UKZN Hosts Virtual Parents Day

UKZN Hosts Virtual Parents Day
A collage of the UKZN campuses.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal hosted a Virtual Parents Day for the parents and guardians of UKZN’s 2022 first-time entering students.

The event - aimed at providing the right tools, resources and information - was streamed live with 876 views on Zoom, 1 687 views on the University’s YouTube channel and over 3 200 views on the Facebook channel.

In her welcome address, Executive Director: Corporate Relations, Ms Normah Zondo shared her belief that despite the meeting being virtual - due to COVID-19 protocols - it would still serve its purpose of being insightful in sharing the University’s vision and plans for the academic year ahead.

Zondo, who facilitated the event, highlighted how the session would empower parents by giving them the chance to ask questions and engage with UKZN staff members which would in turn reassure them that their children’s decision to study at UKZN is the right one.

Speaking on behalf of the University’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Learning, Professor Sandile Songca welcomed parents and guardians and expressed his pride at UKZN’s first-year students for securing their place as one of 10 000 undergraduates out of 225 000 applicants the University had received this year.

Songca addressed the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic and noted the University’s stance in striking a balance between minimising the risk posed by the virus and the continuance of teaching and learning at the University.

‘Throughout the pandemic, staff and students have responded positively and in great solidarity to the monitoring and safety measures we first put into place and update routinely, co-ordinated through the creation of the COVID-19 Campus War Room.

‘As part of our efforts, a team of health and medical experts of the University instituted large-scale high-level surveillance, prevention and response measures to ensure that we were ready to deal with COVID-19 cases detected in our community.’

Songca reminded parents of the Institution’s longstanding international stature and reputation by highlighting one of its many achievements of being ranked third in South Africa in the 2021-2022 (URAP) World University Rankings.

He encouraged students to make the most of their time in the University by not only doing well academically, but also forging long standing friendships and urged parents to stay involved in their children’s academic progress and general wellbeing.

Student Representative Council (SRC) President, Mr Malusi Zuma expressed his gratitude to the University’s student body for putting their trust in them as leaders. He also highlighted the SRC’s aim in serving the student population financially - through a bursary scheme directed at relieving returning students from historical debt - academically, and in sports. Zuma noted the SRC’s mentorship programme designed to help bridge the gap between high school and university life and urged students to join hands in making UKZN the best it can be.

A live question and answer session was made available where parents were able to engage and ask questions directed to UKZN staff members who were on standby.

Closing off the event, Interim Senior Director for the Student Services Division, Professor Ntombifikile Mazibuko thanked the parents, guardians and caregivers of UKZN’s first-year students for attending. Noting how UKZN staff members are there to ensure that students succeed through means of a conducive living and learning environment, she expressed her hopes for providing well-rounded graduates and thanked the Corporate Relations Division for organising an informative event.

To watch the Virtual Parents Day event click here.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Image: Supplied


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UKZN Ranks Amongst the Top Three Universities in South Africa

UKZN Ranks Amongst the Top Three Universities in South Africa
UKZN has been placed third in the URAP rankings.

UKZN has been rated number three in South Africa in a new ranking by University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP) at the Middle East Technical University’s Informatics Institute in Turkey.

The rankings show the University’s national and global position. At the global level, UKZN is placed at 358.

The URAP ranking system focuses on academic quality. A total of 3 000 Higher Education Institutions as well as 61 different specialised subject areas were assessed globally. The rankings were released on 15 December 2021.

Executive Director: Corporate Relations Ms Normah Zondo said, ‘The University pays special tribute to all staff and students for all their invaluable contributions to this achievement. The scholarly and scientific work of our academics and researchers must be applauded. As a research-intensive Institution their contributions underpin UKZN’s excellent standing at the global level.’

URAP is a non-profit organisation that was established in 2009. Its main objective is to develop a ranking system for world universities based on academic performance indicators that reflect the quality and the quantity of their scholarly publications.

