Retired Catholic Priests Focus of Honours Research

Retired Catholic Priests Focus of Honours Research
UKZN staffer and proud Bachelor of Arts Honours graduate Ms Nombuso Dlamini.

Retired Roman Catholic priests are generally satisfied with their lives, their ministry and their living situations, however, they have concerns about loneliness, failing health, limited savings, and becoming a burden on others. 

This is according to research conducted by UKZN staffer and now Bachelor of Arts Honours graduate Ms Nombuso Dlamini, which earned her two merit certificates. 

Dlamini’s research examined factors influencing the “disappearance” of Catholic priests from the community of the faithful after they retired. 

The study also investigated how the aged priests’ social aspects and situation shaped their current reality, how they were doing in retirement, if they were happy with their current circumstances and whose interest it served to completely remove them from the community of the faithful. 

Dlamini described receiving her degree from the College of Humanities as ‘the greatest feeling ever’ and ‘worth it in the end’. 

‘Many Catholics do not know what happens to their aged clergy and they do not know where to start if they wanted to find them,’ she said. ‘These men have dedicated their whole lives to the service of others, so it is befitting to know how they can be assisted or made to feel important once they can no longer live among the faithful. 

‘Retired priests interviewed all agreed that their spirituality is still intact although they felt they are merely waiting for death and no-one really cares. The men feel alone, helpless and no longer useful.’ 

Recalling some of the highlights of her research, Dlamini said: ‘My visits to retired priests were more than just about research, it felt like I was making a difference in their lives. They had so many stories to tell and they just wanted someone to listen to them. I then talked less and listened more.’ 

Dlamini, who is a Public Relations Officer for the College of Health Sciences, is keen to study further. ‘I have applied to do my masters. I have realised that it’s achievable so there’s no stopping now!’

Melissa Mungroo

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Masters Graduate Focuses on Health-Seeking Behaviour in SA

Masters Graduate Focuses on Health-Seeking Behaviour in SA
Ms Taygen Edwards graduates cum laude with her Master’s degree in Population Studies.

Masters in Population Studies cum laude graduate Ms Taygen Edwards chose the topic of health seeking behaviour for her thesis because she is passionate about reducing inequalities in a country where she says a large portion of the population are still subject to discrimination and exclusion. 

Said Edwards: ‘Achieving this goal has further endorsed my belief in my potential and myself and taught me that hard work does pay off!’ 

Her research examined the socio-demographic determinants of health seeking behaviour measured in terms of the accessibility of healthcare facilities and the type of healthcare facility accessed. 

Health seeking behaviour regulates how healthcare facilities are used which in turn determines the health outcomes of the South African population. 

‘Universal health coverage is on the government’s agenda and forms part of the third Sustainable Development Goal. The topic of behaviour is therefore relevant and has the capacity to play a role in the reduction of health inequalities,’ said Edwards. 

Her research investigated whether the health seeking behaviour of adult South Africans is determined by factors such as socio-economic status, gender, marital status, age, geographic location and population group; and whether any of these factors interact to produce a particular health seeking behaviour. 

The study highlighted that inequalities still perpetuate the health seeking behaviour of the South African population. ‘Targeting the social determinants of health has the potential to positively influence health behaviours, reduce barriers to accessing health care, and diminish the gaps in health inequities.’ 

The findings also showed that women were significantly less likely than men to go to a private health care facility. Another relevant key finding was that White people were far more likely to have gone to a health care facility in the past year than Black people. 

A huge highlight for Edwards was seeing her dissertation bound for the first time and realising that she had accomplished her goal. ‘When reflecting on who I was both academically and personally before and after I started this journey, I can see I have developed both as an academic and as an individual.’ 

She thanked those who played an influential role throughout her study process, including her family, friends, colleagues and supervisor. 

Edwards, who works for the Human Sciences Research Council, advised other students to find a role model/mentor; to focus on the process, not the end result; take pride in their work, and to be passionate about their area of study. 

The next step for Edwards is to pursue a PhD in Public Health. ‘While I have not yet decided on a specific topic, I would like to focus in the area of HIV and its effect on children in adverse, low resource settings.’

Melissa Mungroo

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Marriage Aspirations and Attitudes to Premarital Child Bearing the Focus of Masters Research

Marriage Aspirations and Attitudes to Premarital Child Bearing the Focus of Masters Research
Ms Thembalethu Shangase graduates cum laude with a Master’s degree in Population Studies.

An ecstatic Ms Thembalethu Shangase graduated with a Master’s degree cum laude in Population Studies for research titled: “Investigating Marriage Aspirations and Attitudes Towards Premarital Child Bearing: A Case Study of Unmarried Female Zulu-Speaking Students at Two Durban Universities”.

Shangase says while marriage rates among the group are low, premarital childbearing remains consistently high. ‘Once women are educated they can access the employment markets and have a diminished desire for marriage, thus forgoing marriage and possibly child bearing,’ she said. 

Despite her research findings being unique to the study sample used, Shangase strongly believes her work adds to the body of knowledge on the subject topic. 

She also feels it adds to the understanding of factors that contribute to marital decline among Black females (Zulus in particular), the perception of young women regarding the value of marriage and the type of marriage they aspire to, and understanding in connection with attitudes to pre-marital child bearing and its effect on marriage.  

