Three New Books from the Pen of Professor Kumar

Three New Books from the Pen of Professor Kumar
Seated: Professor Johannes Smit (left) and Emeritus Professor Pratap Kumar with staff from the Religion Studies Discipline.

The School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics (SRPC) recently celebrated Professor P Pratap Kumar’s recently published sole authored book, Hinduism and the Diaspora (Rawat Publications, Jaipur, India), and two edited books, Contemporary Hinduism (ACUMEN, Durham, UK), and Classical and Contemporary Issues in Indian Studies (DK Printworld, New Delhi, India) respectively.

Trained in Classical Indology, focused on textual studies, Indian born Kumar arrived in South Africa after his studies in both India and the US in the early 1990s. He was struck by the dissimilarities that exist in the religious practices of Hindus in India and South Africa. The differences, he soon realised were cultural and not text-based.

According to the Dean and Head of the School, Professor Johannes Smit, one of the prime questions that has informed Kumar’s research since then, is the focus on “lived religions” vis-à-vis the past-historical and text-based study of religions. ‘The question is how religions are experienced and lived in specific contemporary communities and cultures and not in terms of a hypothetical past. His research along this track resulted in Hinduism and the Diaspora,’ said Smit.

Kumar’s second edited book, Contemporary Hinduism, was sparked off by his writing of a critical review of 10 of the most prominent introductory books on Hinduism a few years ago. In his review he pointed out that the books represent Hinduism idealistically, and based on the interpretations of texts.

They did not engage Hinduism as actually lived religion. Shiva for instance is celebrated in lived religion, very differently from text and temple-based traditions. This attracted a number of international scholars who then collaborated with him on the research into the variety of ways in which Hinduism is practiced in different parts of the world, and which resulted in this edited book. Contributions addressed contexts ranging from the US, to Trinidad, the Caribbean, the Scandinavian countries, and a number of areas in India.

Never losing his foothold in Classical Indology, his third edited book is the result of collaborative research by a group of international scholars that engages both classical text-based studies, and manifestations of contemporary Hinduism.

Presented as a Festschrift to Professor TS Rukmani, Emeritus Professor of Concordia University, and formerly employed at the University of Durban-Westville, one of the main focuses in the book is yoga. Other focuses include the Vedanta tradition, continuity and compatibility, narrative and philosophical discourse, intellectuals and ascetics, and issues in contemporary Hinduism such as environment, non-violence, gender, faith, and syncretism.

In his review of the books and Kumar’s scholarly contributions to South Indian and Diaspora Hinduism, Smit said that Kumar was instrumental in developing and updating the study of Hinduism in these areas in path-breaking ways.

‘Cumulatively, and in collaboration with a substantial body of fellow international researchers, Kumar has produced a substantial body of scholarship with both local and international significance.

‘The body of scholarship he produced has made substantial theoretical and conceptual contributions to the study of not only Hinduism but also Religion Studies more generally speaking.

‘He has foregrounded the contemporary social and cultural study of religion and how the phenomenon of religion could be understood. No-one can engage the study of Religion internationally without taking cognisance of the innovative and pioneering research of Professor Kumar,’ said Smit.

- Melissa Mungroo 

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School of Education Offering its Services in Neighbouring States

School of Education Offering its Services in Neighbouring States
From left: Dr Pholoho Morojele, Professor Gregory Kamwendo and Mrs Bongekile Bhengu-Mnguni conducting a session in Swaziland.

The School of Education in the College of Humanities is offering MEd and PhD postgraduate programmes to students in the neighbouring states of Zimbabwe, Botswana and Swaziland.

This initiative is being driven by the Dean and Head of the School, Professor Gregory Kamwendo, and the Academic Leader for higher degrees and research, Dr Pholoho Morojele.

Under this initiative, the School plans to establish cohort-based MEd and PhD research supervision in the three countries.

Kamwendo and Morojele visited Gaborone in Botswana where about 50 expressions of interest in the postgraduate programmes were registered. Despite the recruitment exercise taking place on a Saturday, there was a good attendance and the possibility of the establishment of a cohort-based mode of supervision interested many people.

