Centre for Creative Arts Director on Mail & Guardian’s Top Young South Africans List

Centre for Creative Arts Director on Mail & Guardian’s Top Young South Africans List
UKZN’s Mr David wa Maahlamela is one of 200 Young South Africans recognised by the Mail & Guardian newspaper.

UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) Director Mr David wa Maahlamela has been named by the Mail & Guardian newspaper on its 200 Young South Africans list in the Film and Media category.

The list puts the spotlight on young stars who are shaping the country’s future.

Maahlamela dedicated the recognition to the hard work the entire CCA team puts in towards the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF).

‘Accolades can sometimes be overrated since they often emphasise the end results exclusive of circumstance. It is for that reason I rely a lot on my personal monitoring indicators. External recognition is secondary,’ said Maahlamela.

‘The work of the CCA, for instance, cannot be judged without contextualising its staff complement and quantity of activities. Over and above, I am grateful that the external world is able to notice the unseen hours the CCA team under my leadership contributes to the media and film industry.’

This is Maahlamela’s second appearance on the list and he is thrilled to be featured under the Film and Media category for 2017. ‘I believe it is not much about me as the practitioner but rather the platform DIFF creates, and its contribution to the industry at large.

‘I have participated in large platforms such as Berlinale (Germany) and Cannes (France) simply because I head this great institution named DIFF,’ he added.

Of his support network, Maahlamela said: ‘I am fortunate to have such a supportive family. My mother was actually in town a weekend before the list was announced, and she was celebrating it already together with her 70th birthday. My siblings have been full of compliments. At work, most of those who know me have already conveyed their congratulations.’

Maahleamela is currently completing his PhD research on kiba poetry within the Zion Christian Church, exploring works of poets such as Petrus Molelemane and Johannes Mohlala.

Maahlamela, who hails from Limpopo, matriculated at the age of 16 but was unable to study further due to financial constraints, immersing himself wholly and highly successfully in literature for a year. He holds an MA in Creative Writing (cum laude) from Rhodes University.

In 2012, he was funded by the University of Columbia in the United States to pursue editing and graphic design studies at the Seagull School of Publishing in Calcutta, India. Maahlamela completed the Public Management and Governance segment under the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) Programme.

As the co-founder of the Polokwane Literature Festival, Maahlamela served as a non-executive Director of the National Arts Council, and the National English Literature Museum where he chaired various sub-committees.

He has written four award-winning books, including the acclaimed poetry anthology, Tša Borala.

The recipient of the PanSALB Multilingualism Award and the Maskew Miller Longman Literature Award, he has appeared on Muvhango and the Voice of Africa TV series.

The former Johannesburg Institute of Advance Study Writing Fellow has had his literary works published in more than 50 literary journals and anthologies.

With more than 20 years’ experience as a professional creative practitioner, a lot of Maahlamela’s time has been dedicated to rural development. John Ruganda, a Ugandan playwright and editor of TurfWRITE, played a pivotal role in Maahlamela’s life when he was a teenager.

Ruganda ran what was the largest arts, culture and heritage festival in Limpopo at the time. ‘Ruganda taught me to speak less and let my deeds be my ultimate advocate,’ says Maahlamela. He aims to use the creative industry to unite Africa and exhibit internationally.

Words by: Melissa Mungroo mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

Photograph by Albert Hirasen

author : .
author email : .

UKZN’s Sugan Pillay is KZN’s Groundsman of the Year

UKZN’s Sugan Pillay is KZN’s Groundsman of the Year
KZN Groundsman of the Year Mr Sugan Pillay (centre) with his garden and grounds team.

UKZN’s cricket groundsman, Mr Sugan Pillay, supported by his Gardens and Grounds team, has been named as “Groundsman of the Year” by the KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union.

This is thought to be the first time that UKZN fields under the management of the Sports Administration, in collaboration with Campus Management Services, have been recognised for their excellence by the Cricket Union.

The Union manages and administrates all league cricket in the greater KwaZulu-Natal region with matches taking place on various fields throughout the province. The pitch, particularly the area where bowlers and batsmen are most involved, is vital to how a match will evolve over the course of a contest. To a large extent, the pitch condition can make or break a competitive match.

