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Centre for the Advancement of Non-Racialism and Democracy

The Centre for the Advancement of Non-Racialism and Democracy (CANRAD) has been established at Nelson Mandela  University to provide an intellectual and social space for debate on the complexities of post-apartheid South Africa as we seek to establish a new non-racial and democratic social and economic order.

As a result, the University will be offering an initiative that meets with urgent regional, national and global priorities and hopes to become a centre of excellence in critical scholarship on racism, non-racialism and democracy.

As a public institution - and one that derives its very name from the iconic former State President - the University believes it is socially obliged to be pro-active in this endeavour. As such, a new centre, intent on transforming academic research into practical initiatives, was launched on 23 March 2010.

Furthermore, such research will also be aimed at raising public understanding and policy support for the pursuit of a non-racial, democratic South Africa.

Aims & Objectives

The activities of the Centre will be based on the shared understanding of the interdependence of research, advocacy, education, and intervention.

CANRAD will thus seek to:

  • Conduct basic and applied research on non-racialism and democracy;
  • Initiate projects into the critical analysis of the notion of race and the manifestation of racism and its alternatives within the South African context;
  • Strategically facilitate the integration of research and transformative action in advancing non-racialism and democracy;
  • Develop and implement strategies relating to social cohesion at NMMU and the broader South Africa; and
  • Provide support for the advancement of non-racialism and democracy.


A march against racism at the university in 2008 was followed by a call from its Vice-Chancellor, Prof Derrick Swartz, to initiate a centre focusing on the study of non-racialism and democracy. The idea of the Centre stems from the grave concern that the issue of racism has not been given enough scholarly attention in South Africa. As a result, the Centre will seek to harness institutional expertise in research, teaching and learning, and provide evidence-based support for interventions in advancing non-racialism and democracy.

Expected activities

CANRAD expects to produce the following:

  • Peer-reviewed scholarly publications;
  • Dynamic networks between scholars and those involved in support of various non-racialism and democracy initiatives;
  • Colloquia and conferences where the challenges of race and nascent democracy can be discussed; and
  • Dissemination of findings on all such matters.