UKZN Honours Top Female Academics in Engineering and Geography

UKZN Honours Top Female Academics in Engineering and Geography
Dr Jemma Finch (left) and Professor Cristina Trois.

Professor Cristina Trois, South African Research Chair (SARChI) in Waste and Climate Change and Dr Jemma Finch of the Discipline of Geography have earned recognition from UKZN in the form of a Fellowship of the University and the Vice-Chancellor’s Research Award, respectively.

Fellowship is awarded to Professors or Senior Professors in recognition of distinguished academic achievement and the production of high-quality scholarly work that demonstrates originality and creativity.

Trois, who was the first female Dean of the School of Engineering at UKZN, has been at the University for more than 20 years and made considerable contributions to research and teaching in Environmental Engineering.

The C1 National Research Foundation (NRF) rated researcher has more than 100 publications on aspects of environmental and geo-engineering; waste and climate change in sustainable cities; waste and resources management; control, management and treatment of landfill emissions; renewable energy from waste and greenhouse gas control from zero waste in Africa and developing countries; and alternative building materials.

Trois has supervised more than 60 postgraduate students, developed and co-ordinates the first Master’s Programme in Waste and Resources Management in South Africa, and through her SARChI Chair leads a dynamic research group.

She has driven innovation in waste management, waste minimisation, waste to energy projects, and wastewater engineering and treatment with municipalities in South Africa, pioneered the “cellular method” of landfilling, and contributed to the first leachate treatment plant in South Africa and to the first African, World Bank-funded “landfill-gas-to-electricity project”. She has also advised national and local government and the private sector on their waste management strategies.

She is a member of several international research teams, including the International Waste Working Group (IWWG)-Southern Africa Regional Branch and International Partnership to advance local authorities’ waste management services, and has collaborators in Italy, the UK, India, Germany, France and Switzerland. She is an editor and reviewer for numerous journals and institutions, and a member of engineering councils, royal societies, waste management institutes and United Nations commissions.

Trois has established multi-disciplinary research centres and laboratories to focus on environmental engineering research, and developed initiatives that encourage women and girls’ participation in Science and Engineering.

Originally from Sardinia, she completed her studies at Cagliari University in Italy where she is a registered professional engineer, and her achievements in her field led to the award of a knighthood under the title of Cavaliere del lavoro from the Italian Republic - the highest honour an Italian citizen can receive from their country.

Trois has won recognition in South Africa for her efforts - she was a first runner-up for a Department of Science and Innovation Women in Science Award in 2016.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Research Award for 2021 recognises Finch’s outstanding research achievements. Presented annually, this Award recognises research, scholarly, or creative productivity in young researchers, and is valued at R150 000 in research funding.

After two years of a global pandemic that hampered research efforts, Finch said receiving the award is a boost.

‘I am truly honoured and grateful to receive this recognition, and would like to acknowledge the postgraduate students who I have had the privilege of working with over the years, the enormous contribution made by my collaborators, and the support of my family,’ said Finch.

Finch, a senior lecturer in Geography, completed her undergraduate and master’s studies at UKZN before heading to the University of York in England as an Early Career Researcher on a Marie Curie Excellence Grant. Her PhD research at York focused on understanding how biodiverse tropical forests in East Africa responded to climate change in the past. She rejoined UKZN as a lecturer following a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Cape Town.

Finch’s research in palaeoecology involves using plant and animal remains preserved in wetland sediments as indicators of past climates and environments; she aims to use environmental histories to better predict how ecosystems will respond to change in the future.

Her ongoing research projects involve examining the drivers of ecosystem change over time in Maputaland, the Drakensberg, and East Africa. More recently, she expanded this focus to include estuarine salt marsh deposits along the southern African coastline as a means to understand regional patterns of sea level rise in response to climate warming.

With a C2 rating from the NRF, Finch has 28 articles and book chapters to her name and is an Associate Editor mentee for the South African Journal of Science in the fields of archaeology, anthropology and palaeontology. She has graduated 12 masters and PhD students and teaches undergraduate biogeography and environmental change, with a special interest in fieldwork-based training and developing scientific writing skills.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photographs: Supplied

author : .
author email : .

Fertility Law Experts Focus on the Genetic Link Requirement for Surrogacy

Fertility Law Experts Focus on the Genetic Link Requirement for Surrogacy
The School of Law’s Health Law and Ethics Research Interest Group’s recent workshop focused on the Genetic Link Requirement for Surrogacy.

Click here for the isiZulu version

Is it time to reconsider the genetic link requirement for surrogacy? This was the question discussed by fertility law experts at an online workshop hosted by the School of Law’s Health Law and Ethics Research Interest Group.

In 2015, the Pretoria High Court in the case of AB ruled that section 294 of the Children’s Act - the genetic link requirement for surrogacy - is unconstitutional. However, a majority of the Constitutional Court disagreed, and it remained in the law books. Another constitutional challenge is currently being mounted against this section.

The aim of the workshop was to explore the relevance of the genetic link requirement in surrogacy agreements. To this end, the guest panellists discussed both the High Court and Constitutional Court judgment in the AB case, as well as outlined the issues of the current constitutional challenge in the KB case.

