Making an African university in the service of humanity: Professor Mandla Makhanya’s speeches


Abbey Makoe (ed)
Muxe Nkondo (ed)
University of South Africa


Servant leadership, social justice, service excellence, transformation and decolonisation are reverberating themes that epitomise Prof Mandla Makhanya’s decade-long incumbency at the University of South Africa (Unisa). These are captivated in his speeches in which he articulated his vision to the staff of this mega Open Distance e-Learning institution. He took the helms of this globally valued institution when e-learning was still in its infancy and his dexterous leadership culminated with the writing of online exams, an unprecedented innovation compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Makhanya also consolidated the university’s footprints on the African continent and across the globe. As captain of this large institution, he cruised through the fierce winds of hurricane proportions such as the #FeesMustFall, #OutsourcingMustFall, difficult political landscape and reduced budget from South Africa’s Department of Higher Education and Training. He dismantled patriarchy and the suppression of women who under his tutelage were groomed into leadership positions with some now holding leadership positions in prestigious universities in this country and within Unisa. More importantly, as he exits the stage after ten years of servant leadership, he made a pathway for the first black woman Principal and Vice-Chancellor in Unisa’s 148 years of existence, in Prof. Puleng LenkaBula who also served under his leadership in various strategic management positions. Having served Unisa with distinction and integrity, he passes the baton to a capable woman leader who will spur Unisa to success in fulfilling a vision of ‘An African University shaping futures in the service of humanity’.

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March 19, 2021