The School has subsequently received a steady flow of requests for admission/application information.

Accompanied by an administrator in the postgraduate office, Mrs Bongekile Bhengu-Mnguni, Kamwendo and Morojele, then visited Swaziland.

There the team went to Ngwane Teachers College, William Pitcher Teachers College, and Nazarene University where the postgraduate programmes and their attractive packages were well received. People were thrilled that UKZN, through the School of Education, was taking postgraduate programmes to their doorsteps. More than 120 expressions of interest were registered in Swaziland.

Kamwendo said the recruitment exercise had also resulted in inquiries being made about programmes at other Schools within the College of Humanities and in other Colleges.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor  and Head of College of Humanities, Professor Cheryl Potgieter, who led the visit to Zimbabwe, congratulated the School of Education on this initiative. She will soon lead the School in concluding a memorandum of understanding with the Great Zimbabwe University (GZU).

- UKZNdabaOnlineTeam

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JOMBA! Ends on a High

JOMBA! Ends on a High
Back from left: Mr Gary Abbot, Ms Lliane Loots, Mr Kevin Lega Jeff, and Professor Cheryl Potgieter with dancers from the FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY and the Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre and Ms Najlaa Adbus-Samad (extreme right).

Chicago-based dance company Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre, collaborating with Durban’s FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY, stunned the audience with their presentation: “The Dance We Dance” on the closing night of the annual JOMBA! Festival. 

The dance was a confluence of their 21-year history of signature award-winning works.  

Having hosted nine local and international dance companies from as far afield as Portugal, the United States, France, and Holland, as well as various workshops, seminars and community engagements, the College of Humanities annual JOMBA! Festival closed on a high. 

Ms Lliane Loots, Artistic Director of JOMBA! and Dance Lecturer in the Drama and Performance Studies Programme at UKZN, said: ‘Deeply Rooted came to UKZN and JOMBA! as a direct result of funding supplied by the US Consulate’s Arts Envoy Programme, and the eThekwini Metro’s twin city agreement between the sister cities of Chicago and Durban.’ 

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities Professor Cheryl Potgieter spoke warmly at the after party saying: ‘This is an incredible celebratory moment in JOMBA!’s and the College of Humanities’ history. UKZN is part of nurturing relationships between artists, community arts activist and academics who support and nurture critical arts.’ JOMBA! is co-ordinated by the Centre for Creative Arts. Professor Potgieter said she was proud of what the festival has accomplished.

Also present at the event was the United States Consulate’s Public Affairs Officer, Ms Najlaa Adbus-Samad), who spoke about the need to foster relationships - whether academic, funding or community based - which support the growth of arts, and by extension, the growth of democracy.  

Loots, who was thanked for her work in continuing to keep the vision of JOMBA! alive, said JOMBA! attracted record crowds – with four of the performances playing to capacity houses!

- Melissa Mungroo 

author : Melissa Mungroo
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Anti-Pregnancy Awareness Campaign

Anti-Pregnancy Awareness Campaign
Student peer-counsellors at an anti-pregnancy event on UKZN’s Medical School campus.

UKZN’s Reproductive Health Education and Advocacy Programme (RHEAP) launched an Anti-Pregnancy Campaign on the Medical School campus.

Attended by peer-counsellors from all five campuses, the campaign aims to educate students about family planning and the challenges associated with falling pregnant while at university. 

‘We need to raise awareness of the free services at the campus health clinics,’ said Manager of Sports and Health, Mr Mark Bashe. ‘The clinics are there to ensure that you get the support you need.’  

Bashe assured students the University looked to ‘build on a culture of being responsible citizens’, and encouraged students to ‘study, work, become independent and then have a family and babies’. 

Head of the HIV/AIDS Centre, Ms Nomonde Magantolo, said the campaign was launched to address the rate of pregnancy and the use of the morning-after-pill at the University.  

Magantolo said falling pregnant needed to be an informed decision. ‘A child needs love and finances - as a student, what are you going to offer that child? Clinics are there free of charge - there is no need to fall pregnant. We are not here to judge you, but to let you know that there are structures to support you.’ 