Words: Indu Moodley and Ndaba Online

Photograph: Supplied


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Top Student to Serve as Editor of International Journal

Top Student to Serve as Editor of International Journal
Mr Mohamed Suleman who has been appointed as Student Editor for the International Journal of Medical Students.Click here for isiZulu version

Fourth-year student at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine Mr Mohamed Suleman, has been appointed to serve as Student Editor for the International Journal of Medical Students.

Suleman and a neurosurgeon from the University of Cape Town are the only two South Africans on the editorial team which consists of 40 junior doctors and medical researchers worldwide who will undertake peer reviews of scientific articles submitted to the Journal.

Suleman said that this appointment will afford him the opportunity to broaden his horizons and acquire a critical mindset in research writing.

‘Peer reviews of scientific articles must be rigorous and comprehensive. It is imperative that we ensure scientific scrutiny and critique of research findings in order to maintain high standards and quality research output,’ he said.

The aspiring doctor was unanimously nominated as UKZN’s Best Student Researcher and Best Student Innovator in the Medical field during the 2021 year-end awards. His colleagues within the College of Health Sciences describe him as a dedicated and passionate early career researcher who lives up to UKZN’s motto of Inspiring Greatness.

Suleman is passionate about evidence-based medicine. He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spark debate on vaccine safety and efficacy.

‘The emergence of new variants will always pose a threat. COVID-19 has brought to light the importance of prioritising health; we must learn to live with how the virus continues to evolve,’ he said.

Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Medical Students Professor Francisco Escobar congratulated Suleman on his appointment and wished him well as he takes on this new role.

Words: Mandisa Shozi

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UKZN Student Among Gradstar 2021 Top 100 Most Employable Students

UKZN Student Among Gradstar 2021 Top 100 Most Employable Students
Ms Ayesha Bibi Setar who made the Gradstar 2021 Top 100 most employable students in South Africa list.

Honours in Finance student Ms Ayesha Bibi Setar is one of the Gradstar 2021 Top 100 most employable students in South Africa.

The award is based on leadership qualities and readiness for the workplace.

‘This is truly an honour that will help pave the way for me to land my dream job and future career,’ said Setar.

Students go through a rigorous four-phase judging process, culminating in a day of workshops hosted by potential employers. The 100 top students are connected with a successful business mentor through the Rising Star summit where they are mentored and network with their peers.

‘The summit was extremely insightful and helped students view failure as a stepping stone to success. The panellists shared their career experiences which was truly inspiring and motivating. The mentorship café allowed us to interact one-on-one with leaders from several industries which helped us create great connections. Meeting fellow Gradstars was a truly amazing experience as they share the same drive and ambition that I see in myself,’ said Setar.

The top achiever has held various leadership roles from being a class monitor in almost every grade through primary school, to being president of the Teenagers Against Drug Abuse club in high school and a member of the prestigious Golden Key International Honour Society. She has received four Dean’s Commendation letters and five Certificates of Merit as well as an Investment Foundations Certificate from the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute.

‘I learnt about Gradstar from an advertisement on social media, saw an opportunity and decided to take it. UKZN prepared me for this opportunity as it provided me with an up-to-date syllabus that fits the current world of work,’ said Setar.

Looking to the future, she hopes to join a global investment bank as an investment banker at the beginning of next year.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Supplied


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The Poor Can Own Banks

The Poor Can Own Banks
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Rising levels of poverty among the most vulnerable members of society call for a renewed approach to poverty eradication. Banking institutions play a critical role in development by providing credit to individuals, governments, and private organisations. However, they focus on the employed and established institutions and the poor and marginalised are not catered for since their socio-economic conditions do not allow them access to financial opportunities. This perpetuates the cycle of poverty. I would argue that the poor and unemployed can own banks.

Growing up in the then Zaire, I witnessed the complete absence of the government in all development sectors. Communities were left with no option but to fend for themselves. In response to the many challenges confronting them, they organised themselves and were able to build their own clinics, and water and road infrastructure. They also established successful businesses and were able to maintain economic and social stability.

