Humanitarian and Peacemaker Receives Honorary Doctorate from UKZN

Humanitarian and Peacemaker Receives Honorary Doctorate from UKZN
From left: DVC for the College of Humanities Professor Cheryl Potgieter, Honorary Graduate Dr Vasudevan Gounden, Professor Paulus Zulu and UKZN Vice-Chancellor Dr Albert van Jaarsveld.

Founder and Executive Director of the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), Dr Vasudevan Gounden, was recently honoured by UKZN with a Doctorate of Social Science for his humanitarian work and leadership in conflict resolution in trouble torn countries like Burundi, Madagascar, the DRC, Somalia and South Sudan.

During his address, he reflected on his twenty five years in conflict resolution in various African countries stating, ‘I have seen hell. I have stared in the eyes of killers and in the eyes of those they have killed. I have seen too many countries whose people were blinded into an exceptionalism carved out of pride for their uniqueness only to have that destroyed.’

He also touched on the past apartheid injustices and paid homage to struggle stalwarts Steve Biko, Ruth First, Nelson Mandela, Robert Sobukwe and Dulcie September and talked to the current situation in South Africa. He called on all South Africans to fight and stand against injustices such as bribery, crime and lack of quality service. ‘We fail our nation when we look the other way,’ said Gounden.

To the graduates from the College of Humanities, Gounden said: ‘For the young people graduating here today, you should know that thousands have died so that you can graduate here today… so that you can build from the ashes of apartheid a new South Africa. This is your historical responsibility.’

Gounden also expressed gratitude to his father Swami Gounden and his wife Vanessa, to the rest of his family and to his alma mater UKZN for honouring him with a Doctorate degree in Social Sciences.

In his concluding remarks, he said: ‘It is a time for all of us to build bridges. Let us build bridges that create equality, employment and prosperity. Compatriots, it is a time for us to fly one flag, the flag of the Republic of South Africa; to pay allegiance to one manifesto, the Constitution of South Africa and to sing from one hymn sheet, Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika. God bless South Africa.’

Melissa Mungroo


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UKZN Staffer Reaches for her Dream … and Graduates!

UKZN Staffer Reaches for her Dream … and Graduates!
Mrs Vinotha Moodley.

College of Humanities Student Support Services staff member and mature student, Mrs Vinotha Moodley, has graduated with a degree in Psychology.

It took persistence, dedication, determination and sacrifice for Moodley to achieve the milestone in her life.

She says lessons she learned included the importance of the Learn Online programme of the School of Applied Human Sciences, the vitality of being a member of a study group and the importance of a parent teaching their children to lead by example.

Moodley has been a UKZN staff member for almost 16 years during which time she has helped organise many graduation ceremonies but this year she went on stage to be capped!

She obtained a teaching diploma in 1999, but felt the need to further her education by acquiring a university degree. Despite the challenges of being a mother, a wife, a fulltime UKZN employee and a mature student, she succeeded in all fields!

Moodley says women have to choose between pursuing their dreams and motherhood, with each choice laden with guilt.

She points out that being a mature student, comes with its own set of challenges. ‘For mature students, it’s not always easy as we often worry that we will not fit in because of our age. But our zeal and dedication give us an edge over the youngsters.

‘Being a member of a study group also helped. It made the learning process much easier and more fun because when you study as a group each person gets a chance to revise by sharing their knowledge with others. We even sang things to each other to help the information stick.’

Moodley acknowledged the Learn Online programme as she couldn’t always attend lessons due to work commitments.

She expressed gratitude to her husband and son for their continued support and her family for their unwavering support and encouragement. ‘I could not have made it without them.

Moodley is currently studying towards an Honours degree in Psychology.

Clearly the study bug has bitten because she now believes the sky is the limit!

Sibongile H. Moyo


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Top UKZN Student Pianist Awarded Bachelor of Music Degree

Top UKZN Student Pianist Awarded Bachelor of Music Degree
Talented pianist Ms Rashalia Pather.

Talented pianist Ms Rashalia Pather, who graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree is one of the top students in the 40-year history of the School of Arts.

‘Music has been my passion since childhood and I have always dreamed of becoming a professional pianist. For my degree, it is gratifying and exciting to be at the end of a road, but also at the start of a longer journey,’ said Pather.

Over the course of her undergraduate studies, Pather was constantly challenged to learn and grow both in the academic field and as a person. ‘I have had the pleasure of interacting with a diverse group of peers who have inspired me and supported me through the rigors of undergraduate study,’ she said.

Pather pointed out that the life of a music student was fraught with personal challenges. ‘We are constantly pushing ourselves to play or sing better, to be creative, and to learn more. Two of the biggest challenges I have encountered have been long hours of solitary practice (leaving little time for a social life!), and the nerve-wrecking experience of performing before large crowds or pitting myself against peers in competitions.’

Highlights of her studies included her first performance in 2012 with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra (KZNPO) as part of the UKZN Campus Concert held at UKZN’s Opera Studio and Choral Academy. ‘It was both daunting and exhilarating to perform alongside professional artists!’ she said.  Her final Bachelor’s recital at Howard College Theatre was also a special occasion for her.