The majority of the study participants believed that the effect of premarital child bearing on a woman’s marriage potential was entirely dependent on what men desired. ‘Some men are not opposed to marrying a woman with an out-of-wedlock child which they have not fathered, while others, especially those who are very traditional, are vehemently opposed to it,’ said Shangase. 

‘The ways in which the modern woman gets to grips with the meaning of life, including marriage and childbearing, is changing. Moreover, as much as the Zulu female desires marriage, an early marriage is most likely achieved through sacrificing other pertinent life goals. 

‘For the women in the study, their own financial independence, the well being of their family and their career were of primary importance and worth achieving prior to marriage.’ 

Shangase was thankful for the guidance she received from her family, in particular her mother, her supervisor Professor Pranitha Maharaj, and former supervisor, Professor Dori Posel. 

‘I am also grateful for the NRF-Funding I received during my coursework and that I had a faculty that cared, was devoted to its students, and gave me a reasonable amount of chances. I appreciate the fact that Pranitha had faith in me and was a supervisor who always gave of her best for each student. Most of all, I’m grateful that God blessed me with the greatest treasure in my life – my mother.’

Melissa Mungroo

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Masters Research Examines Impact of Economic Empowerment Programmes on Poverty Reduction and Gender Equality

Masters Research Examines Impact of Economic Empowerment Programmes on Poverty Reduction and Gender Equality
Mrs Josephine Hapazari who graduated cum laude with a Master’s degree in Social Sciences.

The rural Manonyane community in Lesotho was the focus of attention for research by Mrs Josephine Hapazari, who graduated cum laude with a Master’s degree in Social Sciences from UKZN. 

Hapazari examined the impact of economic empowerment programmes by government and non-government organisations on poverty reduction and gender equality in the area. 

‘Poverty, unemployment and gender inequality remain huge global problems despite measures to eliminate the scourges,’ said Hapazari. ‘In Lesotho, poverty and unemployment are particularly endemic in rural areas. Economic empowerment is a phenomenon that is fundamental for combating the above mentioned social problems and others.’ 

Her study found the impact of economic empowerment by both the Government and NGOs was very low since an overwhelming majority of people interviewed (80%) reported that they received very little assistance or none at all. The study also revealed that unemployed people were facing a variety of challenges, including lack of access to the basic human needs of food, water and sanitation. 

According to Hapazari, the poverty levels showed an increase over the six-year period between 2010 to 2015. ‘Government needs to institute more stringent measures to monitor the implementation of the economic empowerment programmes in place and to add more programmes. Unemployed people should use local resources and be more proactive by approaching the Government and NGOs for assistance to tackle poverty and unemployment.’ 

Hapazari, who finished her thesis within a year, credits that achievement to her supervisor Dr Noleen Loubser. ‘Dr Loubser made my academic progress relatively easier as she encouraged effective use of technology in academic interactions. We made extensive use of Skype, which enabled us to hold scheduled discussions on a weekly basis.’ 

Mother-of-four Hapazari worked hard to secure co-operation from Lesotho government ministries and NGOs, describing it as a ‘daunting process’. 

She said her research was viewed with a measure of suspicion by both government and NGOs, who felt she was holding them accountable for a lack of poverty reduction. 

Hapazari is passionate about research, writing and publishing academic papers as well as attending social and developmental conferences. At undergraduate level, she investigated the socio-economic experiences of children of incarcerated parents and presented the findings at a child welfare symposium organised by the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Lesotho Ministry of Education and Training in October 2016. 

She believes that through empirical research, sociologists have the capacity to influence policy makers and all other players on the need to develop policies and programmes that prioritise strategic interventions aimed at combating poverty and gender inequality.

Melissa Mungroo

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Anthropology Professor Graduates Four PhDs

Anthropology Professor Graduates Four PhDs
From left: PhD graduates Dr Joseph Makanda, Dr Nokwanda Nzuza, Dr Abigail Benhura and Dr Evans Shoko, supervised by Professor Maheshvari Naidu (centre).

Professor Maheshvari Naidu of the College of Humanities is extremely proud of the four doctoral students who graduated under her supervision. 

‘All four have triumphed under different sets of personal and intellectual challenges while three of them graduated within the minimum time of four semesters,’ she said. 

The four are Dr Nokwanda Nzuza, Dr Abigail Benhura, Dr Evans Shoko and Dr Joseph Makanda. 

Nzuza is in the Discipline of Anthropology, while her colleagues are in Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies. 

Naidu says all four dealt with qualitative material and methodologies and worked in areas of her interests such as migration, positive peace, refugee politics, human rights and feminism, and health, which made them ideal candidates to supervise. 

Nzuza’s study investigated challenges faced by young Black African women who have undergone breast cancer treatment. Findings indicate that after surviving breast cancer, the women are prone to psychological illnesses such as depression and physical challenges including mastectomy, hair loss and change in body weight and shape. 

These changes, combined with local understandings and cultural constructions of ideal body images and sexuality lead women to reconstruct their understanding of themselves and their “ideal” Black bodies and their notion of being African Queens. 

Nzuza said: ‘Today I can confidently say that my spirituality, support from family and friends as well as good mentorship were the pillars of my success. A number of challenges characterised my PhD journey but the unconditional support I received saw me through it all. Knowing that my daughter was cared for enabled me to be away from home and focus on my studies. 