The discussion, which was facilitated by School of Law academic and research group leader Professor Donrich Thaldar, comprised of the following panellists:

•   Associate Professor Amanda Boniface of UJ’s Department of Private Law

•   Dr Carmel van Niekerk, a Law of Delict specialist, from the UWC’s Department of Law of Persons

•   Mrs Aliki Edgcumbe, a UKZN doctoral research fellow

•   Dr Bonginkosi Shozi, a UKZN and UCSD postdoctoral research scholar

•   Professor Magda Slabbert, of UNISA’s Department of Jurisprudence

Boniface presented a critical retrospection on the High Court phase of the AB case, where the focus was on the court’s interpretation of the concept of family. Although the right to a family is not explicit in our law, Boniface explained that the right to dignity has been interpreted to include this right. Her presentation focused on the High Court’s decision to declare section 294 unconstitutional by focusing on the offended rights of commissioning parents.

‘The basic reasons for the case were that it infringes human dignity; therefore, it is inconsistent with our Constitution. Legislation should recognise the advances in reproductive and fertility technology should redefine the traditional view of what a family is,’ stated Boniface.

The Constitutional Court judgment was analysed by van Niekerk who explored the minority and majority ruling in the AB case. The majority overturned the High Court decision and held that section 294 was constitutional. She critiqued the majority’s interpretation of the legal conception of family. ‘From the decision of the majority, it seems that this is still based predominantly on biology, and by adopting this approach what the court is effectively doing is that it is rejecting numerous family forms that exist despite biology,’ explained van Niekerk. 

Edgcumbe introduced the facts of the KB case, which is the latest constitutional challenge to section 294. The applicant in this matter is arguing that the genetic link should be extended to include the possibility of a shared genetic link between the prospective child born of a surrogacy arrangement and any siblings. Edgcumbe explored the latest psychological evidence on the adjustment of children born via surrogacy and conceived using donor gametes, which raised important questions of what value should be placed on a genetic link. Shozi argued for a compromise solution where the courts are given powers to dispense of the genetic link requirement where good cause is shown. A poll conducted at the end of the workshop indicated that the majority of attendees were in agreement with this proposed solution.

Summarising the discussion and strategising the way forward, Slabbert asserted that it is necessary to look into the legal concept of family. ‘There should be more research from an African perspective on this issue. How is a family seen nationally and internationally, and how does the law see this?’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Image: Supplied

author : .
author email : .

Bullying in South African Primary Schools: Cause for Concern

Bullying in South African Primary Schools: Cause for Concern

Learner-on-learner bullying continues to be a major concern in South African primary schools, disrupting the functioning of the schooling system. Bullying in schools can be described as a cruel and aggressive behaviour among school going children. It involves a learner or a group of learners who claim to be in power (perpetrators) inflicting discomfort over time through repeated verbal, emotional, physical and/or anti-social behaviour with the aim of intimidating and abusing other learners (victims). This negatively impacts victims’ ability to learn and engage with other learners and teachers within the school environment. Furthermore, it impacts the wider community as learners who are on the receiving end of abuse often fail to report it to their teachers and parents/guardians.

In this piece, I start by unpacking and analysing two incidents of bullying that I have come across since the commencement of the current academic year. The first was witnessed on Facebook, while the other one was witnessed second-hand through experiences shared by a school going child close to me who was a victim. I then offer some recommendations on what can be done to address the increasing prevalence of bullying/violence in South African primary schools.

Early on 26 January 2022, exactly a week after the coastal cluster opened, I learned of a bullying incident posted by a Facebook friend Nontokozo (pseudonym) that happened to her daughter. Nontokozo reported that her daughter had been exposed to brutal acts of bullying ever since schools opened in a primary school within the Zululand District in KwaZulu-Natal.  She shared: My daughter has been going through bullying and not reporting it to me, up until yesterday where she didn’t want to go to school. I had to beg and ask her, repeatedly … what might be bothering her, only to find out that she is bullied by boys in her school. They were taking her money and even her lunchbox ever since schools opened.

She continued, ‘worse, they have been forcing themselves [boys] on her and kissing her. I am deeply hurt by this.’ Startled, and after reading her story for the second-time, my heart felt heavy hearing what this young girl had to experience in a learning environment at the hands of young boys who are her peers. I could imagine how helpless and vulnerable she felt. What disturbed me the most is that last time I heard such a story was when I was at school. Although I am aware as a teacher that bullying and violence are rife in South African schools, I was shocked to learn that what I had experienced in primary school, although not at first hand, was still happening.

The concerned Facebook community gathered with a view to offering support to Nontokozo and her daughter. They offered practical suggestions as to how she could seek justice for her daughter and prevent further abuse. Although burdened by a heavy heart, in her concluding remarks, Nontokozo pleaded with us as parents, guardians and community members to ‘…teach our children to love and protect each other.’ It is we elders who can instil such values and attitudes at home.

In mid-February 2022, I learned of another case of bullying in a South African primary school that happened to a very close family member. The girl had lost her facemask on the school premises. Her grandmother, who is in her mid ’70s told me that when she tried to get the six-year-old to tell her what had happened to her mask, she burst into tears. Remembering the earlier bullying incident, I feared the worst. I promised the grandmother I would intervene in my capacity as a close family member and teacher. I spoke to the child in the absence of her grandmother and she told me that, ‘two boys in my class (mentioning names), forcefully took my mask and told me not to report this to our teacher or at home because they would beat me up.’ I had to hide my face for a moment as I realised this was yet another case of bullying at school.

I hugged the child, and told her that everything would be okay and that I would attend to her case the following day at school. As a community member and teacher, my heart was filled with sadness and disappointment that such incidents are still happening, let alone in a school that I attended. I also wondered why the child confided in me when she wouldn’t speak to her grandmother. I realised that although she called me bhuti (brother) wherever we met and engaged at home, I was a teacher who she trusted to attend to the matter.

