UKZN Welcomes a New Cadre of SRC Members

UKZN Welcomes a New Cadre of SRC Members
Students and supporters campaigning and going to the polls at UKZN’s Westville campus.

SASCO won the majority of seats at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Student Representative Council elections.

With 7 053 votes (8 seats), the South Africa Students’ Congress (SASCO) was announced the Central SRC reps, while the Student Christian Fellowship (SCF) received 2 185 votes (2 seats) in the race for Central SRC seats.

SASCO further received the largest number of votes across all campuses, including Westville SRC, Howard College SRC, Edgewood SRC, Pietermaritzburg SRC and Medical School SRC.

The elections were closely followed on social media platforms, with Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula tweeting ‘Winners! Viva Sasco viva! Viva revolution!' as the preliminary results were released.

@SASCO_Jikelele tweeted: ‘The SASCO Tsunami has swept through UKZN winning all 5 campuses. We thank UKZN students for their continued trust in us with their votes.’

The elections were overseen by the Independent Electoral Commission who ensured the voting process was free and fair.

Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Meliqiniso Sibisi, said the elections went off fairly smoothly and thanked all the contesting student organisations and individuals and the overall student population for coming out in their numbers to participate in the highly contested SRC Elections 2015/16. Nonetheless, he acknowledged that the Electoral staff experienced a few challenges, but their experience, foresight and preparedness ensured challenges were properly addressed and the SRC Elections were a resounding success.

Sibisi thanked the KwaZulu-Natal Independent Electoral Commission (KZN IEC), the Executive Director: Student Services, Dr Sibusiso Chalufu; Electoral Commission Chairperson, Mr Jeremy Moleko and the rest of the Electoral Commission members; Student Governance and Leadership Development (SGLD) team and the Risk Management Services (RMS) for providing the necessary guidance, support and assistance throughout the process.

Find results below:
Edgewood campus
Howard College campus
Medical School campus
Pietermaritzburg campus
Westville campus

Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

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Society of Political Science Students hosts SRC Election Debate

Society of Political Science Students hosts SRC Election Debate
Society of Political Science Students with SRC presidential candidates.

Students from the School of Social Sciences, who are part of the Society of Political Science Students (SOPPS), hosted a successful debate at the Howard College Theatre in the run up to the Student Representative Council (SRC) elections.

Acknowledging the spirit of democracy in advancing mutual professionalism and respect for effective representation, President of SOPPS, Mr Obadiah Moyo, said the elections were important for student leadership and governance with the debate affording students the opportunity to listen and deliberate with each other.

Speaking at the event, Moyo added: ‘In SOPSS we believe in building strong minds to ensure a great future - we acknowledge we are all here to inspire leadership qualities.

‘This is not a competition looking for winners and losers but a platform to allow these organisations to present their manifestos in a much broader way, thereby solving the problem of trying to incorporate all their views on a single poster.

‘Over the years, we have never had a platform like this but we hope to create a new democratic culture, where every year students will be given a chance to listen to an organisation’s views on how they are going to represent students,’ he said.

The SRC candidates presented their manifestos to the students with Mr Sizwe Msweli of the Democratic Alliance Student Organisation pointing out the importance of free and secure education; equal opportunity; transparency, and accountability within the SRC.

‘Students should not feel intimidated by other students who do not support the DA. The DA also wants to ensure that students have 24-hour access to the library during the semester especially during the examination period. Most importantly, we want free education for all throughout South Africa,’ said Msweli.

Nation NASMO candidate, Mr Sithelo Magagula, outlined their understanding of leadership, and expressed concern about the misuse of assets and resources for personal gain. Magagula further indicated that the SRC needed to report back to the students.

South African Student Congress (SASCO) candidate Mr Bandile Majola outlined SASCO successes including assisting more than 1 000 students who were financially excluded and the revival of some of the sporting facilities at the University.

As a student from the Disability Unit, Mr Mthobeli Christopher Cutama of the EFF, felt the onus was upon him to address and push forward the concerns of students living with disabilities while working towards free education throughout South Africa.

Student Christian Fellowship (SCF) candidate, Mr Sandile Khumalo, spoke about improving student notification by creating an innovative SRC ‘App’. The SCF identified student levies; security and access to wi-fi on off-campus residences and an overall increase in computer loans as areas in need of improvement.

The event was well attended by students who posed questions to the candidates. SOPSS hopes to stage the SRC Debate platform every year on all campuses.

 Melissa Mungroo and SOPSS

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Japanese Embassy Sponsors Mobile Science Lab at UKZN

Japanese Embassy Sponsors Mobile Science Lab at UKZN
UKZN’s new Mobile Science Lab!

Through generous sponsorship from the Japanese Embassy, UKZN’s Science and Technology Education Centre (STEC@UKZN) is the proud owner of a mobile science lab in the form of a converted Mercedes-Benz Vito van.

The sponsorship of the van was facilitated by UKZN Foundation, who put UKZN’s Science Centre in touch with the Japanese Embassy’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project.

Science Centre Co-ordinator, Dr Tanja Reinhardt, said:  ‘We decided to name our van Science4U as the name reflects our goal to provide Science education for everybody.’

The interior of the van was especially designed and equipped to allow experiments in the field of physics and chemistry. The mobile science lab will go out to schools to provide hands-on activities and lab experiences to learners who do not have access to such facilities.’

The Science4U van is equipped with experiments to service groups of up to 50 learners. The experiments consist of 15 high-tech SPARK Science Learning System units which are all-in-one mobile devices that integrate a data logging tool with inquiry-based content and assessment. They provide a compact and portable solution to data collection and their rugged rubberised body and protected inputs provide a durable exoskeleton.

‘A SPARK science Learning System unit runs on batteries,’ said Reinhardt, ‘which is important as it allows us to conduct practical sessions in schools with no electricity and during load shedding.’

Reinhardt said it was possible to connect up to four different sensors to the unit therefore measuring more than four variables simultaneously. ‘Right after startup, the unit begins to display data collected from connected probes.’

The unit will automatically recognise any attached sensor and offer display options. The graphical interface allows the user to make real-time adjustments to the axes and experiment length while the unit is collecting data.

‘The six different sensors for each of the SPARK Science Learning Systems allow us to conduct various Grade 10-12 practicals in the South African CAPS curriculum,’ said Reinhardt.

The mobile lab also has 13 Basic PAS track systems.  ‘This allows us to cover practicals such as investigating the relationship between force and acceleration (Grade 11), or the conservation of linear momentum (Grade 12). The system consists of a 1m track and two low friction cars with additional mass which can be combined with the motion sensor.’

Reinhardt said research had shown that hands-on experience impacted learners in a positive way as it increased engagement in learning, taught new skills and heightened awareness of scientific careers.

‘It’s not surprising that learners reported that by using the Mobile Science Lab they changed their opinion of science,’ she said. ‘It proved that science was relevant to their lives, made them curious of other applications they worked with and got them excited and inspired about science.

‘We hope that learners will benefit from this programme with an increased content knowledge and improved attitude toward science, which in turn will develop a scientifically-oriented mind.’

Reinhardt stressed that STEC’s mobile science lab was not only about learners. ‘We also want to work closely with the teachers and help them to increase their confidence levels in teaching the respective subjects,’ she said.

‘Teachers participating in this programme will benefit by increased content knowledge and greater awareness of high-tech science equipment. They have access to equipment and inquiry-based activities that are unavailable to them at their schools. This increases teacher confidence in their ability to deliver instruction and they are encouraged by the support from a community of lecturers and university students that share a common goal and vision for instruction.’

Reinhardt said the medium to long term impact of the Science4U mobile lab would be to raise the levels of educational attainment in science and mathematics of learners from historically deprived communities.  ‘This in turn will increase the success rate and number of learners gaining access to university,’ she said.

 Sally Frost

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Businesses of the Future Discussed at Breakfast Meeting

Businesses of the Future Discussed at Breakfast Meeting
Dr David Schwegmann.

In its drive of shaping future leaders, the Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) in partnership with Nedbank recently hosted a business breakfast themed: “Business of the Future: Driving Growth through great people practices and with Business Model Innovation”.