‘I am equally grateful to Professor Maheshvari Naidu who has nurtured me throughout my academic journey. Her selfless dedication and mentorship has brought me this far. She believed in my capabilities and channelled me accordingly. Her constructive criticism enabled me to engage with critical issues and unpack matters pertaining to women and their health, while her experience as a researcher, feminist and social anthropologist motivated me to excel in my academic journey’, said Nzuza. 

Benhura’s study probed the impact of internal displacement on the access to secondary school education. Her study was contextualised in Hopley and Caledonia which are communities that host internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Zimbabwe. For more than a decade, the IDPs in these two communities have faced challenges in accessing basic social services, including secondary school education. 

According to Benhura, the majority of these people were forced to move to these communities during the 2005 Operation Murambatsvina, a Zimbabwean government programme that demolished homes and buildings that had been deemed illegal. 

‘The failure by the government to subsequently provide education (and other services) for the displaced populations has therefore compromised the displaced children’s rights to education. This is compounded by the lack of adherence to international internal displacement instruments and policies by the same government.’ 

Benhura said studying towards the doctoral degree was challenging, made more demanding by her choice of research site. Internal displacement is a politically sensitive issue in Zimbabwe, making the data collection process problematic. 

‘In order to pursue my study, I resigned from work and relocated to South Africa. I faced major financial challenges, sacrificing time with my family, particularly my youngest child. 

My supervisor, Professor Naidu, helped to make the process less challenging.

Her response to any work submitted was always encouraging and, most importantly, quick. My work was never held up and this helped me complete my study within a short time. In addition, my supervisor assisted me with research assistant positions which alleviated some of my financial difficulties,’ said Benhura. 

Shoko’s study examined the notion of positive peace. He worked on the premise that when people access basic amenities equitably, they have inner peace and they become productive in their societies. The study sought to explore the connection between water access policies and positive peace in rural areas in Zimbabwe. Policies put in place by the government were explored vis-à-vis informal practices. 

Shoko said that the PhD process was taxing, but enriching. His academic journey was largely supported by his uncle Professor Elias Mpofu. ‘Not only did he contribute to my earlier education on a financial level, but he also provided the necessary mentoring. My wife Rhoda has been a pillar of support raising my two daughters Catherine and Carol during my absence. 

Shoko added: ‘There is no-one I know with a persona as motivating as Professor Naidu’s. Her hands-on approach is absolute and she sometimes pushed me to the brink! I cherish her professional approach and I aspire to follow her example.’ 

Makanda’ study, co-supervised by Dr Khondlo Mtshali, involved the crisis of refugees. His work was undertaken among the Congolese community living in Durban and probed the insights of the Congolese refugees in South Africa’s peacebuilding interventions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country steeped in unending conflict. 

Using the conflict transformation theory, the study argued that drawing from the views and insights of the Congolese refugees may bolster an all-encompassing South Africa’s peace-building intervention in the DRC’s conflict. 

Makanda thanked Professor Naidu for her indefatigable support and guidance. ‘Her unstinting academic support enabled me to carry out this research - although under immense pressure - in its prescribed time. It has been an exceptional privilege to learn from her experiences as an NRF-rated researcher and as an academic and a mentor.’ 

Makanda thanked Mtshali for his invaluable guidance, encouragement and support. 

‘Despite his late acceptance as co-supervisor and his many other pressing academic demands, he demonstrated a keen interest in this work and provided more constructive feedback on the literature review and theoretical frameworks of this manuscript. I am grateful to him,’ said Makanda.  

Makanda is deeply indebted to his late father and mother for encouragement, support and funding as well as his siblings: Frank, Oti, Peter, Jacky and Christine, and his partner, Fezile Mthembu.

Melissa Mungroo

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Graduate Lauds UKZN for Excellent Education

Graduate Lauds UKZN for Excellent Education
Ms Lulama Mabaso graduates with a Bachelor of Social Sciences degree from UKZN.

Bachelor of Social Science graduate Ms Lulama Mabaso says UKZN was and always will be her university of choice! 

‘UKZN has a lot to offer and is regarded as one of the best universities in South Africa. Studying here, I have found Social Sciences to be very interesting and different. 

‘It is exciting to finally graduate. All my hard work has paid off - the sleepless nights and the breakdowns. It was all worth it, I am so grateful,’ said Mabaso. 

Mabaso’s undergraduate years were deadline driven and she had to meet those deadlines almost on a daily basis. She chose to focus her time and energy on working hard towards good grades and making her parents proud. 

‘I faced obstacles such as being under pressure and sometimes I would break down because the pressure got to me and it became overwhelming. But I fought back, managing to strike a good balance,’ she said. ‘My family and friends were supportive, helping me with the workload. My friends Nompumelelo Blose and Nonkazimulo Ngubane helped relieve the stress when I was under pressure and cheered me up. 

‘The field trips we took for our different courses made doing this degree fun. Being with the same classmates throughout was good because I was able to communicate with them and we formed a strong bond.’ 

Mabaso, who is now doing her Master’s degree in Housing, offered this advice to other students: ‘Work hard, never give up, continue moving forward and learn to loosen up once in a while and enjoy some social life… a degree is important but so is making memories!’

