University VC Circular – Hamba Kahle Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

Dear Old Rhodians and Friends

It is with deep sadness and regret that the University informs staff members and students of the passing of our beloved alumnus and former president, Tatamkhulu Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, after a long battle with a recurring lung infection. Dr Mandela was 95 years-old.

We mourn and lower our flags on the passing of Madiba. We knew that he would eventually leave us, but his passing still fills us with great sorrow. Few people in our time have symbolised the spirit of freedom and courage so well as this figure of monumental integrity and humanity.

Rhodes University extends its deepest condolences to our alumnus Graca Machel, and the children, grandchildren and extended family and comrades of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela on their sad loss. Their loss is also the loss of the entire South African people and freedom-loving people around the world.

Former President Mandela is an alumnus of Rhodes University, through the award on 6 April 2002 of an honorary Doctorate. Rhodes was also blessed with Mandela’s approval of the Nelson Mandela Chair in Politics, which today is awarded to outstanding visiting professors. Another honour was the naming in 2006 of a Hall of four student residences the Nelson Mandela Hall.

He inspired many around the world including our own students and alumni through his principled leadership, humility and his unwavering commitment to social justice and reconciliation.

The students of the Nelson Mandela Hall, ‘inspired by the values personified by Nelson Mandela’, and acknowledging the challenges facing them ‘as a diverse community with varying backgrounds, cultures and histories’, strive to work together ‘to build a community of fellowship and equality based on the principles of non-racism, non-sexism and democracy. By ‘striving to live up to the legacy of Nelson Mandela’, they seek ‘to fulfil the Rhodes University maxim Where leaders learn’.

Madiba was dearly loved by many and will be greatly missed. South Africa and Africa have been blessed to have had a leader of Mandela’s calibre. He preached equality, peace and democracy during both the dark days of apartheid and also after democracy in 1994.

Vice-Chancellor, Dr Saleem Badat says that “rarely in history will we observe the extent and kind of grief that we are likely see for Tatamkhulu Mandela. “But then giants like Madiba are all too rare: famous political prisoner, number 46664; irrepressible freedom fighter; revered political leader; Nobel prize winner; first president of free South Africa; statesperson; social activist; alumnus of scores of universities; champion of learning and education and humanitarian. And few individuals have touched and inspired as many people as has Madiba,” says Dr Badat.

Madiba spent a few days at Rhodes in 2007, accompanying his wife Graca Machel when she received an honorary doctorate from the University. His last visit was in 2009, when he attended his grandson’s graduation ceremony. He encouraged Rhodes to continue connecting respectfully with local communities and the Eastern Cape.

Dr Badat notes that on becoming president in 1994, Madiba commented: ‘We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom. We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success. We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world.’

He says Madiba’s call on us was: ‘Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfil themselves.’ That ‘never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world. Let freedom reign.’

In Long Walk to Freedom Madiba wrote: ‘The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning’. He added that ‘I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended’.

We can only draw inspiration from Madiba, who provided selfless leadership and paved the path to our democracy. He believed, as our Distinguished Professor Paul Maylam has noted, in the ‘innate worth and dignity of all human beings’. He had ‘an unwavering commitment to democracy and human rights,’ and was possessed of a ‘generosity of spirit,’ an ‘egalitarian spirit,’ and ‘a sense of obligation to further the common good’.

He had the courage to challenge the status quo and the passion to pursue change; was committed to service and knew that leading meant doing what was right rather than what might be popular among followers. A humble, down to earth man, but fallible. As he said: ‘I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying’.

According to Dr Badat, our greatest tribute to Madiba will be to ‘act together as a united people…for the birth of a new world’; to ensure ‘justice for all’; ‘peace for all’; ‘work, bread, water and salt for all’.

Realising Madiba’s urging for us to ‘live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others’ should be our enduring monument to him, our most famous and outstanding alumnus.

The University and South African flags at Rhodes will fly at half-mast until after Madiba is laid to rest.

Hamba kakuhle Dlomo, Sopitsho, Ngqolomsila, ugqatso lwakho ulifezile (Go well Madiba, you have done your bit).