She reminded students that it was not the responsibility of parents to raise their children’s progeny. 

Ms Phumelele Dlamini, a nurse at Marie-Stopes, outlined the services available at Marie Stopes clinics, ranging from family planning (including termination of pregnancy) to pap smears, HIV-testing and counselling, circumcision for men, and STI-treatment and counselling.  

Dlamini emphasised the importance of making informed decisions and asked students to consider their mothers who often bore the responsibility of raising grandchildren. 

Miss Wendy Mkhize, a Research Assistant at UKZN’s Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), and Sister Bernadette Madlala, outlined a study underway at CAPRISA which hopes to find a way to prevent the transmission of HIV by using a “ring”. This method will allow women to protect themselves and their partners.  

Sister Hlengiwe Mhlongo from the Campus Health Clinic outlined the services available at campus health clinics ranging from caring for minor injuries such as cuts and bruises to the treatment of STIs. 

MSRC President, Mr Nsizwa Mkhwanazi, acknowledged that while he was "preaching to the converted", he encouraged the peer-educators to relay the message that ‘preventing irresponsible pregnancy can prevent lots of problems’. 

Citing Franz Fanon - a philosopher, revolutionary, and writer - who famously said: ‘Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfil it, or betray it’, Mkhwanazi encouraged young people to make this their “generational mission”. 

Delivering the vote of thanks, Mrs Eleanor Langley, the Health Promoter on the Westville campus, thanked everyone who contributed to the successful launch of the campaign.  She left the audience with these words: ‘Pregnancy is the evidence of unprotected sex.’ 

Entertainment was provided by students and included musical items by Sphesihle, “G”, Sanele and Aphiwe.

- Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

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Umzimba ophilile = Umqondo ophilile

Umzimba ophilile = Umqondo ophilile
Abasebenzi esikhungweni sase Edgewood bezivocavoca ngosuku lwemidlalo.

Ngenhloso yokubungaza inyanga yabantu besifazane nokukhuthaza abasebenzi ukuba bajoyine imidlalo, kubanjwe usuku lwemidlalo esikhungweni sase-Edgewood ebibanjelwe enkundleni yemidlalo yaso lesikhungo.

Ihlanganiswe umnyango weSports Administration esikhungweni. Abasebanzi bathole ithuba lokungenela imidlalo ehlukene okubalwa kuyo ingqathu, ukugijima, ivolleyball, umjaho wamaqanda, umdlalo wokudonsisana itug-of-war kanye neNetball.

Lemidlalo yaqala ngo2011 nguMnu Zwelithethindaba Sapula oyiSenior Sport Officer owabona ukuthi abasebenzi abanaso isikhathi sokuzivocavoca.

Kulonyanka lemidlalo ebanjwa minyaka yonke iqale kahle kakhulu ngoxhaso okubalwa kulo oluvela kuMphathi WesiKole sezeMfundo e-UKZN, uSolwazi Gregory Kamwendo, oyiManager kwezeMpilo neMidlalo, uMnu Mark Bashe, oyiManager yeSupport Staff, uMnu E Mbongwe kanye neJVS Agencies.

Click here for English version

- Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

author : Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer
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BOLD(ening) the Student Voice

BOLD(ening) the Student Voice
Student Leaders at the recent BOLD Student Summit.

The disconnect between students and the University and the valuable role various student bodies can play to restore a culture of involvement, was a key issue that arose at a recent student leadership summit.

The Business Organisational and Leadership Development (BOLD) Student Leadership Summit at the UNITE building on the Howard College campus, drew 20 student leaders, representing about 15 student organisations including SRCs, faith-based organisations and industry-student chapters.

Facilitated by BCom student, Ms Mmathapelo Motaung, the opening discussion criticised the prevailing culture of student apathy at UKZN. Mr Sithembile Buthelezi, a member of the SRC and Amnesty International, bemoaned the ‘individualistic and demobilised student body at the University’. 

There were many suggestions on how to mobilise students, ranging from smarter use of social media, creation of more productive social spaces and promoting the roles and benefits of the different student organisations.

Motaung emphasised how refreshing it was to share ideas and that BOLD would host more informative discussions to promote awareness and student development.

