Q and A Session with International Student

Q and A Session with International Student
International student Stephen Allen at the Maletsunyane Falls in Lesotho.

Stephen Allen – a young American reading for a master’s degree at Tufts University in Massachusetts in the United States – is also studying isiZulu as a visiting postgrad student at UKZN. Interestingly, Allen began studying the language before he arrived here.

UKZNdaba journalist Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer chatted to him:

What are you studying in the US and what brought you to South Africa?

I am completing a master’s degree in international relations at Tufts University with a focus on southern Africa. Last year, I interned for two months in Pretoria and really loved it but I didn’t get to learn an indigenous South African language so I am back to change that. A language fellowship at UKZN has provided me with a great way to learn isiZulu.

You are taking a course in isiZulu. What have you learned and has it helped in your daily life in SA?

I studied isiZulu in the United States before coming to South Africa. I am currently taking a mother tongue course at UKZN and it has definitely been challenging! Fortunately, the professors and my classmates have been generous with their time and patience.

What languages do you speak?

In addition to English, I speak French, Spanish, Modern Arabic, and Wolof. Hopefully, I can add isiZulu to that list by the end of my time here!

You have travelled in Africa a lot – tell us about a bit about that.

I have been fortunate to have lived and worked in a variety of countries in Africa. I have studied in Morocco as an undergraduate student; lived and worked in Senegal and The Gambia, and travelled extensively in east and southern Africa. I think perhaps the biggest misconception about Africa among people in the United States is that it is this monolith, when, in reality, the continent is enormous and incredibly diverse. I really enjoy learning and studying languages, and I think the linguistic diversity here in South Africa is very beautiful.

What about some of your experiences in South Africa?

I really love road trips and South Africa is such an amazing place for that! A friend and I just did a trip through the Free State - it was stunning! South Africa is without doubt one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. I am very fortunate to be able to study here.

Have you managed to visit places such as the Gandhi Settlement in Durban?

I have not! But I just googled it and it’s on my list of must sees. My favourite Durban places thus far are the beach and the KZN Society of Arts.

Any memorable moments at UKZN?

My first day here was certainly memorable! I had just arrived and was dealing with some serious jetlag. It was the first time I had enrolled directly at a university outside the US and it’s an entirely different system. So that first day was overwhelming! People are generally surprised to learn that I am studying isiZulu.

What can UKZN do to better serve international students?

I am not sure about this as international students’ expectations and experiences are diverse and shaped by their home university environment. In the United States, I think students are used to a more hands-on approach, whereas my experience here has been more hands-off and student-driven. I think it would be good if there were more resources for extra-curricular opportunities on campus.

Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer


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US Lifetime Achievement Award for UKZN AIDS Researchers

US Lifetime Achievement Award for UKZN AIDS Researchers
At the awards ceremony in Baltimore from left: Professor Salim Abdool Karim, Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim and Dr Robert Gallo.

Leading South African AIDS researchers, UKZN’s husband and wife duo Salim and Quarraisha Abdool Karim, are the recipients of the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the esteemed Institute for Human Virology (IHV) for their contributions to the global AIDS response.

The couple received a standing ovation at the awards ceremony which was presented to them at the 19th international meeting of the IHV last week in Baltimore in the United States by Dr Robert Gallo, who discovered HIV as the cause of AIDS and developed the first blood tests for HIV infection.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim is the Director of UKZN’s Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim is its Associate Scientific Director. They are both professors in the Department of Epidemiology at Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York and are honorary academics at UKZN. They are renowned for their tireless and distinguished scientific contributions in HIV prevention and treatment research that span nearly three decades.

‘To me, both of these renowned individuals have made some of the greatest contributions in the history of HIV/AIDS in public health and epidemiology relevant to the prevention and care of infected people,’ said Gallo.  ‘I don’t know any person or persons who have done more to advance the proper care of people with HIV infection or the prevention of HIV infection among a population.’

Professor Salim Abdool Karim is a clinical infectious diseases epidemiologist who is widely recognised for his ground-breaking scientific contributions in HIV prevention and treatment. He is co-inventor on patents which have been used in several HIV vaccine candidates and his clinical research on TB-HIV treatment has shaped international guidelines on the clinical management of co-infected patients. Abdool Karim is Chair of the UNAIDS Scientific Expert Panel and WHO’s Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on HIV and Hepatitis, a Foreign Associate Member of the US National Academy of Medicine and serves on the boards of Lancet-Global Health, Lancet-HIV and the New England Journal of Medicine.

Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim is an NRF A-Rated scientist and infectious diseases epidemiologist and was the Principal Investigator of the CAPRISA 004 trial. Her research focuses on understanding the evolving HIV epidemic in South Africa, factors influencing the acquisition of HIV infection in adolescent girls and sustainable strategies to introduce HAART in resource-constrained settings. She is the Vice-Chairperson of the Board of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and a member of the End AIDS Coalition (EAC). Abdool Karim is a member of the UNAIDS Scientific Expert Panel and Scientific Advisory Board member of the US President’s Emergency Pan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

Their scientific contributions have focused on trying to prevent HIV in women in Africa. They were the first to demonstrate that antiretrovirals can prevent sexual transmission of HIV in 2010, when they shared the results of the CAPRISA 004 tenofovir gel trial. The landmark CAPRISA 004 study was recognised by the journal Science as one of the Top 10 scientific breakthroughs in 2010. The Abdool Karims also discovered that tenofovir gel prevents genital herpes, the first drug shown to be effective in preventing this disease. Currently, they are involved in developing new innovative ways of preventing HIV in women.

Commenting on the global award for distinguished public service, Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim said they ‘were both deeply appreciative of the recognition by the IHV, a centre of excellence in HIV research’.

