The second Albertina Sisulu Memorial Lecture by Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo, UCT Deputy Vice-Chancellor is entitled: African culture, human rights, modern constitutions and the women caught in the middle.
Second Albertina Sisulu Memorial Lecture
When: 7 August 2012
Who: Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo
AFRICAN CULTURE, HUMAN RIGHTS, MODERN CONSTITUTIONS AND THE WOMEN CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE
Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo
UCT Deputy Vice-Chancellor
Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo is Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cape Town, a post to which he was appointed after he had done a tour of duty at the Embassy in Washington DC as Deputy Chief of Mission and Deputy Ambassador of South Africa to the United States.
Nhlapo was born in KwaZulu in what was then the province of Natal and grew up in Clermont Township, Durban, where he attended school until 1961, the year in which he was sent to boarding school in Swaziland. Before his diplomatic posting, he was a full-time Commissioner on the South African Law Reform Commission, a position to which he was appointed by President Mandela in 1996. As Chair of the Project Committee on Customary Law, he was instrumental in the development of significant legislation in family law, including the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, which was passed by Parliament in 1998.
Before assuming the post at the Law Commission, Nhlapo was Professor and Head of the Department of Private Law at the University of Cape Town. After South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994, Nhlapo participated in the constitution-making process as Convenor of the Technical Committee on Traditional Leaders, a committee of experts who advised the Constitutional Assembly on all matters relating to traditional leadership and to customary law. Their work contributed to Chapter 12 of the present Constitution.
In 2004, Professor Nhlapo was appointed by President Mbeki to chair the Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims (which came to be known as the Nhlapo Commission), with a mandate to investigate disputes and claims arising in the traditional leadership sector. He left this body in 2008. Nhlapo has served as a member of the Executive Council of the International Society of Family Law (ISFL) and the Governing Council of the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT), which is headquartered in Rome, Italy.
Nhlapo is active in the NGO sector: he is the current Chair of the Human Rights Development Initiative (HRDI) and is also a former member of the International Women’s Rights Action Watch (IWRAW), the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) and is a former Deputy Chair of the Gender Education and Training Network (GETNET). His work on women’s human rights has seen him speak by invitation at local and international gatherings, including the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in New York, and UN Conferences in Vienna and Dakar, culminating in his attendance at the watershed United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995.
Nhlapo has a BA (Law) degree from the University of Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland (UBLS, in Roma, Lesotho), an LLB (Honours) from Glasgow University in Scotland and a DPhil in Family Laws from Oxford University in England. He holds the honorary degree of Doctor of the University from Glasgow University.
Nhlapo is the author of two books and has written and spoken widely on issues of women’s human rights in family law and of cultural diversity under the South African Constitution.