Some want Rhodes University renamed to Ellen Kuzwayo University

AUGUST 27, 2015

Rhodes University students on Thursday awoke to find Ellen Kuzwayo University painted across the pathway up to the university's clock tower. This is as some students at the institution have been demanding that the institution be renamed, following the success of the Rhodes Must Fall movement at the University of Cape Town early this year.

On Wednesday, students from the Black Student Movement occupied the office of Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, expressing dissatisfaction with his reply to their memorandum delivered to him on Tuesday.

The memorandum detailed the BSM’s demands regarding accommodation for students during the upcoming September vacation.

The Vice-Chancellor addressed the BSM outside the Rhodes University main administration building, responding to claims from students that the way in which they are required to request accommodation during vacations calls for students to “perform our poverty.”

Unhappy with the Vice-Chancellor’s response, the BSM decided to occupy his office.

There is a students residence called Ellen Kuzwayo House at the institution and evidently some students want the university to adopt that name.

Biography of Ellen Kuzwayo

According to the Rhodes Unioversity website, Nnoseng Ellen Kate “Ma K” Kuzwayo was born on 29 June 1914. She was one of the many prominent women's rights activists and politicians in South Africa.

After serving as the president of the African National Congress Youth League in the 1960s, she was elected as the first post-apartheid South African Parliament 1994.

She is most well known for her autobiography, Call Me Woman written in 1985, which won South Africa’s leading CNA Literary Prize. She was the first black writer to win. Her second book of short stories, Sit Down and Listen, was written in 1990.

In the 1980s, Kuzwayo became the first black woman to receive an honorary degree from the University of the Witwatersrand. In 1999, she retired as an MP after five years, when Nelson Mandela gave her an Order of Meritorious Service

Ellen Kuzwayo died on 19 of April 2006 at the age of 91 from complications of diabetes.

Image: activateonline.co.za