UKZN Representatives attend Administrative Law Conference

UKZN Representatives attend Administrative Law Conference
UKZN delegates Professor Warren Freedman (left) and Professor Michael Kidd.

The Administrative Justice Association of South Africa (AdJASA) recently held its annual conference at Salt Rock Beach Hotel just north of Durban.

Attending the two day conference were Acting Dean and Head of the School of Law Professor Warren Freedman and Law Lecturers Professor Michael Kidd and Dr Paul Swanepoel.

The conference guest of honour was UKZN’s School of Law Honorary Professor, Judge Malcolm Wallis, who gave a keynote address on the topic: The Impact of Judicial Review on the Doctrine of the Separation of Powers.

AdJASA is a non-profit association that aims to promote administrative justice in South Africa. It provides the right to fair administrative action, which is found in section 33 of the country’s Constitution.

‘The conference aimed at sharing thoughts and ideas about administrative law in the country, to identify strengths and weaknesses and to discuss the significance of these, and how to improve the law,’ said Kidd.

‘It also facilitates networking among people involved in administrative law in the country,’ he added.

Kidd, who participated in drawing up the conference programme, presented a paper titled: Relevant and Irrelevant Considerations Through an Environmental Law Lens, which highlighted environmental law decisions, which constitute administrative action, by taking into account  relevant considerations which present significant challenges to administrators.

Swanepoel also presented a paper titled: The Nature and Effect of the Public Protector’s findings and Remedial Action.

The conference closed with a panel discussion that tackled current challenges in the pursuit of administrative justice and the road ahead.

The panelists were Judge Wallis, Law Lecturer at Wits University Professor Cora Hoexter and Professor Geo Quinot from Stellenbosch University

Freedman described the conference as very stimulating and added that he found that the papers were of a high standard.

‘I particularly appreciated the fact that there was a good mix of academics and practicing lawyers amongst the presenters. This means that the papers provided both academic and practical insights with respect to the topics.

‘Finally, I also wanted to say that the keynote address delivered by Judge Wallis was a real tour de force. It was very scholarly and interesting,’ said Freedman.

Words by: Sibonelo Shinga

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DRILL hosts Informative Research Seminars

DRILL hosts Informative Research Seminars
From left: Professor Petra Brysiewicz, DRILL Principal Investigator; Professor Anita van der Merwe and Professor Fatima Suleman, DRILL Principal Investigator.

UKZN’s Developing Research Innovation, Localisation and Leadership in South Africa (DRILL) programme recently hosted a number of research seminars.

DRILL held its first ever mental health symposium Voices from the Head: Brain Science and Changing Futures, which took place recently at the Elangeni Hotel, Durban. The Symposium shed light on innovative local and global research in the field of mental health. It also provided an opportunity for entry-level researchers to gain expert advice on developing an excellent research portfolio. A former medical graduate of UKZN and one of the country’s leading researchers and esteemed academics in the field, Professor Soraya Seedat made a presentation at the Symposium.

Zama Luvuno, the Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) Technical Advisor at the Centre of Rural Health who attended remarked: ‘I really enjoyed the first part of the presentation, on how to write and update your CV especially for us up-and-coming researchers. The seminar was very informative’.

Seedat is currently the Executive Head of the Department of Psychiatry at Stellenbosch University and is also the President of the College of Psychiatrists, South Africa. She has extensive research experience in the assessment and treatment of anxiety disorders, with a special interest in clinical and translational work in childhood and adult post-traumatic stress disorder. Seedat implores young researchers to think beyond successfully completing a project and publication and to think about the impact of the project. ‘If we think about having a broader impact on society, it kind of changes the playing field’, said Seedat. One of the foundations of the DRILL programme is for the fellows to produce research that will have measurable societal impact.