The following day, I put my research aside and travelled to the school. I engaged with the relevant teachers, and we tried our best to address the issue. However, I was concerned by the fact that the school had no policy on bullying.

Bullying or any form of violence in South African primary schools violates learners’ constitutional right to basic education as well as their right to “freedom and security of the person, which includes the right to be free from all forms of violence” (Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996). Thus, all relevant stakeholders should ensure that measures are adopted to combat bullying and violence in schools.

Although much research has been conducted and continues to be done on the subject at hand, I propose the following context specific recommendations:

• I am reminded of Charles Dickens who wrote, ‘charity begins at home and justice begins next door.’ As family members, we need to teach our children from an early age to love themselves and the significant others they meet and engage with.

• All schools should formulate policies on bullying and any form of abuse/violence and these should be prominently displayed in classrooms, with the rules and consequences of such behaviour clearly spelt out. Teachers should constantly remind learners of these rules.

• Such policies should be aligned with the Department of Basic Education’s minimum standards on safety in schools and should be communicated to all relevant stakeholders, including learners, teachers, parents/guardians, and community members.

Let us work together to fight and end the scourge of bullying and abuse/violence that haunts our schools.


Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996.

Mr Luthando Molefe is a lecturer (contract) in the Discipline of Science Education, within the Cluster of Science and Technology Education at UKZN’s School of Education.

Photograph: Supplied

*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.

author : .
author email : .

UKZN Launches Book on Decoloniality and Decolonial Education: South Africa and the World

UKZN Launches Book on <em>Decoloniality and Decolonial Education: South Africa and the World</em>
Seen from left is Ms Nandipha Makhaye (Chief Architect, Gauteng Department of Social Development), Professor Rozena Maart and Ms Londiwe Sokhabase (eThekwini architect).

Click here for the isiZulu version

A Special Issue of the Alternation journal titled Decoloniality and Decolonial Education: South Africa and the World, edited by Professor Rozena Maart, was launched at Ike’s Bookstore in Durban.

Critiques of racism, definitions of decolonisation and decoloniality, histories of enslavement, coloniser-colonised relations, the coloniality of language, the colonial teaching practices of empire colonies, Black and racialised bodies as sites of racism and colonisation in the afterlife of apartheid, are among the work in this collection.

‘Discussions on decoloniality and decolonial education have been front and centre in the South African landscape within and outside Higher Education for the past two decades.  Communities of scholars have been embroiled in questions of race, space, the city, language, identity, literature, the economy, histories of slavery and enslavement, gender, sexuality, desire, food, histories of struggle, and their respective and intertwined relationship with our continued struggle with settler coloniality in South Africa in the afterlife of apartheid,’ explained Maart.

Alternation Editor-in-chief, Professor Johannes Smit added, ‘Due to its interdisciplinary nature, Alternation is an important journal for the Arts and Humanities, and is at the forefront of knowledge production and knowledge and research transformation. Virtually all its publications are contextually-relevant and impact academia transformatively - they are productively used by scholars, students and teachers alike. We welcome this edition which was expertly edited by Professor Maart.’

Professor Puleng Segalo’s Critical Reflections on UNISA’s Decolonial Summer School is a call to decolonise university curricula in South Africa. Professor Lewis R Gordon’s article is titled Some Thoughts on Decolonisation, Decoloniality, Racism and Challenges of Citizenship in Communities of Learning, while Professor Sabine Broeck’s work, Decolonality and Enslavism complements Gordon’s and continues with the focus on enslavement.

Thomas Meagher’s The Spirit of Seriousness, is situated in the existential phenomenology of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir and unpacks why the spirit of seriousness is important for decolonisation. Professor Patrick Bond and Mr Gumani Tshimomola start their article titled From Recolonised to Decolonised South African Economics by asserting that replacing a neo-colonial project of financial control by neoliberal forces with one that represents genuine economic decolonisation has never been more urgent, in South Africa and elsewhere.

Mr Malick Diagne’s The Socialism of Frantz Fanon: A Theory for the Rehabilitation of Subjugated Peoples engages with the historicity of Fanon’s thought that addresses the radicality of the colonised subject and the drive towards freedom. Professor Oumar Dia takes the reader through how Fanon utilised Hegel’s master and slave dialectics to produce a theory of liberation.

Maart’s Black Bodies on South African Beaches: “Lus” en “Smaak” jou lekker ding offers a systematic unpacking of the text unleashed by Penny Sparrow, a White South African woman who, along with several others between 2015 and 2016, at the height of the #FeesMustFall protests, continued to attack Black bodies on social media platforms.

Dr Jade Gibson’s, Decolonising the “Eye” within the “I” - Heterotopias of Self: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of Visual and Material Relationships among and between Space, Body, Memory, Identity and Place, addresses multifaceted heterotopias.

Dr Danille Arendse’s Coloured Consciousness: Reflecting on How Decoloniality Facilitates Belonging, offers a series of reflections on her Coloured identity from a place of complex existential experiences.

Dr Sayan Dey and Maart’s article Decolonisation and Food: The Burden of Colonial Gastronomy - Stories from West Bengal brings together Dey’s work on the food customs of pre-colonial Bengal and Maart’s on food colonisation from Bengal and Java to District Six, the old slave quarter of Cape Town. Mr Christopher Gevers’ article is on South Africa, International Law and “Decolonisation”.

Mr Sieraaj Francis’ article, White Line-Managers and Black Labour: Ticking the Boxes of Decolonisation in a Teaching and Learning Unit of a “First Class” University in South Africa interrogates his refusal to participate in ‘decolonial pedagogical practices’ as instructed by his White line-manager, and the existential journey that ensued.

