CHS Welcomes New Dean and Head of School of Health Sciences

CHS Welcomes New Dean and Head of School of Health Sciences
Professor Khathutshelo Percy Mashige.Click here for isiZulu version

Professor Khathutshelo Percy Mashige is the new Dean and Head of the School of Health Sciences at UKZN.

‘I am proud and ecstatic,’ said Mashige. ‘I felt I was in with a chance of being appointed but was a bit anxious and apprehensive about it.’

He aims to encourage and support staff within the School to get involved in high impact national and international collaborative research. ‘My goal is for us to produce top class undergraduate students in our programmes to ensure we remain relevant and competitive,’ he said.

‘I also want our community service involvement to be all about sustainable systems creation to help grow our resources,’ said Mashige. ‘In addition, I aim to put measures in place to ensure the financial sustainability of the School, such as supporting increased quality research outputs, improved operational efficiency, encouraging social entrepreneurship, and linking continuing education with the development of an allegiance from our alumni,’ said Mashige.

He said new challenges kept him motivated. ‘I may not be able to help everyone but I feel I am a good listener and am very approachable.’

Born in Limpopo, he was involved in a motor accident that resulted in a spinal cord injury and quadriplegia. Mashige rose above this serious life disruption in a variety of life domains, including being awarded a Masters in Optometry degree followed by a PhD in Philosophy in Health Sciences from UKZN.

He completed the Ocular Diagnostics Certificate from the New England College of Optometry in Boston in the United States and the theoretical component of the Ocular Therapeutics course offered jointly by UKZN and the State University of New York (SUNY).

He was the Head of UKZN’s Optometry Department from 2007 to 2013, serving in a variety of leadership roles at the University including being a member of the Senate and the College of Health Science Transformation Committee.

Mashige, who boasts more than 20 years’ teaching experience in optometry, is involved with the regulation and advancement of optometry education being Chairperson of the Education Committee of the Professional Board for Optometry and Dispensing Opticians.

He is the Chief Executive Officer of the African Vision Research Institute (AVRI), which works to reduce the burden of blindness and visual impairment in Africa by conducting research that is relevant to disease control, human resource development and infrastructure development.

He is the Chairperson of the online institute and enterprise development service provider: the Global Institute for Entrepreneurship and Ethics, and a founding member and Chairperson of the Community Self Mastery Coaching Institute, which focuses on teaching and empowering the youth, women, men and families with core values, practical tools, techniques and strategies for sustainable integration of positive mind sets and behaviours into daily living.

Mashige is a recipient of the United Kingdom’s Economic and Social Research Grant and is a Developing Research Innovation, Localisation and Leadership (DRILL) Fellow.

He is an Associate Editor for the BMC Ophthalmology journal and serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of the South African Health Review journal.

A National Research Foundation-rated scientist, he has published more than 70 articles in peer-reviewed national and international journals.

Mashige, an avid sportsman prior to his accident, enjoys watching sport and spending time with friends and family. He is proud to have an extremely supportive family who are excited about his academic achievements.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied


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Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Accomplished Crop Science Researcher

Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Accomplished Crop Science Researcher
Professor Tafadzwa Mabhaudhi.Click here for isiZulu version

Tafadzwa Mabhaudhi, Research Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Centre for Transformative Agricultural and Food Systems (CTAFS) in UKZN’s School of Agricultural Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) has received the prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s Research Award for 2020 in recognition of his outstanding research achievements and the international reputation he has built in his discipline.

The Award, presented to one recipient annually, recognises research, scholarly, or creative productivity, and is valued at R150 000 in research funding.

UKZN Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Nana Poku congratulated Mabhaudhi, saying, ‘I wish you well and trust that the award will assist you in your future research endeavours.’

With a Y-rating from South Africa’s National Research Foundation, Mabhaudhi has specialised in crop ecophysiology, specifically plant-water relations, and crop-climate modelling. He completed his BSc and Honours degrees in Crop Science at the University of Zimbabwe before enrolling for his masters and then PhD at UKZN, both degrees supported within projects run by the Water Research Commission (WRC). He holds the record for achieving the highest number of publications off a PhD thesis in WRC history – 11 papers and a book chapter – and has published more than 130 papers in the seven years since graduating.

