Alternatiewe is altyd beskikbaar

Jy wil dalk groot dinge in jou lewe behaal en jy wil groot dinge doen, maar die finansies sorg dat jy net hier onderlangs klein dingetjies kan aanpak en skaars n duik maak in die samelewing.

Veral in hierdie ekonomiese tye kan dit moeilik wees. Sagteware kan ‘n duur belegging wees en met die ontwikkeling op tegnologiese gebied kan jy amper seker wees dat die sagteware waarvoor jy nou betaal more amper weer oud gaan wees.

Dit is dus belangrik vir jou om jou huiswerk goed te doen en mooi te kyk na goedkoper en ook gratis alternatiewe voor jy op ‘n sagtewarepaket besluit.

Daar is darem ‘n webblad wat hierdie keuses vir jou makliker kan maak. www.alternativeto.net <javascript:void(‘http://www.alternativeto.net’);> Is die webblad waar jy nie net meer inligting oor alternatiewe sagteware kan kry nie, maar jy kan ook jou ervarings met ander gebruikers deel.

Op hierdie webblad sal jy die goeie en die slegte ervarings van gebruikers kan sien. Voor jy dus koop kan jy gerus eers alternativeto.net besoek om seker te maak jy kry waarde vir jou geld.

Daar is deesdae baie sagteware op die mark en ons is geneig om altyd na dieselfde handelsname te gryp alhoewel dit nie altyd die beste sagteware vir n spesifieke doel is nie. Dit is dalk tyd om eers al die alternatiewe ook in ag te neem. Dalk word jy angenaam verras.

Dinsdagaand was daar die eerste keer ‘n 27Dinner in Bloemfontein en die aand was ‘n perfekte afskop vir ‘n gereelde instelling op die
Bloemfotein kalender. Teken nou reeds die 27ste Februarie in jou dagboek aan wanneer ons weer lekker saam gaan netwerk en kuier.

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27Dinner groot sukses

Die eerste 27Dinner wat in Bloemfontein gehou is was ‘n reuse sukses.  Dinsdagaand was daar die eerste keer ‘n 27Dinner in Bloemfontein en die aand was ‘n perfekte afskop vir ‘n gereelde instelling op die Bloemfotein kalender.
Tydens die aand was die twee primere sprekers Igno van Niekerk en Ramon Thomas wat hul sienings en aanbevelings oor sosiale netwerke gedeel het.  Ramon het ook kom vertel hoe om jou primere inkomste op die web te verdien deur in Afrikaans te blog.  Met die wereld wat al hoe kleiner word as gevolg van tegnologiese veranderings het elke blogger ‘n internasionale mark alhoewel hy in sy moedertaal blog.  
Tydens die aand is daar ook lekker saam gekuier en nuwe netwerke en besigheidsgeleenthede bespreek deur van die bywoners.  Selfs Woensdag oggend was daar nog besigheid gesels toe van die bywoners saam ontbyt gaan eet het om verder besigheid te gesels.
Hierdie is ‘n wonderlike begin vir ‘n konsep wat reeds in Kaapstad, Johannesburg, Durban en ook Port Elizabeth baie popular is. Ons het ook besluit om reeds die volgende 27Dinner op 27 Februarie 2010 te hou.  Registrasies vir hierdie 27Dinner sal binnekort op die webblad www.27dinner.com <http://www.27dinner.com>  beskikbaar wees, maar indien jy nou reeds meer inligting benodig stuur gerus ‘n epos aan my.   Teken die datum sommer nou al in jou dagboek aan en maak seker dat jy nie volgende keer sal misloop nie.
Baie dankie aan almal wat die aand bygewoon het en ook almal wat die aand moontlik gemaak het insluitend al die geskenke wat geborg was wat ons uitgedeel het.  Onthou volgende keer gaan ons groter en beter!  

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Inhuldigingstoespraak van die 13de Rektor en Visekanselier van die Universiteit van die Vrystaat (UV)

Inhuldigingstoespraak van die 13de Rektor en Visekanselier van die Universiteit van die Vrystaat (UV)

(For the English version please scroll down)

Vir ’n tyd soos hierdie

Jonathan D Jansen

Ter ere van adv. Bram Fischer

Inleiding

Welkom, welkom, welkom. Ek het gedink dit sou nooit gebeur nie. Trouens, baie van julle het vir my gesê dat dit nooit kan gebeur nie, as gevolg van my weiering om persone in magsposisies se guns te probeer wen. Dog hier is julle, party van ander lande af soos Chris en Lynette Abels van die Verenigde Koninkryk, Joel Samoff van die Universiteit van Stanford (Kalifornië), Josephine Allen van Cornell Universiteit (New York), en ongeveer die helfte van julle van die Wes-Kaap af. Hiermee alle buitelandse protokol afgehandel. Aan my Suid-Afrikaanse vriende van Indiese afkoms, welkom ook aan julle; julle mag oornag vertoef.

Baie dankie dat julle vanaand die Universiteit van die Vrystaat so kom vereer.

Ek word vanaand vergesel van twee hoërskoolleiers. Foster Lubbe was die eerste Vrystater wat aan my geskryf het, terwyl ek nog in Durban werksaam was, om my in die provinsie te verwelkom; hy is die volgende hoofseun van die Hoërskool Sentraal in Bloemfontein. Portia Lehasa is die eerste swart hoofmeisie in 134 jaar van die befaamde Eunice Girls Secondary School, ook hier in Bloemfontein. Foster en Portia verteenwoordig ons toekoms as ʼn land; hulle herinner my aan my eerste liefde, skoolhou. En wanneer ek gaan sit en met hierdie twee jeugleiers gesels, raak ek uiters optimisties omtrent die toekoms van ons land.

Ek dra hierdie Inhuldigingstoespraak vanaand op aan waarskynlik die grootste seun van die Universiteit van die Vrystaat (’n regstudent alhier toe dit nog die Grey Universiteitskollege genoem is), die man wat die verdediging van Nelson Mandela gelei het, die patriot wat sy lewe opgeoffer het vir swart en wit Suid-Afrikaners, sodat ons almal vandag vry kan wees. Ek is daarom besonder verheug dat sy dogters Ruth en Ilse vanaand hier kan wees.

Ek oorhandig nou die oorspronklike weergawe van die Inhuldigingslesing aan die kinders van die grootste Kovsie van alle tye, Bram Fischer.

’n Plek soos hierdie

U is in die middel van Suid-Afrika. In ’n klein stadjie met ’n groot hart. In ’n plek waar die twee belangrikste nasionalistiese bewegings van die afgelope eeu, en moontlik selfs ’n derde (ons is nog nie seker nie) ontstaan het. Hierdie is ’n plek van kontraste, want die stad van rose (Bloemfontein) is ook die tuiste van die Cheetahs (Mangaung). Dit is ’n plek wat geboorte geskenk het aan die volledige spektrum van menswees, van JRR Tolkien, die skepper van die Hobbit, al die pad tot by Steve Hofmeyr, die skepper van, wel, baie dinge.

Dit is betekenisvol dat dit na die stad van Bloemfontein toe is wat die veroordeelde krimineel met sy laaste, desperate pleidooi kom, na die Hoogste Hof van Appèl. En so het ons almal vanaand hier bymekaar gekom met ’n pleidooi vir ons universiteit ’n pleidooi vir ons land, ’n pleidooi vir Afrika.

