By Gabi Khumalo
The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) has launched the Es'kia Mphahlele internship programme in commemoration of the international award-winning writer, teacher and tireless fighter for the revival of African consciousness.
The development programme will kick start with a lecture by another prolific writer, Dr Lesibana Rafapa, a cultural activist and former national manager of the Pan South African Language Board.
Mr Rafapa is a senior lecturer and Head of English Department at the University of Venda, he holds a DLitt degree in English literature from the University of Stellenbosch, and has published 16 novels, dramatic texts and short stories, mostly in Northern Sotho but also in English.
He has also published a monograph and articles in accredited journals on African literature and Es'kia Mphahlele's theory of African Humanism.
Speaking during the programme launch, Director of the Capacity Development unit at the HSRC and coordinator of researcher development, Professor Mukole Kongolo said the Eskia Mphahlele internship programme is devised to accelerate capacity development at the HSRC and contribute to national efforts to grow researchers.
"As a public institution, the HSRC would like to make a contribution in the development of a pool of scientist by offering them cutting edge opportunities that are rarely available in similar organisations. The main focus is on previously disadvantaged groups as defined by the Employment Equity Act.
"Through this programme we would like to carry our mandate to contribute to a broader transformation of the South African society by developing a cadre of well developed scientists who can take positions in research environments with ease and assume leadership positions,' said Mr Kongolo.
He said through deliberate and concerted efforts it is possible to overcome the challenges of poverty and underdevelopment as Eskia Mphahlele has demonstrated.
Mr Kongolo said he believed that capacity development is needed at many levels in research and development institutions ranging from the individual to the national levels.
"Recent preoccupation with economic policies, institutions and markets has somehow diverted attention from the critical middle level of institutions, this has been an unfortunate situation because sustained development efforts depend on effective research and development institutions.
Institutional capacity development initiatives need to be well planned in order to improve those capacities that most severely hamper institutions performance levels, and this is exactly what the capacity development programme at the HSRC is aiming to achieve,' said Mr Kongolo.