Said Professor Salim Abdool Karim: ‘We accept the award not just on our own behalf but in recognition of the resilience and contributions of the thousands of South Africans who have been central, as participants in our research, to the ongoing effort to develop better and more effective HIV prevention and treatment strategies.’

UKZN’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, said the University was proud to congratulate both scientists.

‘UKZN is honoured to be associated with these eminent researchers who have contributed immensely to the world’s understanding of the pathogenesis, epidemiology and prevention of HIV.  Through ground-breaking studies such the CAPRISA 004 tenofovir gel trial, the Abdool Karims have established their status of being among the world’s foremost authorities in the field of HIV/AIDS research,’ said van Jaarsveld.

‘While the battle is far from over, it is encouraging to note that South Africa has made significant strides in its response to the epidemic. Pioneers such as the Abdool Karims and institutions like CAPRISA have contributed to the turnaround we are celebrating today.

‘While their work is not done for any personal gain or fame, we hope that the recognition the Abdool Karims continue to receive, both locally and internationally, will spur them on in their pursuit to generate new knowledge in this very important field. The Abdool Karims are still searching hard for new ways to prevent the transmission of HIV and we, therefore, have no doubt that they will continue making us proud as a country,’ said van Jaarsveld.

The Institute of Human Virology (IHV) is a leading US research centre that combines the disciplines of basic science, epidemiology and clinical research in a concerted effort to speed the discovery of diagnostics and therapeutics for a wide variety of chronic and deadly viral and immune disorders - most notably HIV.

Words: Smita Maharaj


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Mechanical Engineering Open Day a Resounding Success

Mechanical Engineering Open Day a Resounding Success
Mechanical Engineering final-year students with some of their final year designs including an off-road rally vehicle, a flying car and an amphibious “shark” car.

A collapsible hand bicycle, a cleaning system to rehabilitate used bricks, a turbine pump to improve water access for rural communities, a flying car, a rocket testing facility, a smart house  and a whole lot more were on display at UKZN’s Mechanical Engineering Open Day.

The annual event on the Howard College campus provided a unique opportunity for final-year Mechanical Engineering students to demonstrate and display their innovative projects to evaluators, sponsors, parents and the general public.

To fulfil part of degree requirements for Design and Research Project modules, 21 groups of three or four students from the final year class were allocated projects to develop over the year. This required the application of skills and knowledge gained throughout their studies to meet set objectives while working within predetermined budgets and time frames.

Prototypes produced over the nine months of the project duration demonstrated varied applications of engineering skills and fields, including vehicle design, green energy technologies, renewable energy harvesting systems and industrial machines.

Engineering students showcased work which will stand them in good stead as they prepare to enter the workplace.

Projects were assessed according to the Engineering outcomes required by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA).

The day included discipline demonstrations, postgraduate research displays and technology demonstrations, including interactive displays such as the UKZN pedal bus electric trikes and the rally car simulator, demonstrations of the rocket display unit, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and a mobile robotic display.

There was also an exhibit of vehicles illustrating the evolution of the motor vehicle.

‘Participating was a real pleasure and we thoroughly enjoyed the projects,’ said Mr Paul Canter of the Fulton Trust, who was the guest speaker.

A number of prizes were awarded to groups for their work:

* The Best Industrial and Commercial Potential Award went to a group who devised an SPS Rolling Mill

* The Best Research Content Award was presented to a team who developed a Small Scale Cold Spraying Process

* The prize for the Best Engineering Display Category 1 was won by the eBeetle group with the VTOL Winged Flying Car team taking second prize

* The Best Engineering Display Category 2 prize went to a group who developed a Laboratory Sugar Cane Billeter, with second prize awarded to a group working on a Massecuite Boiling Visualisation

Words: Christine Cuénod


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Renowned Criminologist Delivers Guest Lectures at UKZN

Renowned Criminologist Delivers Guest Lectures at UKZN
Professor Philip Stenning (third from left) with staff and postgraduate students from the Criminology and Forensic Studies discipline.

World renowned Criminologist Professor Philip Stenning gave a lecture at UKZN’s Howard College Theatre on the criminal justice system and another on the plural policing provision.

The lectures were hosted by the Criminology and Forensic Studies discipline within the School of Applied Human Sciences where Stenning is an honorary professor.

Speaking on relations between the criminal justice system and governments in Africa, he reflected on South Africa’s independence from British rule and how the constitution of the country had been shaped, while also discussing transformation and African values.

Stenning interacted with UKZN postgraduate students on the plural policing provision discussing the implications and challenges for governance and the accountability of policing. He noted that relations between police commissioners and governments in South Africa had been notoriously controversial.

‘Prior to 1994, the police were regarded by most reasonable observers as essentially an instrument of the government in oppressing Black people under the apartheid regime,’ said Stenning. ‘With liberation, the new ANC government emphasised the need for a break with the past. The idea of police independence had its place in discussions around the new constitution and the new South African Police Service Act 1995.’

He also spoke about interesting proposals that had been made in recent years by policy makers and policing scholars for mechanisms of governance and accountability for policing that would meet the challenges the pluralised provision presented.

Stenning said he hoped his lectures would allow students to be critical while striving to be agents of change for the transformation of the criminal justice system.

Words and photograph: Melissa Mungroo


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Abacwaningi Ababili Bathole Ukuqeqeshwa Kwezesayensi Yezibonakhulu

Abacwaningi Ababili Bathole Ukuqeqeshwa Kwezesayensi Yezibonakhulu
UMnu Vishal Bharuth.noNkz Lorika Beukes.Click here for the English version

Abacwaningi ababili abasebenza ophikweni lwase-UKZN i-Microscopy and Microanalysis Unit (MMU) babeyingxenye yabebeqeqeshwa esizindeni i-Centre for High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy (CHRTEM) e-Nelson Mandela University (NMU) e-Port Elizabeth.