The key factors that explain their success are shared awareness of the socio-economic challenges confronting communities; a strategy to build collective consciousness and a collective action plan; and collective action that brought people together to work for a common cause.

My experience motivated me to develop a model that could assist the poor and marginalised to establish their own financial institutions. Throughout human history, communities worked as a collective and were able to overcome most economic and social challenges. This was achieved by building collective consciousness and action.

Today, many countries are adopting a welfare system where citizens receive social grants. In South Africa for example around 20 million people receive such grants. This presents a golden opportunity to establish financial institutions owned by the poor and marginalised. If each recipient of a social grant were to contribute R1 per month, this would amount to R20 million. Over a period of three years, R720 million would be accumulated. These funds could be used to build a pro-poor banking scheme.

How would such a financial institution be structured and managed and how would the funds be utilised? The most appropriate form would be a shareholding, with a democratic structure to manage the institution elected by shareholders. These should be individuals with high moral standing in society and relevant skills. Members and non-members would be able to access funding in the form of credit at a very low interest rate. Communities could also access funding for collective business projects. In this way, the financial institution would provide the poor and unemployed with access to funding for development. 

While some of those with whom I have discussed this proposal have been sceptical about the possibility of success, mainly due to challenges in mobilising people, this is not a unique concept. People are already organising themselves in stokvels and funeral insurance is growing among the most vulnerable members of society.

Potential challenges include management of the finances of institutions of this nature. Growing mismanagement of public goods calls for a new approach. It is important to select people with a high level and traceable record of integrity and skills in managing public goods. It is also crucial to ensure that there is transparency and full public participation in all processes. Modern technology means that infrastructure will be needed to ensure the effective running of such financial institutions.

It is my conviction that, in order to succeed as developing nations, we need to bring our people together to work towards the common good. The history of development in developed countries rests on collaboration and collective action. Our education, economic and social systems will fail unless we collaborate and work as a collective. It is high time that we identify and reflect on opportunities available in our communities and exploit these for the benefit of all.

•    Dr Joseph Rudigi Rukema is a Senior Lecturer in the Sociology Discipline at the School of Social Sciences, College of Humanities.

*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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Humanities Academic Appointed Mercator Fellow at German University

Humanities Academic Appointed Mercator Fellow at German University
UKZN academic and Mercator Fellow at the University of Bremen, Professor Rozena Maart.Click here for isiZulu version

Academic within the College of Humanities, Professor Rozena Maart has been appointed as a Mercator Fellow at the University of Bremen, Germany within the Contradiction Studies - Constellations, Heuristics, and Concepts of the Contradictory programme.

Mercator Fellows are considered very prestigious within Germany and across the globe.

As a Mercator Fellow, Maart will deliver special lectures and will act as an external supervisor for PhD students as well as deliver lectures, workshops and public talks. Mercator Fellowships enable intensive exchange with researchers from Germany and bring additional expertise to a project, increasing its visibility. Maart’s extensive knowledge and experience of decolonial, post-colonial critiques and critical race theory will also be included in the project.

Fellows are integrated to a greater extent than visiting researchers. They are associated with the project over the long-term and work on site, at various times, at the host institution. They remain in contact even after their stay and carry the designation “Mercator Fellows”.

The programme that Maart joins is interdisciplinary and draws on the expertise of 12 Faculty Members and three Mercator Fellows, representing social and cultural anthropology; interdisciplinary linguistics; literary studies; North American and postcolonial theory and cultural studies; early German literary studies; law; human geography; political science; religious studies and philosophy.

It will consist of two stages and run for nine years. Supervision will be offered on an individual and co-supervision basis, which includes Mercator Fellows. The German Research Foundation (DFG) awarded the programme five million euros (R90 million) for the first four-and-a-half years, which is the first stage.