The summit enabled students to share ideas, explore synergy and engage in robust debate on the role students could play to enhance student life and contribute towards excellence at UKZN.

- Rudi Kimmie

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Exit Orientation Programme a Great Success

Exit Orientation Programme a Great Success
From left: Dr Saloschini Pillay; Mr Madimetja Charles Lamola and Professor Fanie Botha.

The Exit Orientation Programme hosted at the Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) for final-year and post-graduate students entering the world of work was a great success.

Officially opening the programme, the Director of Professional Services in the College of Health Sciences (CHS), Professor Fanie Botha, thanked and applauded the speakers for the diverse range of topics that would support and enhance development of students preparing for the working world.

Manager of Student Support Services at the CHS, Dr Saloschini Pillay, said in her address that the Exit Orientation programme was a first for the College and for UKZN.

‘As a College we aspire to excellence and seek to lead with innovation and good practice. Students entering Higher Education (HE) have critical transitions to navigate - the first is the entry and adjustment into HE, the second the commitment to remaining or what we refer to as “retention” in HE, and the third being to exit HE into the world of work,’ said Pillay.

Academic Leader for Teaching and Learning at the GSB&L, Dr Mihalis (Micky) Chasomeris, delivered a presentation on Managing your Finances in which he advised young graduates to be mindful of spending and encouraged them to save. ‘Have investments early in the working career and seek the advice of financial advisors and professionals.’ 

Mr Madimetja Charles Lamola, Legal Advisor from the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) emphasised the value of the HPSCA on-going registration. He spelt out the requirements and the implication of unethical behaviour by health professionals in the workplace and emphasized the importance of on-going professional development through Continuous Professional Development (CPD).  

Managers from CoraCall, Ms Michelle Naicker and Ms Nirooshnee Naidoo, role-played a scene on job interviews, had an interactive session with students and also provided insights on the value of interview skills and soft skills in the workplace.

Ms Kamilla Rawatlal’s presentation on Work Ethics and Professional Behaviour and Diversity Appreciation explained the necessary skills required by students to move from being a student to a professional in the workplace.  

Ms Bongi Sithole’s presentation highlighted the value of managing and sustaining professional relationships in the workplace. She provided an overview on understanding conflict and managing conflict in the workplace. 

Dr Vasi Govender provided a pragmatic and workable approach on How to Develop a Competency Based CV and Writing a Professional Application and Motivation Letter. 

Govender shared current employment trends from a research survey she conducted with more than 60 Employers in South Africa on What is a Winning CV. She also provided insights and tools on Understanding Body-Language and Etiquette in the workplace. 

Finally, students were encouraged to apply these skills and competencies in the workplace.

- Vassie Govender

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Getting in Gear for Startup Weekend Durban

Getting in Gear for Startup Weekend Durban
Budding entrepreneurs at the Startup Weekend Durban flash mob on the Westville campus.

A flash mob to promote Startup Weekend Durban was held on the Westville, Howard College and Pietermaritzburg campuses.

Aimed at budding entrepreneurs, Startup Weekends are held in more than 200 cities around the world in places as diverse as Mongolia and London.

Participants pitch business ideas with the best ideas worked on by teams. Coaches, who include established business people, engage with the participants and assist in creating workable business plans. Judges select the winning presentation at the end of the weekend.

ENACTUS-UKZN President Mr Sethu Sidzamba said the events on the UKZN campuses were geared at creating a buzz in the run-up to the Startup Weekend Durban on 27-29 September at UKZN’s Graduate School of Business and Leadership on the Westville campus. 

Sidzamba, a third-year BAdmin Supply Chain Management student, is part of the Durban Startup Weekend planning committee chaired by the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Higher Education on Entrepreneurship and an Associate Professor at UKZN’s Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L), Professor Shahida Cassim. The planning committee also includes students from the Enactus-UKZN, the Black Management Forum and management from GSB&L.

