Truth Junkies to Feature at the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music

<em>Truth Junkies</em> to Feature at the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music
The Truth Junkies will perform at the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music.

Truth Junkies, a revolutionary jazz band, will perform live at UKZN's Centre for Jazz on 11 March at 18h00.

With their roots firmly in the eclectic combination of South African traditional forms and American jazz, the Truth Junkies explore a sound that is truly reflective of our country’s jazz. The melding of the sound of Umakhweyana bow with conventional instruments and compositions is a very exciting journey. The concept of two guitars with Umakhweyana or three guitars is another deviation from the tried and tested.

With such strong improvisers in the line-up, the music provides a platform for these voices to shine. Marius Botha studied fretless bass under Marc Duby and Joe Delew spent eight years as a “Utensil” in Syd Kitchen’s band, Syd Kitchen and The Utensils. In 2016, Marius decided to move to guitar. New compositions emerged and the need for an outlet became paramount.

He co-produced Madala Kunene’s 1959 recollections of forced removals (Back in Kitomena) and co-wrote with and produced Lu Dlamini in the same year. The Truth Junkies were an obvious choice to help him to express the noises of our city, the cries of our nation that have haunted him since his youth, calling for a rich and tasteful Durban mixed Masala. From being a leader of a 270-strong choir at Port Natal High School in Durban, ‘Music has brought me peace ever since.’ After studying Education at UKZN and through UNISA, Marius worked at Durban’s Coastal Music from 1985 to 1991 where he built his own guitars and assembled his own sound system which is still in use today. The Guitar Doctor guitar building, design and repairs business was born. Today, he runs The Headroom Studio, a popular recording and production facility in Durban.

Lu Dlamini has grown into one of South Africa’s premier artists. Her previous release Ulimilami will be a reference work in UNISA’s new course on African Composition. While she has quietly become a unique voice as Umakhweyana player, she has also honed an impressive guitar playing skill. Her beautifully unorthodox style is unique. Performing with the Truth Junkies has allowed Lu to showcase her talents with strong new material.

Nick Pitman is a guitarist, producer, and music teacher with more than 10 years’ experience as a musician within the city’s vibrant performance scene. He has a sharp aptitude for blending and bending genre conventions, as is evident in his latest single Rollercoaster featuring Nosihe Zulu.

Riley Giandhari was born in Durban. He started playing drums at the age of three, mainly inspired by his father Pravin Giandhari, a professional drummer. At the age of 15, Riley started playing the drums at church and with a few gospel bands. Although he considered other fields of study, he was always drawn back to music and therefore enrolled to study Jazz at UKZN in 2013. He is also a session drummer who records and performs with various musicians and artists. Riley has performed with artists such as Hugh Masekela, Neil Gonsalves, Brian Simpson, Mike Del Ferro and Raphael Clarkson. He teaches drums at Kearsney College and gives private lessons in drums, keyboard, and music theory.

Ntobeko Shandu from Inanda north of Durban, is a talented young musician whose accompaniment skills bely his age. Popularly known as Ntobass, his bass playing reminds one of a young Sipho Gumede with a rootsy melodic sense. He has played with the likes of jazz saxophonist Mfana Mlambo, and is also a member of Lu Dlamini’s band. His session skill has graced many recorded works.

Join the Truth Junkies at the Centre for Jazz and Popular music (CJPM), Level 2, Shepstone Building on the Howard College campus on Wednesday 11 March 2020 at 18h00. Doors open at 17h30. R90 for general admission // R60 pensioners // R30 for students. Contact Thuli on 031 260 3385 or email Zamat1@ukzn.ac.za for more details.

Words: Thuli Zama

Photograph: Supplied


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CHS Inaugural Research Day Showcases Cutting-Edge Research

CHS Inaugural Research Day Showcases Cutting-Edge Research
CHS Research professors and high impact researchers with the College’s Director of Professional Services, Professor Fanie Botha, at the seminar.

The College of Health Sciences’ (CHS) inaugural Research Day provided a platform for professors and high impact researchers to share their research.