Maart has been at UKZN for just over 10 years and is also an International Research Ambassador at the University of Bremen in Germany. She received the 2021 Nicolás Cristóbal Guillén Batista Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in literature and philosophy. In 2016, she received the William R Jones Lifetime Achievement Award from the organisation, Philosophy Born of Struggle. She has also won several international awards, including the Journey Prize: Best Short Fiction in Canada in 1992 and a monetary prize for her short-story, No Rosa, No District Six.

Maart’s work examines the intersections between and among political philosophy, Black Consciousness, Derridean deconstruction and psychoanalysis, along with the contradictions of the colonisers who do textual decoloniality devoid of self-examination and self-interrogation whilst still benefitting from the very system of coloniality they claim to be against. She has published several books, journal articles and book chapters and recently edited two volumes titled, Decoloniality and Decolonial Education: South Africa and the World

Maart has had Zoom meetings with students at UKZN who she has encouraged to apply.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Summer School Trains Students in Applied Earth and Aquatic Sciences

Summer School Trains Students in Applied Earth and Aquatic Sciences
TrainME2 Summer school participants gain experience in extracting swamp sediments at the Twinstreams environmental camp and in gravity coring on the uMlalazi Estuary, and pay a visit to the West Coast Fossil Park.Click here for isiZulu version

Dr Jemma Finch from UKZN’s Discipline of Geography, together with colleagues from UKZN, the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa’s Council for Geoscience (CGS) and the University of Greifswald in Germany hosted a week-long field summer school for geoscience students from across Africa to provide training in bio- and geo-scientific fieldwork sampling in terrestrial and aquatic environments.

The Training School on Methods in Applied Earth and Aquatic Sciences (Train-ME2 CONNECT) took place in Germany in September 2021 and in South Africa in November 2021. While it was initially envisaged that it would be run contemporaneously with daily virtual connections between the two countries, the South African leg was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the second time this summer school has taken place; first hosted in 2019, it arose from collaborations between academics in Germany that are part of the Tracing Human and Climate Impacts in South Africa (TRACES) project and the Science Partnerships for the Adaptation to Complex Earth System Processes in the Southern Africa (SPACES) research network.

Funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the summer school provided training in measurement techniques of physical and chemical parameters, sampling of plankton and benthos, sampling of sediment surface, coring techniques to recover long and continuous sediment sequences on land, and palaeolimnological evaluation methods. It incorporated e-learning components and promoted cultural exchange.

Headed by Dr Finn Viehberg and Professor Torsten Haberzettl at the University of Greifswald and Finch at UKZN, the programme previously involved European and southern African students visiting South Africa, evolving into a parallel exercise in Germany and South Africa due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In South Africa, eight PhD and master’s candidates from various institutions were selected from 130 applications, with the final participants hailing from Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

The programme began on the east coast of South Africa at the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa’s Twinstreams environmental education centre and forest camp in Mtunzini, where Finch, postdoctoral researcher from UKZN Dr Lauren Pretorius, Dr Kelly Kirsten from the University of Cape Town (UCT), Dr Hayley Cawthra from the CGS and Viehberg taught various methods based on their specialisations during field laboratory exercises, including conducting gravity coring in the uMlalazi Estuary.

The group also visited the Sibudu Cave archaeological site, guided by Dr Gavin Whitelaw from the KwaZulu-Natal Museum.

Moving on to South Africa’s west coast, participants visited the Langebaan area. Working in the Berg River Estuary to obtain samples and cores, they recorded and mapped their data, comparing the east and west coast environments. To close off the trip, they visited the West Coast Fossil Park and the !Khwa ttu San Heritage Centre.

‘Our research examines environmental and climate change, but human context goes along with that,’ said Finch of the importance of the cultural visits.

The week’s activities involved workshop sessions with the German summer school participants, with the students tasked to develop material for an educational comic and worksheet - now in development - that is aimed at high school learners to enhance their engagement with science. They also produced video material and shared their experiences on Twitter and Instagram.

