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The Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Department of Student Governance and Development made a call to students to submit entries for the Leadership Academy Project Naming Competition, on 20 April 2021. 

The competition gave students an opportunity to come up with an appropriate name for the academy which is the Zulu idiom. A total of 255 students submitted their Zulu idiom names from both the Durban and Midlands campuses, and the selection of the name was based on how the name is relevant to the Leadership Academy project, as well as it had to be in line with the ENVISION2030 strategic plan.

The name chosen was Vuna Leadership Academy which was submitted by Karen Gordon, a Public Relations and Communications student, who is doing her Advanced Diploma this year.

She said that the motivation of choosing the name was derived from a Zulu saying: Uvuna okutshalile or You reap what you sow.

Manager: Student Governance and Development, Masiza Ngculu, said the thoughtfulness behind each entry made the task particularly tough for choosing the winner.

“Apart from the fact that we had to choose a winner, we realised that even the entries that were not finally chosen were also winners in that their spirit will have to be somehow accommodated in how the Vuna Leadership Academy functions. The Committee settled on Vuna for its meaning of reap, brevity, and the possibility of using it as an acronym for our values. The beauty of the expandability of ambiguity of positive meanings are that it can be the university reaping positives from the participation of the students; it can be the students embarking on a journey of self-development reaping the fruits of their labour. It could be the country and humanity reaping rewards of this very glorious effort. The meaningfulness of the acronym for the Leadership Academy locating DUT as the hub of development Vuna LA! (Reap Here!),” he said.

Ngculu said that as the names were chosen without the benefit of checking who the submissions were made by, it was a beautiful coincidence that the name was submitted from one of the Midlands campuses.

“It underlined that the process was indeed open to and embraced by students from all our campuses,” he said.

The winning student was the proud recipient of a laptop which was officially handed over on Tuesday, 11 May 2021 at Steve Biko Campus. The Vuna Leadership Academy launch will be hosted on Friday, 21 May 2021. Some members of the Executive Management and distinguished external guests from other universities are expected to attend the launch ceremony.

Commenting on her win, Gordon said she still cannot believe it.

“It’s honestly so unbelievable still. I never expected to win, and this laptop could not have come at a better time because the one I am currently using is relatively slow. Going beyond winning the laptop, it really is an honour to have something I named being a part of DUT. I feel as if I am part of the beginning of a legacy, even in years to come, long after I have left DUT. It’s an honour to know that I have left my footprint in the naming of its Leadership Academy,” she said proudly.

Pictured: Karen Gordon

Andile Masuku/Waheeda Peters

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