Nomfundo Walaza, Caretaker Executive Director of Inyathelo and UCT alumnus, addressed the advanced degree qualifiers from the Faculties of Health Sciences, Science and Commerce at the UCT graduation ceremonies this past December.
During her first year at university in 1983, Walaza was told “black students don’t pass psychology in their first year at UCT”. She would later earn her master’s degree in clinical psychology.
Harkening back to her experiences at UCT, Ms Walaza encouraged the graduands “to believe in yourself”, despite race, gender, religion or sexual identity.
“Speak your truth; be bold and courageous; learn that with great privilege comes great responsibility… use your skills to help others and make a commitment to be a better citizen. Your success is bound up in the success of others.”
She also praised those students who, despite the turbulence on campus persevered, found their own voices, asserted their identities, articulated their needs, and helped create a space for “sorely needed conversations”.
Ms Walaza is a human veteran rights activist with experience in leading and providing strategic direction to organisations. Between April 2007 and March 2013 she was Chief Executive Officer of the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre in Cape Town, and from September 1996 to December 2005 she was Executive Director of the Trauma Centre for Survivors of Violence and Torture also in Cape Town. Before coming to Inyathelo, she served as Executive Director at Peace Systems, a civil society organisation that supports the development of sustainable institutions and systems that manage conflict in Africa.