Barter the Medium of Exchange at UKZN Trade School

Barter the Medium of Exchange at UKZN Trade School
Pietermaritzburg campus Trade School.

A Trade School will be held on the Pietermaritzburg campus from 9-12 September.

The Trade School movement, made up of self organised barter-for-knowledge schools across the world, started in 2010 with a small group of friends in New York and spread to Virginia and later Milan in Italy in 2011. Since then it had reached big cities on almost every continent except Africa until April this year when the first Trade School was run on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus by a small group of staff and students.

Trade Schools are organsised by volunteers who operate as a non-hierarchical collective with anyone able to be a teacher or a student. The Trade School concept disrupts the idea that only certain people have knowledge or skills, and that it is necessary to pay money to learn something.

However, it recognises that time and energy are valuable, and so classes are not free

The concept operates along these lines:

‘Teachers’ propose classes and ask for barter items from ‘students’. Barter items could be anything, but the emphasis is often on time and energy, rather than things. For example, if a person teaches a class about knitting socks, they could ask students to bring interesting knitting patterns, or wool, or knitting needles, or demonstrate a new stitch, or promise to donate the socks they knit to a local charity, or to pass on their skills to others. However, the “teacher” could also ask for fresh vegetables, or second-hand books, or for a recommendation of a place that serves really good coffee and allows a customer to sit and work on a laptop for hours!

“Students” sign up for classes by agreeing to bring a barter item for the “teacher”.

The Trade School on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus in April this year offered classes on the following – circle gardening; philosophies of praxis and emancipation: Marx and Gramsci; instant fabric printing for beginners; Palestine 101; making beaded jewellery; common household herbs and their uses; review of life and worker action; myths about rape; debate or indoctrination: teaching religion in schools; basic web design; and cooking for beginners.

‘Teachers’ included academic staff, administrative staff, students (undergraduate and postgraduate), and people unconnected to UKZN. Classes were typically about two hours long, although it varied from class to class, and were open to all.

Anyone interested in teaching or attending a class at the next Trade School should visit the website: For more information e-mail:

Trade School Collective

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GSB&L Academic Presents at East3Route Investment Seminar

GSB&L Academic Presents at East3Route Investment Seminar
Masters student Mr Thabang Mofokeng with Dr Jennifer Houghton.

Graduate School of Business and Leadership Studies (GSB&L) academic, Dr Jennifer Houghton and her Masters student Mr Thabang Mofokeng represented UKZN at the East3Route Investment Seminar, a multi-country economic development initiative including South Africa (KZN), Mozambique, Swaziland, and Seychelles.

The seminar, was hosted by the Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN) at MahéIsland, Seychelles saw government, business and media representatives from across all the participant countries gather to discuss developments in investment and trade.

Proceedings included business to business meetings to foster potential international trade relations amongst emergent and established business, the negotiation of new trade agreements between the participant countries, exposure of the vibrant tourism industry of Seychelles to the tourism related businesses from the other partner countries.

Houghton presented an overview of the four country comparative economic report developed for the partnership, to which she had contributed in an oversight role at a one day seminar focussed on engaging critically with the development contexts through which the partner countries could improve their economic growth rates.

‘It was a tremendous privilege to work in such beautiful surroundings and to be able to actively participate in the partnership-based negotiations for economic development that researchers often only view from the outside,’ she said.

For Mofokeng whose research titled: “To Investigate Ways in which Regional Trade Agreements Fosters Trade and Investment within Neighbouring countries: A Case Study of the East3Route,” the experience provided him with new insights.

‘The experience brought a new dimension of the East3Route and its key focal areas of blue economies and how we can maximise the ports and utilising our airports as well for logistical trade. This new information is very valuable for my research,’ he said.

Thandiwe Jumo

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College of Law and Management Studies Celebrates its Female Staff

College of Law and Management Studies Celebrates its Female Staff
Powerful Women: From Left: Ms Philippa Feher, Ms Palesa Dube, Dr Mogie Subban, Ms Hazel Langa and Ms Manju Munsamy.

The College of Law and Management Studies recently held a Women’s Day celebration for its female staff. The event which was held in partnership with Old Mutual saw over a 130 support and academic women staff members being empowered to make sound financial, personal, lifestyle and wellness decisions for the future.

The programme which was facilitated by School of Management, Information Technology and Governance lecturer, Dr Mogie Subban saw speakers such as Old Mutual’s Development Manager, Ms Manju Munsamy whose talk: Pay Yourself First, advised women on how they can achieve financial freedom.

To encourage women to get over the fear of making life changing decisions in their career and personal lives, The du Boirs, boutique lodge, wedding and conference venue shared her story of how she left a successful career as an Ophthalmologist to follow her dream.

‘You have to do what you love and the success will bring the money. I have always known that my passion is to fulfil the needs of the community that is why I had to be involved in a business and create employment. As women, we have a huge network but we are not and we have to work together and strategise so we can make the world shake!’ she said.

Mix it, Match It, Love It was the tittle of Milady’s Marketing Manager, Ms Philippa Feher who did a practical demonstration on clothing combinations that women can wear this summer to build their confidence and ensure that they are on trend.

The ladies also had an opportunity to participate in a lucky draw with prizes from Milady’s Honey jewellery and Heaven On Earth day Spar, Independent Newspapers and many more up for grabs.

College Public Relations Manager, Ms Hazel Langa said the rationale behind the event is to show the women in the College that they are appreciated and to improve collegiality. This initiative is planned to be an annual event on the College’s events calendar.

Thandiwe Jumo

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Using Fashion to Raise Awareness About Unplanned Pregnancies


UKZN’s HIV and AIDS Programme hosted a fashion show on the Medical School campus to raise awareness about the growing number of unplanned pregnancies among students and to encourage them to use various contraceptive methods provided by clinics across all campuses.

The event also relaunched and promoted membership to the:

·        Abstinence Forum,

·        LGBTI Forum,

·        Men’s Forum,

·        Positive Living Forum

·        Women’s Forum.

At the show, fashion and art were used to raise awareness about pregnancy with the spotlight on contraceptives to communicate a strong message that proper family planning was the only way for young people to achieve future goals and contribute to the reduction of the spread of HIV and AIDS.

The main message was that unplanned pregnancies had far reaching implications and it was essential to use dual protection until ready to plan for pregnancy.

The Dual Protection approach promotes medical male circumcision and the use of female contraceptive methods while using condoms during sexual intercourse.

Eleanor Langley

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The UKZN Griot. Of Territoriality and Tea Rooms

The UKZN Griot. Of Territoriality and Tea Rooms

Keyan G Tomaselli

‘The territorial imperative.’  These words penned by pop sociobiologist Robert Ardrey came to mind when I recently read a headline of the good King Goodwill lodging a land claim for the whole of KZN, while also demanding reparations from the British for the destruction of Ondine in 1879.  The second thought I had was of Benedict Anderson’s idea of the ‘imagined nation’. 

Indeed, everything is imaginary, including the fact the original inhabitants of Southern Africa, the so-called Bushman, are popularly thought to be nomads, with no fixed abodes.   In fact, these first inhabitants of Southern Africa, who always had a system of clan rights to specific water holes, regularly traversed the same routes,  and did understand the idea of “property” as they moved between pans,   even if Jamie Uys’s The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980) pseudo-ethnography suggests otherwise.   Many later-by-far in-migrants who followed the Bushmen are demanding ‘return’ of “their” land while the always frugal and modest Bushmen had submitted just one claim in the Northern Cape to where they were pushed by colonisers from the north, south and east. 

The Imperative, if I am to trust Wikipedia, describes the evolutionarily-determined instinct among humans toward territoriality and the implications of this territoriality in human meta-phenomena such as property ownership and nation building.  In fact, I have read Ardrey’s books so I know this to be an accurate rendition.

Just as kings, queens and clans imagine what their empires have been, or might have been, so do academic departments.

When I first arrived at UKZN I was struck at the rigid territoriality that existed within the institution.  One of the mandates I was entrusted with by the executive on my appointment in 1985 was to breach territoriality, to facilitate interfaculty cooperation, and to generally make a nuisance of myself.  While some manned the disciplinary barricades, many of my Centre’s allies contributed modules in transgressing territoriality and in re-imagining theory: they came from the humanities (then known as The Arts), Medical School, Social Sciences, Education, Engineering and even the Sciences.  Our effusive eclectism was matched by our enthusiasm.  For a few years we were successful in breaching departmental boundaries and in re-imagining the academic enterprise.  We even had tea together.  Then SAQA came along and returned us to our disciplinary silos marked by our physical territorial haunts. 

Much of Brenda Gourlay’s tenure as principal was characterised by attempts to dismantle the idea of disciplines (conceptual territories) linked to departments (physical territories).  My guess is that the motivation behind this move was cost efficiency, right-sizing and all those neo-liberal justifications that swept through the economy in the mid-1990s. The final institutional victory occurred in 2004 when Schools absorbed what previously were departments and Colleges absorbed what were once faculties.  But disciplines did not disappear, because they were still linked to occupied territory (offices), the manning of the ramparts, and the same old signs that have never been replaced. Heads were recast as co-ordinators without authority or budgets, and mysteriously overnight, those departmental secretaries who survived the cut, were now assigned as School administrators. Not knowing what to call themselves anymore, ‘disciplines’ reappeared without departments. Disciplines still stopped at the front door of entrances and exits to departments.