’n Tyd soos hierdie

’n Honderd-en-tien jaar gelede het ’n verskriklike tragedie in hierdie stad afgespeel wat die koers van die Suid-Afrikaanse geskiedenis sou verander. Die President van die Oranje-Vrystaat, MT Steyn, het die sogenaamde Bloemfontein-konferensie byeengeroep om die geskille tussen die Britse Hoë Kommissaris, Alfred Milner, en die Transvaalse President, Paul Kruger, te besleg insake kwessies wat onder andere die stemreg vir uitlanders en die gebruik van Engels in die Transvaalse Volksraad ingesluit het. Vir President Steyn was hierdie ’n laaste, desperate poging tot rekonsiliasie tussen wat “twee rasse” genoem is.

Die rekonsiliasie-samesprekings het gefaal, en ’n paar maande later het die Tweede Boereoorlog uitgebreek, wat meer as 26 000 persone se dood veroorsaak het: wit en swart, volwassenes en kinders. Die onvermoë om op so ’n kritieke tyd soos daardie versoening te bewerkstellig, het tot vandag toe nog letsels op die Suid-Afrikaanse politieke psige gelaat. En ek twyfel geensins dat die enkele, belangrikste rede vir die mislukking van die Bloemfontein-konferensie ten diepste mislukte leierskap was.

Ons staan vanaand voor ’n ander kritieke tydperk in ons geskiedenis. Wie sou kon dink dat, skaars ’n dekade na die wonderwerk van ons oorgang ons nog sou praat van “minderhede” in ’n demokrasie gebaseer op die beginsels van nierassigheid? Wie sou kon dink dat die aanstelling van mense in Mandela se land beheers sou word deur daardie berekende frase, “die demografie van die land”? En wie sou die kaalvuisgeweld kon voorspel wat wit boere op hulle grond en buitelandse burgers op ons strate doodmaak, of dat die armste van swart landsburgers neergevel sou word deur die rassehaat van ’n 18-jarige wit seun wat nog skaars die skool verlaat het?

Suid-Afrika staar vandag dit wat John Samuels ons “onafgehandelde sake” noem, in die gesig. Ons universiteit staan ook voor afgehandelde sake, so laat my sommer dadelik daarby uitkom.

Die Universiteit van die Vrystaat is 105 jaar oud. In sy lang en trotse geskiedenis het hierdie instelling partye van die kranigste juriste (insluitend ons Voorsitter van die Raad, Regter Faan Hancke), onderwysers, mediese wetenskaplikes, argitekte, landbou-ekonome, digters, musici, skrywers en verpleegkundiges opgelewer. Die universiteit het ook sommige van ons vooraanstaande sportpersoonlikhede opgelewer, insluitend die ongelooflik talentvolle Springbokflank Heinrich Brüssow en ons atletieksensasie, Boy Soke met sy nasionale kleure in baan- en veldnommers, landloop en padwedlope.

Die boek oor Reitz word toegemaak

Maar hierdie geskiedenis, soos wat dit die geval is met alle Suid-Afrikaanse universiteite, is nie vlekloos nie.

Ongeveer 100 meter links vanwaar ek staan, is die beroemde Abraham Fischer-koshuis (wat met deernis Vishuis genoem word), vernoem na die vader van die jonger Fischer. Hierdie eeu-oue studentekoshuis is ’n lewendige getuienis van die trotse geskiedenis van die Universiteit van die Vrystaat Universiteit.

Ongeveer 100 meter direk agter my is die Reitz-kamerwonings, ’n berugte plek wat groot skande oor ons universiteit en ongekende verontwaardiging vir ons land ten gevolg gehad het toe die wêreld kon aanskou hoe vier jong mans vyf swart werkers op rassistiese wyse verneder het.

Oor die afgelope paar maande het ek die terrein van Reitz dikwels besoek in ’n poging om te probeer verstaan hoe so ’n gruweldaad op die terrein van ’n hoëronderwysinstelling gepleeg kon word. Ek glo dat ek nou by ’n deel van die antwoord uitgekom het, en dat daardie antwoord belangrike implikasies het vir hoe ons in die rigting van genesing, vergifnis en maatskaplike geregtigheid op ons kampus en in ons land  kan beweeg.

U sien, die grootste fout wat met die ontleding van Reitz gemaak word, is om die voorval in terme van ’n individuele patologie te verduidelik. Dog, om die video as ’n produk van vier vrot appels af te maak) is ‘n te eenvoudige verklaring. Hierdie video-opname is voorafgegaan deur ’n lang reeks van rassevoorvalle uit protes teen rasse-integrasie, veral in die koshuise van die universiteit. Nie al hierdie ras-belaaide insidente het die pers gehaal nie; trouens, was dit nie vir die openbare vrystelling van die video-opname nie, sou niemand buite die universiteit daarvan geweet het nie. Verder besef baie min persone buite die kampus dat, wat nou as ’n aanstootlike video-opname beskou word, inderwaarheid ’n toekenning van die koshuis vir  die inhoud daarvan ontvang het.

Die vraag waarvoor ons gevolglik te staan kom, is ’n ontstellende een, en dit is die volgende: Wat was dit binne die instelling wat dit moontlik gemaak het vir so ’n gruweldaad om in die eerste plek gepleeg te word?

En dan is daar ook ander vrae. Waarom is dit dat die een na die ander ouer en kollega vir my kom vertel het dat die insident, en ek haal aan, “buite verhouding opgeblaas is”? Waarom is dit dat soveel volwassenes vir my kom vertel het dat dit Oros, en nie urine was nie, so asof dit van belang was in die gesimuleerde aksie van seuns wat in kos urineer? Wat moet ek maak van die talle afvaardigings na my kantoor om my in kennis te kom stel dat die seuns, en ek haal weer aan, “baie lief was vir die squeezas en vir hulle kos van hulle ouers se plase af gebring het?”

Wanneer die fokus van ontleding verskuif vanaf daardie individuele patologie tot een van institusionele kultuur, raak dit duidelik dat die Reitz-probleem nie bloot ’n probleem rondom vier rasgekwelde studente is nie. Dit is sonder twyfel ’n probleem van institusionele kompleksiteit.

Om hierdie rede is dit ook duidelik dat die meer diepgaande kwessies van rassisme en skynheiligheid wat ons universiteit – en talle ander – teister, nie in die howe uitgeklaar sal word nie. Wie ook al in die Reitz-saak gaan wen of verloor, ek gaan nog steeds op ’n Maandagoggend wakker word en dieselfde sosiale, kulturele en ideologiese kompleksiteite moet hanteer wat in die pad van transformasie staan – tensy ons iets anders gaan doen (meer daaromtrent oor ’n minuut of twee).

Erkenning

Ek is onlosmaaklik deel van die Universiteit van die Vrystaat, en daarom vra ek u vanaand om ons te vergewe vir wat ons gedoen het. Ek vra vir elke swart persoon op hierdie kampus en in hierdie provinsie om verskoning vir ons lang geskiedenis van uitsluiting en marginalisering van swart mense binne hierdie instansie. Ek het talle nagte in trane van verwyt deurgebring oor wat ons (ja, ons) die vyf swart werkers van die Universiteit van die Vrystaat aangedoen het. Hierdie instansie smeek u opreg om verskoning.

