Prof Rozena Maart from UKZN delivers the keynote address at Dreams, Wishes, Expectations Recycled at the Iziko Museum in Cape Town. Photo: Supplied.

Durban - A UKZN academic is making history as the first South African to receive a prestigious international accolade as research ambassador for her work on critical race theory, Black Consciousness, decolonisation and gender. 

The University of Bremen in Germany awarded Professor Rozena Maart international research ambassadorship for the next five years. 

Maart, is making waves, not only as the first Black female academic, but the only South African to ever receive such a role. 

She will promote the University of Bremen at UKZN and within the Southern African region. 

Part of her duties, will be to organise events between the two universities, bringing together researchers to share resources while extending those activities to postgraduate students as well as planning research meetings and events between the two institutions. 

Former director of the Institute for Postcolonial and Transcultural Studies at the University of Bremen, Professor Sabine Broeck congratulated Maart, adding that Maart’s work “speaks both to the interest and appreciation of critical thinking and teaching, which has gained momentum in Bremen, and the convincing appeal of her serious, energetic and dedicated commitment to international collaboration from the ground up while involving students on all levels of training as well as interested colleagues.” 

“Very few universities in the world offer these honorary positions to academics and as such we don’t hear about them very often. It’s really an honour,” said Maart. 

Her appointment is also recognition of the work Maart has done within various research projects on an international scale and contributions in seminars, lectures and workshops conducted at the University of Bremen. 

“The networking is part of both universities’ focus on academic development, which also includes publications. It’s also important to get UKZN’s name out there – in this case, as a staff member of UKZN, it’s the work I do here that has been welcomed there,” added Maart. 

Broeck praised her for the longstanding work which has become internationally recognised.

“Prof Maart has become one of the key international interlocutors for the INPUTS' proomotion of a critical rethinking of humanism's tenets as embedded in the violent history of coloniality and enslavism, and a partner in building decolonial adn anti-racist connections in the realm of teaching on bachelor and masters'  levels as well as for phd supervision both in Durban, and in Bremen,” she said. 

In 2016, she was awarded the William R Jones Award, a lifetime achievement award in philosophy by Philosophy Born of Struggle. The focus of the latter is evident in her ground-breaking philosophical papers on Marikana. Maart was also part of the 2018 and 2019 team of Decolonial Scholars at the UNISA annual summer school.

In 1987 she was nominated for Women of the Year Award, for starting the first Black feminist organisation in South Africa titled Women Against Repression.

She published her first book at the age of 27 in Toronto, Canada, and three years later won The Journey Prize: Best Short Fiction in Canada. Maart has already published three books with several more lined up with publishers.  

“Every single book I have written has won an award and made the bestseller list somewhere in the world,” she said. 

Maart has done collaborative work with philosophers within UNESCO, producing the first South-South Philosophy textbook in 2014.  Most of her work focuses on Black Consciousness, psychoanalysis, Derrida and deconstruction. 

She also writes fiction, and considers writing as central to her identity. 

“It goes without saying that gender and critical race theory are evident in all of my work,” added Maart.

Sunday Tribune