‘This event showcases research by our professors and high impact researchers,’ said CHS Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Busisiwe Ncama. ‘Researchers should take cognisance of the fact that the research they do should change the lives of ordinary people. Skills transfer to capacitate the younger generation of researchers is also fundamental; thus, research collaborations and mentorship remain a priority.’

Public Health Research Professor Moses Chimbari presented his work on health challenges in the context of the socio-ecological environment (the ecohealth approach). Chimbari previously served as Deputy Director at the Botswana Okavango Research Institute; Director of Research and Innovation at the Zimbabwe National University of Science and Technology and Director of the Zimbabwe University Lake Kariba Research Station. He has produced 115 publications on vector borne diseases and health systems research, has graduated 25 PhD and 11 master’s students and is currently supervising 19 postgraduate students and four Postdoctoral Fellows.

He is the co-Deputy President of Ecohealth International; co-Deputy Director of Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa (TIBA), an African-led multidisciplinary research programme that draws lessons from the ways that African health systems tackle infectious diseases; and a member of the Global Health Community Engagement and Involvement Advisory Network of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in the United Kingdom. He served on the advisory committee of Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation from 2011 to 2015.

Professor Tulio de Oliveira presented his research on, challenging the status quo and creating an environment in Africa that produces the highest level of science and brings innovations to the market. A bioinformatician, de Oliveira is the recipient of two prestigious fellowships. He was a European Commission Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of Oxford from 2004 to 2006 (where he was selected as one of the top 20 inspiring researcher fellows in Europe) and was awarded a Royal Society Newton Advanced Fellowship at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and University of Edinburgh from 2015 to 2019. He was the Director of the Genomics Programme at the Wellcome Trust Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies in Mtubatuba and an Affiliate Senior Lecturer at the Division of Infection and Immunity at the University College London (UCL) from 2009 to 2016. In 2015, he was promoted to Professor at UKZN and in 2017, founded the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP) at UKZN’s Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine. KRISP aims to create a scientific environment in South Africa and Africa that delivers high level science, creates innovation and reverses the brain drain.

Professor Gert Kruger’s presentation focused on Catalysis and Peptide Research and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Kruger is based in the Catalysis and Peptide Research Unit at UKZN.

Professor Inge Petersen’s paper was titled, Scaling up integrated mental health care in South-Eastern Africa and generating evidence and local capacity. Petersen moved across from the Discipline of Psychology at UKZN in 2016 to take up the directorship of the Centre for Rural Health (CRH) in the CHS.

She was appointed Research Professor at the beginning of 2019. The CRH engages in collaborative research with the Department of Health to support health systems reforms towards universal health coverage. Her personal research focuses on integrated mental health care in low- and middle-income countries over the past 15 years she has played a leading role in a number of research consortia and studies in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia that have used intervention research to investigate and drive the integration of mental health with primary health care. She is currently the lead Principal Investigator of a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)-funded U19 Hub, the Southern African Research Consortium for Mental Health Integration (S-MhINT) that involves South Africa, Mozambique and Tanzania and capacitates local stakeholders to drive scale-up of integrated mental health care.

Dr Veron Ramsuran spoke on his research titled, The Effect­ HLA-A Expression on HIV Disease.

Ramsuran graduated with a PhD from UKZN for his research on the host factors associated with HIV disease. He spent almost 70% of his time during his PhD study at two international laboratories, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Following completion of his PhD, he was invited to join the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and Harvard as a postdoctoral research fellow and had a joint affiliation with a contractor to the NIH and The National Cancer Institute (NCI). Ramsuran is a UK Royal Society Future Leader African Independent Research (FLAIR) Fellow, Group Leader at KRISP, Associate Scientist at the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and a guest researcher at the National Cancer Institute at the NIH. He has authored several high impact publications and has received numerous honors and awards. He serves as an editor of two leading international immunology journals.

Professor Beatriz De La Torrez spoke on Solid-Phase Peptide Synthesis: Making Greener research. De La Torrez holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Barcelona in Spain. She served as the Director and was an Associate Researcher at the Oligonucleotide Synthesis Facility at the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientí­cas (CSIC); and was appointed an Honorary Research Fellow at UKZN in 2014, and as professor in the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences in 2017. She has published 175 peer-reviewed articles in international journals.