Next on the agenda was a seminar held at the UNITE Building at the School of Engineering on 3 August. It was a session titled: Research Paradigms and Theoretical Frameworks: Love and Live with Them…

Many researchers struggle with using research paradigms and theoretical frameworks in their studies. Professor Anita van der Merwe’s seminar was perfectly tailored to demystify the role of paradigms and theoretical frameworks in research which can be very confusing for some. Van der Merwe is Professor and Executive Head: Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Medicine, Stellenbosch University. In addition, she is the Chair of the Health Research Ethics Committee and the Committee for Postgraduate Research in the Faculty. She has interests in mixed methods research, software for qualitative data analysis, research philosophy and ethics, leadership and simulation and technology in Nursing Education.

The session was lively and interactive with van der Merwe providing much needed insight on how to understand the use of paradigms and conceptual or theoretical frameworks. Ms Zanele Zondi, a Joint Lecturer at the School of Nursing and Public Health said that the seminar was ‘educative, informative, simple and understandable. I learnt a lot about paradigms, theories and conceptual frameworks. I have been struggling with my study and I now have the tools to tackle it head on.’ She said she wished the session was longer and felt that van der Merwe needs to do a repeat seminar as no one else had explained these difficult concepts in such a simple and relatable manner before.  

‘The seminar was good but I wish it was longer so we could’ve spent some time being shown how to apply the theory in a paper or a thesis or how we can help our students apply the concepts in Health Sciences’,  said Deshini Naidoo, Lecturer in Occupational Therapy, UKZN.

One of the core principles of the DRILL programme is research skills development and seminars such as the ones recently hosted impart valuable skills in the development of young researchers.

Words and photograph by: Lungelo Khanyile

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Double Accolade for UKZN at JOMBA!

Double Accolade for UKZN at JOMBA!
Left: Mr JC Zondi (in red) performs his award-winning work Intimate at the JOMBA! FRINGE and right: Winner of this year’s JOMBA! Eric Shabalala Dance Champion Award, Mr Sifiso “Magesh” Ngcobo with Ms Lliane Loots.

Masters in Drama and Performance Studies student Mr JC Zondi received the inaugural JOMBA! Pick of the Fringe award at this year’s JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience. The award is given to an innovative choreographer from the Fringe in an endeavour to further encourage choreographers to create new work.

The curated JOMBA! FRINGE features around 10 to 12 new short works each year while also recognising the excellent work of independent artists and companies.

Zondi’s piece was titled Intimate and featured videography combined with a live performance. He described his work as ‘an invitation and exploration into the deep personal space of the dancers’ intimate bodies and how we look at each other.’

‘For me JOMBA! FRINGE has always been a platform where I could showcase the beautiful students/dancers who I work with, and relay some message to the world of art,’ said a delighted Zondi. ‘Receiving the award was a great surprise and a reminder as to why I do what I do, and an incentive to keep creating.’

Zondi has now been invited to the 2018 JOMBA! KZN ON THE EDGE platform to premiere new fuller length work that will be financially and technically supported by JOMBA!

Meanwhile UKZN alumnus Mr Sifiso “Magesh” Ngcobo, received the JOMBA! Eric Shabalala Dance Champion Award during the Festival.

The award honours the memory of Eric Mshengu Shabalala who tragically passed away in 2011. He was a local dancer, choreographer, teacher and one of the founding dancers of the Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre in Durban. The award therefore honours some of KwaZulu-Natal’s stalwart dancers and dance teachers.

Ngcobo, who currently teaches dance and isiZulu at St Nicholas Diocesan School in Pietermaritzburg, also runs a scholar dance company within the school called St Nics Dance Company.

He was born in Umthwalume, and has a degree in Drama and Performance Studies and an Honours degree in Community Development from UKZN.

Before joining Flatfoot Dance Company in 2003, he performed and toured the world as part of the celebrated dance show African Footprint.  As one of Flatfoot’s founding members he was instrumental in their now 15 year history of dance education and community engagement.