Finch praised the students for their hard work, saying they asked insightful questions and shared their knowledge while developing confidence in their own expertise and problem-solving skills.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photographs: Hayley Cawthra and supplied


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Enactus UKZN Students Lend a Helping Hand

Enactus UKZN Students Lend a Helping Hand
Top left: Ms Asande Sikhosane, Mr Thamsanqa Ngutshana, Mr Nathan Pillay, Bottom left: Ms Nitasha Pillay, Ms Fundiswa Mvubu, and Mr Ntando Dladla.

Enactus UKZN project: MyDigiTutor (MDT) launched the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) application programme on 26 November 2021 to assist students from disadvantaged backgrounds to apply for NSFAS funding onsite and online.

MyDigiTutor aims to empower young people through education by presenting virtual talks and mentoring sessions for high school learners. The project is co-ordinated by MDT project manager Ms Nitasha Pillay. Members of MDT assisted various students from different parts of South Africa.

MyDigiTutor representative Ms Asande Sikhosana visited Bethumoya High School to encourage students to apply for NSFAS funding.

Miss A Shezi, one of the first learners to receive assistance, commented, ‘At first I was so uneasy when Asande came to our school, Bethumoya to assist us and did not even want any money for exchange. We thank MDT for their help and time; you are all highly appreciated.’

‘Investing time and effort in our future leaders is like planting seeds that will bear fruit. Witnessing the programme’s impact on the lives of learners is truly rewarding. Behind the scenes there were a lot of late nights, but it was worth it,’ said Pillay.

Sikhosana commented: ‘While there were challenges, the responses from applicants made it worthwhile. A simple “Thank you, I’m so grateful, God bless you” kept me going and inspires me to do better.’

‘It was a very fulfilling programme to be part of. I could have not spent my time during the festive season in a better way. I hope we reach even more learners in the future,’ said Ms Fundiswa Mvubu (MDT publicity and marketing officer and events co-ordinator).

MyDigiTutor graphic designer, Mr Nathan Pillay created a video to assist students with NSFAS applications. ‘I am thrilled to able to use my abilities and skills to help others,’ he said.

Pillay noted that the programme has assisted around 150 learners across South Africa through digital means. She thanked all the team members who gave of their time to make the project a success.

Words: Asande Sikhosana and Fundiswa Mvubu


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Law Graduate Launches Legal Education Initiative for High School Learners

Law Graduate Launches Legal Education Initiative for High School Learners
UKZN graduate, Ms Thembalethu Shange.

UKZN alumnus and award-winning public speaker, Ms Thembalethu Shange has launched an initiative to integrate legal education into the South African high school curriculum.

Shange’s company Integrate Legal Group has introduced a flagship programme based on South Africa’s legal framework for high school pupils.

‘The law ultimately shapes the future of our youth and they need to understand its precepts,’ she said.

This corporate social investment (CSI) programme will see facilitators creating a safe space for learners to engage with and interrogate certain elements of the law. An interactive, four-module curriculum with afternoon lesson options will be offered to learners who want to learn more and be a part of the programme for a year.

‘Through this programme, we aim to ensure that young people are well-acquainted with the laws that govern their country. We aim to produce upstanding citizens who are also able to interrogate and protect the legal system they are governed by,’ explained Shange.

‘We encourage schools (principals, teachers and learners) to be part of this initiative. We also call on companies to adopt schools they want to be involved in our programme as part of their CSI initiatives,’ she added.

For more information on the Integrate Legal Group visit their website: www.integratelegalgroup.co.za.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Supplied


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Dean Serves as Panellist at International Symposium

Dean Serves as Panellist at International Symposium
Professor Ernest Khalema who participated in an international webinar.

Dean and Head of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies Professor Ernest Khalema participated in an international webinar on international perspectives on equity and inclusion organised by the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO).

The webinar examined equity in housing access, community development, the intersectionality of race, gender, and ability, and the possibility building more equitable and inclusive communities.