Ek vra elke ordentlike wit burger van ons universiteit om verskoning dat u deur die Reitz-insident in die skande gesteek is.  Ek weet dat te veel van julle persoonlik ’n gevoel van skuld en spyt ervaar het, ook omdat ons instelling julle gefaal het.  Ek weet ook dat u dit wat die vier studente gedoen het persoonlik opgeneem het, en dat u die meedoënlose kritiek rondom witmense wat op die Reitz-voorval gevolg het, as kommentaar oor die groep ervaar.

Vanaand, as die hoof van hierdie instelling, vra ek u om verskoning.

Ek vra om verskoning ter nagedagtenis aan Bram Fischer, die patriot wat ons gewaarsku het dat afsonderlike leefwyse kollektiewe trauma teweeg sou bring. Ek vra vir Sheila Aronstam en Kalie Strydom, wat lank voordat dit mode geword het, die Raad van die Universiteit gedruk het om hierdie kosbare instansie te transformeer toe dit gewoon nog nie gereed was om dit te doen nie. Ek vra my voorgangers, professors François Retief, Stef Coetzee en Frederick Fourie om verskoning – want julle het op julle eie manier gevra vir die transformasie van Kovsies, soms ten koste van julle persoonlik en julle gesinne.

Ek voel ook verplig om die volgende vanaand vir julle te sê. Daardie vier studente wat daardie verfoeilike daad gepleeg het, is my studente.  As julle my sal toelaat om van ’n ander leier te leen; ek kan hulle dit nie enigsins meer ontneem as wat ek dit nie my eie kinders kan ontneem nie.  Die vier Reitz-studente is kinders van hierdie land, hulle is die jeug van die provinsie, en hulle is studente van ons universiteit. Hulle is, ek herhaal, my studente.

Daarom het ek ʼn paar besluite geneem.

1. In ’n gebaar van rasseversoening, en die behoefte aan genesing, sal die Universiteit van die Vrystaat sy eie klagtes teen die vier studente terugtrek. Die Universiteit sal daarom glad nie verder teen die vier jong mans wat in die Reitz-insident geïmpliseer is, optree nie. In hierdie gees van toenadering sal die Universiteit verder gaan en hierdie vier studente terug nooi om hulle studies hier te kom voortsit.

2. In erkenning van ons institusionele medepligtigheid aan die Reitz-sage, en die behoefte aan sosiale geregtigheid, sal die Universiteit nie net vergifnis nastreef nie, maar ook skadevergoeding aan die betrokke werkers betaal in kompensasie vir die skade wat aan hulle waardigheid en hulle selfrespek berokken is.

Verder,

3. In ’n besliste verbintenis tot die dringende kwessie van rekonstruksie, sal die Universiteit van die Vrystaat die Reitz-koshuis heropen en transformeer tot ’n model van ras-rekonsiliasie en sosiale geregtigheid vir alle studente.

Die boek oor die toekoms word oopgemaak

Soos wat ons daarna streef om die boek oor Reitz toe te maak, so is ons vasberade om die boek oor ’n nuwe en gerekonstrueerde toekoms vir die Universiteit van die Vrystaat oop te maak. Ons sal deur twee doelwitte gedryf word.

Eerstens sal die universiteit ’n plek word wat die studie en praktyk van rekonsiliasie, vergifnis en sosiale geregtigheid verbeeld. Navorsers en studente van regoor die wêreld sal na die universiteit toe wil stroom om te kom studeer en om die teorie en praktyk te leer verstaan oor hoe om ’n gemeenskap nie alleen oor die skeidslyn van ras op te bou nie, maar ook oor dié van godsdiens, geslag, (nie/)gestremdheid, nasionale afkoms en, danksy Atletiek Suid-Afrika, seksuele identiteit.

In hierdie verband sal die Universiteit spoedig dit wat ons hoop om Die Reitz-Instituut vir Studie in Ras, Rekonsiliasie en Sosiale Geregtigheid te noem, bekend te stel.

Tweedens sal die universiteit baie vinnig moet beweeg om ’n nasionale en inderdaad internasionale sentrum vir akademiese uitnemendheid te word.  Terwyl die UV uitstekende programme in vakgebiede soos chemie, landbou en geneeskunde het, is ons akuut bewus van die behoefte daaraan om die akademiese standaard van ’n belowende instelling dramaties op te gradeer.

Laat ek duidelik hieromtrent wees, naamlik dat die UV onbeskaamd elitisties gaan wees in sy strewe om ’n Afrika-universiteit te word wat onmiddellik herkenbaar sal wees vir sy uitnemendheid rakende navorsing, onderrig en, wat my voorganger so treffend “navorsingsbetrokkenheid” genoem het, in verhouding tot die gemeenskappe rondom ons.

’n Universiteit is nie ’n welsynsorganisasie nie. Dit is nie ’n VOO-kollege nie. Dit is nie ’n reuse kompensasieprogram vir studente wat oor die matriekeindstreep gekruip het en nou daarom aandring om vir ’n graad in te skryf nie.

’n Universiteit is ’n hoëronderwysinstelling wat die beste beskikbare talent van ’n nasie en daarbuite moet dien. Met hierdie doel in gedagte gaan ons slegs die beste wit en die beste swart studente en akademici vir die Universiteit van die Vrystaat werf.

Leer om te dien

Geen Suid-Afrikaanse universiteit kan egter bekostig om te sit en wag vir studente om aan die einde van graad 12 op te daag, om net dan vir hulle te moet meedeel dat hulle nie goed genoeg is nie; dit sal wreed en onregverdig wees teenoor kinders wat deur die skoolsisteem in die steek gelaat is. As gevolg van ons geskiedenis het die universiteit ’n  verantwoordelikheid om met die mees benadeelde skole in ons land in die laer grade saam te werk om veral eerstegenerasie studente voor te berei om suksesvol te wees in hulle aansoek om toelating en vordering deur die universiteit.

In hierdie verband sal die UV met benadeelde hoërskole saamwerk, beginnende in plattelandse provinsies soos die Vrystaat en Noordkaap, om jongmense vir universiteit gereed te maak met behulp van somer- en winterskole op ons drie kampusse, waar hulle in biblioteke, laboratoriums en lesinglokale sal leer hoe om hulle voor te berei vir sukses in hulle universiteitstudie. Die vernaamste dryfkrag van ons gemeenskapsbetrokkenheid as ’n universiteit sal met behulp van ’n grootskaalse universiteit-skool-vennootskap in arm gemeenskappe plaasvind.

Billikheid betreffende personeel

Die universiteit is tans steeds, wat sy kader van navorsers betref, grotendeels wit en manlik, veral wat die professorskorps betref. Hierdie saak sal vinnig verander, nie slegs ter wille van billikheid nie, maar ook as ’n saak van uitnemendheid. Ons kan nie en sal nie ’n universiteit met akademiese aansien in die wêreld word as ons vanuit so ’n beperkte poel van beskikbare akademiese talent put nie.

Van volgende week af gaan ons derhalwe in die ope media 25 senior professorale poste adverteer wat slegs die kundigste en mees diverse poel van akademici na die UV gaan lok. Die UV gaan so vinnig as moontlik die aangesig van sy akademiese personeel transformeer, en ons gaan dit doen sonder om gedwing te word om die vals keuse tussen uitnemendheid en billikheid te maak.

Veelbewoë kennis

Die werklike probleem met transformasie is egter nie bloot die aantal swart gesigte tussen die personeel en in die studenteliggame van ’n voormalige wit universiteit nie. Die belangrikste uitdaging is die probleem van kennis. Die dikwels veelbewoë kennis waarmee die student universiteit toe kom – kennis van die verlede, kennis van swart en wit en, veral, kennis van die toekoms. Die universiteitskurrikulum, hier en elders, het nog nie voor die kritieke vraag aangespreek van wat ’n student in ’n  gevaarlike en verdeelde wêreld behoort te weet nie.

