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Gratitude and common purpose as new opportunities beckon

CEO Open Letter

Prof Sarah Mosoetsa Farewell Message
Deans Tribute to Prof Sarah Mosoetsa

Dear colleagues, friends, and NIHSS family,

The humanities and social sciences is a community like no other. Deeply curious, intensely committed and imbued with a common purpose, it is

the HSS community that I have come to know and love as CEO of the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences. The Institute has become family. As I conclude my tenure here and join the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) as CEO from 1 February 2023, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for making the past eight years so unforgettable – for all the right reasons.

We have travelled an extraordinary journey and looking at what we have accomplished together in such a short space of time is humbling and rewarding, to say the least.

Working collaboratively with the South African Humanities Deans’ Association, led by Professor Pamela Maseko, we have achieved so much more for the humanities and social science in our country and continent.

Many of our funded and mentored students have graduated. To date, more than 470 PhD students, most of them black and many of them female, have graduated and, in many cases, are already academics contributing to the intellectual revitalisation and transformation of HSS faculties and universities that we dreamt about in 2011 in the Charter for the Humanities and Social Sciences. 

There are currently at least 300 more PhD students at varying stages of completing their doctorates. We have also recently introduced the post-doctoral programme and the new Masters programme.

Through the catalytic research programme and humanities hubs; research is being conducted on topics previously swept under the academic carpet, such as multilingualism in the courts, the contribution of indigenous women to intellectual histories, African music theory and composition, and pre-colonial histographies, to mention a very few.

A new generation of artists, musicians, writers and poets is emerging, bringing new perspectives and vantage points, and boldly using their own traditions and mother tongues to tell their stories, our stories and breaking hegemonies.

Big and small publishers, encouraged by our deliberate support, are producing books that are challenging deeply embedded narratives and tackling old taboos with a vengeance.

Innovative and inclusive ways of doing and being have sprung to life, such as the annual HSS Awards where we collectively celebrate our finest creative-intellectual scholars and their brilliant work. So far, the Institute has hosted seven such celebrations and the eighth instalment is just over the horizon on 16 March 2023.

Also imminent is the 15th BRICS Academic Forum which, for the second time, the Institute through the South African BRICS Think Tank (SABTT) will be hosting on behalf of South Africa. You will recall the first time in 2018 the Institute through the SABTT, when trails were blazed on issues such as the inclusion of gender equity on the 10th BRICS Academic Forum agenda.

Rest assured that the work we have been doing at the Institute will continue into the future. The Chief Financial Officer, Mr Tumelo Mokoena, has agreed to serve as acting CEO and will take forward the vision set in the HSS Charter and the work outlined in the Institute’s Plans. I know Tumi can count on your support.

Meanwhile, in my new role, I look forward with excitement to the opportunity to advance the  humanities and social sciences, the vision of the HSRC for our country and forge closer relationships within the HSS community, including SAHUDA and many more partners in the country, continent and beyond.

As my current chapter draws to a close and a new chapter opens, I again express my gratitude to each and every person and institution that has made the Institute what it is today. Thank you to the various project leaders, scholars, all our students, and mentors.

A special appreciation to the former Boards of NIHSS, especially the chairperson Professor Ari Sitas, for all the time, commitment and wisdom invested in making the NIHSS what it is today.

I would not have achieved all our milestones had it not been for the vision, leadership and unwavering support of the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, the honourable Minister Dr Bonginkosi Nzimande, and Deputy Minister, Mr Buti Manamela.

To the innovative, vibrant, and super smart working NIHSS team, I will forever be in awe of your magic to deliver and excel. For all we have shared, experienced and achieved together, ‘may you always rise to see the Sun’.

I am grateful to my family and special friends for your unconditional love and support.

Again, Thank you. May our journey continue.


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