Ikhonsathi I- Urban African Culture Lunch Hour Concert

Ikhonsathi I- Urban African Culture Lunch Hour Concert
Abafundi beAfrican Music and Dance 3A.

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Isikole SobuCiko (KwezoMculo) sethule ikhonsathi yaso yokuqala i-Lunch Hour Concert yonyaka wezi-2015 lapho umdanso nomculo wase-Afrika bewuthulwa esiteji e-Howard College Thearte ngaphansi kwesihloko esithi : Urban African Culture.

Le khonsathi ebiholwa uNkk Nomfundo Zuma, uMnu Thamsanqa Silindana noMnu Lindani Phumlomo ibihlanganise izinhlobonhlobo zemidanso ezithokozelwe kakhulu yizethameli okubalwa ne-Township City Africa Dance ebididiyelwe uPhumlomo ebikhangisa ngokuxhumana komdanso wesimanje ‘i-Nae Nae’ yasesilungwini, ’i-Kwasa kwasa’ yasemalokishini nomdanso waseNtshonalanga Afrika obizwa ‘i-Kuku’.

Ekhuluma ngokuhlelwa nokudidiyelwa kwemidanso ayikhethile uSilingana uthe : ‘Umdanso i-Bhekuzulu Dance (Umzansi) udidiyelwe kukhunjulwa Inkosi Cyprian Bhekuzulu Nyangayezizwe Solomon, ongomunye wamakhosi aKwaZulu angasekho futhi onguyise weNkosi Godwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu.

‘Umzansi uyimidanso yesiZulu futhi uthathwa njengomdanso wamabutho kanti uyadanswa futhi nasemigcagcweni. Abadansi boMzansi basebenzisa isigubhu sasempini futhi uhlobo lomdanso olujwayeleke ebantwini baseMsinga nase-Bergville. Umzansi waqala ezindaweni zakwaMaphumulo naseNdwedwe.’

Okunye obekusesiteji amaculo anhlobonhlobo emigcagco yesiZulu, abebizwa ngoMshado. ‘ Lamaculo omgcagco wesiZulu abeculwa emigcagcweni yesintu eyaye ibanjelwe ekhaya likamkhwenyana. Emuva kwenkonzo yesonto, abashadayo bayashintsha bagqoke izevatho zesintu. Uma kushada abantu ababili abangamaZulu, umshado uhlanganisa imindeni yomibili kanye nabangasekho bakuleyomindeni., kuchaza uSilindana.

UZuma, ngakolunye uhlangothi, uqambe iculo Imbokodo (women) Style: Afro Jazz. ‘Iculo limayelana nabesifazane jikelele abangitholi ukuhlonishwa okubafanele. Iculo licacisa imisebenzi nokuzinikela okwenziwa abesifazane njengokubeletha kodwa namanje basathathwa noma kanjani. Iculo lakhe licaphune nenkondlo ethi Phenomenal Woman ebhalwe nguMaya Angelou.

Ikhonsathi libe yimpumelelo enkulu futhi abebethamele bakuqinisekisile ukuthi bazophinde bazothamela elilandelayo.

Melissa Mungroo

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Italian Musicologist Discusses SA Jazz at UKZN

Italian Musicologist Discusses SA Jazz at UKZN
Dr Marcello Lorrai with Dr Salim Washington (UKZN).

As part of the European Union’s Inspiring Thinkers Series, Italian  Musicologist Dr Marcello Lorrai was at UKZN’s Centre for Jazz and Popular Music (CJPM) to discuss the influence of the South African jazz diaspora in Europe since 1960.

Lorrai spoke about the Blue Notes jazz sextet, apartheid, exile and a new style of jazz in Europe during his presentation, offering audiences snippets of jazz compositions of influential jazz musicians in depicting the rise of prolific South African jazz.

He also highlighted Chris McGregor as the pioneering jazz pianist of the famed South African jazz band the Blue Notes and exiled band leader of the dynamic and innovative Brotherhood of Breath.

‘The Blue Notes comprising pianist Chris McGregor, trumpeter Mongezi Feza, saxophonist Dudu Pukwana, bassist Johnny Dyani, drummer Louis Moholo and briefly Nick Moyake on saxophone, played uniquely “Afro-modernist” jazz that took the South African and then London jazz scene by storm. The band was extended and enlarged in the late 1960s by McGregor to become the Brotherhood of Breath,’ said Lorrai.

He noted various historical aspects of the band, including their rise to fame, their music and musical contributions, their exile during apartheid, their subsequent deaths and musical tributes made in honour of them.

Lorrai believes they are now considered one of the great free jazz bands of their era, whose music was given a unique flavour by their integration of African styles, such as Kwela, into the progressive jazz ideas of the time.

‘The South African music diaspora is now arranged for a younger generation but Europe continues to still be influenced by the South African Jazz contributions. The Blue Notes jazz elements are still present today in European Jazz. 

UKZN Music lecturer Mr Neil Gonsalves said: ‘It was a pleasure to host Dr Lorrai as part of the EU Inspirational Thinkers series, especially on a topic as vital as his in understanding the importance and impact of South African jazz in Europe.’

Melissa Mungroo

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UKZN’s Rural Health Head Awarded Multi-million Rand Fellowship

UKZN’s Rural Health Head Awarded Multi-million Rand Fellowship
Dr Mosa Moshabela.

Head of UKZN’s Department of Rural Health, Dr Mosa Moshabela, has been awarded a Research Training Fellowship in Public Health and Tropical Medicine from the United Kingdom’s Wellcome Trust worth more than R8,5 million.

Moshabela’s grant will support his doctoral study titled: ‘The Impact of Medical Pluralism on the Cascade of Care for People Living with HIV and AIDS in Rural South Africa. His study, being done over three years, is a continuation of his doctoral research, which suggested that the use of multiple sources of health care or medical pluralism resulted in delayed access to care among HIV patients in rural settings.

‘We are therefore going to link the community surveillance data at The Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies (TAC) with the data in the HIV clinics to test this hypothesis using longitudinal data analysis methods,’ said Moshabela. ‘If this is true, then we need to re-orientate health services and health care seeking practices to reduce the negative impact of medical pluralism.

‘Our belief is that services of the so-called non-formal healers and health providers can be harnessed to help reduce and mitigate the burden of HIV/AIDS in Africa, but more systematic research is needed to inform such policy debates,’ he added.

According to Moshabela, it will be for the first time that such a study is done in Africa, as his work has expanded conventional health services to include the use of traditional and faith healers in these communities.

Moshabela’s study is supervised by Professor Till Bärnighausen, a Senior Scientist and Epidemiologist at the TAC and a Professor in Global Health at the Harvard Medical School, and Dr Alison Wringe, a Demographer and Senior Researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. 

‘I think it is about time that as scientists we stop burying our heads in the sand denying the reality that many people we serve in health care use traditional and faith healing services, and explore opportunities offered by this community of local practitioners. Until now we have been courageous enough to embrace community health workers in the fight against HIV and TB, and I believe we can go a step further to work out our ambivalence and differences regarding traditional and faith healing services,’ said Moshabela.

‘In the words of Adolf Woolf: “To acknowledge a practice does not necessarily mean to endorse it”. I believe acknowledgement will be a first step, otherwise our efforts in the antiretroviral clinics will be reduced to nought.’

The Welcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health by supporting bright minds in science, the humanities and social sciences. The Trust’s funding focuses on supporting outstanding researchers, accelerating the application of research and exploring medicine in historical and cultural contexts.

‘I feel very honoured to receive the award, which is the result of many years of preparation,’ Moshabela said. ‘I positioned myself to compete for this award four years prior to the day I submitted my application. I truly believe that the award is a tangible international recognition of the research I have been doing, and an opportunity for me to grow among the prolific scientists and fellows connected to the Wellcome Trust.’

Nombuso Dlamini

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Masters Graduate to continue TB Research in Johannesburg


Ms Lavania Joseph will complete her internship at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg after obtaining her Masters degree in Medical Sciences at UKZN.

Joseph, whose masters thesis was titled: “Mutation Frequencies in Drug-Susceptible Clinical Isolates of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis under Aerobic and Anaerobic Conditions, said drug resistance was one of the major obstacles threatening the success of tuberculosis (TB) control programmes, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal. 

‘Little is known about the ability of M. tuberculosis – the causative agent of TB – to acquire mutations leading to drug resistance.’

Her study provided much-needed information on the mutational capacity of M. tuberculosis, with potential implications for anti-tuberculosis therapy.  

Joseph said: ‘Completing my masters has undoubtedly been my most significant achievement to date.  It’s extremely rewarding to have accomplished this after many hours sacrificed in the lab.

‘My decision to pursue a TB-based project was largely influenced by the fact that I live in KwaZulu-Natal, where the disease is a major health concern.  To me, it’s essential that data generated in the lab can be translated clinically into improved healthcare and patient-driven interventions.  I believe that medical science can help to bridge that gap.’

Joseph obtained her Bachelor of Medical Science Honours degree summa cum laude.

