English Studies Academics present papers at Conference in Japan

English Studies Academics present papers at Conference in Japan
Professor Cheryl Stobie at the ACCS conference.

Two English Studies academics from UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus – Professor Cheryl Stobie and Dr Michael Wessels – presented papers at the 5th International Academic Forum Conference on Cultural Studies in Kobe, Japan. 

The theme of the conference was Human Rights, Justice, Media and Culture. 

Stobie’s paper was titled: "Emancipation Moments and Ubuntu in Claire Robertson’s novel The Spiral House." 

Robertson’s text highlights human rights abuses during two periods in South African history, critiquing the ideology of slavery and the effects of enlightenment scientific experimentation on human subjects. 

Robertson also portrays the violence of apartheid, contrasted with attempts to act ethically and autonomously. 

Stobie’s paper used the framework of Ubuntu to evaluate concepts of land, colonialism, slavery, gender, science, religion and apartheid as represented in the novel, with the aim of identifying the lessons of history to illustrate the possibility of an emancipatory praxis in contemporary society. 

The concept of Ubuntu was familiar to many participants in the conference, who were interested in recent theorisations of the idea as applied to literary texts. 

Dr Michael Wessels spoke on: Smoking Around the Campfire: "A San Encounter with the Colonial and the Postcolonial." 

In 1873 a colonial magistrate in South Africa, Joseph Orpen, hired a San man known as Qing as a guide for a journey he undertook. Qing told traditional San stories on the journey and commented on rock art, and these conversations were subsequently published along with Orpen’s account of the journey. 

The Qing-Orpen text has enjoyed a seminal position in San studies ever since its publication, and its study continues to have important ramifications today. 

Wessels’s paper located the text firmly in its colonial context and explored its status and use in the postcolonial era by raising questions of race, identity, human rights and representation in contemporary southern Africa. 

The interdisciplinary conference was organised by the International Academic Forum (IAFOR), an independent think tank committed to a deeper understanding of contemporary geo-political transformation. 

There were opportunities to network with conference delegates as well as other academics, including Professor Keiko Kusunose, a Japanese specialist on South African literature, who organised a tour of the Imperial Palace in Kyoto. 

IAFOR conferences provide helpful environments for dialogue and the exchange of ideas at the intersections of nation, culture and discipline.


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UKZN Royal Show Presence Focuses on Transportation Innovation

UKZN Royal Show Presence Focuses on Transportation Innovation
UKZN vehicles on exhibition at the 2015 Royal Show included a beautifully restored 1926 Model T, and at the other end of the transportation spectrum, the futuristic Solar Car, Apalis.

UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) once again showcased what it has to offer at Pietermaritzburg’s annual Royal Show.

The College has for a number of years exhibited enormously popular stands for which it has consistently won recognition. 

This year, the Discipline of Mechanical Engineering seized the opportunity to display two of their vehicles at the stand, in order to illustrate transportation progression through the ages, and to showcase work done in Engineering education at UKZN. 

The aim of their display was to highlight the contrast in the technology used to design and produce vintage vehicles against the highly computerised design methods currently available to the final-year students in Mechanical Engineering at UKZN. 

The advancement of the technologies used in the development of the vehicles are taught to students during their four year degree.  Such technologies include the use of 3D simulation, CNC manufacturing and the use of modern materials for high strength and low weight applications. 

Representing the past, a beautifully restored 1926 Model T was on display.  Academic Leader of Mechanical Engineering at UKZN, Professor Glen Bright, appointed a team consisting of academic and support staff under the leadership of Mr Shaniel Davrajh, to work on the full restoration of the Model T in December 2014. The restoration involved an overhaul of the engine valves and cylinder head as well as the complete stripping, preparation and spraying of the vehicle’s body panels. The convertible roof and floorboards were also restored. 

Representing the future was UKZN’s Solar Car, Apalis.  This 2012 design made by final year Engineering students, and its successor Iklwa, represent design efficiency and promote green energy for the future.  These cars are rich in local skill and creativity.  Both UKZN cars beat all local competitors in the 2012 and 2014 South African Solar Challenges respectively. 

UKZN’s team of talented Engineering lecturers and students have entered the World Solar Challenge happening in Australia in October 2015.  Their hopes hang on ‘Hulamin’, their latest, improved design. 

To follow UKZN’s Solar Car team as they race across Australia, click on https://www.facebook.com/ukznsolarcar or https://twitter.com/UKZN_SolarCar 

One further guaranteed draw card at the 2015 UKZN Royal Show stand were the interactive street science shows provided by STEC@UKZN, which is UKZN’s very own Science Centre.  This year a new attraction was added, namely, the dynamic and lively dancer’s from Pietermaritzburg campus’s Drama department.

UKZN’s stand also featured study information options, with enthusiastic staff and students on hand to answer questions from the public.

Sally Frost

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UKZN Alumni hosts Magic Lantern Show at John Oxley Theatre

UKZN Alumni hosts Magic Lantern Show at John Oxley Theatre
Mr Wesley Flanagan (Natal Museum) and Ms Michelle Stewart from Digital Arts UKZN.

As part of the KwaZulu-Natal Museum, Mr Wesley Flanagan, a former UKZN Digital Arts student, recently presented a "magic lantern" demonstration that was organised by UKZN for Digital Arts students at the John Oxley theatre in Pietermaritzburg. 

The magic lantern that was showcased at the event is around 150 years old and was used for projecting hand painted and Silverton glass plate photographic images. Some of the hand painted images are more than 200 years old and pre-date the 19th century, while many of the photographic glass plates date back to the birth of photography.

The term "magic lantern" comes from the ghostly quality of the projected images and the fact that at the time the general public (many of whom were illiterate) believed that the device was capable of channelling the supernatural. 

Flanagan, now employed at the KwaZulu-Natal Museum unearthed this and other pre-cinematic devices and silver tint glass plate images from museum archives which is seen as a rare collection.

UKZN Digital Arts lecturer Ms Michelle Stewart said, ‘This collection has significant relevance to the UKZN Digital Arts syllabus. The demonstration was fascinating and marked the beginning of what promises to be a valuable collaboration between Digital Arts and the Natal Museum.’ 

Upon UKZN’s introduction of Digital Art into its course, Flanagan was attracted to the newness of it and its unlimited link to digital media, believing it opened one’s mind to endless possibilities. 

‘The Digital Arts students seemed fascinated and intrigued by the magic lantern and its projections, although some didn’t seem too impressed - probably because it wasn’t HD quality but what can you expect from a 150 year old projector.’ 