The breakfast meeting saw UKZN alumni and Managing Executive of Nedbank’s Retail Branch network in South Africa, Dr David Schwegmann delivered a presentation on this theme to business professionals, MBA students and GSB&L’s academics who attended the event.

Through his presentation, Schwegmann took the audience on a journey of Nedbank’s leadership strategies that ensures that the bank retains quality staff, enhance their client orientation and achieve flawless execution in their strategies.

‘Business is about people and good leadership. Therefore, you have to create a clear picture of the future of your company and once that is done, you put strategies in place and get feedback from everyone involved to ensure that you achieve that vision. Hopefully there will be practices that you will hear today that you will take back and implement in your business,’ said Schwegmann.

GSB&L academic, Dr Emmanuel Mutambara said the breakfast meeting is an indication that it is no longer ‘business as usual’ for the business school as it has an ambit to produce ethical leaders who are abreast of developments in the industry.

‘GSB&L’s main thrust is to partner with the business world and such collaborations ensure that we are aligned with the developments in the industry to ensure that the School contributes to providing solutions to the challenges facing the businesses,’ he said.

To ensure that the audience was part of the conversation, Nedbank’s marketing team created a digital forum where people can login with details SMSed to their cellphones on a webpage specifically designed for the event and share their insights and have Dr Schwegmann personally respond to their questions.

Thandiwe Jumo

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UKZN Students Attend Model United Nations (MUN) Conference in Cape Town

UKZN Students Attend Model United Nations (MUN) Conference in Cape Town
From left: UKZN students Mr Jonathan Brady, Mr Kudzai Mukaratirwa, Mr Sbonelo Gumede, and Ms Katerina Arsh.

Four students from UNASA-UKZN attended the University of Cape Town’s Model United Nations conference at which the focus was on assessing the shift from the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda.

The students were Mr Jonathan Brady, Mr Kudzai Mukaratirwa, Mr Sbonelo Gumede, and Ms Katerina Arsh.

The students, whose trip was made possible by funding from UKZN’s office of Student Governance, Leadership and Development, participated in two committee meetings - the Ad Hoc Committee on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development with a focus on pollution in cities. 

In the Ad Hoc Committee on Millennium Development Goals debate was around the successes and failures of the Goals.

In the High Level Political forum on Air Pollution in Cities, Brady, a Masters student in Population Studies, represented the delegation of Ethiopia. Through extensive prior preparation and research Brady demonstrated his depth of knowledge about managing air pollution in cities as well as being the backbone of one of the resolutions submitted by his committee.

Although there were some organisational hiccups, the experience gained will prove useful in training UKZN students starting a UKZN-MUN community that will mould future leaders and policy-makers.

The next semester will provide the perfect platform for a promising start to a new future for UNASA-UKZN, where training and exposure to practical international relations and diplomacy for students will be among its core activities.

Jonathan Brady

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Taxi drivers Spurn Condoms – Study Finding

Taxi drivers Spurn Condoms – Study Finding
UKZN’s Nursing Academic Leader, Professor Gugu Mchunu.

Despite extensive efforts by the South African health system and non-governmental organisations to promote safe sex, condom use by drivers in the minibus taxi industry, as a workplace, remains low.

This is according to a UKZN study which found that multiple sexual partners were relatively common among minibus taxi drivers, thus increasing the likelihood of them transmitting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections to their partners.

UKZN’s Nursing Academic Leader, Professor Gugu Mchunu, presented the findings of the research project titled: “A Rapid Assessment of HIV/AIDS in the Minibus Taxi Industry in KwaZulu-Natal” at a colloquium on HIV in the taxi industry which was part of the build-up to the launch of a private sector taxi industry HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) campaign.

The colloquium was organised by UKZN’s Nursing Discipline in collaboration with the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC).

The study, which Mchunu co-authored with the Dean and Head of School, Nursing and Public Health, Professor Busisiwe Ncama, and a Lecturer in the Nursing Discipline, Dr Joanne Naidoo,  explores the level of knowledge, beliefs and practices regarding HIV infection and AIDS among minibus taxi drivers.

This study, which viewed mini bus taxis as a workplace, aimed to devise recommendations on supportive and effective HIV/AIDS interventions and policy for management of wellness programmes within the minibus taxi industry.

In her presentation, Mchunu highlighted the study findings as reflected in two research papers titled: “Kwazulu-Natal Minibus Taxi Drivers’ Perceptions on HIV and AIDS: Transmission, Prevention, Support and Effects on the Industry, SAHARA-J 9 (4)”, and:  “Minibus Taxi Drivers’ Sexual Beliefs and Practices Associated with HIV Infection and AIDS in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa’, Curationis 36(1)”.

Mchunu, who specialises in health promotion in the workplace, and Ncama and Naidoo, whose research is on HIV/AIDS, collaborated to tackle the issue of HIV/AIDS among taxi drivers. Their concern was that there is a dearth of published literature focusing on quantified estimates of prevalence, incidence, the business impact and response to HIV in this sector.

The main recommendation of the study was that steps needed to be taken to educate this occupational group in order to enforce safe sexual behaviours. ‘Relevant policies need to be put in place to address the drivers’ health needs,’ said Mchunu.

The study recommendations identified taxi associations and relevant government departments as significant stakeholders to act fast to address the mini bus taxi drivers’ identified needs relating to HIV and AIDS prevention.

The colloquium was attended by various stakeholders including representatives from the National and Provincial Departments of Health; the KZN Department of Transport; SANTACO – which is one of the biggest national taxi associations; SA Taxi Finance; the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Toyota.

It was highlighted at the launch that major taxi ranks across the country would soon have healthcare facilities on site as recommended in the findings of this study.

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health has already started a mobile-clinic project in 19 KwaZulu-Natal taxi ranks and there are plans to roll it out to other provinces, giving drivers and passengers access to free testing for HIV and other illnesses.

KZN Health MEC, Dr Sbongiseni Dhlomo, said the delivery of health services to communities without access to such services was key to health service delivery. 

‘We have a higher burden of disease, especially HIV and TB. We are very excited about this initiative because it’s adding value and enhancing our plans of reaching out to as many South Africans as possible,’ said Dhlomo.

Nombuso Dlamini

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Last Goodbyes at Memorial Service for UKZN Medical Student

Last Goodbyes at Memorial Service for UKZN Medical Student
Medical School students at memorial service for colleague.

A memorial service was held at UKZN’s Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine for final year Medical student Mr Tumelo Seliane, who died recently in a road accident in the Eastern Cape.

Seliane had been in a car with five student colleagues when the accident occurred.

One of the students involved, Mr Jacob Myeni, spoke at the service about what happened. He said the group had been returning to Durban after visiting a sick student colleague in Queenstown. A horse was in the road and when the driver swerved to avoid it, the car overturned and rolled several times.

A video slide show capturing moments colleagues had shared with Seliane was screened at the service. Fellow students described him as ‘a servant to others’.

Dean and Head of School, Professor Richard Hift, thanked the family for attending the service and for sharing their grief with the University community.

‘Students are the bridge into the future,’ said SRC President, Mr Gift Mlangeni. ‘The country has lost an activist.’

Mlangeni said although there were times when Seliane was frustrated by events at UKZN, he responded positively and made things happen. ‘He was a diligent student who did not only want to understand, but also wanted to change the world. Farewell to a dear friend, brother and colleague.’

Speaking on behalf of the class of 2015, Mr Nsizwenye Mkhwanazi said Seliane was an amazing person and would have made a great surgeon. ‘He was a fine example of what a student should be.’

Seliane’s best friend, Dr Nare Hopane, recalled the day they met in 2008. ‘He was the first guy who came and introduced himself to me on my first day at Medical School. After that he was a brother and a friend.’

Mr Ntando Makhathini and Mr Kusasaelihle Nene recalled how diligent and dedicated he was to the Sunday Happy Valley Clinic at KwaNqetho near Hillcrest.

‘Seliane’s loss is not only a loss to his family and Medical School, but also to the community of Happy Valley at large,’ said Makhathini, recalling how Seliane did house calls to attend to the sick in the community.