‘My greatest support throughout the years has been my father.  He supported my decision to pursue my passion for science since year one of my undergraduate studies, and has always provided that extra motivation when it was needed.’

Joseph is currently completing her National Institute for Communicable Diseases internship in Johannesburg with the aim of registering with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) as a scientist.

She said it was rewarding to work among ‘high-calibre researchers’ at UKZN and being able to present her research at several symposia.

‘My future plans are to continue work as a medical scientist, where I can participate in various research and surveillance projects.  I would also like to eventually pursue my PhD,’ she said.

Lunga Memela

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Share and Dare Programme at UKZN

Share and Dare Programme at UKZN
NSTF-BHP Billiton award winner Professor Azwinndini Muronga with learners from the Umkhumbane Schools Project during his Science Show at UKZN’s Science and Technology Education Centre (STEC).

About 75 youngsters from five schools which are part of the Umkhumbane Schools Project, attended a National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) Share 'n Dare Programme held at UKZN’s Science and Technology Education Centre (STEC).

The programme was initiated as part of the NSTF-BHP Billiton Awards to enable the award winners to be ambassadors for Science, Engineering, Technology and Innovation (SETI), as well as role models for the youth, during the year they receive their awards.

The awards, the flagship project of the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) since 1998, promote and reward excellence in scientific research, technological innovation, education, capacity building and science communication in South Africa.

The 2015 ambassador for the programme is Professor Azwinndini Muronga, who is an Associate Professor of Physics and Director of the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto Science Centre. Muronga, currently the leading Theoretical Physicist in South Africa, is a passionate speaker, determined to stimulate and encourage the youth to study science. He has devoted himself to this programme of outreach and popularisation of science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Two presentations that were delivered on the day. The first one was presented by Dr Tanja Reinhardt of UKZN, who gave an overview of the various courses of study offered by the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science. Reinhardt was followed by Professor Muronga who gave an exciting scientific demonstration.  The audience saw a brave volunteer sit on a bed of nails without getting hurt and then were amazed when Muronga blew up a large plastic bag faster than another volunteer.

Muronga encouraged learners to look for entrepreneurial opportunities in the Science field. Learners enjoyed the presentation and asked many questions, such as: What is a Theoretical Physicist? Why is the earth not getting closer to the sun?

 Thembane Mlambo

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UKZN Academic awarded Honorary Doctorate from Rhodes University

UKZN Academic awarded Honorary Doctorate from Rhodes University
UKZN’s Professor Frances Lund (right) with the Director of the Institute for Social and Economic Research, Professor Robert van Niekerk.

Professor Frances Lund of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Rhodes University in recognition of her work as a Social Policy Analyst and Welfare Activist. 

‘It has been a great privilege to have been engaged in social policy research and implementation over a time of dramatic political transition, when the new government had ears to listen, and was thirsty for new ideas,’ said Lund.

In her address at the Rhodes graduation ceremony, she spoke about being asked in 1995 to chair a Committee - The Lund Committee of Enquiry into Child and Family Support - and also discussed the impact of the Child Support Grant.

Lund highlighted the importance of good rigorous research in contributing to policy reforms, the importance of using this research to contest popular but inaccurate beliefs about government programmes such as pensions and grants, and the importance of getting this research out to the media.

‘This focus on pensions and grants led to my being asked to chair the Lund Committee in 1995. The late President Mandela had made his “First Call for Children” - a considerable part of the national budget was going to older people and those with disabilities with only a small fraction being allocated directly to children and families.

‘After considering other options, we recommended a child support grant - a small amount of cash to go every month to the primary care giver of children in poor households. It was a brave recommendation. The Cabinet accepted it the day it was tabled in 1996, and it was introduced in 1998. Today it is received by the primary care givers of about 11.5 million children, and the cash amount is R330 per qualifying child,’ said Lund.

‘A lot of research has been done on the impact of the grant with findings all pointing in the same direction - the grant contributes to improved health status of the children who receive it; it increases school enrolments; it leads to children staying a longer time in school, and together with the other grants (which are far larger than the Child Support Grant) it reduces the Gini coefficient - a measure of inequality in this most unequal society.’

Lund dispelled negative stereotypes and myths associated with the grants such as that the grant ‘causes’ teenage pregnancy, that it is the cause of ‘the population explosion’ as a whole, that the money is spent frivolously on cosmetics, and that grants generally make people lazy and ‘create dependency’.

‘Senior researcher Dr Monde Makiwane at the Human Sciences Research Council did an extensive search for evidence for the association between the grant and young teen pregnancy. He and his colleagues could find none. Yet the belief persists.

‘The fertility rate in South Africa has decreased since the grant was introduced, but the decrease was not ‘caused by’ the grant – it might have more to do with the HIV/AIDS, including the intensive education that has influenced sexual behaviour.

‘Do any of the grants create dependency? There is firm evidence from two large studies in different parts of the country that old age pension income – a much larger amount than the Child Support Grant - enables job search by younger household members, and assists in the setting up of micro-enterprises and job creation in the informal economy.

‘The South African Child Support Grant is often used as an example of “good practice”.  I am proud of having been associated with this policy intervention. It is blindingly clear that in cash-based societies, the lack of cash is a binding constraint, and the social grants have done and are doing important work.’

She thanked Rhodes University for the honorary doctorate which she treasured deeply.

Lund is a Senior Research Associate specialising in social policy. She is the Director of the Social Protection Programme of the global research and advocacy network, WIEGO - Women in Informal Employment: Globalizsing and Organizsing. Trained as a sociologist and social worker, she practised as a grassroots organiser in the fields of early childhood development and in urban infrastructural developmente, with a special interest in participatory research methods as an organising tool.

A longstanding research interest has been on the impact of South Africa’s pensions and grants in mitigating poverty and redressing inequality.

She is engaged locally and globally in research and policy advocacy around informal workers, especially regarding local government intervention, and the provision of social security, and occupational health and safety. An emerging research interest is in occupational health and safety for informal workers. She is a Research Associate at the Brooks World Poverty Institute, University of Manchester.

Melissa Mungroo

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Nobel Laureate joins CAPRISA’s Scientific Advisory Board

Nobel Laureate joins CAPRISA’s Scientific Advisory Board
Nobel Laureate Professor Françoise Barré-Sinoussi.

Distinguished Scientist and Nobel Laureate, Professor Françoise Barré-Sinoussi of the Institut Pasteur, has joined the Scientific Advisory Board of the Centre of the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA).

Barré-Sinoussi has been appointed for a three-year term on the Board, which is responsible for reviewing and guiding CAPRISA’s overall strategic scientific direction.

In a first for South Africa, Barré-Sinoussi, who received a Nobel Prize for discovering HIV, will play an active role in guiding South African AIDS research by advising CAPRISA on its future research ideas and plans.

CAPRISA has recently been recognized by the South African government’s Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation as a Centre of Excellence in HIV Prevention.

‘I am very pleased to serve as a scientific advisor to CAPRISA,’ said Barré-Sinoussi. ‘I have followed the excellent research of this leading international AIDS research group over the past few years with great interest. CAPRISA’s research is world-class but it could make even bigger contributions. One particularly important future area for CAPRISA to consider is research on a cure for AIDS, which is one of the major priorities in HIV Science.’

Barré-Sinoussi is presently the Director of the Retroviral Infections Unit at the Institut Pasteur and is the Immediate Past President of the International AIDS Society, a global association of professionals and practitioners in the field of HIV and AIDS.

She is a highly respected Virologist who has made seminal contributions during her 40-year scientific career. Her discovery in 1983 of the retrovirus that is known as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), led to the first diagnostic tests for HIV and has been the basis for development of antiretroviral drugs and HIV vaccines.

‘Great discoveries in science require fearless leaders who persevere against the odds. We are very fortunate to have Professor Barré-Sinoussi, who is one such fearless leader, to advise CAPRISA on its future research plans,’ said Professor Salim Abdool Karim, Director of CAPRISA and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) at UKZN. ‘This will go a long way towards enhancing the scientific excellence of our AIDS research and enable South African to make even bigger contributions to global HIV research.’

Barré-Sinoussi has actively promoted and championed the integration between AIDS research and programmes in poor countries through the Institute Pasteur International Network and her role in the French National Agency for Research on AIDS and Viral Hepatitis (ANRS).

She has a strong commitment to building capacity and providing training for researchers from Africa and Asia.

In her new role on the CAPRISA Scientific Advisory Board, she will advise researchers in the CAPRISA consortium from the UKZN, the University of Cape Town, the University of the Western Cape and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg.

Smita Maharaj

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Study Proves Grapefruit Juice Lowers Blood Glucose Levels in Diabetic Patients

Study Proves Grapefruit Juice Lowers Blood Glucose Levels in Diabetic Patients
Dr Peter Owira with his group of students in the Pharmacology laboratory.

Intrigued by the therapeutic effects of grapefruit juice (GFJ) when consumed by people with Diabetes, UKZN’s Dr Peter Owira has explored the mechanisms by which GFJ lowers blood glucose levels through his novel ground-breaking study titled: Grapefruit Juice Improves Glucose Intolerance in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetes by Suppressing Hepatic Gluconeogenesis.