Dr Mitsuaki (Andrew) Tomita presented his research on, Exposure to Waste Sites and its Impact on Multiple Health Outcomes: A Panel and Geospatial Analysis of Nationally Representative South African Data. Tomita is a senior lecturer in UKZN’s School of Nursing and Public Health. He is a social epidemiologist who focuses on interactions between HIV, tuberculosis, the community environment and mental health in South Africa. After completing his PhD at Columbia University, he moved to UKZN where he has conducted several HIV/TB and mental health services studies in KwaZulu-Natal funded by the NIH Fogarty International Center (FIC) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) as part of the prestigious Fogarty International Clinical Research/Global Health Research fellowships. He is a senior researcher in the UK/SA Medical Research Council Joint Initiative on Mental Health project and leads population health research for several research groups at UKZN.

Dr Richard Lessells’ presentation posed the question, Can we Stop Worrying about HIV Resistance with the Roll-Out of Dolutegravir? Lessells holds a PhD in clinical research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and is currently based at the Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies. Funded by a fellowship from the Wellcome Trust, his research evaluates TB and HIV diagnostics, with a particular interest in drug resistance. He is a Research Group Leader at KRISP and an associate at the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and in the Infectious Diseases Department at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine.

Words and photograph: Lihle Sosibo


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Neptune Project Raises Awareness of Pollution in Umgeni River

Neptune Project Raises Awareness of Pollution in Umgeni River
Ms Michaela Geytenbeek explains the problem of plastic pollution in the Umgeni River.

UKZN hosted a cocktail event on the Howard College campus on 18 February with the theme: Zero Waste Rivers: The Neptune Project.

Spearheaded by South African Research Chair (SARChI) in Waste and Climate Change, Professor Cristina Trois, the Neptune Project brings together engineers and experts in the waste management sector to explore and find ways to preserve our rivers and oceans from pollution. Ms Michaela Geytenbeek, a master’s student in Environmental Engineering, is working under Trois to find ways to tackle waste and pollution, particularly plastic pollution in South Africa’s oceans and rivers. Her research focuses on the constant stream of waste that flows down the Umgeni River.

‘During our daily activities we generate a multitude of waste - largely unintentionally,’ said Geytenbeek. ‘It is this waste that is flooding our rivers and oceans. Waste is everywhere, in the trees we sit under, floating down the rivers we love, clogging the Earth’s airways. As an earth child, this breaks my heart. We have a waste epidemic in dire need of curing and I hope my research will contribute towards this.’ Geytenbeek has also collaborated with the Durban Green Corridor in her research to improve the Umgeni River.

Several stakeholders from water purification and waste management companies such as the Duzi uMgeni Conservation Trust (DUCT), Waste Action Tribe, Umgeni River/Dusi and Durbanites Against Plastic Pollution (DAPP) were invited to the event to learn about the Neptune Project and encourage them to join the fight against river and ocean pollution.

The evening also served as a platform to publicise the upcoming Dusi Canoe Marathon, one of the biggest canoe races in Africa which sees participants paddling from Pietermaritzburg to Durban. Geytenbeck encouraged her audience to witness the pollution that our rivers are exposed to and take a stand against river pollution.

Words: Sane Mahlase

Photograph: Albert Hirasen


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UKZN Launches First COVID-19 University Intervention in Africa

UKZN Launches First COVID-19 University Intervention in Africa
Some of the UKZN COVID-19 team members. Back from left: Professor Saloshni Naidoo, Dr Lilishia Gounder, Dr Velile Ngidi, Dr Saajida Mahomed, and Sr Jabu Hlophe. Front from left: Sr Nozipho Jali, Professor Mosa Moshabela, Dr Richard Lessells, and Sr Jane Taylor.

UKZN is set to launch a ground-breaking Campus Health “War Room” to support international efforts to fight the deadly Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

To bolster these efforts, the University has created an email address: covid19@ukzn.ac.za and the hashtag: #ukzncovid19 for staff and student queries. A hotline will also be established to communicate with its stakeholders about the virus. The general public toll-free number 0800 029 999 can be used in the interim. An information leaflet on the virus, its symptoms and where to get help, is currently being circulated among staff and students.

