Two well-known learning institutions will be renaming parts of their buildings in honour of those who paved a formidable path for future generations.
Yesterday, UWC renamed its Main Hall after former student, lecturer, rector and vice-chancellor, the late professor Gert Johannes “Jakes” Gerwel.
Gerwel obtained a BA from UWC in 1967 and Honours in 1968. Gerwel returned to UWC in 1972 as a lecturer in the Afrikaans and Nederlands Department, thereafter becoming department head in 1980 and Arts Faculty dean in 1982. He became rector and vice-chancellor in 1987 and served until his appointment as director-general in the office of former president Nelson Mandela in 1994.
UWC spokesperson Gasant Abarder said many universities name important buildings after their most influential persons or former leaders, with the late professor certainly fitting into this category.
“It is also significant as the Main Hall is probably the most iconic UWC building.
“It is where Professor Gerwel conferred the late president Nelson Mandela’s first honorary doctorate in 1990 after he was released from prison. It is also the first space first-year students engage with during orientation and the last venue they will be seated in before they leave as alumni after graduating,” Abarder said.
Meanwhile, Heritage Society of Alexander Sinton High School will unveil its Franklin P Joshua Memorial Hall and Wilfred J Arendse Memorial Foyer in honour of two of the three teachers who established the school in 1951, on Saturday.
Legacy project co-ordinator and retired deputy principal Fazilet Bell said the new Arts Focus Hall will be named the Franklin P Joshua, and the foyer housing the Sinton Museum will be named after Wilfred J Arendse.
“Under them we had great academic, sporting and cultural achievements. They were interested in holistic education, empowering the Athlone community to live out the school’s motto, ’Vel primus, vel cum primus’ – ‘If not the best, amongst the best’.
“Many leading citizens were mentored by these teachers and a dedicated cadre of teachers who sacrificed for the children despite the dire conditions under apartheid.
“We honour them for their pioneering spirit, for building the school from nothing. Other administrations could build on their firm foundations. To them we owe a debt of gratitude.”