PROFESSOR JONATHAN JANSEN, RECTOR AND VICE-CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF THE FREE STATE Three South Africans you admire? Rolene Strauss, Miss World 2014 – I have yet to meet a human being, and a student to boot, who so perfectly combines elegance, grace, academic smarts and compassion in one. True, she is my student at the UFS, studying medicine, but I would say the same things of her if she were elsewhere. Ms Nozimanga Bonje, another one of my students, who overcame unspeakable hardship – from rape to seeing her mother beaten to death by her father – and yet has made the journey from the township to her final year in molecular human biology.
Almost every week she sends an inspiring Whatsapp message to my wife and me – to encourage us! The unknown citizen – that South African who works as part of ‘the moral underground’, unnamed, doing great things that keep this country together, and yet she will never win a presidential honours award or appear on TV. But every day she rises early, as a grandmother, to raise the children of a daughter who died of AIDS; and she runs a backyard crèche caring for other people’s children, so that young mothers can go to work… There are many like her.
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Words to live by? Your greatness resides not in what you possess, but in what you give away. Best advice given to you by a woman? Shut up and listen for a change! What does feminism mean to you? It has a crucial place in our young democracy as we figure out how to behave towards women and how to raise our daughters; feminism is the moral conscience of a still deeply patriarchal society.
Democracy today means… ocially, the formal rules for a democratic community, such as regular voting and a nice constitution. What it should mean is how we behave towards others in our daily lives as we shave up against each other in places of learning and labour Your wish for your children as they grow up? To value service to others beyond material self-enrichment. How did you celebrate your 21st? At a party in our backyard on the Cape Flats, with friends; we did not have much, but the love, care and guidance of family and friends meant a lot, then, and still does.