UKZN Launches International Partner Week

UKZN Launches International Partner Week
International delegates and UKZN staff members attended various events held as part of the inaugural International Partner Week.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal hosted national and international delegates during its inaugural International Partner Week held from 29 October to 1 November.

It was held at various UKZN campuses under the theme: Building Bridges and Transcending Borders.

The aim of the week-long engagements was to bring the international community to engage and network with the University’s academic staff. The engagements happened at various sessions which included seminars, panel discussions, individual meetings, and social and networking activities.

To kick off the week, a cultural extravaganza held at UKZN’s Killie Campbell Collections was to welcome guests and showcase different cuisines from other countries.  The programme for the evening was directed by author and poet, Gcina Mhlophe, while delegates enjoyed dishes that included Italian, Chinese, Indian, South African and Mexican cuisine. The guests were treated to different styles of South African dance and music. 

UKZN Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Nana Poku, welcomed dignitaries, saying he hoped International Partner Week is a start of something new. He said he was excited about the initiative and the future of the Higher Education sector.

Continuing with the week's activities, a one-day colloquium was held at Howard College campus’ Unite building. Officially opening the colloquium, Professor Deresh Ramjugernath, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, said while the University remains committed to addressing the needs and challenges of its regional and local contexts through various efforts, the advancement of African scholarship within a competitive, global Higher Education landscape also firmly remains one of its key focus.

‘With there being massive speed in the momentum of globalisation, so too has the rate of student flow beyond national borders. It is in this light that UKZN continues to work towards strengthening its efforts of increasing student and staff international mobility. This will not only create opportunities for more meaningful global partnerships within the international Higher Education scene, it will also expand access to student and academic talent,’ said Ramjugernath. 

The University also used the opportunity to showcase its new strategic plan, research flagships, and some of its achievements in order to strengthen its international partnerships.

Keynote speaker, Professor L Jawahar Nesan, Vice-Chancellor of Saveetha University, India, whose talk was titled: Internationalisation: Boon or Bane for Social Transformation and Nation Building, urged universities to strengthen indigenous knowledge systems. He said education has trained people to serve the corporates instead of being socially driven and play a role in preserving knowledge gathered over the past thousand years, adding that the mission of a university can only be stronger once it has included the indigenous knowledge system. 

Mr Mahlubi Mabizela, Chief Director for University Education Policy and Development at the Department of Higher Education and Training, presented the draft policy on the Internationalisation of Higher Education. He said the policy, which should be approved before the end of 2018, endorses the National Development Goal 2030 and would be monitored closely by government to ensure that internationalisation takes place at universities.

Professor Salim Abdool-Karim, Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), spoke on the latest research undertaken by the Centre in partnership with other researchers from around the world. Highlighting the high number of infections in women that still happen in the country, he said the Centre is looking at coming up with strategies that target women because the current ABCs (Abstinence, Be faithful, Condomise and Circumcision) are all targeted at men. 

Abdool-Karim said they are also working on an antiretroviral implant that could prevent the transmission of HIV in women. The implant will have TAF (Tenofovir alafenamide fumarate) to protect women against HIV infection for up to one year.

Other discussions looked at international experience to enhance teaching and learning, international student integration and scientific and academic co-operation

Words: Sithembile Shabangu 

Photographs: Rajesh Jantilal


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Inxusa le-One Young World lase-UKZN

Inxusa le-One Young World lase-UKZN
UMnu Kwazini ZuluClick here for English version

Umfundi wase-UKZN, uMnu Kwazini Zulu, usengakwazi ukufaka ukuba yinxusa le-One Young World kuhlu lemiklomelo yakhe. 

UZulu - owayenguMongameli we-Enactus - ungumfundi oseneziqu kuzifundo zezokuKhangisa Nokuthengwa Kwezinsiza eKolishi Lezifundo zoMthetho Nezokuphatha aphinde abe ngumeluleki osebenza ngokuzimela kwezobuholi nezamabhizinisi kumabhizinisi asemancane. Usanda kubuya eNgqungqutheleni ye-One Young World e-Hague e-Netherlands.

Zilinganiselwa ku-1800 izithunywa ezakhethwa emazweni ayi-196 ukuba zihambele iNgqungquthela. Izithunywa sezijoyine uhleloxhumano lwabaholi abayizi-10 000 abacabanga njengabo emhlabeni wonkana futhi sebeqokwe njengamaNxusa e-One Young World.

I-One Young World (OYW) yinhlangano engenzi nzuzo ezinze e-UK eqoqa ndawonye abaholi abasha abakhaliphe kakhulu futhi abafunwa ngapha nangapha abavela emhlabeni wonke, babathuthukise ukuze bakhe ubuhlobo obuqinile ukuze balethe ushintsho oluhle. I-OYW ihlela iNgqungquthela yaminyaka yonke lapho intsha enamathalente ayigugu kakhulu ezinkampanini zomhlaba nasezweni, ama-NGO, amanyuvesi kanye nezinye izinhlangano eziphambili zihlanganiswa nabaholi bomhlaba abasebenza njengabaluleki be-One Young World. Kule ngqungquthela, izihambeli zidingida, zakhe futhi zabelane ngezisombululo zezinkinga umhlaba wonke obhekene nazo ukuze kuzanywe ukuthola izindlela zokubambisana nokwabelana ngezindlela ezinhle ezinhlelweni zomhlaba jikelele.

Aseke baba ngabaluleki be-OYW phakathi kwabanye abaningi yilowo owayenguNobhala we-UN, uNjengele Kofi Annan; owayenguMongameli wase-Ireland, uMary Robinson; Umphathi wakwa-Unilever, uPaul Polman; umsunguli we-Virgin Group, uSir Richard Branson; U-Archbishop Emeritus, u-Desmond Tutu; Owahlonishwa ngeNobel Peace Prize Laureate, uSolwazi Muhammad Yunus; yilowo owayenguMvikeli woMphakathi, uThuli Madonsela; kanye nomlingisi, u-Emma Watson.

Okokuqala ngqa kulo nyaka, izihambeli zahanjelwa ngumculi nosomabhizinisi u-Akon, umlingisi u-Terry Crews kanye nonobuhle u-Naomi Campbell.

'Ukukhethwa ukuba ngimele izwe lami, idolobha kanye neNyuvesi kule ngosi yomhlaba jikelele phakathi kwezinkulungwaneni ezinye ezifana nami, ngisho nezinolwazi ngaphezu kwami ezingabaholi abasebancane, kuyintokozo enkulu kimina,' kusho uZulu. 'Ngangihlale ngikholwa ukuthi nginobizo lokuba ngithinte izimpilo zabantu ngokusebenzisa ubuholi bezamabhizinisi. Ngizizwa ngithokoze kakhulu ngokukhethwa ukuba ngibambe iqhaza kulo mhlangano ohloniphekile ngokuvamile kuba ngabaholi bezwe kanye nosomabhizinisi abavelele kuphela abakwazi ukuba yingxenye yawo. Lokhu kusho ukuthi ngingumlondolozi wezobuholi kanye nomthelela kwezomphakathi omele abaholi abasebasha emhlabeni jikelele emphakathini wami, eNyuvesi, edolobheni nasezweni lami,' kuqhuba yena.

Ababambiqhaza bakhethwa ngokubuka ikhono abalibonisile lobuholi, ukukhathazeka ngezinkinga ezithinta umhlaba wonke, ikhono lokukwazi ukuqhamuka nezixazululo ezinomthelela, ukusebenzisana, nobufakazi bokuzibophezela ekuzinikeleni nakweminye imisebenzi yangaphandle.