Ukuqeqeshwa bekumayelana nesihloko Izindlela Zesayensi Zokulungiselela Ukusebenzisa Isibonakhulu Sama-elekthroni.

UNkz Lorika Beukes wasophikweni olusekhempasini yaseMgungundlovu nozakwabo uMnu Vishal Bharuth osophikweni olusekhempasini i-Westville,bebethole uxhaso oluhlinzekwe yi-National Research Foundation (NRF) oluphathelene nokuhamba nokuqeqeshwa kwezemishini yokusebenza. Lolu xhaso luhlose ukusekela umphakathi wezesayensi wonkana ukuze ufinyelele ezinsizeni zokucwaninga ezisezingeni eliphezulu ezingatholakali ezikhungweni noma ezifundeni noma ezweni lonkana.

I-CHRTEM yase-NMU inezibonakhulu ezine zama-elekthroni zohlobo oluphambili, okuhlanganisa nohlobo lwesibonakhulu i-double aberration corrected transmission electron microscope (ARM) okuyiyo kuphela e-Afrika yonke kanye nemishini yokulungisa amasampula amakhulu lapho kugxilwe ekucwaningweni kwezinto ezinhlobonhlobo.

‘Injulamqondo yethu njengophiko lwezezibonakhulu e-UKZN ukuthi ikakhulukazi silekelele futhi siqeqeshe abafundi nabacwaningi emkhakheni wezokulungiswa kwamasampula ezinto eziphilayo nokuhlaziywa kwawo kusetshenziswa izibonakhulu ezinamandla,’ kusho uBeukes, osephothula iziqu zakhe ze-PhD kweze-Microbiology.

Ukuqeqeshwa okutholwe u-Beukes  no-Bharuth e-CHRTEM izoba usizo kakhulu e-UKZN ngoba uphiko lwayo luzokwazi ukubamba imihlangano yokucobelela ngolwazi ngezindlela zokulungiswa kwamasampula amakhulu emphakathini wefiziksi nesayensi yezinto jikelele.

UBeukes uthemba ukuthi lokhu kuqeqeshwa kuzovulela amathuba okusebenza ngokubambisana phakathi kwe-CHRTEM ne-MMU e-UKZN, futhi kungaba nomthelela omuhle uma i-UKZN ifisa ukukhulisa izizinda zayo ukuze zibe nemishini yobuchwepheshe bohlobo oluphambili.

‘Umsebenzi wale mishini uzoba nomthelela omuhle ekuthuthukisweni kwemiphumela yezocwaningo emkhakheni wesayensi yezinto, futhi kuzoholela ekukhuleni kolwazi olusatshalaliswayo kubasebenzi nabafundi e-UKZN nasemphakathini wezesayensi ngokubanzi,’ said Beukes.

Amagama: ngu-Christine Cuénod

Isithombe Sitholakale kuNkz Lorika Beukes


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Prestigious Sardinian Award for School of Engineering Head

Prestigious Sardinian Award for School of Engineering Head
Professor Cristina Trois.

The Dean and Head of the School of Engineering at UKZN, Professor Cristina Trois, has received the Premio Navicella Sardegna award from the Sardegna Oltre il Mare Association.

The award is conferred on Sardinians living abroad who have, through their work, brought attention and recognition to the region of Sardinia and its culture.

Originally from Sardinia, Trois said she was proud and honoured to be the 16th recipient of the award. Previous winners have included academics, scientists, artists, politicians, presidents and prime ministers, professionals and celebrities.

A panel comprising writers, publishers and directors of leading Sardinian newspapers as well as representatives from professional orders and institutions, selects the winner.

The name and symbol of the award comes from a small, ancient boat called a navicella, used in prehistoric times by Nuragic Sardinians to reach the Peninsula which links them to the rest of the world. The award signifies the affinity of Sardinians for their homeland and connection to one another.

Trois, who has been at UKZN for more than 20 years, is the first female Dean of Engineering at UKZN and runs initiatives such as the Engineering is a Girl Thing programme to encourage young women to pursue Science and Engineering. She was a first runner-up in the 2016 Department of Science and Technology’s Women in Science Awards.

Trois is known for her work in the Environmental Engineering field, focusing on Waste Management and Water/Wastewater Engineering and Treatment. Her contributions to waste science, resource recovery and energy from waste include the development of the innovative “cellular method” of landfilling adopted in Durban’s landfill sites.

She contributed to the first leachate treatment plant in South Africa, and to the first African, World Bank-funded ‘landfill-gas-to-electricity project’ through which the city of Durban produces 10MW of electricity from waste. She is also working on the multi-national research endeavour: the Hub for the African City of the Future.

A C2 NRF-rated researcher, Trois established the multidisciplinary Centre for Research in Environmental, Coastal and Hydrological Engineering (CRECHE) in 2001, together with two colleagues. She also established a state-of-the-art analytical laboratory for Environmental Engineering research.

Trois, currently supervising 20 postgraduate students and researchers, participates in groups including engineering councils, royal societies, waste management institutes and the United Nations.

She is an editor and reviewer for numerous journals and institutions, and has international collaborators in Italy, the United Kingdom, India, Germany, France and Switzerland.

Words: Christine Cuénod


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UKZN SARChI Chair Awarded WHO Grant worth R980 000

UKZN SARChI Chair Awarded WHO Grant worth R980 000
National and international participants and postgraduate students affiliated to the SARChI Project on Antibiotic Resistance and One Health at the WHO-AGISAR Inception Workshop.

The Food Safety and Zoonosis Programme of the World Health Organization (WHO) awarded UKZN’s Professor Sabiha Essack a grant worth about R980 000 for a research project she is working on.

The project is titled: The Triangulation of Antibiotic Resistance (ABR) from Humans, the Food Chain and Associated Environments – A One Health Project.

