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Nelson Mandela University’s Centre for the Advancement of Non-Racialism and Democracy (CANRAD), in partnership with the institution’s Department of History and Political Studies, is running a series of talks, lectures and engagements with Visiting Lecturer and Research Professor Raymond Suttner.

The virtual talks, under the Living History Series banner, are premised on inter-generational dialogue and critical public conversation. The series provides a public platform to those who have lived through significant historical moments to share critical reflections and analysis on key aspects of their life and times.

Prof Suttner, 75, is a struggle veteran, activist, writer and academic in the humanities. He is a Visiting Professor at Mandela University, with a wealth of experience and knowledge that tie into the University’s academic project of revitalising the humanities.

The second instalment of the Living History Series takes place on Wednesday, 22 September 2020, and is themed “Africanisation, African Identities and Emancipation in Conotemporary South Africa”. Lecturer and PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Mandela University, Mr Pedro Mzileni, will be respondent and historian and Sociology and Anthropology Professor Nomalanga Mkhize as moderator.

CANRAD director, Mr Allan Zinn, says given the shifting and contested nature of memory, it is critical for universities to provide students with multiple tools and platforms to enable them to grapple with questions of history in an ethical, rigorous and credible manner.  

“The series seeks to foster inter-generational conversation as a critical element of knowledge making, memory-making and community archiving. It goes beyond the ‘formal’ academic curriculum by engaging history through those who have lived it. It positions incoko nabadala – conversation with elders – as a critical form of African pedagogy,” he says.

“In the series, we aim to challenge our students, the university community and general public to engage robustly with the multiple ways in which history is transmitted and conveyed through time – in oral and written form, through contestation and dialogue, in official as well as unofficial archives.

“This approach reminds us that history is continuously made and re-made by new generations through time as old memories fade and new memories are formed.”

Since its rebranding, Nelson Mandela University has been on a mission towards pedagogical transformation, foregrounding the importance of the humanities in tackling the vexing challenges of our time.

Last week, Prof Suttner engaged on Nelson Mandela’s masculinites, with upcoming talks to speak on themes including the ANC in history and in government today, leadership lessons from the life of Chief Albert Luthuli and the place of popular democracy in the 21st century.

For RSVPs and receipt of the respective Zoom links and copies of the discussion papers, Siphosethu Sandi can be contacted on

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