So, in the face of the anti-disciplinary and anti-department, onslaught, how did disciplines retain their distinctiveness? The answer - tea rooms.  That’s how.  The dominant entities had always had tea rooms, while the rest of us, cramped for space, just had kettles.  The well-appointed tea room disciplines rarely invited staff from the kettle disciplines to come to tea.    When we did drop in for a chat and cuppa we felt like intruders.  So we sullenly drank our tea in our offices while we worked and lost out on regular socialising.   The final nail in the coffin occurred in 2014 when the University just stopped – with no announcement - subsiding tea and coffee and stopped delivering the supplies. Now, everyone had to buy their own tea.

Students have never gotten their heads around the idea of Schools and they still call the disciplines within them ‘departments’. They need something concrete to identify with.  As do staff, who still imagine their tea rooms to be disciplinarily-bounded.  Discipline equals nation and nation must be protected.  But this is a false incubation as it is based on boundedness.

Departments, Schools and faculties are merely ‘administrative conveniences’, as Bill Freund always reminded in meetings. These conveniences merely operate at different interacting levels. At UKZN, the basic unit of administration, the department, no longer exists unless it has managed to retain its ring-fenced tea room.    The discipline has become an inconvenience, it can no longer function for the convenience of either students or staff.    We have all colluded in this re-imagination, but we have yet to see the result in practice in the sharing of tea rooms even to the tea room-deprived kettle disciplines located within some of our own Schools. 

Rebuilding collegiality at UKZN will best start in the common tea room (to be still established) for morning and afternoon breaks.  It’s the smallest building block in the pursuit of the new social transformation.    Remember, in the USA in the 1773s a revolution started with the Boston Tea Party.  Tea is pretty powerful stuff.  Especially when it is bobbing about in the harbour.

When will UKZN re-imagine itself as a collegiate, sharing and civil society that shares its tea rooms?  

*Keyan G Tomaselli is a UKZN Professor Emeritus, and Distinguished Professor at the University of Johannesburg.  He likes his tea and misses the social commons that once existed in the 1980s.

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

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Food Security PhD Student Presents Research Work at International Conference

Food Security PhD Student Presents Research Work at International Conference
Ms Feyisayo Odunitan-Wayas, Mr Thabiso Koatla of the Agricultural Research Council (left) and Mr Aremu Ayobami of Greenlands Integrated Agribusiness in Nigeria at the Conference.

A student at UKZN’s African Centre for Food Security (ACFS) in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES), Ms Feyisayo Odunitan-Wayas, presented her work done on the literature review of her PhD at the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association’s (IFAMA) annual World Conference in the United States.

Odunitan-Wayas is completing her PhD on the topic of the influence of bio-fortified pro-vitamin A on indigenous chickens to improve food security and nutrition. Her poster presented at the Conference was titled: “Interventions for Curbing Vitamin A Deficiency in Sub-Saharan Africa – A Review”.

In her research, Odunitan-Wayas is collecting data on perceptions of rural and small-holder farmers about biofortified maize. Since the maize is a different colour from what they are used to, people are reluctant to eat it, despite its nutritional benefits. Odunitan-Wayas is examining how these benefits may be transferred to people through first feeding the maize to chickens raised for consumption.

Odunitan-Wayas said seeing people from other countries working in the same field encouraged her and provided a standard against which she could measure her work. She also met other South Africans working in the field from institutions such as the University of Pretoria, the University of Fort Hare and the Agricultural Research Council.

Presentations at the Conference emphasised that small-holder farmers were the future, and that it was vital to understand people and come down to their level for science to be meaningful for those involved in agriculture.

Odunitan-Wayas, who is from Nigeria and obtained her undergraduate and masters degrees at the University of Ilorin, elected to pursue her PhD at UKZN after hearing from friends about the Institution’s strong academic reputation.

Dr Unathi Kolanisi, Dr Muthulisi Siwela and Professor Michael Chimonyo of the Disciplines of Food Security, Dietetics and Human Nutrition, and Animal Science in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) are supervising Odunitan-Wayas’ research.

Asked why she enjoyed studying in the field, Odunitan-Wayas said: ‘What’s not to like about Food Security? If people are not hungry, they can be happy. It allows me to be part of the solution to a problem the world is facing.’ She hopes to continue research beyond her PhD.

‘No knowledge is ever wasted,’ said Odunitan-Wayas. ‘I never want to stop learning.’

Odunitan-Wayas thanked her supervisors for their support and commitment to her as a student, and also her family, husband and children for their invaluable support.

Her attendance at the Conference was made possible by funding from the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science and her supervisors.

Christine Cuénod

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Abafundi base-UKZN Bagqugquzela Ukulwisana Nokushintsha Kwesimo Sezulu

Abafundi base-UKZN Bagqugquzela Ukulwisana Nokushintsha Kwesimo Sezulu
Amalungu e-SA Youth Climate Coalition ekhempasini yase-Mgungundlovu.

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I-South African Youth Climate Change Coalition (SAYCCC) ibinomhlangano mayelana nezeMvelo e-UKZN ekhempasini yaseMgungundlovu – lo bekungumhlangano wabo wokuqala emuva kokugunyazwa uMkhandlu Wabafundi (SRC) wase - UKZN ekuqaleni kwesimesta yesibili. 

I-SAYCCC, okuyinhlangano ephethwe yintsha ihlose ukuqwashisa abantu abasha ngokushintsha kwesimo sezulu. Yaqalwa abafundi ekhempasini ese-Thekwini yase-UKZN emva kwengqungquthela yentsha eyandulela ingqungquthela YeNhlangano Yezizwe Yezokushintsha Kwesimo Sezulu (COP17) eThekwini ngonyaka wezi-2011. 

Le ngqunguthela yentsha (COY7) eyayiphethwe yi-Australian Youth Coalition ibambisene nabantu abasha umhlaba wonke yakhuthaza intsha yakuleli ukuthi iqale eyayo inhlangano ezobhekelela ushintsho lwesimo sezulu, lokhu kwaholela ekusungulweni kwe-SAYCCC ngokubambisana nezinye izinhlangano zentsha zomhlaba zokulwa noshintsho lwesimo sezulu.

Emva kokuqala ukusebenza ngonyaka wezi-2011, inhlangano yabhekana nobunzima ekusebenzeni ngenxa yokuswela ukwesekwa ngezinsizakusebenza nokuthi futhi iningi lababengamalungu okuqala babesafunda ezindaweni ezihlukene ezweni.

Ekuqaleni konyaka wezi-2015 abafundi ababeyingxenye yengqungquthela i-COY7 bayivuselele kabusha inhlangano, bayithula ngokusemthethweni ngokwenza ingqungquthela encane ukuze ixhumane nezinye izinhlangano zenstha eNingizimu Afrika. Lo mcimbi ubusekelwe yizinhlangano ezifana ne-Greepeace,, Womin, WTLP ne-Earth Warriors. 

Ngenxa yalomhlangano walaba bafundi, i-SAYCCC isinamaziko e-Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) e-Eastern Cape nase-North West University (NWU) esifundazweni sase-North West, Abafundi kuleli qembu bafunda izifundo ezinhlobonhlobo. 

Umhlangano i-Environmental Indaba obusekhempasini yaseMgungundlovu ekupheleni kukaNtulikazi bewuhlose ukukhuphula izinga lokwazi kwabafundi baseMgungundlovu ngokushintsha kwesimo sezulu. Iqembu likholwa ukuthi ukuzibandakanya kwentsha kungaba nomthelela omkhulu empini ebhekene nokuxhashazwa nokucekelwa phansi kwemvelo.

Umcimbi ubuhlanganise nezinkulumo ezithulwe abamele i-UKZN SAYCCC, abezemfundo, ithuba lemibuzo nezimpendulo, izinkulumo ezenziwe ezinye izinhlangano nezinhlangano zabafundi kanye nenkulumo yosuku eyethulwe uMnu Khomotso Ntuli we-350 Afrika.

I-350 Africa, ebixhase ngezikibha ze-SAYCCC nokudla komcimbi, iyingxenye yenhlangano yomhlaba i-350 egqugquzela umhlaba ukuba usukume ubhekane nengozi yesimo sezulu. 

Iziko labafundi le-International Association for Impact Assessment South Africa esebenzisana nomkhakha weziFundo ngamaZwe, lethule inkulumo kanti uKusasa Sithole ukhulume nezithameli ngeziko  le-IAIASA labafundi, okuyinzuzo uma uyilungu nokuthi kujoyinwa kanjani.

‘Ukuhlangana kwemikhakha yababebambe iqhaza kukhombe izinkinga esibhekene nazo kuyona yonke imikhakha yezokufunda nokuthi zinomthelela omkhulu kakhulu,’ kusho uSamiksha Singh weziko labafundi le-IAIASA KZN. 

‘Lo mcimbi ukhombise ukuthi kunokukhathazeka emhlabeni wonke nokuthi intsha yamanje, ngale kwezinga lemfundo noma ibala, inolwazi ngemvelo futhi ilwela ukwakha izwe elihlanzekile neliphephile ngomuso.’

Iqembu linethemba lokuthi lizoheha ukwesekwa abanye abafundi nabasebenzi base-UKZN. Ukwesekwa abasakutholile manje obe-350 Afrika.

ngu-Christine Cuénod

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Mandela Day Visit to Retirement Centre


UKZN’s HIV and AIDS Programme commemorated Mandela Day this year by visiting the Outspan Retirement Centre in Umbilo in Durban where peer educators from the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine provided edutainment and a talk on Wellness and Aging to residents.

The educators put the elderly folk through an exercise to “Put their right foot forward” animating the message that: Health means Wealth.

It was emphasised to residents that by living in a way that was consistent and integrated with their wellbeing, they would possess true W.E.A.L.T.H. which stood for:

·        Well

·       Excited

·       Aging positively

·       Loving oneself and others

·       Time conscious

·       Keeping Healthy.

