Webinar Series on Work-Life Integration

Webinar Series on Work-Life Integration
Webinar presenters (from left) Dr Cristy Leask, Dr Kathryn Pillay and Professor Shaun Ruggunan.

Employees around the world have been forced to adapt quickly to working from home during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Quarantine and lockdown conditions have eroded the boundaries that once existed between the home and the office. In light of this, UKZN’s Human Resources Division hosted a three-part webinar series on home-work life integration for the University’s employees.

The webinars were presented by Dr Cristy Leask an adjunct lecturer at the Graduate School of Business and Leadership and organisational consultant at Symbiosis Consulting; Dr Kathryn Pillay, senior lecturer in Sociology; and Professor Shaun Ruggunan, Associate Professor in Human Resources Management.

As a follow up to the previous sessions that dealt with how different personality types respond to crisis and how to manage self-care and create community; the last part of the series focused on developing adaptive strategies to navigate work-life balance.

Pillay set the context for the series and explained how the three webinars were connected. She then checked in with her colleagues and the participants on how they had managed to improve self-care based on the discussions in the previous session. Leask shared her plans to adhere to a regular exercise routine, and Ruggunan mentioned how coffee with a friend had lightened his mood. The participants also shared their self-care strategies. Pillay highlighted that self-care and building community is vital to develop resilience and adaptive skills.

In examining how the human brain stores behaviour patterns, Leask emphasised the importance of understanding the difference between limbic responses which operate from a place of emotion and the prefrontal cortex that is responsible for executive functions like attention, flexibility, planning and problem-solving. 

Noting that the prefrontal cortex is more active during the morning, she said that colleagues should be aware of how they use this time - especially during COVID-19 - by avoiding things that spark negative emotions or responses. 

Drawing on Daniel Pink’s book, When,Leask listed five things that should be included in restorative time, namely, taking breaks, moving around, being social, going outside and being fully detached from electronic devices.

She encouraged managers to communicate the purpose of their organisation to their teams and emphasised the importance of employees knowing their purpose in order to work on achieving it. 

Focusing on resilience building behaviours, Leask discussed how practical everyday habits including healthy eating, sufficient sleep, exercising, taking time out to rest and limited screen time could help to avoid burnout and provide a “springboard for high performance”.

Reflecting on the presentation, Ruggunan commented that it had shown that resilience is not about endurance but rather about rejuvenation. He called on colleagues to schedule time for self-care and resilience during the day and remarked that knowing UKZN’s purpose is pivotal in enabling staff to assist one another.

In closing, the presenters reflected on what this series had meant for them. Leask said it had inspired her to practise wellness and workplace strategies, while Ruggunan noted that it had encouraged him to connect and interact with people. Pillay described the webinars as a safe platform to share experiences for people who wanted to know what tools they could use to deal with the pressures of working from home. Going forward, she urged people to be kinder to one another… ‘Because we don’t know what battles others might be going through.’

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photographs: Supplied


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Humanities Academic Part of National Skills Authority Webinar

Humanities Academic Part of National Skills Authority Webinar
Professor Nirmala Gopal was part of the National Skills Authority webinar series.

Criminology academic Professor Nirmala Gopal of the School of Applied Human Sciences was part of the National Skills Authority (NSA) webinar series on COVID-19: Impact on Education, Skills Development and Training co-hosted by the Mail & Guardian newspaper.

It featured the Chairperson of the NSA, Dr Charles Nwaila; Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Mr Buti Manamela; President of the Congress of South African Trade Unions Ms Zingiswa Losi and Dr Layla Cassim, Director of Layla Cassim ERS Consultants CC. NSA Director Dr Thabo Mashongoane facilitated it.

The webinar examined strategies that the government could adopt to establish effective forms of online education, which would free up institutional capacity and resources.

In her address, Gopal noted that, ‘Although the exact impacts of 4IR (the fourth industrial revolution) technologies on society and the planet are still unknown, the fact that they will bring profound and rapid change seems all but certain. This change must be embraced by developed, developing and emerging economies for sustainable economic growth. One key driver of such growth is multi-stakeholder alliances.’

She noted that South Africa is transitioning to a digital economy; hence, skill-sets and appropriate infrastructure are essential to boost job creation. ‘We have to embrace the 4IR or risk being left behind. However, to ensure we are on the same trajectory as the rest of the world we must produce appropriate skills in South Africa. This calls for multi-stakeholder alliances between and among role players. About half the global workforce may not need reskilling, so it’s not all “doom and gloom”,’ said Gopal.

