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First black woman with full professorship in town and regional planning

By Nosipho Gumede

This achievement comes just in time as this month is Women’s month.

Professor Hangwelani Magidimisha-Chipungu
Professor Hangwelani Magidimisha-Chipungu. Photo: UKZN.

University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) academic Professor Hangwelani Hope Magidimisha-Chipungu has made history as the first Black woman in South Africa to obtain full professorship in the discipline of town and regional planning.

This achievement comes during Women’s month.

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According to a statement released by the university, Magidimisha-Chipungu is making great strides in her field and she actively advocates for urban environments that cater to the diverse needs of their inhabitants.

Dean and Head of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies at UKZN, Professor Ernest Khalema congratulated Magidimisha-Chipungu, saying that this promotion to full professor is testament of UKZN’s commitment to excellence through leadership.

We are proud of Magidimisha-Chipungu, particularly for her world record-breaking accomplishments, mentorship, and tenacity to date, and we look forward to increased trailblazing from the only female full professor in the field of Town and Regional Planning in the nation.

Her journey

Reflecting on her journey, Magidimisha-Chipungu said attaining this achievement demanded extensive training and unwavering commitment, years of dedication to academia, effective mentoring of students, imparting knowledge through teaching, engaging with the community, and establishing both national and international recognition.

She expressed gratitude to her family, UKZN, colleagues, friends, and students for supporting her throughout her academic journey and said she’s ready for the next phase of her career.

“I plan to spend the coming years trying to mentor more planners to become the best version of themselves including becoming full professors,” said Magidimisha-Chipungu.


Besides holding the title as the first Black woman in South Africa to obtain full professorship in the discipline of Town and Regional Planning, Magidimisha-Chipungu is also the founder and chief editor of the Journal of Inclusive Cities and Built Environments.

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She is also the youngest SARChI chair for Inclusive cities, alternate chair for the South African Council for Planners and a member of the eThekwini planning commission and she was also the first Black woman in South Africa to hold a PhD in Town and Regional Planning from UKZN.

The university added that she has also authored and co-authored a number of books and peer-reviewed many journal articles, with her most recent book titled ‘The Anatomy of Inclusive Cities in Southern Africa’.