He also feels that not enough emphasis is placed on the Arts in the country believing it's worse in KZN. ‘Art is one of the earliest ways of storing and transmitting information (think of rock art) people forget that it is the repository of culture and has a social function in societies. Contemporary art is often a social barometer in society, it reflects what is going on around the artist – people need to pay more attention to its importance.’

Melissa Mungroo

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New Lecturer for School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences

New Lecturer for School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences
Mr Sipho Zulu.

Mr Sipho Zulu has been appointed as a lecturer in the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences. 

Zulu (28) of Umlazi says he did not envisage that he would one day become an academic but after pursuing his studies at UKZN and being exposed to various research projects he developed a keen interest and started working harder towards reaching this goal. 

‘UKZN is one of the top ranked institutions nationally and in Africa so I wanted to be part of this leading institution. I was delighted when I enrolled as a student and am thrilled now by my appointment as an academic. 

‘I am excited about the opportunity I have been given and am looking forward to contributing towards teaching and research to ensure that our institution realises its goal of being the Premier University of African Scholarship,’ said Zulu. 

Zulu completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology and Genetics before pursing Honours in Genetics, Masters in Medical Sciences and is currently a PhD candidate in Public Health – all at UKZN. 

Zulu, a Murie Currie Fellow from 2012 to 2014, has authored one publication and co-authored six journal articles published internationally. 

In 2014, he spent five months at the Leiden University Medical Centre’s (LUMC) Parasite Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory in The Netherlands. 

He has presented papers at the Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA) Conference, the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in London in 2012, and the European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health in Copenhagen in 2013. 

Zulu’s research interests are in parasitology and parasite diagnostics as well as parasite co-infections, in addition to factors which cause and affect the disease distributions.

Zulu said what made him passionate about his work were the possibilities that researchers can bring about change to communities and witness the lives of affected communities change for the better through knowledge empowerment and having interventions implemented. 

His family has supported him from the beginning and continues to do so, ‘I know I can always count on their support.’ 

Lunga Memela

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The UKZN Griot. Of Institutions and Differences

The UKZN Griot.  Of Institutions and Differences

Keyan G Tomaselli*

I now know what it’s like to have a split personality.  Working at UJ but spending time at UKZN splits me between dryness and humidity;  high and low elevations;  a single cold concrete building vs. architectural diversity; different boiling temperatures, minibus taxis that ignore traffic lights and stop anywhere and Durban taxies that stop on red and on the side of the road;  e-tolls that individuals don’t pay and N2/3 toll booths where one has no option;  bitingly cold vs warm winters; platteland vs. sea and jungles; family and bachelorhood; and completely different institutional structures and management styles.  Special leave at UJ, for example, relates to staff representing UJ while playing sports, and there is no leave category for field trips, research, or conference attendance.  One is simply assumed to be doing one’s job, in different places. UJ staff elect their deans; UKZN selects them.  UJ has no departmental kitchens while MTB initially lacked toilets.  Not sure which is worse, especially on a winter’s day when one’s bum freezes  to the seat – at UJ the toilets are located off unheated and draughty corridors. 

These binaries got me to thinking about UKZN in different ways.  At UJ academic staff who are sequestered down off-foyer corridors are protected by phalanxes of secretaries, graduate assistants and receptionists.  Micro chipped card keys  and  electronic finger prints get one in and out of the parking lot (when working), through electronically controlled doors, into the library and the Humanities common room.  Tea, filter coffee and bottled water come off departmental budgets and new appointments are warmly welcomed during a 100 minute gathering by the entire executive from the VC to deputy deans and heads of support divisions, followed by lunch.  Man oh man, one welcoming dean with an open door policy even issues a weekly newsletter updating his citizens on matters of policy, practice and peer activity. 

The attractions of UKZN (with the exception of parts of Medical School and Westville), are the subtropical trees and grass, the diversely unique architecture, heritage buildings and the lack of faded civil service linoleum floors, though stressed (and plumbing) staff are everywhere and angry students deface things, and once or twice a year chase their peers and lecturers out of classrooms. UKZN has monkeys that mess with the bins, and mongooses and feral cats that have trained some voluntary minders. UKZN students smoke everywhere, not so at UJ. 

Once in the UJ self-contained cold concrete building it’s difficult to get out of the massive, bewildering, inter-reticulated multi-levelled labyrinth in which even UJ veterans still get lost, though my Durban office in TB Davis ext. was a floor above the dope smoking mob that huddled under the stilts.  No wonder I got so creative.  UKZN has a certain charm and most of all, air conditioning, though this was not always the case.  I remember the MTB lecture theatres and 40 degree temperatures, which is why students wear so little in summer – much to the astonishment of some of our august visiting professors.

UKZN still delivers hard copy mail, and where its gate guards check car boots, the UJ guards, microchips notwithstanding and fingerprints, still check the ignitions.  I and some colleagues received a notice telling us that we were biometrically mismatched and needed to be re-tagged.  Some years ago an overseas UKZN post doc expressed his astonishment at the need for his personal information to be “captured” at registration. At age 66 maybe I also need a biometric walker also?  Lose your card you lose your access, and expect congestion at the exit gates. 

At Howard College – we have some really “artisanal” food kiosks, at UJ they have a large student food court, quirkily named restaurants, banks, a doctor,  physiotherapist and lots of places for students to meet in clubs, to eat, talk and fool around.  It’s a case of informal sub-tropical colonial charm and some ancient buildings at UKZN compared to long cold windswept glass enclosed corridors.  It’s quite weird working within a single U-shaped seven-story building where everything is inside and within walking distance, much like the snake-like UNISA building that towers over the valley, that other ‘70s concrete civil service hangover. I often get lost in both buildings and I yearn for the familiar confusion that I know at MTB.  No civil service residues here! 

Perhaps I just got used to the mouldy TB Davis Ext suite with its dripping aircons that regularly resulted in floods, rotting carpets, the peeling paint and the men’s toilet seat that remained unfixed for many months.  Man, this place – UKZN - has character.  Some years back a visiting NNMU professor got very agitated as he was led from MTB into what he called a dungeon – only to forget this description when he interacted with so many lively and enthusiastic inmates – our graduate students. 

Drama in the street and corridors with thunderous toyi-toying and chanting students protesting something or other; squawking hadedas making noise like Jurassic Park, screaming students who seem to be deaf thanks to hearing damage caused by i-Pods and earphones; and of course the concrete lifelessness of  Westville and the industrial surroundings of Edgewood stand out.  PMB, but a toll road away, has the most convivial campus - always a calming experience for us stressed Howard collegers.

