Officially launching Nelson Mandela University is the easy part, with the challenge being to live up to the revered former President’s name and picking up the baton from the unfinished journey that he started.
This was the message Vice-Chancellor Prof Derrick Swartz gave recently as he addressed hundreds of staff and students gathered at the University’s Missionvale Campus for a celebratory Mandela Magic Concert that set the tone to the Unviersity’s official launch.
“We are launching the new name. Many of you may think it is about just stripping the word ‘metropolitan’. It is also a good thing to do because the University does not only exist in the Metro. It is also in George, in the Western Cape, and we have offices and satellite facilities in Cape Town, East London, Durban and Johannesburg. So it is a national asset,” he said.
“The University is also one that speaks to the world, so we wanted it to resonate its influence and ideas across the continent and the world.
“Launching the new name is the easy part. The most important of this is not just stripping out the name ‘metropolitan’ but taking on board the name of Nelson Mandela – an incredible legendary giant of our age.
“Having the privilege of an institution like our own to be bequeathed this name is an absolute privilege that I cannot over emphasize to you.”
Opening the concert event that saw staff and students entertained by their peers in electrifying and emotive performances, Prof Swartz challenged the internal University community to think about how they would live up to the name.
“Think of what the name Nelson Mandela means to you as an individual. To me, it is an unfinished journey,” he said.
“It is finished for Madiba in person, but not for us. The journey of the total emancipation of all our people was started … and we have a duty to complete it so that every man, woman and child, town and city have the ability to live to the fullest of their dreams.
“That, for me, becomes the mark of change.”
The University’s Big Band welcomed the excited crowd with a rendition of Mango Groove’s Hometalk, with several interludes as staff and students took in the performances. The crowd was treated to a bevy of solo performances, with student singers and staff members wowing them with their amazing performances.
Issued by: Nelson Mandela University