‘The new Coronavirus highlights why we, as a University, need to be constantly alert and put in place proactive and pro-response mechanisms to combat diseases and illnesses,’ said Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Nana Poku. ‘The COVID-19 pandemic has already spread to six continents and there are no signs that it is being brought under control. Starting on 3 March, the University’s College of Health Sciences, headed by its Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Busisiwe Ncama, is instituting large-scale high level surveillance, prevention and response measures to ensure that we are ready when COVID-19 is detected in our vicinity,’ he added.

‘The plan offers a co-ordinated, cohesive strategy for preparedness, and will require each and every one of us to get involved. We believe that, in this instance, prevention is better than cure. Given the high concentration of people on our campuses, prevention and protection against the spread of disease is critical.’

The project will be led by Professor Mosa Moshabela, Dean and Head of the School of Nursing and Public Health, who will lead a team of experts comprised of Dr Velile Ngidi, Public Health Medicine Registrar; Dr Richard Lessells, Infectious Disease Specialist; Dr Saajida Mahomed, Public Health Medicine Specialist; Dr Lilishia Gounder, Clinical Virologist; Dr Nokukhanya Msomi, Head of Virology; Dr Saloshni Naidoo, Head of Public Health Medicine; Professor Yunus Moosa, Infectious Diseases; Dr Nithendra Manickchund, Infectious Diseases; Mr Muzi Mthembu, Campus Health Services; Ms Nozipho Jali, Campus Health Services, Ms Gugu Zondi, Campus Health Services; Ms Gugulethu Mdunge, Campus Health Services; Ms Jabu Hlophe, Campus Health Services; Ms Jane Taylor, Campus Health Services; Mr Sandile Nzuza, Information Systems; and Ms Normah Zondo, Corporate Relations.

‘The University is committed to putting measures in place to strengthen these essential campus health services before our campus is hit by the virus,’ added Poku.

The team heading the project will also co-opt experts and volunteers from various Colleges and other University structures.

‘The “War Room” will provide evidence and guidance to effectively respond to COVID-19, and this may include a policy of quarantine, including self-quarantine, in all possible cases of exposure for the duration of the incubation period, based on any requirements of the health authorities such as the Department of Health, National Institute for Control of Disease (NICD), and the World Health Organization (WHO).’

Poku added that, while no cases of the disease have been detected in South Africa, the World Health Organization expects most, if not all countries, to detect cases. ‘Cases have been detected in Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt, Senegal and Morocco, two South Africans have been diagnosed in Japan, and more than 150 South Africans in Wuhan will be brought back to the country,’ he said.

The UKZN high-level approach includes:

1. The rollout of a high-impact health awareness campaign, including information on the virus, and travel advice.

2. Effective infection control and health promotion among staff, students, contractors and visitors to UKZN, including hygiene practices, hand sanitisers in every building and entrance, cleaning high-risk surfaces correctly and adoption of the correct cough/sneeze etiquette.

3. A fully trained team will be on standby to work closely with the health authorities and government to manage symptomatic persons, alongside trained experts to track and manage people within the greater University community who had contact with them for screening for COVID-19.

‘Our ground team is currently assessing the type of resources and training that campus health services and staff require. Other processes and procedures - including diagnostic facilities, equipment and support such as effective transportation and institutional readiness - are also part of the plan,’ said Poku.

In the coming weeks, UKZN will build capacity to track all known cases globally, regionally, nationally, provincially and locally. Going forward, the team will keep a close watch on COVID-19 in South Africa and such information will be shared with all stakeholders.

The rollout will also include tracking the movement of all staff. Working with the internal travel agency, staff members are encouraged to limit non-essential travel to high-risk zones.

‘It is our hope that this effort will support and benefit our local communities in detecting, preventing and responding to the virus. As a Higher Education Institution with exceptional clinical expertise, we are ready to support eThekwini and Pietermaritzburg, and the rest of the province, should the need arise. We may also call upon our UKZN community to join the COVID-19 community mobilisation campaign, which will involve volunteers working with local and provincial government to create community awareness of the spread of the disease,’ said Poku.