Nombuso Dlamini

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Paper Co-Authored by Shark Expert Makes Download History

Paper Co-Authored by Shark Expert Makes Download History
Sand tiger shark.

A journal article co-authored by School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences (LMMS) Honorary Research Fellow, Ms Sabine Wintner, was the most downloaded over a 12-month period on the CSIRO Publishing website.

‘I am honoured that the work received so much interest and very grateful for all the hard work the authors have put into it,’ said Wintner after receiving the news from the independent science and technology publisher.

A team of five international scientists and Wintner, conducted a study validating the lifespan of sand tiger sharks (Carcharias taurus) from the western North Atlantic and south-western Indian Oceans using the special technique known as bomb radiocarbon dating for the age validation of the species.

Their study, led by Ms Michelle Passerotti, reported that the validated lifespan for Carcharias taurus individuals was at least 40 years for females and 34 years for males. Findings indicated that the current age-reading methodology was not suitable for estimating the age of the species beyond 12 years and future work needed to investigate whether vertebrae record age throughout ontogeny or cease to be a reliable indicator at some point in time.

Wintner joined the School of LMMS’ Biomedical Resources Unit as an Honorary Research Fellow in January 2007. Her love and passion for sharks led her to co-author over 35 peer-reviewed journal articles and to hold an h-index of 13.

Wintner said in 2010 and 2011 two tagged raggedtooth sharks made South African history as they were recaptured after 20.7 and 20.5 years at liberty. She mentioned this to her American colleagues and was told that they were starting to investigate longevity using bomb radiocarbon analysis.

‘The KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board Maritime Centre of Excellence (KZNSB) has a large vertebral collection and had vertebrae which were old enough to be suitable for this analysis. We all felt that both our tagging data and vertebral samples would supplement their study.

‘I always had an interest in the longevity of this particular species,’ said Wintner, who is a Senior Scientist at the KZNSB.

 Her interest in sharks goes back to when she was a teenager. ‘I found sharks fascinating then and always wanted to work with them. I am very fortunate to have fullfilled my dream.’

‘We are hoping that more students show interest and utilise our samples,’ Wintner said.

Lunga Memela

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UKZN Students and Staff Rally to Help Children’s Home

UKZN Students and Staff Rally to Help Children’s Home
Residence Life Assistant of Bedford Hall and staff from St Theresa’s home at the handover of the UKZN donation to the home.

The Bedford Hall Residence on the Edgewood campus recently hosted its annual community empowerment outreach programme at St Theresa’s Children’s Home in Sydenham, Durban.

This programme was headed by Residence Life Assistant Mr Nkosinathi Nxumalo and House Committee members with the aim being to give to the less fortunate in the greater Durban area.

Students and staff were challenged to donate foodstuff, clothes or toiletries to the care drive.

Residence Life Officer, Mr Julian King, addressed the gathering, giving background on why programmes of this nature were so close to his heart. ‘I am a product of a children’s home having spent the first four years of my life at one before being adopted by a caring family when I was five.’ King mentioned some of the challenges he faced while growing up, going on to highlight the successes and milestones he had achieved during the past 22 years, including being employed by UKZN.

The home, which cares for about 80 boys, is financed by donations, sponsors in the community and a Government subsidy. The Principal, Mrs Debbie Brown, said the home faced constant challenges, including being on a never-ending search for alternative funding from local businesses and organisations in the greater Durban area.

UKZN students organised various games and sports events and the day ended with a braai for the children and staff and the handover of the donations on behalf of UKZN staff and students.

King thanked all UKZN students for their continued support.


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Getting to Grips with Mental Disorders

Getting to Grips with Mental Disorders
Participants at the DSM 5 workshop on the Westville campus.

The KZN branch of the Southern African Association for Counselling and Development in Higher Education (SAACDHE) hosted a workshop at UKZN detailing the recent updates to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5) by the American Psychiatric Association.

The two-day workshop was facilitated by the Director of the Centre for Psychological Services and Career Development at the University of Johannesburg, Professor Alban Burke.

Burke examined the gamut of mental disorders, including neurodevelopmental disorders, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and personality disorders.

Often referred to as the ‘bible’ of psychiatry, DSM offers a classification system for mental disorders which allows practitioners to assign a common name to a group of phenomena, qualify the information content by adding the descriptive features such as symptoms, age of onset, severity, and predict the expected course and outcome. It is used by psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses, occupational and physiotherapists, counsellors and other health and mental health practitioners.

Burke, known as ‘Dr House’ because he uses a whiteboard when looking at cases and doing diagnostics, advised using ‘your full armament of skills’ when doing therapy and selecting the most appropriate treatment for different patients. ‘Different things for different people and different problems,’ said Burke.

He cautioned against taking a single symptom and generalising it into a disorder.

Dr Saloschini Pillay, College Manager: Student Support Services in the College of Health Sciences and Acting Chairperson for the SAACDHE – KZN region, said the workshop helped participants understand the amendments to the DSM and its implications for assessment, diagnosis and intervention.  ‘The DSM is supported by an extensive empirical foundation, is intended for clinical, research and educational purposes and provides a helpful guide to clinical practice,’ said Pillay.

‘The manual is intended for use by mental health practitioners and the amendments provide clarity on the different and amended categories of mental disorders,  assessment criteria and diagnoses which ultimately inform the appropriate intervention strategy and treatment regimen,’ she said.

Subsidised by SAACDHE National, the workshop was attended by student counsellors from Student Support Services at UKZN and Correctional Services, private practitioners, and representatives of regional Higher Education Institutions, including UNISA and the Durban University of Technology.

Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

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AMD Students Present Year-End A Taste of Many Tongues Concert

AMD Students Present Year-End <em>A Taste of Many Tongues</em> Concert
African Music and Dance 3 Mbira Ensemble with teacher Mr Innocent Tinashe Mutero (extreme right).

The African Music and Dance Ensembles within the School of Arts, Music Discipline recently presented their last lunch-hour concert for the year entitled A Taste of Many Tongues that showcased a variety of artists, performing different dance routines from across the African continent. The performers and performances were drawn from five African Music and Dance ensembles which include the Mbira, Timbila, Isicathamiya, Umzanzi and Zulu ensembles.

Within the production, audiences were treated to Timbila and Mbira music. The Mbira ensemble performance included the songs Vanokaiwa and Tiritose/ Sisonke. Speaking about some of the songs that he arranged Mr Innocent Tinashe Mutero said, ‘The song Vanokaiwa is a Shona social commentary which speaks to the life of most African fathers. The title Vanokaiwa is derived from the verb “kukaiwa” which means being troubled or bothered.

‘The song tells the story of a father who has a lot bothering him. The troubled father drowns his sorrows by drinking beer. Tiritose/Sisonke means ‘we are together’ and the song is an instrumental piece in which the ensemble expresses their individual abilities with the Mbira, Djembe and Shakers. The song is a celebration of diversity and the relationships built within the course of the last semester’, said Mutero.

Ensemble teachers Ms Nozuko Nguqu and Mr José Alberto Chemane were primarily responsible for arranging the concert, both agreeing on a theme that defined the concert 'A Taste of Many Tongues.’

Nguqu said, ‘It was an enjoyable moment working with the AMD team. For AMD 1, I encouraged them to come up with their own ideas so that their performance could have their feel, not just mine as a teacher.’

Chemane further added, ‘The concert was a platform for the African Music and Dance students to showcase and celebrate the beautiful, multilingual and polyphonic menu of sounds and dance movements that South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe offer, promoting in 'Many Tongues' the spirit of Peace, togetherness and tolerance amongst one another.’

The first piece Thembweni, is an arrangement of a popular Chopi song usually performed to celebrate a good harvest season. The second piece, Tufo dance is a traditional dance from the north of Mozambique done by women through singing and hand drumming accompaniment done by men.

The concert ended with a beautiful finale that brought all the ensembles together.  The finale song was conceptualised by Mr Sfundo Mbanjwa titled Ikuph'imbizo which is a public domain song.

‘What I liked most about all the ensembles they represented all the tongues, and very well too, especially when AMD 1 did 'Usizo lwami'- my help, they made it their own as one could see that they meant what they said, both orally and physically- they represented the Zulu language with Ngoma dance’. ‘And when AMD 2 did Thembweni a popular Chopi song, I felt I was in Mozambique, they performed so well,’ added Nguqu.

