30 March 2022

By Prof. Johann Mouton

It is with great sadness that we heard this month of the passing away of our friend and colleague Roland Waast.

I first met Roland in the late 1990s when we both attended a conference on Higher Education in Paris. This was the beginning of a memorable association and friendship over the next twenty years. Roland and then worked on a major study on the state of Science in Africa in 2000 and subsequently in 2006/7 also on the funding of science in Africa and the role of science granting councils on the continent. We have published some reports and articles together.

My wife and I visited him in Paris in the early 2000s where we had a great dinner in his apartment (I think his daughter cooked for us). Mostly we would have suppers at one of the many restaurants and bistros in the city. He also came to Stellenbosch to visit for number of times. The first visit lasted three months where we cemented our academic relationship and became good friends. Of course, I think that the attraction of Stellenbosch as the wine capital of South Africa was also a reason why Roland was very happy to come and visit!

My most lasting memories of Roland are the very incisive and deep conversations we had on the history of science in Africa – his vast knowledge in this regard was, in my view, never truly appreciated. In addition, when he put pen to paper, it was like reading a master novelist. Roland and I wrote a 50 page brief review of the history of SA sciences – I can state unequivocally that his section is by far the superior section with a rhetoric that is both binding and persuasive.

So Roland, we here on the southern tip of Africa will indeed miss you. We will miss your humility, your generosity in sharing ideas, your sense of humour and warmth.

Johann Mouton and Roland Waast during the World Conference on Higher Education in Paris, July 2009.

View more tributes to Roland.