Pather is grateful to have been the recipient of several prestigious UKZN scholarships, including the Lawrence and Constance Robinson Scholarship, Brenda M. Gourley Scholarship, and College Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarships in 2014 and 2015. She was also a recipient of the Marc Raubenheimer Bursary – awarded by the KZN Performing Arts Trust – for the duration of her degree.  

She thanked her family and friends. ‘Without your care and encouragement I would not have achieved what I have; for this, I will always be sincerely grateful.’

Her parents Arunajalum and Kalaivani Pather said: ‘We are extremely proud of her outstanding achievements. Most especially, we are grateful for her working consistently and determinedly towards achieving her goals. She is a remarkable, intelligent and talented person whom we are privileged to call our daughter.’

Pather intends pursuing postgraduate study in the fields of piano performance and pedagogy.

Melissa Mungroo


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Student Overcomes Disability to Graduate with Honours Degree

Student Overcomes Disability to Graduate with Honours Degree
Ms Jayshree Viranna.

‘I worked hard to get my degrees because I want to be known for something more than a person with a disability,’ said Ms Jayshree Viranna who received a BA honours degree from UKZN.

Viranna, who has cerebral palsy - a condition that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills leading to a physical disability,  hopes her achievement will be an inspiration to other disabled people to achieve their goals.

‘They should never let their disability discourage them. Although things might be difficult at times there is always a way forward. Never be afraid to ask for help. And believe in yourself, we all can make a difference,’ she said.

Viranna, who uses a scooter to get around campus, says more venues at UKZN should be disability friendly.

She chose to investigate the impact pop superstar Rihanna has had on the entertainment industry and how her influence has affected pop culture in the past decade.

‘My research focused on Rihanna’s impact on music and fashion. How she used social media to form a relationship with her fans and how they use social media as a tool for communication. My project shows how she has turned herself into a worldwide brand,’ said Viranna.

She believes her research is beneficial for the entertainment industry to show the importance a woman can have. ‘This can also encourage young girls to follow their own passion despite what society might think.’

Viranna received a disability bursary which covered her residence and study fees as well as providing a monthly allowance. ‘Living at the residence wasn’t always easy but I had a great support system of friends that made my UKZN experience amazing. I would like to thank my family for all their support and the Howard college disability unit and my lecturers.’

Viranna is currently completing her master’s degree in media and cultural studies.

Seven disabled students also graduated from the College of Humanities. They were Priscilla Khuzwayo, Siboniso Mabuza, Mondli Mchunu, Mfundo Ngobese, Phoswa and Lance Ross. 


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62.5% Women to Graduate at UKZN

62.5% Women to Graduate at UKZN
Graduation 2016.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) will confer an impressive 10 015 degrees at its 22 Graduation ceremonies to be held on its Westville campus (Sports Hall) and Pietermaritzburg’s Royal Showgrounds, which commenced on Monday, 11 April and will end on Tuesday, 19 April.

The University is honoured to welcome as guest speaker at the Law and Management Studies Graduation ceremony on Friday, 15 April at 10:00, the Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Other guest speakers include Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA), Mr Sipho Madonsela and Chief Director: Modelling & Forecasting, Economic Policy Division at National Treasury, Mr Konstantin Makrelov.

The Senate and Council of the University have approved nominations to confer honorary degrees in 2016 on the following four distinguished individuals, for their unique and outstanding contribution to society both locally and at a global level:

•   Mr Vasudevan Gounden (Doctor of Social Sciences) – 11/04/2016 at 14h30

•   Dr Robert C. Gallo M.D. (Doctor of Sciences) – 14/04/2016 at 10h00

•   Mr Michel Sidibé (Doctor of Administration) – 15/04/2016 at 19h00

•   Ms Patricia Horn (Doctor of Social Sciences) – 18/04/2016 at 10h00

Four prominent academics will receive the University’s Fellowship Award for research excellence and distinguished academic achievement:

•   Professor Salim S. Abdool Karim, Director: CAPRISA (Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa) and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research): University of KwaZulu-Natal;

•   Professor Francesco Petruccione, Director Centre for Quantum Technology UKZN.  NRF/DST SARChI Chair: Quantum Information Processing and Technology;

•   Professor Colleen Thelma Downs, South African Research Chair in  Ecosystem Health and Bio-diversity in KZN and EC and is a Professor in The School of Life Sciences;

•   Professor Steven Dene Johnson, holds the South African Research Chair in Evolutionary Biology and is a Professor in the School of Life Sciences.

Distinguished Teachers Awards will also be awarded to outstanding teachers who demonstrate innovation and excellence in the areas of curriculum development, teaching methodology and assessment methods. This year the University will be recognising:

•   Dr Suzanne Francis, Senior Lecturer in Political Science;

•   Professor Thabo Msibi, Acting Dean School of Education;

•   Mrs Rosemary Quilling, Senior Lecturer: Information Systems and Technology; and

•   Professor Albert Modi, Dean and Head of School: Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Indu Moodley


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UKZN Boasts First Black Woman with PhD in Town Planning

UKZN Boasts First Black Woman with PhD in Town Planning
Dr Hangwelani Hope Magidimisha.

