Facing Race Week celebrates differences
It is as divisive an issue as it is a necessary one. It evokes both anger and reconciliation. It can bind as much as it can set free.
The subject of race remains an irrevocable part of the fibre that weaves through South Africa and from 8 to 12 April the North-West University (NWU) emphasised why talking about race is vital in strengthening these threads.
Facing Race Week encompassed critical conversations, a book launch, art exhibitions, lectures and various other activities that took place on all three NWU campuses.
Highlights abound and stronger bonds were forged through discussions. Conversations under the banner of “Race, language and the politics of inclusion” made voices and opinions heard that both challenged and appeased.
Prof Pamela Maseko, executive dean of the Faculty of Humanities, stressed the importance of endeavours such as Facing Race Week, emphasising that debate and a willingness to listen are key to cultivating success.
Although Facing Race Week was mostly held in conjunction with the Faculty of Humanities, the Faculty of Health Sciences also contributed to the success of this initiative.
The faculty propagated a message of “colourblindness” through the use of virtual reality. This entailed a virtual reality video that was viewed through the accompanied virtual reality headset at designated areas on all three campuses.
“We received excellent feedback. We had students clenching their chairs, jaws dropping in utter amazement and people generally enjoying it,” says Dr Herman Myburgh of the Africa Unit for Transdisciplinary Health Research (AUTHeR).
“We are looking forward to investigating further uses of virtual reality within the NWU, and believe that we could find innovative solutions for using this technology in South Africa. We can become leaders in virtual reality for Africa.”
Facing Race Week provided a myriad of experiences for all involved, but the most important conclusion might be that differences can unite people. However, for that to happen, we need to listen to one another.
Facing Race Week was well-attended by members of the NWU community.