Change the world


As we embark on our journey to “Change the World”, our alumni shared their views on how we can contribute to making our world a better place for all and the contribution the university and its alumni across the globe can make. This year’s Diversity Month Reflections event featured four alumni speakers from different eras, backgrounds sharing their stories on how we can contribute to societal development.

ENGAGING OUR ALUMNI … Present at the Alumni Reflection event were Director: Alumni Relations Paul Geswindt, guest speaker Ross Johnston, Gerna Johnston and Alumni Association President Dr Randall Jonas.

Cumngce Gawe reflected on the value of time – having experienced change in the country, society and university and where the individual fits into the collective. He served Mandela University and its predecessor, PE Technikon, in various capacities since 1986, including being part of the University’s interim council during the merger process. He was vice-chair of the University’s Council and served on the Trust as well as the Alumni Association Executive Committee. Mr Gawe was also the first black graduate (National Diploma in Industrial Administration - now Industrial Engineering) of the former PE Technikon in 1980. He held several top business positions and his political career included being mayor of Uitenhage and regional treasurer for the ANC among others.

Tasneem Fredericks studied Law, is actively involved in business, and was involved in the establishment of an Art Gallery in organised business organisations. She shared on how to grow networks and step out of comfort zones but explore new and creative opportunities. A qualified Attorney, Notary Public and Conveyancer admitted as such on 20 February 2003.  Fredericks is a social entrepreneur, transformation activist and advocate for woman empowerment committed to nation building through active civic participation in various formations.  Fredericks graduated with a BA Arts, BProc, LLB, PG Diploma (Labour Law), and LLM (Labour Law) from the university. She was recognised as a young business achiever on the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber’s Top 40 under 40 in 2015 and was recognised by the Black Management Forum as a Woman in Business of the year 2015, for her contribution to socio-economic development.

Ross Johnson had the experience of a full university life, from student to entrepreneur and philanthropist at the university. He graduated with a BCom (Industrial Psychology) in 1997. During his student days, he ran three tuckshops (amalgamating them into Super Tuck at the South Campus residences). In 2000, he founded Popping Delicious popcorn a manufacturing and distribution business – supplying 150 shops in the Eastern Cape with sales of 6.5million packets to date. In 2001, he founded Bookmarket, which later became Rehab, to offer affordable textbooks. Johnston always founded Rehab Books & Technology, which is in six retail locations, serving three different universities across three cities.  In 2016, he founded EduConnect – the biggest direct supplier of laptops to university students last year as well as the founder of two B&B’s, a backpackers and two student houses.  He is also the creator of, which has assisted students with R4million worth of products this year.  Johnston donated over R500000 towards mostly student causes including bursaries in the last four years, and runs and funds a weekly soup kitchen in the Forest Hill area. He runs monthly entrepreneurship workshops for our students voluntarily.

The youngest speaker, Sakhumzi Dukwe, is a BA Psychology graduate pursuing his postgraduate studies serving in various structures including the SRC. He shared what it meant when he talks about his world and what change he is expecting as a born free.  Dukwe, who hails from Queenstown matriculating at SEK Mqhayi Senior Secondary School as a “Top Achiever” where he was Head Boy.  At university, he joined the Beyond the Class Leadership programme, later joining the Student Alumni Society (SAS) as a member before becoming the President in 2016. In 2015, Dukwe along with his psychology colleagues started an NGO called Masibambisane Day Care for the Golden Oldies with his psychology colleagues in Joe Slovo settlement assisting the elderly with needed counselling and legal assistance. He has been the chairperson of SAS, Revival Fire and is now the Chairperson of Twenty20n Destiny and serving as the Head of religious societies in the SRC 2017. He does the duties of a vice president in the SRC and is their DC Chairperson.

This will be an ongoing conversation and we hope to hear your views via different communication platforms. We look forward hearing from you