dovetail into what these women strived for.’
In his keynote address, Dr Enoch Nzama, KZN Department of Education HOD, recognised the role of the struggle icons whilst applauding UKZN’s significant stride towards offering decolonised and transformed education. He said he is hopeful that the new facilities would enable students to learn from the liberation stalwarts and implement their values and ideals into their lives. ‘The University has taken a bold step towards inclusivity. The country needs academic institutions to decolonise the environment of learning,’ he said.
Attending the launch were the families of the iconic women. Kuzwayo’s granddaughter, Ipeleng Mkhari thanked UKZN for honouring her grandmother, ‘I hope that UKZN students will embody her spirit and live ethically,’ while Naidoo’s daughter, Sukhthi added, ‘This is a befitting honour for my mother as I know she would love that her legacy lives on in a place of learning.’ Eldest niece of September, Ms Theresa Arendse said, ‘Dulcie made great sacrifices for the freedom of South Africa. Her values are espoused in this place of learning.’
At the Launch, six canvas paintings created by Education students, were showcased in the Dulcie September Conference Centre. The students were encouraged to be a part of the “Make Your Mark in Paint” initiative, curated by Education lecturers, Dr Antoinette D’amant and Professor Daisy Pillay.
Large canvases were set up outside the students’ exam venue. As they came out from writing their exams, they were invited to make their mark on them using paintbrushes and a variety of bright acrylic paints. Many of the students even used objects, jewellery and pictures as a source for their inspiration.
Said D’amant, ‘We were so amazed at the positive and enthusiastic response from the students. Some had never so much as held a paintbrush let alone painted on a canvas that was meant as an artwork! About 4 000 students contributed to the artworks. It was a wonderful experience.’
Words: Melissa Mungroo
Photographs: Itumeleng Masa