Ubuntu Dialogues

Student Graduate Fellows 2019

Stellenbosch University Fellows

Beaurel Visser

Masters Student, Dept. of History

Stellenbosch University

Research Project: Biography of an Uncharted People. Served as an intern at the Robben Island Museum and is a participant in the Stellenbosch University / KU Leuven Think Tank. Speaks English and Afrikaans and basic Zulu and French.

Bryan U. Kauma

PhD Candidate, Dept. of History 

Stellenbosch University

Research interests: African Studies, Peasantry and Agrarian studies, Climate change and Food security, Social, Environmental and Economic history, Race, Culture, Class and Identity studies and nation development. Master of Arts Degree in African Economic History, University of Zimbabwe, 2015-16.
Dissertation Title: A socio-economic study of the Matobo District in Zimbabwe, 1980 to 2015. Speaks English, Ndebele and Shona

Curtley Solomons

Masters Student, Dept of History

Stellenbosch University

Works at Africa Open Institute for Music and Innovation, Stellenbosch University. Completed the Ashley Kriel Youth Leadership Development Course at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation. Worked as an intern at the Frederick Van Zyl Slabbert (FVZS) Institute for leadership development, and a student assistant at the International Students of Stellenbosch Programme.

Lerato Machetela

PhD Student, Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation

Stellenbosch University

Research Project: Using the arts as a mode of cultural representation in the community of Jagersfontein where I started working as a student clinical psychologist. As a form of social responsiveness to some of the challenges I witnessed in Jagersfontein I established a Gumboots Dance group with the youth. The research involves the inclusion of indigenous knowledge and voices to address the deficit created by dominant discourses of knowledge production.

Leya Mgebisa

Masters Student, Sociology

Stellenbosch University

Research thesis: What is ‘quality’? Contemporary understandings of ‘quality’ education in public schools in Stellenbosch. Work part-time as an Information Governance Student Assistant at the University’s Centre for Institutional Permission. Serves on the Humanities Research Ethics Committee representing the ‘student’ voice on the Committee. I review and write reports pertaining to a researcher’s ethical considerations related to Promotion of Access to Information Act (2 of 2000), the Protection of Personal Information Act (4 of 2013) and standard ethical guidelines from the WMA Declaration of Helsinki.

Mofihli Teleki

Masters Student, Psychology Dept. Public Development and Management

Stellenbosch University

Works for the Commission for Gender Equality where he is Head of Communications. A member of the Cross Cultural Human Rights Network at Vrije University in the Netherlands. He recently published a chapter, Ubuntu-ism as the arbiter between cultural relativism and Universalism in the context of the right to development, in a book published by BRILL Publishers.

Nosipiwo Matiwane

Honours Student, Social Anthropology

Stellenbosch University

Works as a teaching assistant in Sociology and Social Anthropology. Worked as a volunteer assistant at a cleaning services company to gain experience in a professional work environment. Undertook research to gain a better understanding of legislation in the workplace as it relates to the employer and the employee. Speaks English, IsiXhosa, IsiZulu, and basic proficiency of Afrikaans and SeSotho.

Precious Simba

PhD Candidate, Dept of Education

Stellenbosch University

Research: A feminist critique of Ubuntu as a philosophy of education: implications for citizenship education in Zimbabwe. Was a Mandela Scholar at Sussex University (2013/2014) and is currently a Sol Plaatjie Scholar at SU. Speaks Ndebele, Shona and is proficient in English and IsiZulu.

Tebogo Radebe

PhD Candidate, Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation

Stellenbosch University

Research interest: the use of process drama in addressing issues of race and memory among Black born-frees in South Africa. Published a chapter on #FeesMustFall 2015 as an embodiment of social drama in Rioting and Writing, published by Wits Society Work and Development Institute. I use drama in different social contexts with the intention of activating communities. I am a development practitioner with a passion for radio production, and writing, directing, and performance.

Zimkitha Ludongo

Student, Theology

Stellenbosch University

Missionary, mentor, life coach, advisor. Served as chair of the Ubuntu Christian Assemble and the Solid Foundation. Also served as an HIV and AIDS counsellor at Stellenbosch University. Works as a missionary of Power of Kingdom Salvation Movement. Speaks English, Zulu, Sotho, and is proficient in Afrikaans.

Michigan State University Fellows

Abner Barbosa

Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Michigan State University

An international student from Brazil: came to the U.S. to pursue a bachelor’s degree and maybe seek work as well. Have grown a lot as a person from working as an ICA for the last few years, and through dialogue and interactions with people from different cultures. Excited about the Ubuntu Dialogues because the program provides the opportunity to continue learning. Does not have a lot of prior knowledge about South Africa but has passion for learning and interacting with different cultures so as to become more educated about them. For a few years now, have had the dream of visiting South Africa.