The weekends are ideal testing-grounds for budding entrepreneurs to check the viability of business ideas; and to hone their business skills. Sidzamba advised students who want to participate in the Durban Startup Weekend to visit the Startup Weekend Durban webpage

Startup Weekend Durban, hosted by the GSB&L, is supported by various companies and institutions including Sigma International, ABSA, eThekwini Municipality, Shanduka Black Umbrellas and the Technology Innovation Agency.

- Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer 

author : Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer
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Transforming the Science Cohort in South Africa

Transforming the Science Cohort in South Africa
UCT’s Professor Bongani Mayosi with UKZN staff and students at the lecture on cohorts in science.

Transforming the science cohort in South Africa, was the title of a Public Lecture at UKZN by the Head of the Department of Medicine at Groote Schuur Hospital and the University of Cape Town, Professor Bongani Mayosi. 

The Lecture formed part of a series of workshops hosted by Women in Leadership and Leverage (WILL). 

Referring to a series of articles which appeared in Nature during International Women’s Day focused on the position of women in science, Mayosi said: ‘Clearly, the issues WILL is dealing with are not just South African issues, they are global issues.’

‘The summary of this series in Nature is that science remains institutionally sexist. There is progress, but it is clear that there are still major disparities related to pay, promotion and grants,’ said Mayosi. ‘There are quite a few barriers that make women leave science.’

Mayosi, a UKZN alumnus, examined the current state of the science cohort in South Africa and mechanisms in place to address shortages.  

Using statistics compiled by the Department of Science and Technology, he highlighted the ages of South Africans who are publishing in all fields of science. In 1990, six percent were under the age of 30. ‘This dropped to one percent by 2002. Over a 12-year period, the proportion of younger producers of knowledge is in fact decreasing,’ he explained.

‘The pipeline isn’t being replenished – there aren’t younger people coming in. You’ve got a group that is frozen and getting smaller.’

A former Nuffield Oxford Medical Fellow in cardiovascular medicine at the University of Oxford, Mayosi explained that South Africa had a small number of producers of high quality knowledge. ‘There is no doubt that the diminishing size of the science cohort as well as the failure to introduce new schemes and people are having a detrimental effect on productivity.’

This problem was brought to the attention of the then Minister of Science and Technology, Mrs Naledi Pandor, in 2006. Pandor asked the Academy of Science for South Africa (ASSAf) to conduct a study on this issue.

ASSAf put together a panel to study clinical research and related training in South Africa with a view to seeing how clinical research could be revitalised in South Africa. As Chair of the 13-member panel, Mayosi noted the key issue was producing recommendations that were actionable. ‘We produced a report that identified the key problems with regard to clinical research in the country.

‘The first issue was that of public engagement with research. The South African public and our politicians seem to be very suspicious of research, as if it is a bad thing. We must dispel that myth – we must educate the public and journalists that research is good.’

He added facilities, people, funding and major grants for projects were all crucial in addressing this matter.

Key to transforming the science cohort was the national health scholars programme launched earlier this year.

‘The strategic approach with this programme is that we are targeting young, entry level academics in academic departments, who have just finished their professional qualifications and are ready to launch their careers but have no time to build them because of clinical and other duties.’

Mayosi said: ‘This is the first intervention that gives us the ability to shift and increase numbers and to begin to transform the science cohort of South Africa. It’s a hugely competitive process simply because we are targeting everyone in the health system. This ranges from medical engineers to physiotherapists.’

He encouraged WILL to field candidates for the following funding opportunities:

•   Discovery Foundation Fellowships (New Massachusetts General Hospital Fellowship)
•   The Hamiliton Naki Clinical Scholarship
•   Oxford Nuffield Medical Fellowship (which is hugely undersubscribed)
•   Rhodes Scholarships

Mayosi is Chairman of the South African National Health Research Committee, President of the College of Physicians of South Africa, President of the Pan African Society of Cardiology (PASCAR), Chairman of the Rheumatic Fever Council of the World Heart Federation, and Associate Editor for Africa for Circulation.  

His research interests include genetics of cardiovascular traits, treatment of tuberculous pericarditis, prevention of rheumatic fever and epidemiology of heart disease in Africa.  

In November 2009, President Jacob Zuma awarded him South Africa’s highest honour, the Order of Mapungubwe in Silver, for excellent contributions to medical science.

- Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer 

author : Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer
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Collection of Photographs of African Writers Complete

Collection of Photographs of African Writers Complete
Centre for Literary Studies part-time archivist, Barbara Gentil, with the photographs archive.

The Centre for Literary Studies (CALS) has completed archival work on its substantial collection of photographs of African literary figures.

These are to a large extent part of the original Lindfors Collection which forms the core collection of materials at CALS. 

Bernth Lindfors, a retired Professor of English at the University of Texas in Austin in the United States, continues to donate items to CALS and also makes use of the collection. 

The collection is popular with publishers, especially from the international community. A recent letter from Lindfors reveals how the CALS’ photographs are being used. He wrote: ‘Yes, the photos [slides of the originals] arrived a few days ago, and I'm very glad to have them. The one of Achebe may be used in a future publication by the African Literature Association.’

 He explained that the well-known Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong'o would use some of the slides. ‘The photos of Elvania Zirimu were sent to Ngugi wa Thiong’o who is now writing the next instalment of his memoirs which deal with his years at Makerere University, where he knew Elvania and her husband, Pio.’

CALS will be credited by the publishers as the source for photographs.

The photographs can be viewed at the Centre and the contents are listed at

For further assistance please contact Darlene Holtz 033 260 6249 or Wiseman Masango 033 260 6491.

- Christine Stilwell 

author : Christine Stilwell
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HIV is about Life, not just Death!

HIV is about Life, not just Death!
School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics students at the SAVE Prevention Training.

A three-day training workshop on the SAVE HIV prevention methodology was attended by 44 postgraduate students from the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics on the Pietermaritzburg campus.

The workshop was organised by the Collaborative for HIV and AIDS, Religion and Theology (CHART), together with the International, Interfaith Network of Religious Leaders Living With or Personally Affected by HIV (INERELA+) and the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC)

Facilitators were the Rev JP Mokgethi-Heath of the Church of Sweden and the Executive Director of INERELA+, the Rev Phumzile Mabizela.

This SAVE (Safer practices, Access to treatment, Voluntary counselling and testing, Empowerment) approach is more comprehensive than the ABC (Abstinence, Be faithful, use Condoms) HIV prevention method.

The training systematically tackled the stigma, shame, denial, discrimination, inaction and misaction (SSDDIM) around HIV and AIDS. 

One of the major challenges in working with religious leaders around issues of HIV has been the lack of skills in addressing sex, sexuality and gender in the public realm.

The training enabled the participants to learn how to address these sensitive issues in an open, informative and non-stigmatising way. 

From comments afterwards, it was clear participants  found the training both relevant and empowering: Comments included: ‘I have no doubt that it could be  helpful in changing attitudes, stereotypes that many of us still have about HIV/AIDS’, and  ‘It has changed my perspective, challenged my personal conviction and enlightened me on issues of HIV and AIDS, sexuality and gender’.  

Students all received a comprehensive SAVE toolkit to use in conducting training sessions in their communities. 

The toolkit can be viewed in the CHART office, Room 104, New Arts Building, Pietermaritzburg campus or online at


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UKZN Student at World Bodybuilding Champs

UKZN Student at World Bodybuilding Champs
Mr Damien Tomaselli.

Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS) and UKZN Drama Studies graduate, Mr Damien Tomaselli, represented Bodybuilding South Africa at the IFBB International Federation for Bodybuilders (IFBB) World Bodybuilding Championships in Kiev in the Ukraine.  He is also a current UKZN MA student in Visual Arts on the Pietermaritzburg campus.  His project involves the design of a digital graphic novel that involves actors from the body building community. 

The IFBB is a competitive bodybuilding and fitness organisation with Mr Olympia being the top accolade available.  

Tomaselli represented South Africa in the IFBB Men’s Athletic Physique Category aimed at men who prefer to develop a less muscular, yet athletic and aesthetically pleasing physique.  

‘Having Damien represent South Africa at the World Bodybuilding Championships was great for the community of Durban and for the sport itself,’ said Mr Wayne Price, President of Body Builders and IFBB South Africa.