‘This award is given primarily for the work he is doing and the community project in Imbali Township at Sukuma Comprehensive School,’ said UKZN Dance Lecturer Ms Lliane Loots. ‘He works with young school going learners and in a dance programme called the Umsunduzi Youth Development Project and uses both drama and dance to address social, economic issues, life orientation as well as community child and gender abuse.’

Ngcobo said he was excited to receive the award. ‘I have been doing this kind of work for a very long time and it is good to be finally recognised. We work without funding and support from the government but the passion and fire within us keeps us going because our goal is to make an impact in different communities and to give hope to the hopeless through dance.

‘The projects I run in Pietermaritzburg have made a significant impact in the learners’ lives and that makes me happy. We are not yet done!’ he enthused.

Words by: Melissa Mungroo

Photographer:  Val Adamson

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UKZN Golf Day Funds Bursaries

UKZN Golf Day Funds Bursaries
Dr Albert van Jaarsveld (standing, fourth from right) and Standard Bank’s Mr Fumani Mathebula (standing, third from left) with Golf Day bursary recipients.

The recently hosted UKZN Golf Day has raised R180 000 to fund studies for 18 academically deserving students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Each student received a R10 000 bursary.

The 14th Golf Day was held recently at Cotswold Downs Golf Course in Hillcrest.  The annual golf day has become a popular event on the golfing calendar with many players returning every year saying ‘golfing for a purpose’ draws them back. This year, a total of 108 golfers participated in the event which is played on an individual stableford points format.

Delivering his welcome address, UKZN Vice-Chancellor Dr Albert van Jaarsveld said: ‘This event embodies the partnership that the University enjoys with its alumni, the business community, our service providers and so many friends who share in the vision and mission of our Institution. At the heart of this event lies the commitment of all participants here today, to make a difference to communities and to empower those who are less fortunate.’

Standard Bank’s involvement with this initiative is now in its seventh year. Mr Fumani Mathebula of Standard Bank said: ‘We strongly believe that the cornerstone of a proud and economically active society is built on a foundation of education. There has to be a systematic process of making sure that we are producing individuals with maths and literacy skills and that universities are producing the right talent. The fact that this event supports students who excel and who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, makes us as a bank a proud lead sponsor.’

Physiotherapy student and bursary recipient, Ms Emihle Dlanjwa thanked the golfers for their generosity. She said: ‘This bursary was literally an answer to my prayers. I had been praying just the day before and asking God to make a plan for me and open a door of hope. I got a call the following day informing me of this bursary. This bursary means that I get to have renewed hope that I can finish my degree and graduate. It means that I get to make something of myself and provides me with an opportunity to give back one-day. It also means I get to inspire other young people to reach for their dreams and pursue Higher Education.

Speaking on behalf of her fellow recipients, she added ‘For all of us as the recipients, this bursary alleviates a bit of our financial burden concerning fees making it a slightly lighter load. Each and every one of us have become one step closer to fulfilling every dream we ever had and becoming UKZN graduates.’

The winner in the Guest Category and overall winner being Mr Andrew Morgan. UKZN’s Mr Randy Phalad from Legal Services was the winner in the Staff/Convocation Category.

This year attracted the participation of three women golfers. Ms Kusthuri Srikewal from the Pietermaritzburg campus won the Women’s Category.

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

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

 Words by: Indu Moodley

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DTI Promotes Entrepreneurial Mindset

DTI Promotes Entrepreneurial Mindset
From left: Ms Patience Motokolo, Mr Wiseman Myeni (DTI) and Ms Nosisa Zaca.

A group of student leaders from Black Management Forum (BMF), Enactus and the Community Development Association (CDA) attended a capacity building workshop aimed at encouraging young people to think about entrepreneurship as an alternative to just seeking employment after completing their degrees. The workshop, held on 6 September, was organised by the Agriculture Economics Student Society (AESS) and was facilitated by Mr Wiseman Myeni from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Myeni spoke about programmes that the DTI offers to businesses like the Agro-processing support scheme (APSS) and support programmes for industrial innovation (SPII).