Melissa Mungroo

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Graduates Celebrate Being Awarded Master’s Degrees in Housing and Town and Regional Planning

Graduates Celebrate Being Awarded Master’s Degrees in Housing and Town and Regional Planning
Graduates celebrating with their supervisor, Mr Vincent Myeni, after being awarded Master’s degrees in Housing and Town & Regional Planning.

Eleven students graduated with Master’s degrees in Housing and Town & Regional Planning

They were: Mr Thembinkosi Malinga, Mr Clayton Marais, Mr Xolani Phohlo, Ms Nombuso Qwabe, Mr Malusi Shezi, Ms Lungile Zulu, Ms Jabulisile Zungu, Ms Nomzamo Mdladla, Ms Zinhle Mnikathi, Ms Zukiswa Nguza (posthumously) and Mr Xolani Msomi. 

Malinga investigated low-income housing related challenges and their impact on completing the Umlazi and Mpumalanga Housing Projects. His research was aimed at uncovering the challenges encountered during the construction of low-income housing and how they have an impact on completing housing projects on time. 

‘In terms of housing development in South Africa, the delivery of low income housing is a vital process in providing satisfactory housing for the less fortunate, in an effort to decrease poverty and improve the quality of lives. South Africans have the right to access adequate housing. The government has provided housing but the houses are not delivered on time,’ he explained. 

Malinga found that project managers experienced challenges from the conceptual stage to the hand over stage. He said project managers had to know how to manage exceptions and risks. 

Mdladla, who graduated with her Masters in Town and Regional Planning, evaluated the relevance of the Mpumalanga town centre in the eThekwini Municipality region meeting the social, economic and political needs of the township. She found that the development of the town centre had been effective in improving the socio-economic needs of the township. 

‘The introduction of the Mpumalanga town centre as a major node has also helped to improve service delivery. The local municipality needs to introduce further developments in the township in order to address the service backlogs and inequalities of the past,’ said Mdladla. 

UKZN’s Mr Vincent Myeni, who supervised all 11 students, said: ‘This is a significant milestone for both students and the school. Today we celebrate the culture of determination and hard work. Student supervision is a challenging exercise but I was motivated to have worked with these students because this meant that one had to broaden the knowledge base both technically and theoretically.’ 

The students and Myeni worked as a team, providing encouragement to each other. ‘Some of the students used to cry for various reasons. However, now it is rewarding to see them cry tears of joy as they celebrate their success. Their celebration emanates from the fact that some of them have started their own businesses, some are employed full time in both private and public sectors while some are furthering their studies both locally and internationally. 

‘As a supervisor, I have passion for students, and seeing them succeed inspires me,’ said Myeni.  

Melissa Mungroo

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Death of Sister Motivated Graduate to Research Reproductive Cancer

Death of Sister Motivated Graduate to Research Reproductive Cancer
Mr Liberty Mambondiani graduates with a Master’s degree in Population studies.

Losing his sister to cancer spurred Mr Liberty Mambondiani to focus his Master’s degree in Population Studies research on reproductive cancer in the hope of making more people aware of the disease. 

Mambondiani discovered that young people were not aware and knowledgeable about reproductive cancer. ‘The level of awareness is very low. It is scary that some young women do not know what cervical cancer is or where it occurs or what a pap smear is. The young people I interviewed in the study were not aware of HPV, which is the main cause of some of these reproductive cancers,’ he said. 

He believes his research will help people become more aware of reproductive health problems often caused by risky sexual behaviour. ‘I want young people to know that besides HIV and AIDS, there are deadly reproductive cancers which are caused by risky sexual behaviour.’ 

Mambondiani thanked his family, friends and supervisor for their support during his studies. ‘I have the best family in the world. They were there for me emotionally, spiritually and financially. Funding was always the challenge. I believe that if more funding opportunities were available to students, many small socio-economic problems we face would be solved.’ 

His advice to other students is: ‘Work smart. It is a very long, difficult and stressful journey, which makes you feel lonely at times, but in the end, it pays off. Stay focused.’

Melissa Mungroo

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Masters Students Graduate Despite Great Odds

Masters Students Graduate Despite Great Odds
Professor Maheshvari Naidu (centre) with her Master of Social Science graduates, Ms Silindile Zulu (right) and Mr Melusi Dlamini (left).

After overcoming great odds and personal challenges, Ms Silindile Zulu and Mr Melusi Dlamini graduated with Master’s degrees in Social Science. 

Their supervisor, Professor Maheshvari Naidu of the College of Humanities, remarked: ‘These two students have not had an easy road to get their degrees.’ 

Zulu fell pregnant towards the latter part of her studies, placing immense strain and pressure on her to remain committed to completing her degree while, at the same time, attending to her health. 

Juggling both these critical aspects of her life proved very challenging and there were times when it became overwhelming. Throughout her pregnancy, she worked as one of the tutors in the Culture Cluster, displaying an admirable work ethic. 

Naidu said she was proud of Zulu who persevered, triumphed and received an impressive 70% final mark for her research. 

Zulu’s study was based on female African smokers at UKZN. ‘Smoking has historically been seen as taboo among Black African females,’ said Zulu. The study thus attempted to probe the reasons why the women smoke. 

Zulu thanked her grandmother for supporting her during the many challenges she faced. ‘My grandmother helped me keep up with everything - pregnancy, school and working as I wanted to earn some money to save for the baby. 