Essack is UKZN’s South African Research Chair in Antibiotic Resistance and One Health.

The project aims to triangulate the molecular epidemiology of ABR in Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., E coli, and Enterococcus spp. from the food production continuum from farms to retail meat products with ABR in human clinical isolates and bacterial isolates from associated sewage and water treatment plants.

Essack says the goal is to establish a baseline and ascertain the feasibility of this model for routine surveillance and also to inform interventions for ABR monitoring and containment. 

The project inception workshop, held on 19 October was attended by the project mentors, Dr Awa-Aidara-Kane from the WHO and Professor Paula Cray from North Carolina State University in the US as well as representatives from the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance, the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the South African Animal Health Association, the South African Poultry Association, the South African Pork Producers Association and the Water Research Commission.

The SA Research Chair in Antibiotic Resistance and One Health’s project will implement WHO’s Advisory Group protocol on the Integrated Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance as one of five country projects funded in the competitive 2016 call.

‘The elaboration of antibiotic resistance in food animals funded by the WHO is one aspect of the overarching SARChI Project on Antibiotic Resistance and One Health,’ said Essack.

She said the One Health approach was a global strategy that encouraged interdisciplinary collaboration on health at the human-animal-environmental interface.  ‘Antibiotic resistance is a direct consequence of the selection pressure from indiscriminate antibiotic use in humans, animals and the environment, requiring a One Health approach towards its understanding and containment,’ said Essack.

The high HIV and AIDS burden and other substantive risk factors for communicable diseases in South Africa cause a high incidence of infectious diseases, engendering extensive antibiotic use and subsequent resistance. Two-thirds of the antimicrobials sold for animal use are used in growth promotion. Although the burden of ABR is not quantified, available evidence indicates that ABR is escalating in humans, animals and the environment.

‘The anticipated outcome of this project is the creation of an electronic platform that will triangulate, in real time, trends in antibiotic resistance in the human, animal and environmental health sectors to allow early warning of emerging and/or escalating resistance,’ said Essack.  

Words: Nombuso Dlamini


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Centre for Civil Society hosts Great African Thinkers Series

Centre for Civil Society hosts Great African Thinkers Series
Highlights from the CCS Great African Thinkers Series.

The first seminar in the Great African Thinker series was hosted by UKZN’s Centre for Civil Society (CCS) within the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS).

The seminar, facilitated by Dr Mvu Ngcoya and supported by the Critical Times, Critical Race Project, was presented by UKZN’s Professor Rozena Maart. 

Commenting on the series, Ngcoya and CCS Director Ms Shauna Mottiar agreed that in most South African universities, African philosophers and thinkers were pushed to the flanks of contemporary thought and practice. ‘The few who make cameo appearances in course outlines often occupy the soft world of culture, not political economy, science, philosophy, law, or history.

‘This Seminar Series reverses the Hegelian doubt (whether Africa has a history) and imbalance by familiarising the world with the most palpable, original and inspiring contributions of African thinkers to contemporary debates, agendas and practices,’ said the facilitators. ‘It is a vibrant platform for scholars to present how insights from African thinkers have shaped their own thinking and practice. Our focus is global Africa, therefore, contributions will include key thinkers from the fractured African Diaspora displaced by slavery, colonialism, and globalisation.’

Maart spoke on: Contemplating Négritude and Black Consciousness in 21st century South Africa: Reading Anton Lembede with Paulette Nardal.

Maart focused on the work of forgotten and seldom-mentioned Paulette Nardal (1896-1985) and the contribution she, along with her four sisters, made to the intellectual thought of the Négritude movement, usually solely credited to the work of Césaire, Damas and Senghor.

‘Scholars of the Négritude movement outside of France rarely speak of her. Born in Martinique, a colony of France, Paulette Nardal has not enjoyed the same intellectual fame as her compatriot Frantz Fanon,’ said Maart.

She noted that Nardal co-founded the journal, La Revue du Monde Noir (Review of the Black World) and served as its editor, translator, and writer.  ‘Teacher, literary critic, journalist, and UN delegate, her trailblazing work provided the intellectual scaffolding for the bold critiques and demands of 20th century African liberation movements,’ said Maart.

‘In a world dominated by men - ie Léopold Senghor, Aimé Césaire, Claude McKay, Alain Locke, Langston Hughes - she and her collaborators are generally relegated to the footnotes of the African intellectual tradition.’

Lembede (1914 –1947), born in KwaZulu-Natal 18 years after Paulette Nardal, is not read as he should be  - as a mastermind of the ANC Youth League and for the thoughts and ideas Sobukwe and Biko later adopted,’ continued Maart.

According to her, Lembede was a philosopher and a thinker who sought to examine the relationship between consciousness and politics in ways those of his generation were simply not able to. ‘He was indeed an extraordinary intellectual and scholar. Born at the start of World War 1, and dead before the Nationalist Party’s policy of apartheid was installed, Lembede was a pioneer whose philosophical work is in serious need of resurrection,’ said Maart.

The Great African Thinkers series continues until April next year.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Shauna Mottiar


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Business School Academic Conquers Tough SA Cycle Race

Business School Academic Conquers Tough SA Cycle Race
Dr Pfano Mashau.

Graduate School of Business and Leadership lecturer Dr Pfano Mashau showed his prowess on two wheels when he completed the 2017 Amashova Durban Classic Cycle race between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.

Competing in the demanding race for the first time, Mashau said pushing through cramps and other challenges involved in cycling 106 km was not easy but the triumph of finishing the event made it all worthwhile.

‘I crossed the finish line in four hours and 30 minutes which I was very happy with. It was tough going at times with the first 50km full of inclines, plus it was a hot day,’ said Mashau.

What started as a casual pastime and a stress escape from his PhD studies which he has just successfully completed, has turned into a passion for Mashau. To prepare for Amashova, he participated in the 2017 aQuelle Tour Durban in April and also in two other 100km races.

