In what was lauded as a celebration of Pan-African partnership, 88 participants of the University of the Western Cape’s first fully online Political Economy of Land Governance in Africa short course graduated today.
Course coordinator Professor Ruth Hall (pictured right) said the successful participants from 29 countries were selected from more than 600 applicants to be representative of civil society, research and funding institutions, academia, government and the private sector. The course also reflected gender parity with an almost even composition of men and women. Not only were all the participants from Africa, but the course lecturers hailed from African universities, she added.
The University of the Western Cape’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research & Innovation, Professor José Frantz, congratulated the course coordinators on presenting a “truly world class and Pan African offering”. Hosted by the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at UWC, in collaboration with the African Land Policy Centre (ALPC), the four-day course addressed the political economy of land governance and land administration in Africa.
PLAAS is a special node of the Network of Excellence on Land Governance in Africa (NELGA). This course is about “making an impact in Africa, through Africans”, observed Prof Frantz.
Prof Frantz referred to UWC’s motto of moving from hope to action, through knowledge. “We realise that hope is not enough. Action might also not be enough. But with informed hope, directed towards action, knowledge surely becomes a powerful tool that we can wield to make a difference here in Africa.” She said as an anchor institution, UWC plays a vital role in the local community and economy.
“Aligned to this we recognise the importance of partnerships, and internationalisation to be locally relevant but globally competitive.”
UWC aims to be widely recognised as a leading research-led university by 2035, said Prof Frantz.
“As such, we humbly, with curiosity and commitment, seek to strengthen our partnerships across the continent and beyond so that we can make a difference to those who wish to serve. We would also like the voices of the South to be heard in the North.”
Through its partnerships with other African universities, UWC is able to develop curricula that reflect the challenges, experiences and solutions of the African region, she added.
“These curricula are the collective wisdom of African scholarship.”
Courses such as this one, hosted by PLAAS since 2018, enable UWC to help find solutions that are relevant to Africa. “Our teaching and learning, including these short courses, provides expanded opportunities for research to influence innovation in policy and practice,” she said. “We continue to strive to influence and make a difference in the public domain, and we are sure that this course will contribute to this.”
Feedback from three of the course participants:
I was impressed that the course was prepared and delivered by Africans, for Africans. Land reform in Namibia, and throughout Africa, is still a very sensitive and emotive issue. It is key to livelihood in Africa. The interlink of land and its resources is key to Africans. It is very important that we strengthen the way we manage this important resource, and the way we govern the land as a basic resource. - Cindy Nghituwamata, Namibia (View video)
This course was a powerful initiative. It provided a platform for Africans from different sectors in business, civil society to be engaged in conversation of ideas about land governance in Africa. It was done in a way that let us debate the politics of land, with a strong sense of history. - Siviwe Mdoda, South Africa (View video)
The question of legal pluralism was interesting. Learned that both statutory and customary laws are distant from what is happening on the ground. - Olive Lomokol, Uganda (View video)