The main focus of the APSS is to develop businesses that can uplift rural areas where there is high prevalence of food insecurity and unemployment.

The main focus of the SPII is to encourage product development ideas like modernising indigenous or traditional foods such as snacks from Mopani worms, juices, spices from herbs such as moringa etc.

Moreover, he cautioned students to not only depend on government funding or grants for startup capital. He encouraged students to think about ways the township and rural economies could be developed to be inclusive of poor people. 

After the workshop, student leaders got a chance to engage with Myeni about the ideas they have and wish to pursue in future. In closing, student leaders were encouraged to share the information they received from the workshop with their members.

AESS aims to link students with workplace opportunities and to equip them with skills to be able to start their own businesses. AESS shares scholarships and job opportunities on its Facebook page and organises seminars for students.

Words by: Lungelo Cele

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First TEDx Talk held in Pietermaritzburg

First TEDx Talk held in Pietermaritzburg
From left: Father Neil Frank, Heidi Matisson, Hsin “Cynthia” Chiang, Pierre Buckley and Joan Akob.

One of the most long awaited events at UKZN finally took place at the Ronald MacMillan Theatre with the audience showing up in its numbers to pack the venue in anticipation of the night ahead. Making its first debut in Pietermaritzburg, the TEDx (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Talk with a focus on bio-global immigration and astronomy was sure to engulf, inspire, educate and unleash fresh ideas.

There were five guest speakers all of whom had the opportunity to take the audience on a mind-unlocking journey. The first speaker, Ms Joan Akob, looked at the migration of human beings and what it means for both rural and urban areas. Her speech touched a bit on the experience of being an only immigrant among fellow classmates. ‘I believe that our perception and misconception we have about each other is what actually hinders social cohesion,’she said. Akob went on to suggest that we should ‘…replace the spirit of division with spirit of Ubuntu.

The importance of the spirit of Ubuntu in our societies is vital with regards to how it could break barriers and create peace amongst people. The spirit of Ubuntu: is a simple philosophy that does not cost anyone a single dime. But it does require a massive shift in how we think about ourselves, how we see each other, and how we view every other living thing on the planet.

Topics such as ‘Elements for the Construction of Meaning’ by the second speaker, Father Neil Frank, addressing language and symbols construction concerning complex ideas relating to cosmology and our space in the cosmos. The words we use every day create a meaning of life forming symbols that become our reality which makes our present.

The TEDx talks were very well received by both students and academics. Ice breakers in paper format were different and spread around the theatre. It helped the audience settle in and engage with the speakers, which is the crux of what TEDx talks tries to promote. The audience remained enthralled till the end.

The event was made possible by a group of five phenomenal individuals. Encouraging words from the organiser, Mr Tinashe Dirwai were, ‘On a great mountain you don’t leave your friends and go to the top alone,’ which is the same spirit that made this TEDx event a success. Given the enthusiasm and interest in the talks definitely more of these lectures will be arranged in the future. 

Words by: Swasti Maney and Nokuthula Mavimbela

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I-SINW Prominent Women Iklomeliswe Onekusasa eliqhakazile Wase-UKZN

I-SINW Prominent Women  Iklomeliswe Onekusasa eliqhakazile Wase-UKZN
UNkz Shongani Dladla uklonyeliselwe ithalente lakhe lezinkondlo.

Click here for the English version

Umfundi weziqu zezeMfundo uNkz Shongani Dladla usanda kuhlonishwa yinhlangano ezinikele ekubhekaneni nezimo ezithize zenhlalo iSakha Isizwe Ngomuntu Wesifazane Global Organisation (SINW), ngenxa yobuciko bakhe bokubhala izinkondlo  .

Ngomhla wama-25 kuNcwaba uDladla uklonyeliswe ngendondo i-Best Woman in Poetry emcimbini obubanjelwe e-Blue Waters Hotel.