Daarom wil ek aan die Senaat van die Universiteit van die Vrystaat voorstel dat ons ’n  grondige kurrikulumhersiening moet doen en dat geen student aan hierdie universiteit ’n  graad mag behaal sonder om te besin oor die basiese vraagstukke van die mensdom nie, soos wie ons is en waar ons vandaan kom nie; sonder om te leer hoe om saam te leef en te studeer op wyses wat ons jeug voorberei vir leierskap in die werkplek nie.

Te veel van ons universiteite lewer jong mense op wat te vroeg in hulle dissiplines spesialiseer en nie oor daardie breër basis van onderrig beskik wat hulle voorberei om mense met empatie, kritiese landsburgers en etiese leiers in hulle dissipline en professie te wees nie. ’n Graad alleen is nie genoeg nie, en die Universiteit van die Vrystaat gaan ’n innoverende en eiesoortige voorgraadse kurrikulum ontwerp wat die huidige kennisvraagstuk in die Suid-Afrikaanse hoëronderwys sal aanspreek.

Wat ons vir ons studente gaan leer, is nie net hoe om hulle vaardighede te gebruik nie, maar hoe om van hulself in diens aan gemeenskappe te gee. Ek gaan vir my personeel vra om deur hulle voorbeeld te lei, en ek is bly dat ek die eerste stap kon neem om my salaris aan die universiteit terug te gee en te vra dat hulle ’n persentasie daarvan terughou om sowel ’n arm wit student as ’n arm swart student te borg; al wat hierdie twee studente in gemeen moet hê, is finansiële nood.

Subkulture van bespotting

Daar bestaan egter nog skadelike kulture nalatenskappe wat diep in die institusionele struktuur van ons universiteit verweef lê, en wat ek die afgelope 12 weke in my werk teëgekom het. Daar is die probleem van kleinsieligheid onder voorgraadse studente wat die universiteit beskou as ’n ononderbroke verlengstuk van die hoërskool met outoritêre rituele wat elders aangeleer is. Daar is die probleem van alkoholmisbruik in veral die manskoshuise, ’n praktyk wat sonder uitsondering die rassisme en seksisme ontketen waarmee medestudente geteister word. Daar is die probleem van ontgroening, waardeur senior roetinegewys eerstejaarstudente verneder en verkleineer, geïnspireer deur ’n militarisme wat tot ’n ander tyd en plek behoort.

Saam maak hierdie koshuisgebruike ’n kragtige subkultuur van die universiteit uit wat die plofbare geweld voortbring wat elke nou en dan in die openbare oog uitbars.

As ’n student van institusionele kulture, weet ek dat sodanige gevestigde praktyke nie maklik verander nie. Maar as ’n kenner op die gebied van institusionele verandering weet ek egter ook dat hierdie negatiewe kulturele praktyke onwrikbaar deur besliste optrede afgetakel kan word. Ten opsigte hiervan, die volgende besluite:

  1. Die praktyk van ontgroening is onwettig. Enige senior student wat aan ’n  eerstejaarstudent raak, sal nie net voor ’n  dissiplinêre komitee van die universiteit gedaag word nie, maar sal kriminele vervolging in die hof op ’n klag van aanranding in die gesig staar.
  2. Die praktyk van alkoholgebruik in koshuise kom met die aanvang van die nuwe akademiese jaar tot ’n einde. Die universiteit is nie ʼn kroeg nie; dit is ’n  plek van hoër onderrig. Ons taak is nie om alkoholiste te produseer nie; ons taak is om leiers vir die 21ste eeu op te lewer.
  3. Die sinnelose rituele wat eerstejaarstudente soos kinders behandel en seniors as ouers beskou, sal vervang word deur die geleidelik opbou van ’n nuwe institusionele en koshuiskultuur. Ons het reeds begin met die intensiewe opleiding van die nuwe studenteleierskap van die Studenteraad en van die 23 koshuise. Ons gaan in 2010 die eerste groep eerstejaarstudente by ’n program van oorsese studie betrek. Ons gaan ook alle eerstejaars toegang tot elektroniese netwerke gee om hulle studie te verryk en te verdiep.

Ons studente gaan geleer word hoe om saam te studeer en saam te woon. Ons koshuise gaan gevolglik vanaf Januarie 2010 op ’n 50/50-basis geïntegreer word, beginnende met die eerstejaarstudente en die studenteleierskap in koshuise. Geen swart of wit student sal oorheers nie, tot en met sodanige tyd as wat sosiale en fisiese integrasie so natuurlik as moontlik kan gebeur. Ek verkeer egter onder geen illusie nie dat, indien aan hulleself oorgelaat, studente hulle weer volgens kulturele groepe sal hergroepeer; iets wat 15 jaar op die pad van ’n nierassige demokrasie onaanvaarbaar is.

Waarvoor staan u?

By ’n universiteit met meer as 27 000 studente, drie kampusse en ’n geskiedenis van 100 jaar is daar baie om te doen, en laat my daarom toe om slegs vyf ander sleutelkwessies te noem.

  1. Ek is ten diepste daartoe verbind om die sosiale, intellektuele, hulpbron- en kulturele gaping wat daar tussen ons Hoofkampus en die Qwaqwa- en Suidkampusse bestaan te verwyder. Veral die Qwaqwa-kampus moenie ’n plek word wat deur konstante  onvergenoegdheid en geykte klagtes gekenmerk word nie, maar ’n akademies lewendige kampus wat goed opgeleide studente oplewer wat die armoede van daardie streek van die Vrystaat kan help aanspreek.
  2. Ek is ten diepste verbind tot die bevordering van Afrikaans en Sotho by die Universiteit van die Vrystaat. Talle van u het my al gevra om in die naam van pragmatisme weg te doen met Afrikaans. Laat ek dit duidelik stel: dit sal wat my betref nie gebeur vir solank as wat ek my pos beklee nie. Ons sal die geskiedenis van hierdie instelling en sy stigtingstaal respekteer. Eerder as om weg te doen met tale, behoort ons meer tale aan te gryp. In 2010 wil ek ’n gesprek aan die gang sit oor wyses waarop ons elke wit student kan kry om Sotho of Tswana aan te leer, asook elke swart student om Afrikaans aan te leer, en al ons studente om te leer om Engels behoorlik te lees en te skryf.
  3. Ek is ten diepste verbind tot personeel en studente met gestremdhede se welsyn en sal alles in my vermoë doen om toegang tot geboue en fasiliteite, asook tot leer en onderrig te verhaas. Die maatstaf van ons humaniteit as ’n universiteit moet die wyse wees waarop ons blinde, dowe, en fisies gestremde personeel en studente bystaan en vooruit te laat gaan.
  4. Ek is ten diepste verbind tot die internasionalisering van ons kampus, asook dat ons die aantal besoekende personeel en studente afkomstig van alle vastelande by die UV moet verdriedubbel.  ’n Universiteit wat sy naam waardig is, floreer op die universaliteit van idees en mense wat voortspruit uit die oor-en-weer stroom van internasionale navorsers en studente op sy kampusse.
  5. Ek is ten diepste daartoe verbind om die stryd teen MIV en VIGS op ons kampus te lei, en om simpatie te betoon en hulp te verleen aan alle personeel en studente wat deur die virus geïnfekteer is en geraak word.