UKZN Architecture lecturer Mr Juan Ignacio Solis-Arias’ article, Acts and Actors: Decolonising the study of Architecture at a South African University offers an account of his place within a setting that he is unfamiliar with, yet he observes that East African architects who enter the university as examiners come equipped to dehumanise the last of the continent’s Black students who dared to enter into the domain of architecture - previously reserved for their colonisers.

In Rainbow Schooling Pains: An Auto-Ethnographic account of Model C Schooling in South Africa, Ms Philile Langa offers an existential account of her schooling within the Model-C system. Professor Sukla Chatterjee and Professor Cloris Porto Torquato focus on literature and language. The collection includes opinion pieces by Mr Sipho Singiswa and Ms Gillian Schutte and two roundtable discussions.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Supplied  

author : .
author email : .

Colloquium Celebrates 15 Years of UKZN’s Language Policy

Colloquium Celebrates 15 Years of UKZN’s Language Policy
Professors Sipho Seepe (left) and Pedro Alvarez-Mosquera presented keynote addresses at the colloquium.

Click here for the isiZulu version

UKZN’s College of Humanities and the National Institute for The Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) co-hosted a language colloquium under the theme Celebrating 15 years of the UKZN language policy and UNESCO declaration of a decade of indigenous languages 2022-2032. The colloquium promoted African languages as factors of African integration and development within the African continent.

Dean and Head of the School of Arts Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa said, ‘Staff within the College have worked closely with the University Language Planning and Development Office to implement the policy and intellectualise isiZulu.’

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College, Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize commented, ‘Language and knowledge construction is not just a medium of communication, but it plays a role in problem solving.’ He added that languages in society, colonialism, education and gender are intricately woven into indigenous knowledge systems and ‘the African language/s is central in decolonising the curriculum.’

Keynote addresses were delivered by Professor Sipho Seepe, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Institutional Support at the University of Zululand and Professor Pedro Alvarez-Mosquera who teaches language and linguistics in the English Department at the University of Salamanca.

Seepe looked at justice and language in order to redress coloniality, noting that Africans still use the language of their colonisers. Court proceedings occur in a language which most barely understand, which is a travesty of justice.

‘It is common in the academy for a supervisor who is not conversant in an African language to be a promoter of a student who is looking into African languages,’ said Seepe. ‘UKZN should be congratulated for having had the foresight and courage as early as 2006 to bring on board language as part of its transformation agenda. Going beyond the usual advocacy rhetoric is an act of intellectual courage as much of what is presented as scholarship mimics what happens in the colonial metropoles.’

He highlighted the need to deconstruct the logic of the dominant paradigm and the appropriation of an intellectual space to enable African scholars to reclaim the responsibility of defining their own “narratives”.  He said that an intellectualised language should be technically and terminologically equipped to be utilised at every level in all fields of education.

Alvarez-Mosquera contributed to the ongoing debate on how to foreground the use of African languages in South African Higher Education by means of the Erasmus + Capacity Building Project BAQONDE.

BAQONDE is a collaborative effort between the European Union (EU) and South African Higher Education Institutions. Alvarez-Mosquera noted that it ‘brings together national and international co-operative work focusing on innovative multilingual teaching methodologies, the development of new materials to teach/learn multilingually, and fostering top-down (inter-institutional) strategies to guarantee more inclusive access to Higher Education.’ The project ‘highlights, in all its dimensions, the fundamental role of languages in the social cohesion and development of a country.’

Other UKZN academics and scholars that presented their papers at the colloquium were:Acting Director for UKZN’s Language Planning and Development Office Mr Khumbulani Mngadi presented an overview of the University’s Language Policy Plan Now and Beyond Review. The proposed new language policy dispensation for 2019 to 2029 is the full intellectualisation of isiZulu, corpus planning and status planning and the University Language Board started the review process in May 2021. Mngadi noted, that ‘Acquisition planning is left to Colleges. This elevates isiZulu to be a language of research and innovation with renewed vigour.’

•   Dr Malusi Mkhize and Professor David Lockhat

Intellectualisation of African Languages in Engineering: Current status and approach

•   Dr Elke Steinmeyer

The use of isiZulu for the teaching of Latin grammar - a case study

•   Dr Tholani Hlongwa and Dr Sanele Nsele

Isihloko: Inqubomgomo yolimi yaseNyuvesi yaKwaZulu-Natali njengesisekelo ekuthuthukiseni izingcwaningo ngesiZulu ulimi lwezifundiswa: Ukuninga ngesidlule kukho

•   Dr Phindile Dlamini and Dr Andrew-John Bethke

Tackling the Lexical Gap between English and isiZulu in Music: A Collaborative Translation Journey to Isingeniso Sesisekelo Kwezomculo

•   Dr Phindile Dlamini and Mr Edwell Dzomba

Policy Position and Practice in the Teaching and Learning of Kiswahili at the University of KwaZulu-Natal: A Language Management Approach

•   Dr Monique Whitaker

Using language tutors to enhance teaching and learning Institutions

•   Professor Nogwaja Zulu

The management of the use of official language by the South African government in communicating COVID-19 healthcare messages

•   Ms Samukelisiwe Madondo and Dr Desire Manicom

The Implementation of Tertiary Education Language Policy: A Case Study of the Language Policy of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Pietermaritzburg campus)

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Supplied 

author : .
author email : .