Preparing pitches is a highly skilled profession, requiring understanding of different weather conditions, soils, levels, grass, and watering, among other issues. Apart from the pitch, the rest of the field also needs to be in pristine condition to allow players to display their skills to the best of their ability.

Words by: Logan Vandeyar

author : .
author email : .

UKZN Enactus Team Recognised for Innovative Farming App

UKZN Enactus Team Recognised for Innovative Farming App
Enactus UKZN members Masbonge Dlamini and Sanelisiwe Msweli presenting on their innovative farming App, Kandu.

The UMtate WamaBovu project of the UKZN Enactus team has introduced an innovative App called Kandu which they believe is the solution to many problems faced by farmers in uMsinga in KwaZulu-Natal. 

This innovation which seeks to make farming in uMsinga viable by increasing production and efficiencies while involving the youth, creating job opportunities for women and the disabled and boosting income, won  the UKZN team a place on the shortlist of eight finalists competing in the Barloworld Social Innovation Youth Awards (BSIYA).

From a survey conducted in the area by Enactus UKZN, more than 70% of farmers are above the age of 50 and their highest education level is Grade 7. Most farmers have up to eight unemployed household dependents.

The UMtate WamaBovu project involves more than 165 members and promotes gender equality. It is run on 66ha of land with healthy soil and sufficient water sources allowing emerging farmers to grow a wide variety of crops including potatoes, maize, tomatoes, beans, chillies, cabbages, and green peppers.

Enactus UKZN team leader Mr Lungelo Gabela says the team plans to introduce Kandu to potential customers so they are able to place orders online without going to the farm. When clients or the customers pay after the produce has been delivered, the secure payment option it offers goes directly through the farmer’s cell phone, eliminating delays of payment by the customer. This system can further assist in increasing the revenue of farmers and decreasing wastage of left over stock.

‘We believe our new Kandu App will be a solution to the struggles of the farmers by bringing new opportunities for large growth and sustainability,’ said Gabela. ‘We have started introducing this new technology to rural emerging farmers by showing them how it can increase their revenue through acquiring more customers  - wholesalers, retailers, supermarkets and individuals - who will buy their produce once they become aware of it.’

‘Though the uMsinga area is saturated with a large supply of crops from many different farmers, their expenses - seeds, fertilisers, tractor hire, labour and electricity costs - exceed income as one of their greatest struggles is not having access to markets to sell their produce,’

‘In addition, many farmers lack knowledge or the means to approach markets, retailers and wholesalers outside the uMsinga area. Farmers are also in need of important infrastructure like harvest processing hubs, trucks and tractors,’ said Gabela.

The team first worked with the municipality to pay the farmers’ electricity debt of R156 000, installing solar panels which are cheaper in the long run, more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Another challenge they wanted to address was increasing participation from the youth in uMsinga where unemployment is high.

This project is not only aligned with the National Development Plan and Integrated Development Plan, but addresses goals 1, 5, 8, 9 and 10 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Said Group Executive of Corporate Affairs at Barloworld, Mr Sibani Mngomezulu: ‘Barloworld seeks to be a catalyst for change and to contribute to empowerment and transformation initiatives that will ensure the sustainability of our broader society.

‘In supporting Enactus, we are able to play an important role in promoting entrepreneurship, encouraging young people to improve lives and strengthen communities, and developing responsible leadership,’ said Mngomezulu.

Words by: UKZNDabaOnline

author : .
author email : .

Mapping the Antiquity, Pervasiveness and Uniqueness of Life on Earth

Mapping the Antiquity, Pervasiveness and Uniqueness of Life on Earth
Professor Serban Proches with his wife, Cecile, and daughters, Anya and Mira, on the occasion of his Inaugural Lecture.

Animals and plants found only in a certain area are important in creating a sense of place while those occurring throughout the world are recognisable wherever one goes. Both widespread and localised species contribute to a region’s unique flora and fauna.

So says Professor Serban Proches, a Biogeographer in UKZN’s School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, who was speaking on the occasion of his Inaugural Lecture into the UKZN professoriate, during which he explored issues relating to biogeography, mapping the antiquity, pervasiveness and uniqueness of life on Earth.

