Cala born and bred advocate Andile Mini is heeding to the call from University of Fort Hare (UFH) alumni to avail himself as convocation president, and intends to rebrand the institution’s image by means of its founding principles.
Calls for Mini to lead the convocation began in 2016 and again last year, but he said he rejected the suggestion due to his commitments at the time.
“I eventually availed myself for presidency of convocation because I have always been a part of the institution since I started my first year studies there in 2005. Since I left the university there have been consistent calls from the alumni and convocation indicating the office of the alumni needed someone of my calibre – a strong, determined individual with a vision that would bring dignity to the office,” he said.
Mini indicated the university alumni observed that its office no longer had the main characteristics it was supposed to.
“They observed that the previous convocation presidents who occupied the office since the departure of professor Lizo Japhta did not deliver to their expectations, especially in the previous term where the office of the alumni did not deliver at all.”
The advocate said after seeing the office of the convocation without any dignity and those who occupied it not delivering, the alumni decided they could not be bystanders because it was their university too.
He said the institution’s well-being deserved to be restored and needed the alumni to come on board and work toward that restoration.
“I therefore decided to avail myself so I may implement ideas I believe will assist in realising the university’s former glory.”
Mini, who is also the Chris Hani Development Agency (CHDA) board chairperson, aims to bring transformation to the university that encompasses inclusivity in the structure of the convocation leadership.
“We want an inclusive convocation that will reflect the geographical spread of the alumni in all the nine provinces. More importantly, one who understands that UFH does not only exist in South Africa, but in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as well.
“The age and generational mix must also be represented. UFH alumni is made up of different generations which all need to be represented in the convocation structure. We also would ensure gender representation is not biased and will make sure women are represented sufficiently, as well as international former students.”
Mini’s mission as convocation president would be to usher the way to the rebranding of the university, by going back and implementing its founding principles.
“The UFH convocation used to be a beacon of hope for black people and Africans in general. The leadership would like to echo the words of Robert Sobukwe when he said: ‘Let Fort Hare be what Stellenbosch is to the Afrikaners’ which meant let UFH be a beacon of hope.”
He said as UFH convocation president, he would also lead the structure to advocate for the mobilisation of funds for student debt, which also spoke to the issue of a positive outlook as an institution or brand.
“The issue of funding directly translates to the brand of the university. Funders do not want to be associated with institutions with a bad outlook. Rebranding would also allow us to convince the minister of higher education that UFH is a previously disadvantaged institution and therefore its funding cannot be the same as the privileged ones. ”
Mini indicated that the internationalisation of the institution was paramount to its growth and footprint, and would lobby for international academics to conduct and produce ground-breaking research projects that would put the institution on the map.
“The internationalisation of the institution is important, in that UFH produced three presidents in Africa, namely Nelson Mandela, Robert Mugabe and Kenneth Kaunda. If you talk about the three presidents in Africa, that tells you the internationalisation of the institution is not an option but mandatory.”
However, he said the institution must stop drawing strength from its former glory of producing great leaders, but needed get to a point where it could produce great leaders of today.