Various studies indicate that consumption of GFJ causes weight loss and reduces plasma cholesterol levels. ‘This is especially beneficial to patients with Type 2 Diabetes who need it the most as its chemical ingredients have metformin-like effects in blood glucose regulation,’ said Owira.

‘Diabetic patients often consume GFJ following folkloric claims of its anti-diabetic effects, and hence, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that anti-diabetic effects of GFJ have been demonstrated in diabetic animal models.’

Owira’s study focused on the mechanisms by which GFJ lowers blood glucose levels in both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes treated rats.

The intriguing results indicated that treatment with GFJ either alone or in combination with insulin significantly (p < 0.05) reduced Fasting Blood Glucose (FBG) levels in diabetic rats. This suggests that GFJ just like insulin may be an inhibiting protein and lipid catabolism associated with insulin deficiency but did not affect the natural growth of non-diabetic rats.

The study also found that diabetic rats experienced polydipsia (extreme thirst) as determined by water consumption but treatment with GFJ alone or in combination with insulin significantly reduced water intake compared to non-treated diabetic rats, while insulin alone did not reduce water intake.

Owira said: ‘It may be possible that GFJ or some of its bioactive chemical constituents are protective against polydipsia in a diabetic state.’

However, the study found that glucokinase activity was significantly elevated in diabetic rats treated with both GFJ and insulin compared to those treated with GFJ only, suggesting that GFJ or its bioactive chemical constituents requires insulin in the modulation of glucokinase activity.  Hence, GFJ is unable to stimulate the production of insulin like metformin but does require insulin in the regulation of glucose homeostasis.

Owira’s study concluded that GFJ may be beneficial to Type 2 diabetic patients as opposed to those with Type 1 diabetes. The study also found that GFJ prevents hepatic gluconeogenesis (GFJ inhibits key enzymes that produce glucose in the liver) which is the main cause of hyperglycemia in diabetes.

He thanked UKZN Pharmacy students who formed part of the study as well as the South Africa Medical Research Council for funding the study which was recently published in the peer-reviewed journal, European Journal of Nutrition.

Masters of Pharmacy graduate, Ms Julia Hayangah, who worked on the study said: ‘Being involved with this project I got to learn so much. When I started doing the project my knowledge on grapefruit was very superficial. Now I have a greater understanding on the health benefits of grapefruit consumption. I loved working on this project even though it was a lot of hard work. I had to be on campus every day because the animals were treated twice a day, the water requirements were quite high and the bedding had to be changed because diabetic animals urinate a lot.

‘The overall master’s studies revealed that grapefruit could have beneficial effects in ameliorating diabetic nephropathy.

‘Currently, I am a registered PHD student investigating the effects of grapefruit in ameliorating HIV associated nephropathy in streptozotocin induced diabetes. This is because a lot of HIV patients who are diabetic are at a greater risk of developing nephropathy.’

MaryAnn Francis

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Nursing Students Showcase importance of HIV testing among Mental Health Care Users

Nursing Students Showcase importance of HIV testing among Mental Health Care Users
Fourth year UKZN Nursing students on set.

A group of six Psychiatric nursing students - supported by Discipline of Nursing head Professor Gugu Mchunu and Lecturer Mrs Ann Jarvis - have produced a short HIV awareness film aimed at people in mental health care.

The production of the film is a community engagement project fourth year students are required to do as part of their curriculum. 

The students - Ms Megan Dey-van Heerden, Ms Pauline Kapena, Ms Claudia Botha, Ms Yashmika Tika, Ms Zanoxolo Buthelezi and Ms Lindelwa Zungu - and their Lecturer have worked closely with the Producer, Script writers, professional Actors and other members of the South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance production team, who agreed to produce the film free of charge.

As part of their project, the students identified that HIV testing rates in mental health care clinics were low. ‘During our literature review, we identified a high prevalence of HIV among mental health care users. The risk factors varied,’ said Kapena. 

Botha said: ‘We believe that the early detection of HIV will help with early intervention and management of the disease.  For those who test negative, counselling will help them protect themselves and their partners from contracting HIV. This will help stop the epidemic from spreading.’

The students plan to showcase their completed production to the Psychiatry department at King Dinizulu Hospital on 10 May.

The students hope to share their educational film with other hospitals and also with the Department of Health to spread their message that HIV testing is essential.

Nombuso Dlamini

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UKZN Health Sciences Community Assists Xenophobia Victims

UKZN Health Sciences Community Assists Xenophobia Victims
Volunteers hand out baby supplies to Durbans Xenophobia victims.

UKZN medical students and staff teamed up with representatives of the South African Medical Association (SAMA), the Islamic Medical Association and Doctors, to assist victims of the xenophobia violence at emergency camps in Phoenix near Durban.

The team, led by UKZN’s Family Medicine Specialist and KZN SAMA Chair, Dr Mergan Naidoo, donated blankets, clothes and food.

Naidoo said: ‘Initially, we planned to provide medical assistance but couldn’t due to the lack of infrastructure. The camp was fairly new having only been established the previous day and there were no facilities to provide medical screening and care. However, additional medical help arrived in the form of members of SAMA, local doctors and folk from the Islamic Medical Association who erected a medical tent.’

The UKZN team also helped to prepare meals for about 3000 people. Naidoo said this was efficiently done and everybody was fed within an hour.

‘Well done to all involved who found the experience enlightening and enjoyable. Now that the medical tent has been set up, any Doctor/ senior medical student wanting to volunteer their services can contact the Medical Student Representative Council offices on 031-2604300 or the local SAMA Branch at 80 Helen Joseph Road in Glenwood. We encourage all to assist as there is a need for volunteers at the site.’

Doctors treated scores of patients at the Phoenix camps and also in Isipingo.  Investec provided water bottles, plastic buckets and paid for pharmaceuticals while SAMA provided 100 water bottles.

There is still a great need for food, clothes and basic commodities, and request everyone able to donate these goods to direct them at the MSRC or SAMA offices.

Dean and Head of School of Nursing and Public Health, Professor Busi Ncama, thanked Dr Naidoo and SAMA for the initiative. ‘I think we should extend the call beyond our College. Universities like ours which are critically engaged with society and have so many international students cannot remain on the side lines.’

The University community has been asked to donate non-perishable food, water bottles and 25-litre plastic buckets which may be delivered to the MSRC offices at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine or the SAMA office at 80 Helen Joseph Road, Glenwood (opposite the Davenport centre).

Those who want to assist should email Msrc-studentservices@stu.ukzn.ac.za,admin@samadbn.orgNaidoom@ukzn.ac.za

Nombuso Dlamini

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Obstetrics and Gynaecology team wins College of Health Sciences Quiz

Obstetrics and Gynaecology team wins College of Health Sciences Quiz
The Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology’s CAESAR CHIEFS team won this year’s College of Health Sciences Quiz.

The winners of this year’s College of Health Sciences (CHS) Quiz were once again CAESAR CHIEFS from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

‘We’re very proud and satisfied,’ said the team’s Dr Neil Moran, all fired up following winning the annual College Quiz for the third time.

With CAESAR CHIEFS wearing their colourful R.E.A.C.H lanyards when they lifted the floating trophy, Moran said: ‘The key to the competition is to make the right selection when it comes to your team’s chance of double scores.’

The College Quiz has been supported and attended since its inception by the Director for College Professional Services and DEAR DEVILS team member, Professor Fanie Botha.

The much anticipated social event provides a unique platform for academic and professional services staff to meet annually and interact outside the office environment; promoting camaraderie and encouraging collegiality.

With increased numbers of interdisciplinary health sciences teams each year, Quiz Master, Dr Dean Gopalan, poses trivia questions taking the healthcare professionals out of their comfort zones by testing their general knowledge in a number of non-medical areas.

The teams have creative names and dress up accordingly, making it a fun event with snacks and lots of laughter.

Lunga Memela

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Unisa National Violin Symposium at UKZN

Unisa National Violin Symposium at UKZN
Renowned musician Eddy Marcano (right) with violinists at the UKZN’s Centre for Jazz and Popular Music.

Two internationally renowned violinists supported by local musicians presented a violin symposium at UKZN’s Centre for Jazz and Popular Music.

Violinists of all levels attended the Unisa Music Foundation’s symposiums that were also presented in Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Cape Town.

Classical musician and master of South American styles, Eddy Marcano of Venezuela, and jazz and gypsy specialist, Tim Kliphuis of Holland, gave constructive critiques and advice to the violinists.

Marcano is the Conductor of the Simón Bolivar Symphony Orchestra in Caracas, Venezuela.

Local musicians who led the sessions included Louis van der Watt, members of the Odeion String Quartet and violinists from Durban and Johannesburg.

The symposium consisted of workshops and master classes on violin technique, styles, repertoire and improvisation.

Mr Alet Venter of Unisa’s Music Foundation said: ‘Following the Unisa National Saxophone Symposium in 2014 and the violin symposium this year, we plan to present symposiums for other instruments. Currently, we are giving lessons and music instruments to about 1200 disadvantaged learners, who also get the chance to play in orchestras.’