Mabhaudhi’s focus has developed with his drive to be involved in research that is collaborative, dynamic, transformative, informs policy and has tangible impacts for poor and peri-urban communities. This has resulted in a growing focus on multi- and transdisciplinary research covering food systems, global environmental change and the water-energy-food (WEF) nexus.

Mabhaudhi works with international multidisciplinary teams conducting research and development relevant to global grand challenges like food and nutrition insecurity, climate change and sustainability, and the WEF nexus. Notable projects he has played significant roles in include the uMngeni Resilience Project (URP) where he is Components Director, and the Sustainable and Healthy Food Systems (SHEFS) project where he is Lead Agriculture Researcher.

To translate his research into practical outcomes, Mabhaudhi routinely engages with policy stakeholders in South Africa and the region at various levels to contribute to evidence-based policymaking. His many appointments include to the WRC’s Research Strategy Committee, and the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries’ (DEFF) National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy expert panel, National Framework for Climate Services expert panel, and Climate Change Adaptive Capacity steering committee. He is also a Technical Advisor to the Southern African Development Community for their WEF nexus strategy and climate change adaptation strategy.

Mabhaudhi has led WRC projects on various topics, from drone applications in agriculture to determining the water use of indigenous grain and legume food crops. In 2019, he received a WRC Research Knowledge Tree award in recognition of his contributions to policy and decision-making and human capital development in the water sector. He has supervised 21 postgraduate students to completion, is currently supervising a further 10, and has mentored several emerging researchers in South Africa and abroad.

He has also received certificates of appreciation from the South African National Biodiversity Institute and the DEFF for leading climate change adaptation efforts in South Africa.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science Professor Albert Modi congratulated Mabhaudhi on this significant achievement for a young scientist, saying that the award is a testament to his ambition and perseverance. Having also supervised Mabhaudhi’s masters and doctoral degrees, Modi thanked him for being part of his legacy as a supervisor and mentor.

Words and photograph: Christine Cuénod


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New Publication on Invasive Birds to Inform Research and Management

New Publication on Invasive Birds to Inform Research and Management
Professor Colleen Downs (left) and Dr Lorinda Hart (right) are the editors of a new, comprehensive publication on invasive birds.Click here for isiZulu version

South African Research Chair in Ecosystem Health and Biodiversity in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape Professor Colleen Downs and Dr Lorinda Hart, Honorary Researcher at UKZN and lecturer at the University of Namibia, have edited a new publication for the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) on the topic of invasive alien birds.

Titled Invasive Birds Global Trends and Impacts, the book’s 45 chapters – with contributions from more than 80 authors – are arranged in three parts. The first provides an account of 32 global avian invasive species, the second details the biogeographical aspects of avian invasions, and the third considers the impact of invasive species on native communities, problems associated with invasive bird management, and the use of citizen science in the study of invasive birds.

‘[This] is a major contribution to the international literature on biological invasions and CABI is proud to have published the book,’ said CABI Commissioning Editor Dr David Hemming.

The book focuses on invasive avian species that threaten biodiversity as listed in the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD), and includes some additional species. Various types of starlings, parakeets, sparrows, geese, crows, ducks, owls and more are discussed.

Designed as a “one-stop” reference volume, the first part provides useful, comprehensive information on the current invasive status of each species, including a physical description, diet, introduction and invasive pathways, breeding behaviour, and natural habitat. It also examines each species’ environmental impact, and current and future control methods. The book includes full-colour photographs and global distribution maps.

The publication was developed with a broad audience in mind. It will appeal to researchers, students, scientists, conservation managers, government officials, risk assessors and anyone directly involved in researching, managing, or drawing up risk assessments for invasive bird species, and provides relevant material for invasion ecology courses.

Rigorous scientific standards were applied to the thorough peer-review process and the book was compiled over a period of three years from conceptualisation to publication. Downs and Hart were driven to produce a foundational, consolidated review that closes knowledge gaps or corrects misinformation on globally recognised invasive avian species. The work provides a basis for future research and management strategies as urbanisation and global trade affect invasive avian assemblages, and the ecosystems they invade around the world.

They hope that this synthesised publication will serve as a basis for further studies and development of management protocols by providing examples of available and missing data for a growing body of globally invasive bird species.