Whistleblowers Given Prime Time at Time of the Writer Festival’s Dinner Conversations

Whistleblowers Given Prime Time at Time of the Writer Festival’s Dinner Conversations
From left: Ms Cynthia Stimpel, Mr Jonathan Ancer, Mr Themba Maseko and Mr Chris Whitfield.

Click here for the isiZulu version

The 25th edition of UKZN’s Time of the Writer festival will bring together some of the brightest minds who have written books on state capture, corruption, and a failed insurrection in South Africa.

Appropriately billed Dinner Conversations the series will kick off with radio journalist Ms Michelle Constant talking to Mr Jonathan Ancer and Mr Chris Whitfield about their book Joining the Dots: An unauthorised biography of Pravin Gordhan, an in-depth, insightful, and gripping read about a man who found the courage to stand up to the dark forces of state capture. Constant will also chat to Mr Athol Williams (Deep Collusion), Mr Themba Maseko (For my country), Ms Mosilo Mothepu (Uncaptured) and Ms Cynthia Stimpel (Hijackers on Board).

Deep Collusion uncovers the inner workings of state capture design and the after-hours, behind-closed-doors planning that took place. It highlights the lonely burden of the whistle-blower and the tremendous personal cost of telling the truth in the face of overwhelming pressure.

Maseko’s For my country shows what it takes to stand true to one’s principles. In 2010, government spokesperson Maseko was called to the Gupta family’s Saxonwold compound and asked by Ajay Gupta to divert the government’s entire advertising budget to the family’s media company. When Maseko refused to do so, he was removed from his position and forced to leave the public service. He was ostracised, slandered, and even threatened for this courageous act of whistleblowing.

When Stimpel was appointed Group Treasurer of South African Airways (SAA), she thought she had found her dream job and that she would be there for years. Her book Hijackers on Board is a very personal state capture story that shows how the bravery of one individual can change the course of history. Despite knowing that she might jeopardise her job and her family’s finances, Stimpel did not hesitate to tip-off Treasury and blow the whistle, saving the taxpayer R256-million.

Mothepu’s Uncaptured recounts her whistleblowing in the Negate / Troillian saga. Facing criminal charges and bankruptcy, unemployed and deemed a political risk, Mothepu experienced the loneliness of whistleblowing first-hand. She tells her story in the hope that others who find themselves in a similar situation will follow in her footsteps and speak truth to power.

Centre for Creative Arts’ (CCA) Director Dr Ismail Mahomed said, ‘In the face of so much political betrayal in our fragile democracy, these whistle-blowers, who put their lives and careers at stake for the sake of the country, are our new heroes. At the Time of the Writer, we wish to honour them and allow our followers to get to know them.’

Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela

Photographs: Supplied

author : .
author email : .

More than 100 Writers for 25th Time of the Writer Festival

More than 100 Writers for 25th Time of the Writer Festival
The Time of the Writer Festival runs from 14 to 21 March 2022.

More than 100 writers have been assembled for the 25th edition of the Time of the Writer festival that will be presented online for the third consecutive year by the Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within the College of Humanities from 14 to 21 March 2022.

The theme of the festival is Beyond Words: Memory, Imagination and Conscience. Inspired by Africa’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, Chief Albert Luthuli, it will honour his legacy and commemorate the 60th anniversary of his autobiography, Let My People Go. Participants will also reflect on whether Luthuli’s vision for a better South Africa has been served or betrayed.

Writer, academic, producer and broadcaster Dr Nokuthula Mazibuko-Msimang will deliver the keynote address at the festival’s opening.

‘Dr Mazibuko-Msimang’s incredible writing talent in print and for film covers a diverse range of social issues. She is a formidable South African writer and public intellectual,’ said CCA Director Dr Ismail Mahomed.

The featured author is South African poet and cultural activist, Mr Mandla Langa, whose novel The Lost Colours of the Chameleon won the 2009 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.

The daily prime evening slot at 7pm will feature authors whose recent publications aim to make sense of state capture, corruption, racism, gender-based violence and several other challenges to South Africa’s constitutional democracy.

This year’s festival will bring writers together in a lively and more relaxed discussion during which they will share anecdotes from their lives and careers as well as snippets from their writings. Other highlights are the heartbeat of the isiZulu language, creative writing and skills training and a series of one-on-one interviews with leading South African authors.

During the festival, the organisers will announce an annual literature champion, in which they honour an individual or organisation at the coalface of broadening access to books.

On Monday 21 March, the Festival will present a special programme to mark UNESCO’s International Poetry Day and Human Rights Day in South Africa.

The festival will be live-streamed and can be viewed on or

The Time of the Writer festival was the first South African festival to venture into the virtual space in March 2020, two days after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced national lockdowns to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CCA scooped two nominations and an award in the Best Digital Creations category at the 2021 National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences Awards ceremony.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Image: Supplied 

author : .
author email : .

Scholarship Recipients Attend Leadership and Mentorship Retreat

Scholarship Recipients Attend Leadership and Mentorship Retreat
J&J WiSTEM2D scholarship recipients attended a leadership retreat.

Click here for the isiZulu version

Fourteen recipients of the Johnson & Johnson Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Manufacturing and Design (WiSTEM2D) scholarship attended a two-day workshop in Scottburgh on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast.

The retreat was organised and facilitated by Dr Bridget Horner and Professor Yanga Zembe-Zondi of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies. Confidence coach Mrs Khethiwe Makhethi assisted the students in finding and developing their unique confidence and purpose, aligning their purpose with the potential to serve others and earn an income.