UKZN’s College of Humanities celebrated the graduation of Dr Hangwelani Hope Magidimisha - the first Black woman to be awarded a doctorate in the Discipline of Town Planning at the University.

Magidimisha urged Black women to embrace the Town Planning Discipline. ‘I have mixed feelings about all this. I am excited in the sense that it is an achievement for me, something I have always wanted to do. However, there is a need for a lot more Black women in town planning to represent the sector in the built environment.

‘I am happy I am at UKZN where I can nurture young women to become academics,’ said Magidimisha.

She encouraged students to closely examine Town Planning, saying it was not only about designing. ‘Many people, especially women, think Town Planning is very technical and involves a lot of designing. This is true to some degree, however, it also about implementing policies.

‘There are others again who think Planning is overly sophisticated and a masculine profession, which is wrong. We need more people with PhDs in the field to enrich our knowledge and help to form academic networks to improve the profession and engage with critical issues,’ she said.

Her PhD interrogates the persistence of spatial inequities of service delivery in contemporary South Africa despite concerted efforts by the government to eliminate them. Specific reference is given to Vhembe District Municipality in Limpopo Province, which rates among the most deprived areas in the country. In a bid to unravel this reality in living environment domains, the study employed a multi-pronged approach by using empirical evidence from the case study supported by data from the South African Multiple Deprivation Index and South Africa Social Attitude Survey.

Emerging findings indicate that structural defects that underline prevailing spatial inequalities are a function of a myriad of factors. It concludes by providing recommendations in the form of a Sphere of Spatial Equality Model that sets in motion dynamic responses in households and bureaucrats in a bid to eliminate spatial inequality.

Magidimisha, like every married woman, faced challenges during her years of study but persevered and completed her doctorate.

‘It is important to manage your time when you are enrolled for a PhD. I became pregnant during my three years of study, but I managed to complete my studies. I told myself that I had to drive and push myself. Many people think that the moment a woman falls pregnant, she has to give up her studies. However, pregnancy is not a disability. It does not change a person’s career if it is well managed,’ she said.

‘I had to play my part as a married woman and my husband was very supportive, taking care of our children and I did not feel the pressure. My husband helped me a lot and my drive for success brought me this far. There is need to personalise and fall in love with your studies and be passionate in the process. I chose to research on my home area and this helped me a lot because I am attached to it,’ she said. 

Magidimisha thanked her doctoral supervisor, Dr Rosemary Awuorh- Hayangah, and the Human Sciences Research Council for creating a good learning environment. ‘I also thank my dad, mum, children and especially my husband - he is the best man in the world and I am really grateful and thankful for his support.’

Dean and Head of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies Professor Betty Mubangizi believes that Dr Magidimisha has brought a youthful and vibrant attitude not only to the Discipline but to the School. She acknowledges that coming from the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) – a research institution, Dr Magidimisha’s interest for research and publications is already shining through.

According to Mubangizi, Town Planning focuses on improving the living, leisure and working environments and conditions of people. It does so by estimating future needs of settlements including housing, business, industrial sites, public facilities and open spaces so as to meet the needs of growing populations of our towns and cities. ‘Women are most affected by poor town planning decisions and it is significant that Dr Magidimisha, a woman, has graduated with a PhD in Town Planning. She now brings a much needed female view to the town and regional planning profession.’

‘It is also significant that Dr Magidimisha has been with UKZN since her undergraduate years. That she has graduated with a PhD and that she is, in addition, a member of our staff just serves to show UKZN’s commitment to transformation and to growing our own timber,’ said Mubangizi.

Sibongile H Moyo


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Male Circumcision Central to Woman’s Master’s Degree

Male Circumcision Central to Woman’s Master’s Degree
Ms Sinekekelwa Khumalo with her supervisor Professor Maheshvari Naidu.

Ms Sinekekelwa Khumalo graduated with a MASocSc (cum laude) in Anthropology with her research concentrated on male circumcision.

Khumalo’s thesis was titled: “Probing Male Students’ Perception towards Medical Male Circumcision against Traditional Male Circumcision”.

According to Khumalo, male circumcision is a rite of passage in many communities, and one steeped in tradition and cultural norms and expectations.

‘Medical male circumcision is a more recently initiated procedure that is promoted in sub-Saharan Africa as part of the battery of HIV and AIDS preventative strategies meant to aid in combating the spread of the pandemic,’ she said. ‘The Higher Education institutional space is seen as one for experimental and risky sexual behaviour. Male university students in turn comprise an important community in interventions against HIV and AIDS and medical male circumcision is seen as one such intervention,’ said Khumalo.

Her supervisor, Professor Maheshvari Naidu, said Khumalo’s study sought to shed light on male students’ understanding of the ‘benefits’ of medical male circumcision or MMC.

Her findings revealed that while some students saw the benefits of medical circumcision in the context of reducing susceptibility to sexually transmitted diseases and HIV and AIDS, others believed that they were ‘immune’ and would not contract the disease due to being medically circumcised, compounding and placing the male students and their partners at serious risk.

‘I am thrilled that her hard work and determination has paid off,’ said Naidu.

