This past Thursday, Namibian Advocate Bience Gawanas’ academic journey came full circle when she earned a Doctor Legum (honoris causa) from the University of the Western Cape (Cape Town, South Africa). Adv. Bience Gawanas was forced to withdraw from UWC 36 years ago around the same time as the Soweto Uprisings, a peaceful student protest that demanded equal educational opportunities for black South Africans during apartheid. The peaceful protest became tragic when South African police opened fire on the high school students, all of whom were unarmed.
In the decades since, South African apartheid has come to an end and education reform is in full effect. For Adv. Bience Gawanas, her evolution from expelled student to Advocate of the Namibian High Court, and Commissioner to the internationally recognized global movement Every Woman Every Child, is magnified through her recent honor in Cape Town. Her success in the face of adversity will continue to serve as inspiration for children growing up in post-apartheid South Africa, and its neighboring nations. As a Namibian growing up during the apartheid, Adv. Gawanas dared to dream big and pursue a law career at a time when blacks were widely unwelcome in that field. Her determination to fight for equal rights for blacks in Africa’s southern region has been ceaseless, as expressed last Thursday when she said, “I knew that in a white court, black people could never receive justice or fairness and if I were a black lawyer I could ensure that they too deserve respect for their human rights and dignity.”
As Adv. Bience Gawanas’ career in law, global activism, and her recent doctoral honor from the University of the Western Cape indicates, the future is bright for educational opportunities in South Africa.
For more information about Advocate Bience Gawanas, please visit http://www.everywomaneverychild.org/resources/accountability-commission/commissioners/bience-gawanas. -CAB.