Ms Oriole Friedemann



Oriole Friedemann is currently a Researcher for the Engagement and Transformation Portfolio at Nelson Mandela University. She conducts research for the Offices of the Vice-Chancellor and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Engagement and Transformation. 

She has a Master’s degree in English Literature from Rhodes University, which was funded by an Urban Connections in African Popular Imaginaries Scholarship from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Her Master’s dissertation, titled “New ways of telling”: African Textual Forms in the Age of Digital Media, is concerned with the way that new media is changing the form and dissemination of literature in Africa. Examining a wide variety of digital story-telling mediums, her research explores how literacy, participatory culture, and the creation of localised narratives are affected by an increasingly digitised continent.

Oriole has both teaching and lecturing experience and is passionate about the development of education and multiple forms of literacy in South Africa. Her research interests include African literature, the changing nature of narrative in the age of digital media, and higher education transformation.




Getting to know me


1. How would you define your role within the Engagement and Transformation team?

I assist Prof Keet with his writing about and research into Engagement and Transformation.I am also at the disposal of the VC's Office to help with any research that may be needed prior to workshops or public engagements.


2. What does Engagement and Transformation in Higher Education look like to you?

Engagement in Higher Education is about using the resources of the university to help the community around it. Universities have historically been ideologically separated from the communities in which they operate, and it is very exciting to see South African universities becoming more relevant to the social and material realities around them. Transformation is about making the space of the university reflect its geographical and social context. In South Africa, this means a staff and student demographic that contains women and people of colour, and a curriculum that recognises and teaches the knowledge of previously devalued groups of people.


3. Describe your job in 3 words.

Research, writing, Zoom. That last one is unique to the Covid era!


4. What is your favourite activity when you are not in the office?

Walking on Sardinia Bay beach – absolutely the best way to stop the mental cogs from spinning so furiously.


5. What is your favourite place on Earth?

Really, anywhere I can be curled up quietly with a good book.


6. What is your favourite quote?

This is like choosing my favourite book – actually impossible. But one of my favourite quotes, and one that I think fits in well with the idea of transformin higher education, is this one from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It is impossible to engage properly with a place or a person without engaging with all of the stories of that place and that person.”


7. If you could change something in the world, what would it be?

We live in a very unequal world, one in which many people do not reach their potential and that is something I would change if I could. If every child grew up in a loving and supportive environment, with access to food, shelter, and education, I believe the world would be a better place.


8. What would you be able to give a 30-minute presentation about without any advanced preparation?

The importance of literacy – traditional, digital, and media. It is something I am passionate about, and something I have lectured on enough times that salient points come to mind immediately.


9. What is the best piece of professional advice you have ever received?

I was told that the ideal profession balances these three things: doing what you love, making an impact, and making an income.


10. What motivates you?

I am motivated by visible results, by the sense of exhilaration when a lengthy task is finished, and by my aspirations for my own future.


Ms Oriole Friedemann CV