BY SEBASTIAN UYS
Five members of the 2018/2019 Students Representative Council (SRC) of Stellenbosch University (SU), alongside official university staff, visited the University of Lagos from 14 to 18 October.
The University of Lagos hosted its first International Week which was themed, “Education in a Connected World”. The week’s focus was academic but also sought to address the requirements of effectively educating students in the 21st century.
The SRC engaged with the governor of Lagos, met the Deputy Speaker of the Nigerian State Assembly and connected with students from local schools.
Carli van Wyk, 2018/2019 SRC Chairperson, said, “Visiting Lagos has been an eye-opening experience.”
“After the xenophobic attacks in SA, I was unsure of how we will be received in Nigeria. Against all odds, the University of Lagos, the King of Lagos, statesmen and locals have received us with open hearts and invited us to visit again,” Van Wyk said.
Following the September xenophobic attacks in South Africa, of which many were directed at Nigerian-owned businesses, SU was the only South African university to attend the event.
“South Africa and Nigeria need to take their roles as leaders of the African continent seriously and place reconciliation and the needs of the African continent first, in order for all African people to prosper and move forward,” Van Wyk added.
Alex van Greuning, vice-chairperson of the 2018/2019 SRC said that “visiting Nigeria has reminded me of the resilience of the African spirit”.
“The amount of goodwill here towards South Africans despite the xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg and Pretoria has been truly humbling. The commitment to relationship and unity in Nigeria has convicted me as a South African to pursue those values to the same extent,” Van Greuning said.
A three-day state visit between the Presidencies of Nigeria and South Africa was also held at the beginning of October. President Cyril Ramaphosa took to Twitter to emphasise Nigeria and South Africa’s role as driving forces in the integration of African nations and President Muhammad U Buhari of Nigeria declared that “As the two largest economies in Africa, there are many areas in which Nigeria and South Africa can share experiences, invest and cooperate. Ours is a relationship full of potential and promise and this can only be a win-win for our peoples and for Africa at large.”
According to Paulu Joubert, the 2018/2019 Prim Committee Chairperson, the future relationship between these two nations will have to be one that is founded upon respect.
“There are a lot of similarities between South Africa and Nigeria and engaging with the student leadership here has shown me the unity within the struggles that we as African nations face,” Joubert said.
Joubert added the visit showed him that “African nations can only flourish if we work together”.
“Only if we stand together as Africa can we undo the injustices of the past and set our own standards,” Joubert said.