Naidu said that Sina (as she is popularly known) blossomed from a shy, soft spoken student into a confident young scholar, all the while retaining her quiet and respectful disposition.

‘It has not been an easy journey for her. Aside from immense financial constraints, there was much initial self-doubting. Sina came to me from another supervisor and the initial proposal phase was a period of intellectual back and forth,’ said Naidu.

For Khumalo, it was initially a rollercoaster of a year. ‘One of the personal challenges that I had to overcome was self-doubt and fear that I could not finish my master’s in a year. I think I did not believe in myself at first and I had to push myself. But the support I had from my supervisor, friends and family made it easier for me to overcome what I thought were my personal limitations.’

Khumalo had to forge through personal crises during her studies - her father’s illness and her intense worry when her mother became gravely ill. ‘My mother has been my rock and my number one cheerleader. I would come back from the library tired and down, but somehow she found a way to push me. She believed in me more than I did, which is why I dedicate this master’s to her.

‘My supervisor, Professor Naidu, has also been more than a supervisor to me. She has been both a mother and a mentor. She saw potential in me and nurtured it patiently.’

Khumalo is currently working part time as Research intern for the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). She plans to register for her PhD with Naidu this year. ‘I just want to flourish as an anthropology researcher.’

Melissa Mungroo


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Nurse Graduates with Master’s Degree

Nurse Graduates with Master’s Degree
Mrs Nelisiwe Mnguni with her supervisor Professor Maheshvari Naidu.

Nurse and senior student, Mrs Nelisiwe Mnguni (49), who graduated with a Master’s in Anthropology (MASocSc) degree, has proved to be an inspiration to her children by taking up postgraduate studies so late in her career.

‘My heart skipped a beat when I saw the Graduation invite. I could not wait to get to the stage,’ said Mnguni.

Mnguni’s study, titled: “Probing the Sociocultural Actors Influencing Female Condom Use among Heterosexual Women in Clermont, Durban”, is closely linked to her work as a health care practitioner and stems from her involvement in several clinical trials of women and microbicides. ‘She is passionate about women protecting themselves with female condoms, microbicides and vaginal rings,’ said Naidu.

Said Mnguni: ‘For a senior student like myself, this has been a long arduous journey, which was made comfortable and manageable by a dedicated, motherly, and understanding supervisor like Professor Maheshvari Naidu. She reminds me of how mother Eagle teaches her young to fly.

‘It is really sweet that Neli refers to me as “motherly”, considering she is a “tad bit” older than me,’ said Naidu jokingly. ‘Seriously though, like my parenting style, my supervision style and approach is both appreciative of effort when shown and stern and demanding when required. Neli put in the effort so I am ecstatic that she is graduating. I look forward to her joining us for her PhD!’

Mnguni added, ‘This for me has been an invaluable experience that I will cherish forever. During times of self-doubt and frustration, she kept me afloat and helped me not tire out despite challenges of being a fully-employed student.’

Family and friends were elated at the news that Mnguni was graduating. ‘The loving support from my children, who were with me throughout this journey has had a resounding effect on me.’

UKZNDabaOnline


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Social Science Students Secure Degrees Through Hard Work

Social Science Students Secure Degrees Through Hard Work
Ms Victoria Mutambara and Dr Mlungisi Ngubane.

Ms Victoria Mutambara was awarded a master’s degree while Dr Mlungisi Ngubane secured his PhD during a UKZN Graduation ceremony.

Both students were supervised by Professor Maheshvari Naidu of the School of Social Sciences.  ‘I am extremely proud of them both. I certainly pushed them to their limits and they rose to the challenge,’ said Naidu.

Mutambara earned her Master’s in Internal Relations (MA SocSc IR) degree with her studies concentrated on the experiences of lesbian students within the Higher Education context.  Her thesis was titled: “Equal Rights Without Discrimination: Probing the Experiences of Lesbian Students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal”.

Mutambara’s interest is in sexuality politics and she worked from a human rights perspective. Working from the premise that many universities are cautious when it comes to extending equal rights and social justice to members of the LGBTI community, her study probed the experience of lesbian students in terms of sexual citizenship within the institutional space.

‘The issue of human security of marginalised groups was important to Victoria and she impressed me with her exceptionally hard work ethic from day one. The first day I met her she told me she was committed to working hard,’ said Naidu.

‘Hailing from the University of Venda, the idea of changing institutions to pursue my postgraduate studies was nerve wrecking,’ said Mutambara. ‘I had no idea of how I was going to cope. However, all of those feelings changed when I met my supervisor Professor Naidu. She said the journey was not going to be easy but it would be worth it in the end’

‘I appreciate the motivation and drive she gave me from day one. I also appreciate the support of my family. They have seen me grow into the person I am. My parents were very happy that I had finished my degree in record time and they remain strong supporters,’ she said.

Ngubane, who earned his PhD in Anthropology, is currently Director of the Msunduzi and Ncome Museums. His study probed the politics of Chieftainship, Traditional Leadership and Inherited Succession.

‘I knew that embarking on a journey to obtain a PhD was not going to be smooth sailing. It has been a journey involving sacrifices and determination. I had to spend less time with family and sometimes it took a toll on my health because I had to juggle between my work and studies.