The Unisa Violin Symposium in Durban ended with a concert featuring Kliphuis and Marcano at UKZN’s Centre for Jazz and Popular Music.

Melissa Mungroo

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Reunion of Medical School Class of ‘85

Reunion of Medical School Class of ‘85
The Nelson R Mandela Medical School Class of 1985 with their families.

About 80 medical doctors from all over the world attended the Medical School’s Class of ‘85 reunion held over three days recently.

The ‘walk down memory lane’ elicited laughs, giggles and cheers from participants as they tried to identify ‘who was who’ on the original 1985 class photo.

Sport Medicine and Anti-Aging Specialist, Dr Dhesan Moodley, said he flew in from Atlanta in the United States to re-connect with old friends.

‘Being in these premises reminds me of everything we went through. The standard of training we received was very high and we made long lasting friendships,’ said Moodley. ‘Doctors from the Natal Medical School do very well all over the world.’

Moodley plans to return to South Africa in the next few years.

An unpleasant memory for him was the racism in the old South Africa – ‘even to study here we had to get special Government consent’.

Moodley did his internship at ‘Black hospitals - we were not allowed into Addington Hospital. Had we been allowed in, medicine would have benefitted because we would have learned from each other as we all had the same health challenges’.

Said Clinical Epidemiologist, Rheumatologist and Gerontologist, Dr Charles Inderjeeth: ’They were the best years of my life, helping transform me to understand other races. I am really proud to be a product of the old Natal Medical School.’

‘The School, which produced world renowned doctors, gave me political awareness,’ said Inderjeeth, who lives in Australia with his family.  ‘I came back to my alma mater to meet former colleagues and to re-connect with my past.’

Asked to compare South African medical training with that in Australia, he said South Africa was the best when it came to clinical exposure while Australia was stronger in its academic focus.

‘Family Physician and President of the African Society for Sexual Medicine, Dr Prithy Ramlakan, said: ‘I love medicine. I believe if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.’ Ramlakan lives in Newlands East, Durban, with his wife and three children.

A General Practitioner in Durban, Dr Mags Moodley, said he recalled the time medical students organised a mass meeting. ‘We were the centre of the student struggle in Durban. In May 1982, we were chased by riot police after we burned the Apartheid South African Flag. Besides being good doctors, we still need student doctors to be activists and take the struggle for economic emancipation forward.’

SA Military Health Service, Deputy Director of Medicine, Dr Dhesi Achary, said getting to Medical School for her had been the greatest thing ever, considering they were not allowed into Howard College. ‘Although I came from a poor family, it did not prevent me from achieving and meeting great people who became activists and provided good leadership.’

She advised current medical students to be passionate about the medical profession and also to stay in the country and specialise. ‘You must be passionate - we were poor but we made it.’

‘Everything about Medical School was exciting from the first day until I left,’ said specialist Physician, Dr Stephanus Komati. ‘If I had to choose the best time of my life, I would say it’s the six years I spent at Medical School.’

The class visited the old Medical School’s segregated residence, the Alan Taylor Residence at Wentworth, and the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital.

A formal reunion dinner was organised with guests of honour including political activist and previous head of the Department of Paediatrics, Professor HM Coovadia, the current Dean of the School of Clinical Medicine, Professor  Richard Hift, and KwaZulu-Natal’s MEC for Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo. 

Nombuso Dlamini

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UKZN Scientists Take Proactive Stand Against Xenophobia

UKZN Scientists Take Proactive Stand Against Xenophobia
Science lessons for children at an Isipingo refugee camp.

Scientists at UKZN are taking a proactive stand against xenophobia – by teaching science!

‘We all heard about the xenophobic violence that has turned Durban into hell on earth for some of its residents,’ said Project Co-ordinator, Ms Maria Schuld, a postgraduate student from Germany who is registered at the School of Chemistry and Physics.

‘Most of us were stunned and alarmed by what happened. Furthermore, many of us from UKZN science departments are foreigners ourselves so have great empathy with those who are less privileged and find their livelihoods destroyed by senseless violence,’ said Schuld, who visited some of the refugee camps..

‘Red Cross staff said camps in Durban were mushrooming so we decided to do something to help.  The camps seemed to be safe places but are overcrowded with people concerned about what is going to happen to them.’

Schuld said her feeling of helplessness spurred her to do something constructive.  ‘The answer was actually very easy. I realised that I can teach science! If the communities drove people out of their homes and stopped children from going to school, we could bring the school to them!’

Schuld and other UKZN staff and students are working in cooperation with local school teachers who are being supported by UKZN’s Science and Technology Education Centre. They are teaching at the camps from 9:30am to12:30pm.

She put out a call for ‘tutors’ willing to teach mathematics, physics and other sciences to all age groups. Text books are also needed.

Anyone interested in helping may contact Schuld on mariaschuld@gmail.com or Professor Francesco Petruccione on petruccione@ukzn.ac.za.

Sally Frost

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UKZN Supports Symposium for Stem Careers

UKZN Supports Symposium for Stem Careers
CAES staff and students at the annual eThekwini/UKZN STEM Career Week.

More than 2 000 pupils from schools in the eThekwini Metro attended the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) Careers Symposium on the Edgewood campus.

The symposium was organised by the Human Settlements, Engineering and Ethekwini Transport Authority and Trading Cluster: Support Services in collaboration with UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES).

The cluster was created to groom future engineers by identifying and managing the various STEM programmes for disadvantaged schools in the Ethekwini Municipality region.

Learners from a wide variety of schools were transported by the Ethekwini Municipality to the Edgewood campus for the official opening which featured speakers from the eThekwini Municipality, the Department of Education (DOE) and UKZN, who outlined the background, purpose and vision of the Careers Week. 

UKZN’s science magicians, Dr ‘T’ (Tanja Reinhardt), Dr ‘M’ (Megan Govender), Mr Ajay Bissesur, Dr Mathew Moodley and Professor Thomas Konrad thrilled the audience with their respective science shows.

Said Govender: ‘I was glad to see emphasis placed on the importance of mathematics and Science as career choices.  The positive response to the science demonstrations by the learners, educators and officials clearly indicates that science can be cool, fun and intellectually stimulating.’

After the formal programme the learners were given time to visit the exhibits and interact with UKZN staff and students, drawn from the various Schools within the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.  

View video: http://youtu.be/G5TMbpXbKn4

Sally Frost

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Struggle Hero Dismayed by Xenophobia Violence

Struggle Hero Dismayed by Xenophobia Violence
Albie Sachs urges South Africans to use the values of the constitution to build a just society.

Struggle hero Albie Sachs has expressed his dismay about the recent violent xenophobic attacks, reminding local people that many Africans lost their lives because they opened their hearts and homes to South Africans during the liberation struggle.

‘Two Mozambicans died because of a bomb that was meant to kill me. They died because they were giving me a place to stay even though they knew they were going to be killed. So many countries in Africa paid a heavy price for the freedom we are enjoying today but now, South Africans are chasing them away,’ said Sachs.

Sachs was speaking at the 13th Annual Victoria and Griffiths Mxenge Lecture and School of Law Students Awards Ceremony on the Howard College campus. The Annual Lecture commemorates the significant role the Mxenges – who were both lawyers – played in the liberation struggle.

The Lecture was attended by legal luminaries including UKZN Alumnus and retired judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa , Mr Justice Zakeria (Zak) Yacoob; Judge of the KwaZulu-Natal Division of the High Court, Madam Justice Dhaya Pillay, and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navanethem (NaviPillay.

Introducing Sachs, School of Law academic, Professor Karthy Govender, spoke about how the liberation fighter worked tirelessly alongside the Mxenges in contributing to South Africa’s legal history. ‘Hence, this Lecture will encourage everyone to pause and think about the role they are playing to honour the memory of the Mxenges and realise the vision of our Constitution.’

In his address titled: “Is This the Country We Fought For?”,  Sachs listed xenophobia, Marikana, racism, corruption, crime and trade unions tearing themselves apart as social ills stripping away the moral fibre of the South Africa envisioned by himself and those who contributed to its Constitution.

Sachs also shared nostalgic memories of how freeing South Africa from the clutches of apartheid was a team effort achieved by ethical leaders whose duty was to fight for a free country where people’s rights were protected.

‘When I think about the Mxenges and what can be done in their honour, it’s all about the constitution. When we uphold the constitution we get a sense of being South African, it’s at the centre of the heart of being South African. We have a strong judiciary and this is the country we fought for but it is up to the people of that country to create the society people died for,’ he said.

Dean and Head: School of Law at UKZN, Professor Managay Reddi, hailed the Lecture as the annual highlight in the university’s Law calendar and expressed her appreciation to members of the judiciary and law firms for their support in ensuring that the event was always a  success,

The Lecture was followed by an awards ceremony which recognised law students’ achievements.

