Ubuntu Dialogues


Ubuntu Dialogues Principal Investigators

Jamie Monson

Jamie Monson is Director of the African Studies Center and Professor of History at Michigan State UniversityA recognized researcher and scholar, her background is deeply rooted in East African environmental history as she studies the relationship between development, resource use and landscape change in Africa.  Her book, Africa’s Freedom Railway: How a Chinese Development Project Changed Lives and Livelihoods in Tanzania, explores the impact of the TAZARA railway on rural livelihoods in Tanzania.  A companion documentary film TAZARA Stories is based on life histories of TAZARA railway workers in Tanzania, Zambia and China.   



Bongani Mgijima

Bongani Mgijima is the Director of the award-winning Stellenbosch University Museum. Bongani has worked, in various capacities in the field of museums, heritage and tourism for more than 20 years. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum, which remains one of the first and few community-based museums in South Africa Bongani has also worked as manager for Worcester Museum and Albany Museum. He holds a Bachelor’s degree and a Post Graduate Diploma in Museum and Heritage Studies from the University of the Western Cape and two Masters degrees from Stellenbosch University.  

Ubuntu Dialogues Programme Managers

Upenyu Majee

Upenyu Majee is Project Manager for Ubuntu Dialogues and Faculty Lead for the Reeves Scholars Programat Michigan State University, and the co-founder of Decoloniality Dialogues. He holds a joint PhD in Educational Policy Studies and Development Studies, and master’s degrees in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis and African Languages and Literature from UW-Madison.

Marietjie Oelofsen

Marietjie Oelofsen is the Ubuntu Dialogues Project Manager at Stellenbosch University (SU) Museum. She has a PhD in Media Studies from Rhodes University. Before joining the Ubuntu Dialogues Project, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation at SU. She worked as a journalist, in health research communication and at the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa).  

Ubuntu Dialogues Administration

Lisa Hinds

Lisa Hinds has been with the MSU African Studies Center since 2014.  Her primary responsibilities include managing the financial operations of the Center including grants management as well as management of staff. Lisa holds a BA in Financial Administration from the Eli Broad College of Business at MSU.  

Natasha Coltman

Natasha Coltman was appointed as the Administrative Officer of Stellenbosch University Museum in 2016 . Her primary responsibilities include overall administrative functions of the Museum. Natasha holds a National  Diploma in Financial Management from False Bay College in Muizenberg as well as a L3 and L4 Certificates from Accounting Technicians South Africa (ATSA).

Ubuntu Dialogues Media and Communications

Beza Desta

Media, Event Logistics, and Communications Intern for Ubuntu Dialogues at Michigan State University (MSU). Born in Ethiopia and raised in Zimbabwe, she’s currently studying Media and Information and Advertising Management at MSU. In this role, Beza is responsible for the event (in-person and virtual) planning and management, communication, and digital media components of the project, including the Ubuntu Dialogues film-in-progress. Beza is also completing minors in Fiction Filmmaking, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Advertising Analytics.

Visual Communication Design Consultant

Ashley Solomons

Ashley Solomons is the design consultant for the Ubuntu Dialogues website. She incorporated symbols from Southern African language systems that represent conversation and unity in the visual vocabulary of the websiteShe is a Masters graduate in Visual Arts at Stellenbosch University. Her Masters research explores South African heritage and visual language through a community archiving project called, Okwethu.