She highlighted that South Africa’s workplaces must undertake skills audits to generate a national picture of its caveats. Sector Education Training Authorities play a critical role in assisting with these audits through their workplace skills plans. Hence, baseline data already exists. ‘The Higher Education sector must play a key role in skills development in fields like genomics and artificial intelligence (AI), but it cannot do this in isolation. The multi-stakeholder relationship is critical in this endeavour. But this must be predicated on a Higher Education skills strategy for the 4IR and beyond.’

Gopal pointed to the need for effective monitoring and evaluation of skills strategies following implementation. She also underlined that such strategies must respect the freedom and human rights that are the cornerstone of South Africa’s democracy. ‘Should we undermine these principles in pursuit of economic gain, we run the risk of negative national and international consequences. Nonetheless, skills development must match workplace demands. 

‘A shift is needed from routine tasks to curricula designed to develop creativity and innovation. The invention of proudly South African technological products will boost the country. Workers must continuously update their skills to remain relevant. A paradigm shift is necessary to address the inequality gap: teachers must become facilitators and mentors, staff must learn about things like EQ (emotional quotient), students must work together. The Basic and Higher Education systems must speak to each other; the practical component of learning is extremely important.’ Gopal added that collaboration should be the key word for educators, students and other stakeholders like labour and the private sector. Reskilling of academics is equally critical to embrace the new global order.

Manamela noted that, ‘online learning will play a bigger role going forward, but universal access is essential; all students must have computers, and data must be available to all. Sector Education Training Authorities must do more. South Africa is resilient and we are bouncing back from COVID-19. We are on track to saving the academic year.’

Nwaila focused on how COVID-19 has deepened the unemployment and inequality crises in South Africa saying, ‘Let’s invest in women to move South Africa forward.’

Losi pointed out that ‘decisive, urgent steps are required to grow the economy, including a R1-trillion stimulus plan, and the “immediate dismissal” of any corrupt politician. Skills programmes must match the changing workplace; the 4IR is no longer a slogan, but a reality.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Social Work Staff and Students participate in Virtual German-South Africa Conference

Social Work Staff and Students participate in Virtual German-South Africa Conference
UKZN students and staff who are part of the programme.

Social Work lecturer, Dr Maud Mthembu is part of the Internationalisation for Building Competencies project (IFBC) which is a partnership between UKZN, Fachhochschule Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Germany and the University of Johannesburg.

The three-year project (2019-2021) is a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) funded collaboration that aims to design, test, and implement new modules with theory-practise-reference and trans-disciplinary components which will be offered at the partner universities.

Due to COVID-19, students from Fachhochschule Dortmund University could not travel to South Africa. Instead, a virtual conference with a series of five webinars was convened to provide a national and international perspective of the pandemic in light of the Global Agenda of Social Work.

The programme comprised of five oral presentations in which working professionals in South Africa and Germany shared their expertise and knowledge. One theme was presented each day and thereafter, students were given the opportunity to deliberate on the theme. 

The presenters included the Manager of the Employee Wellness Programme at the City of Johannesburg, Mr Leepile Thebe; Social Worker Manager at King Edward Hospital, Mr Bheki Zondi; lecturer in Social Work at UKZN, Dr Siphiwe Motloung; Ms Anna-Lena Roemer of the Catholic University of Applied Sciences of North Rhine – Westphalia; ZoeLife Development Manager, Mr Monty Thomas and Professor Ulrich Brand of the University of Vienna.

Student Ms Thenjiwe Mlotshwa said that the virtual conference offered insight into how the Global Agenda of Social Work remained active during the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘Sharing national and international perspectives revealed that the pandemic has emphasised the need to strengthen the four pillars of the global agenda within our communities because these are the areas that have been negatively affected by the pandemic. While the effects of COVID-19 may be similar in Germany and South Africa, the extent of these effects varies because of resources and existing social issues in these countries.’

Student Mr Kwena Tlhaku noted that, ‘social workers have received no training in working with people in situations like these (pandemic and lockdown).’

Tlhaku also learned that social workers in Germany are faring far better during the pandemic and lockdown than those in South Africa due their levels of resources and support. ‘They reach out to a lot of people in need of their services through technological means. On every topic discussed, from the effects of inequality, to human rights issues and social cohesion, their progress during this time was excellent compared to that of South Africa. This shows that South Africa has a lot of work ahead, especially in the social services department.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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A Teaching and Learning Moment at Bring and Share Symposium

A Teaching and Learning Moment at Bring and Share Symposium
Finance senior lecturer, Dr Kerry McCullough.

Academics from the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance (SAEF) came together for a three-part virtual Bring and Share Problem-Solving Symposium to share the lessons they have learnt during the period of emergency online teaching in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The symposium was inspired by lecturer Dr Kerry McCullough’s appeal to her colleagues for assistance in solving a problem encountered during one of her online lectures.