Dr Miranda Young-Jahangeer, Ms Princess Sibanda and Ms Stephanie Jenkins from UKZN’s Drama and Performance Studies creatively explored the potential of women in science and their collective responsibility as mentors to other women and society as a whole.  I am because you are, ‘Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu’ served as a powerful reminder of their relationship with others. 

The retreat was also an opportunity to establish a peer mentoring programme.

UKZN joined the J&J initiative in 2021 to increase the number of women who enter and graduate from undergraduate programmes with degrees in STEM2D by raising awareness of WiSTEM2D across UKZN and high schools within the Institution’s feeder area. The project was initiated through the leadership of the School of Education, working collaboratively with the School of Built Environment and Development Studies’ architecture programme, the School of Mathematics and Statistics, and the SARChI Chair in the School of Engineering.

Education student Ms Taryn Valerie commented, ‘This workshop showed us that as women, we share something in common in that we’ve been marginalised throughout history in these fields.  It allowed me to tap into my inner role model who is an inspiration to myself and others. As women, we often look to celebrities and unrealistic role models when there are women in our local communities that are so inspirational.’

Architecture student Ms Aphiwe Tshazi described the event as inspiring, informative and educative. ‘I gained knowledge on what it means to be a woman in STEM and was also exposed to the available opportunities for women in these fields.’

She advised women in STEM ‘to always keep in mind that in the midst of all the good and bad they will face in pursuing their careers, they are in this field because of their belief in science and their worthiness to be afforded this opportunity.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Bridget Horner

author : .
author email : .

International Students Explore Zulu Culture

International Students Explore Zulu Culture
Scenes from the international students visit to Ecabazini Homestead.

Nestled in the heart of Albert Falls - a small town just outside Pietermaritzburg - lie the rural plains of Ecabazini Zulu Homestead. This pristine valley which seems untouched by the Western world overlooks the Albert Falls Dam and is surrounded by lush green forests with traditional huts, a kraal and Nguni cows.

International students at UKZN were treated to a tour of Ecabazini organised by the International Relations Office. After a long drive, upon arrival, they mingled with other international scholars from France, Malawi, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Executive Director for Corporate Relations, Ms Normah Zondo, formally welcomed students to UKZN and the beautiful province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and wished them well as they headed for a truly authentic Zulu breakfast of amagwinya (vetkoeks) and refreshments.

Greeted by the farm owner, David and his friendly staff, uMaka Mge, Philisiwe and Lungelo, the students were transported back in time as they learnt about how the Zulu people originally lived. Highlighting the differences in the dress code for young maidens and married women, Maka Mge explained that betrothed women wear isidwaba - a skirt made out of cow skin, isicholo - a hat, and ibhayi - a cloth draped around the shoulders.

The students examined a Zulu traditional homestead with huts laid out in a circle and the kraal placed in the centre to protect the cows from wild animals. David noted that indl’enkulu - the house at the top of the circle - is always the biggest, is aligned with the entrance to the homestead and is reserved for the eldest person in the family. With a small entrance and no windows, the huts are the perfect architectural structure to keep cool in the African climate.

Given the importance of cattle for the Zulu nation, David explained how Nguni cows were named and their various uses, from providing clothing, meat, and milk to make sour milk (maas), to being a symbol of wealth as well as a means to pay the bridal price (ilobolo).

David traced the history of the Zulu nation and its monarchy, noting that Shaka Zulu was one of the most influential kings ever due to his military prowess. He also reflected on the struggles of electing a Zulu heir that persist to this day.

Exploring gender roles, it was noted that women took on extensive household duties while men were at war, including thatching roofs, creating the walls of the huts by sandwiching rocks and mud together and using termite nests and cow dung for flooring.

Students were given the opportunity to make icansi (a mat) using wetland reeds, ukusinda (polishing the floor with cow dung), ukugaya amabele (grinding sorghum grain using a rock), and to engage in stick fighting. They were also shown how the farm produces sustainable energy by using cow dung and water to produce methane gas.

A traditional meal of braaied meat, boiled mealies, cabbage and chicken, uphuthu (maize meal) and chutney was served for lunch which included a taste of umqombothi (traditional Zulu beer).

Ecabazini staff members closed off with a Zulu song and dance, with staff and students joining in.

Commenting on the tour, SRC President, Mr Malusi Zuma, said as a Zulu man, he was surprised to learn many new things about his culture. He praised the traditional African way of life as a sustainable means of reducing global warming and greenhouse gas emissions and encouraged others to go back to their roots.

He also congratulated the International Relations Office for putting together an amazing trip for the international students that showcased the rich heritage of KZN. 

French exchange students Ms Lucille Maurice and Ms Romane Ozenne said they knew nothing about Zulu culture before the tour and that the highlight of the day was undoubtedly the food.

Another international student, Ms Tinotenda Maverudze said that the tour had inspired her to the extent that she was considering taking history as an elective towards her degree.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photographs: Sethu Dlamini

author : .
author email : .

Law Students Engage with Top Legal Firms at Law Professions’ Day

Law Students Engage with Top Legal Firms at Law Professions’ Day
2022 virtual Law Professions’ Day.

Law students received career advice and networked with top law firms about employment opportunities and legal careers at UKZN’s virtual Law Professions’ Day. 

The two-day event saw legal professionals from 18 law firms sharing with students what they can expect in this exciting field, and how to prepare for a successful legal career.

