In the spirit of the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia that was observed on 17 May, the North-West University (NWU) is making a concerted effort to foster a culture of inclusivity and acceptance.
Student Life and the Student Campus Council on the Mahikeng Campus recently joined forces in unveiling a unique NWU Pride Wall.
This wall represents the LGBTIQA+ community on the campus and is aimed at recognising and celebrating the lives and experiences of these members.
The real-time unveiling of the wall was also made available as a virtual event, enabling those staff members and students who could not participate physically, to share in the joy.
During the unveiling various internal and external speakers engaged on the challenges faced by the LGBTIQA+ community and proposed potential solutions.
Siya Khumalo, author and socio-economic commentator, was the keynote speaker. He said that the NWU – through its Pride Wall – is leading the deliberate transformation of spaces to celebrate diversity and inclusivity.
“This speaks to the importance of a rounded education - one that not only teaches the technical aspects of a discipline, but reminds stakeholders that all learning is ultimately for the service of human beings who come from different cultures, represent different legacies and embody many ways of being,” he added.
Prof Robert Balfour, deputy vice-chancellor for teaching and learning, added that the unveiling of the Pride Wall is both an expression of identity and a celebration of diversity at the Mahikeng Campus.
“I am delighted to be part of this initiative and welcome the leadership of our LGBTIQA+ students as well as staff who have lent support to the Pride Wall.
“In the context of Covid-19 mortalities on our campuses and in our communities, we see again the rising head of stigma and fear associated with disease. To my mind, the unveiling of this wall is thus especially poignant and nuanced in the context in which we find ourselves as South Africans, as humans and as beings living on this planet.”
Dr Sibusiso Chalufu, executive director for student life, said he was ashamed to be a man, because of the horrible things that have being perpetuated by the so-called men in our society, particularly against women and children.
“We need to ensure that we do not only talk about some of the values and principles that we support as an institution and as a country, but to live and practice diversity, social cohesion, inclusivity and respect for the rights of all, including the LGBTIQA+ community,” said Dr Sibusiso.
Although there have been positive changes on the NWU’s campuses, he said more events like these are necessary to deal with ignorance, misinformation, fear, loathing, and toxic masculinity.
NWU’s drive for diversity
Gender awareness and inclusivity remain critical components of the NWU’s diversity focus. The NWU Pride Wall is a symbol of affirmation, care and the university’s support for members of the LGBTIQA+ community. The installation of this wall further amplifies the voices and stories of the many students who have walked the grounds of the NWU.
Through this wall, the university stands against oppression, homophobia and any form of injustice that threatens the existence and livelihood of LGBTIQA+ members.
By openly saying no to homophobia and discrimination, the NWU acknowledges, embraces and cultivates the rights, presence and participation of the LGBTQI+ community at our institution.
Watch this space for more information on upcoming events aimed at informing and educating the NWU community and the public about gender issues and the LGBTIQ+ community during Gender Awareness Week in August.
Members of the Mahikeng Student Campus Council proudly unveil the NWU Pride Wall.