Unisa and Home Affairs keep visiting professor unpaid and tied up in red tape for months.
Early in 2013 the University of South Africa (Unisa) in Pretoria wrote to Professor Ulrich van der Heyden in the theology faculty of Berlin’s Humboldt University, inviting him to become a Visiting Researcher for 14 months in the theology faculty.
Prof Van der Heyden was particularly pleased to accept because, for most of his career as an historian and political scientist his focus has been on the southern part of Africa. The history of the German missionary societies in 19th century South Africa is one of his main research topics – which is what prompted the invitation.
Prof Willem Boshoff of the Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies at Unisa is, in addition, a mission archaeologist. The guest-professorship programme would make it possible for the two to collaborate in a research project aimed at producing a history of the Bakopa people who live north of Pretoria and who nearly fell victim to an ethnocide in the 19th century.
Boshoff has been engaged in archaeological research on the Bakopa for years. In the process, he laid the foundations for missionary archaeology being done globally. The project is aimed at scientifically reconstructing the pre-colonial history of African people who do not have written sources. The research could help the Bakopa clarify, preserve and strengthen their historically shaped ethnic identity.