Downs, who has been at UKZN for more than 26 years, has gained extensive, multidisciplinary experience working on a wide range of terrestrial vertebrates, focusing on their conservation, ecology, physiology and behaviour with changing land use. Hart, who completed her PhD at UKZN under Downs’ supervision, focuses on a broad range of research interests that cover ecophysiology, and urban and invasive ecology.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photographs: Supplied


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Lightning Monitoring Research Makes Editor’s Pick in South African Journal

Lightning Monitoring Research Makes Editor’s Pick in South African Journal
Ms Maqsooda Mahomed and the lightning warning system at Swayimane that is the focus of her research published in the South African Journal of Science.

Agrometeorological research on lightning being undertaken by doctoral candidate in UKZN’s School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) Ms Maqsooda Mahomed has been selected as the editor’s choice in the January/February 2021 edition of the South African Journal of Science.

The article, titled Lightning monitoring and detection techniques: Progress and challenges in South Africa comprises a review of the latest available techniques and technologies and delves into current research in this area in South Africa and the challenges the country faces concerning lightning detection.

According to the South African Weather Service, South Africa has one of the highest incidences of lightning-related injuries and deaths, losing more than 200 lives a year to lightning strikes. Mahomed explained that the country has made significant progress in technological advances, being home to one of the three ground-based lightning detection networks in the southern hemisphere, and has improved its lightning detection and monitoring in recent years.

Despite this, rural communities in South Africa and Africa are still vulnerable to lightning, which is expected to increase in frequency as the climate changes. The country’s detection network operates at a national level, but information and warnings are not disseminated locally.

Given these realities and the fact that large proportions of African countries' populations reside in rural areas, Mahomed and her co-authors call for the integration of indigenous and scientific knowledge and the participation of rural communities that are most affected when developing early warning systems. They also note the need to determine the most effective way to use existing monitoring networks while incorporating warning dissemination to rural communities and recommend further research on the development of lightning-safe rural dwellings or shelters, particularly in lightning-prone areas.

Mahomed, an assistant researcher in the Centre for Water Resources Research (CWRR) at UKZN, received first prize for her oral presentation on this research in the SAEES sessions of UKZN's 2020 Postgraduate Research and Innovation Symposium and at the 2020 Durban Research Action Partnership Research Symposium. Her work was featured in The Mercury, where it was amongst its most-read articles and on the Women in Science Africa website under the portal’s “Head's Up” section for noteworthy news.

Co-authors of the paper are Mahomed’s supervisor Dr Alistair Clulow and co-supervisor Professor Tafadzwa Mabhaudhi, with Dr Sheldon Strydom and Professor Michael Savage. Her research falls within the uMngeni Resilience Project (URP), which in 2018 installed a state-of-the-art community-based near real-time lightning warning system (NRT-LWS) in Swayimane near Wartburg, linked to the Agrometeorology Instrumentation Mast (AIM) system to warn the school and the surrounding community about lightning strikes.

The automated system comprises an electric field meter and lightning flash sensor that disseminate warnings via audible sirens and visible lights, both on-site and with a remote server distributing SMS and email alerts. The URP aims to increase vulnerable communities’ resilience through interventions such as early warning systems, climate-smart agriculture, and climate-proofing settlements.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Supplied


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COVID-19’s Implications for Children and Young People’s Health

COVID-19’s Implications for Children and Young People’s Health
Professor Kaymarlin Govender presented a paper at the Africa CDC Institute for Workforce Development COVID-19 webinar series.

Director of the Health Economics & HIV & AIDS Research Division (HEARD) Professor Kaymarlin Govender was invited to present a paper at the Africa CDC Institute for Workforce Development COVID-19 webinar series focusing on clinical community of practice (CCoP). The webinar series is co-hosted by the Africa CDC and the Hubert Department of Global Health, Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health, US.

The paper titled: Beyond the Disease: Contextualized Implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for Children and Young People living in Eastern and Southern Africa was published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health in October, 2020.