‘I have always enjoyed cycling with other people and exploring different routes. Cycling is fun and is good relaxation, similar to jogging. I will keep taking care of my bicycle and enjoying cycling until the next race,’ said Mashau.

On the academic front, Mashau recently participated in 11th American-African-European (AAE) Summer School and ARTEM International Conference at the ICN Business School in Nancy, France. He will present his work on entrepreneurship at the upcoming Global Trends in Management, IT and Governance in an E-World (E-MIG 2017) International Conference in Mauritius later this month.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo


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21st Poetry Africa Closing Night Thrills Audience

21st Poetry Africa Closing Night Thrills Audience
Highlights from the 21st Poetry Africa Festival closing night at the BAT Centre in Durban.

The 21st Poetry Africa Festival, organised by UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within the College of Humanities, had its grand finale at the Bartel Arts Trust (BAT) Centre in Durban with closing performances by Samthing Soweto, Zoe the Seed and Manelis. 

The exciting festival programme consisted of workshops, open mic acts, book launches and musical and poetry performances.

During the annual Slam Jam event, Durban poets competed for the title of Poetry Africa Slam champion while final performances from Poetry Africa participants were also presented.

Acting CCA Director Ms Chipo Zhou said: ‘The Poetry Africa stage has for the past 20 years hosted world renowned poets including Buddy Wakefield, Chiwoniso, Lebo Mashile, Joshua Bennet, Chirikure, and Keorapetse Kgositsile.

‘This year was no different - the calibre of poets was nothing short of outstanding, and the diversity made for a fiery amalgam of lyrical musicality.’

The Schools Poetry Competition, formed part of the Festival. ‘This popular component of the festival gives learners the opportunity to showcase their poetry writing skills,’ said Festival curator and poet, Ms Mandi Vundla.

The Poetry Africa 2017 Schools Poetry Winners:

English Category:

  1. Karabo Rathebe (Westville Girls High) for My Africa
  2. Nicola Marais (Hillcrest High School) for Refugee Riverbed
  3. Rumbidzai Vambe (St Anne’s Diocesan College) for A Praise Poem

IsiZulu Category:

  1. Mlondi Mdlovu (Strelitzia Secondary School) for Ntokazi Yezimanga
  2. Sbahle Magwaza (Ndlongolwane High School) for Bamthathile Naye Uvumile
  3. Nonsikelelo Mnguni (Mgitshwa High School) for Mhlahli Wendlela.

Words: Melissa Mungroo


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His Irish Eyes are Smiling!

His Irish Eyes are Smiling!
Dr Glenn Maguire.

UKZN lecturer Dr Glenn Maguire is celebrating the achievement of a remarkable milestone in his academic career – the publication of his 200th scientific article.

Maguire - originally from Northern Ireland - is a Principal Investigator in the Catalysis and Peptide Research Unit and his work has appeared in a number of journals specialising in organic, catalysis, analytical, medicinal, computational and structural chemistry as well as in publications dealing with microbiology and biochemistry.

He completed his PhD in Physical Organic Chemistry at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1993 under the supervision of Professor A P de Silva.

He did postdoctoral studies at UCLA’s School of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the United States with Professor Donald J Cram and also at the School of Molecular Biology and Pharmacology, Washington University Medical School, with Professor George W Gokel.

He was appointed a lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry at the School of Chemistry and Physics at the former University of Durban Westville campus in 1999.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini


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Promising Maize Biocontrol Research Presented in Japan by UKZN Researcher

Promising Maize Biocontrol Research Presented in Japan by UKZN Researcher
Mr Admire Shayanowako with a conference organiser.

UKZN doctoral candidate in Plant Breeding, Mr Admire Shayanowako, was at the 26th Asian-Pacific Weed Science Society Conference in Japan to present results of his research on the integration of breeding and biocontrol in the control of a parasitic weed, Striga asiatica that affects the yield of maize in sub-Saharan Africa.

Shayanowako presented a section of his PhD research that involves the identification of varieties of maize resistant to Striga asiatica, commonly known as witchweed.

The weed presents an enormous problem, particularly for small-scale communal farmers working with poor quality soil where witchweed thrives. Communal enterprises are often relegated to areas with sandy soils where soil improvement schemes would take too long to implement, making improving host resistance a preferable, more sustainable solution.

Two species of the Striga weed affect maize in southern Africa, with one weed plant producing as many as 500 000 seeds that remain viable in the soil for 10 years. Resulting yield losses which can be as high as 60% lead to food and income insecurity.

Shayanowako is working to identify resistance in maize that has naturally accumulated through breeding, and then boost those resistant genotypes by using a biocontrol agent called Fusarium oxysporum fsp. strigae.

Fusarium oxysporum is an endophytic fungus, applied as a seed coat that grows with the roots of the host and suppresses emergence of the parasite as well as causing disease symptoms on the parasite if it manages to attach,’ explained Shayanowako. ‘It is host-specific in its virulence to the parasite.’

Shayanowako added that some genotypes were more compatible with the biocontrol than others. He is working to identify genotypes that demonstrate this synergistic resistance with the biocontrol, and then increase the frequency of their resistance by recurrent selection. Resistance will mean fewer attachments of the parasite, or that the maize will tolerate attachments and still produce a high yield.

Shayanowako, supervised by Professor Hussein Shimelis and Professor Mark Laing, is conducting research in South Africa and Zimbabwe, with the aim of releasing open pollinated varieties or hybrid cultivars to farmers. He is successfully finding some local genotypes with considerable resistance that can be improved.

The presentation in Japan was well received, given the challenges of parasitic weeds affecting dominant legume crops in Asia. Responses included questions about how Shayanowako is mass-producing his biocontrol agent and how frequently resistance is being identified.