Click here to view more information on COVID-19.

Words and photograph: Ndabaonline


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SA-UK Collaboration to Strengthen Research Capacity in KZN

SA-UK Collaboration to Strengthen Research Capacity in KZN
Project leaders, Professor Michelle Gordon (UKZN) and Dr Njabulo Gumede (MUT).Click here for isiZulu version

A collaborative project between the United Kingdom (UK) and South Africa (SA) has been awarded a R5 million grant from the British Council’s Newton Fund.

The project will see the development of a world-class masters and doctoral training programme through a joint partnership between UKZN, Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) and the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) in South Africa and University College London (UCL) in the UK.

South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) proposes that the annual number of PhD graduates, which stood at 1 421 in 2010, be increased to 5 000 by 2030. This calls for more academic staff in Higher Education to hold PhD qualifications and it is envisaged that the number should increase to 75% of academics by 2030.

The UKZN, MUT and UCL - Staff Development Programme (StEP) project aims to equip academic staff to become leaders in their fields that are capable of conducting excellent research, competing at an international level and providing quality supervision to future students. The project will thus not only build capacity among academics, but will also grow future scientific leaders in South Africa and on the African continent.

The grant will initially support 10 MUT and UKZN staff members who work in the fields of infection and immunity, public health, chemistry, drug discovery and pharmacology to enroll for PhD and master’s degrees. They will be registered at UKZN that, together with AHRI, will provide critical local infrastructure for the research projects. UCL will provide support in supervising students and in mentoring junior or less experienced primary supervisors. The University will also host students in London for periods of training that will be tailored for each individual student, depending on the nature of the project. UCL will provide access to critical technology such as next generation sequencing, single cell transcriptomics, high resolution imaging, high throughput and high content screening. A key goal will be strengthening research and supervisory capacity through visits to UCL for both students and supervisors from UKZN and MUT.

‘We are thrilled to have received this grant,’ said project lead Professor Michelle Gordon (UKZN). ‘The ultimate goal is to produce researchers capable of solving the major health-care challenges in our country and internationally.’

Applications will open on 1 March 2020 and qualifying UKZN and MUT academics who are eager to pursue either a master’s degree or PhD, or are already registered for one, are encouraged to apply.

Words: MaryAnn Francis and Hannah Keal

Photographs: Supplied


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Top Project Management Job for Master’s Student

Top Project Management Job for Master’s Student
Ms Zandile Msimango, Master’s student in Community Development at UKZN.Click here for isiZulu version

Master’s student in Community Development, Ms Zandile Msimango, has landed a top position in Project Management at Ilitha Research and Management Consultants. She will be responsible for research, project planning and management for some of the company’s clients, enabling her to put her skills to good use and to lay the foundation to achieve her goals.

Msimango said that, as a young mother, it is not easy to strike a balance between work and her studies. ‘Work can be quite stressful but it is all part of the growing process. I have never had an easy life so I have gotten used to certain hardships and I have come to understand that sometimes change is required for growth to happen,’ she said.

Her current research focuses on health-related issues, particularly the emotional issues faced by cancer patients and the emotional support services available to them at public hospitals in eThekwini Municipality.

Msimango considers education as the key to a successful life. ‘Finding a job is hard. It is important for the youth to market themselves to the right people, grab every opportunity that comes their way and maintain a positive mind-set and outlook on life. Do everything you can in order to succeed,’ she advised.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Education Student Establishes Club at Rural School

Education Student Establishes Club at Rural School
The Sisterhood Club at Our Lady of the Rosary Secondary School in KwaZulu-Natal.

Education student, Ms Sbongimpile Mdabe, has founded a social sciences club called Sisterhood Club at Our Lady of the Rosary Secondary School in KwaZulu-Natal.

Mdabe who is also part of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Team realised that issues that are rarely dealt with in the community and at home affect most of the learners. ‘We agreed to start a project in the school, with the idea of helping learners with the social issues they face as young women. We introduced the project and learners who were interested applied. We discussed a number of social issues that closely affect them as girls,’ she explained.