Amagama: U-Indu Mooedley 

Isithombe: Sinikeziwe


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Othisha Bezesintu Bathule Inkulumo Yocwaningo Enkundleni yezeNhlalo yoMphakathi yezoMhlaba Yonyaka wezi-2018

Othisha Bezesintu Bathule Inkulumo Yocwaningo Enkundleni yezeNhlalo yoMphakathi yezoMhlaba Yonyaka wezi-2018
UMnu Viloshin Govender kanye noDkt Claudia Loggia babonakala nephepha lokukhangisa ucwaningo lwabo eNkundleni yezeNhlalo yoMphakathi yezoMhlaba.Click here for English version

Othisha abavela eSikoleni SeziFundokuhlelwa Komumo Wezakhiwo Nentuthuko u-Dkt Claudia Loggia kanye no Mnu Viloshin Govender basanda kwethula inkulumo yesikhangiso kanye nephepha kusihloko esithi Co-producing spatial maps for risk management and disaster response in informal settlements in South Africa, Enkundleni yezeNhlalo yoMphakathi yezoMhlaba ebibanjelwe e-Fukuoka, e-Japan.

Inkundla yezamazwe ngamazwe ikhuthaze izingxoxo ezifundweni ezahlukene kanye nokushintshana ngamasu nangemiphumela yocwaningo kusihloko: Security and Equality for Sustainable Futures. Othisha bobabili, abayingxenye yethimba le-ISULabantu, bathule inkulumo yomsebenzi wabo emhlanganweni obuhlose ukubandakanya imiphakathi ukuze ikwazi ukubhekana nezinhlekelele. 

Isifundo siphakamisa indlelakwenza yocwaningo olungxube lebalazwe yemijondolo, okuhlanganisa izithombe nge-drone nezebalazwe. ULoggia kanye no-Govender bebelokhu besebenza ukuze bathuthukise le ndlelakwenza yocwaningo kusukela ngonyaka wezi-2017 kanti isihlolwe kucwaningonto oluthathu eThekwini.

‘Inhloso enkulu yalesi sifundo ukuthola kanye nokubonisa ubungcuphe ezingozini zemvelo emijondolo yaseNingizimu Afrika. Le ndlela entsha ihlose ukuthuthukisa ukumelana nesimo komphakathi kanye nokusungula ngokubambisana amasu asebenzayo okulawula izinhlekelele emijondolo,’ kusho uLoggia.

Ucwaningo lwabo luphakamisa ukuthi ukuba sengcupheni kanye nokumelana nesimo kungenzeka kokubili emijondolo kanti futhi kubalulekile ukuqonda lokhu uma uzosebenzisana nabahlali bendawo.

Inkulumo igqugquzele ingxoxo enamandla ngokubaluleka kokufaka uhlelo oluhlanganisa abantu ukuze kuthuthukiswe imiphakathi yendawo ehlaselwe izinhlekelele zemvelo. Bonke ababambe iqhaza bavumelene ngokuthi ukumelana nesimo kungaqala ngezexwayiso kanti uhulumeni wendawo kumele weseke futhi uthuthukise imiphakathi ukuze bakwazi ukubhekana nezinhlekelele.

Ukuze uthole olunye ulwazi ngephrojekthi ye-ISULabantu, sicela uvakashele www.isulabantu.org.

Amagama: uMelissa Mungroo 

Isithombe sinikeziwe


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Isikole SezobuNjiniyela Siqale Umsebenzi Wokuguqula Uhlelozifundo

Isikole SezobuNjiniyela Siqale Umsebenzi Wokuguqula Uhlelozifundo
IDini yase-UKZN KwezobuNjiniyela, uSolwazi Glen Bright, noDkt Whitfield Green ophuma eMnyangweni WezeMfundo Ephakeme NokuQeqesha.Click here for English version

IDini entsha yeSikole Sezobunjiniyela e-UKZN, uSolwazi Glen Bright, uqale umsebenzi wakhe ngokubamba umhlangano wokucobelelana ngolwazi lapho bekuguqulwa uhlelozifundo.

Inhloso yalo mhlangano, obubanjwe ngomhla wama-24 kuMfumfu 2018, bekuwukuhlela kabusha uhlelozifundo kwezobuNjiniyela ukuze lube nomthelela emphakathini futhi lufeze nezidingo eziguqukayo zezimboni. 

‘Uhlelozifundo lwezemfundo ephakeme kumele lubhekane nokwenzeka emphakathini,’ lo bekuwumyalezo obalulekile obusenkulumweni yesikhulumi sosuku, uDkt Witfield Green onguMqondisi Omkhulu Kwezokuthuthukiswa KwezokuFunda Nokufundisa eMnyangweni WezeMfundo Ephakeme NokuQeqesha. U-Green wethule inkulumo ebibeka udaba lohlelozifundo njengengxenye yezenhlalo-mnotho, ezombusazwe nezobuchwepheshe okuholele ezingxoxweni ezinomdlandla zabaholi bezokufunda abahlukene abebebambe iqhaza.

Njengomunye wemikhakha eqeqeshela umsebenzi e-UKZN, umkhiqizo weSikole ZezobuNjiniyela ulawulwa yi-Washington Accord ngomkhandlu i-Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). Kodwa ukuguquka kwemboni ngenxa ye-Fourth Industrial Revolution kuzodinga amakhono engeziwe okumele ezemfundo ephakeme zibhekane nakho.

Umhlangano unikeze abaholi abahlukene bezokufunda ithuba lokubhekisisa amathuba okusebenzisana ukuze kuthuthukwe nokwenza umsebenzi osezingeni eliphezulu. Kuphethwe ngokuthi kuqokwe ithimba eliholwa nguSolwazi Jules Tapamo, onguMholi WezokuFunda NokuFundisa, ukuze liqhube lo msebenzi woguquko.

Amagama: nguRudi Kimmie


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UKZN Continues to Perform Well in University Rankings

UKZN Continues to Perform Well in University Rankings
UKZN was named third best university in SA in a new ranking by the Informatics Institute.

A new ranking by the Informatics Institute at the Middle East Technical University, Turkey, listed the top 18 universities in South Africa in which the University of KwaZulu-Natal secured third place.

With a score of 350.33, UKZN was bested by the University of Cape Town (384.22) in first place and the University of the Witwatersrand (358.00) in second place.

The URAP is a research-only ranking using indicators that measure the quality, quantity and impact of publications, as well as international collaboration. The overall score of each HEI is based on its performance over several indicators, including current scientific productivity, research impact, research quality and international acceptance. Data is gathered from Web of Science and other sources which provide lists of HEIs, the group said.

The University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP) for 2019 differs from other widely published rankings by not precluding the lower-end of institutions, particularly in developing nations. With 18 South African universities making the list for the 2018/19 review period, the latest list is the most comprehensive look at South Africa’s higher education institutes (HEIs).

Among South Africa’s 18 ranked universities, the position remains virtually unchanged from 2017/18’s list, with the exception of one university.

Copy credit: www.businesstech.co.za with edits by Sinegugu Ndlovu


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Kwethulwe i-LAN Yabakhubazekile eKhempasini i-Westville

Kwethulwe i-LAN Yabakhubazekile eKhempasini i-Westville
I-LAN yase-UKZN yabakhubazekile yethulwa ekhempasini yase-Westville.Click here for English version

Uphiko Lwezokwesekwa Kwabakhubazekile e-UKZN luvule i-LAN yabafundi abakhubazekile ekhempasini yase-Westville ngomhla wama-29 Okthoba 2018. 

Le LAN, etholakala emtapweni wolwazi eKhempasini i-Westville, yakheke ngokucophelela futhi ukuba ifeze izidingo zabafundi base-UKZN abakhubazekile. Ixhaswe nguMnyango Wezemfundo Ephakeme Nokuqeqesha kanye nophiko lwase-UKZN Lwezokuhlelwa Kwengqalasizinda (IPP).

Isebenza ngezindlela eziningi zohlelokusebenza lwesimanje ukuze kuqinisekiswe ukuthi izitshudeni ezingaboni kahle ziyakwazi ukukhulisa izikrini zekhompyutha noma ukuthwebula umbhalo ukuze uhlelokusebenza lubafundele ama-athikhili noma amajenali. Olunye uhlelokusebenza olwengeziwe ku-LAN ukunikeza abafundi abayizimpumputhe nabangaboni kahle ithuba lokuzikhethela isoftiwe abangayisebenzisa ukuze bakwazi ukufinyelela izinsiza zabo zokufunda. Uhlelo lwe-Braille nalo luyatholakala ku-LAN.