‘My research into biogeographical concepts has crystalised around these three major themes,’ said Proches.  ‘Antiquity is one of the most important things to consider when deciding what is worthy of respect.  Pervasiveness refers to the ability to take over the world and to subsequently be found all over the world.  And uniqueness is relevant in the context of diversity.  In biodiversity our first and foremost measure is a species, which is made unique by a combination of traits.  A biodiverse area is made unique by a unique combination of species.’

Proches explained that biogeography studied the distribution of plants and animals. ‘It provides key data towards conservation with contemporary conservation theory particularly emphasising the preservation of ancient lineages.’

Proches presented his contribution to global biogeography, from mapping ancient lineages to cosmopolitan ones, and to redefining biogeographical regions.

‘I have mapped antiquity in both plant and animal lineages throughout the world, focusing particularly on the two last mass extinctions, 66 million and 201 million years ago respectively. I have mapped globally invasive species such as pine trees, focusing on both natural and human assisted invasions.  And I have mapped uniqueness by refining and redefining the world’s zoogeographical regions, initially proposed by Alfred Russell Wallace in the nineteenth century.’

Proches also used the opportunity to explore the conceptual relevance of his studies against the background of his own life story, both personal and professional.

Proches was born in Romania where he studied up to masters level at the country’s premier university, the University of Bucharest. He moved to South Africa in 1999 and completed a PhD in Zoology at the then University of Durban-Westville, looking at the ecology and biogeography of southern African secondary marine arthropods under the supervision of Dr David Marshall.

Proches subsequently completed three post-doctoral projects at the universities of Port Elizabeth, Stellenbosch and KwaZulu-Natal (Pietermaritzburg), hosted by Professor Richard Cowling, Professor David Richardson and Professor Steven Johnson, all A-rated scientists. ‘Six years of postdoc publishing without having to lecture did wonders for my research output,’ he quipped.

Proches was appointed as senior lecturer in Biogeography at UKZN in 2008, promoted to Associate Professor in 2011, and to full Professor in 2017. He has been in research for 20 years, during which time he has published 70 peer-reviewed journal articles, many in top journals, including one each in Nature and Science. He has over 2 400 citations and an h-factor of 24.

He received the NRF President’s award in 2008, the UKZN Vice-Chancellor’s research award in 2009, and the Distinguished Teachers’ Award in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science in 2015.

‘I feel quite happy and lucky to be an academic because I am in the privileged position of being paid to make sense of the world, and to teach others how to do so.’ 

Words and photograph by: Sally Frost

author : .
author email : .

KZN Research and Innovation Sequencing Platform Established

KZN Research and Innovation Sequencing Platform Established
Professor Tulio de Oliveira and right is the view from Vital-IT and the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics campus in Lausanne, Switzerland, which KRISP team recently to visited to set-up collaborations and learn more about their successful business plan.

The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and UKZN have signed an agreement for the establishment of KRISP – the KwaZulu-Natal Research and Innovation Sequencing Platform.

This signed agreement with TIA takes the omics/informatics facility to new levels.

KRISP, the result of hard work by, among others, Professor Tulio de Oliveira, Professor Deresh Ramjugernath and Professor Salim Abdool Karim, was previously known as the Genomics and Bioinformatics Centre.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Health Sciences, Professor Rob Slotow, said KRISP is one of many exciting research projects driven by de Oliviera.

De Oliveira is a full Professor at the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine at UKZN and a Research Associate at the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA). Recognised as an expert on HIV genetic data and bioinformatics software development, he received his PhD at the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine in 2003, was a Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom in 2006, and has recently been awarded a Royal Society Newton Advanced Fellowship.

In total, he has published more than 100 manuscripts, and developed dozens of bioinformatics software applications and databases. De Oliveira leads a group of 18 researchers and/or postgraduate students.

The concept for KRISP started in discussions with the executives of UKZN, CAPRISA, TIA and the Department of Science and Technology, funded by the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap (SARIR) DIPLOMICS programme.

‘We decided that it was wise to build KRISP on our strength in genomics, epidemiology and bioinformatics and to use our existing facilities at the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences in the College of Health Sciences to host it,’ said de Oliveira.

The vision of KRISP is to produce and analyse omics data at the same speed and quality as the top genomics centres in the world. This will produce cutting-edge research, support industrial development and capacitate the next generation of scientists in South Africa.