Khalema highlighted the importance of cultivating a world that nourishes equity, justice, fairness and a spirit of respect. He added that equity and inclusivity are not simply terms on institutional checklists, but should be lived out in everyday lives.

‘Organisations need inclusive approaches to effectively address inequity; approaches that consider the overlapping and intersectionality of race, gender and additional markers of difference,’ he said.

Khalema also noted the need to interrogate oppressive structures and the ways in which biases run rampant in our practices, especially when it comes to designing and implementing diversity and equity programmes.

‘We know the consequences of lack of inclusivity; good intentions alone are not enough. Research shows that when we intentionally strive for inclusion, everyone thrives.’

The plight of low-income communities around the world is exacerbated by their lack of voice, rights, access to resources, amenities and opportunities. Khalema noted that a supportive and nurturing environment will enable all to prosper, thrive and grow.

Another symposium is planned for 26 to 28 June 2022. It will provide a platform to interrogate the possibilities of a truly inclusive Pan-African city from different thematic positions, possibilities and contexts with a special focus on housing development, spatial justice and inclusivity.

Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela

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Lecturer Shares Music from Upcoming Release

Lecturer Shares Music from Upcoming Release
Music lecturer, Mr Burton Naidoo.Click here for isiZulu version

Music lecturer, Mr Burton Naidoo shared some of the music from his upcoming release Sometime Before at Alliance Francaise in Durban.

The concert was organised in collaboration with UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts and Centre for Jazz and Popular Music.

‘The compositions reflect a life “Sometime Before” the COVID-19 pandemic, during which most, if not all of us, long for normality. We miss simple gestures like hugs, handshakes, and meeting without masking. The music is groovy, edgy, celebratory, and nostalgic,’ said Naidoo.

Sometime Before will be released as an album in March. Naidoo is joined by Riley Giandhari on drums, Trevor Donjeany on bass, and Martin Sigamoney on saxophone.

Naidoo started piano lessons at the age of six with Simon Kerdachi at the Simon Kerdachi Academy of Music. He took a keen interest in jazz from an early age. In 2001 he enrolled in UKZN’S Jazz programme and spent four years under the wing of Mr Darius Brubeck. He was also awarded a scholarship to study at the University of Artisten, Gothenburg, Sweden, where he took lessons with Anders Perrson and Peter Burman.

In 2005 he won the South African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) Piano Competition and received funding for further international study. He has performed at The Rendezvous de ‘lerde Festival in Nantes, France, The International Association for Jazz Educators Conference in Los Angeles, Nefertiti Jazz Club in Sweden, and numerous World Music Festivals in Mozambique, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Morocco.

Locally he has played at The Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Oppikoppi, Splashy Fen, Woodstock, and the Emerentia Festival, to name but a few. Naidoo has performed and continues to perform with some of South Africa’s finest musicians across all genres.

He recently collaborated with legendary South African musicians, Sonny Pillay and Hugh Masekela for a series of concerts which, sadly, were one of Masekela’s last public performances. Naidoo has written and performed a large body of original music.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

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UKZN Honours Media Students Premiere Films

UKZN Honours Media Students Premiere Films
Honours films from the top: The Two Strands of Happiness and An Act of Love.Click here for isiZulu version

Two honours students in Media and Cultural Studies, Mr Maqhawe Xaba and Ms Kitana Reddy recently screened their film projects on the Howard College campus.

Xaba directed The Two Strands of Happiness and Reddy An Act of Love. Their scripts were selected from 14 and they were given the opportunity to direct.

Xaba’s film is about a young man who gets a rude awakening on the morning that he plans to propose to his boyfriend. ‘I am grateful that I got to tell this story and I hope to tell more stories of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, or questioning (LGBTIQ) community in the future. Furthermore, I hope that my research at master’s level will help me to tell stories but to also give access to the communities where these stories come from,’ he said.

