Getting to know… Professor Jabulani Gilford Kheswa

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Jabulani Gilford Kheswa is an Associate Professor and Head of the Psychology Department at the University of Fort Hare. He holds a PhD in Psychology from North-West University.

In the last seven years, he has co-published 47 articles in accredited journals, locally and internationally. Prof Kheswa also contributed a chapter in Psychology Themes and Variations (3rd South African Edition), a prescribed textbook in a number of South African tertiary institutions.

His teaching and research areas include Health Psychology, Social Psychology, Sexual behaviour, Marriage and Family Transitions, LGBTQI, HIV/AIDS, Personality Theories, Community Psychology, Inclusive Education and Cultural Studies

Prof Kheswa spoke to ThisWeek@FortHare.

Please tell us about your research interests. Also, share with us your past and current work/projects

In the past 12 years I have passionately conducted research on the sexual behaviour and psychological well-being of African adolescents. The reason why I chose this area is because most young people are often left inadequately equipped in the domain of reproductive health and end up being parents prematurely. Also, due to peer pressure and lack of quality role models, they become vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.

During the Covid-19 lockdown I had an opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from my department, UFH Social Work department as well as colleagues from the University of Zululand and Vaal University of Technology, to write two papers on the implications of the pandemic on culture and homeless people.

What do you think are your most significant research accomplishments?

  • Having presented conference papers locally and internationally, for example, Ghana, Portugal and Canada. Debating and interacting with well-renowned scholars while representing the University of Fort Hare.  It was phenomenal!
  • In 2018, I was one of the guest speakers at the International HIV/AIDS workshop for adolescents, which was held in Cape Town. The workshop addressed youth from all over the world. The knowledge gained over the years enabled me to regard myself as an activist and advocate for people living with HIV.  
  • In June and July 2020, I presented two papers at webinars organized by Stellenbosch University and the School of Education (UFH), respectively.
  • During lockdown I also worked with the community of Sebokeng Township in Gauteng, where I was born, to provide emotional support to homeless people. This made me realize the power of healing in showing kindness and unconditional love. 

How do you ensure your research is well communicated, digested and acted on?

Being instrumental, practical or proactively involved in the lives of others is important to me. I preach about the link between risky sexual behaviour and depression on radio stations such as Umhlobo Wenene, Forte FM and Thetha FM.

Through seminars organized by Student Christian Movements, I get the chance to empower our students on the importance of self-reliance and ways to sharpen mental wellness without engaging in risk-taking acts. 

Also, the dialogues and campaigns organised by the university’s Dean of Student Affairs enable me and a group of well-trained students called the Champions against Gender-Based Violence to destabilize atrocities and marginalization of women.

As an Academic and a Researcher where do you draw your inspiration and what keeps you motivated?

I do not have enough words to describe the support I have received from both staff and students since joining the University of Fort Hare as a Lecturer in October 2009. It is fulfilling to work in an environment where organizational goals align with one’s career path and growth.

The support and guidance I continue to receive from the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities is immeasurable. Thus, I wake up with joy, ready and willing to render my services for the betterment of our students, country and continent.

What advice would you give to Young Researchers out there?

As a Young Researcher myself, my advice for growth is simple:  consistency, willpower and loyalty.