Benedict Nsenga

Sophomore, Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy

Michigan State University

Part of the African diaspora at MSU: inherited a refugee status from parents who were refugees of the Rwandan genocide. Was born in and mostly raised in Malawi. Family traveled around all over southern and eastern Africa. Lived in South Africa for a little under a year 2009 when 8 years old. Moved to Kalamazoo, MI in 2013 and recently became naturalized. Fascinated by the history of South Africa including the struggle for freedom. The Ubuntu Dialogues will provide the opportunity to connect with fellow Africans living on the continent to discuss the state of affairs there including the recent wave of xenophobic attacks.

Grant Keyvanmanesh

Senior, Global & International Studies (MES concentration)

Michigan State University

I am a Junior originating from South Florida. My major is Journalism and I minor in Entrepreneurship. I represent my college as a student assistant in the Department of Diversity Equity and Inclusion. My passions are creativity and unraveling other’s stories.

Joseph Brown-Nikebia

Senior, Social Work; Women & Gender Studies

Michigan State University

No prior connection to South Africa and knowledge of the country is limited to the little learned in grade school, but excited to talk with those who live in South Africa and learn directly from them. Anticipates the discussion on the meaning of Ubuntu to be particularly meaningful because the concept is relevant to future career in Social Work. Curious to see how living in another country might affect one’s views on these topics. President of the Association of Black Social Work Students.

Krubel Habteyes

Computer Science

Michigan State University

An international student from Ethiopia. Went to an international school, had friends from South Africa and really liked their culture, and am looking to learn more about it.

Lillian Young

First Year, Masters of Fine Arts, Studio Art

Michigan State University

An artist, specifically painting and printmaking – focuses on the Black experience and history that is often neglected in American history. Believes that it is important to tell these forgotten stories in history, especially given the prevailing political climate. Looking to become a museum educator and to bring more inclusive and diverse exhibits to art museums. Has always loved to hear other people’s stories and tries to incorporate those stories into art practice. Wants to be part of the virtual conversations to learn more about other people’s stories. Remembers growing up learning about folktales from Africa and learning about different cultures. In high school, got to learn a little bit about apartheid and saw parallels with the civil rights movement in the Americas. Hopes to connect with like-minded people who are looking to integrate social justice work into educational settings. Want to learn about the strategies that people in South Africa are using to deal with their challenges.

Michelle Ratchford

Senior, Global Studies and Chinese

Michigan State University

Interested in engaging students from Stellenbosch in meaningful and rich conversations because it provides opportunities to broaden own personal horizons while helping to educate others. Looking to hear thoughts about Pan Africanism and what that means to others. The transnational dialogues hold promise for considering and rethinking the frameworks and perspectives that exists globally and cross-culturally. Believes that the current and ever present thickening globality that permeates all aspects of everyone’s lives makes it important to take into account the beliefs, ideals, and knowledge of others. Being a part of the Ubuntu Dialogues is an opportunity not only to rethink aspects of one’s positionality and how they impact society, but also view the impacts of the dynamics within South Africa critically and actively.

Najya Zaman

Junior, Biochemistry and Arabic

Michigan State University

Bengali and Muslim but born and grew up in the U.S. – sometimes I feel like I’m neither Bengali nor American, but if I had to choose a home, it would always be the U.S…one part of me that makes me look truly foreign is the fact that I wear a headscarf. Identity, including being a woman, have had the largest impact on shaping own perspectives and formative experiences. Drawn to the Ubuntu Dialogues by the desire to contribute to the project of re-imagining current realities through cross-cultural communication, but also to learn from the lived experiences of other young people from across the world. Wrestling with these questions: are we really different? What does it mean to be human, and does the answer depend on one’s circumstances? How do the struggles that black South Africans face to realize their human rights and political freedoms compare with those of black Americans? Participated in the MSU Dialogues program last year.

Robert Logan

5th year PhD, IBIO and EEBB Based at the Kellogg Biological Station

Michigan State University

2012: studied abroad in South Africa – spent semester doing ecological research, primarily in Kruger National Park, and took a South Africa history class. In 2013, moved to Namibia for a year and half – worked at a biological field station in the Namib Desert running science training programs for elementary through master’s students and supporting environmental research programs – worked with multiple South African researchers and took several trips to South Africa and Lesotho for both work and leisure. Dissertation work is on the microbial ecology of the Namib Desert. Has returned 6 times in the last three years on 5-week trips. Interested in maintaining a long-term professional presence in Namibia and southern Africa. Participated in 2 MSU Dialogues on race and racism in the U.S. Co-facilitating an UG race dialogue group this semester. The Ubuntu Dialogues will provide an opportunity to engage with the issues of race in the southern African context outside of personal research and informal conversations. Looking to do more reflective work on return trips to Namibia and South Africa.