The overall message was that the above attributes were invaluable to an individual’s wellbeing and worth more than money could buy.

“A society that does not value its older people denies its roots and endangers its future. Let us strive to enhance their capacity to support themselves for as long as possible and, when they cannot do so anymore, to care for them”.   Nelson Mandela

Eleanor Langley

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Challenges of Longevity Debated at Public Lecture

Challenges of Longevity Debated at Public Lecture
Professor Linda Fried at the public lecture.

Health systems of the future extend well beyond medical care, says the Dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in the United States, Professor Linda Fried.

A leader in the fields of epidemiology and geriatrics, Fried was speaking at a public lecture co-hosted by UKZN’s College of Health Sciences (CHS) and the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA).

According to Fried - who has dedicated her career to the science of healthy aging and creating the basis for a transition to a world where greater longevity benefits people of all ages - behavioural factors accounted for 50 percent of premature mortality, environmental and genetic factors claimed 20 percent, while 10 percent was due to inadequate access to medical care.

Fried highlighted the global need to invest in conditions that make health, and healthy choices, the default option for all societies. ‘The challenge is that we are living in a world where the obesity epidemic, for example, indicates that our lives are changing in a way that our physiology is not ready for.’

Fried said chronic diseases were communicable and calling them non-communicable was an anachronism. Collective efforts towards maximising global health meant that large transformations were needed in thinking, science and action.

She said the world’s health goal for a society of longer lives was compressing morbidity, and in order to achieve this, building new types of health systems that optimise health and lower cost was essential.

‘The key to investing in the opportunities of longer lives is pushing back the onset of disease and disability to the latest points in the human lifespan,’ Fried said. 

In addition to public health systems, clinical care and home-based care, Fried said components of a futuristic system that creates health for the whole population would have to include: social institutions for community engagement; health-supportive built environments; physical environments with safe and healthy air, food, water and communities; social protections, policy and workplace.

Fried reflected on the successes of the International Centre for AIDS Care and Treatment Programmes at Columbia University and lauded CAPRISA for its on-going and ground-breaking research in South Africa.

Lunga Memela

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Young Medical Scientist Wins Scholarship to Study in Belgium

Young Medical Scientist Wins Scholarship to Study in Belgium
Miss Camille Vallen.

An exciting five months in Belgium lie ahead for UKZN masters student, Miss Camille Vallen.

The 22-year-old from Durban was awarded the Eurosa Scholarship making it possible for her to study and conduct research at the University of Antwerp on the Respiratory Syncytial Virus which infects the lungs and breathing passages.

Based at UKZN’s Optics and Imaging Centre, Vallen’s current study is focused on Mother-to-Child transmission of HIV.

Her work involves using immunohistochemistry to localise HIV as well as various immune components implicated in the transmission of HIV across the placental barrier from mother to child.

Vallen says she looks forward to being an exemplary ambassador for UKZN in Belgium while gaining as much knowledge as possible.

‘I hope to return to South Africa inspired to tackle my PhD which I will start next year.’ She also plans to complete a teaching diploma on a part-time basis and later lecture at UKZN.

A Medical Microbiology Honours cum laude graduate, Vallen said this would be her first experience overseas as an exchange student ‘and also the longest I have ever been away from my family’.

Her friends and family were ‘thrilled’ by the news and she was grateful for their on-going support.

‘Science has changed the way I see things allowing me to question everything and to look outside the box to find solutions. 

‘My next step after my masters is to get my PhD… as long as I am in research and adding to the efforts in preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS, I will be more than happy,’ said Vallen.

Lunga Memela

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Law Student Presents Paper at Hague Peace Conference

Law Student Presents Paper at Hague Peace Conference
Mr Nikhiel Deeplal with Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf.

Mr Nikhiel Deeplal, a Masters in International Trade Law student at UKZN, presented a paper at the third Hague Peace Conference which focused on Policy and International Law Reform.

Speaking at the Conference, Deeplal said maintaining global peace and security through changes in the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Security Council Structure was important for fostering stable international relations.

His paper titled: “Transformation of the United Nations Security Council to increase Regional Representation”, proposed a drastic change in the composition of the UN Security Council which, if successful, would ensure greater global peace and security.

‘The model sees regional organisations such as the AU and EU sitting on the Security Council instead of member states for a number of reasons such as global representation on the Council. The lack of the ability of states to easily manipulate other SC member states and with the removal of the Veto, brings about an introduction of global democracy.’

Deeplal is the National Chairperson for Students for Law and Social Justice, a South African student organisation dedicated to protecting human rights, preventing discrimination and promoting social justice and the rule of law. 

‘The highlight of the Conference was the opening ceremony at the Peace Palace, the home of the International Court of Justice where we engaged with people who had actual experiences in war torn areas and got a practical solution to the issues we face.’

Deeplal met the Vice-President of the International Court of Justice, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, and discussed with him the role of the youth in the international sphere as well as the processes of the court.

Hosted by the Hague University, the City of the Hague and the Peace Palace, the Conference was attended by students from over 33 countries.

Deeplal, who plans to get involved in human rights work within the civil society space, says in the long term he wants to become a trade expert and work for an international organisation such as the World Trade Organisation or the World Bank.

He has also set his sights on taking up a position as a foreign diplomat for South Africa and representing its views on an international platform with special focus on human rights considerations in the area of trade policies.

Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

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JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience set to Enthral Audiences

JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience set to Enthral Audiences
Dutch company, INTRODANS, joins JOMBA! showcasing dance works from their award winning repertoire.

The 17th annual JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience, presented by The Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within the College of Humanities, opens at UKZN on 26 August and continues until 6 September.

This year’s JOMBA! is an international and national treat for dance and theatre lovers with dancers, dance companies and choreographers making their way to Durban from all corners of the globe to present some of the world’s best dance theatre work that will provoke, entertain, delight and challenge.

With the long term vision of using the JOMBA! platform to honour the African continent and to continue to make artistic connection with the rest of Africa, the festival opens with two works from West Africa. Lagos-based Nigerian choreographers Adedayo Liadi and Qudus Onikekeu will present the world premiere of their new duets called City of God, City of Man.

This is followed by the dance theatre vision of Democratic Republic of Congo-based Faustin Linyekula who showcases his internationally acclaimed solo work: Le Cargo.

Supporting the local dance industry, JOMBA! presents Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre and its controversial offering Rite, directed and conceptualised by Jay Pather.

A collaboration between Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre (Chicago, USA) and Durban’s celebrated FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY also features at the festival.

Dutch company, INTRODANS, joins JOMBA! to offer a stellar programme (three performances only) of dance works from their award winning repertoire. They have titled their JOMBA! 2015 programme JOY4DANCE.

artSpace (Durban) Gallery will see Nhanhla Mahlangu perform his acclaimed work CHANT.

The JOMBA! Youth Fringe takes place at the UKZN Open Air Theatre (entrance is free) and is a celebration of over 20 KwaZulu-Natal-based youth dance groups and the incredible dance work they are doing.

JOMBA! also presents a full programme of workshops and master classes by all of the participating dancers and choreographers. And a first for JOMBA! is a special dance lighting workshop hosted by USA-based Christian Epps, who is offering the dedicated lighting workshop for choreographers at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on 31 August.

For a full listing visit the JOMBA page on The workshops and classes are offered free of charge but booking is essential.

Tickets for JOMBA! are R60 reducing to R45 for scholars, students and pensioners. Book through Computicket or at the venue from one hour before the shows.

All performances will be staged at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at 19h30 except on Wednesday 2 September at 18h30 where the performance is at artSpace (Durban)

For more information go to and join us on Facebook (JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience) and Twitter (Twitter@Jomba_dance).

Melissa Mungroo

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School of Arts (Music) Participates in National Youth Jazz Festival

School of Arts (Music) Participates in National Youth Jazz Festival
Professor Cheryl Potgieter (centre), Ms Debbie Mari (left), and UKZN Music students.

Staff and students from the School of Arts (Music) participated and performed at the National Youth Jazz Festival (NJYF) in Grahamstown.

Part of the National Arts Festival, the NYJF provides performance and educational opportunities for participants from all over South Africa.

Deputy Vive-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Cheryl Potgieter, who spends her winter leave each year at the Festival, said: ‘I will continue to provide the Music Department with support and nurture UKZN talent. I thank Debbi Mari and her team for their ongoing commitment.’

Supported by the College of Humanities, first year Diploma in Jazz and Popular Music student, bass guitarist Mr Dalisu Ndlazi, was selected for the prestigious National Youth Jazz Band to be directed by Johannesburg-based UKZN alumnus Concord Nkabinde. ‘I’m excited to be a part of this and grateful to the Music Department, the DVC and the College for their support,’ said Ndlazi.

Top international and national musicians and teachers gathered for the week-long NYJF which includes the Standard Bank Jazz Festival. The NYJF brings together 250 top young jazz musicians – they audition to get into the National Youth and National Schools Jazz Bands - 35 jazz educators and 80 jazz performers from South Africa and around the world.

Lecturer in the UKZN Jazz Studies programme, Ms Debbie Mari, performed with the Stockholm Jazz Orchestra, taught in the vocal jazz team and directed the Jazz Choir. ‘The Festival showcases the diversity of jazz talent among the youth and when you witness this, you rest assured that the future of jazz in South Africa is in very good hands,’ said Mari.

‘This is also an important jazz development programme in the country and when we consider how little music education is available to learners in schools, jazz performers and educators are always eager to participate.’

A group of Music students from the Jazz Studies programme, who were coached throughout the first semester by part-time Lecturer, Mr Burton Naidoo, also attended the Festival and presented a well-received concert, which included some of their original compositions and a selection of jazz and South African standards.

