Thuto Thipe

It was growing up surrounded by “really strong women, in both a personal and professional capacity” that has brought Thuto Thipe to where she is today.

And though she acknowledges the importance of her grandmother and aunts, Thipe, a PhD candidate at Yale University in the departments of history and African-American studies, says it was her mother who played the seminal role in shaping her world view.

“My mom started working for government pretty much when democracy started. She was the first director of nutrition for the department of health in those early days when they were building a government from scratch. So, growing up seeing service as a model was really important for me — seeing yourself as part of something much bigger than yourself. That model of service I saw in my mom and other women in my family was something that has played a big role in my life,” says the 30-year-old.

Thipe holds master’s degrees from Yale University and the University of Cape Town, a bachelor’s degree from Macalester College in Minnesota and has been published in a range of local and international journals.

Her dissertation builds on nearly three years of her work as a researcher in the University of Cape Town’s law faculty. Here she worked in archives and conducted oral history interviews with people across rural South Africa who experienced insecure land tenure, because of historical racially discriminatory laws.

Thipe was also part of a research team whose work contributed to litigation, including at the Constitutional Court level, to debates in Parliament, and to policy development. This was in addition to having to shape young minds by lecturing in history, gender studies and African American studies.

According to her blog, she is “committed to the production of knowledge that disrupts the silencing of historically marginalised voices and to empowering students and broader audiences through more holistic understandings of how the world that they inherited came to look the way that it does”.

In what could be considered something of a homage to the older women in her family, Thipe’s research also partly draws inspiration from the stories that she grew up hearing about the four generations on both sides of her family who lived in Johannesburg before her.

“Having such role models is crucial to help you see what the world can really look like,” she says, adding: “Seeing that their worlds were big was really important.”

As to whether paying this forward is important to her, she says: “Absolutely. If you’ve been given, you must give. Even if you haven’t been given, you must give. Because you’re supposed to leave things better than you found them. Those of us who have been given a lot should have even more impetus to really work hard to share what we have been afforded with as many people as we can touch.

“I’ve ended up as an educator because I’ve had such generous and inspiring influences in my life. There are also professors and teachers who have helped me to see the world in creative, critical and inspiring ways. That is something that I want to share with other people. That’s my inspiration as an educator. I want to help build people the way I have been built by other people.”

Carl Collison
Carl Collison

Carl Collison is the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail & Guardian. He has contributed to a range of local and international publications, covering social justice issues as well as art and is committed to defending and advancing the human rights of the LGBTI community in Southern Africa.

Advertisting

Salie-Hlophe accuses Goliath of lying and racism

In response to Goliath’s gross misconduct complaint, Salie-Hlophe says Goliath has ‘an unhealthy obsession with my marriage’

Treasury is still seeking SAA funds

The government has committed an additional R2-billion to the airline, but has yet to pay it out

‘There were no marks on his neck’, Neil Aggett inquest...

The trade unionist’s partner at the time he was detained at John Vorster Square says she now believes his death was not a suicide
Advertising

Press Releases

Boosting safety for cargo and drivers

The use of a telematics system for fleet vehicles has proved to be an important tool in helping to drive down costs and improve efficiency, says MiX Telematics Africa.

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

MTN unveils TikTok bundles

Customised MTN TikTok data bundles are available to all prepaid customers on *136*2#.

Marketers need to reinvent themselves

Marketing is an exciting discipline, offering the perfect fit for individuals who are equally interested in business, human dynamics and strategic thinking. But the...

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.