Some of the other performance items included the Isicathamiya ensemble by the AMD1A class, which include three parts, as explained by Mr Sibonelo Ndlovu, ‘The first song Sebehlasela Umoya Wami is a praying song where we ask God to protect us and our souls from evil spirits; the second song is Yeyi Wezinsizwa, that looks at false perfection and asking communities to work together to take charge of governmental laws. Lastly, was Kumnandi Ukucula which seeks to heal the broken heart and soul.’

One of the performers from the Isicathamiya ensemble Ms Michelle Mchunu added, ‘As one of the soloists of the Isicathamiya ensemble, I feel honoured and blessed for the voice I have been given by the Almighty and to be able to sing for a wonderful audience.’

Director of the African Music Project, Dr Patricia Opondo added, ‘It’s been a wonderful semester with an inspiring, dedicated team of teachers who’ve contributed to the artistic growth of the program. Each student has excelled and many have exceeded expectations.’

She also nominated Mr Nu Luthuli as the 2015 AMD Outstanding Teacher of the Year, who has helped grow the isicathamiya ensemble to new heights, further congratulating him on his achievements which Luthuli described as a ‘humbling recognition’.

According to Dr Opondo, some of the recent performance highlights from the Project for the year, included participating in the International Timbila Festival in Mozambique in August, performing during the ICTM International Musics Symposium and the 10th African Cultural Calabash.

Speaking about the AMD students, Dr Opondo added, ‘A Pan-African coming together of beautiful souls, who create magic when on stage. Blurring the lines between staff and students, as it is a creative meeting point of explosive music/dance talent that has grown to be the characteristic signature of the AMD ensembles. Viva AMD! I’m really proud of the AMD students and teaching team as they never disappoint.’

The students also expressed their gratitude to Dr Opondo, the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music concert organiser Ms Thuli Zama and the students and staff who attended the various performances over the course of the year.

Melissa Mungroo

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Childhood Sexuality is a Reality, UKZN Study Finds

Childhood Sexuality is a Reality, UKZN Study Finds
Professor Deevia Bhana.

A revolution of thought is required which accepts children as being sexual, says Professor Deevia Bhana, the recently appointed DST/NRF South African Research Chair: Gender and Childhood Sexuality.

‘If we accept this, we have better opportunities to address the problems that currently beset our country. For as long as we deny and stigmatise young people’s relationships and interest in sex and sexuality, we further entrench the problem and increase teenage vulnerability to pregnancy, HIV and violence,’ she said.

Bhana made this statement during the presentation of her study titled: “Sex, Gender and Money in African Teenage Conceptions of Love in the HIV Context”.

Bhana’s research investigates children’s gendered and sexual meanings and ideologies in order to address and intervene in ways that secure sexual health, well-being and gender equality.

According to Bhana, ‘sexual debut’ is currently at around 14 years old but is declining. ‘This presents both concerns and opportunities to face the issue head on in ways that are revolutionary. We cannot proceed to work with children as sexually ignorant because this has proved to be ineffective, outdated and it doesn’t come from the perspective of what young people want and do,’ said Bhana.

Her project focuses on South African teenagers’ interest in and preoccupation with sexuality.  ‘At the crux of HIV is sex and because the epidemic starts mainly among people in their teenage years, understanding how teenage sexualities are constructed is vital for promoting sexual and reproductive well-being.’ 

The study was conducted in various contexts and with teenagers both rich and poor but focuses on teenagers located in conditions of poverty and the ways in which they negotiate relationship dynamics and the social processes through which they give meaning to relationships and to sex.

She said the economic contexts have effects on teenage sexualities. The study raised concerns about young women’s idealisation of men with money as well as women’s vulnerability to crime and violence in extreme settings. 

According to Bhana, teenage sexuality is often considered dangerous, undesired and stigmatised creating panic and moral condemnation. ‘This is the wrong focus as it leads to an underground sexual culture where teenagers hide, are discreet, and often deny sexual interests and activities. In contrast to adult centric approaches to childhood sexuality, my research suggests that teenage men and women have interests in relationships and sex beyond simply the popular discourse of danger and disease.’

She said teenagers engage in and are motivated by sex but without the accompanying support for their health and sexual well-being. ‘The stigmatising of childhood sexuality has inadvertently increased the pressure on teenagers to engage in sex in a secretive manner, increasing the burdens related to teenage pregnancy, women’s vulnerability to HIV and violence within intimate partner relations.

‘We have tried far too long to deny childhood sexuality. We need something new which permits an understanding of children beyond sexual ignorance.  Supporting law which decriminalises sex amongst consenting young people is an advancement and a move in the right direction,’ she suggested.

She is currently writing books on childhood sexuality in primary school as well as a co-edited collection focusing on gender and young families with specific attention to teenage mothers.

‘My recent appointment as the South African Research Chair has raised the profile of the research with children, gender and sexuality, especially as it concerns the major social problems of violence, HIV and inequalities,’ said Bhana.

 Nombuso Dlamini

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Agricultural Extension Student Receives Wells Mountain Foundation Scholarship

Agricultural Extension Student Receives Wells Mountain Foundation Scholarship
Mr Bhekisisa Nxumalo.

Mr Bhekisisa Nxumalo, a student in the Discipline of Agricultural Extension and Rural Resource Management (AERRM) in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES), is the first South African student to receive a Wells Mountain Foundation (WMF) Empowerment through Education Scholarship.

The WMF, which awarded scholarships to 30 scholars from 25 developing countries around the world, received 900 applications this year.

By contributing financially to the tuition of students’, the Foundation aims to assist recipients improve their future through education so they may in turn assist their communities. For this reason, one of the conditions of the scholarship is that recipients volunteer 100 hours of their time every year to community projects.

Nxumalo, who chose to study Agricultural Extension through an eagerness to help increase rural development, said he applied for the WMF scholarship because he felt it would prepare him for a future in this field.

He has a growing passion for Agricultural Extension, saying it is an important, diverse field where critical problems facing the country’s agricultural sector can be systematically tackled.

‘Agricultural Extension also simplifies life and equips you with a formula to solve problems that hinder the success of an individual, group or state, as it was specifically developed to address the changing agricultural landscape in South Africa,’ said Nxumalo.

Studying through UKZN and the Cedara College of Agriculture has been particularly beneficial for him as he experiences the practical side of his work and gets the facilities for all aspects of study from accommodation to transport to farm networks. He says that his training through this partnership has equipped him with a powerful combination of knowledge and skills in Agricultural Extension, rural development, project management, agricultural production and farm management.

‘To be chosen as a WMF scholar is a great privilege and honour, considering the fact that there were so many qualified applicants from different developing countries around the world, and that I am the first student from South Africa to be selected,’ said Nxumalo.

He describes his longing for the acquisition of new information as a hunger, which drives him to succeed and uplift others in the process.

He has been an integral part of the Agri-Groomers group, through which he plans to do much of his volunteer work. Agri-Groomers, a student-led group of motivated Cedara and UKZN students which was officially constituted last year, aims to create opportunities for learning, networking and participating in various aspects of the agricultural sector, where individuals gain a global understanding of agriculture.

Agri-Groomers participants have recently been able to participate in events such as the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) Youth in Agriculture Summit, and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) World Forestry Congress.

Nxumalo had this advice for fellow students:  ‘Never stop applying for bursaries and scholarships. It should become a habit.’

Christine Cuénod


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Academic Leader of Research Represents UKZN at Symposium in Norway

Academic Leader of Research Represents UKZN at Symposium in Norway
Dr Nicola Jones and delegates at a Global Journalism Symposium in Norway.

The Academic Leader of Research in the School of Arts, Dr Nicola Jones, represented UKZN at the Global Journalism Symposium, hosted by the NLA University College in Norway.

Jones presented a paper titled: “Damming the ‘Fountains of Justice’: An Examination of Three South African Publications’ Coverage of  Reeva Steenkamp’s Alleged Murder in the Context of South African Crime and Court Reporting”.

