Graduating Student Feature: Dr. Mandisa Haarhoff
Mandisa Haarhoff graduated this semester with a Ph.D. in English Literature. She became involved in the Center for African Studies through her committee member, Professor Emeritus Dr. Hunt Davis. Dr. Agnes Leslie also connected Mandisa to the Center through the College for Kids Program at Santa Fe and the Teachers’ Institute. She used her artistic skills as a playwright, singer, and actress in these programs to engage kids. Mandisa noted that these outreach events were very critical in shaping her perception of the Center as a link between local communities and the university, as well as improving her education as an emerging teacher.
While at UF, Mandisa tried to stay involved with Center activities by going to Baraza lectures and other sponsored events. She was able to meet many visiting scholars in African Studies by attending events at the Center and strengthened her connections with other scholars from South Africa. Mandisa was a dedicated member of African Student Union (ASU), directing the annual ASU showcase in 2015 and also writing and directing showcase plays for four years.
In Fall 2017, Mandisa taught an undergraduate course in the Department of English that explored Blackness in the African Diaspora through American and South African Literature. The course, “Being and Blackness,” included readings by Achille Mbembe, Steve Biko, Desmond Tutu, Zakes Mda, Claudia Rankine, Paul Beatty, and Bessie Head.
Following graduation, Mandisa will be moving back to South Africa to be a faculty member in the English Department at University of Cape Town. She will be teaching African Literature and Culture. She hopes to continue being involved in community engagement at the University of Cape Town and also remain committed to interdisciplinary scholarship in the humanities through her work in the arts.
Mandisa encourages incoming students at UF to try to be involved in the many different programs and courses in African Studies so that they can be engaged with the community and other departments within the university.