He was able to attend the conference thanks to a National Research Foundation travel grant and funding from UKZN’s Research Office. His research is supported by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) providing some of the germplasm for the work.

Shayanowako completed undergraduate and masters studies at the Africa University in Zimbabwe, moving to UKZN for his PhD studies after discussions with Laing about the biocontrol of parasites at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) in Zimbabwe where Shayanowako worked for a while.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph supplied by Admire Shayanowako


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Business Breakfast Digests Turning Turmoil into Triumph

Business Breakfast Digests Turning Turmoil into Triumph
Dr Dave Schwegmann with Dr Emmanuel Mutambara of the GSB&Land the leadership of JMH Hospital Group.

The Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L), in partnership with Nedbank, hosted a business breakfast themed: Turning Turmoil into Triumph – a Case Study in Change Management.

The business breakfast series organised by UKZN academic and Learning & Development Manager Dr Abdulla Kader and Divisional Executive of Nedbank’s Client Network in South Africa, Dr David Schwegmann, is part of the School’s ongoing strategy of shaping visionary future leaders through creating a link between its students and industry experts.

Schwegmann’s address was about change and lessons learned when Nedbank’s executive management restructured Retail and Relationship Banking five years ago.

Using John Kotter’s eight step model for change, Schwegmann emphasised the importance of creating a climate for change; engaging and enabling the whole organisation; and implementing and sustaining change.

On creating a conducive environment for change, Schwegmann unpacked the initiatives that were implemented by Nedbank which enabled the organisation to attract change champions from all hierarchical levels to drive change in all areas of the business. He pointed out that the champions were not merely appointed because of their position in the organisation but because of their belief and faith in landing effective change.

He said communication with those affected and impacted by change enabled Nedbank to get buy-in from important stakeholders and minimised levels of uncertainty. He encouraged business students to remember to celebrate short-term achievements during difficult times of change. While going through the process of change he stressed the importance of continuous reinforcement of the vision through regular debriefs at all levels.

Following Kotter’s eight steps for change, some of the triumphs of the recent Retail and Business Banking integration led to Nedbank having a compelling vision across all client facing channels. Most of the staff affected and impacted by organisational redeployment were placed with 41 moving into more senior roles; and significantly the organisation achieved more focused sales and service tactics to make an impact in the marketplace.

The lecture was well received by students and staff who interacted with Schwegmann over breakfast.

Dr Muhammad Hoque and Mr Trevor Nkwanyana of the Business School thanked Schwegmann and Nedbank for their continuous support for the School.

Words: Hazel Langa


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UKZN Research Group Wins New Origin Software

UKZN Research Group Wins New Origin Software
UKZN’s National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme staff and students with the Origin software.

Programme Director of UKZN’s National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme (NASSP) node Professor Sivakumar Venkataraman won a competition organised by Blue Stallion Technologies (BST) and received a prize of an OriginPRO V2017 individual standalone licence.

Venkataraman won the prize while visiting the South African Institute of Physics (SAIP) at the NASSP exhibition. 

Venkataraman discussed BST’s products with the company, including their Origin software, which has been used by UKZN’s Atmospheric Research Team (ATMRES) for a number of years. He later went on to win the BST competition being held at the exhibition.

Origin software is used in a research environment for analysing data and plotting graphs in various dimensions. 

Venkataraman’s research group, which used the earlier Version six, is pleased to now have the newer version with enhanced capabilities at their disposal. The software will soon be installed on the laboratory computer for use by researchers in his laboratory.

ATMRES is building a framework of international collaborations and research networks to assist in enhancing global change, and atmospheric and climatic research. It focuses on the systematic monitoring of the atmospheric structure, dynamics and composition using satellite and surface observations, especially in the context of the climatic impact due to land use change resulting in increased aerosol burdens. This research is important in southern Africa and its neighbouring oceanic regions as global climate change impacts increase and certainty about this change is needed. This can only be achieved with the necessary data, which is lacking in these regions.

Venkataraman and his team work to improve integrative climate modelling tools for use in environmental management and climate change mitigation. The group’s work includes studies on atmospheric thermal structures, various wave dynamics, stratospheric warming, aerosols and clouds, ozone concentration, remote sensing and atmospheric pollution.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph supplied by Sivakumar Venkataraman


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UKZN Nursing Discipline hosts World Health Organization Delegation

UKZN Nursing Discipline hosts World Health Organization Delegation
CHS Academics with the WHO Delegation.

The UKZN Discipline of Nursing hosted a World Health Organization (WHO) delegation following the Discipline being re-designated one of only four Nursing and Midwifery Collaborating Centres (WHOCC) in Africa.

Said Professor Ntombi Mtshali: ‘The Nursing and Midwifery Collaborating Centres (WHOCC) are recognised by WHO as Centres of Excellence in Nursing and Midwifery.’

The Discipline was first designated as a WHOCC for a period of four years in 1998 and has been re-designated several times, with the last re-designation in December 2016.

Professor Gugu Mchunu, the Academic Leader of Nursing, said: ‘We were very excited that our WHOCC will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2018.’

The Discipline is designated by WHO to form part of an international collaborative network carrying out activities in support of WHO’s programme at all levels.

The four-day technical site visit by the delegation to the UKZNWHOCC was part of the re-designation process.

The WHO delegation spent a day with UKZN Nursing staff and School of Nursing and Public Health Management with activities including formal presentations, discussions and guidance on how to align WHOCC activities with WHO’s strategic directions and priority agenda.

Among strategic directions were Universal Health Coverage, Sustainable Development Goals, Integrated People Centred Health Services, and WHO/AFRO Key Performance Indicators for Human Resources for Health and the WHO Human Resources for Health (HRH) Work Plan.

