In partnership with the John Langalibalele Dube Institute, the College of Humanities hosted the annual JL Dube Memorial Lecture at the UNITE building on the Howard College campus.
Executive Director of UN Women and former Deputy President of South Africa, Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, delivered the lecture.
UKZN Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Nana Poku noted that the JL Dube Memorial Lecture has become an annual highlight on UKZN’s calendar. ‘Dr Dube was passionate about the injustices of the land issue, a subject our Institution has taken up, providing platforms for strategic discussions and debates to determine the high road towards finding solutions to this most pressing of modern issues in our country,’ he said. ‘Here at UKZN, we are proud of our ethos and of our achievements in furthering gender equality. Dr Dube’s example is a call not to membership, but to leadership — and this nation’s universities have a leading role in that, one that we accept wholeheartedly.’
Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize said that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between the John Langalibalele Dube Institute and UKZN which will see postdoctoral students undertaking research on the land issue. ‘We are looking forward to taking this partnership further in terms of political and educational freedom. Without land, we have nowhere to stand. Landlessness equals death,’ he said.
Speaking on behalf of the Institute, Professor Itumeleng Mosala remarked, ‘We are grateful for this partnership with UKZN because from it will emerge research on the issue of land that could lead to restoration of the dignity of our people by giving them their land back. Unless you repossess land, you cannot deal with the issue.’
Mlambo-Ngcuka noted that both gender equality and climate change are global issues that call for local solutions. ‘Gender-based violence is a battle that men, especially, have to win. They have to take the lead as a perpetrator constituency, in our homes, on our campuses and in public spaces. Women cannot shoulder this fight alone,’ she said.
Mlambo-Ngcuka strongly believes that, ‘this is the generation with a fighting chance to end inequality and gender discrimination. We are the last generation to save the planet.’
She noted that South Africa is working hard trying to attract investment amidst corruption and widespread looting, but said that she is confident that the country and the world could reach zero emissions by 2030.
‘We have to raise South Africans’ awareness of energy efficiency and broad environmental and climate change issues. This is the time to improve on the green ecosystem. Like Dube, we have a challenge to rise up to,’ she said. ‘The lesson we must take from the life of JL Dube is that you have to get your hands dirty to solve big problems. Now is the time for South Africa to get its hands dirty and solve big problems through combining global consensus and national action.’
Words: Melissa Mungroo
Photograph: Andile Ndlovu