I-SINW izinikele ekwakheni ubudlelwano obuqinile nemindeni emiphakathini, ngoba ikholelwa ekutheni ‘imindeni ephila kahle yakha imiphakathi ephila kahle.’

Ongumsunguli we-SINW uDkt  “Lady N” Nomusa Madlala (Mam Sphithiphithi) uphokophele ekuthuthukiseni lolu lwazi ngokuhlonipha nokuklomelisa abesifazane abenza imisebenzi eyisimangaliso.

Okwenziwe uDladla kukhombisa umbono wakhe ngoba izinkondlo zakhe zikhuluma ngokungumongo wokwakhiwa kwesizwe. Umlando wempilo yakhe unika ithemba futhi uwubufakazi boguquko lwangempela.

Njengoba ezalelwe emndenini ontulayo eNkandla lapho ekhuliswe umzali oyedwa, uDladla udlule ezihibeni eziningi ukuze afike lapha ekhona namuhla.

Uneminyaka eyi-20 wenza izifundo zonyaka wesibili zeziqu zobuthisha, uyisikhulumi esikhuthaza abanye ngezinkondlo aphinde abe ngunozinti weqembu lasekhempasini yase-Edgewood yebhola lezinyawo.

Uthando lwakhe lwezobuciko lwaqala ngenhlansi yokufuna ukulwisana nezinkinga ezihaqe umphakathi waseNingizimu Afrika.

Iseluleko sakhe sithi, ‘kukho konke okwenzayo, hlala njalo ukwenzisisa, noma ngabe uya kephi yenza uhambo lwakho lukhazimule, sebenzisa ithuba nethuba ngobuhlakani. Ungaqhudelani nomunye umuntu, yenza konke okwenzayo ukuze ithalente lakho libe ngcono kunayizolo.’

UDladla uhlela ukuvakasha emhlabeni jikelele futhi ufisa nokuthola abalaleli abathe xaxa, kodwa okubaluleke kakhulu ukuthi ufisa ukuhlomisa abantu ngezinkondlo zakhe futhi athole indawo ezinhliyweni zabazifundayo.

Amagama: Ziphezinhle Silindile Biyela

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Student Organisation Tackles Gender Based Violence

Student Organisation Tackles Gender Based Violence
Attendees at the BASCO gender-based violence seminar at UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus.

UKZN’s Buya Africa Student Cultural Organisation (BASCO) hosted a gender-based violence (GBV) seminar in Pietermaritzburg to mark Women’s month.

Speakers included UKZN linguistics academic, Mr Nelson Ntshangase; Life Bible Church’s Pastor Sabelo Manyathi; the SRC’s Mr Xola Mehlomakulu, and Mr Ishe Mupezeni of UKZN’s Men’s Forum.

The speakers emphasised the importance of admitting to problems of GBV in our communities and suggested that one of the ways of dealing with the problem is teaching young men that “men do not lay their hands on women”.

Interim Chairman of BASCO, 26-year-old Mr Njabulo Ntombela, said it is important to discuss issues of GBV. ‘Gender-based violence is an issue that affects us all, directly or indirectly,’ said the LLB student.

‘Ignoring the problems that divide our society means that we are also guilty of a crime equivalent to those that violate our women. Hosting such seminars helps in coming up with solutions to fight against these issues,’ said Ntombela, who is also an ex officio member of the student chapter of the Black Lawyers Association.

BASCO members regularly engage in community outreach programmes, including visiting Westville prison to motivate prisoners to remind them of Ubuntu and visiting the Lamontville Old Age Home to assist the elderly.

For more information on BASCO, they are based at 410 Student Union Building at the Howard College campus or email them at

Words by: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

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HEARD and UKZN PhD Graduate Appointed as Visiting Scientist at Elite University

HEARD and UKZN PhD Graduate Appointed as Visiting Scientist at Elite University
Dr Bereket Yakob Yota.