During the visit, the delegation had an opportunity to view the infrastructure used to support undergraduate and postgraduate students and this included spending time in the Clinical Skills Laboratory, interacting with staff and students in the facility.

They also visited the KwaZulu-Natal College of Nursing campus that is supported by the UKZN Nursing Discipline in the interest of strengthening the education and training of nurses and midwives, as well as the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital, one of the facilities used as a clinical learning site for postgraduate nursing students.

The WHO delegates praised the work done by the WHOCC in strengthening nursing and midwifery in the African region and in South Africa specifically.

They highly appreciated the work being undertaken in countries such as Lesotho, Swaziland, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania where technical support is being given to help develop new nursing and midwifery programmes in line with needs in countries, and also training the trainers for effective implementation of the new programme which the WHOCC is engaged in as WHO’s Technical Arm.

A delegation spokesman said: ‘We now really appreciate the UKZNWHOCC and the capacity it has.’

Mtshali acknowledged that the Discipline had been able to achieve more with limited resources because of the vision and mission of the University as well as the community engagement drive and culture of the institution.  

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College, Professor Busi Ncama, expressed the College’s appreciation for being redesignated by WHO as a centre of excellence, and reiterated the importance of realising the vision and mission of the University through activities such as those of the WHOCC.

The WHO delegation included the Technical Officer, Human Resources for Health (HRH) Management of WHO’s AFRO Regional Office in Brazzaville, Dr Jennifer Nyoni; Technical Officer HRH Development of  WHO’s Inter-Country Support Team for East and Southern Africa (IST/ESA) in Zimbabwe, Dr Magda Awases; Technical Officer, Service Delivery, Quality and Safety of WHO’s AFRO Regional Office in Brazzaville, Dr Nino Dayanghirang, and Health Systems Advisor of WHO’s South Africa Country Office, Dr Habbib Somanje.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini


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UKZN Academic Delivers Presentation at International Laser Radar Conference

UKZN Academic Delivers Presentation at International Laser Radar Conference
UKZN’s Professor Sivakumar Venkataraman at the 28th International Laser Radar (LiDAR) Conference in Romania

The head of the Atmospheric Research Group on the Westville campus, Professor Sivakumar Venkataraman, delivered a paper at the 28th International Laser Radar (LiDAR) Conference (ILRC) in Romania.

The presentation was titled: Refurbishment of Durban Fixed UKZN LiDAR for Atmospheric Studies: Current Status.

Venkataraman, who received travel cost assistance from the International Coordination Group for Laser Atmospheric Studies (ICLAS), was among 350 delegates from more than 30 countries at the conference.

Venkataraman said his presence at the conference was in support of his efforts to establish the South Africa – Japan bilateral research collaboration and the extended LiDAR network with South America for atmospheric studies.

For more than 50 years the ILRC has been the largest forum for exchanging ideas, fostering collaborations, and reporting innovative research on Lidar techniques, technologies and applications. Organised under the auspices of ICLAS, the biennial conference has promoted generations of scientists and stimulated the advancement of the field.

Venkataraman’ presentation was on the fixed LiDAR system at UKZN in Durban, which was installed in 1999 and operated until 2004 when the system was relocated and the operation closed due to various technical and instrument problems. The restructuring of the LiDAR system was initiated in 2013 and it is now used to measure vertical aerosol profiles from three to 25 kilometres in the atmosphere. He described the present system in detail, including technical specifications and results obtained from a recent LiDAR calibration campaign.

The fixed LiDAR system at UKZN, one of three in South Africa, is key for closing scientific gaps in the scientific knowledge of aerosols, especially in the southern hemisphere. The refurbishment of the system is still ongoing.

Venkataraman described the system’s specifications and laser emissions as well as how backscattered signals are received by telescopes and how optical fibre combiners are used for data acquisition. Plans are in place to upgrade the system for measuring temperature in the altitude range of 10 to 70 kilometres. He gave details about results of the calibration in September 2016 and indicated that the system, once restructured and optimised, will be used for long-term data acquisition in order to investigate temperature and aerosol variability over Durban.

Venkataraman acknowledged the National Research Foundation the African Laser Centre, the Centre National de la Recherché Scientifique in France, and the Directorate General for Scientific Research and Technological Development in Algeria for their funding support.

Words: Christine Cuénod


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National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme Attracts Applicants

National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme Attracts Applicants
National Astrophysics and Space Science staff and students speaking to prospective new applicants at a function on the Westville campus.

The National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme (NASSP) at UKZN recently organised a function to attract new applicants to the programme’s honours and master’s degree courses.

About 20 prospective students attended a presentation on the Westville campus followed by a social braai at which they were able to interact with staff and current students in the programme. Students who attended were from the Disciplines of Physics and Mathematics at both third year and honours levels.

NASSP is a multi-institutional postgraduate programme training graduates in astronomy, astrophysics and space science with a node based in the School of Chemistry and Physics since last year.

This event, also attended by more than 30 staff and current students, created the opportunity for those interested to learn about the NASSP programme, which began successfully at the University of Cape Town  more than a decade ago, and has also been introduced at the North West University.

Funded by the Department of Science of Technology and the National Research Foundation, the programme is developing human capital in the South African scarce skills fields of astronomy, astrophysics and space science. Students in this programme are encouraged to enrol in institutions across the country to strengthen national research capacity.

The programme includes contact teaching through coursework components as well as research and will contribute to national programmes such as the Square Kilometre Array  and the South African National Space Agency  through its capacity-building skills development.

The UKZN node trained two honours students in 2016, and has three masters students and 11 Honours students enrolled this year. According to the Acting Director of the UKZN NASSP node, Professor Sivakumar Venkataraman, the node had already received 50 expressions of interest in the programme. The NASSP is currently making selections for the 2018 cohort.