‘Professor Colette Muller, a fellow lecturer helped talk me through the solution. It struck me that similar conversations were probably happening throughout SAEF and that we should get everyone together to learn from one another,’ said McCullough.

The aim of the symposium was to address several specific online-related concerns and to relate the initial training offered by the UKZN Teaching & Learning Office (UTLO) and Dr Upasana Singh (School of Management, IT and Governance) to the SAEF context.

It was also an opportunity for academics to share various online-related tips and tricks that they had found particularly helpful. Demonstrations of certain functions in Moodle and the various online functions they had used this semester were also shared.

The sessions were well-attended, and included much discussion and Q&A. Presenters included SAEF academic staff Dr Abdulkader Mahomedy, Ms Tamyln McKenzie, Ms Faeezah Peerbhai, Ms Vanessa Gregory, Dr Claire Vermaak, Ms Ralitza Dobreva and McCullough.

The participants said that the series of talks was very helpful and agreed that they all learnt something of value for their current online teaching, as well as applications for the future when the University re-opens for contact classes.

They hope to continue this community of sharing as they enter the second semester and continue to navigate the challenges of this unprecedented time.

‘Creating an online community for School staff to interact with one another is incredibly important. Not only did we all learn so much, but it offered a valuable space and time to see one another and have a short conversation,’ said McCullough.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photograph: Supplied


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DIFF Officially Launched during Drive-In Cinema Experience

DIFF Officially Launched during Drive-In Cinema Experience
Highlights from the DIFF opening night.Click here for isiZulu version

The Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) hosted by the Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within the College of Humanities was officially launched during a drive-in cinema experience at the Durban Country Club.

Opening the festival CCA Director Dr Ismail Mahomed said: ‘At the Centre for Creative Arts, we believe that the power of the arts can continue to humanise us, whether it is presented in an assembled space or on an online medium. In this time, we need to invest in the power of the arts, but we also need to be able to draw on its power in a way that it challenges, stimulates and empowers us.’ He expressed his gratitude to all the partners who made the festival possible.

This is not a Burial, but a Resurrection by Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese was the opening night film. A co-production between South Africa, Lesotho and Italy, this visually striking drama is set in the mountains of Lesotho. It opens with an elderly widow named Mantoa (Mary Twala), grieving the loss of her son. Determined to die and be laid to rest with her family, her plans are interrupted when she discovers that the village and its cemetery will be forcibly resettled to make way for a dam reservoir. Refusing to let the dead be desecrated, she finds a new will to live and ignites a collective spirit of defiance within her community.

Head of Programming Ms Chipo Zhou introduced the film, which is a final ode to the late South African actress Twala, ‘This story could not have been told at a better time, a time when the movement against gender-based violence is at its peak globally, particularly in South Africa,’ she said. ‘It inspires us to consider the role of African women in the development of a continent, by looking at the impact this one woman makes in her small village. We are inspired to move, to fight and to keep pushing for what we believe in. The DIFF believes in the power of the African voice, the celebration of our stories and in shifting paradigms for the betterment of future generations.’

Director Mosese expressed the hope that the ‘film will inspire people to fight for whatever cause they believe in.’

After the screening, filmmakers were “applauded” with hooting, whistles and flashing headlights.

The closing film Dust is set to screen in Durban on 19 September, alongside the announcement of the DIFF2020 awards. Tickets are R100 per car and are available on Quicket.

Sixty feature films, documentaries and shorts, will be screened free on www.durbanfilmfest.com. On the website, audiences can rent films and will have two days to watch them. Screenings are limited, and films may sell out during the festival. Various Q&A’s will be hosted on the DIFF’s social media channels throughout the festival.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Supplied


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"My UKZN! My Heritage" Webinar Explores Efficacy of Student Protests


Clockwise from top left: Dr Maserole Kgari-Masondo, Mr Lukhona Mnguni, Professor Vivian Ojong, Professor Maheshvari Naidu, Dr Mabuyi Gumede, Dr Lungile Zondi and Professor Paulus Zulu.

The efficacy of student protests was the focus of a UKZN webinar titled: My UKZN! My Heritage.

PhD candidate and researcher at the University’s Maurice Webb Race Relations Unit, Mr Lukhona Mnguni explored the roots of European universities, detailing the founding of the University of Bologna in 1088, which he described as ‘an organised guild of students, for students.’ He added that, ‘Roderick T Long’s paper entitled, A University Built by the Invisible Hand contends that “the University of Bologna was run from the bottom up - controlled by students and funded by students”.’

Citing clashes at the University of Oxford in the 13th century, Mnguni said that this suggests that universities may have always been inclined towards activism. ‘These historical accounts of European and English universities are important because much of their etiquette, ethos and ideology found expression in the formation of South African universities.’

