Stellenbosch University ‘must focus on society’s upliftment’

Stellenbosch University ‘must focus on society’s upliftment’

STELLENBOSCH University has in the past been a thought space for the negative and although it is slowly changing, old attitudes still remain on the campus and in the town, former Constitutional Court Judge Albie Sachs said this week.

He was speaking during the fourth lecture of the Oliver Tambo Centenary Lecture Series held at the Stellenbosch University Museum where he said the university should remain a space for intelligent thought and creativity, with a focus on positive societal results.

Sachs delivered the lecture under the topic “The Constitution as an Instrument of Decolonisation and Achieving True Equality” highlighting the role played by Tambo in the development of the country’s constitution.

Tambo was the president of the ANC between 1967 and 1991.

He was born in Nkantolo outside Bizana in the Eastern Cape and studied at the University of Fort Hare.

He founded the ANC Youth League and became its first secretary-general in 1944.

The lecture series commemorates 100 years since Tambo was born.

He died in 1993.

Sachs described Tambo as a proud African man known for his integrity and humaneness.

He was able to relate to his comrades as people and cared about them as humans, Sachs said.

“When you get into the revolution you do not shed your humanity,” he said.

According to Sachs, Tambo had been instrumental in the development of the constitution and in ensuring the ANC was an organisation which upheld the same human rights it was fighting for.

“He said the constitution should defend the rights of the people not because they were the majority or the minority, but because they were human,” Sachs said of Tambo.

Sachs, who was also involved in the development of the constitution, wanted to dispel what he called a myth that the constitution was an agreement of great men or a “deal with Mandela”.

“We spent years fighting. The constitution was not a quick deal. It took a lot of hard work,” he said. “The constitution is an instrument of transformation, a document of change”.

The development of the constitution had not been without its challenges though, as the ANC had had to deal with how democratic it was within its own ranks, the judge said.

He said there had been robust debate about the rights of women within the party which led to non-sexism being embraced as a constitutional value.

“It was not about achieving freedom first, then women’s rights. The ANC had to be free from within,” he said.

The lecture was co-hosted by the university’s research chair in historical trauma and transformation Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela.

She said more young people needed to know how the constitution came about.

“We are a site for conversation,” Gobodo-Madikizela added.


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