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Change the world

18/12/2023

Professor Noel Chabani Manganyi was born during a time where the Black narrative was riddled with despondency. Symbolic of his birth was the greatness he would go on to pursue.

 

Qapela Ngcobo, lecturer in the School of Industrial Psychology and Human Resources, has written this tribute to Professor Noel Chabani Manganyi, Honorary Doctor in Industrial Psychology. She conducted a psychobiography on Prof Manganyi for her master studies, supervised by Prof Roelf van Niekerk.

Professor Noel Chabani Manganyi was born during a time where the Black narrative was riddled with despondency. Symbolic of his birth was the greatness he would go on to pursue.

Prof Manganyi was nominated for an Honorary Doctoral degree in Industrial Psychology to recognise him as the first Black person in South Africa who registered as a psychologist and by doing so, forged his existence as a force to be reconned with. With this achievement he single-handedly changed the course of the profession and validated the dreams of many who would come after him.

In 2016, Prof Manganyi published a memoir of his life journey, titled “Apartheid and the making of a Black Psychologist”. The memoir provided a window into the journey Manganyi had travelled to becoming an exceptional psychologist and a name that belongs in the history books for his perseverance, determination, and undeniable fighting spirit.

Part of what makes Professor Manganyi so well versed are his diverse academic and multidisciplinary accolades.

Prof Manganyi is also acknowledged for the contributions he made in education and educational leadership. He received a BA in 1962, Honours in Psychology in 1964, MA in 1968, and DLitt et Phil in Psychology in 1970.

His achievements in education included the establishment of a psychology department at University of Transkei (1976), acting as Senior Research Fellow and Visiting Professor at Wits’ African Studies Institute (1980 to 1990s), being appointed Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the North (1990) and being appointed as Director General of Education under Nelson Mandela’s presidency.

Prof Manganyi is acknowledged as a thought leader and intellectual activist in terms of Black consciousness and Black identity. This is a role that he pursued from his early adulthood through various professional endeavours. Illuminous to his contributions as an activist is his dedication to intellectually articulating the Black narrative and achievements through biographies and psychobiographies.

He described the extraordinariness of Black South Africans, such as the activist Es’kia Mphahlele and artist Gerard Sekoto. In this respect Fouché (2015) acknowledges Professor Manganyi’s contribution to the ‘coming of age’ of psychobiography as a research methodology used in South Africa.

Although Prof Manganyi had made such substantial contributions across the discipline of Psychology, for years his name remained unknown amongst many colleagues. This could be attributed to the climate of the country at the time; however, the honour being bestowed upon him by the Nelson Mandela University validates his life-long contributions in the emancipation of many who now carry the title of Psychologist with such bravado and conviction.

As individuals we all have a responsibility to make an impact with the gifts and abilities we have been given. During a time that was unfavourable for a Black person to dream to be better than the predetermined legislature, Prof Manganyi dreamed the impossible and went above and beyond to make it a reality.

Prof Manganyi stayed true to his aspirations, aspirations that laid a foundation for those to come. At the time he may not have known what ripple effect his actions would have for the generations to come but through his continued work he conceptualised infinite possibilities for Black South Africans.

Prof Manganyi and his work are closely aligned with the values of Nelson Mandela and conferring this degree will provide an opportunity to strengthen the values of the Nelson Mandela University at a public event and beyond.

He brings hope to many Black students through his story of being the first Black person in South Africa that was registered as a psychologist and is aligned with research methodologies used in the Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology.

Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160
elma.dekoker@mandela.ac.za