VC Rewards Excellence and launches first-ever Research Report

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On Thursday evening, 18 November, the University of Fort Hare’s Govan Mbeki Research and Development Centre (GMRDC) hosted the Vice-Chancellors Research Awards. The university also launched its first-ever Research Report during the event held on the Alice Campus.

Held annually, the celebration is in honour and recognition of academics who have achieved excellence in research. 

The awards ceremony was the crowning event of the UFH Research Excellence Week (15-18 November) themed: Prioritising Meaningful Research with Impact in The Decade Of Renewal.

The VC's Research Awards are awarded in two categories:

  • Emerging Researcher,  awarded to a staff member who has demonstrated sustained research and scholarly achievements that reflect exceptional quality and excellence. The selection of the winner was done by a panel that assessed the portfolios based on national and international recognition, the impact of research, mentorship and demonstration of research leadership
  • Emerging Researcher award is made annually by the Vice-Chancellor to a staff member who demonstrates potential to become a researcher of excellence. The winner was assessed by a panel after being nominated on recognition by all reviewers as having the potential to establish himself or herself as a researcher of excellence and with the potential to become a future leader in research.

 The awards also recognize academics from the university faculties who have distinguished themselves in research with a Faculty Award.

In addition, the university also recognized and lauded its National Research Foundation (NRF) Rated Researchers. 

Meet the recipients: 

SENIOR Researcher Award - Prof Willie Chinyamurindi (Faculty of Management and Commerce)

Prof Willie is an NRF Rated Researcher (Y2). He is a Professor and Head of the Department of Business Management. He considers himself as a pan-Africanist and a scholar with the intent of promoting African scholarship and more Africa-Africa collaborations.

As a research theme, his interest is along aspects related to understanding dynamic capabilities with a focus of their impact on development themes amongst individuals but also business (and society). This focus has seen Prof Chinyamurindi publish in local and international journals. This also includes his work being featured in local and African media outlets. Prof Chinyamurindi has professional memberships with the:

a) South African Board for People Practices;

b) Health Professions Council of South Africa;

c) Psychological Society of South Africa;

d) South African Career Development Association and the

e) Southern African Institute for Management.

He has secured funding for several research projects. Notably, the National Research Foundation, the South African Medical Research Council, the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.


EMERGING Researcher Award:  Dr Ahmed Mukalazi Kalumba, Faculty of Science and Agriculture

Dr Kalumba is a senior lecturer in the Department of Geography and Environmental Science (DGES) at the University of Fort Hare. He has special interests in Geography (Environmental Science/Management), Environmental Remote Sensing, Industrial Sustainability, Change Detection Analysis, Climate Change Risk and Adaptation, Urban and Coastal Studies, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) geared towards offering solutions to the current environmental meltdown.

To this end, he has established the ‘Geospatial Application, Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Laboratory —GACCES’ in the DGES to pursue multidisciplinary research and train postgraduate students. Therefore, national and international topical issues such as Covid-19 pandemic effects, SDGs, and the coastal and ocean economy now form part of his current research focus areas to ensure a positive contribution to ongoing debates and knowledge creation in this field of specialization.

Moreover, his goal is to engage in impactful research premised on transformative and co-production approaches to contribute to offering sustainable environmental solutions and sustainable development.

Dr Kalumba has strong academic engagements and collaborations at both local and international levels through the NRF and SAMRC BRICS-funded projects, reviewing for accredited journals, and having membership with various national and international professional bodies among others.


Dr Mzukisi Howard Kepe, Faculty of Education

Dr Kepe, holds PhD with a focus on reading, writing and literacy pedagogy in Language Education. He has 23 years of High School Teaching experience in developmental English language context gained across the education platform and three years of teaching experience in higher education. He has published collaboratively and is also involved in related teaching and intensive action-based research projects.

His work revolves around the following topics: Reading and Writing practices, Literacy Pedagogy, and English language teaching with genre-based approach, developmental English context and functional English grammar and usage, visual literacy and video games, bilingualism and translanguaging. 

Dr Kepe has established an enviable and robust research track linking theory and practice through the analysis of issues rooted in the South African education system. He has also presented papers at various international conferences.