Umxhumanisi Wezabakhubazekile e-Howard College, uMnu Nevil Balakrishna, ugcizelele ukubaluleka kokufinyeleleka kwalezi zindawo ngaphandle kwezithiyo. Uthe i-LAN yakhiwe ngokucophelela ukuqinisekisa ukufinyeleleka ngamakheshi, okusamaphasishi okuhamba, izihlalo zabakhubazekile, ukukhanya, umbala kapende, ifenisha kanye nokuqina noma ukuthamba kwephansi ukuze abafundi abahamba ngezihlalo zabakhubazekile noma abangaboni kahle bakwazi ukusebenzisa izakhiwo kalula.

UMqondisi Omkhulu Wezabafundi, uDkt Rose Laka-Mathebula, uthe iNyuvesi ifuna bonke abafundi, ngokungakhethi imvelaphi yabo, baphumelele ezifundweni zabo. 'E-UKZN, konke esikwenzayo kuqhakambisa abafundi. Sifuna bonke abafundi bakwazi ukuthokozela impilo ekhempasini kanye nempilo yaseNyuvesi,' kusho yena.

Iphini loMqondisi Wohlelo Lwengqalasizinda Yokuhlaliswa Kwabafundi kuMnyango Wezemfundo Ephakeme Nokuqeqesha, uDkt Ncedo Xhala, liyincomile iNyuvesi ngale mpumelelo ‘yobuvulandlela’ kanye 'nokusebenzela izintshisekelo zabafundi abaphila nokukhubazeka.' Uthe wethemba ukuthi lesi sinyathelo sizogqugquzela amanye amanyuvesi futhi siqhakambise ukubaluleka kwamadivayisi okulekelela abafundi abakhubazekile.

Umcimbi wokuvulwa ubandakanye nombukiso owenziwe umfundi oyimpumputhe owenza izifundo ze-PhD kweze-Biology, uMnu Ashley Subbiah, owavaleka amehlo ngowezi-2010. Ubonisa ngezinye izinhlelokusebenza ezintsha ezitholakalayo kwi-LAN kubandakanya ne-JAWS, uhlelo olumsiza akwazi ukuphothula izifundo zakhe zeziqu ze-PhD. 'Angikwazi neze ukusebenzisa iphepha nepeni ukwenza umsebenzi wami,' kusho yena. Uyishayela ihlombe iNyuvesi ngokuthuthukisa izinsiza zayo ezitholakalayo eminyakeni emine edlule.

Uhlelokusebenza i-Super Nova luphinde lwaqhakanjiswa ngumhlinzeki oyimpumputhe nowayengumfundi wase-UKZN, uMnu Albert Peters. Ube esechaza ngesikhathi esafunda e-Salisbury Island, eyayaziwa nge-UDW, kwase kuthi kamuva yahlanganiswa neNyuvesi yaseNatali ukuze kwakhiwe i-UKZN. UPeters uxoxe ngokuthi abafundi abayizimpumputhe babethembele kanjani kwimshini yokubhala kanye namakhasethi okuqopha ukuze baqhube izifundo zabo. Ulushayele ihlombe uhlelokusebenza i-Super Nova oluhlanganisa izakhi ezifana nokuqashelwa kwezinhlamvu okwenza uhlelo lwe-PDF lukwazi ukufundelwa abantu abayizimpumputhe.

Uchwepheshe oPhezulu wezokuThuthukiswa kwabaFundi eMkhakheni WeZabafundi, uMnuz Amith Ramballie, uchaze ngezinsizakalo kanye nama-LANS atholakalayo kwamanye amakhempasi ase-UKZN. Ubalule bonke labo abasize ukuqinisekisa ukuthi amaphrojekthi ayaphumelela, kubandakanya noMqondisi woMtapo wolwazi, uNksz Joyce Myeza; uSolwazi we-UKZN Foundation, u-Anesh Singh; uMnu Muzi Khumalo we-IPP kanye neqembu lakhe (ikakhulukazi uNksz Nwabisa Matyolo); uMnu Abdullah Sharif we-ICS kanye nethimba lakhe; kanye ne-Principal Agent TJ Architects emelwe uMnu Paul Elliot.

Amagama: Ngu-Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer 

Imifanekiso: Ngu-Albert Hirasen


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UKZN PhD Candidate Presents Pre-Eclampsia Research in Amsterdam

UKZN PhD Candidate Presents Pre-Eclampsia Research in Amsterdam
Miss Sayuri Padayachee, UKZN PhD student who presented her research in Amsterdam.

Miss Sayuri Padayachee, a PhD student in the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences recently presented her Masters research at the 2018 Congress of the International Society of Hypertension in Pregnancy (ISSHP) in Amsterdam.

The ISSHP aims to advance education on maternal healthcare on a global scale by encouraging young researchers to participate and disseminate their research and scientific input from respective countries.

The title of Padayachee’s research which she presented at the medical conference is, The Role of the Protein Kinases STAT-3 and MEK-1 in HIV-associated Pre-Eclampsia. Her research focuses on hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, as these remain the leading cause of maternal deaths in South Africa.

Our placental group at the Optics and Imaging Centre from the School of LMMS, focuses on pre-eclampsia research. Pre-eclampsia is a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy complicating 5-10% of all pregnancies globally and accounts for considerable maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality worldwide. Pre-eclampsia diagnosis includes new onset of high blood pressure (BP) (=140/90 mmHg) and proteinuria (=300mg protein) after 20 weeks gestational age. Women with pre-eclampsia also exhibit an exaggerated inflammatory response compared to normal pregnancies.

Padayachee, who was one of three South Africans who attended the conference, says it was a great honor representing both the country and UKZN.

‘Attending the conference was a massive opportunity to engage with researchers from other leading academic institutes of the world, including Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard to name a few. I was able to learn about the advancements made in pre-eclampsia research and I was able to share the research done on our side. My study was unique at the conference, due to the HIV component, therefore other researchers/academics were intrigued as HIV-positive patients were not included in their study group,’ she boasted.

In this study, Padayachee and her research team selected HIV-positive women on highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) with pre-eclampsia, as research has shown a possible link between HIV and pre-eclampsia probably because of the immuno-depressive effects of HIV infection.

Her study focuses on the role of the proteins STAT-3 and MEK-1 in regulating trophoblast invasion necessary for a normal pregnancy, however her results revealed that in pre-eclampsia these proteins are downregulated, thereby corroborating results of previous studies.

Padayachee has already submitted this paper to the journal Hypertension in Pregnancy and it is currently under review.

‘I would like to thank Professor T Naicker and Professor J Moodley for their guidance in the past two years. It is a pleasure being a part of their placental research group as their passion and enthusiasm for pre-eclampsia research always encourages and reminds me how much further I need to go to reach their levels of expertise in the field,’ said the 24-year-old from Tongaat in KwaZulu-Natal.

She hopes to complete her PhD soon and would like to remain in the academic field. She hopes to pursue postdoctoral studies at an academic institute overseas.

‘Whilst growing up, the value of having an education and yearning for new knowledge has always been instilled in me. Irrespective of our age or occupation, it is imperative that we always expose ourselves to new information and innovative ideas which may have the potential of changing and improving the knowledge of others who may not have the same opportunities as us,’ Padayachee said.

Words: Lihle Sosibo

Photograph: Supplied


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PhD Candidate’s Presentation Zooms in on Drought Tolerant Biofortified Maize

PhD Candidate’s Presentation Zooms in on Drought Tolerant Biofortified Maize
Mr Aleck Kondwakwenda

PhD candidate in Plant Breeding, Mr Aleck Kondwakwenda, recently presented his research at the annual Tropentag conference, hosted by Ghent University in Belgium.

The conference included discussions on global food security and food safety, specifically the role of universities.

Eight hundred and eighty people from 70 countries attended the conference; more than half were students. The programme comprised 111 oral presentations, 339 poster presentations and nine keynote presentations.

