The latest data coming from the Department of Health and the recent address to the nation by President Cyril Ramaphosa regarding the developments surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa, portray a worrying image that should concern each one of us, especially the student community of Nelson Mandela University.

In particular, our region of Nelson Mandela Bay is one of the most affected areas through rapid increases in the rate of infections. Undoubtedly, at this stage, it is common to have had an intimate experience with COVID-19 be it a personal infection or a close family member or relative. We wish those that are infected a speedy recovery.

For others, the pandemic has taken a life that one holds dear and I cannot imagine the pain that this has caused to your loved ones. I want to take this opportunity to offer my sincere condolences to each of those families. Thuthuzelekani Sizwe! Thuthuzelekani Bantu!

As we forge ahead as the University to unchartered territory – I want to urge each of you to not lose hope. As former President Thabo Mbeki once asserted that “gloom and despondency have never defeated adversity … trying times need courage and resilience … our strength as a people is not tested during the best of times”. This period of the pandemic is definitely not the best of times. It is a trying time that needs our collective courage and resilience.

Today, I want each of you to take time off and reflect on the path that you have managed to breakthrough in various cycles and phases of your life including the recent period, beginning from March until today. I am sure what has made you succeed is keeping your eyes on your goals, notwithstanding the odds and obstacles on your life journey so far. We have journeyed together in pursuit of our twin objectives of saving lives and saving the 2020 academic year.  The first semester is near completion and we have stayed true to our commitment that no student should be left behind. 

I salute you for your tenacity, resilience, focus and courage to succeed even in the face of adversity.

This unwavering commitment and progress should never be underestimated nor taken for granted. 

The second phase of our multi-modal learning and teaching strategy is the one that will put our systems and communities to test. As about one-third of you have returned to the campus precinct – you are urged, once again, to adapt your everyday routines and lifestyle habits to ‘a new normal’. This entails being highly disciplined and conscious of yourself, your environment and those around you. At all times, please observe the safety regulations published by our University wherever you may be. Sanitise regularly, wear a mask, keep a social distance, go out only when it is absolutely necessary, avoid crowded areas and do not visit your friends and classmates, and stay in your residence rooms as much as possible.

Once again, the spirit of Mandela during these difficult times must continue being your guiding compass. When he was faced with his most challenging moment in the course of struggle – he never allowed gloom and despondency to overwhelm him. He remained focused on the bigger cause. He anchored his resilience on selflessness, sacrifice and service - for the greater gain of freedom for his people. His example should extol us to stay the course and to exude his attributes, acknowledging and appreciating that as Mandela made the following reflective observations,: “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb…action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely day dreaming, but vision with action can change the world.”

This is not a moment for us to despair. It is a moment for us to safeguard our existence as a people and model a new kind of behaviour and mindset that will guarantee the continued existence of humanity. It is also a moment for you as students to stay focused on the prize – your qualification.

We owe this to ourselves and posterity.

Luthando Jack

Dean of Students

Posted on 17 July 2020 17:33:33

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This platform serves as a reflective, discursive and connecting space between myself and the entire student community of our beloved university. Through this platform, we converse with our students and broader stakeholders on all matters of student life, wellbeing and development at Mandela University.

Luthando Jack, Dean of Students