He is a member and reviewer of the English Scholarship Beyond Borders and Journal of Education and Educational Development of Pakistan

Dr Eleanor Alvira Hendricks, Faculty of Social Science and Humanities

Dr Hendricks is a Lecturer in the Social Work Department. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Pretoria, Masters and a PhD in Social Work from the University of Fort Hare.

Her two main research interests are health risks associated with adolescent pregnancy and combatting school violence. Dr Hendricks has published 15 journal articles in DHET-accredited journals. Some of Dr Hendricks’ work was distributed to secondary schools across the Western Cape in 2019 and 2020 in collaboration with colleagues from other universities locally and abroad as well as the South African Military Base in Tshwane.

The research in both areas has proved to be significant in the Cacadu District Municipality and Raymond Mhlaba Local Municipality where Dr Hendricks hosts quarterly seminars with scholars on the risks associated with adolescent pregnancies and the negative impact of pregnancy can have on a young woman’s life. These seminars seem to be effective as the figures in adolescent pregnancies in schools in the Cacadu region have decreased since 2017. Furthermore, interactive workshops are hosted upon request by educators to discuss methods of reducing school violence and methods of dealing with aggressive behaviour in scholars.

In 2022/3 DR Hendricks aims to work with the Department of Basic Education to distribute a leaflet with guidelines on combatting school violence to schools in the Cacadu District Municipality.

Dr Dumisani Hompashe, Faculty of Management and Commerce

Dr Hompashe is a Lecturer and Postgraduate Coordinator in the Department of Economics. Before joining the University, he worked as a Teacher and head of department at numerous Eastern Cape high schools for several years.

During that time he played a leading role in teacher development activities both at the local and national level.

Currently, he is a member of the Council for Economics Education in the Eastern Cape Province, a body that is constituted by Department of Basic Education officials and economics university lecturers, whose aim is to provide professional development workshops among economics teachers and subject advisers. He also serves on the African Finance and Economic Association's (AFEA) Standing Committee on social media and Communication. Dr Hompashe serves as an Honorary Research Associate at the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) at Rhodes University.

His PhD considered topics related to the quality of education and healthcare at primary facility level in South Africa. The highlight of his research work was noticeable when he presented his work at reputable international conferences. With funding from the Africa Oxford Initiative to attend the Centre for the Study of African Economies conference at the University of Oxford in March 2019.

Dr Hompashe is specifically interested in areas related to development economics such as health economics and economics of education.

Professor Sonwabile Mnwana, Faculty of Social Science and Humanities

ProfessorSonwabile Mnwana is an Associate Professor and former Head of Sociology. He is a research associate at the Society, Work and Politics Institute (SWOP) at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Prior to joining the University, he was the Deputy Director and Senior Researcher at SWOP. He is the principal investigator in a number of research projects. Between 2016 and 2017, he served as the President of the South African Sociological Association (SASA), the largest association of sociologists in Africa.

He is a recipient of several research prestigious fellowships and awards, including a 2019 fellowship at Stellenbosch’s Institute for Advanced Studies (STIAS), and in 2020 another fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH), University of Edinburgh (UK), Wits Exceptional Research (2016), and the Vice-Chancellors Award for Research Excellence – UFH (2019).

His current research focuses on large-scale resource extraction, land and distributional struggles in Rural South Africa. For more than 15 years, he has led a number of studies in South Africa’s former ‘homeland’ areas. In addition to commissioned papers, he has published widely in reputable peer-reviewed international journals such as the Review of African Political Economy, The Extractive Industries and Society, Labour, Capital and Society, Labour, Capital and Society, Resource Policy and has published a number of book chapters with reputable scholarly publishers including Routledge and Wits University Press.

He is also a public intellectual whose research makes a notable contribution to social justice causes. Through my research, he has contributed to several advocacy issues, particularly on mining expansion, land rights and rural communities. In 2016, he was invited to participate as one of the leading experts in the Land Working Groups of the High-Level Panel on Land Policy in South Africa (2016-2017) chaired by Former State President Kgalema Motlanthe.