The following were among the ultra high performers recognised:

Summa cum laude graduate Mr Musa Kika was awarded the Penny Andrews Prize for the Best Gender & the Law, and Human Rights Law Student; the Shunmugam N Chetty Memorial Prize for the final year student with the Best Aggregate in Human Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Procedure and Administrative Law; the Abel Torf Prize for the Best Overall LLB Student; the KwaZulu-Natal Law Society Prize for the best LLB Student; the LexisNexis Prize for the Best Gender & the Law Student; and the Phatshoane Henney Group Honour Medal which he shared with fellow summa cum laude graduates Mr Adrian Parker and Ms Ntokozo Majola.

Another multi-prize winner was Ms Claire Gillespie who was awarded the Harry Pitman Prize for the Best Constitutional Law Student, the NortonRose Fulbright Prize for the Best Delict Student, the Bowman Gilfillan Prize for the Best Family Law Student, the Anand Nepaul Prize,  and the DLA Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr Prize  for the Best Second Year Student.

Ms Angelique Barroso won the Norton Rose Fulbright Prize for the Best Contract Student, the Barend van Niekerk Prize for the Best Jurisprudence Student, the Fasken Martineau Prize for the Best International Law Student, the Anand Nepaul Prize for the Best Criminal Law  Student and the Juta Prize for the Best Third Year Student.

Thandiwe Jumo

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Students Hear About how to Make Smart Financial Choices

Students Hear About how to Make Smart Financial Choices
Professor Matthew Lester.

Empowering students to prepare for financial challenges they will face as graduates was the goal of a lifestyle presentation delivered by financial planning specialist, Professor Matthew Lester, on behalf of Sanlam at a recent Student Chapter meeting on the Howard College campus.

The meeting was co-ordinated by the Alumni Relations Office of UKZN’s Corporate Relations Division and was attended by more than 150 students from the disciplines of Law, Humanities, Engineering and Science.

The aim of the Chapter meetings is to give students an opportunity to engage with industry expects  about skills development, career prospects and other opportunities available to them after they graduate and join the work force.

Lester’s presentation painted a realistic picture of the financial responsibilities students will face such as repaying student loans, debt, and possible unemployment. He offered investment tips to help students through the transition period.

‘After you graduate, there will be a number of debt traps you could fall into. It is important you identify these pitfalls, avoid them by planning ahead, and then when you start your first job you analyse which financial responsibilities you have to pay back first and deal with them. After that plan ahead by looking at your retirement options, medical aid and generally making a business plan for the rest of your life,’ said Lester.

The President and Chair of Convocation, Mr Fanle Sibisi, reminded students they had a responsibility to give back to the institution that moulded them into successful graduates.

‘The reason we are trying to prepare you is so you don’t fail as an employee and are able to face the world,’ said Sibisi. ‘Put this challenge to yourself that before you consider going out into the working world you have a responsibility to study further.  Treat your undergraduate degree like a matric certificate and a postgraduate degree as the qualification that will open doors for you. Pride yourself on your background and learn more about the institution you are in and how you can give back to it,’ he said.

Thandiwe Jumo

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Official launch of Masters Programme in Plant Breeding

Official launch of Masters Programme in Plant Breeding
Staff of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science with representatives of AGRA and the students on the Masters Plant Breeding Programme.

The new Masters Programme in Plant Breeding in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Science (SAEES) was officially launched in the presence of representatives of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) and staff members of SAEES.

SAEES was selected to pioneer this programme to train plant breeders for Africa on the basis of its high concentration of plant breeders, and because of the success of the African Centre for Crop Improvement (ACCI), a centre in the School supported by AGRA, which has been training PhD students in plant breeding on a similar model for almost 13 years.

Professor Albert Modi, Dean and Head of SAEES where the programme is situated, opened the launch and congratulated the students for making it onto the programme.  Modi spoke about the significance of plant breeding in Africa and thanked AGRA for its work in ensuring food security on the continent in the context of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, which it achieves by funding initiatives such as the Masters Plant Breeding Programme with the backing of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).

‘Africa must lead the charge in changing its own situation,’ emphasised Modi.

He also welcomed the Programme Officer for Education and Training at AGRA, Dr Rufaro Madakadze, and her two colleagues, Associate Programme Officers Ms Caroline Adala-Oremo and Ms Judith Naibei-Kembe. He remarked that the masters programme was in line with the University’s business plan in terms of colleagues in Schools and Colleges supporting one another.

Madakadze expressed confidence in UKZN, and highlighted the programme as being a response to the need for an approach in Africa that is intentional about problem-solving. She spoke about Africa’s varied agro-ecology and the need to produce unique solutions to challenges in each area, mentioning that, despite AGRA having trained and funded 800 people throughout the continent already, there was still a need for more skilled individuals whose impact on plant breeding in their countries could be measured.

She expressed hope that such programmes would increase capacity and train Africans in Africa to contribute to the public and private sectors.

Project manager for the programme, Professor John Derera, outlined the project and its aims of training a total of 30 industry-ready, modern plant breeders from at least six Southern African countries. According to the programme’s directives, the new breeders will impact positively on delivering the technology needs of the smallholder farming sector, which dominates agricultural production in Africa.

The programme is a collaboration between UKZN, AGRA, Makerere University in Uganda, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana and Iowa State University in the United States, with teaching staff coming from SAEES, the US and other institutions in the region.

According to Derera, the teaching on the course will emphasise technical subjects as well as soft skills and teaching the students to work with people. Emphasis is placed on collaboration between the private sector and public sector, with representatives from each involved in the students’ training. Public entities such as the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) are involved in training the students and private companies like Pannar, Pioneer Seeds, Monsanto, Capstone Seeds and United Seeds will accept the students for the six-month internship portion of their programme.

Derera drew attention to the transdiciplinary nature of the programme, pointing out that staff from disciplines such as Food Security, Plant Pathology and Nutrition would be involved in lecturing the students.

The curriculum was developed in partnership with Iowa State University in the United States and includes application of modern teaching technologies and applied research to improve crop varieties.

Acting Dean of Research for CAES, Professor Theresa Coetzer, and Dean of Teaching and Learning, Professor Bala Pillay, spoke at the event. Coetzer emphasised the standard that had been set by SAEES in its work on food security and sustainable development that led to its selection by funders as the leading African university to pioneer this programme.

She referred to programmes the students would be involved in to contribute to their studies, including the Mastering Masters workshops if needed and trials at Cedara, the Ukulinga Research Farm and Jozini.

Pillay said the initiative fitted into the University’s objective of being a leading university for African scholarship and highlighted the institution’s commitment to the teaching and learning and holistic approach. He gave a vote of thanks to all involved and wished the students luck with their endeavours, saying he hoped the programme would contribute to understanding of and interest in plant breeding in Africa.

The event was attended by the ten students enrolled in the masters programme, who began their training three months ago. One of the students, Ms Mwila Chibanda, described some of the training the group had already benefited from, emphasising how vital it was for them to be equipped with the skills they needed to contribute to the production of more food in their countries in an effort to decrease malnutrition and increase income in the sector. ‘We are so fortunate to be at the receiving end of knowledge being passed on by professionals here,’ said Chibanda.

Chibanda, on behalf of her classmates, thanked AGRA for its support as well as UKZN for its facilities and staff, and promised to uphold the values of the institution in return for its hospitality and generosity.

The students are from Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

 Christine Cuénod

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UKZN student a prize winner at African Small Mammal Symposium in Madagascar

UKZN student a prize winner at African Small Mammal Symposium in Madagascar
Ms Samantha Naidoo with a lemur at the conference venue in Madagascar.

PhD student in the School of Life Sciences, Ms Samantha Naidoo, won second prize for her oral student presentation at the 12th International African Small Mammal Symposium.

Naidoo’s presentation was delivered on the topic of the effect of pollutant exposure on detoxification organs in an urban adapter, the Banana Bat, foraging at wastewater treatment works. The presentation included the results of Naidoo’s PhD research.

The symposium attracted delegates and students from more than 20 countries, including the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Belgium, South Africa, Madagascar, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, the DRC, Réunion and Tunisia.

Delegates commended Naidoo on the originality of her research and responded well to her presentation. Naidoo hopes the experience of attending and presenting may give rise to opportunities for collaboration.

‘It was a great privilege to interact with esteemed researchers from around the globe; the academic legends that inspire students to begin their own postgraduate journey,’ said Naidoo. ‘I also had the chance to interact with students from other countries/ continents and well as representatives from renowned labs, including the Max Planck Institute.’

The experience of visiting Madagascar and representing her country on an international platform where she showcased cutting-edge research was also special for Naidoo.

‘Visiting Madagascar, with its amazing fauna and flora is a magical opportunity for any biologist, but attending the ASMS 2015 has been a really wonderful and enriching experience for me professionally. It has also been pivotal to the future growth of my studies and post-doctoral career.’

Naidoo, who completed her BSc Honours cum laude and Masters cum laude degrees in Biological Sciences at UKZN, was attracted to studying the effect of pollutants on bats after being intrigued by the mammals while completing her undergraduate research project in bat ecology. During an undergraduate module about pollution, she noticed that most of the examples of pollutant effects were from non-mammals, and became interested in investigating the effects on mammals.

Speaking of her love for bats, Naidoo explained the importance of studies like hers for the animals.