 Melissa Mungroo

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UKZN Celebrates 60th Anniversary of Freedom Charter

UKZN Celebrates 60th Anniversary of Freedom Charter
From left: Dr Bheki Mngomezulu, Dr Ela Gandhi, Professor Betty Govinden and Mayor Yusuf Bhamjee pictured at the Special Collections’ Open Day.

The 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter and the valuable documents archived at the University were the focus of UKZN’s Special Collections Open Day on the Westville campus.

In his welcome address, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Professor Jonathan Blackledge, said the Freedom Charter was an iconic document in the struggle for South African freedom. ‘It declared the constitutional and human rights aspirations of the broadest section of the South African people,’ said Blackledge.  

‘Building unity remains the glue that holds the South African nation together.’

Blackledge paid tribute to those who played a role in securing the country’s liberation, including Professor ZK Matthews, Oliver Tambo, Lilian Ngoyi and Phyllis Naidoo.

‘By honouring the Freedom Charter through this Special Collections Open Day, I trust that the University has played a small part in honouring those who fought for South Africa’s freedom and those who continue to work for peace, non-racialism, social cohesion and the development of all South Africa’s people,’ he said.

Dr Ela Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi’s granddaughter, delivered a keynote address tracing how the Gandhi-Luthuli Documentation Centre was named in honour of the province’s two leading peace icons.  Gandhi said there had been discussions on the possibility of a new dispensation in South Africa and the role universities could play at the ANC’s first conference in the country since its banning in 1960, hosted at the then University of Durban-Westville in 1991.

Key issues raised included the need to build national unity from a divided and fragmented society and to bring the races together. ‘There was a need to build peace and non-violence, especially in KwaZulu-Natal,’ said Gandhi. She added the history of the struggle for South African freedom had not been adequately captured.

Both Mahatma Gandhi and Chief Albert Luthuli, former President of the ANC, were acknowledged for their commitment to non-violence. The Gandhi Luthuli Documentation Centre was formed to ‘build social cohesion and promote non-violence,’ she said. 

Retired academic from UKZN’s Faculty of Education, Professor Betty Govinden, recited a poem, paying tribute to women who had played major roles in the liberation movement.

Nokutela Dube, the wife of John Dube - the founding President of the ANC; Bessie Head; Phyllis Naidoo, and Ela Gandhi, among others, featured in the poem, which paid tribute to women who had gone ‘before us and have left a legacy in whose footsteps we tread’.

View Betty Govinden’s poem - You are Woman!.

UKZN’s Dr Bheki Mngomezulu reflected on the Freedom Charter and suggested there was a need to revisit and publicise it.

‘The Freedom Charter is as important now as when it was first adopted,’ said Mngomezulu, pointing out that as with religious texts, people needed to read and interpret the Freedom Charter differently.

Mngomezulu emphasised the importance for the document to be studied especially by politicians and the youth.

Umgungundlovu District Mayor Mr Yusuf Bhamjee said the Freedom Charter was a ‘living document. Madiba was a son of the Freedom Charter. When Chris Hani was assassinated, Madiba had two choices. He could have said “Burn South Africa! Burn!”, but rather said: “No, South Africa belongs to all who live in it, let us put down our weapons and build the nation”.’

Encouraging the documentation of our country’s history, Bhamjee addressed young people present saying: ‘If you don’t look after our history, nobody will.’

In a message read on his behalf, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works, Mr Ravi Pillay MPL, commended the library for hosting the Special Collections Open Day. ‘It is especially significant that you have selected to highlight 60 years of the Freedom Charter as the theme.

‘No other document captures the essence of how far we have come as a nation as clearly as the Freedom Charter. The doors of education and culture are indeed open to all,’ said Pillay.

He also congratulated the University library on its archival, preservation and public education initiatives and the University’s contribution to building unity, non-racialism and social cohesion. 

Head of Special Collections, Dr Praversh Sukram, highlighted the University’s Special Collections, including the Gandhi Luthuli Documentation Centre; the Campbell Collections; the Alan Paton Centre and Struggle Archives, and UKZN Archives.

The Programme Director on the day was Dr Sershen Naidoo of the School of Biological Sciences, while the Head of the Killie Cambell Library, Mr Vincent Buthelezi, delivered the vote of thanks.

 Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

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UKZN Masters Student Receives WWF Prince Bernhard Conservation Scholarship

UKZN Masters Student Receives WWF Prince Bernhard Conservation Scholarship
Masters student Ms Kholosa Magudu at work in the field.

UKZN Masters student Ms Kholosa Magudu was recently awarded the prestigious World Wildlife Fund’s Prince Bernhard Scholarship for Nature Conservation, one of only two South Africans to have received the international honour.

Magudu, currently working as a water health scientist with the Dusi uMngeni Conservation Trust (DUCT), was encouraged to apply for the scholarship earlier this year by colleagues. She says she was surprised when chosen because of the sheer number of applications the WWF receives every year from all over the world.

The scholarships are intended to support individuals from developing countries in the pursuit of formal studies or professional training in conservation. Since the award’s inception in 1991, over 330 scholarships have been awarded to individuals from more than 60 countries. In addition to covering part of Magudu’s masters’ tuition, the scholarship will enable her to attend conservation conferences.

‘Winning this award is a huge achievement for me because it means my work is recognised at international level,’ said Magudu.

Her masters’ research in Environmental Sciences is on the topic: “The Role of Naturally Functioning Ecosystems in Improving In-Stream Water Quality in Urban Areas”. According to Magudu, her project highlights the important role that naturally functioning riparian habitats play in cleaning water, and provides evidence-based results for restoring degraded rivers in urban areas.

Magudu, who is from Matatiele in the Eastern Cape, completed a BSc in Environmental Sciences with Honours in Ecological Sciences at UKZN in Pietermaritzburg. She credits her Honours supervisor Professor Colleen Downs with being a source of inspiration and support during her studies.

Her master’s research is being supervised by Professor Mathieu Rouget of the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, who Magudu says has done a sterling job with academic guidance, creating more opportunities and offering financial and moral support when it’s most needed. Her co-supervisor is Dr Mark Graham of GroundTruth.

An internship with DUCT fuelled Magudu’s passion for aquatic ecology and freshwater science, inspiring her to pursue postgraduate studies in this area. She hopes that her study, which is being conducted for use by the eThekwini Municipality, will contribute to decision-making and inform riparian ecosystem management practices and the restoration of riparian ecosystems in urban areas.

After she completes her masters, Magudu plans to continue with her research to PhD level, especially so that she can produce more in-depth work on water health to inform policy and practice.

Christine Cuénod

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UKZN Student Attends SA Society for Agricultural Extension Conference

UKZN Student Attends SA Society for Agricultural Extension Conference
Mr Norman Dlamini of Forestry South Africa (left) with UKZN student Mr Bhekisisa Nxumalo.

UKZN student in Agricultural Extension and Rural Resource Management (AERRM), Mr Bhekisisa Nxumalo, attended the 49th annual conference of the South African Society for Agricultural Extension (SASAE) held in Mpumalanga.

Nxumalo, who was selected to attend by Dr Karen Caister, said he was honoured to be chosen and have the opportunity to meet with SASAE leaders and representatives of the agricultural sector.

Part of his involvement at the Conference entailed supporting his lecturers, with Dr Steve Worth of the Discipline of AERRM presenting on learning for sustainability in the sugar industry.

‘As a student in the AERRM, the Conference was a great platform to enhance my understanding about extension outside of the classroom and about extension in general,’ said Nxumalo. ‘I met different people from different countries and provinces of this country who are in the field of agricultural extension, and it was a great platform for networking with experts who have done the qualification I’m doing.

‘I learnt a lot and my knowledge of agricultural extension was really enhanced. I now have a fresh perspective on agricultural extension - ‘we farm farmers and farmers farm the soil’.

Nxumalo’s attendance was especially useful as he is an active member of the recently-launched Agri-Groomers group, a student-led body which aims to develop youth in agriculture and link them to the agricultural sector.

He studies on-site at the Cedara College of Agriculture for the majority of his time thanks to the partnership between the institution and UKZN. He believes that because of the strong reputations both institutions have for excellence in agriculture, his degree will stand him in good stead in the future.

He hopes to continue his studies to PhD level and drive the advancement of the agricultural sector in South Africa.

Christine Cuénod

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Short Story Competition Winners Named

Short Story Competition Winners Named
From left: Mr Kudzai Kehle, Ms Prinola Moodley and Mrs Anne Hemmings who collected her son Jonathan’s first prize.

Winners of the 2014 Short Story competition organised by short term insurance broker, Indwe Risk Services, in partnership with the Alumni Relations Office, have been announced.

UKZN alumni had been invited to submit entries for the competition which had a theme of: “Under an African Sky.”

Entries were received from within South Africa and internationally with prize-money totalling R14 000 up for grabs.

Two of the three winners were present when the results were announced at a lunchtime function at the Fat Aubergine in Pietermaritzburg.

Winner of the first prize of R8 000 was Mr Jonathan Hemmings, a College of Humanities graduate with a master’s degree from UKZN.  Hemmings, currently based overseas, was represented at the event by his parents.

Second prize of R4 000 went to Mr Kudzai Kehle and third prize of R2 000 was awarded to Ms Prinola Moodley.  Both Kehle and Moodley are from the College of Law and Management Studies and have studied at undergraduate and postgraduate levels at UKZN.

