Double honour for PhD student

Posted on February 13, 2018

A University of Pretoria PhD (Political Science) student Dikeledi Mokoena was recently recognised by the Most Influential Young South Africans initiative, and the Africa Youth Awards for her work on pan-Africanism and integration among young people on the continent.

She was ranked 33rd out of 100 people in the Most Influential Young South Africans initiative, spearheaded by Avance Media, a social enterprise, in partnership with various other organisations. Her former colleague from the Department of Political Science, Sizwe Welsh-Mpofu, was ranked 16th.

The annual awards and ranking scheme targets South African achievers between the ages of 15 and 40. Achievers are nominated and the public is invited to vote for them.

The awards have 10 categories, including Business, and Science and Technology. Mokoena was nominated under the Personal Development and Academia category, aimed at individuals who have excelled in academic assignments and have dedicated their career to training the next generation of African leaders. She is involved in community-engagement work that is linked to her academic interests. In December she was a facilitator at the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps pre-deployment training in Ghana. Her interests lie in preparing young Africans to work towards African unity, collective leadership and advancing intersectional struggles for the successful rebirth of Africa, and in the renewal of the Global South and the world. She has also facilitated community dialogues on xenophobia and sexual violence.

Mokoena was also one of four finalists in the Africa Youth Awards, chosen from among 140 nominees from 25 African countries, and was recognised for her academic work in the community, which addressed pressing issues such as the Ebola crisis and its implications for regional migration in West Africa.

She is a researcher at the Centre for Sexualities, AIDS and Gender and is completing her PhD in Political Science. Her PhD topic is ‘Resistance and survival strategies of the women of Marikana: A decolonial political economy analysis’.

She was previously a part-time lecturer in Political Science, in international relations. Commenting on her achievement, she said: ‘I was not expecting it. It was a great surprise but an affirmation of the work I do. You don’t think people notice your work.’

Sporting a prominent tattoo on her back of the map of Africa, with the Goddess of Maat embedded in it (the goddess is a symbol of love, harmony, justice, peace and balance), she said ‘this is a prayer for myself and the continent,’ her passion for Africa clearly shining through. She believes Africa has the potential to ‘offer the world a model for rebirthing an equalitarian and just world, a world with less or no structural fissures and instability. Out of this chaos, a more pluriversal world can emerge.’

She intends pursuing postdoctoral studies next year and wants to stay in the academy. ‘I love this space. I love writing. In my dream house, I see a huge library with lots of books and a big window with fresh air coming in,’ she smiled.


- Author Department of University Relations

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