The Nelson Mandela Foundation and Nelson Mandela University have joined hands in an effort to advance the legacy of the world icon they are named after.
On Monday, the institutions formalised the partnership with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in the areas of social justice advocacy, scholarship and research, and human rights activities – as defined by the parties.
The collaboration between the University and Foundation stems from a unique colloquium hosted at the university as part of its year-long Mandela Centenary Celebrations Programme early last year, titled ‘Dalibhunga: This time? That Mandela?’
This has since then birthed three projects, all geared at making a meaningful impact on society.
One of the projects is the Transdisciplinary Institute for Mandela Studies (TIMS), a joint project between the University, Foundation and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC).
The TIMS idea was launched last year during the colloquium.
“Though many academic entities and outfits are named after Nelson Mandela, no programme on Mandela Studies yet exists, as far as we can tell. Nor is there an outfit like TIMS anywhere in the world,” said Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation (CriSHET) at Nelson Mandela University, Andre Keet.
Explaining why the Foundation came on board to support TIMS, the university’s Director of Archive and Dialogue, Prof Verne Harris, said the University was one of around 60 organisations worldwide authorised to carry Madiba’s name, but “it was very seldom that an institute carrying the name comes to us with a proposal to do meaningful work”.
Harris said the Mandela scholarship was in its infancy and was a space “dominated by white male voices”, most of them overseas.
“This offers us a fecund place to explore what could be done there… We need to encourage robust, critical work,” Harris said.
Another project is the Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity (AFRE), which is in its second year. The project is a partnership between the Foundation and Columbia University in New York City, with the Nelson Mandela University’s role in the collaboration being to assist with developing curriculum content for the fellowship programme.
The Foundation, in collaboration with the non-profit organisation, Habitat for Humanity, is also exploring working with the University’s Department of Human Settlements on affordable community housing.