The Symposium, funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), was the result of a collaborative project between NLA University College, the Uganda Christian University in Uganda and UKZN.

The Symposium aimed to bring scholars from across the world together to discuss and exchange ideas on topics including comparative journalism, journalism culture, values in journalism practice, new media practice and media development.

Jones explained that some interesting avenues in journalism which align with her research interests relate to ‘an emphasis on “news satire” in both written pieces and cartoons and the question of ethical dilemmas presented by social media for both African journalists and also citizen journalists in Africa’ - a question her paper addressed quite extensively.

Jones’s findings indicated that the instantaneous nature of news as a consequence of technology was a factor in the stories examined, where competitive edge and haste were found to be the governing principles of news. Her findings also showed that ‘there was a judgemental tone in those stories and an assumed guilty bias.

‘That could lead to a potential opposite scenario, where the public perception does not fit the outcome of the trial,’ said Jones, who was at the Symposium with senior UKZN colleagues, Emeritus Professor Keyan Tomaselli, the Head of the Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS), Professor Ruth Teer-Tomaselli, and post graduate students, Ms Emilly Maractho, and Ms Sara Namusogo.

Jones said a highlight of the Symposium was the opportunity to network with international colleagues and students in the city of Kristiansand where the university was situated.

Merusha Naidoo

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Food Security PhD Student Presents at Peace Summit in South Korea

Food Security PhD Student Presents at Peace Summit in South Korea
UKZN’s Ms Mbalenhle Gwacela with fellow delegate Mr Luke Clough at the Summit.

Development Lecturer and PhD candidate in the Discipline of Food Security in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES), Ms Mbalenhle Gwacela, presented her research findings at the First Annual Commemoration of the World Alliance of Religions Peace (WARP) Summit in Seoul, South Korea.

The three-day Summit was arranged and hosted by the Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL).

Gwacela’s study is on the relationship between student food insecurity and academic potential and its impact on a country’s growth and development.

Invited by the International Peace Youth Group, Gwacela’s presentation provided an opportunity for the exploration and discussion of food security and its relation to peace.

Gwacela was one of many students and academics who participated in the summit, with youth leader representatives from England, Nigeria and the United States and other countries attending.

Her presentation was on work she is doing towards her PhD titled: “Achieving Food Security for University Students through Stakeholder Joint Participation: A Food Bank Model”.

Gwacela was also selected to act as a session chair for one of the presentation clusters - an exciting experience she said was an honour.

According to Gwacela, topics discussed during the summit included peace and conflicts between countries, and hidden hunger, a relatively new term to many people and one which Gwacela noted seemed taboo to some.

Since armed conflicts are enemies of food security, these were also discussed.

Gwacela said she had many discussions on the topic of how the global youth community can join forces to address challenges that threaten the global community’s future and livelihood.

‘I realised that there is so much that the world can benefit from through research. The fact that one is able to solve a question and contribute towards the knowledge economy in an innovative way is what I look forward to,’ said Gwacela.

‘Food security is an extremely broad subject and there are many more other sectors that can benefit from the knowledge and the links that are within food security. When I learned that developed countries actually don’t know much about food insecurity and hidden hunger, I realised that there is a lot of work that needs to be done and a lot of it lies in publishing and making your work known.’

She gratefully acknowledged the support of her supervisor, Dr Unathi Kolanisi, who assisted her with arrangements for the trip, as well as the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science for its support through a travel grant.

Christine Cuénod

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School of Life Sciences Builds Bridges

School of Life Sciences Builds Bridges
Professor Sam Mukaratirwa and Mr Andrew Zaloumis.

UKZN’s School of Life Sciences held a special breakfast in honour of its stakeholders under the theme: “Optimising Business Synergies”.

UKZN staff and industrial and research partners attended the function at Durban’s International Convention Centre which aimed to foster partnerships and collaboration.

Welcoming guests, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, Professor Deo Jaganyi, said the event had been organised to acknowledge the important role external partners ‘play in our business of teaching, research and community engagement’.

Dean and Head of School, Professor Sam Mukaratirwa, reinforced this saying: ‘As the School of Life Sciences we are mandated to produce graduates who are fit for purpose to various stakeholders. We need to show relevance to society by what we do either individually or as a collective.

‘It is indisputable that the School of Life Science’s ability to execute its mandate is inextricably linked to its relationship with its stakeholders.  The partnership with you, our valued stakeholders, has made it possible for us to achieve our goals and in most instances surpass our targets.

‘No organisation can stand on its own like an island,’ said Mukaratirwa.  ‘Our very existence as a School depends on your support and I am greatly humbled by your unwavering support as we seek ways to enhance our relationships for mutual benefit.’

Academic Leader for Teaching and Learning, Professor Ade Olaniran, updated guests on the status quo of the School’s teaching and learning activities, and the programmes offered in the School at undergraduate and honours level.

Olaniran highlighted two new offerings for 2016 - the reinstatement of qualifications in Grassland Science and the introduction of a BSc Honours in Forensic Genetics.  ‘This honours programme is designed to address the serious shortage of Forensic Scientists in South Africa,’ said Olaniran.  ‘It is aimed at developing capacity in Forensic Genetics through the training of Forensic Practitioners competent in DNA profiling.’

Olaniran pointed to the growth of the School in terms of undergraduate enrolment figures, which had increased from 1 218 in 2011 to 1 455 in 2015.  Similarly, honours enrolment had increased from 71 to 119 in the same period.

Academic Leader for Research, Dr Shahidul Islam, pinpointed the School’s research focus areas, namely, biotechnology (biochemistry, genetics and microbiology), and biology (biodiversity, evolutionary biology and cellular biology).  He said that the School had more than 60 full time academics and about 100 honorary academics and research fellows.   About 75% of permanent academics within the School were NRF-rated.

Islam stressed the prominent position the School of Life Sciences enjoyed in terms of research productivity.  ‘In 2015 we secured the positions of two SARChI Chairs, and six Top 30, 19 Prolific and seven Emerging Researcher places at UKZN,’ he said.

‘In 2014, the School graduated 73 masters and PhD students, up from 48 the previous year.  You are our key stakeholders and you can support us to go higher and higher.’

The morning ended with an insightful presentation by guest speaker, iSimangaliso Wetland Park CEO, Mr Andrew Zaloumis, who provided an interesting overview of the formation, preservation, consolidation and growth of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, which was proclaimed a World Heritage Site in 1999 owing to its biological diversity and superlative natural phenomena. 

With the Park situated in the heart of an historically disadvantaged area, Zaloumis spoke of ‘poverty amidst plenty’ and of the need to shift the development trajectory – the delicate yet essential balance that needed to be created between conservation and community upliftment and the necessity of creating synergies between the two. 

In preserving the Park, the adjacent community needed to be uplifted at the same time.  Neither could happen without the other.

In terms of the park’s research strategy, ‘iSimangaliso commissions research to make decisions that are based on sound, evidence-based science.  Research proposals considered include those that contribute towards assisting and supporting management decisions, knowledge creation and academic excellence, and transformation.’ 

Currently iSimangaliso Wetland Park has 120 registered research projects.  Zaloumis said the park provided a fantastic platform for teaching and research, and that there was a long history of co-operation with UKZN in this regard.

He also mentioned the organisation’s flagship Higher Education access project which had enabled 67 local community members to gain access to local Higher Education Institutions such as UKZN with a 95% pass rate.

Sally Frost

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UKZN Students Attend Race and Transformation Dialogue in Johannesburg

UKZN Students Attend Race and Transformation Dialogue in Johannesburg
Student leaders at the Race and Transformation Dialogue in Johannesburg.

Two UKZN students, Mr Lukhona Mnguni and Mr Jonathan Brady of the College of Humanities, attended a three-day event in Johannesburg at which race and transformation were under the spotlight.

Sponsored and arranged by the Wits Centre for Diversity, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, the Anti-Racism Network and numerous other organisations, the event included intense discussions as well as trips to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Wits University, and the Hector Pieterson Memorial where senior figures in academia, activism, media and business engaged with students on broad issues regarding race and transformation in Higher Education and in the country in general.

