This year's UMP celebrations focused on six African countries: Morocco, Senegal, Kenya, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Lesotho. Students showed their contributions with educational information, culture, dance, and food from each country.
Speaking at both events, UMP Vice-Chancellor Professor Thoko Mayekiso said Africa Day is a celebration of African unity. At the same time, it creates a platform for Africans to reaffirm their commitment towards working in partnership with other Africans to realise their potential by nurturing an environment that is conducive to prosperity, democracy and peace.
“This day provides African brothers and sisters from all over the continent with the opportunity to get to understand and appreciate one another. It provides us with an opportunity to distance ourselves from xenophobia and all the evils associated with it. We deny our humanity if we treat others differently because they come from another country, and worse if they come from another province within South Africa,” she said.
“As the UMP community, we embrace and celebrate our connectedness to the African continent in our very vision, which states: To be an African university leading in creating opportunities for sustainable development through innovation. We believe that Africa Day provides us with an excellent opportunity to advance our vision, and in particular live our value of diversity.”
Professor Samba Buri Mboup from Senegal delivered the keynote address at both events.
Professor Mayekiso further added that UMP is an African university that seeks to recognise, affirm and entrench the African experience and context within the academic project.
“The vision prompts and propels us to have a keen interest in what happens on the continent and to be passionate about playing our role to ensure that the continent succeeds.
Our research and development agenda, our innovation initiatives, and our noblest endeavours should be about improving the continent and optimising its resources. Commemoration days like this one serve as reminders that there is a lot to do out there. Our identity and humanity as Africans are worthy of being respected and celebrated,” she added.
“We know very well that education is critical to development. We have to continue to work hard towards the economic transformation of our continent. My invitation is to students and staff alike to use these platforms to educate us about Africa.”
Richness of Africa
The colourful and diverse event was honoured by the keynote speaker, Senegalese Professor Samba Buri Mboup, who said the significance of Africa Day is that it’s a landmark in the chain of interconnected struggles through space and time on the continent, outside the continent that is marked, and it is important.
“To underline that, marked by the permeance of resistance of our people against oppression. The dominant discussions tend to present us as passive people, but we have always been struggling from oppression and we have won because our history is also the history of great achievements,” he said.
Talking about Africa is talking about a huge continent. Wthin Africa you can put the USA, China and almost the rest of the world and there can still be some space left. This can be exemplified not as we look at the world as represented in the classical map, the map that we know is a false map and doesn’t represent the real proportions.
UMP celebrations focused on six African countries: Morocco, Senegal, Kenya, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Lesotho.
Professor Samba continued that the African population is estimated at 1.5 billion.
“And to those who try to tell us we are too many Africans and that we should make fewer babies and sometimes they help our women to make fewer babies. Demography when managed adequately can be a powerful tool for development and social progress.
The demographic profile states that Africa has a young population whereas some parts of the world, if not all of them, have a predominantly aged or ageing population. Having a young population as part of the demography profile is very important; it only needs to be managed adequately.”
He further said: “Africa is known as a rich resource base that has served Africans and also the rest of humanity. Africa has contributed to science first as the cradle of humankind and human civilisation. Generally, people agree now that Africa is the cradle of humankind but like to forget that second element that Africa is also the cradle of civilisation and it is important to bear that in mind.”
UMP Mbombela and Siyabuswa campuses celebrated Africa Day with a series of activities.
During the two-day celebration, students showcased their diversity by presentating attire and foods from Morocco, Senegal, Kenya, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Lesotho.
At the Mbombela campus, after judges deliberated on whose food was the most delicious, it was concluded that the 3rd place winner was represented by Morocco, 2nd place Rwanda. Lesotho took number one spot.
At Siyabuswa, the third place was taken by Democratic Republic of Congo, second was Kenya and Lesotho was number one.
@ Story by Cleopatra Makhaga. Pictures by ChrisplPhoto