‘However, the help of my supervisor Professor Naidu erased the burden.  My graduation has brought joy and excitement to my wife and children,’ he added.

Melissa Mungroo


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Nutrition for HIV/AIDS Sufferers in Zimbabwe Central to Graduate’s Research

Nutrition for HIV/AIDS Sufferers in Zimbabwe Central to Graduate’s Research
Ms Nobuhle Moyo.

Research on nutrition for people living with HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe led to Ms Nobuhle Moyo graduating with a Master’s degree in Development Studies.

Moyo’s work examined nutrition in the era of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy and explored her subjects’ reliance on NGOs to subsidise their diet after the withdrawal of services by other organisations due to the economic and political situation in Zimbabwe.

The study found that there was non-adherence to treatment due to a lack of adequate food to take with the medication and there was a global shift in the consumption patterns to non-traditional diet even though people were aware of the nutritional value of the traditional menus.

‘This research will benefit society if the government considers resuscitating the social welfare department,’ said Moyo.

During her studies, she gave birth to a boy which gave her great joy and increased her determination to graduate. ‘My mother was around to help with the baby. I would find a quiet environment away from the baby and do my research. Sometimes l used to work through the night in order to meet deadlines, often sleeping for only a few hours while also feeding my child.’

Juggling studies, work and her maternal duties, Moyo graduated, with great support from her parents and her husband.

She hopes to pursue a PhD soon.

Melissa Mungroo


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Master’s Graduate Focuses on Homelessness

Master’s Graduate Focuses on Homelessness
Ms Mbalenhle Dube graduates with a Master’s Degree in Population Studies.

Homelessness was the focus of Ms Mbalenhle Dube’s Master’s Degree in Population Studies. ‘I have always been curious about who homeless people are and the factors that have led to their situation,’ said Dube. ‘This study fed my curiosity as I examined their lives, gaining an understanding of hardships they have endured.’

Dube’s research touches on a crucial societal issue and challenge that she believes is not yet properly understood. ‘Homeless people can be viewed as a subset of the population that reflects the socio-economic problems facing the country.

‘South Africa is considered to have the most progressive Constitution centred on the promotion of the rights of citizens, yet there is a steady increase in the number of homeless people in the country. This study makes for an interesting academic inquiry which would benefit society in the long run,’ she said.

Her research found that the majority of the study participants became homeless following loss of employment, family issues and community factors such as gang violence.

One of the major challenges Dube faced during her studies, was adapting to the requirements and expectations of the MA degree. ‘The level and demands were very high. Winter school was the hardest, being in varsity whilst everyone else was at home resting; but looking back now I can only pat myself on the back.

‘To my family and friends, thank you for the love, the support and prayers which helped me to pull through. Thanks also to my research participants for making this study possible, without them I would have not had a sample to study from.  I am also grateful for the patience, support and guidance of my supervisor Professor Pranitha Maharaj.’

Dube currently works as a Researcher for Statistics South Africa and plans to pursue a PhD soon. However, for now she is content getting as much workplace experience as she can and honing her research skills.

Melissa Mungroo


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Women’s Use of Skin Bleaching Creams Examined

Women’s Use of Skin Bleaching Creams Examined
Ms Ayanda Tshabalala.

‘As a young Black woman, I’ve always seen education as the key to empowerment and independence.’

Those are the words of Ms Ayanda Tshabalala who was overjoyed when she recently graduated with a Master’s in Development Studies degree from UKZN. 

Tshabalala says she always saw the need to write from the perspective of the Black African women, and their existential experiences, subjectivities and identities, which she feels are lacking in the work they study/learn as students in academic spaces and institutions.

With a critical feminist perspective, research for her degree was on why young Black African women in South Africa use skin bleaching creams.

She says the identity of the Black African woman is influenced by several factors in society, including the legacies of colonialism and racism which, she believes, have contributed to the pressure and societal expectations they face.

Tshabalala found a rising trend of Black African women choosing notions of beauty associated with the self-image of people who are white. This includes wearing long synthetic hair and using creams to bleach their skins to have a whiter complexion.

‘The skin bleaching practice in Africa attracts international attention. The major discussions about the practice are around its medical and psychosocial or cultural implications. However, very little academic work exists on this topic in Africa generally, and in South Africa specifically.

‘With my research I hope to start filling this gap by investigating the reasons behind the practice in South Africa,’ she said.

Tshabalala believes that society needs more discussions around racism and all interrelated issues. Her study also found that the ‘born-free’ participants interviewed expressed a blatant disinterest in discussing racism.  ‘This may be due to them having not been exposed to institutionalised racism and finding it hard to identify and define.’

She also found that the ‘hour-glass body shape’, which she describes as mostly associated with Black female bodies, was now ‘trending’.

During her studies, she was invited to present some of her preliminary findings at Leeds University in England. She also studied in Germany for a semester, thanks to funding from the National Research Foundation (NRF).

Tshabalala thanked her family and friends. ‘I have a very supportive family who have held my hand and dried my tears all along my journey. This helped tremendously towards me ultimately completing my degree.’