Turning to the socio-political context of the origins of UKZN, Mnguni commented that, ‘While the University sought independence, its imagery and ethos had continuities with the socio-political realities outside its gates. This means that the collective heritage of the University at the time was not beyond the politics of colonialism, imperialism and bastardisation of Black people as heathen, barbaric, subhuman and landless.’

He cautioned that a ‘rebellion against western civilisation quickly gets denounced as uncouth conduct, ungrateful behaviour for the opportunities of conduct or at times it leads to institutional castration rendering one persona non grata in the hallways of Higher Education. There are also those who embrace the language of transformation and decolonisation for public political mileage while in private they suppress efforts aimed at transformation.’

Mnguni traced the #FeesMustFall movement and said that denouncing student protests and the student body as a whole due to some violent and criminal elements was a cardinal error. ‘Protest gives voice to the marginalised, oppressed and downtrodden. This is why our democratic constitution protects protest as a right. Those who are in power can become tone deaf and need to be shaken from their slumber through protest.’

Mnguni said that the efficacy of student protests cannot be examined in isolation from the responses of those in power at whom protest action is directed. ‘Not all protest on the University grounds is about the conduct of University management. At times it is directed to the powers that be in government. It is important for University management to understand this distinction and have dynamic responses to different issues being raised. Given that the University is a space of learning it is bound to be a place where people’s consciousness and activism is fostered in significant ways; this means protest in the University space is inevitable.’

He emphasised that to build a university that students and alumni can pronounce “My UKZN! My Heritage!” demands ‘clear articulation and commitment to the future institution we wish to build. For this to be done, a clear collision course must be created between acquiescing to the demands of “universal knowledge” making and the need for decolonisation in our institutions of higher learning.

‘We also need to rethink curricula and pedagogies in order to infuse self-love in students while heightening their consciousness and giving them space for activism that constructively contributes to the future of our institution,’ Mnguni concluded.

The rebuttal by Fellow of the Maurice Webb Race Relations Unit, Professor Paulus Zulu focused on issues that arise in how a university responds to student protests, including the historical foundation of the University. ‘I don’t think that one can de-Oxford the University of Natal,’ he said. ‘I do not know how you remove King George at the entrance of Howard College and leave the Howard College building intact – because they are both colonial heritages. Nor would it be pragmatic to destroy the buildings and everything in the University and start afresh.’

Zulu said that generally protests have been spontaneous and reactive, but challenged the assertion that denouncing them has been a cardinal mistake. ‘A University is a place of learning, and it is a place where one expects rationality.’ While he condemned the burning of libraries and residences during protests, he emphasised that he does not oppose protests. ‘I think that if there were no protests, there would be no change.’

Acting Dean and Head of the School of Social Sciences, Professor Vivian Ojong observed that students around the world have been at the forefront of major reform and activism. ‘Protest action driven by students was very pivotal in bringing down the apartheid regime in South Africa,’ she said.

The Head of UKZN’s Culture Cluster Dr Maserole Kgari-Masondo delivered a rousing poem on My UKZN! My Heritage and explained the motivation for hosting the public lecture: ‘Culture is the heartbeat of every institution. To be excellent, the culture of that institution has to be profound.’ She added that, while protests are important, ‘We pray and believe that students will start understanding that the heritage of the University has to be kept alive.’

Researcher and anthropologist Professor Maheshvari Naidu, who facilitated the webinar said that young people have often played a role in political and social change. ‘Across history, protests have shaped society in truly remarkable ways and have often catalysed monumental change. In the arc of many nation’s history, the young have often played revolutionary roles.’

The School of Social Science’s Dr Mabuyi Gumede said the webinar promoted understanding of the #FeesMustFall movement and helped to identify what would need to be done in future in responding to student protests.

Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

Images: Supplied


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Not Yet Uhuru: Clicks Advert Exposes Racism in Advertising

Not Yet <em>Uhuru</em>: Clicks Advert Exposes Racism in Advertising
.Click here for isiZulu version

Once again, a South African company has had to apologise for a “little” racist glitch and the rainbow nation’s glitter has yet again been scattered. The glitch took the form of an advertisement on Clicks Stores’ website, which depicted Black women’s hair as brittle, dull, damaged and frizzy. This perpetuated a long-standing stereotype that Black women’s hair in its natural state is not normal. The advert went on to suggest that White women’s hair is “normal” and healthy. Various news anchors, especially from the eNCA news channel, expressed their revulsion. The channel’s Melanie Rice said that every day, she is reminded through popular culture and her environment that her whiteness matters as it is reinforced on television, and in films and advertising. At the same time, many people voiced their frustration on social media platforms. Julius Malema and his political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) took up the struggle for Black female hair representation. 