The club remains active with the most recent event being the Pink Drive that raises awareness of breast cancer and the need for regular screening. Learners were taught how to do self-examinations and where to seek help if they suspect any breast abnormalities.

‘Previously, there was no forum for the learners to discuss such health issues. This year we hope to create awareness around human trafficking and teenage pregnancies. These social issues need to be discussed openly in safe spaces,’ said Mdabe.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Big Data for Science and Society Flagships Project Workshop Promotes Transdisciplinary Research

Big Data for Science and Society Flagships Project Workshop Promotes Transdisciplinary Research
Big Data for Science and Society delegates at the workshop.

Every researcher knows that working together across academic disciplines is notoriously hard.

Even seemingly related scientific fields - such as computer science and information technologies - are often divided by barriers such as different languages, academic cultures and approaches to problem solving. And it does not get better when we consider fields as disparate as astrophysics and social psychology.

UKZN’s Big Data for Science and Society (BDSS) collaboration is an ambitious initiative that aims to break down these barriers. It unites a number of traditionally unrelated disciplines, including social science, social psychology, physics, computer science and geospatial science, under the umbrella of big data. Led by Principle Investigators, Professor Kavilan Moodley (Astrophysics - College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science), Professor Maheshvari Naidu (Social Science - College of Humanities) and Professor Onimiso Mutanga (Earth Observation - College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science), it is based on the simple observation that staggering developments in data analysis, machine learning and 4IR technologies offer huge potential for many academic disciplines and that they can serve as a common purpose under which exceptional transdisciplinary projects can prosper.

In this spirit, collaborators from across the Colleges of UKZN and 30 researchers and students from many parts of the world, particularly the African continent, came together for the first BDSS workshop on KwaZulu-Natal’s north coast on 13 and 14 February. The first day was dedicated to sharing and advancing progress on 12 projects running under the collaboration. For example, a team from computer science and social psychology is using reinforcement learning simulations to model and study interactions in groups.

Researchers from geospatial science and social science want to use remote sensing techniques to monitor floods in informal settlements, and food security in rural areas. Astrophysicists, together with machine learning experts, are developing new methods to analyse experimental data from South Africa’s radio telescopes, while quantum physicists use intelligent data mining techniques to secure communication.

The stimulating two day workshop was put together by Dr Maria Schuld who is also one of the co investigators or CoIs in the project. The data skills workshop on the second day was facilitated by four of Durban’s Data Carpentries instructors. Starting from zero programming skills, the workshop slowly guided participants to a level where they were able to import, slice and clean data in Python’s Pandas library.

The BDSS workshop created a feeling of excitement among the participants, who realised that they are involved in something much bigger than their own discipline in transcending trodden paths of research to push answers to our most burning questions one step further.

Words: Ndabaonline

Photograph: Andile Ndlovu


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UKZN Team Gleans Valuable Information at the British Library

UKZN Team Gleans Valuable Information at the British Library
The UKZN delegation with fellow attendees at the Library conference in London.Click here for isiZulu version

UKZN staff members recently attended a five-day International Leaders’ Programme at the British Library in the United Kingdom.

Mr Nazim Gani, Alan Paton Centre and Struggle Archives; IT Consultant, Mr Bongani Jwara; Mr Senzo Mkhize from the Campbell Collections; and the Gandhi-Luthuli Documentation Centre’s Mr Thiru Munsamy attended the intensive development programme.

Over the course of a week, the UKZN delegates met peers from around the world and discussed key issues in contemporary collection management through a series of workshops, case study reviews and focus groups, gaining knowledge and insights in the following:

•    Discovering how the British Library’s expert curators use library collections to engage with researchers and broader audiences;

•    Learning how the British Library designs and manages digitisation projects;

•    Caring for physical collections – preservation and conservation;

•    Caring for digital collections – digital preservation, metadata and cataloguing;

•    Using new tools and services to engage researchers;

•    Using collections in learning programmes and exhibitions to engage a wide range of audiences.

The team thanked UKZN’sLibrary management for the invaluable and enriching experience.

