Stellenbosch University: Bringing social justice and democracy to life

​​The Imbizo 365 Calendar of Engagements uses the creative arts and activities such as film discussions, debates and excursions to help participants reflect on eight calendar themes. Coordinated by the Transformation Office’s Transformation Programme Coordinator, House Committee Leaders for Critical Engagement and Transformation participate in these engagement opportunities, to better equip them in their role as student leaders and critical engagement facilitators in their respective residence spaces.

In March 2022, which marks Human Rights month, the theme was social justice, with a special focus on Restitution in response to Our Past Legacy and Fairness in Our Aspirations, Constitution, Human Rights, Equity and Dignity for All. Students visited The Slave Lodge, built in 1679, where the Dutch East India Company’s enslaved people were confined. Some students shared their reflections on the excursion.

“Stepping into the Slave Lodge in Cape Town, a building that holds such a deep South African history, was an awe-inspiring moment for me. A space that was once symbolic of oppression, but has now been converted to represent power. It revealed to me the ability we as South Africans have to reclaim our history in order to finally speak our narrative” – Michaela Chetty

“Some people will say they want to hear your story and will then proceed to tell you how to write it. There is a lot to be said about who owns the knowledge and who controls the narrative when it comes to writing our history.” – Leonah Marewangepo

“I learned that the basic things we struggle and fight for are more than just needs and wants, we have a right to them”. – Alyce Kapisa

In April 2022, under the theme of Democracy; Moving from an Exclusive Past to a Thriving Democratic Future, Building Participatory and Representative Structures to Govern and Lead, the students visited Nelson Mandela’s house at the Drakenstein Correctional Centre, formerly known as Victor Verster Prison. The house where Nelson Mandela spent 14 months of his 27-year imprisonment is situated on the property and is dubbed ‘the last stop on his iconic walk to freedom’.