‘In addition to their amazing adaptations such as true flight and echolocation, these top predators are the perfect mammalian model to study pollutant transmission, yet there’s a major paucity of bat pollution studies. I based my Honours degree project on this topic and the interesting results have since resulted in me expanding the research into various avenues, leading to a PhD study.”

The research she is undertaking is multidisciplinary in nature, and has thus produced results pertinent to various levels of the system involved in the results of pollution on small mammals.

Naidoo’s supervisor, Dr Corrie Schoeman, described the significance of the research produced by his student in a larger context.

‘Her research is highly significant in the context of increasing urbanization. It provides evidence that waste water treatment works, that are aimed to remove pollutants from the environment, can themselves act as a source of contamination and pose a threat to many organisms, including humans, exploiting these habitats,’ said Schoeman.

Naidoo hopes her research will highlight the consequences of urbanization and its associated anthropogenic pollution, for natural ecosystems and the environment.

‘Understanding physiological responses of this mammalian group to pollutants should also provide important guidelines for studying similar responses in humans. This is especially important, for instance, in rural communities using rivers which receive wastewater effluent.’

Naidoo hopes to continue further research into the physiological impacts of anthropogenic pollution through avenues such as post-doctoral fellowships.

Schoeman praised his student’s aptitude for research, saying: ‘Samantha Naidoo is an outstanding PhD student, who has consistently shown the potential to blossom into a great scientist. She is exceptionally dedicated and passionate about her work, and is always willing to go beyond the call of duty to succeed.

Naidoo thanked Schoeman and her co-supervisor, Dr Dalene Vosloo, for the role they played in taking her research from aims and objectives to results. She thanked Schoeman for teaching her that the essence of good science and its communication lie in a combination of scientific rigour, intellectual creativity and a passion for one’s subject of interest.

She also thanked her parents for their love and constant support during her postgraduate studies.

Christine Cuénod

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UKZN hosts Successful Neuroscience Conference in Durban

UKZN hosts Successful Neuroscience Conference in Durban
UKZN hosts successful neuroscience conference in Durban.

UKZN’s School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences (LMMS) was congratulated at a Gala Dinner by eThekwini Mayor, Mr James Nxumalo, for hosting the stimulating 12th International Meeting of the Society of Neuroscientists of Africa (SONA) in Durban.

Nxumalo said he was impressed with the wealth of knowledge shared by international experts at the conference; raising much needed awareness about brain disorders.

Academics had an important role to play in relaying important information about brain diseases to communities in the periphery, said Nxumalo, because lack of awareness resulted in cases of misdiognosis for those less enlightened.

There were 19 countries represented at the conference, including 11 African and eight  from Europe, Israel and the United States.

With the School’s Academic Leader for Research, Dr Musa Mabandla as President of SONA, the five-day programme united leading experts under the theme: Brain Sciences – Addressing Research Needs and Priorities in South Africa.

UKZN postgraduate students presented their research at the meeting and enjoyed networking with esteemed neuroscience researchers.

School of LMMS Dean, Professor William Daniels, said he had seen an impressive improvement in the quality of neuroscience research over the past few years. ‘The conference had a strong focus on diseases relevant to Africa,’ he said.

Daniels lauded UKZN’s neuroscience group for successfully hosting an international conference of this magnitude, and for taking local neuroscience research to the internation stage.

Prior to the conference, SONA hosted four satellite events including a writing workshop for PhD and postdoctoral students from across Africa where they received help in translating their data into publications.

Lunga Memela

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UKZN Academic has Three Papers Published in Prestigious Medical Journal

UKZN Academic has Three Papers Published in Prestigious Medical Journal
Third South African Medical Journal publication for UKZN academic.

School of Clinical Medicine senior academic, Dr Colleen Aldous, has co-authored three papers published by the South African Medical Journal (SAMJ) this year.

In one of the papers titled “MMed cohort supervision: A path out of the swamp?”, Aldous in association with Professor Ted Sommerville and Professor Chris Rout, presented the case for Collaborative Cohort Supervision (CCS), including both masters students and novice supervisors, as a possible way to rapidly increase the number of supervisors needed to address the recent implementation of a compulsory research component for specialist registration with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

The paper discussed different models of CCS and highlighted possible pitfalls as the most pressing issue on the topic was the inadequate number of potential supervisors available and time allocated for research activities.

The authors felt the traditional apprentice-master model of one supervisor to one student would not meet the throughput demands of the HPCSA, the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa and clinical departments.  Their opinion was the one-supervisor-multiple students model meant time constraints for the supervisor, plus they may have not yet developed the skills and experience to supervise students in the research process as well as the clinical discipline.

The lack of literature specific to supervision of compulsory research meant that supervisors were heading into uncharted territory, said the authors, advising that any method of potential value needed to be approached with an open mind and embedded quality assurance programmes.

In March, the SAMJ published another co-authored paper by Aldous with the Southern African Inherited Disorders Association Chair, UKZN’s Dr Helen Malherbe, and Professor Arnold Christianson of the Division of Human Genetics at the University of the Witwatersrand.

The paper highlighted the need for services for the care and prevention of Congenital Disorders (CDs) in South Africa as the country’s epidemiological transition evolves.

‘The lack of prioritisation of CDs  in healthcare, and the limited resources allocated to prevention and to the care of those affected, is an issue of global concern,’ said the authors. ‘This is especially true in low- and middle-income countries where over the vast majority of CDs currently occurred, accounted for 95 percent of CD deaths worldwide.’

The authors highlighted that with the country’s epidemiological transition from TB and HIV deaths, CDs began to emerge as a public health issue as they result in proportionately significant overall neonatal, infant and child mortality.

They said: ‘In South Africa, the constitutional, legal and regulatory framework exists to promote the development of services for the care and prevention of CDs. Legislation entitles those affected and living with CDs, including those disabled as a result, to the “best possible patient care” in the prevailing circumstances, and provides for access to prevention by appropriate interventions.

‘With the global focus, including that of SA, shifting to non-communicable diseases, CDs must be contextualised as the first non-communicable disease experienced by people,’ they argued.

Aldous said: ‘Medical genetics services have been neglected since HIV and TB took all the attention over the last two decades. As a result people born with congenital defects and their families have not had the treatment that they deserve, or the rights our National Constitution affords them.’

The third study was by Aldous, Rout and UKZN’s esteemed paediatrician Professor Miriam Adhikari, entitled: “The research component of specialist registration – a question of alligators and swamps? A personal view.” 

It posited that while the research component of specialist training can only improve the quality of both patient care and academic endeavour, this required an enormous investment of time on the part of both the specialist trainees and their supervisors.

Aldous said she was passionate about medical genetics and medical education because both these areas made a real difference to people she could see quickly. She felt that all research should be virtuous because such research ‘is driven by asking the right research question to benefit humanity’.

Lunga Memela

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Top Students Honoured

Top Students Honoured
Top students in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science from the Pietermaritzburg (left) and Durban campuses.

UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science recognised its top achieving students at two awards ceremonies.

About 400 staff, students, parents and industry sponsors attended the Westville and Pietermaritzburg campus celebrations to witness students receive recognition for their hard work and achievement.

The School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences was proud to acknowledge the successes of 37 of its top performers.

Kwanalu, Pannar, Golder Associates, the Citrus Growers’ Association, Lima, Jeffares and Green, Campbell Scientific and Standard Bank were among sponsors whose representatives presented the awards.

Top students from the Schools of Chemistry and Physics; Life Sciences; and Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science were also recognised, receiving generous awards from a total of 40 industrial and institutional sponsors.

Several new awards, such as the Kerry Awards for the top second year student in chemistry on each campus, were on offer providing opportunities for students who previously may not have been individually recognised.

The AA Rayner book prizes, for the top students in second year statistics on the Pietermaritzburg campus - Mr Sibusiso Zulu and Mr Mhlengi Mgaga - were once again presented by Dr Nancy Rayner and her daughter, Mrs Marion Aitken.  The Rayner family has supported the College Awards for many years and presents the two prizes annually in memory of the late Professor Arthur Rayner, who took up the post of professor of Biometry at the former University of Natal in 1949.   

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor for the College, Professor Deo Jaganyi, said: ‘These students are the pool from which we draw our future PhD candidates.  We thank their lecturers and parents for the support that they give them, we celebrate their success, and we encourage them to continue with their studies.’

Sally Frost

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UKZN Marches Against Xenophobic Attacks

UKZN Marches Against Xenophobic Attacks
UKZN marches against xenophobic attacks.

UKZN Chancellor, Dr Zweli Mkhize, staff and students joined a march that began at Curries Fountain to show solidarity against the recent xenophobic violence which ravaged KwaZulu-Natal and other parts of the South Africa.

The University, in conjunction with its SRC, arranged for buses to transport staff and students to join the march to display their sympathy.

UKZN academic Mr Lubna Nadvi said: ‘It is essential that members of the academic fraternity are actively engaged in critical social justice issues, and speak out against the xenophobic violence unfolding in our midst. While we can teach grand theories and ideas in our lecture halls, the reality is that not far from our classrooms, people are being attacked and murdered just because they are citizens of another country. We cannot remain silent in the face of such unacceptable tragedy that is wreaking havoc in our communities.’

UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus hosted a #SayNoToXenophobia demonstration, while College of Health Sciences staff and students, together with representatives of  Gift of the Givers and the South African Medical Association, provided free healthcare services at three refugee camps in Phoenix, Chatsworth and  Verulam.

The University embraces the culture and spirit of Ubuntu, and fosters a welcoming and supportive environment for its international staff and students. UKZN has reassured all international staff and students of its commitment to ensure their safety, and urged all stakeholders to work together in adopting a peaceful environment which embraces and values diversity.   

As a South African higher education institution whose vision is to be the Premier University of African Scholarship, the University believes the community needs to collectively rally against such abhorrent crimes against humanity.

In a statement issued earlier, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, urged academics and students to don their academic regalia to show their support. He said: ‘The University condemns in the strongest possible terms the harm caused to foreign-nationals living and working in our country.’

Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

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UKZN Commemorates Freedom Day

UKZN Commemorates Freedom Day

While commemorating 21 years of freedom since the first democratic election on 27 April 1994, the recent xenophobic attacks were condemned by UKZN.

In his message to staff and students, the UKZN Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, urged the University community to use the opportunity to reflect on the values and norms society set on that day.

‘May this celebration of Freedom Day translate into a celebration of our humanity, together with the necessary humility to reflect and be sad for the lives and livelihoods lost in an unjust cause.’    

He reaffirmed UKZN’s position of embracing the spirit of Ubuntu and reassured international staff and students of the institution’s support against xenophobia.

Van Jaarsveld said the University offered a safe space for academic discourse within a cosmopolitan community that welcomes scholars, students and academics from around the world.

‘The diversity of cultures, views, backgrounds and ethnic origins reflected in the UKZN community drives the strength of the academic discourse at the institution. UKZN condemns in the strongest possible terms the recent xenophobic attacks.’

UKZN academic and political analyst, Dr Bheki Mngomezulu, said universities should organise public forums where xenophobic attacks are discussed.

‘Both South Africans and foreign nationals should be afforded an opportunity to state what they consider to be the cause or causes of these attacks and propose solutions to be handed to government authorities,’ he said.

Mngomezulu said learning should take place in lecture theatres to educate students about the immediate and long-term effects the attacks would have on South Africa and on foreign nationals. Students should also be educated on why foreign nationals are in South Africa.

‘From a professional point of view, universities should provide counselling services to those directly and indirectly affected by the attacks.’

Asked if he thought South Africa was free and had progressed sufficiently, Mngomezulu said: ‘Indeed we are free and other countries envy our freedom. Unfortunately, we tend to abuse our freedom. Sometimes we claim even the rights we do not have and ignore Section 36 of the Constitution which states that our rights and freedoms have limits.’

University students and alumni went on to Facebook to express what Freedom Day meant to them in light of the recent attacks.  The following are some of the responses:

Sithembile Shabangu

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Kenyan Academic graduates with PhD

Kenyan Academic graduates with PhD
Professor Betty Mubangizi congratulates Dr Samuel Mutukaa.

“Project Implementation in a Decentralized State: Evaluation of the Constituency Development Fund projects for Food Security in Kenya”, was the title of the thesis of College of Law and Management Studies Doctor of Business Administration graduate, Dr Samuel Mutukaa.

Mutukaa is a Programme Co-ordinator in the Department of Development Studies at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa’s School of Arts and Social Sciences in Kenya.

His study, supervised by Professor Betty Mubangizi, established that the implementation process of Constituency Development Fund projects was fraught with challenges due to the decentralised nature of implementing these projects. Further, the study established that project administrators perceived food security as being entirely dependent on natural elements such as soil and rainfall when, in reality, much depends on the county administrative and governance processes.

The study recommends that best administrative and governance practices identified in planning, organizing, directing and coordination should be promoted, documented, shared, disseminated and bench-marked for future and similar projects. The study also noted that in a decentralised project, implementation should take cognisance of local factors and not adopt the ‘one size fits’ all approach.

Mutukaa said developing the research proposal was challenging, particularly in contextualizing his arguments in the Public Administration domain, but with the guidance from his supervisor he succeeded.

The online guidance on the development of my research proposal and writing the entire thesis was quite commendable and remarkable. My supervisor used to give comments through track changes which proved to be easier and effective in speeding up the process of working together and completing my thesis in time even though I was, mainly, working from Kenya – Dr Mutukaa added.

He was very grateful to Professor Mubangizi for her professional knowledge and skills. ‘It is through her continued support and guidance that I was able to write and complete my DPA thesis in time, actually within three years. Thank you so much Prof and I would recommend that anyone interested in doing a doctorate should consider UKZN as their university of choice.’

Thandiwe Jumo

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UKZN Students to Attend Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

UKZN Students to Attend Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting
From left: Ms Kenda Knowles, Ms Heather Prince and Ms Deveshnie Mudaly.

Three students from UKZN’s Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science have been selected to attend the prestigious Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany in June 2015.

Miss Kenda Knowles, Miss Heather Prince and Miss Deveshnie Mudaly will be among 672 young scientists chosen from 89 countries and 70 Nobel Laureates at the 65th instalment of this annual scientific conference.

The young scientists are students and post-docs who excel in their studies and represent the fields of physics, physiology, medicine, chemistry and the economic sciences. In order to be selected as a young scientist, the students were nominated by a worldwide network of academic partners and thereafter took part in an international selection process.

The aim of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting is to allow students and Nobel laureates to share information and engage with each other. These meetings are made possible through the support of academic partners as well as the support of more than 270 Nobel Laureates.

The three UKZN students are extremely excited to have been selected and are looking forward to meeting other scientists. ‘It will be an amazing opportunity to learn from top scientists in different fields, including people who have played instrumental roles in major discoveries in astrophysics and cosmology,’ said masters student, Prince.


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UKZN academic made Fellow of the SA Institute of Electrical Engineers

UKZN academic made Fellow of the SA Institute of Electrical Engineers
UKZN’s Dr Inno Davidson with the SAIEE Deputy President, André Hoffmann.

Dr Inno Davidson of the School of Engineering at UKZN was recently made a Fellow of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE).

The SAIEE has around 6000 members, all professional electrical and electronic engineers involved in a range of professional activities from academic research to power infrastructural services.

Members are encouraged to make meaningful contributions to society’s quality of life and the advancement of technology. The SAIEE works closely with the Engineering Council of South Africa and members’ work is recognised globally.

Davidson, a long-standing member of the SAIEE, traces his enthusiasm for electrical engineering back to his high school years, when he linked his interest in history to historical developments in the physical sciences, which led to an increasing interest in physics, mathematics and additional mathematics, at which he excelled. He was prompted to consider electrical engineering by his oldest brother, a civil engineer. Davidson said the investigation of how electricity could transform society solidified his interest in electrical engineering.

Davidson has moved through the SAIEE’s classes of membership, and earned the election to Fellow after holding the position as senior member from 2002 to 2015, during which time his activity in his work as an applied scientist and technical consultant qualified him for this rank. His promotion to Fellow acknowledges Davidson’s superior responsibility and leadership in electrical engineering as well as his contributions in the field. According to Davidson, the Fellowship is a life-long professional designation based on continued delivery of exceptional value to the profession.

‘Professional recognition as a leader in your field or discipline places upon anyone a new sense of duty,’ said Davidson. ‘For example, it obligates me to take on more mentoring of young engineers at all levels in the institute and continued participation in SAIEE activities at all levels, including serving the Council from time to time when called upon.’

Davidson has 27 years of professional experience blending university teaching and research, with industry and consulting. He is the author/co-author of more than 100 peer-refereed journal/conference papers, scientific articles and technical reports.

Davidson was Senior Lecturer at the University of Pretoria in 1999 and joined the then University of Natal in 2001 as a Senior Lecturer, before moving with his wife and three children to Canada in 2005 on sabbatical leave, to work as a visiting professor at Powertech Labs Inc., which is a leading consortium in clean energy technologies, independent testing services, power system solutions, and smart utility services.

Davidson’s career also included time as an energy consultant in Vancouver in Canada implementing energy efficiency measures, as well as taking time to study Sustainable Energy Management at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Burnaby in 2011.

Davidson also held the position of Associate Professor at the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology at the University of Namibia, where he established a multi-disciplinary research centre focused on applied scientific research, while teaching in Electrical Engineering. Davidson returned to UKZN in January 2014 to take up a post at the Eskom Centre of Excellence (CoE) - which also serves as the Eskom Power Plant Engineering Institute (EPPEI) Specialisation Centre at the High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Engineering HVDC/Smart Grid Research Centre - as well as teaching in Electrical Engineering.

Davidson has already won accolades for his position in the Centre of Excellence, with his elevation to SAIEE Fellow earning UKZN, the CoE and Davidson congratulations from senior management and board members of Eskom. This has strengthened Davidson’s international status and capacity to enter into collaborations, partnerships, and research teams with other professors and experts from leading institutes and institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom and Africa.

