New vice-chancellor on a mission to make UCT unapologetically African

New vice-chancellor on a mission to make UCT unapologetically African

- The University of Cape Town’s incoming vice-chancellor, Mamokgethi Phakeng, wants to make the institution unapologetically African

- Phakeng was appointed to UCT’s board in March and will replace outgoing vice-chancellor Max Price

- Phakeng will aim to keep UCT as one of the best universities in Africa, while reversing the previous Afropolitan policy

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The University of Cape Town’s (UCT) incoming vice-chancellor, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, wants to turn the institution from Afropolitan to unapologetically African while maintaining its standing as one of the best in Africa.

Phakeng was appointed to UCT’s board in March and after months of speculation and rumours was confirmed to replace outgoing vice-chancellor Max Price.

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Phakeng will take over from Price on 1 July and has said she wants to make sure the university does not take on an identity which tries to make it something which is not. gathered that the incoming vice-chancellor has been a strong critic of the university’s current Afropolitan identity.

“Being African is an identity that we should be proud of. We should not use Afropolism.
"That suggests we are a mixture of African and something else, or we are Africans somewhere in the world but not on the continent.”

Phakeng said the Afropolitan concept made her uncomfortable because it denied and tried to polish the African identity. She said the policy could be seen as a way for Africans to explain to others that we are not backwards and poor.

“I’m saying we are African and we do work that can make an impact globally and is relevant to the continent, (and) that the world should sit up and take us seriously as Africans,” she said.

Phakeng said she wanted to write something which would move UCT from Afropolitan to unapologetically African.

She said as part of her preparation work she had met with several former vice-chancellors to seek advice and to learn from the experience.

Phakeng said she had tried to meet with Mamphela Ramphele, Professor Njabulo Ndebele, Professor Stuart Saunders and Max Price who all came before her. She said in her opinion she could learn something from each of them.

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