Mandela Day 2018 Message from the Vice-Chancellor and Principal

Posted on July 18, 2018

At the University of Pretoria, we continue to be inspired by late president Nelson Mandela’s love for humanity and his spirit of self-sacrifice. In South Africa, it has become traditional to mark Madiba’s birthday with 67 minutes – or more – of volunteer work, as we give back to local communities and reflect on his legacy. This is in commemoration of the 67 years he spent fighting for social justice. This year marks the centenary of former president Mandela’s birth on 18 July 1918.

At UP we take pride in producing graduates who are socially conscious and are active citizens. We encourage all our students to participate in volunteer work and community engagement projects. UP is part of the University Social Responsibility Network and the Talloires Network, which are international associations of universities that are committed to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of higher education. We are proud to represent South Africa on these platforms, where we address social issues and positively impact our society.

We know of many examples where UP students make a difference, with approximately 5000 students doing so for volunteer purposes. This year, I’d like to challenge you to take one action that benefits your community. When we practise kind acts, we build a better community for everyone, and become more aware of challenges faced by vulnerable communities.

As we all return for the start of our second semester, we ask our community to contribute to uplifting society and making life easier for those in need, not only today, but every day. Our Faculty of Veterinary Science students have an outreach project in which they volunteer their time to inoculate farm animals and pets in less privileged areas that lack veterinary facilities. This results in a healthier environment for people and the animals they’ve cared for. Our students from the Faculty of Engineering Built Environment and Information Technology have a compulsory module to contribute their knowledge and skills to improve the lives of communities around South Africa, and they execute this mandate to the credit of their faculty and the University of Pretoria as a whole. Recently, 40 UP students embarked on a clean-up around Sunnyside Primary School to make the area more pleasant for residents, especially local learners. This simple act of kindness had a positive impact on the community and its surrounds. These are just some of the many projects that UP staff and students are actively involved in on a daily basis to help society.

This Mandela Day we thank you for the service you have already given and we hope your experience in making a positive social contribution will encourage you to make every day a Mandela Day. In so doing, we make today and every day matter in someone’s life.


Prof Cheryl de la Rey

Vice-Chancellor and Principal

- Author Department of University Relations

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