Student leaders involved in transformation movements and initiatives were invited to join the intense discussions which senior academics also participated. Universities represented included Rhodes, University the of Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Wits, the University of Pretoria, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, the University of Pretoria, Mangosotho University of Technology, the University of Johannesburg, and the University of Limpopo. 

Both Mnguni and Brady were nominated by UKZN to attend the event.

Mnguni is a former recipient of the Distinguished Student award and is well known for his social commentary and community engagement. He has recently completed his Masters in Africa and International Development at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland on a Commonwealth Scholarship.

He is currently working as a PhD-intern researcher at the Maurice Webb Race Relations Unit.

Brady, the current President of the UKZN Chapter of the United Nations Association of South Africa (UNASA), is registered for a Master’s degree in Population Studies. He was contracted by the Corporate Relations Division of the University to transcribe recent discussions for transformation dialogues held at four of UKZN’s campuses.

Both students said it had been a very memorable experience. ‘I was enthusiastically impressed by the level of engagement and commitment to scholarship by students,’ said Mnguni.


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New Postdoctoral Student Joins Classics Programme

New Postdoctoral Student Joins Classics Programme
Dr Luca Sansone di Campobianco.

The Classics Programme within the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics (SRPC) recently welcomed a new postdoctoral student, Dr Luca Sansone di Campobianco from the University of Bologna in Italy, under the supervision of Dr Elke Steinmeyer.

Luca chose to pursue his postdoctoral degree at UKZN after attending the biennial meeting of the Classical Association of South Africa. ‘I was impressed with the energy, liveliness and commitment of the UKZN young classics postgraduate community. The memory and my impressions of the Department led me to contact Dr Steinmeyer. I wished to be part of that energy, and contribute to its growth,’ he said.

Luca is scheduled to be at UKZN for a one year tenure, and spoke about his experiences thus far, ‘The staff as a collective taught me that numbers might not be everything. The Department is admittedly small: three full time lecturers, two postdocs such as myself and several postgraduate students who are proving themselves rather generous of their time.’

‘Regardless of these numbers, the Department is still able to offer an impressive variety of courses (Greek and Latin language and literature, Egyptian culture, Classic Civilisation and so on) while catering to a pool of about 300 students or more. I would say this is entirely out of goodwill and genuine care.’

His research will focus on Begriffsgeschichte which means Conceptual History in German. In short, it is the study of the rise and development of concepts that would exercise a substantial impact on societies, and the study of how these concepts have been expressed through the synergy of different systems of signs.

‘I was interested in seeing how meaningful concepts would affect the individual and the group in ancient societies, and compare their influence in our contemporary times. There are of course differences, yet I was delighted to see how similar we are, regardless of the time and space that separates us,’ said Luca.

His supervisor Dr Elke Steinmeyer further added, ‘I am very happy that Luca has joined the Classics Programme. I am sure that the staff members and the postgraduate students in particular will greatly benefit from his expertise and his research interests. Luca has received very positive feedback from the students for his lecturing in our first-year Classical Civilisation course. I would like to thank the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of College, Professor Cheryl Potgieter for having supported his scholarship.’

Asked about his future plans, Luca said: ‘I would like to remain in South Africa. During my three years, I have created emotional ties within this country. Here, I have found friends and colleagues I could consider family. SA is a rather complex and sometimes challenging country, yet uniquely beautiful and full of character.’

‘For the past five years I have been working in different academic environments, and while I am thankful for the experience I have gained, I now wish to find myself a home and give back as much as I was given, developing a path that would be beneficial to my study and my personal and professional development.’

Melissa Mungroo

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Academic Meets the Vice-Chancellor of University of Seychelles

Academic Meets the Vice-Chancellor of University of Seychelles
Dr Maheshvari Naidu (right) with Professor Dennis Hardy.

Academic in the College of Humanities, Dr Maheshvari Naidu met with the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Seychelles, Professor Dennis Hardy, while on a visit to the University recently. The meeting culminated with the Vice-Chancellor inviting Naidu to become an Associate Member of the Education and Culture Research Institute (ECRI) at the University of Seychelles.

Naidu was a guest of the University at the invitation of the Director and Head of ECRI, Dr Jemma Simeon. Naidu was invited to present a Gender Workshop to the Social Work staff and to offer a guest lecture to the third-year Social Work students in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Anse Royale Campus.

Naidu’s lecture formed part of one of the third year modules in the four year Social Work programme called Gender and Diversity. Naidu’s lecture was titled; “Anthropological Perspectives on Gender: Bringing Anthropology and Social Work into Conversation”.

‘The students proved a highly interactive and receptive group who were mainly already social work practitioners with a three year Diploma that they were converting into a formal Social Work degree. Many expressed their disillusionment with what they saw as aspects of routinised and disconnected service care model, especially towards vulnerable groups in Seychelles such as women, children and the differently-abled,’ said Naidu.

Naidu’s lecture expanded on a cultural diversity lens by drawing on methodological tools in anthropology. The lecture was also attended by Dr Susan Alderson, lecturer in the Social Work programme.

Alderson commented, ‘It was great to see the students responsive and interactive with Dr Naidu. They are usually a shy bunch, but were prepared to engage with even certain taboo subjects such as social work practitioner ethics and working with same sex couples etc.’

Naidu added that gay and lesbian relationships were not legal in Seychelles. However employing a cultural diversity lens allowed me to broach these sensitive issues in a manner that allowed the students to look at such kinds of diversity within the context of a social care model, especially as some of them wished to pursue careers as social workers abroad, in other countries and cultural contexts, said Naidu.

‘I was really impressed by the work of the small team of Social Work lecturers, who were from both Seychelles, as well as Mauritius and the United Kingdom,’ said Naidu.

The Gender Workshop that Naidu hosted with the social work lecturers working with the above students was a session on reflective practices in the context of researching, teaching or doing activism work in the context of gender and was also attended by the Project Co-ordinator at the Gender Secretariat in Victoria, Ms Nicole Amelinè.

The visit ended with a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor. Emeritus Professor Dennis Hardy was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Middlesex University in the United Kingdom before being head hunted to University of the Seychelles (UniSEY).

Although a young university, UniSEY offers fully accredited degrees and is also accredited to offer University of London degree courses so that international students can study for these in the Seychelles at a lower cost than if they were to spend three years in London. The establishment of the University also means that local students need not travel abroad for their undergraduate degrees.

Naidu’s role as Associate member of the Education and Culture Research Institute will include lending both teaching expertise as well as research expertise and skills to the Centre.

Under the guidance of Dr Simeon, the Centre is destined to grow in strength and has already made its mark by bringing together notable scholars when Dr Simeon and the Centre hosted an Education Conference in July 2015, which Naidu also attended. Dr Simeon is truly passionate about her portfolio, said Naidu.

Melissa Mungroo

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Improving Teaching and Learning Skills in College of Law and Management Studies

Improving Teaching and Learning Skills in College of Law and Management Studies
Participants of the Communication for Professionals module.

As part of a strategy to ensure its Development Lecturers are well rounded academics, the Teaching and Learning Office at the College of Law and Management Studies recently introduced a communication for professionals module aimed at improving lecturing and presenting skills. 

The module, delivered by Dr Lorraine Singh, formerly of UKZN’s School of Education, involved Development Lecturers being taught how to communicate more effectively in the classroom through improving vocal clarity and using various techniques to present effectively, especially to big classes.

At the end of the module, the lecturers participated in a competition in which they had to deliver a 10-minute presentation judged by Durban actor and retired Drama Lecturer, Mr Robin Singh, and the College’s Dean of Teaching and Learning, Professor Kriben Pillay, who initiated the development of the module.

Lecturers who took part were:

·     Mr Maropeng Mpya and Ms Phumla Mbuqe of the School of Law

·     Ms Vuyokazi Mtembu, Mr Njabulo Khumalo and Ms Nomfundo Kakaza of the Graduate School    of Business and Leadership

·     Mr Eric Ncube, Mr Benson Plaatjies and Ms Zamanguni Kubeka of the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance.

·     Mr Sanele Gumede of the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance.

Mpya’s presentation, titled: “Where are the Africans in Africa?”, earned him first place. He spoke about what it means to be African in this day and age and the values of struggle hero Steve Biko. This is what he had to say about the experience.

