“We all share a history that cannot be easily disentangled.” These are the words of Professor Wim de Villiers Rector of Stellenbosch University, who delivered an impassioned speech at a congratulatory ceremony for the recipients of a bursary created for descendants of Die Vlakte residents.
The University’s Vice-Chancellor, who was inaugurated in 2015, stated that the university is working hard to close the gap between the institution and its surrounding communities.
“These days, the University is working hard to become more inclusive, and both our students and staff bodies are slowly but surely becoming more diverse,” said Professor de Villiers.
The Rector also stated that he was grateful that the bursary had been created, and acknowledged that the Vlakte Bursary Fund was a way for the University to repair the injustices of the past.
“In the year 2000, the university recognized its contribution to the wrongs that were done in the past,” said de Villiers.
He also expressed his delight in the recipients of the bursary, who live in surrounding communities, choosing to study at Stellenbosch University rather than other universities.
Kristen Adams (23), who is one of the recipients of the bursary, thanked the University for creating the bursary and stated that receiving the bursary took some pressure off her shoulders.
“We are all grateful for this bursary. It helps us better our studies. I think our families who lived in Die Vlakte would be proud to see us carrying on their legacy,” said Adams. “I find it ironic that we reap the benefits of a bitter history,” she further stated.
Other recipients of the bursary include 1st year Social Work student, Aqeelah Hendrickse (20) and 2nd year Visual Communications and Design student, Ashley Solomons (22); both whom reside in Cloetesville and Idas Valley, respectively.
Hendrickse expressed her desire to be a motivational speaker, which she stated is particularly important to her, as she has noticed that young people in impoverished communities “do not know how to dream”.
“I was fortunate enough to come here. There are kids in my community who do not dream big because they believe they cannot make it. They are scared to dream and I want to inspire them,” said Hendrickse.
Seven students have received the Vlakte bursary thus far. 21 applications have been submitted for the 2018 academic year. – Nyakallo Moleko