Firms that delivered presentations included Norton Rose Fulbright; ENSafrica; Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, Venns Attorneys; PPS Foundation; Webber Wentzel; Phatshoane Henney Attorneys; ProBono.Org; Bowmans; MacRobert Attorneys; Allen & Overy; the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE SA); Mooney Ford Attorneys; J Leslie Smith & Company Inc.; Stowell & Co.; Livingston Leandy Incorporated; Werksmans Attorneys and Legal Aid South Africa.

Dean and Head of the School of Law Professor Managay Reddi said that she was pleased that despite the ongoing COVID-19 challenges, students were not denied the opportunity to engage with leading law firms in preparation for their entry into the legal profession.

‘Although the Law Professions’ Day format has changed somewhat since last year, we are confident that our students will reap the same benefits that these firms have made available to our graduates in the past,’ said Reddi.

She reassured participants that the School’s migration to the online platform and adoption of blended learning has not adversely affected students’ skillset and knowledge, but enhanced them.

‘Our students have acquired additional skills such as the ability to conduct consultations and argue cases via Zoom which bodes very well for their future as this is the direction that the legal profession is headed. These are difficult economic times and unemployment is rife. Therefore, we are very grateful to all the firms and organisations present for providing our students with the possibility of employment.’ Reddi assured the law firms that should they employ a graduate of the Law School, the consequences are far-reaching as not only the individual’s life is transformed, but those of entire communities.

As a build-up to the event, the School in collaboration with Webber Wentzel, hosted a workshop on CV writing and interview skills for students.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Image: Supplied

author : .
author email : .

IPCC Report Urges Swift Climate Action with Strong Focus on Africa and Cities

IPCC Report Urges Swift Climate Action with Strong Focus on Africa and Cities
The cover of the Working Group II Report’s Summary for Policymakers.

Despite efforts to reduce risks, climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruptions in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world. People (such as those in informal settlements) and ecosystems least able to cope with the effects of human-induced climate change are the hardest hit. Responses need to be ramped up to protect human wellbeing and planetary health.

This is the message from the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released on 28 February - a major international collaboration between scientists from 67 countries that has enjoyed substantial support from UKZN, which has hosted a component of the Working Group II Technical Support Unit (WG TSU II).

Co-chaired by UKZN Honorary Professor Debra Roberts, South Africa’s first IPCC Co-Chair and acting Head of eThekwini Municipality’s Sustainability and Resilient City Initiatives Unit, the Working Group II report dealt with the impact of climate change on ecosystems, biodiversity and human societies, their various vulnerabilities, and evidence on adaptation to climate change. With Professor Hans Otto-Pörtner of Germany, Roberts oversaw the development of the Working Group II report, the second instalment of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which will be completed this year. The WGII’s contribution to the AR6 provides extensive global and regional information to enable climate resilient development.

‘This report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction,’ said Dr Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC. ‘It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.’

With unavoidable multiple climate hazards at global warming of 1.5°C, some severe impacts could be irreversible, putting society at increased risk.

Extreme events are already driving mass mortality in plant and animal species, and their cascading impacts are leading to acute food and water insecurity in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, on small islands and in the Arctic.

To avoid mounting loss of life, biodiversity and infrastructure, ambitious, accelerated action is required to adapt to climate change, at the same time as rapidly and substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Lee, the report emphasises the urgency of immediate and more ambitious action. It also focuses on available solutions, providing new insights into nature’s potential to not only reduce climate risks but also to improve people’s lives, with an emphasis on the restoration of ecosystems and sustainable development.

In this assessment cycle, there was a concerted effort to make information collected by the authors available to those living on the African continent, with a virtual briefing session on the African region where lead authors elucidated the findings of the Africa chapter of the WGII report.

‘This is a critical report for Africa,’ said Roberts. ‘We can be proud of our authors from Africa who penned a powerful and compelling story about our continent and how it is impacted, will be impacted and how we can respond.’

She outlined key messages from the report, saying that society is clearly making efforts to accommodate change and adapt. However, these are uneven, not at scale and not fast enough. Inadequate adaptation poses the risk of missing a rapidly closing window of opportunity to create a climate-resilient world.

‘We have to deal with climate change as part of the bigger development challenges we are facing,’ said Roberts. She noted that this report would affect future reports as human issues and impacts and those of the natural world were considered together.

Solutions focused on two arenas for action that are relevant to Africa as one of the fastest urbanising continents in the world.

‘We strongly call out the global-scale but time-limited opportunity of using our cities to create a more climate-resilient society; cities can become the location of bold and ambitious climate action if we approach their planning, management, financing, governance and institutions in a new and different way,’ said Roberts.

With the drive to protect natural ecosystems and the biodiversity that humans are directly dependent on, Roberts also highlighted the opportunity for Africa as the home to enormous and rich biodiversity to protect this life while considering how to advance development in a just and equitable way.

She emphasised the need for a whole of society response, and for investment in adaptation, particularly in the most vulnerable areas. The report also took a novel approach in focusing on the regions where people live, with a solution and implementation focus that provides a rich body of knowledge for policymakers.

‘We have only a very limited window of opportunity to move and to act boldly and ambitiously,’ said Roberts. ‘We have to do so within this decade if we want to achieve climate resilience, otherwise the window will close and we will be exposed to very significant challenges to sustainable development in places like Africa. Every choice that is made at every level is absolutely critical.’

Words: Christine Cuénod

Image: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

author : .
author email : .

HEARD Research Director at the Forefront of the Fight Against the HIV Pandemic in Africa

HEARD Research Director at the Forefront of the Fight Against the HIV Pandemic in Africa
Professor Kaymarlin Govender (top right corner) with participants of a session organised by UNAIDS, the United Nations’ World Food Programme, and the International Labour Organization.