Back to my split, or more usefully, dual personality, separated by just 600kms, multiple toll booths and the smallest church in the world on Van Reenan’s pass.  Like UKZN, UJ claims to be just 11 years old and one of the few successful mergers.    Having started my urban geography career as a positivist at Wits I am now a post-structuralist with some residual positivist tendencies.  My conceptual free floating has emerged through the freedom of being a distinguished professor at one institution, a professor emeritus at another, and I am a now a tale between two cities.   I have homes, but not wives, in both.


· Keyan Tomaselli is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Johannesburg and a UKZN Professor Emeritus.  He likes doing the splits.


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the author’s own.

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UKZN Academic’s Paper Tackles Youth Unemployment

UKZN Academic’s Paper Tackles Youth Unemployment
Ms Vuyokazi Mtembu.

The first academic paper by development lecturer at the Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L), Ms Vuyokazi Mtembu, was published in the latest SA Journal of Human Resource Management.

It was titled: “Perceptions of Employers and Unemployed Youth on the Proposed Youth Employment Wage Subsidy Incentive in South Africa: A KwaZulu-Natal Study”.

The paper examines the important issue of youth unemployment and the need for a comprehensive strategy to create more jobs for young people. It also delves into the perceptions of unemployed South African youth and employers on the proposed youth wage subsidy incentive scheme. 

‘The paper was part of my research for my masters in 2012/ 2013,’ said Mtembu. ‘I completed it without any training in academic writing, just the guidance and support of my masters supervisor Dr Logan Govender, who is also the paper’s co-author. 

‘I decided to embark on researching the topic of unemployment because it is one of the triple challenges facing South Africa – the others being poverty and inequality. I concentrated on unemployment among the youth which is very high in the country.’ 

Before becoming an academic at the GSB&L in 2014, Mtembu was employed as a Senior Training Officer, in the Office of the Premier: KwaZulu-Natal. As well as developing her academic career in teaching, Mtembu is studying towards her PhD. 

‘My PhD topic is still under construction but it will look at issues around Green HRM and Green Institutions. 

 ‘Having this paper published is exciting milestone and has motivated me to work on more papers for publication,’ added Mtembu.

Thandiwe Jumo

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GSB&L hosts Regional and Local Economic Development Initiative Winter School

GSB&L hosts Regional and Local Economic Development Initiative Winter School
GSB&L’s Young researchers with MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu at the opening.

The recent launch of the Graduate School of Business and Leadership’s Regional and Local Economic Development (RLED) Winter School Festival saw RLED practitioners based within key RLED institutions in provincial, district and local level in government, business and civil society and academics commit to building skills and sharing knowledge for improved RLED practice aimed at achieving economic transformation to change people’s lives. 

The launch, which saw the KZN MEC of Economic Development and Tourism (EDTEA) Mr Michael Mabuyakhulu deliver a key note address, brought together key role players within the RLED sector to inform them of the role that the GSB&L is playing in fostering regional and local economic development through its Winter School festival and other initiatives. 

The two week long winter school creates a platform for robust engagement between national and international industry experts, networking, sharing ideas and exploring research collaboration to encourage the growth of the province’s economy. 

GSB&L Dean and Head, Professor Theuns Pelser said that everyone should be involved in bringing solutions to economic problems - an effort that will not be possible without collaboration and efforts aimed at reducing poverty and unemployment in the province. 

The same sentiments were echoed by Mabuyakhulu who, in his address, emphasised that LED is a locally owned approach, therefore all the role players need to come together and share ideas. 

‘Today’s session is essentially a platform for us all as development partners to dialogue on how best we can collaboratively address the socio-economic issues that face regional and local economic development in KZN. This, we believe, will also unleash the full economic potential of our people and ensure that they contribute meaningfully to the creation of better conditions for economic growth and employment generation,’ he said. 

To set the scene, EDTEA’s Head of Department, Mr Desmond Golding, said that the purpose of the Winter School is to produce a new breed of graduates that can think practically. 

‘Through such initiatives, we are able to merge academia and the practical world and for me that is the value add that comes out of this project. The things that make us grow and become innovative is what happens out of the classroom. Therefore we need to produce graduates that are transdisciplinary in their thinking so that they can transcend all areas, so that they can change people’s mind sets about poverty’, he said. 

Speaking on UKZN’s vision on economic development, UKZN’s Pro Vice-Chancellor of Innovation, Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship, Professor Deresh Ramjugernath said the mindset shift in relation to entrepreneurship and unemployment needs to take place at university level through innovative research and teaching and learning. 

‘Universities need to bridge the gap between research and outputs in addressing the issue of unemployment. Everything we do needs to benefit the society. This culture of an innovative economy and economic growth will start at UKZN and penetrate the community,’ he said. 

GSB&L’s RLEDI project manager, Dr Jennifer Houghton said that initiatives are vital in getting people who are involved in RLED to engage in critical thinking and the sharing of problems and solutions and the GSB&L is looking forward to hosting these events and gaining insights and fostering youth partnerships and capacity building.

Thandiwe Jumo

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Opinion Piece: Issues Facing the Youth in 2015

Opinion Piece: Issues Facing the Youth in 2015
Emma Skevington.

Early Interventions the Answer to Solving Education Problems Faced by SA Youth

The month of June often sees various celebratory events for the youth, however I feel that there should be further dialogue regarding the challenges and hardships faced by the youth in South Africa. In addition to this, solutions to these should be explored, in order to garner support from relevant key role-players who can implement sustainable and effective change. As Occupational Therapy students, we work with the youth in various practical settings, including our community fieldwork practicums in the communities of Mariannridge and Kwadabeka, as well as hospitals and rehabilitation centres in and around EThekwini. I would like to highlight some of the problems facing the youth that we have observed as students, as well as solutions to these from an undoubtedly Occupational Therapy perspective.

There are a myriad of problems faced by the youth. We have observed drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, physical and sexual abuse, poor academic performance and lack of discipline in schools, unemployment, and poverty all hindering the youth with whom we work.. It must be noted that the aforementioned problems are not isolated to the places where we work as students, but are widespread amongst the youth. I would like to particularly focus on the problem of academic performance in schools. Despite the positivity of the approximately seventy percent pass rates of the past few classes of matriculants, academic performance does require further intervention to be improved. A recent study found that only fifty percent of children entering school in grade one are still present in matric. This suggests that in fact, each class of matriculants is only achieving an approximately thirty five percent pass rate.