- Keyan Tomaselli 

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Honours Students Support Casual Day

Honours Students Support Casual Day
Staff and Students from the School of Life Sciences on the Pietermaritzburg campus dress up for Casual Day.

The 2013 Biological Sciences Honours Class in the School of Life Sciences on the Pietermaritzburg campus supported this year’s Casual Day by selling stickers to students in and around the Pietermaritzburg campus.

The class took to the streets and encouraged everyone they saw to purchase and support disability organisations by buying a sticker for R10 to be worn on Casual Day this year.

‘Our target market was mostly students and despite many of them being short of cash, they dug deep and participated. I thank each and every person who supported the cause,’ said Honours student, Ms Kerushka Pillay.

The theme Go Big was also promoted by the class so that people would participate in the fun activities of the day. This is the class’s second social outreach initiative and they look forward to giving back to the community again in the near future.

‘I have had the opportunity to experience how people feel about giving and helping the needy,’ said honours student, Ms Londiwe Magagula.  ‘The highlight was seeing the faces of people when we told them we were raising funds for the disabled. Many people didn’t know what Casual Day was all about so you realise people often don't take part not because they don't care, but because they are not informed.’  About R900 was raised.

- Barrington Marais 

author : Barrington Marais
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US Research Institute to use UKZN Facilities

US Research Institute to use UKZN Facilities
At UKZN’s Vibration and Testing Centre (from left) Mr Alan Ntambwe, Mr Ming Lu, Mr John Chan, Mr Gary Sibilant, Mr Daniel Kubelwa and Mr Pravesh Moodley.

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) based in the United States will use UKZN’s Vibration and Testing Centre (VRTC) laboratory to conduct research in multiple conductor vibration.

VRTC is a specialised laboratory on the Westville campus equipped to allow vibration testing on power-lines and vibration dampers.

Information about multiple conductor vibration is scarce and therefore the research undertaken at the VRTC will assist in providing solutions to industrial problems.

Testing involves studying the natural deterioration of power lines and seeking techniques to reduce vibrations on the multiple conductor lines. The project is expected to last six months.

UKZN’s Engineering students will be exposed to a world-class application leading to the further development of their knowledge and skills. 

Students will be given an opportunity to conduct the tests and then submit the data to EPRI in the United States.  VRTC student Mr Daniel Kubelwa will conduct his doctorate based on the multiple conductor vibration.

Programme Manager at EPRI in the Power Delivery and Utilisation Division, Mr John Chan, said:  ‘There are not too many laboratories in the world which have a long test span for vibration research such as that of VRTC.  We are pleased to have an opportunity to work together.’

Project Manager at EPRI and UKZN alumnus, Mr Gary Sibilant, said: ‘The VRTC was chosen due to the size of the laboratory which contains an 85m transmission line. In addition, the VRTC lab is featured in the EPRI Transmission Line Reference book.’ 

Sashlin Girraj 

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Funds for Bursaries Raised at Golf Day

Funds for Bursaries Raised at Golf Day
From left: Mr Len Mzimela, Ms Megan Saunders, Ms Raeesa Shaik, Ms Alindile Njisane and Mr Themba Rikhotso.

A total of R172 000 was raised at this year’s UKZN Golf Tournament at the Wild Coast Country Club near Port Edward for bursaries for academically deserving students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The annual Golf Day has become a tradition for many players who return every year saying “golfing with a cause” draws them back.

Eight bursaries worth R10 000 were awarded after the tournament from the funds generated. The recipients - two students from each of the four Colleges – are Mvuselelo Mhlongo and Thembeka Mhlongo of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science; Raeesa Shaik and Megan Saunders of the College of Health Sciences; Marne Willemse and Alindile Njisane of the College of Humanities; and Renolan Padayachee and Raymond Ntuli of the College of Law and Management Studies.

Chair of the Golf Committee, Ms Shakila Thakurpersad, who has organised the event since its inception, said: ‘I am delighted with the overall interest and support the University community has shown in the Golf Day.

