The Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande has established a new institution, i.e., the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) whose main purpose is teaching, research and community engagement. This was published in the South African Government Gazette no: 37658 of the 16 May 2014. The University is located at Ga-Rankuwa at the then Medunsa campus of the University of Limpopo, previously known as the Medical University of Southern Africa (MEDUNSA).The University opened its doors in January 2015 and continues with the academic programmes offered at the then Medunsa campus.
The late Mr Sefako Mapogo Makgatho was born in 1861 in Ga-Mphahlele, in the former Pietersburg District in what was the Transvaal Province (now Limpopo Province). He was the son of Chief Kgorutlhe Josiah Makgatho. As a young man, he witnessed many of the developments that led to the end of Pedi polity when the paramount chief was defeated by the Voortrekkers and British Colonial Governments around 1879.
He completed his primary education in Pretoria and left South Africa in 1882 to study theology at Ealing in Middlesex, England and returned to Pretoria in 1885, where he started his career as a teacher at the Kilnerton Training Institute, a Methodist School for African children living near Johannesburg until 1906. The Kilnerton Training Institute is known for some of its illustrious students, including the late Ms Miriam Makeba and Ms Lilian Ngoyi.
In 1906, he, together with other teachers in the Transvaal, formed one of the first teacher unions, the Transvaal African Teachers' Association (TATA). TATA was a trade union for African teachers and an instrument for the transformation of 'Native education' into a non- racial system of universal education for all of South Africa's children. Makgatho also contributed to the development of TATA's journal, the Good Shepherd, in 1923, to fight for equal education opportunities for Africans in South Africa. From 1887-1930 he was also an influential Methodist lay preacher.
Makgatho was a keen student of South African affairs and from the beginning he was opposed to the colonialism of the African continent and understood the threat it posed to the vast natural resources of Africa but also to the freedom, independence and self- determination of her peoples. He made his mark during the first decade of the 20th century as a key figure in the formation of the African Political Union (APU) and the Transvaal Native
Organisation (TNO). From 1906 to 1908 he served as President of APU. APU and TNO merged with the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) in 1912. In the same year he was elected President of SANNC's Transvaal section, the Transvaal Native Congress (TNA), from 1912 until 1930.
During this period, he became involved in journalism and between 1912 and 1914 he teamed up with Mr Alfred Mangena to establish a political journal, The Native Advocate. From 1914 until 1918 he participated in delegations and petitions to London on behalf of our people.
Makgatho was President-General of the SANNC itself from 1917 until 1924 and worked hard to ensure that the movement remained a key factor in the struggle against segregation. In addition, during Makgatho's presidency the Transvaal SANNC played a significant role in labour disputes affecting African workers and gave active support to the striking workers. Makgatho also used the courts to challenge legislation that affected and undermined Africans in the urban areas, particularly laws relating to their freedom of movement. But it was the Transvaal Tax provisions that marked Makgatho as a formidable opponent of the state. The SANNC was renamed the African National Congress (ANC) during his tenure. From 1930 until 1933 he was a Senior National Treasurer of the ANC and he continued to be involved in provincial campaigns of the ANC in the Transvaal well into the 1940s. At this stage, aged over 80, Makgatho was still considered one of the leading politicians in the country.
Makgatho was a politician, journalist, educationist and theologian. He passed away on 23 May 1951 in Riverside, Pretoria at the age of 90. In the same year, Nelson Mandela's son from his first marriage with Evelyn was born. In paying tribute to Sefako Makgatho, Mandela named his son after him.
We should continue his lifelong struggle for a South Africa that is legitimate, non-racial, non- exploitative, free, independent, democratic, and playing its proper role amongst the nations of the world.
Given the poor quality of the South African health care system it is essential that SMU produces highly qualified health personnel whose competency is similar to those who have highly effective health care systems in the world. For this reason, the vision of the university is:
The mission of the university is informed by the need for the development of relevant evidenced-based health care system that is staffed by highly competent health care personnel and scientists who can understand the research and other related matters to improve the system.
This mission will be achieved through strengthening of human resources and research capacity, improved physical infrastructure and improved recruitment and selection of both students and faculty.
Will operate from the Clinical Pathology Building, until a new building is erected