A year later, the former UCT Vice Chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng takes us through her journey in Cape Town



Published Mar 29, 2024


Mamokgethi Phakeng, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town (UCT), shares her journey in Cape Town. In an interview on Kaya FM, Phakeng discusses her life in the city, the challenges she encountered, and her current book project.

The former female Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cape Town reflected on the time of meltdown at UCT.

Phakeng has been a vice chancellor at UCT since 2018. In February 2023, she announced that she is taking an early retirement.

During her tenure at UCT, several controversies have been raised and she was struggling to attend both administrative and student's issues as her son's illness was also adding emotional weight.

“The whole family had to fight,” said Phakeng.

Phakeng said her son was recently diagnosed with cancer. He was going through chemotherapy and needed transplant. This situation disrupted her focus and made it challenging to attend to everything simultaneously.

“The messages he was sending us was like goodbyes,” said Phakeng.

This period, which Phakeng referred to as "hectic", led to her having mental health issues.

"I had gone through suicidal ideation," revealed Phakeng, adding that she was diagnosed with functional neurological disorder. Since then, she has been meeting with neurological psychiatrist and physician regularly.

"I did not make progress in my writing because of what I was dealing with."

Phakeng confirmed that she has started working on her book again and will be detailing her journey in Cape Town. However, she noted there will be a separate book for the drama.

She gave a word of advice to young people to not limit themselves in whatever they are doing.

"You are never a one thing," she said, adding that she “managed to do well in both as an academic professor and administrative positions.”

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