By Dr Saleem Badat

Posted in News

Rhodes Alumni Survey Report

As Rhodes heads towards its 110th year in 2014, the university undertook a milestone online survey of its alumni in the second quarter of 2013. Nearly 1,000 graduates living in 22 countries around the world took part in this comprehensive study of alumni sentiments and views.



To download the full Rhodes Alumni Survey Report (4.7MB) please click here

Posted in News

Vice-Chancellor at Commonweath Club, San Francisco

Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Saleem Badat, makes a June 13 appearance at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco with South Africa’s Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, the Hon. Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim. The following day he joined an eminent group of Global South African executives in Silicon Valley for an engaging roundtable discussion and dinner hosted by Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and Brand South Africa.

Posted in News

Launch of Vice-Chancellor’s Website

The University is pleased to announce the launch of the new Vice-Chancellor’s website.  It is full of information from his graduation address to who’s who at Rhodes. Read recent newspaper articles about or by Dr Badat.  Well worth a visit …click here.

Posted in News

Split SKA still an ego boost for SA

Business Day – Editorial

IT IS a measure of SA’S tender national ego that the Square Kilometre Array

(SKA) radio telescope project developed a sense of national competition somewhat akin to winning the right to hold an international sporting tournament. Even after the announcement this weekend that SA will share the project – one of biggest science projects in history – with a bid from Australia and New Zealand, South African commentators were still quick to point out that most of the equipment would be situated here.

But, in fact, the decision to have joint hosts is, on reflection, a good compromise. It spreads the financial risk and benefits inclusion, something obviously important for the 20 or so countries that are stumping up the R15bn to build the array of radio telescopes. Most important, it’s also good for science, and presumably will help ensure that no one country gets too chauvinistic about whatever the project discovers.

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor was gracious in accepting this outcome, although obviously timing the announcement for Africa Day meant the team was hoping for a more complete victory. As it is, Ms Pandor said, the country would accept the compromise in the interest of science, despite making it clear that the decision to split the project was unexpected.

In Australia, the bid was fought in an atmosphere much less permeated with the fickle requirements of national pride. National newspapers there blamed the mining boom in Australia for pushing up construction prices for the split decision, and it is true that the South African bid was cheaper. But, all in all, it wasn’t a front-page event in the same way it is being seen here.

As this newspaper pointed out yesterday, the great achievement of the local bid team was to build a scientifically credible case given that many other countries, Australia included, have been participating in this field more aggressively for much longer.

SA’S weaknesses all have to do with notional political stability, which is obviously something about which the scientific team could do nothing.

Importantly, as the Sydney Morning Herald pointed out yesterday, splitting the project will not mean that half the telescope will be built in Australia and the other half here. Both sites will have a full square kilometre of collecting area, with who collects what playing to the strengths of each site. SA will host the mid-frequency array, while the low-frequency and survey array data will be collected in Australia. In the second phase of the project, it will also collect something called the aperture arrays.

So what will this thing do? What may it discover?

It is an extraordinary project. The SKA will be 50 times larger than any existing radio telescope. It could help solve some of the biggest questions that remain in astrophysics, including whether Albert Einstein’s predictions about gravity were, in fact, correct.

It could also – and this is pretty weird – discover whether life exists on other planets. The reason it could make a real contribution here is that, at the moment, astronomers survey the sky section by section. The biggest existing single-dish telescope, the Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico, needs three years to survey the entire galaxy. The SKA could do it overnight.

Overall, it’s a fabulous project, and it’s fantastic that a big slice of it will be located in this country, particularly since SA is paying only a slice of the total purchase price.

This is a good thing since the purchase prices is going to be pretty astronomical – about R200bn over the next 50 years. Construction will also start only in 2016, so this is unlikely to be an immediate huge drain on the fiscus.

