BACKSTORY: University of Pretoria's Tawana Kupe
We question Tawana Kupe, vice-chancellor & principal at the University of Pretoria
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
What are you reading at the moment? What’s the one book everyone should read?
I’m reading A Certain Amount of Madness: The Life, Politics and Legacies of Thomas Sankara, edited by Amber Murrey, and everyone should read God’s Bits of Wood by Sembene Ousmane.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish I could sing.
Which phrase or word do you most overuse?
Striking the balance.
Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
Hamlet. His line "To be, or not to be", which is popularly read as the classic stance of the indecisive persona, ironically urges me to be decisive.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I obtained a first class in playwriting, acting and directing in my honours degree. It has given me confidence to speak to just about any audience.
What’s the worst airport you’ve been in?
Zurich. There are looooong walks to your gate.
What is your biggest indulgence?
Fruit salad, plain yoghurt, muesli and honey for breakfast. Eaten late in the morning it doubles up as lunch. It gives me unbelievable energy.
What is the one investment you wish you had made, or made earlier?
Naspers. I could have been rich by now!
Is there such a thing as "enough money", and if so, how much is it?
There are so many things one can do with money beyond splurging on oneself. In an unequal world there can never be enough money.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Endurance. It sounds like being a sucker for punishment. Why?
Nominate your eighth wonder of the world.
A boat ride on the Chobe River, with its rich diversity of bird species.
When and where were you happiest?
When I got the call to be the vice-chancellor and principal of the University of Pretoria. Reaching the pinnacle of your career is exhilarating.
Which living person do you most admire?
Sade. The Nigerian-born British singer releases albums only when she wants to. She sings about love, which is what songs are good for.
On what occasion do you lie?
To save a person under attack from someone powerful. Bullies can’t tell I am lying.
What is your most treasured possession?
My collection of books. Some gems in my collection are The Soul of a University: Why Excellence is Not Enough by Chris Brink, So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and Mother by Maxim Gorky.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Absence of freedom to act in your own right.