Delving deeper into the issue of students leaving school before reaching matric, the reasons for premature school exit must be considered. Poverty is an obvious first reason, as being able to afford food and shelter for children becomes paramount over schooling expenses. School exit is additionally caused by drug abuse and teenagers becoming involved in risky behaviours that can cause poor academic performance. The government already has existing programmes that attempt to deal with poverty and drug abuse, therefore I would like to focus on two causes of poor academic performance that not only lead to school exit, but also exacerbate the myriad of problems faced by the youth. These include children “falling through the system”, and learners not recognising the value of education.

Children “falling through the system” is a cause for concern. In each phase of schooling, a child may only effectively repeat a grade once, therefore children who are struggling or “slow learners” receive condoned passes and do not achieve academic development. This can easily lead to the completion of primary school without the necessary academic skills to enter high school, and these children exit school before reaching high school, often developing intellectual disabilities as a result of not being intellectually stimulated. In my schooling experience, at former Model-C schools, struggling or slower learners were referred by teachers to an occupational therapist, where they were either equipped with the necessary skills to continue academic development, or referred to remedial schools. In my opinion, this is a system that works and ensures that children are not left behind.

Implementing this system, where struggling children from any and all schools are referred to an occupational therapist, and possibly remedial schools, would prove to be a mammoth task – especially financially. Firstly, all teachers would have to be educated about how to identify and refer struggling children, and then a number of widespread government-funded assessment and therapy centres and more remedial schools would have to be built – with a focus on providing interventions in community settings. I have no doubt that there are a sufficient number of occupational therapists able to fill these positions, with between twenty five and thirty new therapists graduating each year in KwaZulu Natal alone. Only with the availability of sufficient enthusiastic personnel, financial investment, and infrastructure, could this solution be feasible. It would also need to have a far-reaching impact, such that it is not simply a first-world solution to a third-world problem.

Considering that Occupational Therapists view their clients holistically, another important aspect to consider is that providing therapy to any struggling learner may not always remediate the problems, as the child’s environment and context may be the problem. This includes examples such as children in abusive homes or victims of neglect. However, this is where the Department of Social Welfare and Child Protection Services would then be able to assist, and inter-departmental approaches would need to be employed.

The value of education is another important point to consider. We have observed learners displaying a distinct lack of understanding of the value of education. This translates to not caring about school, not putting effort into schoolwork, and eventually dropping out of school as they do not see why they need to be at school. Clichéd and kitsch as it may be to say “knowledge is power”; this is indeed true, and learners are failing to see this. I even had difficulty in seeing the importance of studying subjects that I wasn’t interested in. In high school, I did not understand that it was not the concrete facts learnt in those subjects that were important, but the cognitive and intellectual skills developed in doing difficult subjects such as maths and science. I also had a general idea of what I wanted to study after completing school, which guided my subject choice and motivation to learn. We have encountered learners who do not show an interest in studying tertiary education, and this could be a contributing factor to their not valuing their education, as they do not see an end point or end goal of education.

Germany recently introduced free tertiary education. Implementing this in South Africa could possibly provide learners with new hopes and motivation to study further, as financial barriers are often holding them back. Again, this solution requires extensive funding from the government, however it is unlikely that large-scale, sustainable and efficient solutions will not require such funding.

During our community fieldwork block, my fellow students implemented a motivational speaker programme in one of the local schools, involving past students who had progressed to tertiary education and are now achieving success in their career fields. There has been a positive response, with learners displaying an interest in tertiary studies. This is smaller-scale intervention than free tertiary education, however could be implemented easily with organisation and contribution from the Department of Education and businesses who can identify up-and-coming employees from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

The youth are considered to be persons between the ages of fifteen to thirty five, however I have focused on schooling and education, also involving those below the age of fifteen, as I am considering these issues from a developmental perspective, where problems in adolescence and early adulthood are directly linked to childhood development. Essentially, my proposal to solving the problems faced by the youth is to focus interventions “upstream” – looking for the sources of the problems and eradicating them. For these specific problems, this involves ensuring that children and adolescents receive and respond well to education, such that they are equipped with skills and tools to empower them as contributing members of society. I am not suggesting that interventions aimed at helping the youth who are older should be stopped – they too are very necessary – however finding the long-term solutions would involve dealing with the source of problems.

My name is Emma Skevington, and I am a twenty-two year old, final year Occupational Therapy student from the University of KwaZulu Natal. I have just completed my community fieldwork block in the community of Mariannridge, where we carried out various community projects geared toward empowering people and promoting participation in daily occupations. Outside of university, I love playing hockey and guitar. 

Emma Skevington

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I-UKZN igubha usuku lwentsha nabantu abasha

I-UKZN igubha usuku lwentsha nabantu abasha
Abafundi bazithokozise emcimbini wentsha obuse-UKZN.

Click here for English version

Uhlelo Lwezokuthuthukiswa Komnotho Wesifunda Lwesikole Seziqu zezamaBhizinisi Nezobuholi lubambisene noMnyango Wezokuthuthukiswa KoMnotho NezokuVakasha bebebambe umcimbi wokuqala wezokuThuthukiswa KwezobuChwepheshe neSayensi ngosuku lwentsha.

Lo mcimbi ubuhanjelwe abafundi bezikole zamabanga aphezulu eziseThekwini lonkana, bewuyithuba lokuthi bathuthukise amakhono abo ezamabhizinisi ngokuxhumana nabantu abanamakhono neqhaza abalibambile kwezeSayensi nobuChwepheshe nezokuQamba.

Umphathi we-GSB&L’s RLEDI uDkt Jennifer Houghton, uthe inhloso yombukiso bekuwukuhlomisa intsha ngolwazi lokuguqula imicabango yabo ibe yinto eyenzekayo.

‘Sidinga ukuthi intsha icabange ngekusasa layo futhi ibheke ukuthi ingayiguqula kanjani le micabango ukuthi ibe yindlela yokuzithuthukisa. Intsha ibalulekile kwikusasa lezwe futhi siyabonga nokuthi bazokhombisa ngamathalente abo’ usho kanje.

Umcimbi ubunabakhangisi ababambe iqhaza elikhulu emikhakheni efana nezomculo, ezokukhiqiza nezamabhizinisi amancane ngenxa yokuthi bekubhekwe isasasa lentsha ngesimo sesifundazwe ngasohlangothini lwezominotho esathuthuka. Ukuze abafundi baqale ukucabanga ngemikhakha abafuna ukusebenza kuyo, abafundi bahlukaniswe ngamaqembu abaqambayo, abasungulayo, abenzayo, abanobuciko, nabangosomabhizinisi futhi banikwa nethuba lokukhangisa ngamakhono abo emmncintiswaneni wamathalente.