Kondwakwenda presented a paper on the Screening of Provitamin A Maize Inbred Lines Using the Screening of Provitamin A Maize Inbred Lines Using ß-Carotene Content, Morpho-Physiological and Biochemical Traits.

‘Provitamin A maize is maize with enhanced provitamin A content developed through plant breeding and biotechnology,’ explained Kondwakwenda.

Provitamin A maize production in South Africa is heavily affected by recurrent and episodic drought. There are shortages of provitamin A maize varieties developed and released in sub-Saharan Africa, and among the few released, none are drought tolerant.

Kondwakwenda explained that drought tolerance is difficult and expensive to breed. His study made use of diversified traits/parameters to identify and select inbred lines that have both high provitamin A content and exhibit characteristics of drought tolerance.

Kondwakwenda aims to contribute to improved agricultural productivity in sub-Saharan Africa, thereby combatting food and nutrition insecurity in the region.

Kondwakwenda focuses on biofortified maize instead of ordinary maize commonly consumed and produced by smallholder farmers due to the lack of vitamin A in the latter, which contributes to vitamin A deficiency (VAD). This condition leads to illnesses including weakened immune systems in children and eyesight problems in women and children.

‘In rural areas people rely largely on maize-based diets because they cannot afford to buy diversified foods like meat and fruits to achieve a balanced diet,’ said Kondwakwenda. ‘Developing drought tolerant maize genotypes with high provitamin A content could be a double sustainable solution to the challenge of drought induced low maize productivity and VAD.’

His PhD research has resulted in confirmed drought tolerant maize inbred lines with high provitamin A content, which could be marketed to public and private maize seed companies.

Kondwakwenda is from Zimbabwe and completed a BSc in Crop Science at the University of Zimbabwe, and a Masters in Soil Science at Ghent University. He also worked as a cotton breeder at a public agricultural research institute in Zimbabwe before enrolling for his PhD at UKZN, where he was able to take theoretical courses offered by the African Centre for Crop Improvement and the Improved Masters in Cultivar Development for Africa to bridge his background in soil science to plant breeding.

Kondwakwenda thanked his supervisors Dr Julia Sibiya and Dr Rebecca Zengeni for their input, and thanked Dr Samson Tesfay for his assistance with laboratory aspects of his research. He also thanked The World Academy of Sciences and the National Research Foundation for funding part of his studies and the trip to Tropentag, and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa for funding his research expenses.

Words and photograph: Christine Cuenod


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Over R9 Million in Grants to College of Humanities

Over R9 Million in Grants to College of Humanities
UKZN Academics heading the two Mellon Projects (clockwise) Professors Nobuhle Hlongwa, Stephen Mutula, Nogwaja Zulu, Maheshvari Naidu and Ernest Khalema.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has been awarded a total of approximately R9.3 million (US$657 000) in grants by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for two Projects in the College of Humanities.

The first institutional project, in the category of International Higher Education and Strategic Projects (IHESP) entitled Humanizing Space: Towards an African Spatial Humanities, was awarded US$ 599,000 (R8.5 Million). This project on spatial mapping will be implemented over a five-year period.

The Principal Investigator (PI) of the Project is Academic Leader of Research in the School of Social Sciences, Professor Maheshvari Naidu (Anthropology) while the Co-PI is Professor Ernest Khalema, the Dean and Head of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies.

The second project with a grant value of $58 000 (R830 000), entitled Promoting African Scholarship through Arts, will be implemented over a three-year period to support artists in residencies. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation sent out a general call for artists in residencies programme. UKZN applied and won the grant for its submission. 

The Principal Investigator of the second project is Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa, the interim Dean of the School of Arts. She will be assisted by Co-PI Professor Nogwaja Zulu, also in the School of Arts. The two grant winning research proposals were co-ordinated by Professor Stephen Mutula, former acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor for the College, who served as team leader for the various research teams working on the Mellon grant calls in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

The project by Naidu and Khalema on spatial mapping will bring together humanistic and geo-science scholars to engage in a robust interdisciplinary approach using quantitative geographic data. The Project aligns to the UKZN institutional research Flagships of “Social Cohesion” and “African Cities”. 

It brings together scholars from the Disciplines of Anthropology, Architecture, Geography, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Music/Drama, Philosophy and Sociology as well as external collaborators. In this project, Geo-spatial data of selected urban sites will be captured, analysed and, accessed via open source interactive digital maps that are simultaneously qualitatively narrativised. 

The Project capitalises on a “digital present” where the critical use of spatial methodologies and technologies is linked to virtual (and real) dimensions of social, economic, political, and spatial realities, as well as cultural and artistic narratives. ‘Besides, digital innovations offer new ways of modelling the way we relate to others and to the world as virtual entities in a digitized context. We are immensely excited by this opportunity to engage in new and innovative work that will signal a step change and break new ground in the Humanities,’ said Naidu.

The Project will facilitate the creation of a Spatial Humanities “Hub” at UKZN, for the establishment of a dynamic cohort of inter-disciplinary Spatial Humanities Researchers, Post-Doctoral Fellows and Postgraduate students. Part of the work of the Project will be to inaugurate a new Masters and Doctoral Specialisation in Spatial Humanities, alongside doing active research in GIS and digital mapping and creating an archive of cultural atlases of the sites selected.

The researchers envisage Spatial Humanities, with a focus on African context, will become part of the intellectual branding of UKZN and act to attract a cohort of postgraduates looking to work in new and pioneering methodologies in the Humanities involving big data and GIS technologies.

The second project by Hlongwa and Zulu sees African cultures as occupying a geo-political space that gives expressions to art forms of different identities, but being equally dynamic. It aims to transform the colonial history of art forms that once essentialised around colonial race, class, ethnic and gender identities. The project counters these colonial identities by creating alternative art forms that are transformative and thus empower students, staff and community.

The project also envisages the “Artist in Residency” programme as a way for UKZN to extend knowledge production outside of the boundaries and limitations of historical understanding of scholarship as researchers move into contemporary praxis-led research, and growing the understating that critical arts production is/can be scholarship.

It will provide opportunities for artists at universities, to strengthen relations between universities and the arts as well as between the arts and cultural institutions. The project, will support Black African artists in residence, to interact academically and socially on campus with lecturers and students of the arts at the University.

Professors Naidu, Khalema, Hlongwa and Zulu acknowledged that the Grant award was made possible by the leadership of Mutula and the respective dedicated teams on the two projects. The University management expressed its appreciation to the Mellon Foundation and pledged its “full support to the current and prospective projects”.

Words: Melissa Mungroo 

Photographs: Rajesh Jantilal and supplied


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Celebrating Eighth Annual Food and Nutrition Fair

Celebrating Eighth Annual Food and Nutrition Fair
Individuals and groups from communities in Msinga gather for the annual Food and Nutrition Day.

The Farmer Support Group (FSG), a community development, outreach and research unit based in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) at UKZN, recently hosted its eighth annual Food and Nutrition Fair, celebrated in conjunction with World Food Day at KwaNocomboshe, Msinga Top in KwaZulu-Natal.

The FSG works with target rural communities in Okhahlamba, uMshwathi and Msinga local municipalities to identify development challenges and implement initiatives to improve livelihoods. The theme of the day was: Azibuyele Emasisweni, meaning “let’s bring it back to our roots”.

The theme explored indigenous practices for building sustainable food systems toward food and nutrition security. Organisers wanted the event to address and discuss indigenous practices that were or are used in terms of production of food for consumption, medicinal purposes, as well as pest and disease management. Furthermore, discussions centred on practices and foods that have been lost over time, and participants engaged on alternatives to accommodate these losses.

This event has been hosted annually since 2011 within the farmer groups in Msinga that the FSG engages with, namely Nhlesi, Gudwini, Fabeni, Machunwini, Tugela Ferry, Nkandla and Nocomboshe. It presents a platform for rural communities to reflect on their activities and celebrate their achievements, also bringing farmers together to share and exchange ideas, showcase and market their produce, and to link with relevant stakeholders.