Ten slotte

Ek staan vanaand hier voor u as die leier van hierdie uitnemende universiteit as ’n persoon wat swak, weerloos en baie bewus is van my eie gebrokenheid.  Ek is nie sonder die letsels van die lang skaduwee van ons verdeelde geskiedenis nie. Nogtans verklaar ek vanaand met vrymoedigheid dat ek in staat is om te lei, omdat ek gelei word. Ek kan vergewe, want ek is vergewe.  Verder is ek daagliks bewus van die feit dat, wat ek ook al bereik het, of nog gaan bereik, as gevolg van genade is.

Van genade, oftewel die Engelse Grace gepraat: ek sou nie vanaand hier kon wees as dit nie vir my vrou met daardie pragtige naam was nie. Ten spyte van haar eie professionele loopbaan in die gasvryheidsbedryf, het sy tydens my lang periodes van afwesigheid as konsultant, administrateur en nou as Visekanselier die gesin bymekaar gehou. Sy is my beste kritikus en kameraad, en ek dank Grace vanaand daarvoor.

Ek word geïnspireer deur my twee wonderlike en ordentlike kinders. My knap seun Mikhail, wat met sy nagraadse studie in sielkunde aan die Universiteit van Pretoria besig is, en my skrander dogter Sara-Jane wat volgende jaar met haar voorgraadse studie in maatskaplike werk hier aan die Universiteit van die Vrystaat gaan begin. Alhoewel hulle albei in ’n ander land gebore is, is hulle ten volle toegewy aan Suid-Afrika, ook om nie selfsugtige lewens te lei nie, maar persone in nood te dien. Baie dankie, albei van julle, vir julle ondersteuning.

Ek weet vanwaar ek kom

Ek mis vanaand my ouers, wat albei al oorlede is, by hierdie luisterryke aand.  Hulle sou trots gewees het. My moeder sou, tipies, min gesê het by so ’n geleentheid, maar haar oë sou geswem het in trane van vreugde.  My vader sou ook geglimlag het, en dan gou bygevoeg het: “Daar’s nog ruimte vir verbetering.”

Aan u almal, baie, baie dankie vir julle ondersteuning.

Dié wat my finansieel as voorgraadse student ondersteun het; dié wat my aangemoedig het om nie op te skop nadat ek my eerste jaar op universiteit gedruip het nie; dié wat die risiko aanvaar het om ’n Visekanselier aan te stel met ’n  neiging tot onafhanklike denke; en daardie wat my opgeroep het tot nasionale diens terwyl mindere politici ineengekrimp het by die gedagte daaraan om ’n openbare kritikus in te bring. Dankie.

Ek weet dat ek nie alleen is nie

Baie gou na my aanstelling het ek ’n e-pos van my vriend Chris Abels ontvang. Dit het ’n Bybelvers uit die boek Ester 4:14 bevat. Ek het dit aanvanklik geïgnoreer, maar sedertdien het daardie woorde vir my baie betekenis begin kry. “Is dit juis met die oog op ’n tyd soos hierdie wat jy na die koninkryk toe gekom het?”

Ek weet dat ek hier moet wees,

tydens so ’n kritieke tyd in die geskiedenis van ons universiteit en ons land. Want as ons dit kan regkry om dit hier, in die hart van die land, reg te kry, mag ons as Suid-Afrikaners dalk net in staat wees om uiteindelik al ons spoke te ruste te lê (Ramphele).

Laastens,

Baie van julle het my die afgelope maande gevra waarom ek na die Vrystaat van alle plekke wou kom.

Wel, ’n week gelede het een van ons eerstejaarstudente op ’n straathoek gestaan om geld vir liefdadigheid in te samel. Saam met haar Joolmaats het sy met haar blikkie langs ʼn motorvenster by die rooi robot gestaan. ’n Dronk bestuurder het oor die rooi lig gejaag en haar been afgeruk. Ek het hierdie week langs haar bed gestaan en haar vreugde, haar optimisme en haar menslikheid was ongelooflik. Toe ek omdraai om te gaan, het Hanjé Pistorius my hand gegryp en die volgende gesê: “Professor, ek is jammer dat ek nie kan opstaan om u te groet nie.”

Dit is hoekom ek hier is.

Daarom aanvaar ek die uitdaging wat u my bied met nederigheid en beslistheid.

Inaugural Lecture of the 13th Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS)

Inaugural Lecture of the 13th Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS)

For such a time as this

Jonathan D Jansen

In Honour of Adv. Bram Fischer

Preliminaries

Welcome, welcome, welcome. I thought this would never happen. In fact, many of you told me it could never happen because of my refusal to snuggle up to power. Yet here you are, some from foreign lands like Chris and Lynette Abels from the United Kingdom, Joel Samoff from Stanford University (California), Josephine Allen from Cornell University (New York), and half of you from the Western Cape. All foreign protocols observed. To my South African friends of Indian descent, welcome to you too; you may stay overnight.

Thank you so much for honouring the University of the Free State this evening.

I am accompanied tonight by two high school leaders. Foster Lubbe was the first Free Stater to write to me, while I was still working in Durban, to welcome me to the province; he is the next head boy of Sentraal Secondary School in Bloemfontein. Portia Lehasa is the first black head girl in 134 years of the famed Eunice Girls Secondary School also here in Bloemfontein. Foster and Portia represent our future as a country; they remind me of my first love, school teaching. And when I sit down and talk with these two youth leaders, I become profoundly optimistic about the future of our country.

I dedicate this Inaugural Lecture to arguably the greatest son of the University of the Free State (a law student here when it was still called Grey University College), the man who led the defence of Nelson Mandela, the patriot who laid down his life for black and white South Africans, so that we could all be free today. I am so delighted that his daughters Ruth and Ilse could be here this evening.

To the children of Bram Fischer, I now hand over a specially prepared version of the Inaugural Lecture.

A place like this

You are in the centre of South Africa. In a small city with a big heart. In a place that gave rise to the two most important nationalist movements of the past century, and possibly a third (we’re not sure yet). This is a place of contrasts, for the city of roses (Bloemfontein) is also the home of the Cheetahs (Mangaung). It is a place that has given birth to the full spectrum of humanity, from JRR Tolkien the creator of the Hobbit all the way across to Steve Hofmeyr the creator of, well, many things.

Significantly, it is to the city of Bloemfontein that the condemned criminal comes with his last and desperate plea, the Supreme Court of Appeal. And so we also come together this evening with a plea for our university, a plea for our country, a plea for Africa.

A time like this

One hundred and ten years ago a terrible tragedy played out in this city and changed the course of South African history. The President of the Orange Free State, MT Steyn, convened the so-called Bloemfontein Conference to settle differences between the British High Commissioner, Alfred Milner, and the Transvaal President, Paul Kruger, on matters that included voting rights for Uitlanders and the use of English in the Transvaal Volksraad. For President Steyn this was a last-ditch effort at reconciliation between what was called “two races”.

The reconciliation talks failed, and a few months later the Second Boer War broke out leaving more than 26 000 people dead: white and black, adults and children. The failure to reconcile at such a crucial time as that left scars on the South African political psyche to this day. And I have no doubt that the single most important reason for the breakdown in the Bloemfontein Conference was, profoundly, a failure of leadership.

