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"Continue Mandela's legacy"

- By Vivienne Rowland

The legacy of the late former president Nelson Mandela and his dedication to education was reiterated and celebrated at the graduation ceremony of the Faculty of Health Sciences on Tuesday, 10 December 2013.

At the ceremony, which was held at the same time as thousands of South Africans were pouring through the gates of the FNB Stadium in Soweto for the former statesman’s memorial service, a Gold Medal was given to South African entrepreneur and prominent businessman, Brian Joffe. He also delivered the keynote address to the graduands.

Joffe, chief executive and founder of the JSE-listed Bidvest Group, made specific reference to Mandela’s commitment to education and his tenacity in instilling the importance of knowledge gathering.

“You have a special responsibility. On this day, when we celebrate the legacy of Madiba, it is your responsibility to pick up on education, to perpetuate education. It is not a one day thing; education is a long term project. I call upon you to carry on the work of many before you,” said Joffe.

Joffe made reference to the education system in South Africa and said the country needed some improvement. “South Africa has for many years, especially during the apartheid era, not been able to provide education for all its citizens. Without education, no country is sustainable. We need to improve the education facilities in the country,” said Joffe.

He commented on the poignancy of rain on the day of Mandela’s memorial service, recalling that it had also rained on the day of Mandela’s official inauguration as president in 1994.

“Without rain, life is unsustainable,” he said.

Professor Andrew Crouch, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic and Vice-Principal of Wits University, and Professor Beatrys Lacquet, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Knowledge, Information Management and Infrastructure, officiated over the ceremony in the absence of Professor Adam Habib, Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal, and Wits Chancellor, Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke. Habib and Moseneke were representing Wits at the Mandela memorial service in Soweto.

Crouch, in his welcome address, also paid homage to Mandela and asked for a moment of silence to be observed before the advent of the official graduation proceedings.

“Mandela was an architect of hope for all of us, and at Wits, we will continue to advocate access to education for all. We will continue to serve as a public institution that is socially responsive and internationally relevant,” said Crouch.