University of Pretoria partners with the African Genius Awards

Posted on May 20, 2021

Steven Biko, who was one of South Africa’s most significant political activists and founder of the Black Consciousness Movement, is one of the nominees for the African Genius Awards.

The University of Pretoria (UP) has partnered with the African Genius Awards (AGA), which honour exceptional Africans who espouse the values needed to take Africa forward, and will host the awards evening taking place on Tuesday 25 May at UP’s Future Africa campus and institute. Members of the public are invited to attend the online event which starts at 6pm on YouTube.

Launched in 2021, the awards seek to identify, and through a rigorous nomination and research process, honour outstanding individuals who contribute to Africa’s growth. Other nominees include Thobekile Mkhize, a 35-year-old entrepreneur from Durban who founded the Mabotho brand of fashion products that tell the African story; as well as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian author who asserts that narratives have power. They are part of a group 24 nominees.

The awards are not about positions in society or professions, but rather about possessing a unique skill that affects society positively – the genius should have a proven constructive and encouraging impact. The AGA do not consider academic qualifications as a unique skill, although having achieved them consistently in unusual circumstances with a distinction could lead to nomination. A genius is more than someone of above-average ability; they are a person who has demonstrable exceptional ability in any recognisable field of endeavour.

UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe said that this initiative was welcome and dovetails seamlessly with some of the longer-term goals of the institution, and its ambition for Africa to “thrive and become a knowledge economy that relies on itself for solutions to its own challenges”.

He said UP’s Future Africa campus is a place where Africa’s leading scientists come together to leverage the benefits of transdisciplinary research to address the grand challenges that face Africa and the world. “We welcome partnerships and collaborations in the co-creation of knowledge. Africa is brimming with talent and, in years to come, it will provide human resources to the west, which has an aging population.”

Prof Kupe explained that South Africa and Africa urgently need good leaders, who are well-educated, well-skilled and rounded citizens with foresight and wisdom, in every sector. The country and continent also need strong institutions that can anchor sustainable democratic futures, inclusive economic development and social progress. “Africa is rich in natural resources and has a growing and youthful population but has yet to achieve inclusive and sustainable development,” he said.

As a partnership between the business world and academia, Plus 94 Research is the professional market research services company that is verifying and authenticating prospective winners of the inaugural African Genius Awards.

Speaking on behalf of Plus 94 Research and Priority Performance Projects, CEO Dr Sifiso Falala said, “We are very excited to partner with an illustrious institution such as the University of Pretoria. The track record of UP speaks for itself. Its quest for continued relevance going into the future is admirable, and a major giveaway of its visionary leadership.”

Dr Falala said Africa has always needed instigators of academic excellence, promoters of problem solving, global competitiveness, integrity and honour. The African Genius Awards represent a perfect congregation of all of these values.

“The African Genius Awards matter because they seek to position those individuals and behaviours that can transform the countless missed opportunities of the continent into opportunities for growth, reform and change. Honouring behaviours and individuals that epitomise a future Africa that is at peace with itself is an important catalyst for change and provides an incentive for more and more role models to come forward.”


- Author Prim Gower

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