‘My baby’s father is a foreigner so there are many challenges, one of them being that he cannot obtain full time employment. However, with the help of my supervisor Professor Naidu, I have managed to pull through. I am grateful to her. She is my mentor,’ said Zulu. 

Dlamini, graduated with 80% for his thesis. His study was on the poverty and constructions of masculinities and was based at Kenneth Gardens in Durban. 

Findings showed how multiple constructions of masculinities were shaped and governed particular hegemonic behaviours. 

Said Naidu: ‘Melusi is a very bright young man with a keen intellect. However, I think he will completely agree with me that he allowed his term as a Masters student in our School to drag on too long. 

‘When he did produce work it was of exceptionally high quality. His data collection and analysis were creative and critical and the ethnography that he collected was excellent. All of this is borne out by the final mark he was awarded which was 80%. He and his family should be incredibly proud of his accomplishment,’ said Naidu. 

Both graduates will return to do their PhD supervised by Naidu.

Melissa Mungroo

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Impact of Child Support Grant in Rural Areas Studied for Master’s Degree

Impact of Child Support Grant in Rural Areas Studied for Master’s Degree
Ms Makhosazana Wiese who graduated with a Master’s degree in Development Studies.

Ms Makhosazana Wiese graduated with a Master’s in Development Studies degree earned through research which explored the impact of the Child Support Grant within a rural context. 

Wiese interviewed women at a village called Ncunjane in Umsinga, KwaZulu-Natal, about their households, their livelihoods, how they used the grant and what contribution it made to their lives and households. 

Explaining how her study developed, Wiese said: ‘I was working in the NGO sector on some development projects in rural communities in KwaZulu-Natal and became fascinated by the way people - mainly women - were able to organise their lives and their livelihoods in the face of poverty and other challenges, making the most of their situation. 

‘It was interesting to see how they use their time and little resources they have, to support their lives.  When I got an opportunity to do a master’s degree, I wanted to do something that focused on rural women’s lives.’ 

The main finding of her study is that while these women spend the grant on consumable goods, they also spend some of it on productive assets such as livestock. Some of the money is also saved and invested in group savings schemes and on improving or building dwellings. 

‘In a traditional rural context, it was interesting to find out that the women who receive the grant make their own decisions about how to spend the money, without having to consult with the men or other members of the households, which is traditionally the case in rural homesteads, although this is changing. The grant really enables its recipients to transform their lives and strengthen livelihoods and reducing vulnerability,’ said Wiese. 

She believes the dispute over South Africa’s social grant system which threatens millions of vulnerable beneficiaries with non-payment, creates risks that go far beyond interrupting poor people’s access to desperately needed grants. 

‘My study tells a story about how much of an impact these grants have on people’s lives and how people try to use the funds productively.  The current crisis has the potential to reverse some of the major gains that have been made over the years since the grant was introduced,’ she said. 

Wiese thanked her family, friends and supervisors Professor Richard Balland and Professor Francie Lund for being supportive and providing encouragement during her study. 

Offering advice to other students, she said: ‘Work hard and keep going, especially when it seems really hard and impossible. Identify positive mentors for guidance and constructive feedback. It is important to be able to be open to receiving even the most critical feedback and to use it to learn and do better.’ 

With an understanding of the broader development issues and problems in the country, Wiese, who lives in Germany, is planning to relocate to South Africa to collaborate with friends (ex-colleagues) to work on new concepts of development projects.

Melissa Mungroo

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Condom Use Among Young People Research Topic for Graduate’s Master’s Degree

Condom Use Among Young People Research Topic for Graduate’s Master’s Degree
Ms Ayanda Ndlovu graduated with a Master’s degree in Population Studies from UKZN.

The use of condoms during sexual intercourse among young people was the subject of research for Ms Ayanda Ndlovu who graduated from UKZN with a Master’s degree in Population Studies. 

HIV prevention has always been of interest to me and close to my heart,’ said Ndlovu. ‘Having lost a friend, brother and an aunt to AIDS-related illnesses, I have always known that I wanted to make a meaningful contribution in the field.’ 

During her studies, Ndlovu’s mother died. ‘My mom was my pillar of strength. Losing her while studying, decreased my coping levels drastically. I am happy that I conquered all that and was able to complete my studies,’ said Ndlovu, who dedicated her master’s degree to her mother. 

Ndlovu’s research determined the levels of condom use during sexual intercourse among students, investigated the socio-economic and demographic determinants of condom use and further examined facilitating factors of condom use among South African tertiary education students as well as factors which hinder the consistent use of condoms. 

Her investigations revealed that students reported high levels of condom use. ‘The dual protection the condom offers as well as the students’ hunger for a bright future were motivating factors for using condoms,’ said Ndlovu. ‘There was no significant relationship between race, age and marital status against condom use. A significant relationship, though, was detected between gender and condom use. 

‘Condom use consistency is a problem among students, however, condoms remain the most effective method to prevent both pregnancy and HIV infection. The increase in the level of condom use among students gives hope.’ 

Ndlovu believes methods and strategies should be devised and aimed at increasing the levels of condom use consistency. She feels her research makes a considerable contribution to sexual health research and will assist when sexual health strategies are being designed and implemented in countries such as South Africa. 

Recalling some of the highlights of her research, Ndlovu said: ‘I have always thought men were more open on the subject of sex. However, I was pleased to discover that girls I interviewed were as open as males on the subject. In some instances, I did not even have to probe for additional information.’ 

