Meet the Radloffs: Five generations that have studied at UP

Posted on April 23, 2024

“When my family and I moved from the Eastern Cape to Pretoria in 1958, I was shown the University of Pretoria’s (UP) Aula, a cultural beacon of note in those years,” recalls UP alumnus Frans Gustav Radloff, who obtained a BA Law degree in 1963 and an LLB in 1965. “Being a lover of music, UP was the obvious choice, and to this day, I fondly remember all the operas, ballets and symphony concerts performed at the Aula.”

He notes that the Faculty of Law at the time was highly regarded, producing notable lawyers, judges and academics.

“The faculty did not only give me a sound legal foundation, but also an awareness of the importance of adhering to sound ethical principles,” he says. “Studying at UP in the 1960s was a privilege, as teaching staff members were motivated, energetic and enthusiastic. These qualities rubbed off on the students; I look back on those years with much fondness and appreciation.”

During his time as a student, he says he enjoyed sport and took part in athletics and long-distance running. In later years, he became an avid canoeist.

“I remained a member of the UP Sports Club until I left Pretoria at age 69, in 2011.”

Frans Gustav’s grandfather, Bernard (1889 –1968), was the first Radloff student at UP.

“I was given to understand that he played rugby in the wing position for the University’s first team,” he says. “Unfortunately, I’m not able to provide exact dates, but it must have been sometime in the 1920s.”

Frans Gustav’s father, who shares his name, obtained an MBA in 1965, while his son (who also shares his name) obtained a BEng degree in Electrical Engineering in 1994 and an honours degree in the same field two years later.

Frans Gustav’s son emphasises that education is something that no government or system can take away.

“It means you can always start again and make something a success – knowledge really is power,” he says.

He adds that if he hadn’t studied engineering, he would have studied computer science.

“It really interests me, and can keep me occupied and fascinated for hours on end. It provides a clear challenge, a defined ‘success outcome’ and relatively short-term feedback with respect to the progress or success achieved.”

Frans Gustav’s eldest grandson, Gustav Daniel, is set to graduate with a BSc degree in Computer Science in May, during the autumn graduation season; while his second-eldest grandson, Frans Alexander, is studying towards a BSc degree in Sport Science.

For Gustav Daniel, specialising in cyber security has broadened his horizons and offered him opportunities to learn and grow.

“Cyber security is a field that evolves every day and it’s impossible to keep up with every aspect,” he says. “Having access to like-minded individuals who aspire to be experts in the field is an invaluable opportunity for keeping up to date in evolving sub fields and topics.”

For Frans Alexander, UP was his natural choice – “firstly because of the quality of education and proximity to my residence. Secondly, I wanted to continue our long family history of attending UP”.

He learnt from his dad that a good education is not necessarily the path to wealth, but rather a path to a rich, fulfilling life that enables one to make a contribution to society.

“My wish is that the next generations will steer clear of the futile search for wealth and opt to make a contribution towards building a prosperous, happy and stable South Africa,” his granddad, Frans Gustav, says. “I find it most rewarding that my son and grandsons experienced the privilege of preparing themselves for their respective careers at this great university. My two grandsons are still at it with great enthusiasm, and my son has certainly made his mark in his field. When I think of them, I smile.”

- Author Xolani Mathibela

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