‘The overwhelming response from both players and sponsors every year has contributed significantly to the continued success of this event. The Golf Day also provides us with the opportunity to interact informally to consolidate existing relationships while raising much funds for bursaries for students from poorer communities.’

Played on an individual stableford points format, the day attracted 108 golfers with the winner being Mr Chris Koen from Botswana who was on holiday celebrating his birthday.  Second in the guest category was Mr Todd Somaroo and third was Mr Brian Kisten.

Mr Randy Phalad from Legal Services was the winner in the Staff/Convocation Category with Mr Vish Naidoo of the University of Zululand second and UKZN alumnus Mr Jeffrey Govender third.

The women’s section was won by Ms Sharon Sjoblom from the Medical School campus.

The occasion - a valuable networking opportunity for staff, students, alumni, friends of the University, sponsors and the golfing fraternity - provides local companies with an excellent opportunity to promote their products to UKZN stakeholders.

The tournament would not be possible without the generous contributions of the sponsors, Standard Bank.

Speaking at the function, the Head of Corporate Sales at the bank, Mr Themba Rikhotso, said Standard Bank was deeply honoured to be associated with the 10th anniversary of the UKZN Golf Day and felt very humbled to be the main sponsors.

‘This is the fourth year running we have been main sponsors of this event.

We believe this is a really good cause so the sponsorship is our response to Nelson Mandela’s call for action when he said: “A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones”.’

- Indu Moodley 

author : Indu Moodley
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UKZN Scientists at the Helm of Exciting Digital Laser Invention

UKZN Scientists at the Helm of Exciting Digital Laser Invention
Professor Andrew Forbes and PhD student, Mr Sandile Ngcobo.

Researchers at South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research - led by Honorary Professor Andrew Forbes of UKZN’s School of Physics and Chemistry and PhD student at the University Mr Sandile Ngcobo  - have developed the world’s first digital laser.

Both Forbes and Ngcobo were born in KwaZulu-Natal. Forbes completed his secondary schooling at George Campbell High School in Durban while Ngcobo matriculated from Eastwood High School in Pietermaritzburg.

Laser technology forms an essential part of everyday life: being used in devices for laser lighting displays in entertainment, office equipment, DVD players and even bar code scanners in retail stores.

In conventional lasers, the shape of the light that is emitted is either not controlled at all, or a single shape is selected by expensive optics. For the first time the CSIR team has expertly demonstrated that this can all be done inside the laser.

The ground-breaking research has uncovered the potential to digitally control laser emissions in real-time, hence the name ‘digital laser’.

‘Our digital laser uses the LCD as one of its mirrors fitted at one end of the laser cavity,’ said Forbes, who is the leader of the Mathematical Optics Research Group at CSIR.

‘Just as with LCD televisions, the LCD inside the laser can be sent pictures to display. When the pictures change on the LCD inside, the properties of the laser beams that exit the device change accordingly.’

In an experiment at the CSIR’s laboratories in Pretoria, the team programmed the LCD to play a video of a selection of images representing a variety of desired laser modes. The result was that the laser output changed in real-time from one mode shape to another.

‘The dynamic control of laser modes could open up many future applications, from communications to medicine. Our device represents a new way of thinking about laser technology and we see it as a new platform on which future technologies may be built,’ explained Forbes.

Ngcobo, whose input in the experimental work formed part of his PhD studies, believes the research demonstrates the ability within the CSIR to lead innovation in this field.

‘I believe the digital laser will be a “disruptive” technology. This is technology which may change the status quo and which could create new markets and value networks in the near future. The research into the digital laser continues. It adds to the CSIR’s strong track record in the development of laser technology in mathematical optics,’ said Ngcobo.

Minister of Science and Technology, Mr Derek Hanekom, said the discovery was a clear indication of the potential for extraordinary scientific innovation in South Africa. ‘The fact that the world’s first digital laser should come from our country is testimony to the calibre of scientists that South Africa has,’ he said.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of College: Agriculture, Engineering and Science, Professor Deo Jaganyi, said the cutting-edge research was a high profile achievement for both UKZN and South Africa in the international scientific research arena.  

- Barrington Marais 

Photographs: Independent Newspapers

author : Barrington Marais
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