Onqobe lomncintiswano kube umfundi wase-Ogwini Comprehensive High School uNkz Noluthando Mkhwanazi ngeculo lakhe aziqambele lona elimnandi elihehe izithameli.

‘Ngijabule kakhulu ngokuthola ithuba lokukhombisa izwe ngethalente lami futhi nabantu bathokoze kakhulu. Njengoba sengixoxisene nabantu abasemkhakheni wezomculo, nginesiqiniseko sokuthi ikusasa lami kwezomsebenzi lisemkhakheni wezomculo,’ usho kanje.

Ngu-Thandiwe Jumo

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Community Development Association Embarks on Outreach Programme

Community Development Association Embarks on Outreach Programme
Community Development Association members at an outreach programme in Empangeni (from left) Mr James Ndlovu, Ms Judy Rawlins, Mr Sandile Msimang and Ms Nomvula Biyela.

The Community Development Association (CDA) on the Howard College campus recently embarked on its maiden community outreach programme, targeting rural schools and culminating in a visit to four schools in Empangeni.

During the campaign, the CDA reached out to more than 600 matric pupils at Welabasha and Sizakahle high schools who received CAO application forms and were told about how to apply to study at UKZN. 

They also took part in career guidance workshop to help them shape their careers beforehand as well as make decisive career choices. 

Speaking about the campaign, founding branch member and Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Mr James Ndlovu, applauded his team for initiating the project.

Social Sciences student, Ndlovu, said: ‘The CDA team saw the need to assist students from a disadvantaged background, hence we decided to channel a programme aimed at addressing this. 

‘We aim to make a positive impact in our world and will continue to encourage our fellow young people to commit to their social responsibility through engaging in community work.’ 

In this particular initiative, the CDA partnered with the SASCO KK Papiyane Branch as well as Isibani, ensuring the success of the campaign.

Ndlovu added that this was the first of many similar initiatives planned in the future. 

A member of the Howard College SRC, Ms Minenhle Myende, who was part of the delegation, emphasised the need for exemplary leadership among student leaders and called upon them to lead by example and be role models in their respective communities through partaking in community upliftment initiatives.

*CDA is a well-established student run society at UKZN with branches on the Pieterrmaritzburg and Edgewood campuses. Its main function is to raise social awareness on critical issues such as HIV and AIDS and develop schools’ engagement in matters related to leadership and extra curriculum activities. It has four associates -  HIV and AIDS, Education and Bursaries; Public Speaking and Debating; Sports, Arts and Culture, and Masakhane Youth Leadership. 

Melissa Mungroo

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ccrri Hosts International Day against Homophobia Debate

ccrri Hosts International Day against Homophobia Debate
Four participants at a homophobia debate hosted by the ccrri.

The Centre for Critical Research on Race and Identity (ccrri) hosted a discussion on the International Day against Homophobia [IDAHO] which is now observed in more than 100 countries.

The founder of IDAHO, Professor Louis-Georges Tin, had previously spoken to UKZN students through Skype about his work as President of CRAN which is the Representative Council of Black Organisations in France as well as his work on reparations and on fighting homophobia.  

ccrri Director, Professor Rozena Maart a  longtime friend and colleague of Tin’s, gave a brief overview of the life and work of Tin, and how IDAHO began. 

Tin, a former student of the Ecole Normale Superieur, is also the editor of a Dictionary of Homophobia (2003) which brought together 75 authors. 

In 2004, the IDAHO committee, chaired by Tin, called for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality. In August 2004, Tin launched the idea of a World Day against homophobia. On 17 May 2005, the first edition of IDAHO was celebrated in more than 40 countries. 

The ccrri event allowed participants to reflect on issues that affect the LGBTI community. Those issues included discrimination and stigmatisation in public and private spheres, and violence. 

The discussion also addressed the criminalisation of homosexuality within certain African countries. According to the IDAHO report 2014, 81 countries still criminalise homosexuality, represents 40% of the global population. 

It was noted that within the South African context, where homosexuality is legal, the LGBTI community still faces barriers to their rights.  This led to a discussion on corrective rape as one of the forms of violence against LGBTI people, which occurs in South Africa on a regular basis. 

A speaker, Dr B Dlamini, said his research at both Masters and PhD level, was focused on homophobia. ‘I have been teaching in the area of Academic Literacy since 2008 at UKZN.  I have also presented a paper at an International Conference on Indigenous Knowledge Systems held in the GSB Auditorium on the Westville Campus.’ Dlamini is currently working on a paper titled: "Dismantling Heteronormativity." 

UKZN student Ms Philile Langa said: 'Issues of homophobia and transphobia hardly ever graced society’s social conscious.' 

‘This is emphasised by the struggle to have homophobic crimes such as corrective rape recognized as a hate crime. With homophobia a reality on campus it is important to have these kinds of discussions, especially when we are part of a University that remains quiet on the topic.’ 

Also taking part in the debate, Mr Maximino Costumado, said: 'Since 2005, May 17 has been dedicated to the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, marking the day in 1990 when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. 

‘It constitutes an annual landmark to draw the attention of decision makers, the media, the public, opinion leaders and local authorities to the alarming situation faced by lesbian, gay, bisexuals, transgender and intersexed people and all those who do not conform to the sexual and gender norms of the majority. We need to continue to raise these issues,’ he said.

Melissa Mungroo

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UKZN Academic Presents Paper in Spain at Conference on Media Ethics

UKZN Academic Presents Paper in Spain at Conference on Media Ethics
Taking time to do sightseeing at the Royal Alcazar Palace in Seville, Spain.

Academic Leader of Research in the School of Arts on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus, Dr Nicola Jones, recently presented a paper in Spain at the 3rd International Conference on Media Ethics.

Jones’s paper was titled: "Damming the ‘Fountains of Justice’: An Examination of three South African Newspapers’ Coverage of Reeva Steenkamp’s Alleged Murder in the Context of South African Crime and Court Reporting."

Jones said her interest in the topic was heightened because 'there is such disparity between the way the different media organisations represented both (murder accused) Oscar Pistorius and the trial. People always talk about trials by media - I think that this was a really good example of such a situation,' she said.

The conference, hosted by the University of Seville in Spain, aimed to prioritise the challenges of journalism and media in the digital era. It also provided a platform to search for partners abroad as well as for the exchange of ideas for new projects by scholars.