‘This recognition has already elevated my international status,’ explained Davidson. ‘I have just returned from the Clemson University Power Engineering Conference in the USA, where I was initially scheduled to only present a technical paper, but by virtue of this development, I was invited to serve as a Panel Member on the Global Smart Grid Education Forum, as a recognised leader in Smart Education in South Africa.

‘My present position offers me the opportunity to provide strategic leadership in research and technology development, and to rebuild the Centre of Excellence, and mould it into a high-performance research team,’ said Davidson. ‘I am able to meet, talk with industry research leaders, equipment manufacturers, utility engineers, leading academics and researchers from all over the world and exchange ideas. That element of change and innovation keeps me excited, delighted and ignited about my work.

‘As an academic staff member of the University and the Electrical, Electronic & Computer Engineering discipline, this recognition adds value to the strength, depth and capacity of our teaching staff team, more so as our undergraduate degree programme undergoes accreditation by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) later this year,’ added Davidson. 

 Christine Cuénod

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The UKZN Griot. Of Rugby and Protesting

The UKZN Griot. Of Rugby and Protesting

Keyan G Tomaselli*

It’s really fascinating observing UKZN from afar.  Here in Gauteng students make little distinction between UKZN, DUT and UNIZULU.   Mangosuthu ain’t even on the dial, no matter what its Rector earns. They all blur into one another.  But reading the LAN notices, UKZNDABA Online and other postings  is itself a useful study in representation.  On the one hand we have for the first time a pro-active risk management strategy on anticipating the annual student-led ritualised mayhem.  On the other, when last did we see a Vice-Chancellor playing rugby with the rank and file.  Was it Pieter Booysen?  Must be, the PMB stadium is named after him.

An institution’s identity is often linked to extra-curricular activities, sport being one of them.  When Ahmed Bawa was recruiting students in India a decade ago, the Indians reacted positively to the fact that Jonty Rhodes and Shaun Pollock were UKZN graduates. No other validation was required.  So, it’s good that the UKZN Impi / boytjies  is/are getting promoted on the LAN.  Playing sport also keeps the students out of mischief, engaging in regulated as opposed to unregulated violence.  No property is smashed in the process, though some limbs might be; no classes are disrupted and no-one has to lock their doors.

A recent column’s footnote generated many positive responses to the fact that when we analogue era anti-apartheid academics were protesting we never destroyed anything. Neither did we physically threaten anyone.  We kept our classes going.  We articulated our ideals and secured the support of the wider community – both within and beyond the university.  We did however threaten an entire political system and by developing alliances we succeeded in replacing apartheid which was the violent, destructive force.  On Robben Island – that also housed vicious criminals – the politcos were respected by them for their ideals in opposing the system.    Intimidating someone is easy.  Replacing a system takes intelligence and requires popular support across all constituencies.

Overseas visitors to UKZN are astounded at the extreme level of aggression that they sometimes encounter from protestors when they are trying to lecture.  It’s a frightening experience for them, and also for our students, even if the singing is in tune and the toyi-toying impressive.   On repeated visits they begin to take this behaviour in their stride, and respond to it as a curious manifestation of an idiosyncratic and immature popular culture. 

South Africans now routinely destroy that infrastructure that should be taking us into a peaceful developmental  future.  Service delivery cannot occur when civic amenities  are burning. ‘Foreign’ shop keepers in Soweto are attacked and looted because they provide a better service than do inefficient homegrown shops. The ‘foreigners’ who do pay tax sell their goods at lower prices, have longer opening times, offering credit, and they respect their customers.  They apply purchasing and marketing principals that are taught at universities. The violent response is rather like Durbanites looting Checkers and chasing their managers away because a competitor charges higher prices, operates for fewer hours, and disrespects their customers.  When a cabinet minister says the ‘foreigners’ must share with their South African competition their trade secrets, this is akin to demanding that Walmart tell Pick ‘n Pay  how to compete with them.  Where’s the commercial or legal logic?  A book was once written about apartheid titled, ‘A Very Strange Society’.  Have we become even stranger now that we have a semblance of democracy?

The roots of this destructive behaviour are to be found in the ‘Freedom now, education later’ slogan that so successfully mobilised dissident communities in the late 1980s.  This now unnecessary practice and empty rhetoric continues in a destructive cycle that achieves nothing.  The cost to the institution is immeasurable – as a previous Vice-Chancellor, Brenda Gourley, observed, bad publicity affects the institution of academia as a whole, not just where chaos is unleashed on a single campus.  The noise in KZN is heard in Gauteng and vice-versa.

So, it’s good to see the new VC getting onto the sports field, getting dirty and sweaty and talking to, and interacting with, ordinary students.  That’s how support, co-operation and constituencies are built.  That’s what the United Democratic Front (UDF) did in the 1980s.  That’s why apartheid was defeated.  The UDF built alliances across races, classes and spaces.  Its members sometimes got out of hand but firm discipline emphasised construction over destruction, peace over violence and working for the common good.  When the UDF was disbanded, that’s when law and order and discipline dissipated.  The consequences are now visible from the lawlessness on our roads, the pandemic of crime and the destruction of property on campuses across the country and with regard to plagiarism.

If UKZN wants to retain its top ranked status, it also needs to re-invigorate its identity.  This starts on the playing fields, in the classroom, observing the no-smoking signs  and with its public image.  Alumni like the two famous cricketers and, indeed, ordinary people, are key to the institution’s success. The Centre that I managed for 29 years was, and continues, to be invested in by its alumni for decades.  We did  not play organized sport but we opposed violence even when we were directly subjected to violent threats and action from the state. 

Keyan G Tomaselli is a UKZN professor emeritus and was a UDF activist. He is now activating for law and order.

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UKZN Staffer Graduates with a Masters Degree

UKZN Staffer Graduates with a Masters Degree
UKZN’s Mr Tony Singarum.

Mr Tony Singarum balanced family responsibilities, long-distance running, tertiary education studies and duties at his UKZN job to graduate with an M Admin.

His thesis was titled: “Line Manager’s Perceptions of their Role in Disciplinary Matters at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.”

Singarum believes the way an organisation manages relationships with its employees is key to its overall success.

‘Line managers are not necessarily skilled and experienced in the field of labour relations and errors in managing disciplinary matters could lead to serious disputes if they are not handled in terms of the requirements of the Labour Relations Act,’ said Singarum. ‘This could ultimately be costly in terms of time and money, not to mention the negative impact on the performance of employees and the University’s reputation as an employer of choice.’

He said his findings would help the University in establishing line managers’ competencies in labour relations as well as to ascertain the need to train them in labour relations and whether the University should consider establishing a dedicated labour relations division with skilled staff to specifically deal with disciplinary matters.

Studying for his masters degree meant Singarum had to juggle his time between work, family, community involvement and sports. ‘I’m also a serious marathon runner having completed 21 Comrades Marathons and many other marathons and half marathons such  the Two Oceans Marathon, which have all given me added encouragement in pursuing this degree.’

A dedicated Christian, Singarum’s faith ‘helps me persevere despite my challenges, be it in my studies, family life, community work or marathon running’.

Singarum, who has worked at the University for more than 30 years, recently joined the University’s Council, where he represents Support staff. He is currently working in UKZN’s Forensics Services division.

He thanked all those who supported him during his studies and acknowledged UKZN’s role in completing his degree. ‘I’m grateful to the University for giving me the opportunity to achieve this qualification and I look forward to making a meaningful contribution to the success of UKZN.’

   Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

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Life After Graduation!

Life After Graduation!
Staff at the College Office: Agriculture, Engineering and Science enjoying their annual teambuilding event.

With the mammoth task of UKZN’s annual graduation ceremonies behind them, staff from the College Office: Agriculture, Engineering and Science, let their hair down and enjoyed some well-earned fun in the sun.

College Office staff, comprising those involved in academic administration, finance, human resources, student support, public relations and office administration, were enthusiastic participants in the support section’s annual team-building event aimed at enhancing camaraderie and rewarding staff for a job well done.

Ably assisted by teambuilding specialists, Beach and Bush Adventures, this year’s event saw staff compete against each other in ‘Amazing Race’-style teams in and around the confines of Durban’s UShaka Marine World.  Bemused stares from the general public notwithstanding, the six teams took up the challenge with enthusiasm and raced off to complete given tasks.

After a tricky puzzle to get the ‘grey cells’ working, it was on to an obstacle course-type activity involving contortionist moves to squeeze one’s body through a roped-up spider’s web.  Then brave volunteers attempted a spot of paddling on the lagoon while their teammates tried solving cryptic clues.

This was followed by a messy and brain-freezing group ice cream speed eat, some very amateurish but enjoyable art endeavours, and a more successful tracking down of fishy facts in the aquarium, before everyone attempted beach sand art. 

With the announcement of the winning team, nobody agreed with the decision, except of course, the winning team!

The afternoon’s activities were rounded off with a delicious lunch at Moyo at the Pier. 

It was unanimously agreed that team morale had been well and truly bolstered by a day of fun.  With staff batteries recharged, the College team declared they were now ready for any whirlwind of activity UKZN might throw at them.

Sally Frost

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