She is currently a full-time PhD student and research assistant for the SARChI in applied poverty assessment under the leadership of Professor Sarah Bracking who was also her master’s supervisor.

Tshabalala has been awarded the NRF Innovation PhD scholarship. ‘It’s going to be three more years of hard work, learning and growth at all levels as an emerging researcher.’

Her advice to other students is, ‘Nothing beats hard work. Determination and remaining focused on the ultimate goal - which is attaining a degree - will encourage you when at times you feel like giving up. Accept the help and guidance of others and trust your work and yourself. Your confidence will ultimately shine through your work.’

Melissa Mungroo


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BA Graduate Overcome with Joy at Graduation

BA Graduate Overcome with Joy at Graduation
Dr Makho Nkosi with her grandson Mr Michael Nyawose.

Bachelor of Arts student Mr Michael Nyawose was overjoyed after being capped at the College of Humanities Graduation ceremony, saying he saw his degree as an instrument to break a cycle of poverty that has dogged his life.

‘I am thrilled to be graduating. I thank God and my ancestors for constantly protecting me. Thanks also to Dr Makhosazane Nkosi for her support,’ said Nyawose.

‘This degree is everything to me. I come from a very poor background and I worked hard for this. I want to make something of myself and education is the key to that success,’ he said.

Orphaned at a young age, Nyawose grew up in Umlazi with his two sisters. ‘We relied on income from rooms we rented out but it was not enough. If we ran out of margarine or other food items we couldn’t buy anymore because we didn’t have the cash.

‘I decided I didn’t want to live below the breadline anymore so I worked hard at school and matriculated with an exemption,’ said Nyawose.

He was accepted into UKZN but was unable to secure funding until through help from a relative, he paid his registration fees, later receiving financial support from the Duduzile Zuma Foundation Trust.

‘I found it difficult to adjust to the University environment but soon learned how to adapt academically and socially. It was challenging at times but I managed to get through. Being at UKZN opened my mind to so many possibilities and opportunities. I became more knowledgeable and disciplined and I joined various student organisations where I learned a lot about social issues and the global world,’ he said.

To earn money, Nyawose became a mentor to high school learners in rural areas. ‘Education is key to making a difference in the world; it starts with a small gesture.’

He advised other students to never give up. ‘When times are tough, remember that you can do it.’

Nyawose is currently a contract staff member at the Howard College student residences and is studying towards a postgraduate finance degree with the aim of becoming either a stockbroker or an asset manager.

‘At the moment, I don’t have funding to pay for my postgraduate studies. I had three jobs in December and January just to pay the registration fees,’ he said.

Melissa Mungroo


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Arts Graduate Raises LGTBI Awareness in Zimbabwe through Research

Arts Graduate Raises LGTBI Awareness in Zimbabwe through Research
Ms Princess Sibanda.

Zimbabwean Ms Princess Sibanda worked among a group of lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and intersex (LGTBI) people in her home country in pursuit of her Master’s in Drama and Performance Studies degree  which she was awarded during a UKZN Graduation ceremony.

Sibanda’s thesis was titled: “Performing Alternatives: Towards the Negotiation of space for Sexual Minorities in the Context of Homophobia in Zimbabwe”.

Her work led to a participatory play which engaged different sectors of Zimbabwean society in order to grow awareness about the LGTBI community, to challenge and shift negative perceptions around homosexuality in Zimbabwe and for the LGBTI community to regain dignity and humanity.

Sibanda hopes that her research gives society further insight into what it means to be part of the LGBTI community, from the perspective of the LGBTI people. ‘I hope a lot will be learnt from this narrative, most importantly the need to respect each other as equal human beings, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, colour or creed.’

Her supervisor, Dr Miranda Young-Jahangeer, said: ‘Princess’s thesis received a mark averaged at 93% with one professor in America giving it an unprecedented 100%! She will now be able to commute it to a PhD. Princess is an inspirational and brave young woman.’

‘Getting a 100% from one of the examiners - a reputable academic- blew my socks off and showed me that a person’s background does not determine their future - you are what you make of yourself,’ said Sibanda.

She encountered various challenges during her studies. ‘I was pretty disturbed by the xenophobic attacks. Although I left Durban unharmed during the period, the fear was in itself painful. Also, it took almost a year after my proposal was accepted, for me to get ethical clearance. The period of waiting is not friendly, particularly for foreign students like myself who have to pay for accommodation and food.’

She also experienced financial difficulties. ‘Moreover, the research involved a lot of rehearsal workshops and I had to cater for my participants because all of them were students.’

Sibanda is grateful to the Director of SAfAIDS, Mr Lois Chingandu, and the Director of ROOTS, Ms Beatrice Savadye, who gave her safe and free rehearsal space during her fieldwork and SAfAIDS for consultancy work during vacations. She thanked her supervisor who also arranged paid tutorials.

She further expressed gratitude to family and friends especially her sister-in-law who provided both moral and financial support.  ‘She always found a way to extend her hand, however difficult I made it for her.’

Sibanda, the first person in her family to graduate with a master’s degree, hopes to commute it to a PhD and sees herself as a future powerhouse in academia; an even stronger and daring human rights activist and mentor for young girls, and overall, a successful arts and entertainment consultant.