Reddy’s An Act of Love is the story of Zenzile, a young woman who is questioned about the disappearance of her stepfather. It draws on the social issues of gender-based violence and child abuse and their effects on children. Reddy believes that ‘this story is relevant because it shines a light on the psychological and emotional trauma that can be inflicted on young minds in violent environments. More often than not, a child’s mental wellbeing is neglected or not properly addressed in these situations.’

She added, ‘Working on this film was a challenging experience. I was placed in various situations in all stages of production but it proved insightful. I learned the value of team chemistry and how crucial time management and communication are. The whole experience was anything but smooth sailing but I learned a lot, and it will stick with me for the rest of my life.’

Lecturer Mr Mzwandile Makhanya said, ‘The honours film course (Video Production) in the Department of Media and Cultural studies participated in the Fukamisa Intsha Film Project (Fukamisa), which is the Department’s community outreach programme that empowers KwaZulu-Natal’s young students and aspiring filmmakers. Due to being part of Fukamisa, the honours film students became part of this wonderful initiative that facilitates a relationship between our University, communities and industry.’

The screening showcased and celebrated the students’ efforts, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘We are also enabling a space where students can rub shoulders with our partners such as the KZN Film Commission, Centre for Creative Arts, Durban International Film Festival, Durban Film Office, and others. The students also got a chance to mingle with industry professionals such as Sibongiseni Shezi (who plays the role of Hleziphi in Uzalo), who has been sharing her talent and immense knowledge with us this past year,’ said Makhanya.

He added: ‘We also produced a water and sanitation documentary for the Department of Water and Sanitation Research. Our approach is not only to teach; we speak to matters that affect our community. It is for this reason that the aspiring filmmakers, through Fukamisa, produced films focusing on the Constitution and democracy, gender-based violence, sexuality and identity. Our films do not only entertain; we learn, inform, and uplift.’

Makhanya expressed his thanks to the Dean and Head of the School of Arts, Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa; Cluster Leader, Dr Sandra Pitcher; School Manager, Mr Adarsh Maharaj; Ms Karen Suter, Ms Pam de Beer, Ma Neereshini Chetty and Ms Alice Palan.

The students are also thankful to Ms Sinesipho Makaula, Ms Luthando Ngema, Mr Teboho Makopo, and Ms Abulele Njisane (Fukamisa Intsha project leader).

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Supplied


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Promoting Fun at Work

Promoting Fun at Work
A stock image depicting one of the ways to have fun at work.

-By Nkosingiphile Ntshangase 

In an ideal world, going to work shouldn’t be a drag. Studies have highlighted the importance of also having fun at work as it makes people more productive. A number of modern companies have sought to attract millennials and members of “Gen-X”, and “Gen-Z” by promoting fun in the workplace.

They include Google, Twitter, YouTube, Nike and South Africa’s Discovery Health Services. Indeed, Fun at Work Day is celebrated each year on 28 January to encourage people to add some fun to their workday.

While some have criticised this trend on the basis that the main goal of a business is to make profits, according to the Harvard Business Review, people are drawn to positive work environments as they encourage a healthy atmosphere which is key to productivity.

Promoting fun at the workplace need not involve a large investment. The idea is to open minds to explore ideas and opportunities to help employees to be more successful and productive. People understand fun differently, but one thing everyone understands is the language of laughter. Creating a work environment that is fun can positively impact employee creativity, motivation and teamwork. It can also reduce tension and unite colleagues during stressful times.

Adding fun activities to the workplace is a great way to connect and bond with colleagues. Here are some tips from “Snacknation” on how you can foster fun at work:

1. Celebrate employees’ birthdays and milestones
2. Encourage public recognition
3. Start every meeting with icebreakers, jokes or games
4. Share a daily brain teaser (riddle, question, historical fact)
5. Lift the spirits with good music
6. Encourage feel-good fun with wellness activities
7. Introduce Game Days or Challenges
8. Encourage conversations

‘Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for few minutes, including you.’

Nkosingiphile Ntshangase is the Marketing Assistant at UKZN Extended Learning, focusing on social media management, marketing, communications and blogging.

Image: AdobeStock


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