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Protect and safeguard Wits

- Wits University

Justice Dikgang Moseneke passes pearls of wisdom as Wits University bids him farewell.

One of Africa’s illustrious sons, Moseneke called for the safeguarding of Wits University in his valedictory remarks as outgoing Chancellor of the University.

“We must guard Wits. We must protect Wits. Wits is one of the gains of our struggles, it’s one of the spoils of the war of freedom. It is not the spoiler. It is one of those things that we merge with after a long struggle. So you have to put Wits into use. If it needs some repurposing, by all means let’s repurpose it. If you got get rid of some old names, by all means let’s do that. If you want to decolonise some aspects of our offering, we then have to do that because we are duty bound by history to rearticulate our understanding of a good society and Wits must stand in the centre of all of it.”

“Let’s guard this place, let’s have a choir like this, let’s have institutions that work and produce wonderful people that strive for ratings, research outputs and excellence all the time,” Moseneke said.

Justice Dikgang Moseneke speaking at his farewell ceremony

Moseneke spoke at a special farewell ceremony held on the Library Lawns of the University on 28 November 2018. The retired Constitutional Court Justice, known for strong moral principles and noble-mindedness, served two six-year terms as Chancellor at Wits University since 2006, ending in October this year.

As the University’s titular head, Moseneke symbolised the University’s commitment to intellectual integrity and academic excellence and lend his formidable stature to the Wits. He provided valuable advice to the Vice-Chancellor, Chair of Council and the Senior Executive Team during key critical moments at the University, said Vice-Principal, Professor Tawana Kupe.

Reflecting on his time at Wits, Moseneke said that his best gift of chancellorship he received was seeing young beautiful people beaming with joy when he capped them as he presided over the graduation ceremonies.

“They would come and stand before me with total smiles every single time and every photo after photo, I have gone to a few homes, (and these photos would be)hanging proudly somewhere on a wall and I would be part of that sense of success. That has been a tremendous gift.”

Most importantly, “my stay at Wits reassured me of my notions of humanity, and it reassured me of the potency of humaneness and living within all those wonderful notions of Ubuntu and humanism that has dominated the world except in isolated parts.”

The social justice activist and long-standing member of the Pan African Congress added that seeing students at Wits being radical was an affirmation of his own life.

“The young people always affirmed my revolutionary band,” he said.

 Chair of Council, Dr Randall Carolissen, expressed his sincere gratitude to Moseneke for being a dignified leader with great humility and strong moral authority as Chancellor at Wits. He said it was a bitter-sweet moment to bid farewell to Moseneke as the University turns over a new leaf to welcome its new Chancellor.

“We are sad because we are losing a great South African, great role model, great mentor, great advisor and great patriot for Wits. We are losing a man who understands what it means to keep your moral compass in the right point and in the right direction, a man who is driven by values, a man who is driven by empathy.”

Carolissen hailed Moseneke for the formidable advisory role he played during the FeesMustFall movement, guiding them with great wisdom.

“You presided over a very difficult moment in the history of Wits, a period that can be described as a senior activist having to activate these young activists while knowing that these young activists had a full moral cause that they were fighting for.”

Professor Adam Habib, Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal, echoing the same sentiments, said that Moseneke played a phenomenal role at the University as advisor and lent dignity to the institution in the last 12 years.

“What Justice Moseneke demonstrated in a fundamental way like Robert Sobukwe did, like so many of the earlier leaders did, like Nelson Mandela did, he is a committed radical but a dignified individual.”

As a political activist, he epitomised what it means to practise humanity in radical politics, said Habib.

“Justice Moseneke is an exemplar of what it means to be an African and humane, what it means to be a radical and a member of a common humanity.”

In honour and celebration of his political and economic contribution to South Africa, Wits University will confer an honorary Doctorate of Laws on Justice Dikgang Moseneke on 4 December 2018 at 14:30 in the Great Hall, Braamfontein Campus East. 

Justice Dikgang Moseneke Farewell