Nelson Mandela University marks Pride with flying of rainbow flag


Photo: Nelson Mandela University

Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth has marked LGBTQ Pride with a series of events on campus, including a ceremony raising the rainbow flag.

Having started the week off with a Queer in Africa dialogue on Monday, followed by a Safe Space Training Day programme on Tuesday, the Pride celebrations continued with the raising of the Pride flag alongside the South African and Nelson Mandela University flags in front of the South Campus main administration building on Wednesday 16 October.

The flag-raising is believed to be a first for a South African public higher education institution – where the Pride flag is hoisted in a prime location. The flag will be flown daily for the remainder of October, which is the University’s Pride Month.

The Queer in Africa dialogue had panellists that included gender and LGBTQI activist Funeka Soldaat, University of the Western Cape’s Anthropology and Sociology associate professor Zethu Matebeni, Rhodes University student, Phumelele Nkomozake and Sociologist and Mandela University researcher Ryan Pillay.

The Mandela University Pride Month celebrations programme concluded with the launch of Zizo Apleni’s tell-all book My Father took away my Innocence: Purified and Sanctified at Last, also on Wednesday.

Project coordinator Ryan Pillay said the purpose of the engagements was to deepen the university community’s understanding of diversity.

Photo: Nelson Mandela University

“The intention is to foster a culture that welcomes and respects diverse identities, heritages and life experiences. Mandela University Pride is a moment for the entire University community to stop and think about who we are as an institution of higher learning and how we become inclusive in ways that are both empowering and affirming,” said Pillay.

The three-day commemoration of Pride was anchored on awareness and education in a bid to create a more inclusive society where values of diversity, Ubuntu, social justice and equality are engendered and lived.

The university also launched the Women and Gender Studies Centre earlier this month, which was a culmination of several years of discussion among students and staff, who were interested and concerned about the lack of women and gender-related matters being mainstreamed within the institution.

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