Jones’s research found that the instantaneous nature of news as a consequence of technology was a factor in the stories examined. ‘What emerged looking at these stories was that instead of the due gate-keeping process being followed and the whole idea of audi alteram partem (hear the other side) being included, one found competitive edge and haste being the governing principles of news,’ Jones said.

‘The minute you make instantaneity the driver of news, this reduces the whole news gathering process to the logic of a lynch-mob.

‘People were just making spontaneous comment and it was being presented as news.’

Her main finding was that ‘there was a judgemental tone in all those stories and an assumed guilty bias, neither of which was necessarily very good. Such a situation could lead to a potential opposite scenario, where the public perception does not fit the outcome of the trial,’ said Jones.

The paper presented at the conference is being developed into two separate articles for publication, ‘the one dealing with the ethical side and the other dealing with the legal side’.

Jones, who is in the middle of creating a convergence journalism curriculum to be implemented in stages from 2016, is also involved in various projects which include working on a chapter for a Media Studies textbook by Pieter J. Fourie.

She is also looking at possible ways of incorporating the Zulu cultural concept of Hlonipha into traditional media ethical codes in South Africa.

She added that her interest also lay in digital journalism. ‘I am running a research project on South African newsrooms and journalists and how they are dealing with the influences of digital technology.’

Merusha Naidoo

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UKZN Academic Presents Research at Harvard

UKZN Academic Presents Research at Harvard
Dr Oluyomibo Pitan (second from left) with delegates from the Harvard Education and Humanities Academic Conference.

School of Accounting and Economics academic, Dr Oluyomi Pitan, presented her research on university graduate employability at the 2015 Education and Humanities Academic Conference held at Harvard University in the United States.

The conference provides a platform for academics, researchers and administrators to put forward ideas and interpretations on the significance of education, humanities and social sciences. 

Pitan’s paper titled: "Adequacy and Labor Market-Relevance of Generic Skills Acquired in Nigerian Universities", is part of her postdoctoral research and gauges whether universities in Nigeria meet the current challenge of the increased demand for high order generic skills by the labour market. 

This was achieved by establishing whether university graduates in Nigeria feel the skills they acquire at the university are sufficient to meet the requirements of the labor market.

For Pitan, whose research profile includes five publications in reputable local and international journals, the conference provided an opportunity to get valuable feedback to enhance the quality of her research. 

‘It was a remarkable experience for me and I would like to express my gratitude to UKZN and to the College of Law and Management Studies in particular for affording me the opportunity to attend the conference and for the generous financial support. The conference was an avenue for me to showcase my work and to get more insight into my research as I was also able to meet scholars in my field and discuss with them how to do collaborative work,’ said Pitan.

Thandiwe Jumo

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Presidency Research Grants awarded to UKZN Academics

Presidency Research Grants awarded to UKZN Academics
UKZN DVC for Research, Professor Jonathan Blackledge (left), and Ms Suraya Dawad of the South African Presidency (second left) with Health, Education and Built Environment and Development Studies staff.

UKZN secured five grants from the Programme to Support Pro-Poor Policy Development (PSPPD Phase II), a partnership between the South African Presidency and the European Union under the programme: Addressing the Poverty and Inequality Challenge.

Three were secured under the NRF/DST-funded SARCHi Chair in Applied Poverty Reduction Assessment in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS), the School of Education and the College of Health Sciences.

The DVC for Research, Professor Jonathan Blackledge, said: ‘It is a great achievement for UKZN to have secured such a prestigious set of grants through the partnership of the European Union and the South African Presidency.  The grants represent a unique multi-disciplinary research programme in an area that is of fundamental importance.’

Also celebrating the milestone achievement for UKZN, DVC and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Cheryl Potgieter, said, ‘As DVC of the College of Humanities, where most of successful grant holders are based, I congratulate them. The funding further assists our commitment to research, which informs policy and interventions.  We thank the presidency for continuing to support the Humanities which at UKZN includes education.’

While College of Health Sciences Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Rob Slotow added, ‘The College of Health Sciences is also excited to receive the award which will allow us to strengthen our commitment to the people of KwaZulu-Natal in the delivery of high quality health care across the province that is underpinned by academic excellence. As this is a novel research study, we wish our colleagues much success in their attempt to produce ground-breaking relevant research in the African context.’

The first research grant of R1,170,000 is earmarked for a study on Climate Change Adaptation and Poverty Reduction Co-benefits: Human Capabilities Towards Green Micro-Enterprises. The project involves Professor Sarah Bracking, Dr Mvuselelo Ngcoya, Ms Kathleen Diga, Mr Siyabonga Ntombela, and Ms Thobile Lombo.

It was awarded in association with eThekwini Municipality under the current Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the council and UKZN.

‘We are delighted to be able to participate in the EU Poverty and Inequality Challenge programme of research managed through the Presidency,’ said Bracking. ‘This confirms that the University of KwaZulu-Natal is well positioned to influence national debate and policy and have a positive effect in improving the lives of disadvantaged persons in KwaZulu-Natal and beyond.’

The second grant of R1,1 million is for analysis of 2014 firm survey data, from the Greater Durban area, in order to contribute evidence to local, provincial and national policy for manufacturing firms to contribute to inclusive growth. The project is headed by Dr Glen Robbins and Dr Myriam Velia, also in association with the eThekwini Municipality.

Both grants will secure the employment of current research staff and will in turn provide new job opportunities for researchers within the SARCHi Chair and BEDS.

The third research grant will cover a study on: Informal Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres - a new area-based approach for improved and up-scaled ECD services for the urban poor, as a partner to the Principal Investigator Project Preparation Trust (PPT) of KZN and in association with Training and Resources for Early Childhood Education (TREE), also based in Durban.

The R1million grant in the School of Education is for a study of Grade 9 mathematics ANA in selected KZN and Eastern Cape schools. It is headed by Professor Sarah Bansilal.

The grant of R1,44 million awarded to Health Sciences is the result of collaboration between the Disciplines of Audiology (Dr Neethie Joseph) and Otorhinolaryngology (Dr Yougan Saman).  The study is titled the Amajuba Newborn Hearing Screen Programme. The total funding will be used for staff and equipment.

This programme will result in new-born babies in the Amajuba district of rural KwaZulu-Natal, where access to specialist health care is limited, being detected early for hearing loss. This is the first attempt in South Africa to develop a model for a district-wide Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Programme with the aim to inform policy nationally. 