The universe, it appears, will be around long enough to endure some scientific arm-wrestling and an earth-styled construction delay or two

Posted in News

Top international SKA scientist joins Rhodes

Daily Dispatch, by David MacGregor, Port Alfred Bureau

RHODES University is reaching for the stars after a top international scientist accepted a prestigious academic post that will see him splitting his time between Grahamstown and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

Rhodes academics played a key role in helping South Africa crack the nod as the perfect place for the scientific world to invest billions in the SKA, but the appointment of acclaimed European radio astronomer Professor Oleg Smirnov is the cherry on top.

“It’s very difficult to overstate the importance of this development, so excuse the over-abundance of superlatives – but megascience is coming to Africa,” he predicted.

He said key players in the bid, like Rhodes University honorary doctor- ate Dr Bernie Fanaroff and GrahamstownSKA chief scientist Professor Justin Jonas, deserved enormous credit for their efforts.

“To have gone from virtually nothing – from what seemed a completely madcap, pie-in-the-sky idea – 10 years ago, to MEERKAT construction and the SKA site today, should be lauded as one of this country’s great success stories. I’m proud to be associated with these people!”

Smirnov said SKA’S benefits to the country and continent would go far beyond international prestige, infrastructural investment and job creation.

“For every future scientist using the SKA, there will be dozens of highly-trained engineers and technicians who will have been involved in building it and who will then feed these skills into the high-tech economy.

“There is bound to be an influx of top international research talent, which is a great boon for local universities, and the educational system in general.”

Another benefit would be increased awareness of science, leading to more kids studying science in school – and eventually to more highly-skilled graduates entering the economy.

Much bigger and more powerful than any other existing scientific instrument, the SKA represented a revolutionary jump in world capabilities, Smirnov said.

“It’s like switching from a scooter to a sports car. With this instrument we should be able to answer some of the most fundamental questions about the origins and nature of our universe.”

He predicted other mouthwatering findings too.

“Perhaps even more exciting will be the so-called serendipitous discoveries – the real surprises – what Donald Rumsfeld called the ‘unknown unknowns’.”

In his new position as the prestigious SARCHI SKA chair in Radio Astronomy Techniques & Technologies at Rhodes, Smirnov has been tasked with figuring out how to turn scrambled signals measured by the telescope into high fidelity images of the sky.

He will divide his time between the SKA office in Cape Town and the Department of Physics and Electronics at Rhodes University.

Although Rhodes is the smallest university in South Africa with less than 1% of all university students, it already holds five Department of Science and Technology chairs that are managed by the National Research Foundation.

“Rhodes has always punched above its weight in research, and has half a century’s legacy of radio astronomy – more than any other South African university,” said Smirnov.

Explaining how he had large shoes to fill thanks to a lot of the key people in the SKA SA project being involved with Rhodes, the respected scientist said by establishing a research chair in instrumental radio astronomy the university was now well ahead of the curve for upcoming years.

“A new revolution in instrumental research is on the way. With my appointment, Rhodes has established a big stake in what is certain to become a booming field of research. South Africa, and Rhodes in particular, will be a very exciting place in the coming years.”

Vice-chancellor Dr Saleem Badat said the university was pleased to have contributed to SKA under the leadership of Dr Faranoff and the secondment of Professor Jonas to the project as chief scientist.

Posted in News

Tony Granger (1974) Elected New President of The Insurance Institute of Shropshire and Mid-Wales

The Insurance Institute of Shropshire and Mid-Wales announces the election at the AGM on 26.4.2012 of Tony Granger BA LL.B B.Com ACII CIP DipPfs CFPcm FRSA as its new President of the Institute for 2012. Mr. Dave Vanner ACII was elected Deputy President. Tony takes over from Tony Succamore ACII, who was President from 2010-2012.

Tony Granger is a leading UK financial planning author with books in pensions and retirement, investments, inheritance tax and trusts, school and university fees funding, business protection, succession planning, amongst others. He is an IFA with the English Mutual Group.

Tony noted that this was the Centenary Year for the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) which has over 100,000 members worldwide, with the local institute accounting for over 800 members.

He said: ‘We have a healthy and vibrant local institute with members servicing individuals and businesses across Shropshire and Mid-Wales with a vast range of general insurance and financial planning advice. The Insurance Institute arranges examinations for industry qualifications, monthly lectures and social events for its members, as well as careers planning and charity events’.