Research Director of the Health Economics and HIV and AIDS Research Division (HEARD) Professor Kaymarlin Govender chaired a session organised by UNAIDS, the United Nations’ World Food Programme, and the International Labour Organization in November 2021 under the banner: Advancing the HIV-sensitive social protection agenda of key stakeholders in Eastern and Southern Africa through capacity strengthening. HEARD is a research centre under UKZN’s College of Law and Management Studies.

The meeting provided a platform for consultation and exchange between the UN, national governments, civil society organisations, networks of people living with HIV/AIDS and academia. Participants reflected on practical experiences and strategies and produced recommendations to enhance the HIV-sensitive social protection agenda in the region in line with the 2021-26 Global AIDS Strategy.

Govender chaired a special session on the Investment Case for HIV-sensitive Social Protection which featured Dr Elona Toska, an adolescent health researcher at the Centre for Social Science Research at the University of Cape Town. Her presentation focused on measures to expand access to primary, secondary and tertiary schooling and pathways to employment as effective HIV prevention strategies.

Mr Juan Gonzalo Jaramillo Mejia, Social Protection Programme Policy Officer at the World Food Programme examined how research frameworks can better centre social protection systems within a comprehensive (epi-smart) strategy for prevention, treatment, care and support. Mr Kintu Kenny, a public health practitioner; sexual reproductive health and rights trainer; and human rights activist, discussed ways in which civil society can be engaged in the design and implementation of HIV-sensitive social protection.

Govender said the discussions were prompted by increased recognition that HIV infections are driven by multiple factors at individual, community and societal levels which has led to calls for greater attention and political support for the development of HIV-sensitive social protection. This entails programmes that adequately support people living with, at risk of, or affected by HIV. A wide body of evidence shows that social protection can be a critical enabler of efforts to reduce general HIV risks, mitigate their impacts, and increase households’ capacity to cope with and respond to such risks.

Govender’s participation in the meeting is in line with HEARD’s mandate, as the division occupies an important interface between research, policy, and advocacy; working with research and advocacy groups to generate innovative ideas and ensuring these translate into practical policies to overcome the enormous burden of disease in Africa.

The November webinar series will inform the Social Protection Technical Working Group’s (also to be chaired by Govender) 2022 regional work plan to support and strengthen the Regional AIDS Team for eastern and southern Africa’s efforts to scale up HIV-sensitive social protection initiatives at regional and country level.

Words: NdabaOnline

Images: Supplied

author : .
author email : .

UKZN Hosts CHE Institutional Audit Workshop

UKZN Hosts CHE Institutional Audit Workshop
Director of Institutional Audits at CHE, Dr Britta Zawada.

UKZN’s University Teaching and Learning Portfolio hosted the Council on Higher Education’s (CHE) workshop on Institutional Audits as Reflexive Praxis (IARP) on 1 March 2022 with virtual and in-person attendees.

The workshop was designed to assist the University to finalise its Institutional Self- Evaluation Report (SER) and Portfolio of Evidence (PoE) due to be submitted to the  CHE by 15 July 2022. UKZN Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Nana Poku notified the University community of the ongoing Institutional Audit as Reflexive Praxis (IARP) experience in July 2021.

In his welcome address, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning Professor Sandile Songca said the IARP process, which started last year, has four focus areas. Focus Area 1 report, the Institutional Profile, is completed in draft form but Focus areas 2, 3 and 4 are ongoing. He said the University is working hard with the Colleges to gather evidence and, with students settling in, they will also be able to contribute to the rest of the focus areas. He said input from alumni and external stakeholders is also required.

The CHE’s IARP is designed for introspection and preparation. Taken as a whole, the four focus areas and 16 standards provide an avenue for individual and collective self-interrogation as a form of assessment and evaluation. The outcome of the UKZN IARP will determine whether the Institution’s quality management systems and the manner in which it assures the quality of those systems reveals UKZN as (1) non- functional, (2) needing substantial improvement, (3) functional or (4) mature. This determination will show how UKZN is perceived under the new South African Higher Education Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) which will be rolled out in 2024.

Director of Institutional Audits at CHE, Dr Britta Zawada presented an overview of the IARP, its principles, quality management and assurance in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), audits  with a review methodology, what takes place after the audit and how institutions can reflect on their IARP processes.

Zawada explained that during the IARP process, (a) HEIs must determine the time period for self-evaluation. Either a five-year or seven-year period is suggested. The time period must include the 2020/21 timeframe to report on how HEIs handled learning and teaching with the onset of the COVID pandemic. In the SER, (b) HEIs are given an opportunity to present narrative and evidence (PoE) to support how the 16 standards of IARP are being addressed. HEIs must (c) reflect on the IARP process itself with evidence; and (d) the SER must be an honest but constructive report supported by credible evidence in the PoE.

Once the draft IA report by the panel has been approved by CHE, HEIs would need to submit an IA improvement plan to the HEQC based on the recommendations with timeframes, and subsequent regular reporting.

Zawada highlighted the do's and don’ts of gathering evidence and presenting the report, and said a good SER must be recognised by every member of the University community and reflect staff and students’ realities. Songca added that ‘this is why it is critical for all students and staff – academics and professional services staff, to contribute to the Professional Services Working Group and the four College Working Groups. We will soon have a dedicated IARP website for deeper engagement. Meanwhile, please contact Ms Corlia Ogle on to share your current quality management and quality assurance experiences'.

Words: Sithembile Shabangu

Photograph: Albert Hirasen

author : .
author email : .