This type of research has significant implications for the management of hearing related disability in poor communities and is a step towards ensuring that children born deaf will attain the same opportunities and eventually lead normal lives and compete equally with their peers.

Melissa Mungroo

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Opinion Piece: Issues Facing the Youth in 2015

Opinion Piece: Issues Facing the Youth in 2015
Bonginkosi Mafuze.

Clarion Call for Change, for a Future!

Every generation must discover its mission, fulfil it or betray it” – Franz Fanon.

Youth Day 2015 is unique in that it marks 39 years since the 1976 uprising, 60 years of the Freedom Charter and 21 years of democracy in our nation. Though one opinion may seem negligible, but together we are millions of young voices for a difference, for a change and for a future. The youth may make up 60% of the population but we make up 100% of the future.  Our duty as young people is not to foresee the future, but to enable it today. Youth Month will see many embark on youth outreach programmes across the country, one ought to remember that activity does not mean achievement. How much activity will it take to create a new revolution of young people who are able to reflect and boldly engage in the needs and struggles of our time?

Youth day is a day in our country set aside to recognise the role of youth in the liberation of South Africa from the apartheid regime. What is the role of our Youth today? The youth is faced with a cocktail of challenges, perhaps it would not be fair to compare the youth of 1976 and the youth of today, ours is to discover our mission and fulfil it. The challenges that we face today as young people start in our very homes; there is a growing number single parent household, when the parent is trying to make ends meet, the child is deprived of a parent’s guidance. This has led to young people having a higher dropout rate, engaging in fatal and risky behaviours. It truly requires a community to raise a child. We are also facing a substantial increase in drug/alcohol abuse, violence in schools and the problem of growing too fast. I am in the healthcare industry, and health plays a major role whether young or old, rich or poor. Your health is your wealth. Lifestyle issues are contributing a heavy burden on our youth and the 800 pound gorilla in the room that no one wants to talk about: The increase in life expectancy will not only contribute to the GDP but will also create a problem were one will question if age is an asset or a liability? Will the government be able to support so many people? The United States admitted by 2033 that social security funds will go bankrupt. Young people will have issues of housing, we can already see 3 or 4 generations living under one roof – multigenerational survival will have impact on medical care.

Lastly, the shifting economy – unemployment is a major problem, the statistics tell a sad and sobering story. When we look at the global market we tend to underestimate how much impact it can have locally - it has an impact on our stock exchanges, petrol prices, cost of goods etc what exactly does this mean to a young person? A young person today cannot graduate or even dropout of school without having to go through the ills of a low-income job. In fact youth today will graduate with multiple degrees and still cannot find work that pays enough to sustain a decent lifestyle. Back in the days, after matriculating, you could go work in local factory or store and sustain yourself for the rest of your life. However are we here to survive or thrive? Poverty and educational disparities are crippling to young people. However not all is doom and gloom, we as young people ought to not let our circumstances dictate our future. If you are born poor it’s not your fault, but if you die poor it is your fault. Were these issues never expected? 

Society needs to be more inclusive of youth by prioritising them as key role players in important decision making process that impact on our future. The youth were forgotten in the drafting of the millennium development goals (MDGs) adopted in 2000 and to be reflected upon later this year.  I remember the words of South African Defense Minister Nqakula, 'the best way to honour the youth who died in 1976 is to solve problems facing the current youth in South Africa, which prevents them from realising their potential to be productive and fulfilled citizens'. Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Parents do not just protect your child from the future but prepare them. 'A nation’s history may be written in books, but a nation’s future is written on chalkboards of its schools. What happens in the classroom today determines what will happen in our country tomorrow' – Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating, the paths to it are not found but made. The only way we will be able to successfully tackle these issues is by having young minds take their rightful place as world shifters. We as young people must invest in all aspects of society – politically, socially and economically. We need to become active citizens. There is a reality that government and business will not be able to absorb all of the young people coming out of high schools and universities. Therefore we need to encourage a stronger culture of entrepreneurship. Instead of thinking about where to become employed, young people need to focus on how to start their own business and become employers.

We need youth that will be socially accountable in all spheres, with the ability to reflect on its existence in the nation, in the continent and in the world. The first Presidential Youth Working Group meeting on June 16 aimed at bringing together government and the youth to actively play a part in shaping policy and governance at the highest level. This is the kind of solutions we need to see. Our education system needs to be refined to suit the needs of our community, it is saddening that most of the textbooks we use are not our own, to make it worse, the textbooks we use are not even recommended in their native countries. It is indeed in our hands as young people to uplift and promote, resize and reshape, to aspire to inspire before we expire because where there is no vision people perish. It goes without a doubt that education and employment are essential for us to live fulfilled lives. We need to change how we think and take action. Action changes things (ACT). Let us not wait to be assisted. When the student is ready, the teacher appears. Persistence is the mother of personal change, create goals, goals energise your life. A person is limited only by his/her imagination. Our ability to stay united has been tried and tested in our young democracy. Young people have described our nation as having a lot of potential, diverse, energetic, full of hope and unique, as well as corrupt, confused and hopeless, all at the same time.

To every young person out there, I have learnt that learning does not take place in the formal environment only. Everyone is born a genius but the processes of life degeniuses them. I have become a student of life. We need to overcome the issues of class, gender and race to achieve our goal and this can only be done by recognising our collective responsibility, we have been tasked to “take our country forward” 

Bonginkosi Mafuze is a 5th year medical student at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine UKZN. He is co-founder of Yunibo Health, a thriving non-profit organisation assisting the community. He was recently awarded UKZN Top 40 inspiring student in 2014. He is an executive member of the South African Medical Students Asssociation and a former Student Representive Council (MSRC). He is also recognised internationally as a Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society. He is an undergraduate research placement at the leading HIV and AIDS and TB institute, CAPRISA. He is authoring a book titled, “The University of Life”.

Bonginkosi Mafuze

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Drumming as a Unified Team to an African Beat

Drumming as a Unified Team to an African Beat
College of Health Sciences staff at the team building event.

Staff from the College of Health Sciences Professional Services attended a team building session aimed at boosting collegiality and strengthening working relationships. 

It was a day full of fun with some team members excelling in the brainteasers section while others displayed their musical skills drumming to an African beat. 

Organised by Vision in Motion, a development training consultancy specialising in leadership, diversity and team effectiveness interventions, the event brought together teams from Finance, Human Resources, Academic Services, Public Relations and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s (DVC) offices. 