Racism does not need to be overt to be violent. Indeed, it often takes subtle forms. The advertising industry has been a critical force in driving covert racist images of Black people for many decades. Examples include an advert for soap that claimed that it cleaned and whitened Black skin to present a clearer, pure skin tone. The beauty industry’s use of terms that allude to cleanliness, purity, and a refreshed self, disguises a racist discourse that denigrates the black body or people of colour.

An advert that supports the ideals of White supremacy and Black inferiority cannot merely be described as a “marketing strategy” gone wrong. The race binary misrepresents and whitewashes Black experiences.

South Africa is a violent society, and violence begets violence. Violence manifests differently, and as a society, we need to engage in uncomfortable and challenging conversations that will eventually shift how this society engages racial politics, the racial economy and the way we think of ourselves as humans. Black South Africans are still fundamentally divided, and divide and rule, separatist ways of thinking sustain the White supremacy that so many of us are still fighting. The fact that most Black South Africans are far removed from strategic and critical points that could work for change makes it even harder to achieve a fair society.

Clicks should do much more than apologising on social media or removing TRESemme products from their stores. Apologies perpetuate the racist mentality that continues to pervade South Africa 26 years after the official demise of apartheid. If the company wants to continue to do business in South Africa, it needs to take a serious look at its executive-level transformation structures. 

Ms Luthando Ngema is a lecturer in the Media and Cultural Studies Department, School of Arts, UKZN. Her multidisciplinary interests include understanding urban cultures; representation of gender and race issues in the media; political communication and communication for development.

Photograph: Photobooth Durban

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.


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Cosmetic Companies Should be held Accountable for their Racist Depictions of Black Women’s Hair and Skin

Cosmetic Companies Should be held Accountable for their Racist Depictions of Black Women’s Hair and Skin
Professor Rozena Maart.

By Professor Rozena Maart

On Monday 7 September, the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema asked security guards and police not to intervene against EFF members when they entered the Mall of Africa to protest outside the Clicks store. Clicks’ online advertisement for hair products by TRÉSemme depicted White women with shiny, glossy hair and Black women with hair considered dry, damaged and frizzy. On the same day, the protests went national and the advert became a topic of discussion across the country. With consumers now turning to online shopping, products, along with the accompanying fine print are being scrutinised more than ever; this racism is thus coming into your home.

TRÉSemme is not the only company to use a racist and sexist marketing strategy that denigrates Black women; this practice has been used by make-up and beauty companies for decades. I use the term Black as all-inclusive within the South African context. In similar vein, on 25 April 2019, the BBC ran the story of Dom Apollon, a 45-year-old man who works for a non-profit racial awareness organisation who took to Twitter to share how, for the first time ever, he was able to use a plaster (“band-aid” in the United States and Canada) that matched his skin tone after he cut his hand. He received 96 000 comments on the first day, including one by Mister Star Wars himself, John Boyega, who noted that when he cut himself on set the make-up artists painted the plaster to match his skin tone. Only recently the Black child who was left confused by the “flesh” colour crayon was given a range to choose from. Since 2019, the little ballerina in the UK has been able to purchase different shades of “bronze” ballet pumps. Until the late 1980s, make-up companies made foundation that did not even consider the varied skin tones of Black women and what are referred to in the United States and Canada as women of colour, yet still referred to shaded foundations and blushers as “normal”, thus asserting that if your skin colour did not match what they sold, there was something wrong with you.

The TRÉSemme (from the French word trés-aimé, meaning “well loved”) brand was first manufactured in 1947 by the Godefroy Manufacturing Company in New York. It was named after hair care expert Edna L Emme, a cosmetologist and founder of the National Hairdressers and Cosmetologists Association, a then all-White association in the United States that only encouraged diversity in its membership in the past few decades.

In the early 1900s shampoo companies only considered women of European heritage as their customers. The TRÉSemme advert today uses the same message as their competitors of the 1960s, even as the afro blossomed among women in the Black Panther movement in the United States, as worn by Kathleen Cleaver and Angela Davis, who publicly pronounced that “Black is Beautiful”. In the 1960s, the main products for Black women were hair straighteners called “relaxers”, as though your hair, like you, was angry or aggressive and needed to be relaxed in order to be considered normal. The term “normal” still features prominently in the language of cosmetic companies, hinting at the psychological and mental state of the person who needs to purchase the product.

Whilst I am not suggesting that all Black women go through any of the stages I discuss here, the TRÉSemme message is clear:

•    It provides you with an image that you identify with

•    This image suggests that your hair is the way it is because of your heritage

•    You are racialised and deemed unfortunate

•    You’re a consumer, you have buying power, and want [to buy] glossy hair

•    Through your buying power you can move closer to the image that you admire – the image of the White woman.

