Seven Community Scholars Based at CCS this Year
Seven community scholars have joined UKZN’s Centre for Civil Society (CCS) this year in an effort to educate and uplift communities to make a difference in society and uphold the fires of activism.
The CCS aims to advance socioeconomic and environmental justice by developing critical knowledge about, for and in dialogue with civil society through teaching, research and publishing.
Hence, the CCS Community Scholarship Initiative (The Dennis Brutus Initiative) was created to involve participation from members of civil society organisations and movements in Durban allowing for exchanges between CCS academics and researchers and local civil society organisations.
This initiative ensures that theoretical understandings of the concept “civil society” are underpinned by practical experiences and that civil society organisations linked with the CCS have an opportunity to participate in evolving formulations of theories on civil society and use them in their own environments.
‘The CCS Community Scholarship Initiative allows for community scholars to participate in CCS public lectures and seminars and to undertake research within their communities,’ said postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre, Dr Shauna Mottiar. ‘Courses relating to participatory video making and audio archiving are also offered.’
‘Community scholars are therefore capacitated to undertake community development and strengthen their activist skills. The scholars have utilised these opportunities to interrogate their own particular challenges and disseminate this knowledge in various ways.’
The initiative is funded by the CS Mott Foundation with the following seven community scholars being based at CCS this year: Mr China Ngubane: Co-ordinator; Ms Vanessa Burger: Environmental Activist – Durban; Ms Smitha Deonath: Environmental Activist, EarthLife Africa – Merebank; Ms Thuli Hlela: Community Activist – Valley of a Thousand Hills; Ms Gcina Makoba: Recycling Project – Inanda; Mr Molaudi Sakake: UKZN Student Activist – Howard College and Mr Sizwe Shiba: Community Activist – Umlazi.
Asked about their experiences as Community Scholars, Makoba said: ‘Being a community scholar, one learns a lot. By talking with others at the CCS, we’ve come to realise our challenges are almost the same - we see the perspectives of others and continue being active in our communities. We might have democracy now but I will continue being an activist for the betterment of the next generation.’
Sakake said: ‘The spirit of activism will stay alive but we hope to work towards the eventual destruction of activism. People have a voice through us, the community scholars. We give a voice to the voiceless, the excluded and the unrepresented. To not do anything is not an option. And we will continue to be active in our communities.’
The CCS also has a Community Scholar Volunteer Column which two UKZN students, Ms Caitlin Kawagachi and Mr Lindo Deyi, are part of.
- Melissa Mungroo