Change the world


Reasons to be Proud - #R2bP: BA Media, Communication and Culture (MCC) student, Gabangaye Shongwe is among this year’s regional winners of the annual Undergraduate Awards, recognised in the Music, Film and Theatre category.

Shongwe submitted a paper titled “Social Renewal and Representations of African Womanhood in The Blue Eyes of Yonta (Gomes, 1991), Karmen Gei (Ramaka, 2001), Elelwani (wa Luruli, 2012) and Moolaade (Sembene, 2004)”.

His paper was among 3 437 submissions from 338 institutions across 50 countries and seven regions in the world.  Shongwe is recognised with a certificate of recognition, publication of his submission on the Undergraduate Library, access to the UA Alumni Network and an opportunity to attend the UA Global Summit next month.

The Undergraduate Awards is the world’s leading awards programme for students still pursuing their first degrees.  It recognises top undergraduate work, shares this work with a global audience and connects students across cultures and disciplines.

Students across the various Nelson Mandela University faculties and disciplines were encouraged to apply to the Undergraduate Awards earlier this year for a chance to showcase their undergraduate research and work to the world.

While still reeling from the excitement at the news that he had been selected as a “highly commended entrant”, Shongwe could not believe his announcement as a regional winner; coming up alongside entrants from various parts of Africa and the Middle East.

“I was in awe when I was selected as a Highly Commended Entrant, but I was in complete disbelief when the UA later informed me that I was a regional winner. I'm just really grateful,” he said.

Highly commended entrants (HRE) are those whose submissions ranked in the top 10% in their respective categories, with the highest performing commendation in each region named the regional winner in the category.

In his paper, he references these four African films, touching on various issues affecting African womanhood and the changing identities of women in Africa; representations of women in Africa; and social renewal, particularly in the face of modernization.  It has brought forth a sort of ‘traditional vs modern’ narrative within identities of not only the African woman, but that of African societies as whole.

“I believe the research is of particular importance now, considering the sad realities embodied within contemporary movements such as #Femicidenation or #AmINext,” said Shongwe.

“Understanding the representations of African womanhood and African women within such testing times may assist in extinguishing toxic and outdated ideas and, furthermore, may aid in guiding us all into possible solutions.”

Shongwe said he was encouraged by one of his lecturers, Prof Janina Wozniak, to make a submission.

“The gist of the conversation was I should put myself out there a bit more and not pass up on opportunities.  And so, after that simmered in, I came across the Undergraduate Awards' 2019 entry ad in my school emails and figured, why not?  So, I submitted one of my 'good' papers and to my surprise the feedback was positive,” he said.

Shongwe began his studies at the University as a BComm Law student, but a year into the course, he realised that it was not where his heart was.

“After a full first year of feeling quite out of place, I dropped out and took a temporary break from school,” he said.

“After a hard and lengthy road, now certain of what I wanted to do with my life, I registered for the BA MCC program in pursuit of a future career in media and film.”

Nelson Mandela University is also a formal affiliate of the Undergraduate Awards, with the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science, Prof Azwinndini Muronga, among the judges in the Mathematics and Physics category.

This affiliation effectively opens doors to the University’s undergraduate students and their supervisors and is not limited to just science students but extends to other faculties and disciplines through the UA programme’s 25 categories.  These include Architecture and Design, Social Sciences, Visual Arts, Medical Sciences, Engineering, Politics, Education and Law.

Prof Muronga, who has been instrumental in marketing the awards at the institution, encourages all Mandela University students to participate in this global award as it comes with a lot of opportunities for both the students’ academic careers and the institution’s brand and positioning.

“The efforts of bringing this global prestigious and competitive award to the attention of Nelson Mandela University students and staff is starting to pay off and I believe more recipients of this award will emerge from our institution,” he said.

“The highly recommended entry of Gabangaye Shongwe and the announcement of him being declared the regional winner will encourage other students to take part from next year onwards. I also want to encourage academics to participate in the judging process.”

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777