The thinking process that generates action in order to obtain the ultimate look, one that the Black woman is expected to pay for, is as follows: identification, recognition, realisation, arousal of interest, shaming and responsibility, consumer consciousness then back to disappointment when the product fails, self-doubt, and self-hatred.

If you’re a Black woman, advertising of the kind used by TRÉSemme operates on the basis that you have internalised the racism that has been inflicted upon you. The TRÉSemme advert digs into that internalised racism, often unspoken, that lies within the unconscious, by offering visual images of what you experience on a daily basis. Black women are then offered an opportunity to buy out of that racialised experience into another.

Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud’s nephew, was born in Vienna and moved to the United States with his family when he was a young boy. His uncle teased him about not reading his books and said that he would find everything he needed for his work in public relations by reading his uncle’s work on the unconscious. After taking up the challenge, Bernays who had a contract with a tobacco company and had promised that his campaigns would bring them great profit, tapped into what he perceived as the insecurity of White women in the United States, who he believed wanted to see themselves as feminists. In 1929 he devised a campaign that called cigarettes “torches of freedom”, and encouraged White women to carry packets of cigarettes in the garter of their stockings as they marched. As the women walked, their skirts showed the forbidden masculinised item – the pack of cigarettes – which drew an analogy between and among the Statue of Liberty, a form of daring femininity with cigarettes in a garter belt, and that freedom could be attained by challenging men who smoked and saw cigarettes as powerful phallic symbols reserved for their pleasure, from which women were barred. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Let us take a quick look at the history of shampooing hair. The English word shampoo originated in India, as a Hindi word, almost 400 years ago in the middle of the 1700s during the British colonial era. Indian men and women had been washing their bodies and their hair for centuries. In the 1700s, as they grew their empire, the English were ignorant not only of washing their hair but also of bathing; they also did not have a food culture as sophisticated as the Indians. The latter, as we know, was one of the incentives for colonisation as the colonised elevated the palate of the coloniser. In the 15th century Queen Isabella declared that she had only bathed twice in her lifetime. Queen Elizabeth the first stated that she bathed once a month and her successor James the sixth, never bathed nor did he wash his hands before eating because he had an aversion to water. Queen Victoria bathed once a year on her birthday and certainly did not wash her hair. It was common practice a few decades ago for the less fortunate in England to bath once a week, with the father, mother, then the oldest child entering the bath in that order, and the baby left for last. This meant that when the baby was bathed, the water would be a muddy colour, hence the expression, “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” Africans, Greeks, Asians, the Japanese, and South and Central American indigenous peoples as well as South Pacific and Islander people bathed by pouring water and scented plants and oils over their bodies and hair. They understood the elements and the world their bodies lived in and did not need colonisation to understand how to be human.

Today in the year 2020, with decolonisation a national imperative, and part of our approach to teaching and learning, it is appropriate that we question and interrogate what we are sold and at which price. In particular, we need to ask whether as people who make up the majority in our country, we are still being duped into believing that our hair needs to be relaxed, and that it is damaged. Every child growing up in this country needs to understand that racism is everywhere, and that the marketing of products for bathing and cleansing is still riddled with the racist assumptions exhibited during the apartheid years. We have to put an end to this and there is no time like the present.

Professor Rozena Maart is an academic in the School of Social Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her work examines the intersections between and among Political Philosophy, Black Consciousness, Derridean deconstruction and psychoanalysis, all of which address questions of race, gender and identity.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.


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Teaching in China during COVID-19

Teaching in China during COVID-19
UKZN alumni Ms Christen Rao and Mr Armandt van Zyl have spent the past six months teaching in China.

UKZN alumni Ms Christen Rao and Mr Armandt van Zyl arrived at their teaching posts in Guangdong province, China on 14 March 2020, days before the COVID-19 lockdown started in South Africa.

The LLB graduates from Durban had set their sights on teaching English in China in October 2019, months before the first case was reported in Wuhan. ‘We were supposed to leave at the end of January so we had everything prepared and were already packing when news broke that flights were grounded and we could not leave,’ said Rao.

After they were assured that Zhongshan, at the time, was safe, they made up their minds to take the plunge. ‘We knew to practice basic hygiene and social distancing. The death toll was quite low when we left and most of the cases were in Wuhan, which is very far from Zhongshan and Wuhan was in lockdown,’ said van Zyl.

They were concerned about leaving their family and friends during a pandemic, but managed to stay in contact with them throughout their time abroad. The pair also felt some trepidation about how they might be treated as foreigners because of misinformation spread about COVID-19.