The fair was attended by approximately 200 guests including farmer representatives from Msinga, Okhahlamba and uMshwathi. Additionally, representatives from UKZN, SaveAct, the Siyazisiza TrustPACSA, Mdukatshani, the Msinga Local Municipality and local leadership were present. Students from Cedara College of Agriculture also had the opportunity to attend and engage with farmers. Staff from Nocombosche local clinic were also on hand to provide wellness screening and medical and nutrition advice.

The event began with a visit to the Nocomboshe Sizakahle group vegetable garden. The group of 15 women farmers grow vegetables and seedlings using sustainable agricultural practices, including water harvesting that ensures availability all year round. The programme included a welcome from the local councilor who encouraged youth to participate in agricultural activities rather than being unemployed. Additionally, guests were able to discuss techniques and challenges in line with the theme of the day, which created space for good dialogue for all present.

Words: Christine Cuénod 

Photographs: Mrs Gail du Toit 


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Fine Arts Student Exhibits Ceramic Works

Fine Arts Student Exhibits Ceramic Works
Ms Anda Dodo and some of her ceramic pieces on display at the Jack Heath Gallery in Pietermaritzburg.

Master's in Fine Arts student Ms Anda Dodo recently showcased some of her ceramic pieces at the Jack Heath Gallery in Pietermaritzburg.

This exhibition and walkabout is part of her research work.

To understand the role of the vessel in contemporary ceramics, Dodo focused part of her research on important aspects of ceramic history in Britain and America since the beginning of the twentieth century. It also includes selected contemporary artists such as Ewen Henderson, Wayne Higby and Peter Voulkos, whose work has inspired her own practice.

‘This research enabled me to gain a better understanding of the shifts in thinking about the use of the vessel as a form of expression and a carrier of meaning rather than merely as a container where the utilitarian function was the chief consideration for the maker,’ she said.

Dodo’s ceramic vessels are primarily influenced by two aspects of the natural environment, the physical appearance of the natural landscape and her reflection on these places that she sees as meditative spaces.

‘The physical appearance of the landscape with its mountainous forms, valleys and horizon lines are reflected in the way that I build my forms and texture the surfaces. The varied surfaces invite the viewer to engage with the tactile nature of clay,’ says Dodo. ‘The stretched, torn, and pulled edges express the plasticity of the clay while suggesting the fragility I find in myself. Vulnerability has been expressed in the way that I have left the rough surfaces bare and unchanged. In this way, I express revealing and concealing in my practice and in exhibiting my work.’

The natural landscape allows Dodo to escape the busy city to meditate on what she personally experiences. Her experience in the natural landscape extends to her studio practice, allowing her to create vessels that reflect that emotive experience. Dodo was able to reflect on the natural outdoor spaces to create vessels which became containers for contemplation.

‘The making process is an integral part of the metaphorical meaning of these vessels. I have used both throwing and hand-building to make my vessels and sometimes both processes are used to make one piece. I also alter my forms by cutting and squashing the clay. The calm of these landscapes enabled me, through my practice, to mentally revisit the feeling of peace and tranquility and to fully meditate and engage in my process,’ explained Dodo.

She hopes to continue creating work that has been influenced by what she learnt during her Master's studies. ‘Experimentation has been a significant role in my studio practice, so I hope to explore different landscapes and other available ceramic materials to further explore my visual vocabulary,’ said Dodo.

Her artworks are available for purchase. Interested buyers can contact her via email dodo.anda@outlook.com 

Words: Melissa Mungroo 

Photographs: Georgina Calder


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Reframing Disability in Africa Discussed at 4th Annual Disability Support Research Indaba

Reframing Disability in Africa Discussed at 4th Annual Disability Support Research Indaba
Disability Reframed in the African Context.

In higher education institutions, there are still people who lack understanding of what disability is ‘because we still do not regard certain situations and conditions as disabilities simply because of lack of knowledge and also ignorance.’

This was the assertion made by Dr Roseline Laka-Mathebula, the Executive Director for Student Services at UKZN, when she opened the 4th Annual Disability Support Research Indaba held recently at Howard College’s UNITE Building.

During her address, she also pointed out that policies, academic programming and the design of the environment may exclude people with disabilities because of how the campus is designed and planned. ‘Security and all other support services should be geared into incorporating people with disabilities in their overall planning in Higher Education Institutions,’ said Laka-Mathebula.

The Indaba was organised by the UKZN Disability Support Unit (Student Services Division) in collaboration with the UKZN Research Office. The theme for the Indaba was Reframing Disability in Africa: Spaces for Reason, Reflection and Responsibility for Social Change and Transformation’.

Professor Urmilla Bob from the UKZN Research Office was one of the keynote speakers on the first day of the two-day Indaba. She spoke of the vision and mission of the Research Office/ University Capacity Development Programme (UCDP) in supporting the retention and success of postgraduate students with disabilities through research skills support. Aligning to this support, ‘Dr Laka-Mathebula is prioritising such spaces when budgeting for student services thus we can be assured that UKZN will continue being exemplary to other institutions as to how to create an inclusive learning and research environment for postgraduate students with disabilities,’ said Bob.

This Disability Support Research Indaba opened robust conversations and dialogue on disability, human rights and culture as shaping the experiences of persons with disabilities. Presentations recognised the critical trajectories of human rights and cultural practices as being relevant for human development and well-being for persons with disabilities in Africa. Dr Maxwell Thabethe and Mr Ayanda Ximba voiced their concerns on student experiences in relation to cultural myths concerning albinism and epilepsy and the ways in which these cultural myths result in stigma, disrespect and devaluation.

Other members of the panel included Mr Mongezi Zondo who spoke on the role of the Disability Support Unit at UKZN in supporting the human rights of students with disabilities, Mrs Thulisile Makhutle from the Epilepsy Foundation, traditional healer Ms Khethiwe Gasa and Mrs Lindiwe Ngubane from UKZN College Student Support Offices were also part of the panel sharing their experiences.

New ways of understanding human development in the African context brought together conversations on safe reaching spaces to confront human rights violations and stigma management. Ms Bongi Zengele offered a perspective on the transformation of faith-based organisations as a safe space to support the narratives of persons living with HIV and AIDS, disability and many other cross cutting social inequities. Other safe spaces were also noted by Dr Rosh Subrayen who said that learning communities offered critical spaces for the management and reduction of stigma for students with disabilities in their teaching practice school placements.

Many postgraduate students with disabilities presented their findings or work in progress papers relating to employment challenges, exclusions in Higher Education structures, normative approaches to teaching and learning in technology and the law curriculum.

Bob stressed on the importance of firm commitments by UKZN to support impactful research from the African continent as Africa is in dire need of finding solutions to the many social inequities and injustices experienced by persons with disabilities. Hence the need to support the growing cohort of researchers with disabilities. Ms Nompilo Nonzuzo Nene, in her presentation, highlighted the exclusions of students with disabilities in student governance structures and the need for power sharing arrangements through democratic participation and self-representation to promote the inclusion of minority groups in societal structures.

Students with disabilities showcased their various entertainment talents during a “Dinner with a Difference”. Mrs Margie Naidoo, the Orientation and Mobility Practitioner at the Disability Support Unit said that just like everybody else, persons with disabilities have talent which was clearly visible at the dinner.

The 4th Annual Disability Research Support Indaba concluded that we need to, through reasoning, reflection and dialogue, develop an Afrocentric model of disability, a model that recognises the historical, political, social and cultural realities in Africa.

Words: Nokubonga Nomasiko Jele and Roshathni Subrayen


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Careers Expo for Built Environment and Development Studies Students

Careers Expo for Built Environment and Development Studies Students
Highlights from the School of Built Environment and Development Studies careers expo.

The School of Built Environment and Development Studies recently hosted a careers expo and workshop for its students.

The event, held at the Howard College campus, exposed students to business opportunities; various careers in their choice of study; employment skills and knowledge; postgraduate course application procedures and requirements and allowed employers and sponsors to meet with their potential employees.

The workshop covered CV writing; interview skills; presentation skills; work ethics; postgraduate requirements (honours, masters and PhD); postgraduate application procedures; career and business exhibition; youth development initiatives and support; financial literacy and debt management.

