The 10th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town Mamokgethi Phakeng has launched a YouTube educational channel, the ‘Fab Academic – Unfiltered’ to talk about education, academics and how to get into the university.
Peers recognise Phakeng internationally and she is the third black woman in South Africa to have a B-rating as a researcher, as a scientist. To have received this rating when she was less than 50 years old and within 10 years of receiving her doctor of philosophy (PhD) was quite a feat.
“The other two women who have got this rating are hugely experienced and over 60 years old and then a small little me. That’s why I think it is huge. I am very proud of that,” Phakeng said in an interview with Wits University, Johannesburg, South Africa, seven years ago.
Fab Academic – Unfiltered also helps parents to learn how to actually support their children going to university. With growing cases of depression and suicide among higher education students, chronic mental health issues are becoming common. The channel treats mental health issues, Phakeng said on LinkedIn in a video announcing the channel.
Being an accomplished academic, Phakeng wants to give professors and academics human faces, people who have water and blood running through their veins. People who have families and face life’s challenges.
She wants to also talk about mojolo, which means dating in a South African language. How to choose and how to exit from relationships in a humane manner. She looks at the etiquette of gifts in dating and everything in between about life.
In addition the channel talks about money, marriage, and about everything interesting. The channel makes learning fun, fabulous and interesting.
Phakeng’s communication style is friendly and she accepts to be vulnerable. She told an impressive story about her mum in a video that Wits University shared on its official YouTube channel, seven years ago. Wits University is one of the top ranked universities in Africa.
Her mother had all three children without having high school education. So after having all three children, she went back to school, standard five.
“When my mother did standard five, I was to be in grade one. And we used to walk a long distance, probably 7 kilometres. There were things that were fascinations. Things like the rainbow. Things from the clouds that we will stop and watch,” Phakeng said.
When her mother was ready to go to college, for the primary school teachers course, that’s when Phakeng went back to the township to live with her parents. Before, she lived in a village where her father comes from. She had to go there and live with my grandmother.
And the stories are interesting because her mother and her had this joint journey. When she was doing grade one her mother was in grade five and when she finished her doctor of philosophy (PhD) her mother finished her first degree and she was 58 years old.
“Suddenly people think you know more because you have got a doctorate,” the South African academic said.
It is quite a story of a journey and of education between Phakeng and her mother, throughout her life they have been studying. Her mum liked mathematics.