‘The flight to China was very stressful; everyone was silent and in masks. No one was laughing or talking. We had to go through multiple checks after we landed, and spent three hours on the plane so that the medical team could check everyone. We then spent a further four hours at the airport completing various health checks,’ said van Zyl.

‘We were taken to a government hotel for a night to be tested for COVID-19, and completed the rest of our two-week quarantine in our apartment. Food was delivered every day and we taught our students online during this period,’ he said.

‘All in all, the experience has been nothing like a pandemic here. We missed the main panic and fear in China as their main lockdown happened in February. We also missed the lockdown in South Africa. We are grateful to have left when we did so that we could have this experience,’ said Rao.

The twenty-three-year olds teach conversational English at Jizhong Sanxin Kaiyin Primary School in Guangdong province, a coastal area near Hong Kong. ‘Our job is to give the students a chance to practice speaking English to actual English speakers so that we can correct their grammar and pronunciation. We integrate music, art and Western/South African culture into many of our lessons,’ she said.

The expats love travelling, being independent and immersing themselves in a new country. ‘It is very safe here; we frequently take walks after midnight on the streets which are very busy. It is wonderful to engage with a new culture and experience China as a local and not just a tourist,’ said van Zyl.

While they enjoy living and working in China, they do miss their families, friends and the amazing food in South Africa. ‘We miss the food so much. The food is beautiful in SA! There is so much diversity and flavour. We miss Durban curry, boerewors, rusks and gem squash the most,’ said van Zyl.

‘We miss the people; we are so friendly in South Africa. You can strike up a conversation with just about anyone. It is lovely to hear everyone speaking in different languages, expressing their thoughts and opinions openly, loudly and proudly,’ added Rao.

The experience has taught them to be more patient, humble and empathetic. ‘We have both grown massively in confidence through this experience. It is very difficult to stand up in a classroom and have 50 students stare at you because they cannot understand a word you are saying,’ he said.

The varsity friends and now colleagues have also taken to bargain hunting and have spent a few Yuan on online purchases. ‘There is an app called Taobao here, it is like Takealot but on steroids! It is very addictive,’ said Rao.

They offered this advice to fellow UKZN alumni looking to travel and teach, ‘Do your research and be prepared. It is so important to thoroughly research the city and school you want to work at. Message the foreign teachers who work there, find out what you need to be legal in the city and be prepared to network with the locals to fully immerse yourself in the culture. You will have a far more fulfilling experience abroad if you adapt to the culture. Be prepared for differences and culture shock.’

Their plan for the near future is to save enough money to travel to multiple countries. ‘We would like to stay in China for a while and travel from here to places like Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea and Europe. Once we have satisfied our wanderlust, we would ideally like to pursue our LLMs or settle into our law careers,’ said van Zyl.

Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

Photographs: Supplied


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Taking Education to the Next Level Online During and Post COVID-19

Taking Education to the Next Level Online During and Post COVID-19
From left: Drs John O’Malley, Karen Ferguson, and Bethany Spilde, Professor Simon Bheki Khoza and Dr Cedric Mpungose.Click here for isiZulu version

The College of Humanities’ webinar on Taking Education to the Next Level Online: During and Post COVID-19 Era featured Dr John O’Malley (University of Denver), Dr Karen Ferguson (Colorado State University Global) and Dr Bethany Spilde (Johnson County Community College).

Professor Simon Bheki Khoza (UKZN) chaired the event and Dr Cedric Bheki Mpungose (UKZN, currently at the University of Denver) organised the presenters.

The webinar unpacked the rationale for and pedagogies of online learning and the learning management systems and social media sites used by universities.

O’Malley observed that many institutions of higher learning have adopted distance and on-line education as the next logical step in educational delivery systems. ‘These systems are being promoted as the educational pedagogy of the future. One overriding question that must be addressed is how these new educational delivery approaches will impact student learning and student perceptions of learning.’

He argued that changing student demographics call for new skills sets, and that new entrants to the Higher Education stage are driving the adoption of new educational delivery systems that bridge the time-place gap that traditional courses created. ‘The basis of teaching remains the same; the forms of teaching interaction may change but focus on your pedagogy, not the medium.’

Ferguson’s presentation focused on best practices for online learning via the use of technology and planning to ensure effective teaching and learning. She advised that planning is key and educators should try to understand students. ‘Identify the learning goals, create the course with intentionality, make sure assessments and content are tied to goals. Use technology and tools appropriately to achieve learning – stay away from shiny things – check on accessibility. Engage in the course and with your students,’ said Ferguson.