Finn Christensen

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UKZN Leads in Training for Maternal Emergencies

UKZN Leads in Training for Maternal Emergencies
Dr Graham Ducasse, Principal Neo-Natologist at Grey’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg, facilitating a small group session on the neo-natal resuscitation module of ESMOE held at UKZN’s Family Medicine Skills Laboratory.

KwaZulu-Natal has the country’s highest number of health professionals being trained as ‘Master Trainers’  in the management of pregnancy related emergencies - a programme funded by UKZN’s Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI).

The training, a nationally standardised programme known as Essential Steps in Managing Obstetric Emergencies (ESMOE), has produced more than 350 ‘ESMOE Master Trainers’ from public health facilities across the province, including hospitals providing a maternity service, and most community health centres.

ESMOE training has contributed towards efforts to reduce maternal mortality rates which have declined by 483 (27%) deaths nationally over the past four years.

Although the ESMOE programme is implemented nationally through the National Department of Health, KwaZulu-Natal has managed to exceed its programme output due to funding from MEPI and its partnership with the provincial Department of Health,’ said ESMOE Advisory Board Chairperson, Professor Jack Moodley. 

‘The success of the programme on this scale can now also be used as a blueprint for other provinces to follow as it speeds up the implementation of one of the recommendations from the Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths report which calls for the strengthening of training health professionals in the clinical management of emergencies during pregnancy including resuscitative skills.’

Another key driver in escalating the training of health professionals is concern at the number of women dying of blood loss during caesarean deliveries, especially within KwaZulu-Natal, with its largely rural population.

According to recent findings in the Saving Mother’s Report into Maternal Deaths, the mortality rate of women having caesarean deliveries as a result pregnancy related complications is three times higher than those having normal deliveries.

More awareness of maternal care from a health professional and patient perspective results in less risk of complications for the mother and her baby,’ said Moodley.

‘The ESMOE programme demonstrates that much more can be achieved through partnerships. We cannot expect government to do all the work when our country requires a joint effort to make a difference in all areas of service delivery, including health care. The partnership involving the provincial Department of Health, UKZN and MEPI proves that together we can achieve a lot more in capacity building at all levels especially where lives depend on it.’

Master Trainers are tasked with ensuring that every health worker involved in maternal health care receives adequate ESMOE training which includes:

•   Standardised observation and monitoring practices in the early detection of shock due to excessive bleeding (where the body begins to shut down due to excessive blood loss) following delivery and during and after Caesarean delivery.

•   Ability to deal with the complications associated with high blood pressure occurring in pregnancy.

•   Practical fire-drills in emergency pregnancy related issues during pregnancy or severe infections.

•   Improvement in anaesthetic skills in deliveries.

•   Training in HIV advice, diagnosis and treatment of respiratory infections in pregnant women and newborn babies.

In a further effort to reduce maternal mortality rates, all medical interns are now expected to complete the ESMOE course before being allowed to register as community service doctors while existing doctors at public health facilities may also be formally assessed in their competency to perform Caesarean deliveries  before being allowed to manage or conduct Caesarean section independently.

MEPI is funded by the United States agency, the National Institute of Health (NIH), which is the largest source of funding for medical research in the world.  

 Zohra Teke

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UKZN’s United Nations Association of SA Thriving

UKZN’s United Nations Association of SA Thriving

The United Nations Association of South Africa (UNASA)-UKZN chapter was formed in 2012, with UKZN becoming one of only three universities in the country to have a chapter.

The first Chairperson was Mr Samuel Fakiri, a Criminologist and UKZN alumnus.

Currently, the leadership caucus is made up of students from five different countries – Chairperson, Mr Jonathan Brady of South Africa; Deputy Chairperson, Mr Kudzai Mukaratirwa of Zimbabwe, Deputy Chairperson, Mr Perminus Moinogu of Kenya; Secretary-General, Mr Benedict Udeh of Nigeria; Project Manager, Mr Sbonelo Gumede of South Africa; Treasurer, Ms Livasha Moodley of South Africa, and Public Relations Officer, Mr Ebenezer Frimpong of Ghana.

The organisation, which has more than 100 registered members, supports the principles, goals and programmes of the United Nations and its agencies.

In May last year, UNASA-UKZN in conjunction with the School of Social Science, welcomed and hosted the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Country Director, Mr Vic van Vurren, and also teamed up with the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) to promote an  environmental sustainability programme in South Africa.

In August 2014, UNASA-UKZN helped SAIIA to organise a model UN conference hosted by New West High School in Durban.

Meanwhile, 2015 has been declared an action year for the organisation and during Mandela Week, it made donations to orphanages in KwaZulu-Natal.

Dr Sean O’ Donoghue of the Durban Adaptation Change of the C40 initiative gave a lecture to UNASA-UKZN members during the Arbor week celebrations.

Plans are well advanced to set up donation stands at strategic locations in the city centre, to support charitable causes.

The Organisation will soon launch a programme titled: “Debate”, in which experts and diplomats will be invited to speak on various topics.

UNASA-UKZN will be represented at the annual UCT-MUN Conference in Cape Town next month.

Students are encouraged to join the organisation which can provide assistance for those hoping for a career in the United Nations or one of its agencies.

Ebenezer Frimpong

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Health Sciences Academics Present Research in Thailand

Health Sciences Academics Present Research in Thailand
Mr Siyabonga Kunene and Dr Tufayl Muslim.

Two studies conducted by UKZN academics were applauded by delegates attending the 2015 Public Health Conference in Bangkok, Thailand.

The academics were Discipline of Dentistry Lecturer, Dr Tufayl Muslim, and Discipline of Physiotherapy Lecturer, Mr Siyabonga Kunene.

While working in public hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal, Kunene said he saw that health professionals, especially women, were physically inactive and had unhealthy eating habits. ‘Most health professionals were overweight and tipping towards obesity.’

Kunene said not only were public hospitals lacking in programmes and facilities that were conducive to promoting good health, there was limited research data on the topic.

This prompted Kunene’s study conducted at Estcourt Hospital which confirmed that health professionals involved themselves in low levels of physical activity and poor dietary habits.

‘Health professionals are promoters of health and are supposed to lead by example in matters of health,’ Kunene argued. ‘Employers should seek to eliminate the barriers that discourage physical activity and good dietary habits at the worksite.’

 This was the focus of his masters research and he says he intends to design a physical activity and healthy diet programme for health professionals in public hospitals.

‘I’m also embarking on a PhD project to develop a transdisciplinary rehabilitation approach programme for patellofemoral pain syndrome among runners in low socioeconomic communities.’

Muslim’s oral presentation was titled: “The Development and Use of Conceptual Frrameworks in Conducting Cross-National Comparative Policy Analysis of Oral Health Policies”.

‘Health policy analysis aims to explain the interaction between institutions, interests and ideas in the policy process in order to ensure the best possible health outcomes,’ Muslim said.

He explained that cross-national policy analysis of oral health policies could be undertaken using a conceptual framework that allows for lessons to be learned so as to improve policy processes and result in improved population oral health outcomes.

Muslim developed a cross-national oral health policy framework and proposed it for use as a basis to undertake oral health policy analysis of developed and developing countries.

Additionally, the use of a computer forecasting simulation tool (Systems Dynamic Modelling) was proposed in order to determine the applicability of such a tool in policy analysis, resource planning and policy processes.

The results of the study revealed that the proposed policy analysis conceptual framework could be modified and used in the analysis of policy processes, intentions and policy implementation as the policy intentions and the policy implementation processes differ across countries.

‘Undertaking cross-national policy analysis using the developed conceptual framework and modelling tool could result in an improved understanding of the complex policy processes and environments across developed and developing countries,’ Muslim said.

Muslim’s research interests include: research ethics, quality of Higher Education, dental public health and dental emergency medicine.

Lunga Memela

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Clinical Sociologist Addresses the Boys2men Leadership Initiative Conference in Durban

Clinical Sociologist Addresses the Boys2men Leadership Initiative Conference in Durban
Dr Mariam Seedat-Khan.

Clinical Sociologist and UKZN academic Dr Mariam Seedat-Khan delivered a keynote address at the Boys2Men Leadership Initiative Conference hosted in Durban by the Businesswomen’s Association (BWA).

The aim of the Conference was to positively influence 47 young boys, enhancing their knowledge and assisting them to become good citizens; as well as assets to their families, communities and the country.

Seedat-Khan, who spoke on how the young men should be Managing Academic Related Tasks’, examined some of the key skills required and issues that both educators and students face in a post-apartheid South Africa.

Her paper was part of a clinical sociology intervention that helps learners understand how to process and output information for assessments.

Seedat-Khan’s presentation was aimed at improving the students’ learning processes by focusing on their learning style, attention span, confidence, information processing and eye-brain connection.

In the interactive session, Seedat-Khan provided the boys with tools to assist them in improving and enriching the learning process. ‘Within South African society the gap between the rich and the poor is vast and separates us at the outset into those who will have the resources to succeed and those who will be left behind due to financial limitations.

‘Both as academics and educators it becomes our responsibility to address these challenges head on in the classroom and place all students at the starting line together,’ she said.

Seedat-Khan believes that learning is a process that can only succeed if the student being taught feels they have the potential to achieve the desired results and outcomes.

Discussing factors that affect learning in schools, she identified how the lack of resources and the shortage of teaching staff and how various school system strategies could be put in place to tackle these problems.

‘It is essential at this point that we consider a learning style assessment at the beginning of each year. This way teachers and specialists can begin to plan, integrate and use effective techniques for learners that help them achieve academically,’ she said.

Seedat-Khan advised those in the audience to meet their own challenges in an academic environment by reinforcing the basic skills that she equipped them with to ensure positive outcomes.