A critical function of KRISP will be to enable and facilitate access to genomics, epigenetics and bioinformatics technology to a broader community of users who might not otherwise pursue these technologies or use alternative international resources.  KRISP aims at creating, in collaboration with TIA, a professionally run and accredited service component that is available for academic, commercial and industrial clients.

This agreement will see TIA providing R5 million a year for the core of the facility, but there is now opportunity to leverage additional funding for flagship projects, including a flagship programme from the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC). The SAMRC Flagship programme has been very successful - it has published 60 manuscripts, graduated nine MScs and PhD students and trained 1 150 participants as part of capacity building workshops in the last three years. KRISP is now looking for opportunities to collaborate with key stakeholders and funders to identify new flagship programmes that can generate similar scientific and capacity building output.

‘We are very passionate about training and capacity building. For example, in the last three years, we have organised 16 workshops during which 1 150 individuals were trained. As part of KRISP, we will continue and expand our training programme.  We also expect to graduate more PhDs and MScs in order to create the scientific leaders of tomorrow,’ said de Oliviera.

Director of CAPRISA Professor Salim Abdool Karim has been crucial in the planning processes and will act as chair of the board.

KRISP has thanked SAMRC for its support and look forward to a very positive interaction in the future.

‘A big thank you to everyone who worked hard towards the establishment of KRISP. I am very glad to see this has happened and we will work very hard to become a success history,’ added de Oliveira

Words by: Lihle Sosibo

author : .
author email : .

Academic Spearheads Bid for Durban to be a UNESCO City of Literature

Academic Spearheads Bid for Durban to be a UNESCO City of Literature
Mr Darryl Earl David who is on a mission to make Durban UNESCO’s City of Literature.

Lecturer in the School of Arts Mr Darryl Earl David is on a mission to make Durban a UNESCO City of Literature.

There are 20 Cities of Literature around the world, with David working towards making Durban the 21st. The winning city will be announced by UNESCO in October. 

‘We have advised UNESCO that Durban is bidding to become South Africa’s and Africa’s first UNESCO City of Literature,’ said David. ‘Iowa, America’s UNESCO’s City of Literature, has agreed to act as mentor city to Durban, and it has really been a huge help having a team who have walked down this path before,’ said David.

He says that the late announcement of Durban’s bid should not be construed as a rushed attempt or a move to exclude writers from the process. In fact, it was all part of the grand design. ‘When you are striving for undeniably the biggest literature project in the history of South Africa, one that you have been working on for nearly five years, you don’t want to go around bragging about this and giving other cities ideas. This is the holy grail for bibliophiles.’

UNESCO’s City of Literature programme is part of its Creative Cities Network, launched in 2004. The network was born out of UNESCO’s Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity initiative, created in 2002.

Its aim is to ‘promote the social, economic and cultural development of cities in both the developed and the developing world.’ The cities in the network promote their local creative scene and conform to UNESCO’s goal of fostering cultural diversity.

‘An important aspect of the Creative Cities concept is that the cities foster public/private partnerships, particularly by encouraging the entrepreneurial and creative potential of small enterprises. Literature is just one of several categories of Creative Cities. Others include music, film, media, gastronomy, crafts and folk art and design,’ explained David.

He assured all Durban writers that ‘if we are awarded UNESCO status, we will celebrate not only the literati from all across the globe, but also, first and foremost, Durban writers.’

‘I hope the UNESCO status will open doors to international writers for Durban. That is, after all, the rationale for UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. Through this cultural exchange, we can create something memorable in Durban. I am quietly confident. Our exco has a good blend of imagineers and pragmatists. We are hopeful that come 31 October, it will be Durban’s time.’

* Darryl Earl David is the founder of Booktown Richmond and at least 10 other literary festivals in South Africa.

Words by: Melissa Mungroo

author : .
author email : .

UKZN Staffer’s Band Performs at Essence Festival in New Orleans

UKZN Staffer’s Band Performs at Essence Festival in New Orleans
Heels over Head perform at Essence Festival in New Orleans.

An all-women jazz band led by UKZN School of Arts staff member Ms Thulile Zama performed at the Essence Festival in New Orleans in the United States recently.

The band, Heels over Head, was invited to play at the high profile show by eThekwini Municipality, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture, and the Essence Festival organisers.