‘This achievement really means a lot to me, as an individual who comes from a very humble background.  When opportunities knock on your door, seize them and keep your eyes on the ball!

Melissa Mungroo


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Three PhDs awarded in the African Languages Discipline

Three PhDs awarded in the African Languages Discipline
Dr Rajabu Chipila, Dr Seguang Makoae and Dr Ketlalemang Maimane were all awarded PhDs

Three students in the African Languages Discipline within the School of Arts in the College of Humanities have been awarded doctorates.

They are: Dr Sebueng Makoae, Dr Ketlalemang Maimane and Dr Rajabu Chipila. Chipila’s study examined a Tanzanian University student’s motivation for learning Kiswahili as an academic subject.

The research was motivated by the fact that many indigenous African languages are not rated highly by their users.

Findings include that Tanzanian university students study Kiswahili because it is their national language and as a sign of patriotism.

Another factor is that proficiency in the language means more employment opportunities as Kiswahili is one of the most popular indigenous African languages studied overseas.

Chipila said: ‘Teaching and learning indigenous African languages need to be promoted. However, there is little that has been done in terms of research in the areas of teaching methodologies and approaches. Therefore, this study contributes in the body of literature in the area.’

Makoae’s research discusses the metaphors in Sesotho hymns in the Catholic Church hymn book, Lifela tsa Bakriste. Her study aimed to arouse reader awareness about the nature and significance of mapping the vehicle and tenor of metaphors. ‘These are perceived first in metaphors of connotative names. Basotho has a common proverb with regard to personal names. It is (le)bitso lebe ke seromo, meaning, a name has a direct influence on the character traits of the bearer,’ she said.

The findings of her study depict the lexical units, contextual meanings and mappings for all her words to unfold metaphors according to different parts of grammar.

Maimane, who was supervised by Dr Nhlanhla Mathonsi, looks at how and to what extent modern Sesotho poetry echoes religious and traditional beliefs and practices, lithoko and English poetry, in its composition since its inception in 1931 until the first decade of the millennium (2010).

His study provides well researched and documented academic reference material on modern Sesotho poetry for the teaching of poetry at all levels in institutions of higher learning where modern Sesotho poetry courses/modules are offered. From an academic standpoint, the study makes academics aware of modern Sesotho poetry as a new phenomenon and a construct of numerous texts from traditional, religious and literary worlds; suggesting further avenues of research in this respect. 

‘The study also provides a literary response to the gaps left by those who have already made a significant contribution researching modern Sesotho poetry. One of the gaps that this study addresses is the intertextual nature of modern Sesotho poetry as well as the confluences that informed the composition of modern Sesotho poetry,’ said Maimane.

Head of the African Languages Discipline, Professor Sihawukele Ngubane, added, ‘We congratulate all our PhD students and encourage those who are in the pipeline to raise the bar.’

All three students were grateful to their support system of friends and family and their supervisors Professor Nogwaja Zulu and Dr Nhlanhla Mathonsi. The students hope to publish further in their field.

Melissa Mungroo


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Media’s Role in Informing Public about Ebola Explored

Media’s Role in Informing Public about Ebola Explored
Ms Sibongile Moyo.

Zimbabwean national Ms Sibongile Moyo’s research for her Master of Arts degree involved how the general public understood the eNCA news channel’s coverage of the Ebola outbreak.

Moyo’s aim was to understand the role played by the media in informing the public during the outbreak and to discover whether the public felt they were at risk of contracting the disease and if they identified themselves with African Ebola sufferers.

‘My research uncovered the influence of social and cultural background in decoding media messages. It shows how numerous factors can influence how an audience internalises information and how African media should break away from stereotypical images and employ the use of positive images when reporting on African issues,’ said Moyo.

She believes there is need for African experts to be the voice of the challenges Africans face instead of the media relying on European experts. ‘Africans should also be viewed as intelligent and self-reliant as opposed to the stereotype that suggests Africans are constantly suffering and expecting a helping hand from Europe or America.’

Another finding was that journalists should undergo specific training to equip them with the ‘right knowledge’ to report in a balanced way on issues of health, while relationships and equipping conferences should be put in place to bridge the gap between health institutions and media practitioners.

‘It is my desire that these findings are taken into consideration by other media or communication experts when manufacturing a message for mass consumption,’ said Moyo.

Speaking about her support system, she added, ‘My parents have been so supportive. My mother and father continuously sent me messages of inspiration from beyond the borders while my brothers, Tafadzwa Muronzwa and Nigel, have been cheering me on. It’s not easy being away far from home but I’ve had amazing friends like Sibusiso Mtshede and Sipho Ngwenya who’ve been like family. I’m grateful to my brother, Dr Khumbulani Nkosiyami Moyo, who also played a part in my research.’

Asked about her future plans, she said: ‘The knowledge gained while embarking on this research assisted in developing and enhancing my skills as a communications specialist. I want to put to practise all the knowledge I have acquired in the classroom, and gain more work experience in the field of communication while I embark on a PhD.’