‘These principles if followed carefully and diligently guarantee successful outcomes over and over again. Remind yourself to integrate these steps every time, until they become habitual. With success as students we become successful in our careers and these success factors develop along a continuum throughout one’s life.’

Melissa Mungroo

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UTLO Public Lecture Unpacks Curriculum Transformation in the Age of Globalisation

UTLO Public Lecture Unpacks Curriculum Transformation in the Age of Globalisation
Professor Nfah-Abbenyi presenting a public lecture at the Howard College Theatre.

Curriculum transformation in the age of globalisation was the focus of a public lecture hosted by the UKZN Teaching & Learning Office (UTLO) and presented by academic and author Professor Juliana Makuchi Nfah-Abbenyi, Professor in English and Comparative Literature at North Carolina University in the United States.

Curriculum transformation, a key imperative for Higher Education globally, requires researchers and educators to deliberate more earnestly on epistemology and pedagogy, especially when the complexity of historically and culturally- situated lived experiences is acknowledged.

In these deliberations, various questions may emerge, such as: how does one teach to transgress in a world where local, national, and global knowledge systems often seem to be in conflict; and how do narratives of everyday discourse, be it literary, scientific, cultural or political, inform systemic inequalities and challenge our approaches to identity, difference, agency and self-determination?

The public lecture was held to further this discourse and potentially unearth answers to these questions, and others.

Nfah-Abbenyi started the lecture, attended by more than 50 academics, with an extract from Women of the Lake, a short story about the 1986 disaster at Lake Nyos in Cameroon which destroyed entire communities within a 50km radius. Rescue and recovery efforts incorporated various stakeholders, including eyewitnesses, foreign scientists who ignore local indigenous knowledge in their bid to discover new “scientific” knowledge; national and international politicians and local survivors.

By reflecting upon the experiences of the stakeholders involved, she pointed out how the story offered the opportunity for scholars from various disciplines to engage in important scholarly and pedagogical discussions.

She also identified issues raised by the story to discuss key curriculum transformation matters including: critical discussions about students’ sense of self, place, and belonging; curricular needs that shape, influence and advance the mission of the University, college, and/or department; expected student learning outcomes; understanding the University’s mission and strategic plan and addressing how colleges’/departments’ degree plans fit into and further the University’s mission and strategic plan.

Concluding the discussion, Nfah-Abbenyi argued that curriculum transformation comprises three fundamental aspects: what we teach (content); how we teach (pedagogy); and above all, who makes the curricula decisions that shape our thinking and affect the future of our societies.

She further argued that for curriculum transformation to materialise, instructors and educators had to possess commitment to reforming the curriculum on a consistent basis, to advocate cross-disciplinary collaboration, and to be intentional about what we teach and how we teach historically and culturally-situated lived experiences.

Professor Priya Narismulu, Professor of English Studies at UKZN, who hosted Professor Nfah-Abbenyi, argued that neglecting indigenous knowledge and languages courted intellectual, disciplinary and institutional ignorance and obsolescence, because a key role and responsibility of the University was to link the local with the global and vice-versa.

Endorsing the views of Narismulu, Dr Rubby Dhunpath, Director of UKZN Teaching & Learning, called for a widening of the IKS discourse to embrace comparative perspectives, as opposed to essentialising it as discourse of resistance to “Western” epistemologies.

Professor Priya Narismulu and Ebrahim Adam

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French Exchange Student Says Adieu as She Returns Home

French Exchange Student Says <em>Adieu</em> as She Returns Home
UKZN exchange student Claire Puntous (right) with colleagues (from left) Anne-Maria, Kim, Katrin, and Veronika, during one of their many adventures in South Africa.

French exchange student Ms Claire Puntous arrived at UKZN in July last year to continue her honours studies in Linguistics.  She happily served on the Student Chapter handling the photography at a variety of Chapter events.

Here, Puntous tells us a bit about herself and her year at UKZN in a Q & A interview shortly before she returned to France:

Q: Where did you grow up and study?

A: I’m from a small city called Le Puy en Velay in France. I studied in a bigger city called Lyon, at the University Jean Moulin - Lyon 3 where I did a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature, History, Translation and Linguistics.

Q: Why did you choose to study in South Africa?

A: I’ve dreamed about studying abroad since I was eight years old when I saw a French film L’Auberge Espagnole in which the main character studies in Spain for a year. My university in Lyon gave me the opportunity to fulfil that dream, so I seized it. I had to study in an English-speaking country due to my studies. I could have gone to the USA, Australia, or the UK and so on, but I was not so interested in going to these countries since France shares so many similarities with them. I wanted to see something radically different. South Africa was the perfect destination to learn about other ways of thinking, other ways of life.

Q: What did you research while at UKZN?

A:  I focused on Linguistics. During the second semester I studied Psycholinguistics where you learn about language and how it works with the brain. I also did Sociolinguistics which relates more to social issues.

We had to conduct a small research project and focus on UKZN and its language policy. Language policy is all the measures applied which determine the languages that have to be used and taught. For example, UKZN is trying to promote bilingualism because the government wants all the universities to promote multilingualism to be representative (and more democratic) of the linguistic diversity of South Africa.

My research was based on the government’s advice to develop not only South African languages but African languages in general. I studied how African languages are essential to encourage African renaissance (or renewal).

Q: Why is promoting African indigenous languages important?

A: In my opinion, promoting African languages is the basis for African development in general. If you continue to use the ex-colonial languages like English and French then Africa cannot really develop properly - there will always be hierarchy imposed by the ex-colonial country. All powerful countries use their own language, not a foreign one.

Again, African languages create a sense of unity with the rest of Africa. For example, UKZN is implementing Sesotho gradually to try to be at one with neighbouring Lesotho. And also Swahili because it is the most common indigenous language in Africa.

Starting to learn a language is also learning about another culture, other people’s way of thinking. Language is representative of a person. If you start learning another person’s language you start to understand your neighbour better. So in that sense learning African languages is a way of fighting against xenophobia.  Also, the good thing with South African languages is they are not that hard to learn because most of them are from the same family (the Nguni language) and people are from the same roots so they need to learn languages to remind them that they come from the same place.

Q: What have you learned in South Africa?

A: I have learned that racism is very subtle, it is not necessarily obvious. I am not a racist person, I come from a family where racism has always been fought. But at the same time I realised that sometimes, when you don’t understand some traditions or attitudes because they are different from yours, it is very easy to explain it with a racist theory. Racism is fuelled by ignorance. To my own surprise, I realised that I sometimes used to make these kinds of short-cuts in my head, which is terribly dangerous.

I come from a place where people are very pessimistic, they are not very hopeful for the future, they are very negative. I have learned here that that there is always a plan, you can always find a solution to a problem. People here experience a lot more difficulties, racism, crime, deaths… but I feel like they are also more are optimistic than us, French people. They have more hope in general. So I learned that there is always a way to solve problems and that if I am unhappy I can change that and make myself happy.

Q: What did you enjoy in South Africa?

A: I am very grateful, because I have been able to travel a lot and many people in this country have not seen half of what I have seen. People do not have opportunity to travel a lot here so I feel for them because their country is beautiful. I have been to Cape Town and Johannesburg; I have seen rural areas like the Wild Coast and went to a traditional wedding. I also stayed at the University residence where I met so many great people from various backgrounds. People here are very friendly. It’s been a great experience.

 Ntsejoa Koma

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SA Institution of Civil Engineering President visits UKZN

SA Institution of Civil Engineering  President visits UKZN
SAICE President Malcom Pautz addressing students at UKZN.

The South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) President Mr Malcom Pautz addressed Civil Engineering students and staff on the Howard College campus as part of his presidential tour of the 20 branches of the institution in South Africa.

Accompanied by the CEO of the institution, Mr Manglin Pillay, and SAICE-Durban-Branch Chairman, Mr Brain Kannigadu, Pautz met staff members in the Civil Engineering Department to find out about some of the challenges and breakthroughs at the Department. He later addressed a class of about 70 Civil Engineering students who gave him a warm Durban welcome and a special gift - a framed portrait of himself which he called “a nice surprise”- on behalf of the Civil Engineering student chapter, SAICE-UKZN.

Pautz emphasised the importance of the significant contribution of young engineers towards the betterment of their societies. ‘Don’t give up, challenge the status quo, and believe in yourselves. Take responsibility and help bring about change.’

He said challenges facing the country included rapidly growing cities, insufficient planning, the energy crisis and the transportation infrastructure-and-planning crisis.

Engineers needed to come up with solutions for the fast growing populations in cities to meet the infrastructural demands of services such as water and sanitation, transportation and energy.

‘Infrastructure is the backbone of society. The challenge is on our young engineers to find solutions to the problems facing our cities today and hence make it possible for economic growth on the African continent.’

Pautz (43) is the 112th President of SAICE and the youngest in the institution’s 112-year history.

His mission is to help empower the youth in the civil engineering sector and encourage them to be the best they can be.

Ntsejoa Koma

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UKZN Researchers Form International Partnership Through Grant Scheme

UKZN Researchers Form International Partnership Through Grant Scheme
Dr Luiza Campos, Dr Alfred Odindo and Professor Chris Buckley with the Pollution Research Group’s urine-diverting toilet.

Researchers from UKZN’s Schools of Chemical Engineering and Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) travelled to the University College London (UCL) for a visit made possible by the Royal Society Newton Grant which has been awarded for a two-year period to researchers from both institutions.

UKZN’s Professor Chris Buckley and Dr Alfred Odindo travelled to UCL where they were hosted for a week by Dr Luiza Campos and Dr Priti Parikh. The duo took along one of the urine-diverting dry toilets being used in research by Buckley’s Pollution Research Group (PRG).

