Luhlanganiso Majebe speaks to Varsity News about the importance of being the first recipient of the Uyinene Mrwetyana Scholarship.
by Ilham Choonara (Staff writer)
At Uyinene Mrwetyana’s funeral on Tuesday, September 7, 2019, Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng addressed mourners to announce the inception of the UCT Uyinene Mrwetyana Scholarship for Women in the Faculty of Humanities. This year, the first recipient is Luhlanganiso Majebe.
Luhlanganiso is a woman as Uyinene was. She is 19 years old and in her first year of study at UCT. Luhlanganiso is studying Politics and Sociology, with hopes of going into law. Around the time of Uyinene’s murder, she had just been elected head girl for her matric year at Springfield Convent. That week, she organised a demonstration at her school and held an educational assembly on gender-based violence. Luhlanganiso says that this was pivotal for stepping into her advocacy as it helped her determine that this is something she wants to do and helped her express that to other people.
She applied for the scholarship because it seemed to align so well with who she is and who she wants to become. “I’d love to be a human rights lawyer. I would love to work in the South African Human Rights Commission and one day, the UN Human Rights Commission,” Luhlanganiso told Varsity News.
The scholarship requires that the recipient partake in two weeks of volunteer work at an organisation that works against gender-based violence. Two weeks during the course of one’s undergraduate studies is the minimum, but Luhlanganiso implores the question – what happens after that? Luhlanganiso is working with The Justice Desk, a human rights non-profit organisation, through the Uyinene Mrwetyana Foundation. She wants to be someone who can lead and set the tone for what the scholarship standard is. As the very first recipient, she plans to help survivors of gender-based violence step into the scholarship. Another matter of urgency is the need for attention on student culture, particularly on the ways in which microaggressions are propagated through this space. “When I tell you I think about this every day, I really do,” Luhlanganiso said.
She further explained that by creating this scholarship, the university becomes a physical representation of a moral figure when it comes to gender-based violence, and they are held accountable for this responsibility. The future impact of such a scholarship is that it allows for discourse and creates a foundation for advocacy within the university space.
Luhlanganiso has support from family and friends who remind her of who she is, as well as her responsibilities. As she firmly said in her interview before receiving the scholarship, “I am passionate, assertive, and you can trust that I’ve got this.”
The scholarship is open to women who are registered as first years for an undergraduate degree in the Humanities faculty. This includes gender non-conforming women. The scholarship is awarded to one individual who has shown leadership in social justice and activism.
More information about the scholarship can be found via Bursaries South Africa: https://www.zabursaries.co.za/universities/uct-uyinene-mrwetyana-scholarship-for-women-in-humanities/