College of Human Sciences

Unisa, Luthuli Museum partnership goes from strength to strength

Annually, South Africa celebrates Heritage Month and Heritage Day in September to mark our nation’s diverse culture and heritage. It was therefore a most appropriate time for Unisa to reconfirm and strengthen its partnership with the Luthuli Museum to jointly preserve and celebrate the great man’s philosophy and heritage.

At the graveside ceremony: Veli Luthuli (daughter-in-law of Chief Albert Luthuli), Important Mkhize (Luthuli Museum council chair), Prof Puleng Segalo (incumbent of the Chief Albert Luthuli Research Chair at Unisa), Dr Albertina Luthuli (eldest daughter of Chief Albert Luthuli) and Dr Mxolisi Mchunu (deputy chairperson of the Luthuli Museum council)

In line with the partnership between the two institutions, but also the African notion of "ukubika", the incumbent of the Chief Albert Luthuli Research Chair, Prof Puleng Segalo, visited the Luthuli Museum where she had the opportunity to meet and engage with the museum staff and the Luthuli family members, and visit the various memorial sites that honour the memory and life of Chief Albert Luthuli.

The visit was very significant in that it served as a platform for Prof Segalo to be "introduced" in a traditional ceremony to Chief Albert Luthuli at his grave, where he lies alongside his wife, Mam Nokukhanya Luthuli. Commenting on the significance of the visit, Segalo says that heading a research chair carrying the Luthuli name comes with great responsibility and expectations. "He was a leader not only of his community in Groutville, but also of the many South African people who suffered under colonialism and apartheid. Going to his grave was very significant as receiving blessings from ancestors clears one’s path."

Dr Albertina Luthuli, Prof Puleng Segalo and Veli Luthuli

Harnessing the Luthuli legacy 

According to Segalo, the conversation regarding a partnership started in 2017 when the two institutions (Unisa and Luthuli Museum) came together to look at ways in which Luthuli’s legacy could be harnessed. "With the museum as a heritage space and Unisa as an academic institution, there was a possibility and an opportunity for a partnership that could push forward the memory, ethos and values of Albert Luthuli," she says. "In 2019 the partnership was sealed with the signing of a memorandum of understanding. One of the main points of the agreement was the establishment of the Chief Albert Luthuli Research Chair, which would be hosted at Unisa and work closely with the museum. "

Click here for more about the Chief Albert Luthuli research chair and its incumbent.

In conclusion, Prof Segalo says that 2021 marks 60 years since Chief Albert Luthuli was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. "It is, therefore, an opportune time to pause and reflect, and remember and commemorate this milestone," she says. "It is also a time to find ways to re-imagine the world differently as we continue to be confronted by numerous challenges globally. Albert Luthuli believed in Pan-Africanism and global solidarities – now more than ever, we need to invoke his spirit and look back to move forward. The partnership between Unisa and the Luthuli Museum could not have come at a better time."

* By Edgar Rathelele, Unisa Senior Media Officer

Publish date: 2021/10/06