Dr Bereket Yakob Yota, a recent graduate of HEARD’s (Health Economics and HIV and AIDS Research Division) PhD programme at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has been appointed as a Visiting Scientist at the prestigious Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health. Dr Yota who graduated with a PhD at UKZN in 2016, has been selected to contribute to the Department of Population and Global Health with focus on Health Systems at the elite School.

Dr Yota, born in Ethiopia in 1980, has dedicated a significant part of his life to the field of public health. His studies began with Bachelor of Science in Public Health at Alemaya University, Ethiopia. He then graduated with Master of Public Health at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. In 2016, he graduated with a PhD in Public Health through UKZN’s School of Nursing and Public Health. The title of his PhD was; Access to and Acceptability of HIV/AIDS Treatment and Care Services in Wolaita Zone, Southern Ethiopia: A Socio-Ecological Perspective.

Shortly after the completion of his PhD, Dr Yota provided technical assistance to Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia, specifically to the Maternal and Child Health Directorate. He was also a member of the national Research Advisory Council and a member of Lancet Global Commission for High Quality Health Systems in SDG (UN’s Sustainable Development Goals) era where he analysed data on the quality of care, health inequity and efficiency. He also had been involved in student supervision and examinations, provided consultancy services to several non-governmental organisations and had collaborated with the Global Burden of Diseases Group.

With a focus on Health Systems, Dr Yota’s appointment at Harvard’s T H Chan School of Public Health will see him collaborate with Harvard analysts and conduct analysis of big data to generate evidence for health policy making and programme development. He will also need to provide evidence to health policy advisors/specialists for a project implemented by Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health.

When asked about the goals of his appointment from his perspective, and what he looked forward to be doing in the future, his response was:

‘This appointment brings me learning opportunities whereby I work with renowned Harvard analysts and researchers to advance my knowledge and analytic capacities. It opens many doors to link up with many researchers around the world to share experiences, hold debates on different theories and perspectives and learn new ways of doing research/analysing data to embrace advances in the field of public health and grow, especially in health systems. I am looking forward to be a lead researcher in the field of health systems (public health) and contribute to the efforts around the world to end preventable causes of deaths (especially of mothers and children).

To achieve this, I will connect with all interested researchers, institutions and donors, and will keep my eyes open for any good opportunities with Harvard as well as other institutions.’

There is no doubt that the hard work, dedication and success of Dr Yota proves the capacity of Africa’s leaders in the global fight toward affordable, equal and accessible healthcare. It also demonstrates the necessity to equip researchers with the education and tools through programmes like HEARD’s PhD Programme which allows for Africa’s future health leaders to be thrust into major global health platforms which influence and impact our continent.

Dr Kaymarlin Govender, Research Director at HEARD weighed in on the significance of Dr Yota’s appointment: ‘HEARD congratulates Bereket on his new appointment as Visiting Scientist at Harvard’s School of Public Health.  Dr Yota’s success is an indication of the impact of HEARD’s PhD programme in promoting high calibre scholarship on the African continent’.

Words by: Thomais Armaos

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Poverty and Sustainable Development in the 21st Century

Poverty and Sustainable Development in the 21st Century
Scientific Director of CROP, Professor Alberto Cimadamore delivers a public lecture at UKZN.

The College of Humanities recently hosted a public lecture as part of the Transformation and Leadership Lecture Series.

The lecture titled, Poverty and Sustainable Development in the 21st Century: A Critical View was delivered by Scientific Director of the Comparative Research Programme on Poverty (CROP), Professor Alberto Cimadamore from the University of Bergen in Norway.

Taking a critical approach, the lecture held at the Howard College Theatre unpacked issues related to global poverty. ‘While poverty is decreasing in some regions of the world, notably in Asia largely driven by China and India, poverty in sub-Saharan Africa is on the increase,’ claims Cimadamore.