She hopes her research findings will provide a better understanding on the lack of condom consistency among students and will assist policy makers and sexual health strategists to devise strategies to increase condom use consistency and in turn decrease the rate of HIV infection among students as well as the high levels of pregnancy. 

Ndlovu thanked her family, friends and supervisor Professor Pranitha Maharaj. ‘My friends and colleagues contributed greatly by providing academic and professional guidance while my family supported me emotionally and psychologically. 

‘My supervisor was my main pillar of support. She was always there for me, even in my hardest times when I felt I did not have strength to carry on. She always reminded me that I was capable even when I doubted myself the most.’

Melissa Mungroo

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Music Student Graduates Amidst Obstacles and Hardships

Music Student Graduates Amidst Obstacles and Hardships
Mr Siyanda Zulu graduates with his Bachelor of Practical Music.

Musical Director Mr Siyanda Zulu of KwaDukuza believes the Bachelor of Practical Music awarded by UKZN, is the starting point for his career. 

‘I’m super ecstatic to be receiving my degree because I know it opens my eyes to possibilities in achieving my dream,’ said Zulu. 

Zulu hails from KwaDukuza in a township called Shakaville. He was raised by his grandparents in a big family. He is married and has two beautiful children. He currently resides in Pietermaritzburg where he is a Musical Director at Life Bible Church International. 

A few years ago, Zulu faced financial difficulties. He was rejected by financial aid many times and was forced to drop out. Luckily, for him, he was awarded the Ronnie Madonsela Scholarship, which covered some of his tuition fee. 

‘Coming from a huge family, getting financial support becomes impossible. By the grace of God, I was able to pull through. I am grateful to the Ronnie Madonsela Scholarship fund. Although the scholarship did not cover my full tuition, I was still able to pay for registration,’ said Zulu. 

He is thankful to his beautiful wife Thakasile for allowing him to pursue this qualification, which made it easier for him to be able to manage his time and work relationships. ‘My family means everything to me. I appreciate them for supporting and continuing to support me as I plan to obtain my PhD.’ 

‘Being the energetic person that I am and passionate about pursuing music as a career, enrolling at UKZN and being under the guidance of world class lecturers Neil Gonsalves and Demi Fernandez , was the greatest gift UKZN could offer me. The exposure to other students who were much more talented and had greater musical exposure, served as inspiration for me and my career.’ 

Zulu, whose dream is to teach in an institution such as UKZN or start his own Academy of Music back home, plans to give back to his community by teaching music and continuing with his studies next year.  

Nomcebo Mncube

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Principal Programme Officer Graduates with Master’s Degree in Public Policy

Principal Programme Officer Graduates with Master’s Degree in Public Policy
Ms Xolile Nontuthuko Kunene graduated with a Master’s degree in Social Sciences.

Principal Programme Officer at the College of Health Sciences, Ms Xolile Nontuthuko Kunene, has graduated with a Master’s degree in Social Sciences, Public Policy. 

Supervised by Professor Hamilton Simelane, Kunene has been working for the Institution for eight years, starting out as a student on a contract basis before being appointed full time. 

‘Character is everything, it will sustain you. And integrity is also crucial. I am always open to new ideas with the aim being to get more knowledge,’ said Kunene. 

‘I ask for advice where necessary and my philosophy in life is that humility is key! I also believe in hard work and I always have a positive outlook on life. I strive to overcome adversities and I do not give in to challenges.’ 

Kunene, who has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Sciences and Management Studies and a Bachelor of Social Sciences Honours degree in Public Policy, decided to do a Master’s in Public Policy degree because she was interested in acquiring knowledge on policies in general and South African policies in particular. 

‘I also observed that a number of policies fail at an implementation stage, whereas the policies seem to be good on paper, therefore I wanted to understand the discrepancy,’ said Kunene. 

Her study titled: “School- based Violence in Wentworth Secondary Schools: An Investigation of Reporting Procedures”, was aimed at discovering and understanding how learners go about reporting school-based violence. She also investigated the effectiveness of the reporting procedures. 

Kunene chose the topic because she is passionate about young people and wanted to investigate factors that cause them to partake in violent action. She feels young children should not associate themselves with such activities, as they could potentially cause their own downfall. 

The study highlighted that school management bodies, the South African Police Services (SAPS) and parents play a significant role in curbing school-based violence by applying different mechanisms and strategies. However, socio-economic challenges seem to deepen the pandemic of school-based violence. 

Furthermore, when learners get access to a good system for reporting violence, they take advantage of it.

Kunene advised staff members at the University who have to divide their hours between being a full time employee and studying, to work hard, set their priories, have a balanced life, invest in their spiritual life, exercise and eat healthy. 

‘The challenge I encountered was time management. I was initially struggling to strike a balance but eventually I managed to overcome that by setting all my tasks and doing them according to their priorities,’ said Kunene. 

Kunene is working towards obtaining her PhD in Public policy. ‘I see myself as a future Director General in one of the Government departments, more especially the Department of Education,’ said Kunene.

- Sinenhlanhla Ngubane

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The Chemistry of Pharmacy… and All That Jazz!

The Chemistry of Pharmacy… and All That Jazz!
Mandy Cobbing, a qualified Pharmacist, graduates with a Diploma in Jazz and Popular Music.