The value-adding programme is contributing considerably to strengthening the University’s space science and astrophysics teaching and research.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph supplied by Sivakumar Venkataraman


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UKZN Graduates Form Business Consulting Company Dolsden Oracle

UKZN Graduates Form Business Consulting Company Dolsden Oracle
Mr Luyanda Ngundze, Mr Sakhile Dlamini and Ms Fezile Skhakhane.

A group of graduates in UKZN’s School of Management, IT and Governance has formed a business consulting company called Dolsden Oracle.

A spokesperson for the firm, Mr Doctor Sangweni, said they would provide services in the fields of Financial Education, small, medium and micro-enterprises support and Research and Development.

‘Financial literacy needs to be understood in a plethora of ways,’ said Sangweni. From a business consultancy perspective, this can be short term issues such as the correct financial statements, which can be a significant hurdle when dealing with compliance requirements. Critical requirements that can affect the longevity of the business, be it a commercial or non-commercial enterprise.

Financial literacy can also be critically applied in terms of assessing and making investment decisions. The culture of savings and investments is yet to be instilled within the youth, and the community at large. Lifestyles of instant gratification have created a fictitious and unrealistic approach to the accumulation of wealth.

Dolsden Oracle is in a position to break social norms, and challenge people to act now, for the future one desires. Formed by postgraduate students in the commerce faculty, their aim was to curve the ball from seeking employment to using their acquired knowledge as a job creation key. ‘We are not perfect', said Mr Sakhile Dlamini, 'we all come from poor backgrounds but against all odds we have reason to form a team which is here to stay.’ Dolsden was launched on 18 October and to both students and the corporate sector on 20 October.

Mr Faadhil Hoosen of Standard Bank attending the launch stated this is exactly what the country needed, a group of graduates tackling the issues the country has been battling to conquer in our 23 years of democracy without running to the usual route of job seeking but rather job creation.

Telephone:031 826 6576, Facebook: Dolsden Oracle Web: dolsdenoracle.com

Words: Lloyd Ngundze


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Second Year Nursing Students Visit Medical Device Company

Second Year Nursing Students Visit Medical Device Company
Second-year Nursing students and their lecturer Dr Mbali Mhlongo with BSN medical’s Occupational Health Nurse, Sister Christine Ludik.

A group of 80 Nursing students visited BSN medical in Pinetown as a practical experience in their Occupational Health Nursing studies.

BSN medical is a global medical device company and one of the world’s leading suppliers in the product segments of casting, bandaging, traditional wound care and compression therapy.

Students and their lecturer Dr Mbali Mhlongo - a facilitator for 2nd year Bachelor of Nursing students and a Developing Research Innovation, Localisation and Leadership (DRILL) Fellow - were welcomed by BSN’s Human Resources Operations Officer, Ms Carryn Coward, who gave them a brief overview and history of the company.

BSN medical’s Occupational Health Nurse, Sister Christine Ludik, addressed students on the main pillars of occupational health nursing which she identified as hazard identification and risks assessments (HIRA); surveillance and biological monitoring; chronic disease management,  incapacity management  and the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).

Ludik explained the importance of risk assessment and hazard identification. ‘As an occupational health nurse it is important to do regular rounds of inspection in the factory to identify hazards employees may be exposed to while also doing risk assessment.’

She said she conducted pre-employment, periodical and exit medical examinations for staff and ran a very busy primary healthcare clinic as only 20% of staff are on medical aid schemes.

Ludik also organises a chronic disease management programme in partnership with the Pinetown Clinic and Medi-post which assists in reducing absenteeism as chronic medication is delivered on site.

The students enjoyed the talk and were highly impressed with occupational health nursing as a career. ‘It was a fabulous experience for us as Nursing students,’ said Mr Clovis Dusabe, the class representative. 

Students were then taken for a plant tour to view operations in progress. ‘We explored various sites where medical appliances are manufactured,’ said Dusabe, who thanked BSN medical officials and Dr Mhlongo for making the visit possible.

‘It was a learning experience and a wonderful exposure for the students who were excited to wear personal protective equipment during the plant tour,’ said Mhlongo.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini


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Lecture Session on Polygamy

Lecture Session on Polygamy
From left: Mr Musa Mseleku and his third wife Mrs Thobile MaKhumalo Mseleku with UKZN lecturer Dr Gugu Mazibuko.

A lecture session on polygamy was presented for Heritage and Culture module students by the Discipline of African Languages in the School of Arts.

Polygamy is part of the module course content offered in the Discipline.

Mr Musa Mseleku, a polygamist and well-known reality TV personality on Uthando Ne’sthembu, assisted by his third wife, Mrs Thobile MaKhumalo Mseleku, presented the guest lecture.

Lecturers Dr Gugu Mazibuko and Ms Precious Mkhize, who teach this module, facilitated the session providing students with access to a reference point with contextual relevance.

Mseleku described how he met his four wives - MaCele, MaYeni, MaKhumalo Mseleku and MaNgwabe.

Now a father of 10, Mseleku spoke on how the institution of polygamy was constructed, emphasising that the decision to enter into such multiple unions had to be established early in life in order to align goals with that vision.

He said not every man could be a polygamist because it was not about having money but rather about expanding a bloodline and building a strong home.

‘The common error made by men is their failure to explain how they intend to build a home. Such details must be vocalised in the beginning of the relationship in order to avoid abuse and breaking a woman’s heart,’ said Mseleku.

He said the purpose of the TV programme was to educate people about how a home was built, paying attention to matters of sexual health and remaining loyal to the women you had decided to love.

MaKhumalo spoke specifically to young women, saying: ‘It’s important for a lady to finish her studies first and not to forget to appreciate her body the way it is, and to understand her own beauty.’

Words: Ziphezinhle Silindile Biyela

Photograph: Thandiwe Madikazi


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