The South African Communication Association (Sacomm) has learned with sadness of the death of one of its former presidents, Prof H.J. (Hennie) Groenewald, who passed away on 8 September 2013.
Groenwald was deeply involved in the field of communication. He was Professor and Head of the Department of Communication at the University of Fort Hare, as well as professor of communication in the Departments of Communication at Free State University and at Northwest University (Potchefstroom). He was also a research specialist at the Institute for Communication Research of the Human Sciences Research Council. He obtained MA and PhD degrees from Free State University. On retiring from academia, Groenwald spent some time on a family farm outside Prieska before moving to the Strand where he passed away.
Groenewald had a special interest in intercultural and developmental communication as specific branches of interpersonal and media studies.
During the troublesome l980s in South Africa Groenewald argued that ethno-centrism discouraged contact and communication between members of different culture groups, whereas intercultural communication could contribute to a greater understanding between diverse groups. In a co-authored article he showed how political, national and belief ethnocentrism could pose the greatest threat to intercultural communication in South Africa and elsewhere.
It was also important for Groenewald to show how society was not only multi-layered in terms of the elements of interpersonal communication, but also how intercultural communication could affect mass media, especially television and vice versa.
Groenewald was, according to Prof Keyan Tomaselli of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, one of the first South African communication researchers to anticipate a conservative non-racial language to occupy the political space into which the National Party moved in the l980s.
A former colleague, Prof Gustav Puth of Pretoria University, said Groenwald was a passionate and dedicate teacher who will fondly be remembered by colleagues and students.
Another colleague, Prof Pieter Fourie, of the University of South Africa, described Groenewald as a humble and friendly man who was an enthusiastic member and a previous president of Sacomm. He was also one of the Unisa Department of Communication’s most experienced external examiners.
Sacomm wishes to convey its sympathy to Groenewald’s two daughters Margaretha and Herna, as well as their families.