A Pharmacist by day and a Musician by night - Ms Mandy Cobbing is able to enjoy the two careers she loves.

And she invested increased time and effort in her musical endeavours by graduating from UKZN with a Diploma in Jazz and Popular Music.  

‘When I finished school and faced the crossroads of life and future studies, I was in a dilemma as to whether to study music, specifically piano, or focus on a health career as I enjoy helping people and had an interest in learning about medicines.’ 

She chose Pharmacy and has been qualified for over 17 years but she never lost her desire for music. 

‘When I was 35 my husband, a Lecturer on UKZN’s Westville campus, suggested I follow my dream and apply to study for a Jazz Diploma. I realised, with his support, I could really do it and so that’s where it started.’ 

Cobbing said the experience came with a few challenges as she had to juggle between fulfilling the roles of a mother of two, working part-time, practicing 4-6 hours a day and having quality time with her husband, friends and family. She added that another challenge was the fact that she was the oldest student in the music class. 

‘I met amazing people along the way, both lecturers and students. I finally accomplished my dream of performing on stage and also had the opportunity to play for Heels over Head and experienced the thrill of being enlightened in the global Jazz World.’ 

Cobbing’s plans for the future include both her music and health care. 

‘It’s never too late to reach for your dreams. I know that sounds like a cliché but it really isn’t. I completed my jazz diploma at the age of 40 – I took a little longer than others but it was worth every second. I have the skills to do what I am passionate about and it is life-changing, self-fulfilling and life-lasting.’

Reatlehile Karabo Moeti

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Pair of Twins Graduate with Degrees from UKZN

Pair of Twins Graduate with Degrees from UKZN
From left: Twins Parrol and Penuel Adam graduated with their Bachelor’s degree in Community Development while Mpilonde and Mpilonhle Ncube graduated with Bachelor of Arts degrees.

Twins Parrol and Penuel Adam have graduated with Bachelor’s degrees in Community Development while Mpilonde and Mpilonhle Ncube graduated with Bachelor of Arts degrees.

The Adam twins chose to pursue this particular degree to help uplift the community in Ntuzuma where they are from. 

‘We have a passion for community upliftment, especially helping the youth get educated and make a success of their lives. Youngsters need to know they can be anything they want to be as long as they put in the hard work,’ said Parrol. 

‘We have worked really hard to get this degree. Our family has been there for us through it all and we are grateful for their support,’ said Penuel. 

The twins advised other students to work hard and ensure they reach their goals. 

On their future plans, Parrol said: ‘We are planning to pursue postgraduate degrees but at the moment we are busy trying to establish a non-profit organisation in our community that caters for the youth.’ 

The Ncube twins, who hail from Savannah Park in Durban, could not bear to be apart from each other, choosing then to study towards a Bachelor of Arts degree together. ‘We’re very close so it was only natural to want to study together. We’re even registered to do postgraduate studies in the same field,’ said Mpilonhle.

Agreeing with her sister, Mpilonde added, ‘UKZN was always our first choice. There’s no doubt about that. We were really under pressure to complete all our modules on time so we could graduate together. We finally did! And it feels so amazing. I love my sister and I am so glad we are on this academic journey together.’

Melissa Mungroo

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UKZN Honours Two Renowned South Africans

UKZN Honours Two Renowned South Africans
Dr Kumi Naidoo (left) and Dr Hugh Masekela (right) were both awarded Honorary Doctorates for their outstanding contributions in their respective fields.

Director of the New Africa Civil Society Centre Dr Kumi Naidoo and African Music living-legend and political struggle icon Dr Hugh Masekela were recently awarded Honorary Doctorates in Social Science and Music respectively. Both graduates were honoured to receive their Doctorates.

Renowned Musician Hugh Masekela Receives Honorary Doctorate

African Music living-legend and political struggle icon Dr Hugh Masekela was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Music from UKZN in recognition of his talents as a world class performer and entertainer as well as for being an inspiration to several generations of South Africans.

Speaking during the UKZN Graduation ceremony, Masekela asked the audience to consider several issues through which the excellence of African Heritage could be re-introduced into their lives, without abandoning the good inherited from the Western world.

Masekela spoke about the restoration and resilience of African Heritage, linking ethnic languages with praise poetry saying it was the universal genealogy of all African people.

‘Volumes of African-language history and literature books lie covered with dust and ticks in basements and warehouses all over the continent and parts of Europe. African artisanship lies dormant but awe-inspiring as are our arts and crafts, design and architecture,’ said Masekela.

He asked the audience questions about whether there should be places of learning where knowledge embedded in these initiatives could be pursued, while questioning whether African Heritage really was primitive, heathen, backward and barbaric?

‘I humbly ask you on bended knees to carry these thoughts with you as you go out into the world and perhaps think about how humiliating it will be 20 years from today when your children are asked who they really are and their response is “They say we used to be Africans very long ago”.’

‘Or do you already speak only European languages in your homes?’ said Masekela.

Environmentalist Kumi Naidoo Awarded Honorary Doctorate

Director of the New Africa Civil Society Centre Dr Kumi Naidoo received an Honorary Doctorate in Social Sciences from UKZN for his tireless campaigning in the area of human rights and environmental justice. 

Using the Graduation platform to deliver an impassioned plea, Naidoo - referring to the current troubled political scenario in South Africa – said: ‘Don’t be corrupt, don’t steal, and act in the best interests of the people of this country.’

