CEAD has a family talk as it wraps 2023, and prepares for 2024

Project leaders, community members and CEAD staff outside the holding room

As the University wraps up the 2023 academic year, the University’s Community Engagement and Development (CEAD) directorate decided to have a ‘talk’ with the staff members that have been conducting projects with communities. As a rule, all community-based projects must be registered with the CEAD. The ‘talk’ that took place on 29 November 2023, was called ‘Inguyazana’. Inguyazana is an IsiZulu word that means an important, sometimes confidential conversation between individuals that seek to achieve a common goal. CEAD’s Dr David Ighodaro said the topic for discussion are “family issues”.

Dr Ighodaro said the 13 project reports were presented at the University’s Seme Hall holding room.

Said Dr Ighodaro: “As such, Inguyazana on CEAD registered projects was organised for the following reasons – to appreciate community engagement project leaders and their team members for all their efforts in community engagement projects implementation in the current year; to provide a platform for a general reflection on what the CEAD Directorate, project leaders and team members have contributed towards achieving MUT Strategic Goal of ‘Excellence in Community Engagement’ in 2023. We also wanted to provide an informal platform for project leaders to tell their success stories, challenges, as well as lessons learnt in the bid to achieve the community engagement goals this year,” said Dr Ighodaro. Dr Ighodaro also added the meeting was to also provide a platform to acknowledge the “exceptional” work of some of the projects, and to use that as motivation for “weaker” projects; and to provide a forum for leaders of projects to hear what others were doing in their efforts to implement community projects. This became very true when Sithembile Nkosi, a Lecturer at the Department of Nature Conservation, became aware that Dr Caiphus Hlungwani, and Lecturer in the Department of Community Extension, had a project of ‘Food Security for Better Health’. Nkosi, during her presentation, said that she would contact Dr Hlungwani for a collaboration; she noticed that there her project would benefit from Dr Hlungwani’s expertise. Nkosi’s project is Ecosystem Rehabilitation and Restoration (ERR).

The meeting also gave the project leaders a chance “to suggest better ways they think CEAD directorate could serve them better, and to hear the directorate’s expectations from them in 2024. The directorate said it would improve its level of servicing the project leaders and their teams.

Dr Ighodaro also added that meeting was an opportunity of all those involved in projects “to sit and eat together” and have fun.

Commenting on the quality of the presentations, Dr Ighodaro said the event was a “huge success. All participants participated fruitfully in the different activities of the day. The CEAD projects are divided into two – projects implemented by academics/staff of MUT, and community development projects that are implemented by community partners, in partnership with CEAD directorate.

In all, 19 projects were registered in 2023. Some of the projects on which presentations were made were: Agricultural Support Project, by Department of Agriculture’s Phindile Mlaba; Impilo Community Project, by Batho Dube, a Lecturer in the Department of Office Management and Technology; and Environmental Education and Sustainability, by Dr Sibonelo Mbanjwa of the Department of Nature Conservation.