It discusses the implications of COVID-19 and related public health interventions for children and young people living in Eastern and Southern Africa in the context of strained healthcare systems in light of the ongoing epidemics of HIV and tuberculous. In the face of COVID-19, there have been major disruptions to HIV, TB and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) programming in the region. The effects of COVID-19 were most severely felt during the lockdowns and stay at home orders enforced by governments during 2020. Public health measures to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2 have seen a decline in people living with HIV receiving and adhering to their antiretroviral treatment and have had a negative impact on SRH services (with a decline in access to and use of contraceptives, reduced service coverage of essential pregnancy and related new born care and shifting trends in abortion from safe to unsafe).

In light of the negative and long-term impact of COVID-19, the paper recommends prevention, care, and health promotion initiatives to reduce the negative effects of the pandemic and movement restrictions on children and young people.

Words: NdabaOnline

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Durban International Film Festival invites Filmmakers to Submit for 2021 Edition

Durban International Film Festival invites Filmmakers to Submit for 2021 Edition
Call for DIFF submissions.

The Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) is inviting filmmakers to submit their feature films, documentaries and shorts for the 42nd edition taking place from 22 July to 1 August 2021. The deadline for submissions is 28 February 2021.

‘We are officially opening the call for submissions, looking for future-centric films, narratives that look with hope to tomorrow. Themed, “Framing the Future, Cinema Unleashed,” the festival is specifically looking to showcase films that provide meaningful solutions on how to adapt in our dynamic and ever-changing environment,’ said festival curator, Ms Chipo Zhou. ‘We are looking for films that offer solutions to questions that haven’t been asked yet, that broaden our viewpoints and allow for robust critical discourse. We celebrate the disruption of the embedded canonical film centres internationally and position the DIFF as the African hub where innovative film voices are discovered and born – this is the onward journey of the DIFF.’

Submissions should be submitted exclusively through FilmFreeway. For eligibility, submission fees and to submit, visit the DIFF profile: www.filmfreeway.com/durbanfilmfest

Words: Melissa Mungroo

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UKZN Nursing Students Shine

UKZN Nursing Students Shine
Students receiving a token of appreciation from one of the clinical facilities in which they were placed.Click here for isiZulu version

‘Thank you for representing UKZN exceptionally well in the clinical settings and for fully embracing the UKZN values of respect, excellence, accountability, client orientation, honesty, and trust. Keep up the good work,’ said UKZN’s Nursing Discipline Academic Leader to third-year Nursing students who recently completed their clinical training at a number of Durban hospitals.

‘You have displayed the attributes we aspire to inculcate in our UKZN nursing graduates, the attributes that make UKZN graduates stand out in the crowd. You are trendsetters and leaders in the making,’ she said proudly.

Mtshali was addressing the soon to be fourth-year class after lecturers shared glowing reports from all the clinical facilities where the students were placed. ‘During this time of the pandemic, you as UKZN Nursing students have raised the bar and profiled UKZN in a very positive light,’ added Mtshali.

‘Your excellent conduct, behaviour and dedication to serving those in need during this unprecedented time has created a new appreciation of the skills, knowledge and support students bring in the clinical settings. This has resulted in a positive shift in attitude among the nurses and members of the health teams that have worked with you.

‘The level of acceptance of UKZN Nursing students in different clinical facilities has improved significantly. Evidence of this new-found respect and high regard are the glowing reports from the clinical settings.’

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic led to the abrupt withdrawal of students from clinical settings, creating uncertainty among lecturers and students on how the year would end and whether students would be able to complete their clinical hours.

When students were called back to campus in June 2020 in order to complete their clinical hours, lecturers were concerned whether this was possible in the short time remaining. They were also worried about students’ safety.

‘Nursing students found themselves joining well respected frontline workers, responding to a dire and unprecedented crisis. Even to the trained and experienced, this situation was new and frightening and certainly unknown territory,’ said Mtshali.

‘As Nursing students, you did not have time to comprehend the pandemic, its magnitude and impact, but had to adapt quickly and learn as you moved from one challenging situation to the next. You had to learn new ways of protecting yourselves in the clinical facilities while protecting those around you.’

She added that, without prior warning, students worked long hours in the clinical settings including repeated night duty. This assisted in health facilities that needed more hands. Some of the students contracted the virus, and some were contacts because they were in the company of those who tested positive.

‘However, you went back to the clinical settings instead of coming up with reasons not to return. You did not let COVID-19 and associated challenges deter you from your commitment to serve as frontline workers. We applaud you for that,’ said Mtshali.

