Makgoba Affair: Malegapuru William Makgoba, An African Giant of Greatness Reclaiming Africa

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Malegapuru William Makgoba was born in 1952 in the dirt mud villages of Sekhukhune where he grew up without shoes, electricity and no plumbing. Malegapuru Makgoba is the pioneer Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal one of the premier universities in South Africa.

Malegapuru William Makgoba being passionate about fundamental transformation of South Africa (coming from the social, economic and pedagogic context where historically Black people, Africans in particular were shoved on the sidelines by apartheid government) was able in his sterling role as the pioneer Vice Chancellor and Prinicipal of University of Kwa-Zulu Natal make meaningful changes to the University.

The University of Kwa-Zulu Natal is a merger of University of Durban-Westville and University of Natal which was white dominated and white focused University. Currently under the superb leadership of Makgoba the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal has embraced fundamental transformation and is now simply called by the slogan: "The Premier University of African Scholarship."

Malegapuru William Makgoba is one of Africans who has emerged from the severe harsh environment of the 1950s, 1960, 1970s and 1980s in Africa. This was a period in Africa that was characterized by colonialism and apartheid. He emerged from these harsh conditions to represent great principles of facing up issues squarely without dilly dallying. Such was his character when he was appointed as Deputy Vice Chancellor of University of the Witwatersrand in the 1990s. This was a period where the University of the Witwatersrand was in content strictly white dominated and wanted few African Scholars as smokescreen or tokens in higher administrative positions while maintaining the white apartheid status quo. Malegapuru Makgoba being a man of principle stood up to challenge the status quo of the University of the Witwatersrand. He did so by writing opinion articles in national newspapers and dressing in African attires during the University's high level administrative meetings as a form of subtle making of statement.

With Malegapuru Makgoba on the helm, second in charge his views about fundamental transformation and peculiar dress irked the established white academics at the University who wanted to continuing entrenching the white euro-centric outlook in an African soil thus making Africa an off-shoot of Europe. So the white deans and other senior executives of the university formed an unofficial committee to probe Makgoba's credentials. That was the beginning of war. A war that played itself in the media and in the process dividing the country with white South Africans supporting the white unofficial committee and the black people siding with Makgoba.

The unofficial committee of white deans and other white senior administrators of the University launched what they called "esoteric piece of social history" to use the University's resources conduct illegal extensive and intensive investigations around the academic life of Makgoba. Eventually the white deans were to finally find a technicality - a loop hole in Makgoba's Curriculum Vitae which they called a mis-representation and because of their dominant voice at the University, Makgoba was eventually stripped of his position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor and was made Professor of Molecular Biology.

The move was clearly a victory of the white deans and the white mainstream media celebrated with headlines of "Makgoba put on ice" "Makgoba the cheat" and so on. While on the other hand the move send a strong powerful psychological message to black people who were succumbing into coldness and stun silences of apparent defeat. The move made a powerful fundamental statement in the consciousness of black people that white rules in Africa.

But the white deans also succumb under heavy dark excessive guilt: One of the white deans, Etienne Mureinik, a brilliant young law professor, committed suicide at the height of the Makgoba Affair, the leader of the pack Charles Van Onselen resigned, while others withdrawn from involvement in university governance. Charles Van Onselen even today is suffering from severe emotional imbalance.



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Chris Kanyane has 1 articles online

Dr Chris Kanyane is the Editorial Coordinator of  the Book: "Unearthing Secrets on Lady Gaga: The Deep Secrets of Animal Darkness, authored by Stanford Franklin. Buy the book at

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Makgoba Affair: Malegapuru William Makgoba, An African Giant of Greatness Reclaiming Africa

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This article was published on 2011/06/13