The Dean and Head of the School, Professor Ernest Nene Khalema encouraged students to link their academic work (what they’ve learnt in class) with real life problems including being ready for the world of work. ‘Be the best that you can be in whatever you do. The country needs young minds to develop it. Transform your world through the skills and knowledge you have acquired at UKZN. Choose your career path and remember to always inspire greatness in whatever you do,’ he advised.

Third-year Community Development student Ms Sne Magwaza described the event as ‘life-changing and informative.’ She is confident that what she has learned from the workshop will assist her in finding future employment. ‘This is such a great initiative from the School. I hope it grows next year because it prepares us for careers in academia and in industry,’ she added.

Housing student Mr Lwazi Dlamuka believes the event created a platform for career guidance. ‘This expo provided us with network opportunities and expanded our horizons in terms of entrepreneurship,’ he said.

Some of the exhibitors at the expo were eThekwini Municipality, Mthonjaneni Municipality, Ilada Holdings and the Chamber of Commerce, amongst others. Students were also encouraged to pursue postgraduate studies within the School.

Words: Melissa Mungroo 

Photographs: Melissa Mungroo and Lindani Maphumulo


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SHS Research Day and Oath Taking Ceremony

SHS Research Day and Oath Taking Ceremony
SHS Research Day and Oath Taking ceremony.

The College of Health Sciences’ School of Health Sciences (SHS) hosted its annual SHS Young Health Scientists Research Symposium at UKZN’s Westville campus.

This annual Symposium is designed to showcase and highlight recent scientific and clinical research conducted by young health scientists. Research groups of students from nine SHS disciplines presented their projects at the Symposium held at the Joosab Hall.

Guest speaker, UKZN’s Dean of Research and renowned researcher, Professor Urmilla Bob said the students presenting at the Symposium are evidence of the sustaining power of scientific investigation. She spoke about the importance of postgraduate studying and gave students advice on how to stay on top of the research game.

‘Please pursue your postgraduate studies, if not for yourselves, but for your country,’ she advised. Reflecting on her personal experiences as a researcher, Bob encouraged students to pursue their studies further and told them they were not limited to UKZN.

School Operations Manager, Mr Vishnu Govender said the symposium aims to exchange research findings and experience between the nine disciplines.

Speech-Language Therapy representatives, R Kullen and R Narainsamy presented their topic titled Health Sciences Student’s Knowledge and Understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Physiotherapy’s E Dlanjwa, K Hlophe, A Khuzwayo, K Mhlongo, W Mthembu and L Ndlovu’s topic was The Effects of a Single Session of Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation Stretching and Static Stretching on Hamstring Muscle Flexibility.

Leisure Sciences’ AN Dlamini, PA Mathebula, L Madonsela and T Mayeza’s topic was Investigation of the Prevalence of Non-Communicable Disease and the Associated Risk Factors Among Citizens Residing at Banana City Durban – KwaZulu-Natal.

The other topics were: Effects of Naringenin on the Expression of Hepatic Nuclear Factor (Erythroid-Derived)-like 2 (nrf2), in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetes, by Bam PN, Dlomo K, Jadwat N, Karodia MA, Msomi T, Nyawose TT and Rizvi SK from Pharmaceutical Sciences; Occupational Risks in Service Learning: Millennial Health Science Students Fear Factor - by Mulla A, Naidoo SN, Ngubane N and Nkosi Z from Occupational Therapy; Hamstring/Quadricep Ratio and Hip Abduction Strength Imbalances in Amateur Rugby Union Players With or Without Previous Injuries, by Brown M and Kearns K from Biokinetics; The use of Android Smartphone Sound Measurement Applications for Self-Monitoring of High Noise Exposure in Resource Constrained Communities, by Mthembu SN, Mthethwa L, Van der Burgh SD and Zuke N from Audiology; The Impact of Gaming on Accommodative and Vergence Facilities After Exposure to Virtual Reality Head-Mounted Display by Gopichunder B, Luggya A,Khulu S, Majola T and Paruk H from Optometry and An Investigation Into the Hydration Strategies of Half Marathon Runners by Morgan G, Ramcharan FD from Exercise Science.

All the young scientists were awarded certificates for their participation. The top three winners received trophies. Optometry took the first spot for their study which investigated the change between accommodative and vergence facilities before and after exposure to gaming in a virtual reality (VR) device amongst participants with normal binocular visual function.

Their results showed that binocular accommodative facilities and vergence facilities increased after 25 minutes of VR gaming. The significant improvement of both facilities suggested future research investigation on the utilisation of VR gaming for the management of binocular accommodative and vergence facilities. Speech Pathology took second place while third place went to Audiology.

The symposium was followed by the School’s 23rd Oath taking, attended by over 1 000 people including parents.

The two functions were hosted on 22 and 23 October and this was a first for the School to hold two important functions on two consecutive days.

Govender thanked all professional, technical and academic staff who made these two events possible, ‘Without you this would not have been possible.’

Words and photographs: Nombuso Dlamini 


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Diabetic Patients at Wentworth Hospital Get Fit with Biokineticists

Diabetic Patients at Wentworth Hospital Get Fit with Biokineticists
From left: Sr Ingrid Mkhize, Dr D Govender, Dr Takshita Sookan, Dr Keshena Naidoo, Sr Katz, Ms Dernal Naidoo and Ms Sindy Shabalala.

The College of Health Sciences’ Departments of Family Medicine and Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences recently partnered with Wentworth Hospital’s Diabetic clinic to provide supervised exercise therapy to patients.

The clinic was started two-years ago by UKZN’s Specialist Family Physicians Drs Micci Govender and Keshena Naidoo after noticing the high prevalence of diabetes in the Wentworth community. The clinic provides group therapy and individual consultations conducted by a multi-disciplinary team.

Patients at the clinic had requested an exercise demonstration and this led to the clinic’s collaboration with Dr Takshita Sookan, UKZN’s Lecturer and Research Co-ordinator: Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences.

Sookan’s Biokinetics honours students, overseen by qualified Biokineticists/postgraduate students, provide a structured and supervised exercise programme to the diabetic patients fortnightly.

The patients participate in both aerobic and resistance exercises, as recommended for most people with diabetes, said Sookan.

They also receive a printed home exercise programme and their blood glucose levels are monitored pre- and post-sessions.

Regular exercise has been shown to improve glycaemic control thus reducing the need for oral hypoglycaemic agents and insulin. This initiative is aimed at improving patients’ enthusiasm for exercise and also to encourage lifestyle changes that can enhance glycaemic control. ‘Patient care is a team sport,’ said Naidoo. ‘Biokineticists are able to transform recommendations on exercise into practice,’ she added.

According to Sookan, feedback from patients has been positive. ‘Significant improvements in blood sugar were noted post-exercise,’ said Sookan. ‘This is a great step forward in implementing exercise as medicine for these patients and introducing Biokinetics into the public sector. This is a research interest of mine. The goal is to improve the quality of life and prognosis for these patients and decrease the burden on health systems with sustainable and cost-effective interventions such as exercise,’ she explained.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini 

Photograph: Supplied


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Emerging Academics Peer-Mentorship Forum Launched

Emerging Academics Peer-Mentorship Forum Launched
Attendees at the launch of the Emerging Academics Peer-Mentorship Platform.

UKZN’s Colleges of Health Sciences (CHS) and Humanities recently launched an emerging academics peer-mentorship forum. The programme was facilitated by Dr Tivani Mashamba-Thompson, the academic leader for research at the School of Nursing and Public Health.

Launched by academics and Postdocs from the two Colleges, the mentorship forum aims to enable collective learning and career progression with excellence for early and mid-career academics within UKZN.

Senior lecturer and PhD co-ordinator for the Discipline of Public Health Medicine, Dr Thembelihle Dlungwane said, ‘The forum will foster joint empowerment, a sense of community among emerging academics, an environment that inspires success, peer support and social capital/ network.’

Professor Rob Slotow, UKZN Pro-Vice-Chancellor: African City of the Future who was an invited guest at the meeting delivered an interactive lecture, which began with the collective sharing of what mentorship is and also explored the attributes of an ideal mentor and mentee.