Nursing lecturers Drs Pretty Mbeje and Doreen Wentzel thanked the students for their dedication and perseverance.

Student Mr Mandla Sibiya said: ‘We panicked when we found out that some patients we are nursing are positive. One would sometimes nurse a patient and three days later find out s/he is positive. We have passion and it’s been keeping us on track. Thank you for encouraging us.’

Fellow student Ms Nomvelo Ngcobo said the experience showed that the ‘road to success is not easy but we will get there.’

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN Academic Produces book on Scientometrics for the Humanities and Social Sciences

UKZN Academic Produces book on Scientometrics for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Professor Radhamany Sooryamoorthy with his new book.

Professor Radhamany Sooryamoorthy of the School of Social Sciences has published a book, Scientometrics for the Humanities and Social Sciences. It is the first ever book on scientometrics that deals with the historical development of quantitative and qualitative data analysis in scientometric studies. It focuses on its applicability in new and emerging areas of inquiry.

‘This book discusses the inherent potential for data mining and analysis of qualitative data in scientometrics. It also provides select cases of scientometric studies in the humanities and social sciences, explaining their research objectives, sources of data and methodologies,’ said Sooryamoorthy.

The publication illustrates that data can be gathered from not only prominent online databases and repositories, but also from journals that are not stored in these databases. With the support of specific examples, it shows how data on demographic variables can be collected to supplement scientometric data. It also presents a research methodology which has increasing applicability not only in the study of science, but also in disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.

Professor Henk F Moed, a doyen of scientometrics (formerly at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies, Leiden University, The Netherlands), said, ‘This is the first monograph on scientometrics I am aware of that is devoted exclusively to the use of scientometric techniques in the study of the humanities and social sciences. It aims to unfold the potential of these techniques to a wide audience. An interesting and unique feature of the book is the well-designed presentation of a large number of cases illustrating both the methodology itself as well as its application in the study of the development of humanities and social sciences and its numerous subject fields, and in the assessment of research activity and performance.’

The book is available from Routledge.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

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UKZN Hosts AIIKS Virtual Signing Ceremony

UKZN Hosts AIIKS Virtual Signing Ceremony
Heads of African Higher Education and research institutions at the AIIKS virtual signing ceremony.

Sixteen African universities and research institutions signed a memorandum of understanding in a virtual ceremony hosted by UKZN to cement their partnership in establishing the African Institute in Indigenous Knowledge Systems (AIIKS).

Speaking at the ceremony, Honorary Professor in Electrical Engineering at UKZN, Professor Nelson Ijumba cited examples of African countries’ use of homegrown solutions to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. He noted that Africa has the solutions and knowledge systems required to solve its own problems.

Ijumba defined the essence of AIIKS as ‘having the courage and confidence to say, our knowledge systems can participate in the global knowledge economy in their own right’ and noted the need to coordinate and develop strong partnerships to promote indigenous knowledge systems (IKS).

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize welcomed everyone to this important occasion. He observed that UKZN is the hub for the Department of Science and Innovation-National Research Foundation’s (DSI-NRF) Centre for Indigenous Knowledge Systems (CIKS), a partnership with North-West University, the Universities of Limpopo and Venda and UNISA.

Mkhize said that AIIKS will develop and drive strategies that are part of the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063 that seeks to achieve ‘the Africa we want’ and explained that this will ‘enable Africa to contribute to the global pool of knowledge on its own terms rather than those dictated to them.’

Guest speaker, Chief Executive Officer of the African Peer Review Mechanism, Professor Eddy Maloka said that the consortium is an opportunity to ‘build on IKS by driving our own development processes based on our world views, ways of knowing, value systems including indigenous languages and home-grown philosophies as an authentic expression of ourselves and our identities as Africans.’

He highlighted that placing IKS at the centre of the knowledge base will enable us to rewrite the history of the world and what is taught in our universities. He explained the need for a universal approach to IKS and stressed that IKS technological developments should have a transformational impact on society and humanity at large.

Maloka concluded by congratulating all those involved and pledging his support for this initiative.

