Prof Rantoa Lentosa makes history at NWU Potchefstroom Campus
“I see my appointment as a wonderful challenge for which the Lord prepared me well. I know He has a plan for me, because on my own I won’t make it.”
These are the words of the new designated vice-rector: teaching-learning at the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University, Prof Rantoa Letšosa. A very humble man with lively eyes and the friendliest smile.
“My heart’s desire is to see that all young people will get the opportunity to study. I therefore see the university as one that cares and reaches out to people, even those on farms and some of the smallest towns in our country. With the aid of our present technology it is certainly not impossible.”
Prof Letšosa is the first black vice-rector of the NWU’s Potchefstroom Campus, after he was also appointed as the first black vice-rector at the School of Theology of the Reformed Churches of South Africa (RCSA) in 2010.
The rector of the campus, Prof Herman van Schalkwyk, says Prof Letšosa is taking over from Prof Mariëtte Lowes; Prof Letšosa will be working with Prof Lowes until she retires at the end of 2014. “We regard it as of the utmost importance to create an environment that makes the smooth transference of responsibilities to a successor possible to continue the academic excellence of the institution.”
He says he would like to take on matters that can make a difference in someone’s life. “I know it is a difficult task and a big challenge that awaits me, but it is something that is achievable. Where there is a will, there is a way.”
Emapthy for people
Prof Letšosa was born in Fauresmith in the Free State in 1969. He reckons this is where he got his empathy for people on farms and in small communities. As a young boy he was a shepherd, a philosophy that still remains with him today.
“The Lord taught me that you work with sheep in the ministry. But, today’s sheep are not like the sheep from the old days. Psalm 23 teaches us that the Lord is my Shepherd and He will guide me. John 10 in turn teaches us that a good shepherd walks in front and the sheep follow him. Today one has to push and goad the sheep a little, because each one wants to go its own way.”
He matriculated at the Hoërskool Thaba Nchu in 1988 and started working as a security guard. After a colleague resigned, he became a reception clerk and in the following year he obtained his Certificate in Basic programming at the Intec College.
Because he always wanted to be a minister from an early age, he received a bursary and started his preparatory theological studies at the Hammanskraal Theological School of the RCSA in 1991. After this the road led him to the then PU for CHE where he obtained the following qualifications: BA in 1984, majoring in Greek, Semitic languages and philosophy, his BA Honours in Greek at Unisa, his four-year postgraduate BTh degree in 1999 and his master’s degree in Greek in 2001.
Prof Letšosa received his four-year candidate certificate from the Theological School in 2000, followed by his master’s degree status in Practical Theology in 2002. He completed his PhD in Practical Theology in 2002.
He said he received the shock of his life in his practical year that he completed at a white congregation in Klerksdorp. “I wondered what the Lord’s plan for me was.”
However, his answer came quickly with the fact that he was instrumental in the founding of a black congregation. “Today they even have two sermons in the morning. The first is in Afrikaans and the second in the people’s own language. Theology students do the sermons every weekend on a Sunday.”
Prof Letšosa’s first full-fledged congregations in 2001 were those in Boskop, Tlokwe-Botshabela (Vyfhoek) and a ward in Kokosi, Fochville, and he held this post together with his position at the Faculty of Theology until 2005. In 2002 he was appointed as lecturer in Practical Theology in the Faculty of Theology where he was promoted to fellow professor in 2008.
He has also been professor at the Theological School since 2006, a position that he will hold in terms of an agreement with the Curators of the RCSA. Since 2011 he is the director of the School of Minister Training within the faculty.
Later on he also became involved in the founding of a congregation in Venterskroon in the Vredefort Dome, which is still under his wing.”I can still look after my people there, because I could not leave them without a shepherd.”
He is very excited about his appointment as vice-rector of the Potchefstroom Campus. “For the university to survive we have to hold each other’s hands high and work together to bring about change.”
“Potchefstroom could be one of the most wonderful institutions in the country if we take hands so that we do not see the difference between white and black anymore.”
“If God wants to use me to bring about change, then I am just the instrument in His hand.”