‘The Communication for professionals module is indispensable to any academic starting out in teaching and presenting conference papers. The knowledge and skill acquired through this module has greatly enriched the way I communicate with my students and also how I present journal articles at conferences. This course has shaped the way I think about communication and has also helped me in shedding off incorrect habitual traits that were not in line with being an excellent presenter. I really thank Professor Kriben Pillay for his vision and our facilitator Dr Lorraine Singh for her patience, support and expertise. I wish most academics, young and old, can shape and reshape the way that they communicate through this communication for professionals module.’

Second was Kakaza who spoke on “Macroeconomic Performance and the Importance of Measuring an Economy’s Performance”, while third place went to Ms Vuyokazi Mtembu, who presented on: “Performance Evaluation”, which focused on human resources principles that measure performance in relation to an employee.

Mbuqe presented on “Shopping Addiction”, Ncube and Gumede on “Government Excise Tax on Suppliers”, Plaatjies on the “Macro Environment” and Kubeka on the “Sustainability of NPOs through the Social Enterprise Model”.

Commenting on the presentations, Singh said: ‘I have seen significant improvement and progress, but this learning process must not stop today. It is important for lecturers to know how to engage with students, especially in large classes, hence this is an important Teaching and Learning initiative.’

Pillay applauded the lecturers for their outstanding performance and encouraged them to engage with him if they had any ideas on how their teaching and learning skills could be further enhanced.

 Thandiwe Jumo

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Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences Team at National Conference

Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences Team at National Conference
Team UKZN at the congress.

Five studies conducted by a team of four academics and students from UKZN’s Discipline of Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences (BELS) were presented at this year’s South African Sports Medicine Association (SASMA) Congress in Johannesburg.

Senior Lecturer, Dr Jeanne Grace, presented her study which analysed the electrocardiographic patterns in South African students of Zulu descent who represented UKZN in boxing (endurance modality) and body building (resistance modality) at a regional level.

‘Similar to findings in other ethnic Africans, a large proportion of the Zulu study population displayed ECG criteria indicative of left ventricular hypertrophy on the evidence of a marked increase of R5/S1-wave voltage and ST/T-segment changes with no differences in relation to whether they participate in strength or endurance related sport,’ said Grace.

Lecturer Dr Takshita Sookan presented two studies on the effect of a progressive resistance training programme and on whey protein intake on the quality of life in human immunodeficiency virus-infected individuals receiving antiretroviral therapy. One of these was a poster presentation and the other presented orally. Sookan commented that exercise training was an inexpensive and effective strategy for improving the quality of life in this population which could impact other facets of their lives.

A study by masters candidate, Ms Jaymie Donaldsons, investigated the effect on athletes of protein supplementation taken before sleep, post a bout of resistance exercise. The study aimed to measure performance and recovery the following day in athletes. Donaldsons reported that Casein supplementation – a milk protein extract recognised for its excellent amino acid profile, slow digestion, and interesting peptides – consumed 30 minutes prior to sleep enhanced the perception of recovery the next morning from a bout of strenuous resistance training in athletes.

Ms Jessica Köhne said: ‘Exercise-induced muscle damage can result in reduced muscle force, increased muscle soreness, increased intramuscular proteins in the blood, and reduced performance.’ Her study investigated the potential effects of the ingestion of a multi-ingredient supplement on markers of muscle damage and inflammation following a single 60-minute bout of downhill running in trained female runners.

‘Multi-ingredient supplementation did not reduce muscle damage and inflammation compared with an isocaloric placebo, although the bout of DHR did elicit changes in muscle damage and inflammatory markers in trained female runners that were returned to baseline by 72 hours,’ Köhne reported.

Another masters student, Ms Samantha Joe Ballington, won the conference lucky draw to attend the 2016 American College of Sports Medicine Conference in Boston.

The BELS team said the SASMA Conference was always a highlight for both staff and students in the field. ‘This year’s conference was no exception. There were high calibre national and international speakers and it is a great opportunity to network and learn about first-hand innovative research within our field.’

Lunga Memela

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UKZN Media Students Attend Pre-Release Screening of Award-Winning Movie

UKZN Media Students Attend Pre-Release Screening of Award-Winning Movie
Dr Subeshini Moodley and UKZN students at the pre-release screening of the film: Me, Earl and the Dying Girl.

Fifty media students from UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus attended a pre-release screening of the award-winning movie: Me, Earl and the Dying Girl, at Gateway’s Cinema Nouveau theatre.

The students were accompanied by Media academics, Dr Subeshini Moodley and Ms Sandra Pitcher.

The invitation was extended to the Media Department by Ms Puleng Moloi, UKZN alumnus and Publicity Manager at Times Media Films, a division of the Times Media group.

The film, which won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, is a moving story about friendship and loss.

The media students said they appreciated being able to apply what they had learned in class when reviewing the film. They identified with the expressive and experimental cinematography explored in the film, and the new ways of telling stories with old themes such as that of loss, terminal illness and friendships.

They also enjoyed the intertextual references made about films that they had either studied or heard about in their film modules.

A highlight of the fun evening was getting complimentary popcorn and Coke!

Merusha Naidoo

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UKZN Supports Global Pink Hijab Day

UKZN Supports Global Pink Hijab Day
Optometry staff and students supporting Global Pink Hijab Day.

UKZN Optometry staff and students supported Global Pink Hijab Day which called on women to don a pink hijab or to wear pink on 28 October to help create more awareness about breast cancer.

October is traditionally earmarked for breast cancer awareness and Pink Hijab Day was observed for the seventh year in South Africa.

The day aims to create awareness on issues around breast cancer and to encourage women to be informed and to educate themselves about the disease.

‘Being informed about the disease, motivates the “prevention is better than cure” maxim,’ said Optomoerty Lecturer, Ms Naimah Ebrahim Khan.

Breast Cancer is the most common cancer among South African women although it can be halted in its early phase.

Naimah Ebrahim Khan

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Halloween Charity Event a Huge Success

Halloween Charity Event a Huge Success
UKZN students at a spooky charity Halloween Costume party.

Second year Social Sciences student, Ms Estrada Naidoo, assisted by classmates and friends hosted a spooky Halloween Costume party on the Pietermaritzburg campus to raise funds for charity.

About 200 students attended helping Naidoo raise R4 500.

The organisations which benefitted were The Gift of the Givers Foundation and the SOS Children’s Home.

‘There was a hype about seeing each other in costume and everyone was in high spirits joining in the dancing and socialising,’ said Naidoo. ‘People were blown away by the excitement and the mystery and ambiance of the Halloween tradition. I had 10 friends who aided me in selling tickets and regulating door traffic.

‘I think students should channel their energies into doing good while having fun. We are privileged to be where we are, as the leaders of the future so we should set an example now.’

Naidoo is passionate about charity work and community development believing that the world needs more smiles. ‘It really hurts me to see people in unfortunate positions. I want to cajole people in higher positions to aid others so the world can be a better place.’

With the event being a huge success and a hit with students, Naidoo hopes to turn it into an annual affair.

Melissa Mungroo

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Award for Quantum Technology Scientist’s Achievements

Award for Quantum Technology Scientist’s Achievements
Dr Adriana Marais.

Dr Adriana Marais of the Centre for Quantum Technology at UKZN has been awarded the prestigious Meiring Naudé Medal by the Royal Society of South Africa (RSSAf) for her extraordinary achievements as a young scientist.

The Meiring Naudé Medal is named after a former President of the RSSAf, Mr Meiring Naudé, who graduated from the University of Stellenbosch in the 1920s and studied in Berlin under Max Planck, Albert Einstein and other renowned scientists. Naude was also known for his discovery of the isotope N15.

The medal is awarded annually to a scientist under the age of 35 who has made outstanding contributions to the furtherance of science and who is poised to become a leader in the field.

Marais’ work in Quantum Biology is on the question of what exactly it is that classifies life; what distinguishes living beings from the inanimate matter of which they are made. This has led her down intriguing lanes of research to investigating quantum effects in energy transfer in photosynthesis as well as proposing a mechanism through which photosynthetic systems protect themselves from harmful free radicals, which is essentially through the use of the effective magnetic fields generated by quantum mechanical property spin. She was awarded her PhD for her work on quantum effects in photosynthesis.