In his vote of thanks, Professor Yonah Seleti, Chief Director for the DSI thanked everyone for being part of this historic event and noted that ‘history will no longer be written by the hunter; we shall write our own history as the people.’

Seleti encouraged the 16 universities that are part of the institute to be part of a community built on the spirit of Ubuntu and to be ‘characterised as a people that have built a knowledge enterprise that is excellent...because Africans also thrive on excellence without which they wouldn’t have survived up to this time.’

In closing he expressed his support for the CIKS and thanked Ms Normah Zondo, Acting Executive Director, Corporate Relations and her team for making the virtual event a success.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

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Astrophysicists Address a Puzzle of Cosmic Expansion during Lockdown

Astrophysicists Address a Puzzle of Cosmic Expansion during Lockdown
Professor Yin-Zhe Ma (left), Dr Wei-Ming Dai and Figure 1.

Professor Yin-Zhe Ma of UKZN’s Astrophysics Research Centre (ARC) recently published research in a prestigious journal that will form the basis of an upcoming talk on a potential solution to the Hubble constant discrepancy, a highly contested point of debate in the astrophysics community concerning the rate of expansion of the Universe.

Published in Physical Review D Rapid Communication, Ma’s work presents a plausible physical solution to the discrepancy, an area of research in the field that has seen a flurry of attention and activity in recent years, including from fellow ARC researchers last year.

The calculation of the age of the Universe is linked to the rate of its expansion, a number quantified by what is known as the Hubble constant, with the accepted estimate of an age of 13.8 billion years derived from the standard model of the Universe that utilises measurements of the oldest light in the universe, observed by the Planck satellite.

In recent years however, as cosmology has entered a “golden age” of precision measurements, new local measurements have challenged accepted measurements of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation that inform this constant, raising questions as to the rate of the Universe’s expansion and consequently its age, the correctness of the measurements, and whether some new kind of physics was responsible for these deviant observations. Notable measurements include CMB and baryon acoustic oscillation surveys that give a low value Hubble constant, while distance ladder measurements that are derived from observations of celestial bodies are much higher.

Together with his co-authors, postdoctoral researcher at UKZN Dr Wei-Ming Dai and Professor Hong-Jian He of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Ma proposed using holographic dark energy (HDE), which describes the vacuum energy in a cosmic infrared region where the total energy saturates the limit of avoiding collapse into a black hole, to develop a dark energy equation demonstrating that the Universe accelerated more slowly early in its life and faster at later stages.

This presents a physical resolution of the Hubble constant discrepancy, as their HDE prediction of the Hubble constant fits cosmological data at all redshifts, and Ma and colleagues expect that their scenario will be tested in future CMB and large-scale structure surveys.

On 19 February, Dai and Ma will jointly present a data@breakfast talk hosted by UKZN’s Centre for Quantum Technology and the National Institute for Theoretical Physics (NITheP) on the puzzle of the Hubble space constant: a holographic Universe solution. Their presentation will include a review of the measurements from various surveys and will describe their physical and provable solution to the discrepancies between measurements.

Ma, who joined UKZN in 2015, obtained his PhD from the University of Cambridge, conducting postdoctoral research at the Universities of British Columbia and Manchester. His research focuses on observational and theoretical cosmology aimed at understanding the fundamental laws of the Universe and uncovering the nature of dark energy and dark matter. He is a member of the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Team (HERA), several working groups for the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), the Planck science team, and the TAIPAN/6dFGS galaxy survey team.

Dai obtained his PhD from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Theoretical Physics in 2018 and has since worked with Ma at UKZN. His research interests include 21-cm intensity mapping, CMB radiation, neutrino cosmology, large-scale structure, and data analysis.

Figure 1: A figure demonstrating the comparison between the data and the theories where the y-axis is the Hubble constant evolution and x-axis is the redshift indicating distance. The grey band is the predicted evolution curve of standard cosmology theory and the blue band is the predicted evolution of holographic dark energy theory. The data point at z=0 is the local distance ladder measurement. The holographic dark energy theory renders the prediction consistent with the data, but standard cosmology theory does not.

Words: Christine Cuénod

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UKZN’s Poetry Africa Festival partners with Quay Words (UK)

UKZN’s Poetry Africa Festival partners with Quay Words (UK)
South Africa-based Ms Efemia Chela, the Quay Words/English PEN digital writer-in-residence for February 2021.

