Vice-chancellor Adam Habib played an integral role in the inception of the centre at Wits.

The first Centre for Mexican Studies in Africa was officially launched at the Wits School of Literature, Language and Media on Thursday, September 13, to foster understanding between Mexico and South Africa.

The secretary of institutional development from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Dr Ken Oyama, and Mexico’s ambassador to South Africa, Anna Luisa Fajer Flores, cut the ribbon in front of the centre’s offices.

Speaking on the 25th anniversary of the day on which Mexico established diplomatic relations with South Africa, Ambassador Fajer Flores said there were great things ahead for the centre. “I am sure that having this centre will pave the way for a better understanding between the two societies.”

Vice-chancellor Professor Adam Habib, who played an integral role in the inception of the centre at Wits, said there was much we could learn from each other, both positively and negatively. “The purpose of the centre is not to only teach Spanish, which is important because it’s our passport to a global community, but it’s also to learn from each other.

“We can’t claim that we are part of a global community if we are not prepared to engage others in it. To engage requires being able to speak the language, to learn from each other’s experiences and history. To recognise a common humanity,” Habib said.

Oyama told Wits Vuvuzela that, “We’re very happy and excited for this collaboration. We have different centres like this one in different countries – the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, China and now in South Africa.”

The academic dean at the centre, Dr Arturo Mendoza Ramos, and the cultural and administrative coordinator, David Ruiz Guzmán, arrived at Wits in May of this year and have been working to establish the centre’s cultural and academic activities in the lead up to the official launch.

FEATURED IMAGE: Launching the Centre for Mexican Studies. From left: Dean of Humanities Ruksana Osman, Dr Arturo Mendoza Ramos, Professor Adam Habib, Ambassador Anna Luisa Flores, David Ruiz Guzman and Dr Ken Oyama. Photo: Sanet Oberholzer