By Shandu Mulaudzi
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu will be in Grahamstown this Wednesday 7 March to give an address at the Naming Ceremony of the former Hilltop Hall, now being named Desmond Tutu Hall in his honour.
The hall consists of residences Margaret Smith, Amina Cachalia, Ellen Kuzwayo and Calata House. Margaret Smith House was built in 2007 and has already been named. The other three residences are due to have their naming ceremonies in conjunction with the naming if the Hall.
Wardens and students alike have worked very hard to ensure that this event will be a great success and something they will remember as a defining moment in the history of Rhodes University. Hall Warden, Swantje Zschernack, said she was very excited as well as nervous for the event. Though she feels it has been a challenge co-ordinating so many people with such a tight schedule, she has found it to be a very rewarding experience. “This is an important milestone for students of this hall as we are now creating a sense of identity,” Zshcernack said.
Each residence will have its own naming ceremony and members of the Kuzwayo, Cachalia and Calata families have been invited to unveil commemorative plaques at each of these.
In naming a new residence or hall, the University must seek to uphold its vision and mission while also emphasising its African identiy and location in the Eastern Cape. Students are involved in each step of the process as new names should also reflect the values and ethos of each residence involved.
Residents of Desmond Tutu Hall were given the opportunity to take part in preparations for the naming ceremonies through hall work parties. A hall choir has also been formed to sing the Rhodes Song Vis Vertus Veritus. “I decided to use a hall choir because I feel it is important for students to have the opportunity to showcase their talent. We want everyone to bring their strengths in our hall, we do it through sport and this is a nice opportunity for the music students to do so,” said Zschernack.
Hall head student, Deane Lindhorst will be the Master of Ceremonies for the main event. “I am very excited for this even as it is a great way to showcase our brilliant hall and a chance to meet a living legend. I am most excited to meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu because he is one of my role models,” she said.
Wednesday’s official naming ceremony will see Desmond Tutu Hall and the residences that constitute it join many other campus buildings to be named after struggle heroes and those who took a bold stand against racism and injustice in South Africa’s past.