By US

“While commemorating Africa Day on 25 May annually, we reflect on the common challenges the continent face and celebrate the progress Africa has made since the early 1960s. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc at a global scale, with the full impact of the pandemic which will only become evident over time” explains Dr Nico Elema, manager of the Centre for Collaboration in Africa at Stellenbosch University International. Nevertheless, on 25 May 2020, Stellenbosch University (SU) again participated in the annual Africa Day celebrations, albeit online this year. The day was launched with email communication to the SU Africa Platform community, highlighting a message from Prof Hester Klopper, SU Deputy Vice-Chancellor Strategy and Internationalisation, which drew attention to some of our collaborations with other African partners in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The day was followed by an opinion article published in News24.com titled Africa Day: A continent united in the battle against Covid-19, by Dr. Nico Elema. Dr. Njeri Mwagiru, a Senior Futurist at the Institute for Futures Research (IFR) addressed audience in a webinar organized by the Durban University of Technology, presenting on the Impact of a Global Pandemic on the Africa Agenda 2063. The SU Africa Platform community was invited to participate in the full-day online event with the theme: COVID-19 and Africa’s Future Development: Challenges and Opportunities. The event was organized by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), the African Union, the Human Science Research Council (HSRC). A video was also made available which captures SU partnerships with other African Universities and Research institutions

While we celebrated Africa Day 2020 in a different capacity, the initial wave of COVID-19 cases swept across the continent, with various countries looking at institutions of higher learning to also respond to the crises. Responses from Universities varied and were characterised by innovation, resilience and unity – attributes which will see us through 2020 and into 2021 as we move beyond our circumstance.

Dr. Elema highlights that “it is important for SU as world-class university on the African continent, to commemorate Africa Day with various role-players on the continent. It keeps us rooted to our continent and provides us with a specific opportunity to engage with our university community on matters related to the continent.”

Given the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, one can reflect on activities SU is involved in with other African Universities – see here: http://www.sun.ac.za/english/AfricaSU/covid-19/covid-19africaprojects