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Pretoria - The Department of Higher Education and Training intends establishing a National Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences in the next few months.

“I have taken this initiative in order to ensure that the humanities and social sciences are not neglected as we focus on the urgent issues of developing our economy and providing it with the scientific, industrial, and commercial skills,” said Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, at a memorial service for Professor Bernard Magubane on Wednesday.

He said as important as these skills are, people often neglect the social sciences at their peril.

“The work started by Prof Magubane and others like him, must not be forgotten and must be built upon. It is important to our identity as a nation and it contributes importantly to our understanding of our social and political systems and therefore guides the policies that we adopt and the actions we take as a government,” Nzimande said.

He said academics like Prof Magubane have ensured that they record and analyse the processes which have shaped society such as colonialism, conquest and cultural domination, the reserves or Bantustans and the migrant labour system, the nature of apartheid and its relationship to capitalism.

He said as the nation, bows their heads in tribute to Professor Magubane and extend their deepest condolences to his family and friends, they should know that his life well lived.

“He was a credit to his country, to his movement and to his family. He will be remembered by us all,” Nzimande said.

He said South Africa should use his legacy to ensure that educational opportunities are provided to all South Africans. “If we don’t do this, we must know that it is certain that we are depriving not only talented individuals of an opportunity to reach their potential, but also we are depriving our country of a vast pool of talent,” he said.

Prof Magubane was one of South Africa’s leading social scientists – a historian and sociologist.

An eminent academic and a leading Marxist intellectual, he spent many years in exile, teaching at universities in the United States where he was a member of the ANC and a leading activist of the anti-apartheid movement in the USA. –