Since one of the biggest open questions in science is that of how exactly life began, Marais’ post doctoral research on quantum effects in photosynthesis and the origins of prebiotic molecules is ideally placed to contribute to the exploration of that question. Her work on photosynthesis, one of the earliest living processes to have evolved, may also have implications for animals and humans, since these same free radicals are associated with ageing and disease.

Her work investigating the photosynthetic processes of life on a quantum scale is only a small part of her interests. The ambitious scientist has used her passion for her science and her curiosity to interrogate the definition of life to take a giant leap towards something of a more universal proportion. In 2013, she applied to be one of the first people to embark on a manned mission to Mars through the Mars One initiative, and has since reached the top 100 candidates contending for the one-way trip. Only four people will undertake the proposed journey in 2026, with additional groups to follow in subsequent years.

In both her research and her pursuit of space travel, Marais has endeavoured to exceed limitations in achieving what seems impossible. During the motivational talks she gives to encourage interest in science, she often uses the Nelson Mandela utterance: ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done’.

Professor Francesco Petruccione of the Centre of Quantum Technology, who supervised Marais’ summa cum laude master’s degree and her PhD, said the widely-published young scientist was an ideal recipient of the medal because of her excellent research and wide range of activities and experience.

Her enthusiasm for advancing society is also clearly seen in the voluntary work she takes on in the form of serving as a Special Project Co-ordinator for the Foundation for Space Development South Africa, which is driving the Africa2Moon project. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge for scientific development, lecturing Physics for the Centre for Science Access at UKZN and the BHP Billiton BSc for Educators Programme in the Northern Cape. Her work is frequently covered by scientific and popular media outlets, with a recent article by Marais and her team, titled: “A Quantum Protective Mechanism, appearing in the Nature journal Scientific Reports”.

The Meiring Naudé Medal adds to Marais’ already long list of awards: she received a South African Department of Science and Technology Fellowship Award in 2010, and in 2013 was one of 10 recipients of a L’Oreal-UNESCO Regional Fellowship for Women in Science in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2014 she was one of 200 Young South African achievers recognised by the Mail & Guardian, and in 2015 went on to be one of 15 recipients worldwide of a L’Oreal-UNESCO International Rising Talent Grant for Women in Science.

Marais thanked her supervisors, Petruccione and Dr Ilya Sinayskiy for their contributions and advice during her studies and for facilitating international partnerships which have contributed greatly to her research.

‘I am very grateful to my nominators and the Royal Society of South Africa selection committee for their support of our research in quantum biology,’ said Marais in response to being named as this year’s recipient.

‘To be recognised by the Royal Society of South Africa is a huge honour in my research career and personally a big inspiration to keep on striving for answers in the field of quantum biology, especially as I believe that quantum biology could provide a physicochemical description of biology to answer one of science’s greatest conundrums: the origin of life.’

‘Furthermore, I believe we will see biologically-inspired nanotechnologies transforming our world in the next few decades.’

Christine Cuénod

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Emeritus Professor in Paediatrics Admitted as Fellow Ad Eundem in the CMSA

Emeritus Professor in Paediatrics Admitted as Fellow <em>Ad Eundem</em> in the CMSA
Top medical honour for Professor Miriam Adhikari.

UKZN’s Emeritus Professor in Paediatrics, Professor Miriam Adhikari, has been admitted as a Fellow ad eundem of the College of Paediatricians of the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa (CMSA).

The Fellowship ad eundem is a rare honour to medically or dentally qualified persons of the CMSA who merit very special recognition.

According to the CMSA: ‘The Fellowship is intended to recognise and acknowledge exceptional contributions to the CMSA and/or exceptional attainments in the medical/dental professions especially in the Discipline for which the Fellowship ad eundem is being awarded. Persons elected to Fellowship ad eundem are so admitted at the customary CMSA admission ceremonies and their names are permanently inscribed in the Roll of Honour of the CMSA.’

Adhikari is currently a Scientific Advisor for the Postgraduate Office of the School of Clinical Medicine, working with undergraduate and postgraduate students. She is also a paediatrician and a registered neonatologist with a special interest in paediatric nephrology.

Cape Town-born Adhikari completed her MBChB degree at the University of Cape Town and served her internship at Somerset Hospital. In 1971, she joined the King Edward VIII hospital as a Medical Officer (Paediatrics), and then a Registrar in Paediatrics and later a Registrar in Medicine. Adhikari joined the former University of Natal’s Medical School in 1976 as a junior Lecturer in Paediatrics.

In 1996, she became a full professor and went on to become Head of Department of Paediatrics in 2001, a position she held until her retirement in 2010. Adhikari continued to serve the then Faculty of Medicine and later the School of Clinical Medicine, firstly as a postgraduate co-ordinator, and more recently as a Scientific Advisor.

Her work has been invaluable in the re-evaluation of policies and, particularly in reviewing and assisting students with their protocols for masters and PhD degrees. In addition she continued to make a contribution to the undergraduate medical curriculum, both in terms of advice and support for the academic coordinators, but also as a clinical teacher in Paediatrics.

Apart from these achievements, Adhikari developed objectives and outcomes for Paediatric Care and Palliative care. She was also responsible for the development of a Feeding and Weaning Clinic at UKZN’s Westville campus. Widely published in peer-reviewed journals, Adhikari’s research has focused on neonatal medicines, exclusive breastfeeding, tuberculosis in pregnancy and the neonate as well as the treatment of Hepatitis B virus.

Dean of the School of Clinical Medicine, Professor Richard Hift, congratulated Adhikari. ‘Miriam epitomises that very special type of staff member we are fortunate to have in the School. She is an outstanding clinician and teacher, known for her research, enjoying national and international respect and recognition, devoted to the School and its students, and making a profound and active contribution to its success long into retirement. We are very fortunate to have had benefited from her association with us, both previously and currently. We congratulate her on this well-deserved award.’

 MaryAnn Francis

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Masters Student Hot on the Trail of Leopard Tortoises

Masters Student Hot on the Trail of Leopard Tortoises
Mr Martyn Drabik-Hamshare downloading data from his elusive tortoise.

Research by master’s student in the School of Life Sciences, Mr Martyn Drabik-Hamshare, on the home range and movement of threatened Leopard Tortoises (Stigmochelys pardalis) in the Western Cape led him on an adventurous search during his most recent data-collecting venture.

Drabik-Hamshare’s research is significant since much of the tortoises’ historical habitat is now used by humans for farming, leading to habitat loss and threatening their survival. In addition, roads and fencing divide their habitats, and electric fencing can decimate populations.

He returns to the five commercial farms where the tortoises roam every two to three months to download data collected by GPS transmitters placed on the tortoises. On his three visits this year, eight of the tortoises were easy to find, however two proved elusive.

Losing two of the subjects of his research would mean a considerable loss of time, energy, finance and effort. After hours of driving around the sites, one tortoise was found by chance.

The second tortoise remained evasive, resulting in Drabik-Hamshare asking Chief Flying Instructor Mr Ronny Johnson from the international flying school in Beaufort West to assist with the search. This was at the suggestion of Mr Victor Hugo of animaltrackem, who provided the transmitters for the study.

A weak signal was received after an hour of flying over the area and Hugo suggested that Drabik-Hamshare download only the last known GPS point from the transmitter using the weak signal.

So Drabik-Hamshare headed out with Johnson to try again and following another hour of fruitless searching, and just as the plane turned to head home, Drabik-Hamshare got a message from the transmitter with the GPS co-ordinates.

After an hour’s drive and a search on foot the tortoise could still not be found, but eventually, to the immense relief of Drabik-Hamshare, the tortoise was located, alive and well - nine months of vital data were then downloaded!

So far, Drabik-Hamshare has established that Leopard Tortoises seem to be moving much further than expected with some covering up to 3km in just two or three weeks. Also, despite large dams in the area, the tortoises do not seem to need these to supplement their water, probably getting it from food sources.

Christine Cuénod

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