The renaming celebration marked the 25th anniversary of Hani’s assassination. The Hani family and deputy secretary-general of the SACP Jeremy Cronin spoke about his fight against apartheid.
“On behalf of the Hani family, I would like to salute the initiative of the student body at UCT to rename this building.
“There are cynics who will say that changing the name of a building changes nothing. They will be proved wrong if we embed this renaming within a wider process of social, economic and cultural transformation of our universities and wider society.
“A university is a place in which it’s possible, and imperative, to foster reflective thinking, rational discussion and debate,” said Cronin.
He spoke of challenges Hani faced during negotiations with the apartheid government.
Cronin also spoke of the challenges faced in society today and advised that the Chris Hani Lecture Theatre earn its name by fostering reflective discussion among students.
“The challenges our society is facing are embedded in the crises of poverty, inequality and unemployment. In times of crisis, rational thinking is imperilled.
“Chris Hani did not engage people from the podium; he engaged directly and personally.
“I hope that this lecture theatre, which now bears the name Chris Hani, will be a forum for collective empowerment, for rational and reflective discussion and learning,” said Cronin.
UCT spokesperson Nombuso Shabalala said the renaming of buildings was one part of a multifaceted transformation project committed to overcoming the legacy of apartheid and colonialism in the university system.
Shabalala said the name change would foster a definitive break with South Africa’s painful past.
“The renaming project aims to create a more inclusive and representative institution. However, the most difficult aspect to address in this is institutional culture.
“Renaming buildings is central to this redress. It is symbolic of a transformation, not only on the UCT campus, but more importantly, of our attitudes and values,” she said.@IAmAthinaMay