We stand at another crucial time in our history this evening. Who would have thought that barely a decade after the miracle of our transition we would be talking about “minorities” in a democracy founded on the principles of non-racialism? Who could have imagined that in Mandela’s country human appointments to jobs would be instructed by that calculating phrase, “the demographics of the country”? And who could have predicted the bare-knuckled violence that kills white farmers on their lands and foreign nationals on our streets, or that the poorest of black citizens would be felled by the racial anger of an 18-year old white boy barely out of high school?

South Africa faces today what John Samuels calls “our unfinished business.” Our university, too, faces unfinished business, so let me get right to it.

The University of the Free State is 105 years old. In its long and proud history this institution has produced some of the finest jurists (including our Chair of Council, Judge Faan Hancke), teachers, medical scientists, architects, agricultural economists, poets, musicians, authors and nurses. The university has also produced some of our leading sportspersons, including the unbelievably talented Springbok flanker Heinrich Brüssow and  Boy Soke, our athletics sensation with his national colours in track and field, cross country and road running.

Closing the book on Reitz

But this history, as is the case with all South African universities, is not unblemished.

About 100 metres to the left of where I stand, is the famous Abraham Fischer Residence (affectionately called Vishuis), named after the father of the younger Fischer. This century-old student residence is living testimony to a proud history of the University of the Free State.

About 100 metres directly behind me is the Reitz student residence, a place of infamy that brought great shame to our university and unprecedented outrage to our country as the world saw four young white men racially humiliate five black workers.

In the past few months I have visited the grounds of Reitz often in an attempt to understand how such an atrocity could have been committed on the grounds of an institution of higher learning. I believe I now have part of the answer, and that answer has important implications for how we move towards healing, forgiveness and social justice on our campus and in our country.

You see, the biggest mistake made in the analysis of Reitz is to explain the incident in terms of individual pathology. Yet to dismiss the video as a product of four bad apples is too easy an explanation. This video recording was preceded by a long series of racial incidents protesting racial integration especially in the residences of the university. Not all of these racially charged incidents made the press; in fact, had it not been for the public release of the video recording, no-one outside the university would have known about it. And few outside the campus realise that what is now regarded as an offensive video production in fact won an award from the residence for its content.

The question facing us, therefore, is a disturbing one, and it is this: What was it within the institution that made it possible for such an atrocity to be committed in the first place?

And there are other questions. Why is it that one after another parent and colleague have come to tell me that the incident was, and I quote, “blown out of proportion?” Why is it that so many adults came to tell me that it was Oros, and not urine, as if it mattered in the simulated act of boys urinating into food? What must I make of the many representations to my office to inform me that the boys, I quote again, “loved the squeezas and brought them food from their parents’ farms?”

When the focus of analysis shifts from that of individual pathology to one of institutional culture, then it becomes clear that the problem of Reitz is not simply a problem of four racially troubled students. It is, without question, a problem of institutional complicity.

For this reason it is also clear that the deeper issues of racism and bigotry that conflict our university – and many others – will not be resolved in the courts. Whoever wins and loses in the Reitz case, I will still wake up on Monday morning dealing with the same social, cultural and ideological complexities that stand in the way of transformation – unless we do something differently (more about that in a minute).

Acknowledgement

I am inextricably part of the University of the Free State, and tonight I ask your forgiveness for what we have done. I apologize to every black person on this campus and in this province for our long history of exclusion and marginalization of black people within this institution. I have spent many nights in tears regretting what we (yes, we) did to the five black workers of the University of the Free State. This institution begs your forgiveness.

I apologize to every decent white citizen of our university that you were shamed by the Reitz incident. I know too many of you have felt private guilt and racial remorse, as well, that we as an institution failed you. And I know that you took what the four students did, personally, and that the relentless criticism of whites in the wake of Reitz, you absorbed as a commentary on the group.

Tonight, as the head of this institution, I apologise to you.

I apologize to the memory of Bram Fischer, the patriot who warned us that separate living would bring collective trauma. I apologize to Sheila Aronstam and Kalie Strydom, who long before it was fashionable, pushed the Council of the university to transform this treasured institution when it was simply not ready to do so. I apologize to my predecessors, Professors François Retief, Stef Coetzee, and Frederick Fourie – for in your own ways you asked for the transformation of Kovsies sometimes at great personal cost to you, and to your families.

I also feel compelled to say this to you tonight. Those four students who committed that heinous act, are my students. If I may borrow from another leader, I cannot deny them, anymore than I cannot deny my own children. The four Reitz students are children of this country, they are youth of the province, and they are students of our university. They are, I repeat, my students.

And so I have made some decisions.

1. In a gesture of racial reconciliation, and the need for healing, the University of the Free State will withdraw its own charges against the four students. The University will therefore not pursue any further action against the four young men implicated in the Reitz incident. In this spirit of toenadering, the University will go further, and invite those four students to continue their studies here.

2. In recognition of our institutional complicity in the Reitz saga, and the need for social justice, the University of the Free State will not only pursue forgiveness but will also pay reparations to the workers concerned for damages to their dignity and their self-esteem.

And,

3. In a determined commitment to the urgent task of reconstruction, the University of the Free State will re-open the Reitz residence and transform it into a model of racial reconciliation and social justice for all students.

Opening the book on the future

As we seek to close the book on Reitz, we are determined to open the book on a new and reconstructed future for the University of the Free State. In this, we will be driven by two goals.

Firstly, the university will become a place that exemplifies the scholarship and the practice of reconciliation, forgiveness and social justice. Scholars and students from around the world will descend on the institution to study and understand the theory and practice of building community across the divides of race but also religion, gender, dis/ability, national origins and, thanks to Athletics South Africa, sexual identity.

In this respect the University will soon launch what we hope to call The Reitz Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice.

Secondly, the university will move very quickly to become a national and indeed international centre for academic excellence. While the UFS has great programmes in fields like chemistry, agriculture and medicine, we are acutely aware of the need to dramatically scale-up the academic standards of a promising institution.

In this respect let me be clear that the UFS will be unashamedly elitist in its drive to become an African university instantly recognized for excellence in research, teaching and what my predecessor so beautifully called “engaged scholarship” in relation to the communities around us.

A university is not a welfare organization. It is not a FET College. It is not a giant compensatory programme for students who crawled over the matric finishing line demanding to study for a degree.

A university is an institution of higher learning serving the best available talent in the nation and beyond. With this purpose in mind, we will recruit only the best white and the best black students and academics to the University of the Free State.

Learning to serve

However, no South African university can afford to wait for students to show-up at the end of Grade 12 and then tell them that they’re not good enough; that would be cruel and unjust to children failed by the school system. Because of our history, the university has a responsibility to work with the most disadvantaged schools in our country in the earlier grades to prepare especially first-generation students to be successful in their application to and their passage through university.

In this respect the UFS will be working with disadvantaged high schools starting in rural provinces such as the Free State and the Northern Cape to prepare young people for university through summer and winter schools on our three campuses where they will learn in libraries, laboratories and lecture-rooms about how to prepare for success in university studies. The major thrust of our community engagement as a university will therefore be through a large-scale university-school partnership in poor communities.

Staff equity

The University remains, however, in its cast of scholars, largely white and male especially in the professoriate. This will change quickly, not only as a matter of equity but also as a matter of excellence. We cannot and will not become a university with academic standing in the world if we draw on such a limited pool of available scholarly talent.

