for tomorrow

Centre for the Advancement of Non-racialism and Democracy

Canrad Logo

The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) is a value-driven university working towards optimizing the potential of its internal and external communities for the sustainable development of the African continent. Accordingly, Vision 2020 declares the NMMU: “To be a dynamic African university, recognised for its leadership in generating cutting-edge knowledge for a sustainable future.” Drawing from the iconic former State President Nelson Mandela, the NMMU adopted the values and principles of transformation and equity, respect for diversity, people-centeredness, student access, engagement, excellence, innovation, and integrity.

The historic establishment of political democracy in 1994 brought with it a new reality, and hope, to forge a society based on equity, non-racialism and democracy. The Constitution of South Africa contains some of the world’s most progressive ideals and policy directives to restore human dignity and respect for all people, irrespective of ‘race’, class, gender, and nationality. In particular, it proposes the fundamentals for dismantling the iniquitous social and economic relations of the apartheid past. However, South Africa, like many other nations in the world, continues to suffer from the socially constructed expressions of race and ethnic differences. The false idea of racial categorisation, a discontented heritage from colonialism, is proving to be a growing burden on nation states and ordinary people vis-à-vis conflict, violence and dehumanisation. This questionable condition has also found prominent spaces in discourse, cultural theory and ideological choices. Hence, a duality has come to exist in the world, where some people engage in celebrating race and identity, while others are attempting to reconstruct the basic humanity of all people.

The reconstruction process, in particular the abstractions of human dignity, respectfulness and hospitality, cannot be achieved wholly by protocols or policy statements. It requires a process of engagement, which must stand upon peoples’ episteme and cultural consciousness to both learn and unlearn approaches, attitudes and behaviours. Accordingly, a system of deliberate compacts must come to bear over the environment, including the academic environment.


The establishment of CANRAD is in line with the vision and mission of the NMMU. It was launched in March 2010 as CANRAD in a response to the grave concern that racism, its alternatives and associated impact on development has not given sufficient scholarly attention in South Africa. While other universities have established centres of excellence for research, the NMMU has taken the additional step of promoting non-racial and democratic activism within communities of practice, thereby promoting a transformative and lasting culture institutionally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

CANRAD has the considered mandates of the Council of the NMMU, the Vice-Chancellor and management structures. CANRAD seeks to harness collective institutional capabilities in relation to research, teaching and learning, evidence-based advocacy, and interventions in advancing non-racialism and democracy.

The vision of CANRAD is: “To lead the advancement of non-racialism and democracy within the University and broader society”.

The aims and objectives of the Centre include:

  • To conduct basic and applied research on non-racialism and democracy;
  • To initiate projects that critically analyse the notion of race and the manifestation of racism and its alternatives;
  • To strategically facilitate the integration of scholarship and transformative action relating to the advancement of non-racialism and democracy;
  • To develop and implement strategies relating to social cohesion within the NMMU and broader society;
  • and To provide an advocacy platform for the advancement of non-racialism and democracy.

The structure of CANRAD consists of an Advisory Board of prominent national and international personalities, a Management Committee consisting of NMMU leadership and scholars, and a small (but diverse and critically experienced) complement of staff.  


CANRAD will work with all constituencies of the NMMU, i.e. academic and support structures, and all staff and student formations, in the achievement of mutual goals. CANRAD envisages collaborating with the faculties of Arts; Business and Economic Sciences; Education; Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology; Health Sciences; Law; and Science in three ways: Co-supervising postgraduate students with members of faculty; Providing occasional seminars, workshops and guest lectures for faculties, and Developing community outreach projects with faculties.

CANRAD’s strength and focus is the field of non-racialism and democracy. CANRAD envisages the collaboration process to include sub-themes such as Race, Democracy and Human Rights Education; African Scholarship; Cultural Studies; and Indigenous Knowledge Systems.

Contact information
Tel: 27 041 504 4631