The Poetry Africa Festival hosted by the College of Humanities has partnered with the Quay Words programme at Exeter Custom House to receive one of the British Council “Working Internationally” grants in 2021. This project is funded by the British Council Literature’s Working Internationally grant programme.

Between March and November, Quay Words and Poetry Africa will jointly host five free online networking, writer development and showcase days, celebrating writing by women in the UK and South Africa. Each of the five days will include a professional development session for four selected emerging writers, a larger informal networking event, and an early evening reading that pairs a UK-based writer with a South Africa-based writer.

The programme launches on 8 March 2021, International Women’s Day, with a live event featuring South Africa-based Ms Efemia Chela, the Quay Words/English PEN digital writer-in-residence for February 2021 and Ms Louisa Adjoa-Parker, who was the inaugural Quay Words writer-in-residence in July 2019. The project concludes on 25 November 2021.

Director of the Centre for Creative Arts Dr Ismail Mahomed said, ‘Poetry Africa is truly excited about this partnership. It is the largest spoken word poetry festival on the African continent. In 2021, the milestone of our 25th festival coincides with the 25th anniversary of the adoption of South Africa’s democratic constitution. Section 9 of the Constitution guarantees a full range of rights for women, freedom of expression and freedom of creativity.’

CEO of Literature Works Ms Helen Chaloner said, ‘It’s thrilling to be able to pair Quay Words in Exeter with the wonderful work of Poetry Africa in Durban during the year of the 25th festival. We can put our shared experience of digital delivery to great use, pairing emerging and established writers in the two cities to create dialogue and to ignite inspiration.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

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Ujamaa Centre hosts Annual Eudy Simelane Memorial Lecture

Ujamaa Centre hosts Annual Eudy Simelane Memorial Lecture
The annual Eudy Simelane memorial lecture was presented by South African Queer Poet Ms Koleka Putuma.

UKZN’s Ujamaa Centre in association with The Other Foundation recently hosted the annual Eudy Simelane Memorial Lecture. Simelane was a lesbian and Banyana-Banyana soccer player who was raped and brutally murdered in a homophobic hate crime in her home town of KwaThema.

The Ujamaa Centre for Biblical and Theological Community Development and Research, based within the School of Religion, Philosophy, and Classics aims to focus attention on homophobic hate crimes and violence by reflecting on the life and painful death of Simelane.

This year’s digital lecture continued the trajectory of engaging the intersection of gender, sexuality, and religion by critically reflecting on the realities that deny LGBTIQA+ people life, but with a focus on Queer agency, while aiming to prevent homophobic hate crimes within communities. The lecture also looked at how people create meaning, how these acts are surrounded by life-denying circumstances and how it connects to our everyday lives.

Ms Koleka Putuma, the South African Queer Poet who produced Collective Amnesia and the stage play No Easter Sunday for Queers, was the keynote speaker. Putuma reflected on the intersection of gender, sexuality, and faith/religion and the ways in which faith informs life-denying realities for queer people in the African faith landscape.

The 30-minute interview-style lecture was preceded by short introductions by Mr Bafana Simelane, Eudy’s brother and the spokesperson for the Simelane Family; Professor Charlene van der Walt, Deputy Director of the Ujamaa Centre and the person responsible for Body Theology as a thematic area in the organisation and Mr Teboho Klaas, the Religion Officer at The Other Foundation who enables this work through funding and collaboration.

‘This year we also launched the hashtag #RememberEudy to create a little bit of an energy point annually, to think about how memory informs identity, who we are but also our dreams,’ said van der Walt. She added: ‘The lecture asks us to hold things in a complex balance. We want to think of the ways in which faith is complicit in denying people life, we want to celebrate the ways in which LGBTIQA+ people make life and love amidst all that is life-denying, we want to mourn those we have lost and continue to lose, and we want to remember in order to live well.’

Bafana Simelane said that his sister was a very playful child who developed a love for soccer from following him around everywhere he went. ‘The whole world knows about her…in sport she was a diamond. She scored beautiful goals,’ he said.

Click here to watch the full lecture and join the conversation by using the hashtag #RememberEudy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuteht-DahA

Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela

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