Starting next week, therefore, we will advertise on open billet 25 senior professorial positions that will attract only the smartest and most diverse pool of scholars to this institution. The UFS will transform the face of its academic staff at pace, and we will do this without being forced to make the false choice between excellence and equity.

Troubled knowledge

The real problem for transformation, however, is not simply the number of black faces in the staff and student bodies of a former white university. The most important challenge is the problem of knowledge. The often troubled knowledge the student comes to university with—the knowledge of the past, the knowledge of black and white and, especially, the knowledge of the future. The university curriculum, here and elsewhere, has not yet confronted the crucial question of what a student needs to know in a dangerous and divided world.

And so I will propose to the Senate of the University of the Free State that we do a fundamental curriculum overhaul and that no student graduates from this university without engaging basic human questions such as who we are and where we come from; without learning how to live and learn together in ways that prepare our youth for leadership in the workplace;

Too many of our universities produce young people who specialize too early in their disciplines and do not have that broader base of education that prepares them to be compassionate humans, critical citizens and ethical leaders in their disciplines and professions. A degree is not enough, and the University of the Free State will design an innovative and distinctive undergraduate curriculum that deals with the knowledge problem in South African higher education.

Part of what we will teach our students is not only how to give of their skills, but how to give of themselves in service to communities. I will ask my staff to lead by example, and I am pleased to have taken the first step by returning my salary to the university and asking that they take back a percentage to fund a poor white student and a poor black student; the only thing the two students must have in common is financial need.

Sub-cultures of derision

There are still, however, damaging cultural legacies that lie deep within the institutional fabric of our university, and that I have discovered in the 12 weeks on the job. There is the problem of small-mindedness among undergraduates who see the university as an uninterrupted extension of high school with authoritarian rituals learnt elsewhere. There is the problem of alcohol abuse in especially male residences, a practice that invariably spawns the racism and sexism that afflict fellow students. There is the problem of ontgroening (initiation) in which seniors routinely humiliate first-year students inspired through a militarism that belongs in another time and place.

Together these residence practices constitute a powerful sub-culture in the university that produces the explosive violence that every now and again breaks out into public view.

As a student of institutional cultures, I know that such embedded practices do not change easily. But as a student of educational change, I also know that through decisive action, these negative cultural practices can be steadily eroded. In this respect, the following decisions:

  1. The practice of ontgroening is illegal. Any senior student who lays his hand on a first-year student will not only be brought before a disciplinary committee of the university, but will face criminal prosecution in the courts under the charge of aanranding.
  1. The practice of drinking alcohol in the residences comes to an end with the start of the new academic year. The university is not a kroeg; it is a place of higher learning. We are not in the business of producing alcoholics; we are in the business of preparing leaders for the 21st century.
  2. The mindless rituals that treat first-year students as children and seniors as parents will be replaced by gradually building a new institutional and residential culture. We have already started intensive training with the new student leadership of the SRC and of the 23 residences. In 2010 we will take the first group of first-year students into a study-abroad programme. And we will connect all new first-years to electronic networks that deepen and enrich their learning.

Our students will be prepared to learn and live together. Our residences will therefore be integrated on a 50/50 basis in January 2010, starting with the first-year students and the residence student leadership. Neither black nor white will dominate until such time that social and physical integration happens as naturally as possible. But I am under no illusion that, left to themselves, students will regroup by tribe and that is unacceptable 15 years into our non-racial democracy.

What do you stand for?

At a university with more than 27 000 students, three campuses and 105 years of history, there is much to do, and so let me simply list five other key commitments.

  1. I am deeply committed to closing the social, intellectual, resource and cultural distance between our Main Campus and the Qwaqwa and South Campuses. The Qwaqwa Campus especially must not become a place marked by constant disgruntlement and ritual complaint, but an academically vibrant university campus that produces well-trained students who can address the poverty of that region of the Free State.
  1. I am deeply committed to the promotion of Afrikaans and Sesotho at the University of the Free State. Many of you have asked me to do away with Afrikaans in the name of pragmatism. Let me be clear: that will not happen on my watch. We will respect the history of this institution and its founding language. Rather than do away with languages, we should embrace more languages. In 2010 I will open discussion on ways in which we can get every white student to learn Sesotho or Setswana and every black student to learn Afrikaans, and all our students to learn to write and speak English competently.
  1. I am deeply committed to staff and students with disabilities, and will do everything possible to advance access to buildings and facilities but also to teaching and learning. The measure of our humanity as a university must be the ways in which we embrace and promote blind, deaf and physically challenged staff and students.
  1. I am deeply committed to the internationalization of our campus, and that we treble the number of visiting staff and students from all continents at UFS. A university worthy of the name thrives on the universality of ideas and people that comes with the cross-currents of international scholars and students on its campuses.
  1. I am deeply committed to leading the fight against HIV and AIDS on our campuses, and offering compassion and care to all staff and students infected and affected by the virus.

Closing

I come before you tonight as leader of this great university as one who is weak, vulnerable and aware of my own brokenness.  I am not unscarred by the long shadow of our divided history. And yet I declare boldly tonight that I am able to lead because I am being led. I can forgive because I have been forgiven.  And I am daily conscious of the fact that whatever I have achieved, or will achieve, is a consequence of grace.

Speaking of Grace, I would not be here tonight if it were not for my wife by that beautiful name. Despite her own professional life in the hospitality industry, she has kept the family together during my long absences as consultant, administrator and now as Vice-Chancellor. She is my best critic and companion, and I thank Grace tonight.

I am inspired by my two wonderful and decent children. My smart son Mikhail doing his postgraduate studies in psychology at the University of Pretoria, and my smart daughter Sara-Jane who will be starting her undergraduate studies in social work here at the University of the Free State. While they were both born in another country, they are deeply committed to South Africa and not to lead selfish lives but to serve those in need. Thank you both for your support.

I know where I come from

I miss my late parents on this grand evening. They would have been proud. My mother would, typically, have said little on such an occasion but her eyes would have welled up with tears of joy. My father would have smiled, too, and then added quickly: “There’s room for improvement.”

To all of you, thank you so very, very much for your support.

Those who supported me financially as an undergraduate student; those who encouraged me not to drop out after I had failed my first year at university; those who took the risk of hiring a Vice-Chancellor with a streak for independent thinking; and those who commissioned me to national service when lesser politicians squirmed at the notion of bringing in a public critic. Thank you.

I know I am not alone

Soon after my appointment, I received an e-mail from my friend Chris Abels. It contained a verse of Christian scripture, from the book of Esther 4:14. I ignored it, at first, but since then those words have become very meaningful to me. “Is it possible that you have come into the kingdom for such a time as this?”

I know I must be here,

for such a critical time in the history of our university, and our country. For if we are able to succeed here, in the heart of the country, then as South Africans we might just be able to finally lay our ghosts to rest (Ramphele).

Finally,

many of you have asked me in recent months why I would come to the Free State, of all places.

Well, one week ago a first-year medical student of ours went to the corner of a Bloemfontein street raising money for charity. With her little tin at the red robots, she stood at a car window with her Rag mates. A drunk driver came rushing over the red lights and took off her leg. I stood at her bedside this week, and her joy, her optimism and her humanity were unbelievable. As I turned to leave, Hanjé Pistorius grabbed my hand and said this, “Professor, I am sorry I cannot stand to greet you.”

That is why I am here.

And so I accept the challenge you offer me with humility and with determination.