*About the British Library:

The British Library holds one of the largest collections of physical items in the world, numbering around 160 million items. Whilst the majority of the collection is book and paper based, the collection also comprises almost every material and format type, sometimes in substantial quantities. To name but a few, it includes leather, parchment, textiles, paintings, ceramic, metals, gem stones, wood furniture, sculpture, plastics, ivory, bone and photographs. The library has the dual objectives of preserving the collection and enabling access to users. The conservation team, numbering around 55 specialists, sets policy, monitors the conditions for the collection and undertakes remedial action to stabilise the condition of items for a range of uses.

Words: NdabaOnline

Photograph: Supplied


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KZN Film Commission Bursary for Humanities Student

KZN Film Commission Bursary for Humanities Student
Mr Shivan Delomoney, 2020 KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission bursary recipient.

UKZN student, Mr Shivan Delomoney is the recipient of the 2020 KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission (KZNFC) bursary. He is the first digital arts student from the College of Humanities to receive this award due to a developing MoU between the Digital Arts programme and the KZNFC.

The KZNFC bursary programme was launched in 2014 to address skills shortages in the film industry in KZN. The bursary will cover Delomoney’s registration and tuition fees, and prescribed textbooks.

‘I am honoured to have been awarded this bursary. It feels as if my talents and dedication to the arts are finally being recognised,’ said Delomoney. ‘Bursaries of this nature are important, as they encourage students to pursue careers in film and animation, which leads to the development of the industry in South Africa.’

Delomoney came across an advert for the bursary in a newspaper and decided to apply, as he wanted to connect with a larger community of like-minded individuals and to ease the financial burden on his family. 

‘I have always been passionate and a keen advocate for the arts. I chose UKZN to pursue my studies as the facilities in both the fine and digital arts are the best in KZN,’ he said. He plans to use the bursary to continue his studies, as well as to develop and lend his talents to the film and animation industry.

His advice to other students is, ‘always strive to give of your best in everything you do.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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School of Social Sciences Sends Delegation to University of Botswana

School of Social Sciences Sends Delegation to University of Botswana
Highlights from the University of Botswana visit.

Under the guidance of Acting Dean of UKZN’s School of Social Sciences, Professor Vivian Ojong, and Academic Leader for Research, Professor Maheshvari Naidu, a cohort of five doctoral students visited the University of Botswana (UB).

The students were accompanied by staff members, Drs Christina Kgari-Masondo and Fikile Vilakazi, two early career researchers nominated to attend the presentations. The visit was one of the fruits of the recent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the School of Social Sciences and UB.

The delegation attended a two-day Decolonisation Workshop presented by several senior academics at UB, under the direction of Dean of Humanities, Professor Andy Chebanne and Professor Nathan Mnjama.

The students were unanimous in their appreciation of the experience offered to them by the School of Social Sciences and the University of Botswana.

Ms Subashini Govender enjoyed the scholarly exchange. ‘The workshop was intensive and impactful in addressing all aspects of research, including using decolonisation as a paradigm for social science research.’

Mr Shingirai Mugambiwa added, ‘The visit to Botswana was an empowering experience. The major debate was on the need to initiate a paradigm shift from Eurocentric to Afrocentric theories and methodologies. Apart from the presentations, we had an opportunity to share our experiences with PhD students from UB.’

Mr Star Radebe highlighted to need to embrace the notion of decoloniality, not as a threat to other epistemologies, but as the epistemologies of other people in a humanising way. Ms Asania Maphoto shared that, she was impressed by a presentation by Professor Bagele Chilisa on indigenous research methodology: ‘I learned that Africans also have good ways of collecting data but we end up ignoring them. I believe even my supervisor will notice an improvement in my work.’

Mrs Angela Kavishesaid the spirit of academic mentorship inspired her.

The early career academics were equally open in their praise of UB and the experience.

Vilakazi said, ‘I appreciated the UB presentations and how they profoundly took us to a place of real thinking about decoloniality in the context of research. Coming to Botswana as part of this team has deepened my consciousness.’ Kgari- Masondo remarked, ‘The MOU between UKZN and UB is a great opportunity to allow emerging lecturers like myself to be empowered in all areas of our lives.’