Honoured and elated to receive the Honorary Doctorate, Naidoo dedicated the honour to his fallen comrades and struggle stalwarts Lenny Naidoo and Phila Ndwandwe. ‘This is not a personal achievement but a salute, recognising those people who were part of my generation’s struggle…their sacrifices, contributions. This is for them,’ he said.

True to his environmental activism, Naidoo reflected on the impact of climate change: ‘The planet does not need saving, the planet will still be here even when the human species dies out. We should be investing in the future of the next generation by becoming climate activists. We need to act in urgency. We must also recognise that we are part of a bigger continent, dedicated to uniting people across that continent.’

Naidoo said he would launch a social movement - Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Sustainable Developmenton 25 May, providing a united stance for all Africans.  

His message to UKZN graduates was to use their education to uplift society.

‘Do not adjust to injustice, inequality and corruption. I hope you will contribute to a society that is sustainable and fair…that is free of sexism, racism and corruption.’

Melissa Mungroo

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Student Battles Epilepsy and Hemiplegia During Honours Degree Studies

Student Battles Epilepsy and Hemiplegia During Honours Degree Studies
Mr Malibongwe Nelson Majola who graduated with an Honours degree in Community and Development Studies.

An excited and proud Mr Malibongwe Nelson Majola recently graduated with his Honours degree in Community and Development studies. The road to getting this degree, for Majola, was fraught with pain and difficulty. In 2008, he was shot and had to put his dreams of becoming a mine surveyor on hold to recover. 

While recuperating at home, Majola saw firsthand the hardships endured by his family and his community, choosing then to pursue a career in the community development field. 

The bullet wound caused Majola to suffer hemiplegia - a condition that causes total or partial paralysis of one side of the body. 

His disability inspired him to become a role model for both able-bodied and disabled people. 

He believes that being disabled is not a problem. ‘Problems starts when you regard disability as a problem to yourself. The proper way to deal with such a situation is to get educated, and although it is not easy you must have faith and believe in yourself.’

Majola suffered frequent epileptic attacks during his undergraduate years, which he says are now under control thanks to prescribed medication. 

He couldn’t concentrate after experiencing the attack but he kept working hard with the support of his family and friends who always believed in him. 

In his research, he examined the impact of the dropout rate from school on community development. 

He's found that crime and poverty increased in communities where there was a significant school dropout rate because employment opportunities were limited and it was difficult for those people to maintain a healthy lifestyle. ‘I hope my research will contribute to identifying solutions to combat the issues of poverty in society,’ he said. 

Majola is grateful to his mother and friends Mr Zethembe Mseleku, Ms Londiwe Mtanda and Mr Nsizwazonke Yende for their ongoing support and encouragement. 

He is now enrolled for his Master’ degrees and plans to do a PhD in the future. ‘To those that are faced with disabilities and various issues, always have faith and believe in yourself. Never let anyone take advantage of your situation.’

Melissa Mungroo


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Research into Medical Male Circumcision for HIV Prevention in Zimbabwe

Research into Medical Male Circumcision for HIV Prevention in Zimbabwe
Dr Antony Chikutsa received his PhD in Population Studies.

The implications – for both men and women – of the upscaling of medical male circumcision in Zimbabwe were examined by Dr Antony Chikutsa during research for his PhD in Population Studies

‘Doing a PhD for me is something I have always wanted to do since my childhood,’ said Chikutsa. ‘I remember I had a 1993 University of Zimbabwe calendar which had a list of the academic staff and their qualifications. I looked at that calendar regularly and wanted to be one of them,’ said Chikutsa. 

He chose the topic for his thesis after attending one of the first workshops on the projected impact of male circumcision on the HIV trajectory in Zimbabwe. 

Chikutsa wrote a brief PhD proposal but shelved it, pulling it out only years later after reading that the male circumcision programme was facing serious uptake challenges, not only in Zimbabwe, but in other African countries as well. 

His research shows while men and women may in general support the promotion of medical male circumcision for HIV prevention, there is a level of reluctance among women to have their husbands circumcised as it seems like ‘one is accepting your man will sleep around “because he is protected”. 

‘Men also talk about fears of having their “thing” cut off by mistake which is what we read about happening at traditional circumcision ceremonies or having their potential to please a woman in bed reduced. Some were very worried about their foreskins while others were excited because they heard that circumcised men are very good in bed and they really wanted to see if that was true,’ explained Chikutsa.  

His research shows that the promotion of voluntary medical male circumcision should address people’s underlying fears, misconceptions and myths about the whole process. ‘When those are addressed, there is a chance that a larger number of people will adopt this innovative method of HIV prevention.’ 

‘I feel elated with an indescribable sense of accomplishment,’ said Chikutsa. ‘My father was a general factory worker and my mother is a housewife but as the first born they sacrificed so much to get me where I am today. Achieving this PhD is the least I could do for their sacrifice and their encouragement in providing for my education. 

‘I am very grateful for the support I received from my family both financially, spiritually and emotionally.’

Offering advice to other researchers, he said: ‘Doing a PhD or any similar research project is very demanding and the temptation to divert or drop out is strong, so it is necessary to keep your eye on the ball. Always remember why you started the degree. You need faith and a focus to keep you going.’

Melissa Mungroo

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