The history of South Africa as one of division, prejudice and inequality is well known, not only for its brutality and the injustices perpetrated against the country’s own people, but also for the incredible contributions of visionaries to the struggle for freedom and the ultimate liberation of the country from a yoke and regime of hate.
Yet while this chapter may be closed in South African history, it cannot be escaped that what’s past is ultimately prologue. To combat a continuing legacy of poverty and struggle for the majority of the country, we must be able to cultivate the next generation of great leaders for South Africa through education, community development and investment in our youth.
While young people under 35 represent the majority of our country, they are also cut off from opportunity through lack of education and resources. For individuals at the start of their adult lives, nearly half find themselves struggling to rise up from poverty. And, as these young people, the future of our country, fight for a better life, so to do our communities that are held back from progress. Pockets of comfort, wealth and well-being are established while entire swathes of our country are left behind.
This is why the University of Limpopo Trust is so essential in today’s South Africa. Building from a history of providing education to those ostracized from the leading institutions during the apartheid period, the University of Limpopo Trust is dedicated to opening the doors of opportunity to all those who are willing to walk through them. More than that, every Rand raised is funnelled directly into project support, whether to strengthen learning capacity through program improvements, equip staff with further training or material improvements to the campus, or direct bursary support to students who could otherwise not afford the chance offered by education.
This commitment roots itself strongly in the history of the two institutions represented and funded by the Trust: the University of Limpopo and the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, which grew from the Medical University of South Africa. These places were formed at a time when the nation’s black youth were shut out from the halls of the leading places of higher education, and from the opportunity for growth of the self and well-being that come through learning. More than just individual, entire communities suffered as key professions were left unfilled, like medical staff, as highly trained whites were unwilling to relocate to predominantly black territories.
Yet these institutions were formed with a greater vision and commitment than mere necessity; rather they were imbued with a guiding morality linked to the importance of learning for the individual and the broader impact that this has on our communities, which should be served by our institutions of higher learning.
That’s why today, as a legacy hangs over formerly white institutions that continue to portray demographic splits to the disadvantage of the black majority, the Trust is ready to dismantle barriers to education and drive forward achievement and excellence at the University of Limpopo and Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University.
The Trust is unique in that its universities look like the country they serve, with programming that is driven by service to our communities. From our history, we understand that this is the ultimate function of our institutions, as we work hand in hand for the advancement of individual South Africans and our country as a whole. Indeed, the past is ultimately prologue; and in the case of the University of Limpopo Trust, the past shows us that working together in service of those otherwise isolated from opportunity, and in service of our communities, we can take meaningful strides towards the development and well-being of our country.