Posted in News

Chairman of UK Trust receives Honorary Degree from Rhodes University

See also:

Geoffrey de Jager’s Graduation Speech

Geoffrey de Jager Citation

Rhodes University Alumnus and philanthropist, Mr Geoffrey de Jager, urged the Faculty of Commerce graduands in his graduation speech today (Saturday, 14 April) not set out just to make money, as this leads to short-lived pleasures.

As a committed philanthropist and someone who has substantially supported education, heritage, social justice and the environment. His advice to the graduands is to aim to succeed to the very best of their abilities in whatever it is that they set out to achieve and the best way to do this is to do something which they enjoy.

De Jager is a successful businessman, but what sets him apart from other successful businessmen is his determination to share his good fortune with causes in which he has a deep belief or which he have had a profound impact on his success. 

If Universities are about producing graduates with a fine education, who contribute to the creation of knowledge and who have an appreciation of the world in which people live, Rhodes has an excellent example in De Jager of just how well it has succeeded.

Addressing the last graduation ceremony, De Jager told the graduands that they have choices.

“Today is a celebration of your achievements and allows you a brief moment to draw breath before you forge on. You will have to choose which path you will follow.  You have to weigh up the benefits to yourselves, your loved ones and the benefit to others,” he said.

He advised the graduands to be open minded, listen to others and work hard gathering facts before they make a decision.

“As tomorrow’s managers you need to know that you must spend time managing your risk. Avoid those apparent riskless investments because all decisions have risk and as managers, it is the risk you need to manage not the opportunity,” he added.

“If Rhodes has educated you, as it did me, to have independence of thought, then I offer the following advice,” he said. “You can question someone’s views and their judgment without questioning their motives or their patriotism.”

De Jager graduated with a B Comm degree at Rhodes in 1973. While at Rhodes, he developed his entrepreneurial skills negotiating to buy stocks from a local department store and re-selling the items to his clients who were mainly lecturers and tutors.

After leaving Rhodes he studied for an LLB degree at the University of Natal, after which he practiced law briefly. However, the lure of commerce proved too tempting for De Jager and he soon embarked on a long and distinguished business career.

He became one of the initial directors of Rand Merchant Back before relocating to the UK in 1987. Once in the UK, he took up partnership with his twin brother Douglas and founded Anglo Suisse Investment Holdings Limited.

His portfolio includes two stock broking firms, ES Securities Limited and RND International Limited which he disposed of in the 1990’s. In 2001 the De Jager brothers acquired Sharp International Limited which became the UK’s foremost producer of rigid plastic packaging.

Rhodes University conferred honorary doctorates on De Jager for his contributions to various sectors in society such as education and heritage.

Posted in News

Oprah Leadership Academy – 21 of the 72 Girls of the class of 2011 for Rhodes

The first matric class of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls has joined thousands of other matriculants around South Africa in the anxious countdown to early January when exam results are published. The matric class wrote the NSC examinations.

Most of the academy’s matric class have confirmed their tertiary education plans for 2012. A total of 15 students will attend the University of Cape Town, seven will attend Wits University, 13 the University of Johannesburg, 21 Rhodes University, nine the University of Pretoria, one will study at Stellenbosch University, one the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, three the Tshwane University of Technology and one the Cape Town University of Technology. Full story.

Posted in News

Caroline Rowlands : 2011 Winner SA Business Club Award

The winners of the SA Business Club Awards 2011 were announced at a glittering ceremony at SA House on Thursday the 24th of November 2011. The evening was opened by world renowned baritone Njabulo Madlala, whose performance of Nkosi Sikelel’iAfrika moved many in the audience. Read more.

Caroline Rowland was crowned Woman in Business of the Year. Her fellow nominees were Tolene van der Merwe, Gwen Brits, Cemanthe Harries, Taor Morris, Rozzyn Boy, Ilona Chanochand Nyasha Gwatidzo

Posted in News