I am a professor and Head of the Division of Languages, Literacies and Literatures at Wits School of Education, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. I obtained my PhD from Michigan State University, USA, with a multi-disciplinary specialization in Applied Linguistics, English Studies, Literacy Education and Linguistics. I am fascinated by the interface between languages and literacies in the 21st century and intrigued by the prospects of alternating languages of input and output to promote ways of being (identity construction/affirmation) and knowing (epistemic access) that are specific to people who speak more than one language. Believing in the cultural competence where no one language or literacy is complete without the other, I have developed a multilingual literacies model (ubuntu translanguaging) that can be used to transform schools and education systems in sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world. Recently, I founded and pioneered a research and development entity for multilingual education and literacies at the University of the Witwatersrand - the first of its kind in the world.
My life experience has taught me that human success is possible only through one’s ability to project and reflect (connecting past and future) while living in the present. Added to know what to do, when they are supposed to do it even if they don’t feel like it (discipline), the magic of success sparks. I have dedicated my life to transforming communities to exercise their full potentials by tapping into this success magic. I have always seen confidence and competence as mutually interdependent and I continue to raise future leaders to understand this life changing principle.
So how did I get here? I was privileged to grow up in a remote rural area, surrounded by imposing mountains and gorgeous canyons. Through the abundance of mother nature including waterfalls, caves, tunnels, and three-roundavels, I listened to the harmony of sound bites for resilience, persistence, consistency and focus. I knew early on that life is beautiful and that we need to find our purpose for living and then show evidence for it as cows, goats and impalas leave traces daily. Seasons came and went-from greenery, multitude fruit, dryness and harvesting as I mastered the details of change. I heard loudly that I am because other people are “motho ke motho ka batho” and followed the elders on this way of being and approach to life. This deep sense of community led me to establish a foundation for reading literacy aimed at vulnerable youth who are mentored, coached and provided with school uniforms and other necessities to see them through the basic education system.