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Nelson Mandela University is set to launch its institutional Naming and Renaming Project next week, with the initial phase being the launch and unveiling of eight renamed student residences.

The institutional Naming and Renaming Project is a critical part of the University’s transformation and identity building process, and flows from the launch of the University’s new name and identity in 2017.

The University name change provided an enabling environment and an opportunity to pro-actively build social cohesion and contribute to the transformation and decolonising project at the University.

It also presented an ideal opportunity for revisiting the names of physical infrastructure – existing buildings, streets, campuses and other named features and components of the University – which are all important parts of the institution.

The University’s Arts, Culture and Heritage director, Michael Barry, says a university named after a person like Rholihlahla Nelson Mandela should also consist of buildings that carry names that resemble what he and leaders of his ilk stood for.

“Buildings are an important aspect of a university. It is where teaching and learning content is produced and where the institutional culture gets its legitimacy to navigate the movement and thinking of human beings interacting with it daily. Therefore, such property cannot carry empty names like “Building 35, Xanadu” which possess nothing significant about the context of Nelson Mandela and the general climate of higher education in South Africa in the present,” he says.

“The Naming and Renaming project will ensure that all our University spaces and places recognise, respect and honour all people and our country’s rich heritage in ways that resonate with our values and the Mandela ethos. Place names contribute to forging of identity and a sense of ownership and belonging.”

The naming and renaming process – anticipated to run for the next few years and across all University campuses – further affords the institution an opportunity to build and enhance the intellectual identity and brand of Nelson Mandela University, and is launched within, and as part of, the institution’s year-long Centenary Celebrations programme.

Given the magnitude of the project, the University will be rolling it out in phases, following a precinct approach that will see a consultative process to seek mutual agreement on appropriate names for places and spaces.

This process is guided by the new Naming and Renaming Policy, which is reflective of the need to build cohesion in the wake of issues raised during the #MustFall movements, and speaks to who and what Mandela University is becoming and should be.

The policy, which was finalised after a multi-stakeholder consultative process, will also guide the way forward for the naming of unnamed places and of future buildings. It will assist in refining and re-imagining the identity and positioning of all campuses, particularly within the context of the University’s transformation agenda and as a change agent towards enhancing a new inclusive institutional culture.

The initial phase of the project has been the renaming and unveiling of some of the student residences, following a broad consultation process with the student population, under the leadership of the SRC.

The renamed residences honour South African men and women who have made an indelible contribution to the country’s efforts towards social justice, which is what underpins the work of Nelson Mandela University.

Among those honoured are two former Mandela University students, Yolanda Guma and Claude Qavane, who both contributed to shaping the university during their short lives.

Sarah Baartman, Lillian Ngoyi, Charlotte Maxeke, Solomon Mahlangu, Sol Plaatjie and Hector Pieterson are also being recognised, with some of their family members and trustees – who have given their permission and blessing for the use of the names – to be present at the launch event.

You can read more on the Naming and Renaming Project on

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777