He then challenged emerging academics in attendance to begin to think of an ideal professor and eventually what it means to be a Professor.

‘Professorship is not only about achieving high PUs and bringing large grants, but it is about having gravitas,’ Slotow cautioned.

His lecture was aimed at enabling attendees to reflect on their current practices and to enable them to differentiate between mentors and tormentors.

Professor Tricia Naicker from Pharmacy shared her personal reflection and her journey to Professorship. She emphasised the need for academics to have grit, to know their strengths and to never give up.

CHS’ Dean of Research, Dr Michelle Gordon expressed her support for the forum by committing her office’s support for emerging academics. She also informed them of all the different grants that are specifically targeted at them, such as the UCDP, NRF and SAMRC.

The Discipline of Public Health Medicine senior lecturer, Dr Khumbulani Hlongwane facilitated discussions, which included group discussions to set up clear forum objectives. Ideas presented by various groups will be collated into a single document by a task team led by Dlungwane. This document will be later circulated for further inputs and comments.

CHS Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Busisiwe Ncama congratulated the dynamic team for starting this initiative. She talked about the importance of peer-mentorship to enable academics to discuss matters that they will not be able to discuss with management while helping each other achieve their professional goals.

She congratulated the team for adopting the REACHvalues into their value system. Ncama highlighted the need for academics to thrive for good behaviour and excellence in order to gain trust and also emphasised the need to start with trust in each other in order to achieve the desired outcomes of the forum.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini 


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Celebrating Student Innovation

Celebrating Student Innovation
Mr Pieter De Witt (centre) presents the award for the best final-year design project to Mr Richard Upton and Ms Sarah Pickford.

On 24 October, members of the KwaZulu-Natal branch of the South African Institute of Agricultural Engineers (SAIAE) as well as SAIAE Council members, UKZN Bioresources Engineering staff, parents and friends of the final-year Agricultural Engineering students at UKZN gathered for the annual general meeting (AGM) of the SAIAE KwaZulu-Natal branch and the presentation of the final-year design projects.

The event, held in the Rabie Saunders Building on UKZN’s Agriculture campus, celebrated final-year student’s hard work on their design projects. The top two student design teams presented their work and guests had the opportunity to hear about all eight designs from student teams, who had prepared posters.

Projects done comprised the design, construction and evaluation of: a small-scale sorghum thresher; a machine to increase bulk density of plastic bottles; a recirculating greywater treatment system; a fluidyne pump; a small-scale milk pasteuriser; a system to measure tractor engine performance; a small-scale biomass-thermal single-effect evaporator; a beer-chiller and a modular fermenter for a home brewery.

SAIAE President Mr Pieter de Witt presented Mr Richard Upton and Ms Sarah Pickford with the award for the best final-year design project, which was a recirculating greywater treatment system. The duo also received a prize from MBB Consulting Engineers.

SAIAE branch meetings present a platform for up-and-coming Agricultural Engineers to get to know the industry and to network with other Agricultural Engineers. The KwaZulu-Natal branch’s 2018 activities included induction of new student members, which involved telling students about working as an Agricultural Engineer and what to expect during their studies. One 2018 meeting comprised a field visit to the Prilla Mill cotton processing facility in Pietermaritzburg.

During the AGM, Dr Alaika Kassim, the Chairperson of the KwaZulu-Natal SAIAE branch, presented tokens of appreciation to Ms Boeboe Neethling and Mr Alain Marechal for their service to the branch.

Students who achieved the top place in their year of study in 2017 also received prizes from SAIAE. For 2017, Ms Perm Mthethwa was the best first-year student, Mr Sizwe Mkonta was the best second-year student, Ms Sarah Pickford was the best third-year student, and Mr Steven Cossa received the award and SAIAE bronze medal for best final-year student. Ms Zamangwane Dubazana received the Gedore award for best workshop student in 2018.

Mr Johannes Grobler from ZZ2 received a certificate of appreciation on behalf of the company, which has been a long-time supporter of the final-year design projects. Mr Pranesh Moodley of MBB Consulting Engineers also accepted a certificate of appreciation in recognition of MBB’s support of the projects. Mr Alasdair Harris accepted a certificate of appreciation on behalf of Tongaat Hulett for their generous sponsorship. A certificate of appreciation was handed out to Gedore, who sponsored the prize for the best workshop student.

Professor Jeff Smithers thanked guests for attending and congratulated all the teams for their hard work. He especially thanked sponsors of the design projects, members of the Agricultural Engineering Industry Advisory Board and SAIAE Council members for their attendance. Tongaat Hulett, ZZ2, MBB and Gedore sponsored the SAIAE AGM and final year design student presentations evening.

Words and photograph: Christine Cuénod 


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“Medici Conversations” – Innovation Through Dialogue

“Medici Conversations” – Innovation Through Dialogue
From left: UKZN Engineering Dean, Professor Glen Bright; Mr Andries Botha, sculptor; Professor Francesco Petruccione, Pro DVC: Big Data and Informatics research flagship; and Dr Rudi Kimmie, UKZN AfriHub Manager.

Innovation through the “conflict of ideas” from different cultures and disciplines is what the ‘Medici Conversations’ aspired to achieve at its inaugural event held on 15 October.

Hosted by leading Islamic financial institution, Albaraka Bank, and co-ordinated by Dr Rudi Kimmie, UKZN AfriHub Manager, the event pulled together a number of key executives representing diverse organisations from research (SMRI), banking (Albaraka), philanthropy (Helping Hands), academia (UKZN), venture capital (Optimus Investment Holdings) and the Arts.

The “Medici Conversations” was based loosely on principles from the book, The Medici Effect by Frans Johannson, which showed how multidisciplinary interactions supported by the wealthy Medici family of medieval Italy spawned the Renaissance in Italy and subsequently Europe.

The local “Medici Conversations” sought to cultivate innovative thinking through dialogue. The metaphor of building bridges through conversation in a “safe” setting, is a powerful medium to cultivate empathy, tolerance and build relationships.

After an ice-breaker activity and over a scrumptious meal, the group shared ideas and explored synergy through the medium of structured conversation. The overwhelmingly positive sentiments are captured in the following statement by Mr Fekrey Baderoon (Helping Hands), ‘It was an honour to be present and listen in to such a diverse and illustrious gathering espouse such a positive energy and love for our beautiful country, and the want to improve things for all inhabitants.’

One out of the outcomes from this initial Medici Conversation is to support research at the University.

Words: Rudi Kimmie 


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Memory, Ubuntu and Inclusive Epistemology in Higher Education

Memory, Ubuntu and Inclusive Epistemology in Higher Education
Highlights from the Transformation and Leadership Lecture Series with Professor Mogobe Ramose.

UKZN’s College of Humanities recently hosted two Public Lectures as part of the Transformation and Leadership Lecture Series at the Unite Building. Renowned African Philosopher Professor Mogobe Ramose discussed the topics Romanus Pontifex: In Memory of Mother Africa and Ubuntu and Inclusive Epistemology in Higher Education.

For his first lecture, Ramose described Mother Earth as the ontological pluriversal panarium of all human beings, as well as all living entities, stating that the right to communal ownership precedes and trumps the right to private property. This, he believes, tied in with colonisation whereby ‘all the constitutions of South Africa have a bearing on the life of the conquered peoples.’

He said, ‘Whatever virtues the constitution may have, they do not, by ethical or political necessity, obliterate the ethically repugnant principle that “might is right” on which it is based. Decolonisation in Africa may be characterised as the transition from slavery by coercion to slavery by consent.’ Ramose argued that a philosophy without memory cannot abolish slavery.

For his second lecture, he stated that justice and peace demand a post-conquest South Africa. ‘The historical and epistemic links of conqueror South Africa as it is at present with her especially Western parentage and allies means that the struggle for justice and peace in South Africa is inextricably linked to the dynamics of international politics,’ claims Ramose.

