Ricochet News

Professor Jonathan Jansen educates and entertains at The Boardwalk

By Jesica Slabbert - Aug 11, 2017
Professor Jonathan Jansen educates and entertains at The Boardwalk

Following the release of his new book, Song for Sarah, which coincided with his return to South Africa on leave from his lecturing in America, former Rector and Vice Chancellor of the Free State University, Professor Jonathan David Jansen, gave a talk at The Boardwalk Convention Centre in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

Professor Jansen has a highly accomplished background, and has been involved with multiple Universities around the world, including Stanford University in America, Cornell University, and Cleveland State University. He graduated from the University of the Western Cape and has written many books over the years.

His new book, Song for Sarah, was written as a tribute to his mother, and was co-authored by his sister, Naomi Jansen. The book is a collection of short stories of his life with his mother and a tribute to all mothers who raise children and raise communities.

Professor Jansen gave his views and opinions about the troubles being faced in South Africa in the moment, from the abuse of women to the decision for the maths pass rate to be dropped.

“I become despondent when a guy beats a woman and then sits in disciplinary parliament that so many people fought for,” said Prof Jansen.

“You see Neville Alexander and Steve Biko were people who were educated. Even when it was difficult, they achieved. So don’t tell me that after apartheid that high standards are a white thing, high standards are not a white thing. High standards are a human thing, if you tell any child they can achieve, they will.”

Professor Jansen spoke about his life as a child and the things he learned growing up with his mother and from the community around him during his youth.

“At every graduation ceremony I always tell the students to please get up and look at the rafters. There are your parents, and your grandparents, I want you to give them a round of applause, because you did not get here by yourself,” said Prof Jansen.

“Now I grew up in the Cape Flats, and there was something that was always scarier than a gangster, and that was your mother.

“This is the question I want to pose; I want you to reflect on your own mother, because Naomi and I didn’t write this book solely to reflect on our own mother. It’s actually a book about mothers who raise children under difficult conditions.”

The talk was hosted by Fogarty’s Book shop, and as a special treat they had copies of Professor Jansen’s new book and a few of his previous works on sale at the end of his talk, which he and his sister signed personally for those who purchased them.