(Published - 21 February 2020}
China is putting up a brave fight against the Coronavirus and many countries are extending a helping hand.
Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Western Cape (UWC), Professor Tyrone Pretorius, wrote a letter to partner universities in China, at the start of the outbreak, to express UWC’s support.
This week the 78-member UWC Student Choir followed his lead by showcasing their support in song. They sang the Chinese National Anthem to a group of Chinese lecturers as a gesture of encouragement and support.
Ms Iris Wu, who co-heads up the Confucius Institute - a centre at UWC which focuses on academic and cultural exchange, and student development - said: “As a university, we want to show the Chinese people here and abroad that we practice our motto: that UWC truly is a place of hope and action through knowledge.”
Dressed in their UWC 60th anniversary t-shirts, choir members held posters with messages of encouragement, including - "Isolate the virus and not the people"; "We support China"; "Our hands reach out"; "We are all in this together, don't lose hope".
Ms Wu encouraged choir members before the event to investigate the impact of the virus on the nation.
UWC choir supervisor, Sibusiso Njeza, said: “This is our responsibility as global citizens. It might be China today, but it can be us tomorrow. China has really become so entrenched in our world - think about our cellphones and computers. We should think about how we can support and help each other”.
A student and member of the choir, Rozanne Cloete, told the audience: “As we were learning the Chinese national anthem, we found it to be very powerful. There is one particularly meaningful line: ‘many hearts, but one mind’. I think it is a very relevant message for this situation - to support each other in this difficult time and to be of one mind”.
Ms Wu said that as a Chinese citizen, it was an emotional moment for her when the choir raised their fists as they sang the South African National anthem, and later, We are the World.
“I could feel the spirit of oneness - that we are fighting the same fight and trying to do what we can to curb the spread of the virus."
On February 19, the World Health Organisation indicated that the virus had infected 75,200 people around the world, and killed 2,009 individuals - mostly in China.