Profile Interview | Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng

Mamokgethi Phakeng, popularly known as Kgethi chats to Phemelo Motene about academia, family and life.

Raised by her mother and grandmother, Mamokgethi says that her mother, who was a domestic worker at the time decided to go back to school to further her education.

Mamokgethi describes her mother as a woman who stands out, breaks boundaries and chooses to do the unthinkable even when she's faced with challenges.

My mother is so amazing that one day there was a television station that wanted to do a program on me. They interviewed other people who were connected to me and they started with her. After talking to her they phoned me and said we’ve got a better story.

Mamokgethi Phakeng, the Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Internationalisation at UCT

Mamokgethi says that growing up with a mother that was studying created a learning culture in the household. Imitating her father, she states that he expected high performing children and there was no room for failure.

You better be excellent. Nobody fails a test in this house. Nobody fails a grade.

Mamokgethi Phakeng, the Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Internationalisation at UCT

In school, Mamokgethi took the subject which made the most sense to her. She claims that she was bad at everything else except maths.

That’s what people don’t believe. It made sense to me. It felt like something that I could do. It was something that I never worried about.

Mamokgethi Phakeng, the Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Internationalisation at UCT

Mamokgethi has a list of achievements that she has accomplished over the years.

With over 80 scientific research papers and five edited volumes published, Mamokgethi has been invited to deliver over 30 keynote/plenary talks at international conferences. She has won numerous awards for her research and community work, including the Order of the Baobab (Silver) conferred by the President of South Africa in April 2016.

She became the first South African black researcher to be appointed toco-chair, a study commissioned by the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction in 2008. In 2007 she was elected as a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and CEO magazine named her the most influential woman academic in 2014,

To top it all off, Mamokgethi is the founder of the Adopt-a-learner Foundation (www.adopt-a-learner.com), a non-profit organisation that started in 2004 and provides financial and educational support to students from township and rural areas to acquire higher education. She also took over from Professor Danie Visser as the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research and Internationalisation at UCT last year.

Hear the full interview in the link below...


702 welcomes all comments that are constructive, contribute to discussions in a meaningful manner and take stories forward.

However, we will NOT condone the following:

  • Racism (including offensive comments based on ethnicity and nationality)
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Religious intolerance
  • Cyber bullying
  • Hate speech
  • Derogatory language
  • Comments inciting violence.

We ask that your comments remain relevant to the articles they appear on and do not include general banter or conversation as this dilutes the effectiveness of the comments section.

We strive to make the 702 community a safe and welcoming space for all.

702 reserves the right to: 1) remove any comments that do not follow the above guidelines; and, 2) ban users who repeatedly infringe the rules.

Should you find any comments upsetting or offensive you can also flag them and we will assess it against our guidelines.

702 is constantly reviewing its comments policy in order to create an environment conducive to constructive conversations.

Read More
Laugh out loud with comedic legend Barry Hilton

Laugh out loud with comedic legend Barry Hilton

A big industry, a bigger genre - comedic veteran Barry Hilton opens up about his depression, comedic journey & a life of laughter.

Travel to an ancient, fairytale land in Mpumalanga

Travel to an ancient, fairytale land in Mpumalanga

Writer & photographer Bridget Hilton-Barber chats to Aubrey about a magical upside down place in Mpumalanga called Walkersons.

Preparing your child for a world of no guarantees

Preparing your child for a world of no guarantees

Aubrey Masango chats to creative parenting expert, Nikki Bush about preparing children for a world of no guarantees.

Local restaurant is changing the game with rustic food

Local restaurant is changing the game with rustic food

Described as beautifully, courageously and rustic with a scent that is synonyms with heaven, #WeekendBreakfast host Aubrey talks to the owner of Il Contadino, chef James Diack.

83% of professors in the country are white

83% of professors in the country are white

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande will set up a ministerial task team to find out what is holding black academics back.

Where on earth are the black academics?

Where on earth are the black academics?

The Department of Higher Education is looking at employing at least 125 black academics by the end of the year.

Popular articles
Investing in increasingly wealthy Mauritius (Africa’s most functional democracy)

Investing in increasingly wealthy Mauritius (Africa’s most functional democracy)

Bruce Whitfield interviews Nikiwe Bikitsha, who is on a fact-finding mission in Mauritius courtesy of Standard Bank.

 Law Society concerned with announcement on LLB accreditation

Law Society concerned with announcement on LLB accreditation

The Council on Higher Education announced that four universities are at risk of losing their accreditation for LLB.

SAB urges public to stop abusing free water at Newlands Spring

SAB urges public to stop abusing free water at Newlands Spring

There have been several reports of abuse of the facility, with a number of people tapping far more water than is allowed.

6 ways the new UIF bill benefits workers

6 ways the new UIF bill benefits workers

The broadened bill will see those who lose their jobs receive money for a longer period when they apply for unemployment benefits.

It's not the end of the road... Top tips to improve your matric

It's not the end of the road... Top tips to improve your matric

"Recognise that it’s not the end, it’s the beginning." Expert advise for school-leavers who want to improve their results.

Who is Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi?

Who is Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi?

The EFF lawyer stole the show during the state capture report court battle.

3 easy questions could bag you R2000!

3 easy questions could bag you R2000!

WIN R2000! But only if you can prove you're a whiz of the MTN Biz Quiz by answering the following three questions...

Blesserfinder: Matching you with a sugar daddy near you

Blesserfinder: Matching you with a sugar daddy near you

Is social trend Blesserfinder, where girls are allegedly matching up with rich 'benefactors' in exchange for sex, a real thing?