South Africa’s Ambassador to the U.S. Visits VCU
By: V. Renee Russell
VCU Global Education Office
RICHMOND, Va. (May 26, 2017)—Virginia Commonwealth University’s Office of the President and Global Education Office hosted Mninwa Johannes Mahlangu, South Africa’s Ambassador to United States, on May 26.
Mahlangu discussed “VCU-South Africa Connections: Past, Present and Future” with VCU president Michael Rao, faculty and students who have academic and cultural connections to South Africa.
He shared about the educational landscape of post-apartheid South Africa and the government’s National Development Plan which seeks to improve education through creating jobs, addressing unemployment and eliminating inequity.
“What will make the country tick is education,” he said. “To make improvements, we have to improve the quality of education for our children. Young people are growing at a larger rate than older generations and we need to think about what are doing today to prepare them to be leaders.”
Mahlangu also sought to learn about VCU’s connections in South Africa, particularly with regard to the university’s international strategic partnership with the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Twelve VCU faculty members shared overviews of the research and teaching in which they are currently engaged in South Africa.
“The world has changed,” Mahlangu said. “All of us should get involved and the only way to do so is the way you are doing it today. Younger generations can learn from you sharing ideas. Exchanging around the table can help us all understand things better.”
Mahlangu is one of the leaders who played a critical role in the processes leading up to the first democratic South Africa. Between 1991 and 1994, he was a negotiator at the Congress for Democratic South Africa (CODESA) and the Multiparty Negotiation Forum. In 1993, he became the co-chairperson of these bodies, and from 1993 to 1994 he was a member of South Africa’s Transitional Executive Council.
Before joining the Embassy in 2015, Mahlangu served as the Permanent Deputy Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in Parliament from 2002-2004, then as chairperson from 2004-2014.
Mahlangu has represented South Africa in many international platforms, including the United Nations and G20 Speakers Conferences. He was the leader of the South African Parliament’s delegation to the Pan-African Parliament, and he has held the positions of Chairperson of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (Africa Region) and President of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (International) respectively.
This was Mahlangu’s first visit to VCU since taking office in 2015.
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