She noted that educators play an important role in the lives and education of their students, adding, ‘Focus on creating a supportive online community where students can feel empowered to engage and participate knowing that they are in a safe environment and feel at ease to communicate any questions or concerns to the instructor.’

In Spilde’s presentation, educators gained new insights and ideas on ways to leverage social media sites to deepen and enhance the online learning experience for students. A handful of digital tools and strategies were highlighted which encourage the highest levels of learning.

Spilde noted that blogs, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram could be used to enhance online learning and in turn brand the Institution. ‘It deepens student learning (metacognition, critical and reflective thinking skills); inspires students to take ownership of their education and career (engagement, degree completion); and offers new ways to assess and showcase the competencies that students are gaining (stronger programme reviews and increased student employability).’

She advised educators to ‘remember to embrace the process of “growing” to the next level.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Supplied


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College Student Support Services Internship Produces Qualified Psychologists

College Student Support Services Internship Produces Qualified Psychologists
Seven of the current and former CAES SSS interns (clockwise from top left) Ms Cebisa Nkatu, Ms Wendy Corfe, Ms Sarah O’Connell, Mr Mzamo Zondi, Ms Claire Mondlana, Ms Janet George and Mr Rethabile Oliphant.Click here for isiZulu version

The Student Support Services (SSS) Division in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) is celebrating the qualification of 10 of their former interns as psychologists, with a further four due to qualify soon. This is the only College SSS division at UKZN to host an internship programme that is accredited by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

The programme was launched in 2016.

Ms Wendy Corfe, Ms Sarah O’Connell, Ms Cebisa Nkatu, Ms Lauren Beukes, Ms Lovey Mnisi, Ms Mayure Padayachee, Ms Janet George, Ms Ronelle Msomi, Mr Rethabile Oliphant and Ms Claire Mondlana are now actively contributing to their profession after passing their Board exams and registering with the HPCSA, with George, Msomi, Oliphant and Mondlana employed within UKZN. Ms Lala Domleo, Mr Mzamo Zondi, Ms Sarah Miller and Ms Sineliso Thabethe are currently completing their internships.

The SSS recently received full accreditation for five years for its counselling psychology internship programme after meeting stringent HPCSA requirements that involved site visits, interviews with interns and their supervisors, the submission of improvement plans and the inspection of physical sites. The SSS is also provisionally accredited to offer an educational psychology internship.

Dr Nicholas Munro, a lecturer in the College of Humanities’ Discipline of Psychology and a stakeholder in the programme, highlighted its importance.

‘The CAES SSS has made a significant contribution to the Discipline of Psychology and counselling and educational psychology in KwaZulu-Natal. Before this internship was established, almost all our counselling and educational psychology graduates were compelled to undertake internship posts outside of KwaZulu-Natal, a major loss of psychological services to the province and within UKZN.’

The programme follows a rigorous model of staggered professional development that involves two to three hours of supervision of interns each week as they assist with the holistic academic and psychological support the SSS provides to the College’s almost 10 000 students on the Howard College, Westville and Pietermaritzburg campuses. Interns rotate between campuses and work within varied contexts and between several University divisions. They also participate in community engagement with local schools and centres, operating under the strict ethical codes governing psychological practice.

‘Having interns increases our capacity to support students, increases the richness and diversity of the team on various levels, and involves a lot of peer supervision, learning, development, training, feedback and evaluation,’ said CAES SSS manager Ms Shelley Barnsley.

‘Our model is very much a training model for prospective supervisors and includes training professionals for supervision following an evidence- and competency-based model,’ said Barnsley. ‘There is a lot of mutual support between supervisors and interns, and regular meetings allow for continuous feedback and the constant strengthening of the programme.’

Barnsley acknowledged the CAES for its investment in the programme, thanking its staff, particularly then Director of Professional Services Mr Mark Tufts, for their belief in the SSS and for providing space and resources. She thanked the whole SSS team for providing mentorship and creating an environment conducive to training, and highlighted the commitment to and passion for supervision amongst those supervising interns. She credited Dr Neeshi Singh-Pillay for initiating the process and training the team in supervision.

Educational Psychologist in the CAES SSS, Ms Rossella Meusel is undertaking PhD research on the supervision model used and assisted with designing the programme’s supervision. She highlighted the supportive structure of the programme, and described the resources provided to students in the form of regular, specialised readings that are discussed and applied to cases. Meusel added that the programme provides a sound theoretical and experiential basis for broad exposure that encourages interns to find their professional niche.

The interns expressed their gratitude to the SSS team, particularly their supervisors Barnsley, Meusel, Ms Prashna Singh and Dr Kamilla Rawatlal for their advice, support, and guidance throughout the demanding year of training, adding that they provided a respectful space to grow as individuals and professionals.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photographs: Supplied


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