UFH VC Prof Buhlungu to present the 57th annual TB Davie Memorial Lecture at UCT

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University of Fort Hare (UFH) Vice-Chancellor, Prof Sakhela Buhlungu is set to present the 57th annual TB Davie Memorial Lecture hosted by the University of Cape Town (UCT), joining the list of eminent speakers of this significant lecture including Prof ZK Mathews – UFH’s first graduate.

Organised by the Academic Freedom Committee, the lecture on academic and human freedom was established by UCT students to commemorate the work of Thomas Benjamin Davie, VC of the university from 1948 to 1955 and a defender of the principles of academic freedom.

In his lecture titled:  “Academic Freedom and Institutional Autonomy: A View from the Thyume Valley,” Prof Buhlungu will identify four moments that marked the introduction of ethnic education and assault on academic freedom at UFH – the Extension of University Act of 1959, the appointment of Broederbonder Professor JM De Wet in 1968, the closure and subsequent annexation of the Federal Theological Seminary to UFH in 1974/5, and the handing over of the university to the Ciskei Bantustan in 1981.

He will present four propositions about academic freedom and institutional autonomy in the current conjuncture in South Africa. He will, among others, argue that academic freedom and institutional autonomy is contextual in that it means different things to different institutions because of our different histories, and that in the current period striving for academic freedom and institutional autonomy in one university is a futile exercise.

Through the lecture, Prof Buhlungu will challenge people in the sector – staff, academics and administrators – to rethink the notions of academic freedom and institutional autonomy in the modern age.

Summarising his address, the VC states the following: “The late 1950s marked a negative turning point for higher education in South Africa. The Extension of University Act 45 of 1959 set the country on a path of ethnic segregation of university education whose effects are still with us more than 60 years later and almost 30 years of democracy.”

“The tireless efforts of Dr TB Davie received acknowledgement by students and staff in the form of the annual TB Davie Memorial Lecture at the University of Cape Town. From 1959 eminent academics and activists were invited to present the lecture.”

“Significantly for me, Professor ZK Matthews, the first graduate of the University of Fort Hare (1924), academic and political activist gave the third lecture in 1961. Titled “African Awakening and the Universities”, Professor Matthews lecture made a link between academic freedom and the quest for liberation in South Africa and the continent.”

The Lecture will be held as follows:

Date: Wednesday, 23 August 2023

Venue: UCT’s New Lecture Theatre, Upper Campus

Time: 18:00

Please register online to attend the event:  RSVP: 57th Annual TB Davie Memorial Lecture | University of Cape Town (uct.ac.za)