The toilet is designed to separate waste and recover nutrients from it for various uses, including the manufacture of fertilisers using the resources from waste which would otherwise have contributed to water treatment costs, water wastage and pollution.

Buckley and Odindo’s work is part of the Valorisation of Urine Nutrients in Africa (VUNA) project managed by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation- in partnership with the eThekwini Water and Sanitation Utility (EWS) The project is designed to improve sanitation for those in the larger Durban area while also promoting eco-friendly ways of managing waste.

While Buckley and his team focus on how waste is processed, Odindo works on the agricultural side to test the value of the nutrients for use as fertilisers. This work aligns with that of Dr Priti Parikh of UCL, whose research has focused on slum resettlement and housing and upgrading with a particular focus on nature-sensitive infrastructure such as waste, energy, water, sanitation and roads. Additionally, an Environmental Engineer at UCL, Dr Luiza Campos, will contribute her expertise on water and sanitation, fields where she covers issues ranging from process modelling to sustainable and resilient sanitation services.

The Royal Society Grant was awarded to facilitate visits between Odindo and Parikh and their respective teams to explore opportunities for building lasting networks and strengthening emerging collaborations. Odindo and Parikh hope that these visits will build towards research which will investigate the potential for the use of Decentralised Waste Treatment Systems (DEWATS) and pre-requisites in the supply chain for waste management in peri-urban settlements in South Africa to address the gap in sanitation provision.

The team also plans to use the research to link agriculture to innovative sanitation technologies.

The visit was a productive one resulting in several ideas for research collaborations and joint grant proposals as well as the sharing of networks to enhance the knowledge of both institutions. Odindo mentioned that, since the grant was awarded in January, the group had already come up with two research proposals which they looked forward to expanding as the partnership continued and grew.

Christine Cuénod

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Workshop Focuses on Climate Change and Poverty

Workshop Focuses on Climate Change and Poverty
Participants at a SA Research Chair Initiative inception workshop.

A two-day inception workshop was hosted by UKZN’s South African Research Chair Initiative (SARChI) on Applied Poverty Reduction Assessment within the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS).

The workshop was organised to launch a new project titled: “Climate Change Adaptation and Poverty Reduction Co-benefits: Human Capabilities Towards Green Micro-Enterprise”, under the programme to support pro-poor policy development II (PSPPD II).

The meeting helped the new project team understand and discuss the current UKZN projects around climate change and socio-economic dimensions. The aim was to interact with stakeholders around the progress of their projects as well as to identify potential synergies from these related projects. 

The new PSPPD II project involves the examination of the full portfolio of current climate change and poverty reduction co-benefits projects in eThekwini. This portfolio includes both government and non-government supported projects dealing with climate change adaptation, biodiversity and community livelihood interventions.

Such interventions seek to improve community resilience and well-being in the context of future ecological and biodiversity threats.

The SARChI on Applied Poverty Reduction Assessment has already begun work on climate change adaptation and poverty reduction co-benefits research.

Speaking about this, Professor Sarah Bracking said: ‘Given the interdisciplinary nature, the understanding of other UKZN related projects would add value to the context of the research. Research projects such as CLIMAYS and the UKZN/eThekwini Collaborative Research partnership are operating under similar contexts as this new project.

‘There may be shared interest and collaboration in our work and we invited them in order to explore such possibilities. Furthermore, this inception workshop hopes to both improve local and national practice, and to influence wider debates at global scale,’ said Bracking.

CLIMAYS representatives at the workshop, Ms Nolwazi Ntini and Ms Vicky Sim, were excited to be a part of the workshop stating that it was a robust interactive discussion. ‘It’s great to interact with researchers involved in the same strategic policies and to gauge the UKZN influence in this venture,’ they said.

A climate change lecture, delivered by American researcher and the project’s external advisor, Dr Michael Dorsey, examined Oligarchs & Climate Crisis: Implications for Africa and the Planet.  It focused on global climate finance, climate change adaptation and ethnographic methodologies to research the key players in the global climate finance arena.

Melissa Mungroo

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UKZN Architecture Graduate Wins Corobrik Student Award

UKZN Architecture Graduate Wins Corobrik Student Award
From left: Mr Allin Dangers of Corobrik with Ms Brigitte Stevens and Mr Mthembeni Mkhize (UKZN).

UKZN Masters in Architecture graduate Ms Brigitte Robyn Stevens is the KwaZulu-Natal winner in the national 28th Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year awards.

Stevens was the only student selected to represent UKZN and won a cash prize of R8 000.

The prestigious annual awards highlight the creative and technical talent of South Africa’s top architectural students and are aimed at promoting the advancement of design excellence nationally.

Stevens’s thesis explores the significance of the cosmos in relation to death and its space making principles of the Shembe Church. She proposes a cemetery complex to “Celebrate Life” in the City of Durban.

The project uses a Shembe principle of “reclaiming lost space” through the adaptive reuse of the existing Nicol Square parkade.

Stevens says that it is ‘often thought that architecture represents the values of the society that creates it, and the great pieces of architecture represent cohesive, powerful societies. In many of them power is the result of some sort of greater belief systems.’

‘In South African society, colonisation interrupted what might have been our ‘great African connection’ between architecture and larger forces of influence.’

Stevens proposed introducing a symbol into the centre of the city, which will demonstrate the relationship between African spirituality and South African society, and redefining the identity of Durban as an African city.

She is currently a candidate architect for the South African-based firm SAOTA, a studio of architectural designers and technicians.

Melissa Mungroo

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UKZN Hosts Workshop on Modelling for Tick-Borne Diseases

UKZN Hosts Workshop on Modelling for Tick-Borne Diseases
Participants at the second workshop on modelling for tick-borne diseases.

UKZN’s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science (SMSCS) hosted the second Siyacabanga (isiZulu for ‘we think’) two-day workshop on the topic of ticks and tick-borne diseases, attracting a diverse group of participants who learned about and participated in mathematical modelling in relation to ticks and tick-borne diseases.

The workshop was organised by the Dean and Head of the SMSCS, Professor Kesh Govinder, Dean and Head of the School of Life Sciences, Professor Sam Mukaratirwa, and visiting Professor Holly Gaff of Old Dominion University (ODU) in Virginia in the United States, who is spending seven months with the SMSCS on sabbatical.

During her time at UKZN, Gaff, who is also an Honorary Associate Professor of SMSCS, is continuing her research on the mathematical modelling of various aspects of ticks and the pathogens they carry.

The workshop featured presentations from Gaff and Professor Sam Mukaratirwa, as well as an introduction to local challenges by Professor Abdalla Latif, Programme Manager for Parasites, Vectors and Vector-borne Diseases at the Agricultural Research Council’s (ARC) Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute. The programme included brainstorming and modelling sessions where participants, separated into groups where they had the opportunity to apply what they had learned by developing realistic models that would be useful to them in their fields.

During her presentation, Gaff touched on the need for modelling in contributing to the understanding of ticks and tick-borne diseases in order for those working in the field to be able to work with and around the effects of these tiny disease carriers. She emphasised the need for the use of relevant data in the process of this modelling, and pointed out that people like those in attendance at the workshop could provide that data and help further understanding in those fields. This would in turn assist people such as physicians and veterinarians to mitigate the effects of the diseases ticks carry.

The workshop provided a unique blend of mathematics and biology in its approach to modelling these disease carriers and outbreaks. Gaff also emphasised that these modelling techniques were not solutions for disease spread and outbreaks, but simply tools to prove reality and demonstrate the “why” behind tick population data and disease outbreak.

The workshop continued in its objectives set out for the first workshop in 2013: to apply biological and environmental dynamics to human systems and on testing model complexity and relevance with global sensitivity and uncertainty analysis. The second workshop also aimed to make this work relevant to those working in fields where tick-borne diseases are prevalent.

Participants from state veterinarian services mentioned the usefulness of the workshop in application to their field and appreciated the chance to attend a workshop aimed at channelling knowledge into useful tools for real-world application.

Staff in the SMSCS hope these workshops and collaborations will advance the field of mathematical biology at UKZN.

Christine Cuénod

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Lunch with Nokutela Mdima, the First Wife of John Dube, By Professor Cheryl Potgieter

Lunch with Nokutela Mdima, the First Wife of John Dube, By Professor Cheryl Potgieter
Professor Cheryl Potgieter, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities.

Over the years and especially during Women’s Month in South Africa I have often been asked this question by interviewers: ‘If you had the opportunity to host two or three women  “icons” at a Woman’s Day lunch at your home who would they be and what would the conversation revolve around?’

The academic in me often wants to say: ‘I do not like the term “icon”,’ while the obsessive personality part of me panics as I hope my favourite caterer is available on the day!’

Recently a version of the question was put to me telephonically by a student: ‘Name one or two women “icons” you would love to have lunch with on Sunday, 9 August, 2015.’ My lunch guest could be living or dead as it was part of a‘re- imagining project’.

I liked the options and I decided my guest would be Nokutela Mdima, the first wife of John Dube, the first President of the African National Congress (ANC).

I imagine the following over a long lunch:

I would tell Nokutela that we as a nation needed to apologise for erasing her from history and that her contribution may never have been recognised had it not been for the work of Professors Cherif Keita and Heather Hughes.

She would confirm that she was crucial to the achievements of her husband John Dube and that he would not have been able to build the Ohlange Institute, which was so important in educating Black South Africans, had it not been for her vision and hard work. The same can be said for the newspaper Ilanga Lase Natal, which they founded.

We would talk about how things have changed for women in South Africa, and particularly Black women, but also how much has stayed the same.

