Morakane Madiba

Ms Morakane Madiba

PHD candidate

In conversation with Rendani Mudau

Ms. Morakane Madiba is a PhD candidate focusing on policy reviews, socio-ecological and economic impacts on communities. Her study was in partnership with Groundtruth consulting, WRC, NRF and Rhodes University. She is also a project manager at Uhuru Career Guidance and Learning (NPC).



    Rhodes University


    Socio-Ecological, Policies (Economic Development) & Education

    Research Interest

    Tools for water equality management; Policy reviews; Youth Development; Entrepreneurship and employability; Skills Development; Supply and Value Chains of Industries

    1. Who is Morakane Madiba

    Morakane, hailing proudly Afru-ikan(African) woman from Mmametlhake village, in Mpumalanga, South Africa. Her mission is to instil in African youth a sense of pride and excellence, emphasizing the importance of ethics, justice, fairness, professionalism, and effective leadership in all their endeavours. She values emancipating education and lifelong learning as the key to progress and development, guided by the Ubuntu philosophy for interconnectedness and humanity. She advocates for kindness as a potent force to combat ignorance and greed. Through her work with Uhunu/Uhuru Career Guidance and Learning (NPC), she hopes to challenge prevailing norms and empower African youth to become impactful, relevant, forward thinking and progressive leaders in building a better sustainable and resilient Africa for its people, in particular its youth.

    2. Tell me about your PhD journey?

    My doctoral journey was filled with diverse challenges on spiritual, financial, physical, and emotional levels. The support of my academic community, friends and family was crucial in helping me navigate these obstacles. Their unwavering encouragement and assistance made the journey not only manageable but achievable, highlighting the importance of having a genuine support system in academic pursuits.

    3. What is your current PhD research, and how did you decide on this research topic?

    My research topic is about realist evaluation of citizen science tools for water quality management. My selection was based on my interest in socio-ecological and economic implications for underprivileged communities. Central to my inquiry was the question: how can my research contribute meaningfully to alleviating poverty and unemployment, two pressing issues plaguing our societies? Especially that I was using the state resources for my own pursuit, I sought to make intentional tangible impact on addressing these challenges. Water being an indispensable resource and at the centre of all being and activities, holds importance for the wellbeing and sustainability of the marginalized communities

    4. Can you tell me about other projects you are participating in which are in conjunction/in line with your PhD studies?

    I am involved in multiple initiatives that support youth development and academic growth. My roles include project manager at Uhuru Career Guidance and Learning, a member of the organizing committee for NRF-Future Earth SRI: Africa Satellite Events, and an interim executive committee member at the Tlapaneng Communal Property Association. My focus is on fostering effective leadership, academic and entrepreneurial growth, advancing socio-ecological and economic advancements in Africa, and advocating for youth development and relevant sustainable development projects.

    5. What do you find interesting about your research, and what contribution do you think it adds to academia/research?

    My study has developed a powerful Policy-Public-Science model that promotes collaboration with communities for practical, impactful outcomes. It challenges traditional research models by emphasizing real-world applicability, active and intentional community involvement in decision making. It highlights the importance of different ways to empowering youth and recognizing the contributions of volunteers as a workforce/labour, leading to a meaningful socio-political transformation.

    The research's influence on policy development highlights the potential impact of academia on shaping practical and relevant solutions through an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach. By prioritizing real-world applicability and community involvement, this research model sets a new standard for academic inquiry. Empowering youth and acknowledging the efforts of volunteers as workforce [in particular those with poor background] not only fosters meaningful social change but also creates a more inclusive and collaborative research environment. The emphasis on policy development further demonstrates the tangible outcomes that can result from academia's engagement with pressing societal issues.

    6. Are you receiving any financial support in pursuing your PhD? If yes, what funding opportunities are available for prospective PhD students?

    PhD students in South Africa receive financial support from various sources, including the NRF, WRC, and university bursaries. However, funding often falls short of covering all living expenses, leading students to seek additional income. More comprehensive and sustainable financial systems are needed to promote inclusivity and access to advanced education for individuals from diverse backgrounds. One potential solution could be to increase government funding for PhD programs, ensuring that all students have access to the financial support they need to succeed. Additionally, creating partnerships with private companies and organizations could provide additional funding opportunities for students. By addressing the financial barriers to advanced education, we can create a more equitable and inclusive academic environment for all aspiring scholars.

    In return, it must be compulsory that every doctoral study incorporates an aspect of entrepreneurship or undergoes a transformation into an entrepreneurial endeavor to effectively tackle the challenges of poverty and unemployment. Merely generating knowledge is insufficient. Doctoral candidates must actively engage with and contribute to the transformation of African communities they study by getting involved on the ground and actively participating in initiatives aimed at improving livelihoods. It is time for academia to undergo a complete transformation and adopt a holistic approach to addressing these pressing issues for Africans. Producing African graduates who may end up unemployed and further burdened by university debt is not helping anyone. Furthermore, discussing of the future jobs and not knowing where they are located creates a delusional world further failing to benefit African youth.

    7. Where do you see yourself after completing your PhD research? What plans do you have?

    The goal is to build or joining a consultancy firm aimed at creating meaningful social, ecological and political change and improving quality of life for African people through collaboration with various organizations and institutions. By leveraging my expertise and network, I aim to address pressing issues such as healthcare access, emancipating education and learning, and economic development in Africa for African communities. Through strategic partnerships and innovative solutions, we must strive to empower individuals and drive sustainable progress across the continent. My ultimate vision is to be a catalyst for positive transformation and lasting impact in the lives of African peoples

    8. Do you think there is enough African research at PhD level that highlights issues faced on the African continent and its proposed solutions?

    There is an abundance of reference material available, and an increasing number of African scholars are contributing to this body of work. However, there remains a lack of clarity in defining our collective aspirations as Africans and specifying the TYPE OF DEVELOPMENT we seek for ourselves. This absence of clarity leads us to conform to whatever opportunities present themselves, without a clear direction. And it is essential to acknowledge that not every opportunity presented is for our best interests and contributes positively to our well-being. Research in Africa needs to better embrace unique African perspectives instead of being influenced by Western standards – and it seems we forget that we are living in completely different worlds. It should not just be theoretical but impactful, directly influencing people's lives and addressing real-time challenges. Investments in research should yield dynamic results that actively address the issues across the continent. At times, I yearn for a scenario where we, as Africans, collectively isolate ourselves within the continent, with no one entering or leaving, until we have thoroughly deliberated on our vision – in a South African way “re tswale Afrika, re tsene a serious meeting”. This period would allow us to focus solely on defining our aspirations, free from external influences, and ensuring that our vision is authentically our own.

    9. Is there much collaboration amongst researchers on the African continent? What should be done to reinforce collaboration on the continent?

    Collaborations shape African discourse, but many African authors lack confidence to assert themselves independently and rely on validation from international peers or publishers. There is a prevalent lack of trust among African authors towards each other, though not universal

    10. What are Early Career Researchers (ECRs) main challenges in South Africa and the continent?
    How should those challenges be dealt with?

    Entrepreneurs and early career researchers often face challenges in academic preparation, especially in science fields that primarily focus on academia. This specialized education may not provide the necessary skills for running a business or NGO. The narrow focus on academia limits opportunities and pathways for African learners. It is important to recognize and support alternative education options that provide practical skills for various pursuits.



    Leave your comment

    In reply to Some User