Ojong noted that, ‘the reflections of the students indicated how student mobility and collaboration with other African institutions can serve as catalysts for the learning process.’ She added that she is looking forward to hosting UB students at UKZN.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Supplied


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Donation of Running Shoes Brings Hope to Struggling UKZN Athlete

Donation of Running Shoes Brings Hope to Struggling UKZN Athlete
Staff member, Mr Tony Singarum, with UKZN runner and third-year student, Mr Mbuso Sibiya.

Third-year BSc Geological Sciences student and member of the UKZN Athletics Club, Mr Mbuso Sibiya thought his running dreams had come to an end when his only pair of running shoes was damaged while training, but a Good Samaritan came to his rescue and donated a brand new pair.

Staff member, Mr Tony Singarum, said he could not ignore the plight of the student who approached him for a pair of second hand shoes. He donated money for him to buy himself a new pair.

Sharing his excitement, Sibiya said, ‘I was about to stop running while I saved enough money to buy new shoes. That was going to take me more than three months.

‘I would like to say thank you so much to Tony for helping out and for giving me a chance to continue nurturing my talent. I like running and I don’t know what I would have done without running shoes. May his kindness continue and God will reward him one day. This gesture has taught me to also lend a hand when needed,’ he added.

He had hoped to run the 2020 Comrades Marathon, which he qualified for in Cape Town last year, but due to financial difficulties he could not register in time. ‘I am looking forward to next year, hopefully I will have money to register.’

Sibiya said running has taught him not to quit even when the going gets tough. ‘I now treat everything I do as running. I never give up without finishing it. Running has also taught me to be patient because becoming the best runner does not happen overnight. I take that and relate it to other life situations.’

Challenges that hinder his running career includes taking breaks due to not having proper running shoes, not sticking to the required diet due to financial constraints, not having race entrance fees, and not being able to afford energy boosters, recovery drinks and other equipment. His last race was in October 2019. 

However, he said that the sport has taught him to be disciplined and helped him to balance his running and studies. He encouraged staff and students to join the University Athletics team. ‘Joining a team is important because when we run as a group, we push and motivate one another to achieve our different goals. Joining the club does not mean you have to be super-fast or competitive.

‘You will meet experienced athletes who will coach you to avoid injuries or pain. This will make your running easy and enjoyable and you will run forever, and stay fit and healthy,’ said Sibiya.

His highlights include running the Cape Town Marathon and the FNB Durban 10km that gave him the chance to run among some of the world’s great athletes. His best time for a marathon (42.2km) is 3hrs:09mins while recording a time of 32mins:46sec for a 10km race.

The youngest of four siblings who was born in Mbuzini in Mpumalanga province, Sibiya thanked his family, friends, teammates and the University for support.

Words and photograph: Sithembile Shabangu


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Staff Member Presents Research in Tokyo

Staff Member Presents Research in Tokyo
Dr Phumelele Zakwe presented a paper at the 11th Asian Conference on Education.Click here for isiZulu version

Acting Director of Professional Services in the College of Humanities, Dr Phumelele Zakwe, presented a paper at the 11th Asian Conference on Education hosted by the International Academic Forum at Toshi Center Hotel in Tokyo, Japan.

Zakwe’s paper drew from her PhD study. She examined employee retention strategies as an approach to strengthen the quality of provisions in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the Durban Metropolitan Area.

The paper concluded that ‘employee retention is an all-encompassing component of an organisation’s human resource strategies, which commence with the recruitment of the right people with the expertise and experience required by the organisation and continue with practices that promote on-going employee engagement and commitment to the organisation’.

Zakwe highlighted the need for on-going engagement with all employees in HEIs on annual performance reviews (individual and institutional), grade and salary progressions, competitive benefits, and sound leadership, management and governance as well as job security in order to retain talented, motivated and highly skilled employees.

Zakwe also chaired the main Session on Quality Assurance and Accountability and was awarded a Certificate for International Research Senior Reviewer.

She expressed her profound gratitude for financial assistance and support from Deputy Vice-Chancellor in the College of Humanities, Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize, and her mentor, Dean and Head of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies, Professor Ernest Khalema.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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