I would ask her to share with me why it is important for women to write and publish our work, both in media and in more scholarly forms such as books, given that I am aware through Professor Keita’s work that she had done the same. 

She published an article in a newspaper in Northfields USA in 1882 entitled “My Home Africa”, and also co-authored a Zulu song book titled Amagama Abantu with her husband, which we currently recognise as seminal in the development of Zulu choral music.

I am sure she may be surprised to learn that 98 years after her death women in academia, and particularly Black women, face many challenges which are both gendered and raced in terms of publications. I will sheepishly have to share with her the fact that I could  not  introduce her to many Black women professors,  as we are very few and in fact do not exist at some of our  top universities.

Our conversation will also turn to the role of White women in assisting her in meeting her goals.  I would ask her to talk about her relationship with the missionary Mary Edwards, who assisted John Dube to establish the 9 000 acre farm which later became the well-known Inanda Seminary and which has educated generations of young girls.  Were she and Mary friends?  Did she present what we today call a business plan or vision to Mary?  

Networks and partnerships are still important today for women to succeed, and Nokutela was key to facilitating the partnership which included, I assume, raising the capital that led to the establishment of the seminary.   She studied home economics and music in the United States, and I imagine she would share the similarities and differences between herself and her African-American women peers.  She would no doubt talk about the concerts that she sang at and played the piano, often very tired after a long day of studying, but something she had to do as it raised funds for the Ohlange Institute and other development projects in South Africa.

I would give her some pointers to the current state of the nation, specifically in relation to women.  I am sure that the poverty experienced by Black women in South Africa some 20 years after the ANC has come into power and the gender based violence women are experiencing, would both sadden and anger her. 

She was a supporter of Booker T Washington’s philosophy, which argued that Black people had to have economic advancement prior to or simultaneously with political power.   Would she share any wisdom for current South African women, drawing on Booker T Washington’s philosophy?

I guess at this point we would talk about issues deemed more personal.

I will share with her the fact that I have chosen to not have children, and how I am often judged by women and men for that decision. 

I would ask her if it is true that John Dube had an affair after 20 years of them being married, which led to them separating, and that the “justification” for the affair was that she could not have children.

Information suggests that she left him, which indicates that she made a difficult decision - yet today many women who are often in emotionally or physically abusive relationships find it difficult to leave.  I would like to hear her voice on the matter.

Given that Nokutela is a skilled conversationalist I am sure she would ask me about my family. I would tell her that my mom and her two sisters, the eldest who is 87 years old, have one wish before they die and that is that their family homes, which were taken from them by the apartheid state, be given back to them.  These homes still stand in a gentrified area of central Port Elizabeth. They do not want compensation but the actual homes, which my mom believes ‘were stolen’ from them.   This would lead to a discussion of land in relation to women’s rights, 20 years after political democracy.

I would tell Nokutela that Women’s Month and Woman’s Day in South Africa have become extremely commercialised, which reflects the nature of our society; with so many Woman’s Day breakfasts attended by self-styled celebrities one has never heard of!

In September, the University of KwaZulu-Natal and specifically the College I head will be hosting the Annual John Dube Lecture.  I will also be introducing an Annual Nokutela Mdima Lecture as from August 2016.

Finally, would she consider me nominating her for an honorary doctorate, as she deserves to be recognised for her contribution to our nation? And would she wish to be referred to as Dr Nokutela Dube, or Dr Nokutela Mdima-Dube or simply Dr Nokutela Mdima?

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Golf Day Proceeds assist Disadvantaged Students

Golf Day Proceeds assist Disadvantaged Students
Golf Day Bursary recipients with Ms Avril Williamson (centre).

Eight UKZN students from disadvantaged backgrounds were each awarded a R10 000 bursary at UKZN’s 12th Annual Golf Day held at the Mount Edgecombe Golf Club. 

This year 112 golfers teed off to raise funds for students from previously disadvantaged backgrounds who have excelled academically. 

UKZN’s Human Resource’s Executive Director, Ms Avril Williamson, said golf days had raised R1,1 million and funded 116 students since 2003.  She said most of the recipients were women. 

Williamson thanked all participants, saying their contributions were highly appreciated.  

Standard Bank, the main sponsor of the event for the past few years, has contributed more than R300 000 to UKZN golf days, including the Extended Learning Golf Day. 

At the handover of the bursaries, Mr Themba Rikhotso of Standard Bank urged the students to give off their best in their studies.

Rikhotso said UKZN’s Golf Day represented a lot of hope for the country and the Bank was happy to have further renewed this hope with its sponsorship. 

‘Standard Bank is proud to be associated with this bursary fund-raising event, an association now in its sixth year.  The fact that this event supports students who excel and who come from disadvantaged backgrounds makes us as a Bank a proud lead sponsor.’ 

Bursary recipients and Speech Language Pathology students, Ms Fiona Naidoo and Ms Kimberlee Sykes, both expressed their appreciation to the University for the contribution to their fees, stressing that they could now concentrate on their studies. 

Speaking on behalf of all the recipients, Bachelor of Arts student, Ms Sadé Wagner, thanked the golfers and sponsors for helping to make the bursaries possible.  She said the way for students to show their true appreciation was to achieve good marks. 

Other bursary recipients were Ms Mendy Mthethwa, Mr Samkelo Radebe, Ms Leticia Nhundu, Ms Luyanda Ntuli and Mr Buhlebenkosi Msweli.  

Participants included businessmen, staff, students, alumni, donors, friends of the University and the local golfing fraternity.

Sithembile Shabangu

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Student to Study for Masters Degree in Japan

Student to Study for Masters Degree in Japan
Mr Warrant (Warren) Langa.

UKZN student Mr Warrant (Warren) Langa has been awarded a scholarship to study for his masters degree in Japan.

The African Business Education Initiative for Youth (ABE Scholarship) was awarded to Langa by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The objective of the scholarship is to support young people who have the potential to contribute to the development of industries in Africa.

This programme offers opportunities for young African men and women to study masters courses at Japanese universities as international students and experience internships at Japanese enterprises. The aim is for them to develop effective skills in order for them to contribute in various fields. 

Langa of Port Shepstone, who has enrolled for his Masters in Business Administration at the Doshisha University in Kyoto, said he is happy to be selected and grateful for the opportunity to study abroad. His scholarship includes tours and support in research.

‘I would like to thank the University because without them I wouldn’t have received the opportunity,’ said Langa.

His research will highlight the importance of small businesses and alleviating the problem of high unemployment in South Africa.

When Langa returns, he wants to teach small business owners and entrepreneurs, especially in rural areas, the basic skills of running a business. 

He thanked his Lecturers Mr Devon Windvogel, Dr Ziska Fields, and Ms Nomalizo Djili as well as Head of School, Mr Leo Deodutt, for all their support.

Sithembile Shabangu

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Students Start Group for Youth in Agriculture

Students Start Group for Youth in Agriculture
The Agri-Groomers group with Cedara and UKZN staff.

Students at the Cedara College of Agriculture and UKZN have formed a group called Agri-Groomers, which aims to equip young people for careers in agriculture.

The group of 15 students operates by connecting youth to the agricultural sector in a variety of ways as well as furthering their understanding of the agricultural market.

Agri-Groomers was officially launched in May, after developing the concept for about two years.

The idea originated from a concern students had about their exposure to and readiness for the market place.  This resulted in them forming the group to focus on creating a platform for opportunities for learning, networking and participating in various aspects of the agri-sector.

It is hoped that Agri-Groomers will motivate students and close the gap between them and the marketplace as well as promoting the implementation of research and the delivery of agricultural services to communities.

Agri-Groomers participants also aim to continuously develop, improve and implement strategies that provide participants with relevant tools and training to assist and create opportunities for themselves and others.

Chief Executive Officer for the group, Mr Nkosinathi Nkosi, said the response had defied expectations, with students initially being hesitant but soon warming to the idea and joining up in encouraging numbers after the official launch.

The launch also linked Agri-Groomers with many organisations, companies and governmental agencies.

Staff members at Cedara and UKZN have provided moral and logistical support, especially in accessing their networks to enable the students to create the linkages they need to establish their presence.

Agri-Groomers’ activities concentrate on three main areas: Agricultural Learning and Skills Development; Personal Development and Character Building, and Connect, which comprise the 3D, AgriGames and GreenActions programmes.

Agricultural Learning and Skills Development focuses on the building of technical skills through hands-on experience and in-service training with relevant stakeholders, while Personal Development and Character Building focuses on the honing of soft skills such as leadership and self-awareness to improve employability.

The Connect aspect includes Discussions, Debate and Dialogues (3D), interactions set up to engage youth in research and public speaking so that their messages reach decision makers.

The AgriGames component promotes participatory learning in a relaxed environment and also serves as a catalyst for team building.

Finally, the “GreenActions”  feature is online-based software under construction which the group intends to be used by stakeholders across the agricultural sector, from NGOs to extension workers to governmental agencies who require access to research and information to inform their activities.

The group has already had the opportunity to become involved in events in the agricultural sector. A group of Agri-Groomers student volunteers were at the recent Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) Youth in Agriculture Summit, where they were commended for their cheerful, willing attitude and hard work.

They will also collaborate with the South African Youth Climate Change Coalition (SAYCCC) group next month when they assist at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation’s World Forestry Congress in Durban.

Agri-Groomers intends to partner with agricultural colleges and universities, agriculturists, agricultural associations, government sectors, NGOs and the private sector.

Anyone aged between 18 and 35 who is motivated to change the lives of others through Agri-Groomers’ work and who will volunteer their skills, talents and knowledge in advancement of youth development in agriculture, is welcome to be a member.

For further information: e-mail

Christine Cuénod

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