Moyo advised other researchers to work hard. ‘Being critical and analytical will save you a lot of time. Learn to prioritise and get used to the sound of your own applause because your success will be determined by your ability to push forward when everything else is telling you to turn around.’

Melissa Mungroo


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Student Activist Graduates with Social Sciences Degree

Student Activist Graduates with Social Sciences Degree
DVC and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Cheryl Potgieter with Mr Molaodi Wa Sekake.

Graduating with a Bachelor of Social Science degree, majoring in Sociology and Labour Studies, was a proud and humbling moment for student activist, Mr Molaodi Wa Sekake.

Molaodi, who hails from Clermont, chose to study this particular degree because of his personal experiences and background.

‘Growing up, my father worked in a factory but the money he received wasn’t enough to buy basic food items. We couldn’t afford much. I wanted to find out why this was happening to us. This made me study the power dynamics between labour and poverty, more so because of my social conditions,’ he said.

With the loss of his father in 2004, coupled with ongoing financial difficulties, Sesake relied on funding opportunities and schemes to pay for his studies and accommodation. ‘These were stumbling blocks for me. I would often register quite late and would miss key lectures and tests.’

Being a member of the Young Communist League of South Africa (YCLSA) and the Society of Commons, allowed Sesake to open alternate spaces of learning where he, together with other students, shared their lived experiences in order to reciprocate information to aid in academia.

‘Joining and being a part of these organisations allowed me to go beyond textbook knowledge and to be pedagogically flexible. It helped me with my activist work and allowed me to understand, listen and engage meaningfully with people from different backgrounds,’ he said.

Coming from a township, Molaodi saw the need to uplift his community, especially the youth. He used creative mediums such as poetry, hip-hop and art to inform the youth about the value of education.

He hopes to pursue a PhD in the future.

Melissa Mungroo


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Juvenile Offenders Subject of Master’s Research

Juvenile Offenders Subject of Master’s Research
Ms Nondumiso Ntshangase.

Ms Nondumiso Ntshangase recently graduated with a Master’s in Criminology degree awarded for her research into the implementation of the Khulisa Social Solution’s diversion programmes in KwaZulu-Natal.

Under the supervision of Dr Nirmala Gopal and through commitment and dedication, Ntshangase managed to complete the degree in a year.

The Khulisa Social Solution is a non-profit company that inspires, empowers and enables vulnerable children, youth and communities, to unlock their potential and develop skills towards a sustainable future. 

Ntshangase’s research stemmed from the need to understand how diversion programmes are implemented to fulfil their objectives. Her key findings pertain to the prevalent issues faced by Khulisa while implementing their “Positively Cool” and “Silence the Violence” diversion programmes. 

These include reasons for juvenile offending such as peer pressure, economic circumstances, drug and alcohol use; family support, group work,  and diversion as a form of restorative justice and programme compliance with the Child Justice Act.

Challenges affecting the implementation of diversion programmes were the socio-economic circumstances of those who diverted, lack of parental support, recidivism and challenges in facilitating group work.

Ntshangase hopes that her research will benefit diversion service providers by providing insight into the implementation of diversion programmes from referrals, to assessment, getting children to attend diversion programmes and doing follow-ups.

Speaking about the support from family and friends, she said: ‘My family has always had confidence in me - they saw the hard work I put in towards my studies. Thus, they supported the idea of me studying further. My mother allowed me to study what I desired and gave me all I needed so I could focus on my work.

‘My friends were very supportive in praying for me, encouraging me when I was at my weakest and also helping me where I needed a second opinion in making sense of what I wrote.’

She advised other researchers to work hard and trust in God. ‘Research demands hard work and dedication. Look for opportunities and never settle for less. With education one can reach greater heights, but only God can sustain you at those greater heights.  Also, invest in other people; help them achieve their dreams.

Asked about her future plans, Ntshangase said: ‘I hope to get a job soon, something relating to the Juvenile Justice System. I also want to start my own company that will provide diversion services to children in conflict with the law. My aim is to make a positive impact wherever I go.’

Melissa Mungroo


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BA Degree - the First Step on a Long Road

BA Degree - the First Step on a Long Road
Mr Siyanda Zulu.

Mr Siyanda Zulu, who faced various challenges during his studies for a BA degree, felt exhilarated when he walked on to the stage to be capped.

Majoring in Legal Studies and Criminology, Zulu said: ‘It feels like I’ve been liberated after years of battling but my struggle does not end here. I will continue with the struggle until I obtain a PhD.’

Asked why he chose to study for a BA Zulu said: ‘I have always been inquisitive about things. I constantly feel the urge to acquire knowledge. I pursued this degree because I want to be respected by family and colleagues, and also to be competitive within the academic field. In the initial stages of my studies, I wanted to be a lawyer but as time went on, I discovered an interest in criminology.’

Currently doing his BA Honours, he said his research had been on the drug trafficking trade.

Zulu thanked his family and friends saying: ‘I had so much support from them and never felt pressured. They encouraged me and were always there to pick me up. So I want to say thank you to all of them for being a part of this journey, I hope they buckle up because we haven’t reached the final destination yet.’

 Sibongile H. Moyo


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