Windows 7 Launch – 22 October 2009

Today is the day for the official launch of Windows 7.  If you read this column in the evening you are probably tired of hearing about Windows 7 by now. I believe that you will hear about this launch on every television and radio station.

All around the world launch parties are being held and the in the United States and one or two other countries you were even able to request “goodies” for a Windows 7 launch party.  Unfortunately South Africa was not one of those countries, but I do believe that for the next few days you will see many specials on Windows 7 packages.


Windows 7 promises to make up for all the negativity, which surrounded Windows Vista.  Even though I personally had no problems with Windows Vista I do know that some people had bad experiences. Negative publicity did not help Vista at all but the unbelievably positive “vibe” around Windows 7 promises this to be one of the best and favourite operating systems of all times.

I have worked with the Beta version of Windows 7 for a few months and I have not had any crashes or driver problems during this time.  I can only assume that the final version which will be available from today, 22 October 2009, will be even better.

Windows 7 is definitely the operating system to get as soon as possible.

Remember to register for the first 27Dinner to be held in Bloemfontein.  It will take place at Catch 22 on the 27th of October 2009.  Please register at www.27dinner.com <http://www.27dinner.com> or email me if you plan to attend. Thanks to Slot Loevenstein for providing accommodation for our guest speaker for the evening. Ramon Thomas is entitled Blogging for Business in Bloemfontein – Afrikaans Blogging for a Global Readership, and is not to be missed.

Pop Goes the News

If you are anything like me you also love to get the news as it happens. Keeping up to date with breaking news and other world events can be a daunting task in these days of mass communication and inter-connectivity. Twitter is definitely a wonderful source of constant news and information. Usually up to date with current affairs and as things happen around the world. How can you keep up to date with all the latest trends and “hot topics” online? You will need to be able to track a variety of websites. Websites like Delicious.com, Google News, Technorati, Digg, Yahoo news and many other sites are constantly being updated with the latest news and information. You need a place where you can go to read all the latest news and topics on one page. You can obviously install an rss reader and then subscribe to all these news sources, but you will need to constantly add new newsfeeds as new news websites are created or become popular. This is your one stop information page which you can also customise if you need to

The guys as www.popurl.com has taken all the work out of setting up “your news page”. I also love the pop shuffle feature through which you are randomly taken to an interesting news story or website. (This is quite a bit like stumpleupon.com, but I find that the results are quite a bit better) Warning: Do not start to go through this page if you have limited time available, but if you have time to waste online this should be your first stop.

Remember to register and attend the first 27Dinner which will be held on the 27th of October at 18:30. It will take place at Catch22 in the Brandwag Centre. For more information visit www.27dinner.com.

Posted via email from nico’s posterous

27Dinner registrations

Only a few days left until we have our first 27Dinner in Bloemfontein.

Just a quick note!  If you want to attend you must please register for the Bloemfontein Dinner at www.27dinner.com.  
I have received one or two emails from people that stated that they have registered, after visiting the site I then realise that they have registered on the website, but they did not register for the event.
Please remember to register for the event after you have registered on the website.  You can do this by clicking on the Bloemfontein link on the left of the page and then registering for the event by clicking on the button.

Thank you to everybody for registering for the event so far.  Looking forward to seeing you there!

(if you’re not sure if you have registered you can email me and I will check and if you are not registered I will register you!)

Nico Baird

Posted via email from nico’s posterous

27Dinner – 27 October – Catch22 – Bloemfontein

I am quite pleased to announce that the first 27Dinner in Bloemfontein will definitely take place on the 27th of October 2009 and it will take place at the new, revamped Catch22 restaurant at the Brandwag Centre.

I have received quite a number of inquiries from people asking me to just explain exactly what this event is all about. The main aim of this event is to create a networking opportunity to meet like minded individuals and to celebrate a common passion for technology, media and business.

If you tell me that you don’t think you should attend because you think you know too little about the web and technology, then this is actually the perfect event for you to attend!

First of all it is free to attend (you just pay for your own dinner and drinks) and secondly you will have a chance to meet and chat with the guys who know what it is all about.

Having a website is not good enough these days. You need to know how to market and improve that website. You need to optimize the website for Google and other search engines to index the information in a better way. Or maybe you designed your website 10 years ago and you believe that it is still good enough?

There are a number of designers that said they also plan to attend the dinner, maybe you can find the right designer for your needs? In the end the most important thing is for you to come and enjoy the evening and build your knowledge about technology, media and business. There is a lot of money to be made online and why not rub shoulders with the guys who know all about it.

Ramon Thomas, Igno van Niekerk and myself will give short presentations. For more information about us please visit www.clickkliek.com where I will have links to more information.

(We are still looking for accommodation for Ramon, if you are the owner of a guesthouse or a company that would like to get involved and sponsor his accommodation please let me know.)

Please visit www.27dinner.com today and register!

Get your FREE domain today!

Every now and again I find something online that I really feel will change the way people interact online. The way they setup websites, and actually remove some of the stumbling blocks that could keep people from venturing online with their own blog or website.

People often ask me how they can setup a website for their business or a private blog.  I then usually reply by telling them to get a domain name for their website or blog and then to start with the rest.  I believe that you should have your own unique address before you can really be online.  I know that you can have a subdomain at many blogging and hosting websites, but having your own name as a domain just adds to the credibility of your business or your blog.

Because of the fear of the Internet and the belief that it is very difficult and unsafe and expensive to get your domain I am happy to report that you can now get your domain and your hosting free of charge.

Just simply visit www.co.cc and register your free personal .co.cc domain name.  If you want to register a prime domain name you may have to pay, but rather just search for a name that is free of charge.  My own name (www.nicobaird.com) and also www.clickkliek.co.cc was free of charge.  The prime domain names can be purchased for $3 and above and if you feel you want to register 100 domains it will cost you $10.

The .co.cc domain extension may not be as well know as .com or .co.za but remember that it does not matter if you live in Langenhoven Park, Heuwelsig or Fauna, as long as you give your correct address people will be able to find you.

If you already have a blog that is being hosted as a subdomain at blogging websites like Blogger.com, you can easily forward and mask your new free domain to point to your current hosting package.

Go and register your new free domain today.

To register your FREE domain click here!

Blogging made easier

The past few weeks I have started to again update www.clickkliek.com and to post my columns from the past few months.  I have been neglecting this very simple task. Especially when using a service like posterous.com to make life a little easier there is no excuse good enough for not updating your blog or website.
I have also set up my own personal blog and have started posting to it.

I set up ClickKliek.com years ago and never really followed as WordPress, the platform on which the blogs run, was upgraded and improved.  

I was absolutely blown away by the ease of use, functionality and features, which are now available.  This free blogging/ website platform has never been this easy to use.
All widgets, add-ons and themes can now  be found, installed and setup from within your dashboard.  No need to upload files to your server each time you want to add some new functionality.   you can signup and you will have a free hosted blog or website. If you do however have your own domain and hosting the best thing would be to just download the free platform from www.wordpress.org  and install it on your server.  (This can be tricky but many domain and hosting companies will install it on the server at no cost to you (for example www.wookio.com ).

Themes are available on the web and thousands can be downloaded and used free of charge, you can however get a custom template/theme designed.  You can have a local designer customise the theme or you can order a theme online for a very low price.

If you want a stable platform for your business website consider this free option. Easy to update, cusomise and use.   If WordPress is good enough for Ford, Playstation and CNN I am sure you will also find the platform to fulfill your needs.

Posted via email from nico’s posterous

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