The Department of Historical and Heritage Studies is exceptionally proud of two of its graduates, Edwin Smith and Dr Stephen Symons, who have been recognised on international platforms. Their professional profiles underline the prominence and excellence of students the Department can boast of.
Edwin Smith, who is currently working towards his doctorate in the Department under the supervision of Prof Karen Harris, was featured by Rutgers University as part of their Alumni Success Stories series.
As a student in exile from South Africa due to his political activities during the late 1980s, Smith first attended the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College (SOMAFCO) at Morogoro in Tanzania before travelling to Rutgers University in the United States in 1990 where Smith studied psychology.
Whilst at Rutgers, Smith helped establish and served as the inaugural director of the Council for Southern Africa, Rutgers’ international studies programme focused on southern Africa. Smith returned to South Africa in 1999 to direct the office of the Minister of Trade and Industry.
In the article Smith reflects on his experiences at Rutgers. Read the full article here.
Having joined the University of Pretoria in 2003, Smith became instrumental in pioneering the incorporation of the University of Pretoria’s Mamelodi Campus and is currently still the Manager of Campus Operations and also Head of Tuksdorp, the University of Pretoria’s largest international and postgraduate student residence.
While completing his Master’s degree in the department in 2021, Smith published “Of libraries, books, and reading: A journey of meaning making” (Tydskrif vir Letterkunde, 2020) informed by his experiences of reading in exile.
He has also published “Education and the public good: Foregrounding education in history” (Yesterday & Today, 2021); “Rondavels: From Mamelodi to the Presidential library and archives (South African Journal of Cultural History, 2022); and a review article: “Contested histories and entangled memories: the need and value of an alternative story about Cuba and Africa relations” (Strategic Review for Southern Africa, 2022). Smith will also be presenting a paper, “SOMAFCO: A history from the inside” at the 28th Biannial Conference of the Southern African Historical Society in June 2022.
Mr Edwin Smith
Dr Stephen Symons is a PhD graduate and postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies and is also a recognised published poet.
On 24 May 2022 Symons gave a reading of his poetry in the Karlstad University Library, Sweden, titled "For Everything that is Pointless and Perfect". Symons was in conversation with Swedish poet Linus Gårdfeldt, who heads up the Creative Writing programme at Karlstad University.
Symons has published poetry and short-fiction in journals, magazines and anthologies, locally and internationally. His debut collection, Questions for the Sea (uHlanga, 2016) received an honourable mention for the 2017 Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry, and was also shortlisted for the 2017 Ingrid Jonker Prize.
His unpublished collection Spioenkop was a semi-finalist for the Hudson Prize for Poetry (USA) in 2015. His second collection, Landscapes of Light and Loss (Dryad Press) was published in 2018, and third collection, For Everything that is Pointless and Perfect (Karavan Press) in 2020. Small Souls, a collection of collected and new poems will be published in 2022 by Karavan Press.Read more on the event here.
The Department of Historical and Heritage Studies is exceptionally proud of these high-flying graduates.
Dr Stephen Symons (centre)