The public lecture examined how the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) processes addressed poverty and development at a global level. It critically evaluated the challenges posed by poverty and sustainable development at the beginning of the 21st Century and the prospects ahead.

From a political economy point of view, the lecture expounded on global poverty in an age of inequality while identifying systemic problems and biases as obstacles to eradicating poverty and reducing inequality.

According to Cimadamore, structures of governance have been historically part of the problem and the solution.

‘Understanding the role of states and its potential in contemporary International Political Economy (IPE) is crucial to design effective policies aiming to reduce inequality and eradicate, prevent poverty and built welfare states for the 21st Century.

 ‘One of the main objectives of the current partnership between CROP and UKZN (in collaboration with CODESRIA) is precisely to address these issues using science as a tool for a transformation towards a just and sustainable society,’ said Cimadamore.  

Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities Professor Stephen Mutula described the lecture topic as ‘significant in many ways. This lecture talks directly to the flagship areas of UKZN. This is social cohesion, big data, African health and cities of the future.’

Words by: Melissa Mungroo

Photographer: Albert Hirasen

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Spotlight on Women Entrepreneurship and Self Love

Spotlight on Women Entrepreneurship and Self Love
Guests at the event from left: Ms Ntandokazi Buthelezi, Ms Mbalenhle Shandu and Ms Nomfundo Khumalo.

A group of UKZN female students convened to talk about the importance of education, self-love and self-importance at a recently held event to celebrate Women’s Day.

The event, hosted by Isibani Education Empowerment Students Organization (ISEESO), was held on the Westville campus.

A total of 47 female students attended the event whose theme was “First, Love Yourself (F.L.Y)”. It was hosted with the support of the Westville and Central Students Representative Council. During the course of the evening speakers motivated the ladies, inspirational videos were played and the evening ended with an open discussion.

This platform of encouragement, motivation, and rediscovery also focused on instilling a mindset and power of female entrepreneurship.  

The first speaker, Ms Malindi Kunene, an Entrepreneurship Academic at the University spoke of how females can uplift themselves and others around them. Ms Pinky Mnyaka, HCT Counsellor under the AIDS Programme on the Westville campus then spoke about self-love and self-acceptance and how women can go about achieving a sense of self-worth. Central SRC President Ms Noxolo Bhengu emphasised the importance of having women in leadership and how women in leadership can overcome obstacles and prejudice they face without losing their femininity. The audience was also entertained with live performances by Vuyiswa Ndlovu of the F.L.Y Initiative, Mandisa Mondise of UKZN Poetry Night, and Asanda Magwaza. The ladies were immensely empowered, and uplifted by these exceptional speakers and entertainers.

Those attending the event participated in a discussion on how to sustain the initiative of F.L.Y. During the discussion it was discovered that many female students lack a support system and this sometimes leads to their poor academic performance. These female students often face issues on their own and feel isolated. It was suggested that a peer based support group and similar gatherings should take place more often on campus so as to help others cope with personal issues along with their academics and further practice some entrepreneurial skills. The Campus HIV and AIDS Support Unit (CHASU) representatives suggested working together with their women’s forum to help tackle some of these issues  raised including : gender based violence and the need for  sanitary towels. ‘Working together will help create a united voice and greater awareness in tackling such issues. We need to share ideas together as females in forums and discussions to help uplift one another and make a better change to the society,' said Ms Phume Ngcobo.

The ISEESO Leadership agreed to further support the F.L.Y Initiative and to also support any other upcoming events of this kind. The proposed types of events were F.L.Y Man Indaba, with an aim of addressing the issues that male students face which may also lead to poor academic performance.  Another event being mooted is one in which both genders come together to discuss  gender violence and a plan towards achieving Goal 5 of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

‘We send our warm gratitude to all females who sacrificed their evening and came together to make the event a success,’ said Mandla Dlamini, ISEESO Chairperson and WSRC Students Services.

Words by: Vuyiswa Ndlovu

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