The morning’s activities focused on teams working together to solve brain teasers including the Human Minesweeper and Toxic Waste Disposal which were dependant on a great strategy and team implementation. Teams quickly learned that effective communication ensures success! 

Emotional Freedom Techniques were then explored through the art of tapping in which participants were encouraged to relax and leave the stresses of life behind. 

In keeping with the theme of relaxation, the Shizaya Drums team provided drumming lessons, producing interactive African rhythmic beats which echoed through the hills of Kloof. 

During the rest of the day, teams enjoyed rounds of miniature golf, uniting different skill sets with the aim of finishing with a hole-in-one. 

Senior Student Funding Officer, Mr Jainendra Maharajh, echoed the sentiments of all staff when he said, ‘What a wonderful, much needed experience.’ 

Academic Services Officer, Ms Nokuthula Hlongwa, expressed her joy saying: ‘That's how our College Professional Services staff roll. It was awesome, we came, we learned and we conquered!’ 

UKZN’s College of Health Sciences has a strong strategic focus on improving communications within the College and a large part of this drive is team building events. 

Part of the College’s philosophy is that all staff should have access to mechanisms for consultation and be able to provide input into strategies or processes that affect their own activities. This creates a shared understanding, awareness, and buy-in to the collective approaches. Only through a collective approach towards achieving a shared vision can true potential be recognised.

 MaryAnn Francis

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School of Arts at Conference in Montreal

School of Arts at Conference in Montreal
At the conference are (from left): Media and Cultural Studies lecturer and PhD candidate, Ms Sandra Pitcher; MA student, Mr Warwick Jones, and Academic leader of Research, School of Arts, on the Pietermaritzburg campus, Dr Nicola Jones.

Media and Cultural Studies academics from the School of Arts on the Pietermaritzburg campus, Dr Nicola Jones and Ms Sandra Pitcher, along with MA student, Mr Warwick Jones, will represent UKZN at an international conference in Canada. 

They have been invited to present their research papers at the prestigious International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) conference which takes place from the 12 to 16 July and is hosted by the Faculty of Communication at the University of Québec in Montreal.

They will present papers under the conference theme: Hegemony or Resistance? On the Ambiguous Power of Communication.

Jones will present a paper titled: "Who will tell the emperor he has no clothes?: Art as political protest in the work of South African artists Brett Murray and Ayanda Mabulu." 

Pitcher will present her paper titled: "Hegemonic Myth-Making: A Discussion of Zapiro's representation of Nelson Mandela (1994-1999)." 

Warwick Jones will present his research paper: "South African Selfies: Ubuntu or a Culture of Narcissism?"

The aim of the conference is to support the advancement of research in communication around the world and it presents an opportunity to learn and share ideas with scholars across 95 countries.

The UKZN scholars are all thrilled to be presenting their papers at IAMCR, with Mr Jones adding: ‘I am very excited but also incredibly nervous. Academics from around the world are going to be there.’ 

Merusha Naidoo

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Using Film to Empower Women – Focus of PhD

Using Film to Empower Women – Focus of PhD
Ms Subeshini Moodley.

Empowering women through film was the focus of ground-breaking research by a lecturer in Film Studies in the Department of Media and Cultural Studies, Ms Subeshini Moodley.

Moodley’s PhD dissertation titled: "Narrative Possibilities in a Postcolonial Context: Exploring Self-Reflexive Film as a Critical Articulation of the Stories of South African Hindu Women", was sparked by her passion for film and her interest in feminist theory, combined with an eagerness to contribute to the upliftment of women. 

‘I have a personal interest in feminist issues and how Indian women are represented through mainstream media. I felt that if women had the means to represent themselves, they would offer a challenge to dominant representations of themselves.’ 

Speaking about her research, her supervisor, Professor Anton van der Hoven, said: ‘Ms Moodley’s PhD work was deliberately and highly creatively situated at the interface of the academy and everyday life, critically analysing the identities of South African Hindu women and promoting their development by requesting the research participants to construct their own video narratives.’ 

Moodley used auto-ethnography and participatory video (a form of self-reflexive filmmaking) as her main methodological approaches.  The process entailed gathering data using video and also representing data through three films and footage. 

Moodley explained that she contacted South African Hindu organisations for women to participate in her project, and four women responded. Three of them continued with the project to the end, while the fourth was forced to stop midway due to illness. 

Workshops were held to teach the women the basics of film-making and equipment literacy, after which they were required to make a film about the story of their lives by shooting their own footage, with cameras provided through a research grant.  Further workshops were held to collaboratively view footage and provide feedback and assist with editing. 

Moodley said one of the interesting things about her research was that she had taken an auto-ethnographic approach. ‘I embedded myself in the research, such that I became one of the participants and the participants became researchers.’ 

She said there was a two-fold purpose to her research - a social development purpose ‘where the women learned about themselves’, and an educative purpose ‘where my practical film-making skills and my skills as someone who teaches film, became useful to other people.

‘Social development and community engagement are only effective if the scholar as an activist can simultaneously teach to and learn from the communities where they work.’ 

Moodley said her research had helped empower the women in the project in different ways. ‘One of my participants used film as a tool for her feminist standpoint, another used the film as a way to claim a space of representation, because she felt that she never had that opportunity before. The third woman used the process of film-making as a form of therapy to work through her issues related to a poverty-stricken background and abusive marriage. And then, for me, it was a journey of discovery.’ 

Moodley says it was challenging studying for her PhD as it meant juggling the roles of wife, mother, lecturer and student, but she constantly reminded herself that she needed to complete this project because she owed it to her participants, to the generations of women in her family past, present and future… and she owed it to herself! 

Moodley thanked the many people who had helped make her work a success, especially her research participants for giving her their time and sharing their lives so openly with her, and her PhD supervisor, Professor van der Hoven. 

Van der Hoven said Moodley’s research was highly commended by her examiners, ‘It came as no surprise that one of the world’s leading authorities in visual ethnography, described Subesh’s work as not only "excellent",’ but also as a "change-making project" where original methodology was simultaneously "convincing and innovative" but still "intimate and empathetic". 

Moodley hopes to be involved in a project related to the 16 Days of Activism in the next few months in which she will be working with the same research participants. 

She also hopes to continue to build film studies at UKZN, increase student numbers and seek out sources of funding for specialised editing programmes and computers. 

Van der Hoven described Moodley as ‘one of a rare breed, a truly original and deeply committed researcher. Research of this calibre cannot and should not be judged in terms of the number of years it has taken to complete but on its contribution to the development of cultural studies in South Africa.’

Merusha Naidoo

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