He noted that the abolition of apartheid restored the freedom of the oppressed and reaffirmed the principle of equality for all human beings, saying, ‘It is only formal equality that is declared. Substantive equality is, in the circumstances a privilege of the few, and a right that many shall not enjoy in their lifetime. This, not least, because of an ethically questionable constitutional dispensation that has transmuted unjustly acquired privileges into rights deserving of legal protection.’

Ramose even questioned what has held Africa back, pointing to the continent’s origins through a lack of principled, ethical leadership. ‘Fifty-one years after the political independence of the first sub-Saharan African country, it was submitted that a famous statistic is that the whole of sub-Saharan Africa has an economy about the size of Belgium’s. Why and how can Africa permit that a country almost the size of the Kruger National Park in South Africa and with a population almost equal to that of Zimbabwe should have an economy virtually the same as the whole of sub-Saharan Africa?’ argues Ramose.

Continuing, he said, ‘It is not only time that is out of joint but it would appear that reason and ethics have also yielded to the deadly power of pecunimania; the moral illness of indiscipline and subservience to the power of money. Are we waiting for transformation or trans-substantiation? The challenge of freedom as a philosophical project for contemporary African philosophy is an undisguised invitation to martyrdom.’

DVC and Head of the College Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize said ‘the lectures by Professor Ramose opened up an avenue of conversation around issues of importance, leading to debates on decolonisation and transformation.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo 

Photographs: Itumeleng Masa


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UKZN Alumnus Shines Spotlight on Bipolar Disorder Through Memoir

UKZN Alumnus Shines Spotlight on Bipolar Disorder Through Memoir
UKZN graduate, Merryl Hammond, who recently published a memoir of her journey with bipolar disorder.

Merryl Hammond graduated as a nurse and midwife from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in 1978, perfoming several psychiatric rotations as part of her initial and postgraduate nursing training; never dreaming she would one day become a mental patient herself.

Bipolar disorder (formerly called manic depression) would however rudely interrupt her at the age of 51.

‘I had no idea that my turn would one day come; that I would cross the thin line between mental health and mental illness; that my brain would misfire and render me absolutely powerless,’ she says.

In her 2018 memoir, Mad Like Me: Travels in Bipolar Country, she writes: ‘Bipolar caused me to disappear from the stage of my own life for two full years, from the age of 51 to 53. I was exiled, lost, shocked, confused and ashamed.’ (Hammond, 2018:13)

‘What an upsetting thing it was to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder!’ says Hammond. ‘I honestly thought I was “above” mental illness; somehow “better than that”.’ No such luck. She has since learned that mental illness is everywhere: about one in five people will experience a mental illness each year, and one in three will over the course of a lifetime. And yet the topic remains shrouded in stigma and shame. And people with symptoms and their families often overlook the problem, or deny its existence, because of the stigma. As a result, millions of mentally ill people around the world languish undiagnosed and untreated, suffering unnecessarily, their human potential wasted. And their families and caregivers suffer unspeakably, too.

A real tragedy is that in most cases the symptoms of mental illness first appear in adolescence or early adulthood. Many cases are overlooked because parents dismiss the symptoms as hormonal changes and “normal moodiness” of the teenage years, but there’s a huge difference between a mopey youth and someone in real mental distress who needs and deserves psychiatric help. Other cases are missed because youth move away from home – to attend university, for example – and their new friends and contacts have no prior knowledge or “baseline” against which to measure abnormal moods or behaviour. As well, many people – both those experiencing the symptoms and their loved ones and contacts – choose denial rather than facing up to the uncomfortable reality confronting them. ‘Maybe if we just ignore it, it will go away?’

No, it almost certainly won’t.

‘That’s why I have now decided to do everything I can to bring the issue of mental illness to the attention of the public. It’s really a human rights issue. I deliberately titled my memoir Mad Like Me, thereby “owning” the pejorative label “mad”, in the same way that other marginalised groups have proudly claimed labels like “gay”, “trans”, and so on. It’s time to bring mental illness out of the closet!’ she says.

Hammond used all the academic skills she developed as a graduate from UKZN (B. Soc. Sc. Nursing 1978, B. Soc. Sc. Hons. 1980), Unisa (Dip. Adv. N. Sc. 1984) and the University of the Witwatersrand (MA 1982, PhD 1989) for her book. She kept copious notes and documented everything she experienced as a bipolar patient. She has graphically captured the sights, sounds and other-worldly experiences she lived through to help readers understand what it truly feels like to live with bipolar disorder.

After a few years of dramatic mood swings and two psychiatric hospitalisations, she finally achieved mental stability again, and can now devote herself to helping fellow bipolar patients and their families better cope with the disorder.

‘Now that I’ve fought my way, step-by-step, back to mental health, I’ve made it my mission to share my story, and to encourage others to share theirs, so that together we can break the stigma surrounding mental illnesses of all kinds, in all age groups,’ Hammond says. ‘Will you please join in this effort?’

Her memoir, Mad Like Me: Travels in Bipolar Country is available from:

Exclusive Books https://www.exclusivebooks.co.za/product/9780987678881,

The Book Depository https://www.bookdepository.com/Mad-Like-Me-Merryl-Hammond/9780987678881?ref=grid-view&qid=1539038931757&sr=1-1, and 

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Mad-Like-Me-Travels-Bipolar/dp/0987678884/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1536170333&sr=8-2.

Please visit www.merrylhammond.com for video clips, photos, reviews, articles, excerpts from the book, a radio interview, contact details and other news.

Words: Ndabaonline


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Celebrating 15 Years of Change Drivers with Enactus

Celebrating 15 Years of Change Drivers with Enactus
Halala to Enactus UKZN who celebrated its 15th anniversary.

The UKZN chapter of Enactus held a gala dinner recently to mark the organisation’s 15th anniversary.

For the past 15 years, the UKZN Enactus team has been bringing innovative ideas to life to help change lives.

Dr Rose Laka-Mathebula, Student Services Director, spoke at the gala dinner held at the COMSA Lounge, congratulated Enactus saying its members have shown commitment in being part of social change while balancing that with their studies. ‘The 15 years journey although has both the greatest achievements however, the downs were equally important because they offered time to reflect, learn and this has demonstrated excellent leadership qualities amongst the team members,’ said Laka-Mathebula Also attending the dinner were Mr Simon Mokoena, the UKZN Registrar; Ms Thuthu Mbhele, the Chief Financial Officer at UKZN; Mr Liso Soldati, the Regional Co-ordinator of Enactus South Africa and UKZN Acting Executive Director of Corporate Relations Ms Normah Zondo. 

UKZN Enactus has now set its sights on winning the national competition something which will place them at 4th position on the world Enactus rankings according to Mr Muhle Ndwandwe, the organisation’s publicity and marketing officer. Ndwandwe said Enactus has offered him endless opportunities which included visiting cities such as Dubai, California, Los Angeles, San Jose (Silicon Valley) and New York.

For Miss Nomonde Mthembu, former publicity and marketing officer, her journey with Enactus has honed her leadership skills. ‘Through this journey my cognitive development grew rapidly. I have learnt the secrets of emotional intelligence, as a leader I do not take decisions based on emotions but I take decisions when I am on my sober senses,’ said Mthembu.

The gala dinner event also recognised Enactus members who have demonstrated absolute dedication and selfless leadership. The awards conferred on the day were: Best new project – awarded to Amanzi Social Enterprise; Best New comer awarded to Mpendulo Mbambo (programme director on the day); Most hours contributed in 2018 awarded to Skhumbuzo Ngwazi and Deputy President of the Year awarded to Samkelisiwe Mkhize. Lastly, Mr Muzomuhle Mhlongo, Co-Faculty Advisor of Enactus UKZN, said, ‘I believe that investing in students who take entrepreneurial action for others creates a better world for us all.’ He added, ‘Entrepreneurial action is a powerful force for good when utilised properly and is something we are all capable of. Enactus UKZN is aiming to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of our students so that together, we can enable real progress and empower our communities while developing the next generation of entrepreneurs and country leaders.’

Words: Nokubonga Nomasiko Jele 

Photograph: Sibusiso Hlongwa


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