The Essence Festival, known as “the party with a purpose”, is an annual music festival which started in 1995 as a one-time event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Essence, a magazine aimed primarily at African-American women. It is the largest event in the United States celebrating African-American culture and music.

The band performed alongside music greats such as John Legend, Diana Ross, Solange and Mary J. Blige, showcasing their blend of African influenced, easy-breezy, pop jazz.

Apart from Zama, the band comprises drummer Rebekah Pillay, pianist Lindi Ngonelo, bassist Tebogo Sedumedi and guitarist Chillie Stent.

‘It was a huge honour to be selected for a performance at the Festival,’ said Zama. ‘We have worked for many years to create such opportunities and not only was the performance itself a great experience, but being in such a lively musical city and being a guest at a prestigious event like Essence, was enriching and humbling.’

Said Pillay: ‘We aim to be an example to other female musicians, showing that anything is possible. It was a new challenge to perform for a different audience from what we are used to. The trip was great motivation to keep the band going and our creativity also got a boost. Hopefully, this will lead to the recording of our long awaited third album.’

The love of jazz music brought the band together in 2008. Since then they have been into the studio to record their original compositions and have also played live all over KwaZulu-Natal and in the rest of the country.

Words by: Melissa Mungroo

author : .
author email : .

Plant Pathology Masters Candidate Wins Best Poster Award in San Diego

Plant Pathology Masters Candidate Wins Best Poster Award in San Diego
Mr Thembani Nxumalo with his certificate at the conference in the United States.

Masters candidate in the Discipline of Plant Pathology in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) Mr Thembani Nxumalo won a best poster award at the 2nd International Conference on Food Security and Sustainability held in San Diego in the United States.

Nxumalo received the award for his poster titled: “Application of Lecanicillium muscarium as a Biological Control Agent of Rust Pathogens”.

The Conference theme was: “Producing Sustainable Thoughts to Bolster the Future”. Nxumalo said he had enjoyed visiting the United States and that the Conference was well organised.

He is the recipient of a VinPro Foundation and Arysta Life Science bursary, which enabled him to travel to the conference.

Nxumalo, supervised by Professor Mark Laing and Dr Kwasi Yobo, presented the results of the second chapter of his master’s degree dissertation.

An alumnus of Nhlalakahle High School in the Nqutu area of KwaZulu-Natal, Nxumalo followed his passion for agriculture into a four-year Plant Pathology degree at UKZN, progressing to masters studies at the Institution. He hopes that once he has completed his masters, he will progress to PhD studies and later to a career in research.

Nxumalo’s work involves investigating a viable biological control treatment for rust pathogens that affect numerous commercial crops such as wheat, soybean and maize. He began his research using the common Oxalis plant as a proxy for commercial crops to test his biological control agent formulated from the Lecanicillium muscarium fungus. This fungus occurs naturally in small quantities with the rust pathogen.

Nxumalo isolated the fungus and grew it under laboratory conditions for use as a biological control agent. Following successful control of rust on the Oxalis, Nxumalo is testing the agent on wheat at UKZN’s Ukulinga Research Farm.

Development of biocontrol agents for the treatment of disease on commercial crops is important, as these treatments are often considerably cheaper than chemical agents, safer for human health, environmentally friendly, and will not result in the development of resistance to treatments in the crops concerned. Researchers like Nxumalo aim to improve the yield of commercial crops and reduce wastage by treating these plant diseases, thereby increasing food security.

Nxumalo, who is an avid soccer player and works as an assistant at UKZN’s Disability Unit, thanked his funders for their support of his studies, and his supervisors for their invaluable academic guidance.

Words by: Christine Cuénod

Photograph supplied by Thembani Nxumalo

author : .
author email : .

Workshop on Domestic and Gender Based Violence

Workshop on Domestic and Gender Based Violence
Participants at a workshop on domestic and gender based violence share advice.

UKZN’s College of Humanities and the Advice Desk for the Abused hosted a two-day crisis intervention training workshop at the University’s Innovation Centre on Domestic and Gender Based Violence (GBV) and Abuse.

The gathering brought together students, academics, professionals and members of the public to discuss the causes of GBV as well as interventions and strategies needed to minimise the presence of such issues in society.

Senior Political Science lecturer Dr Lubna Nadvi welcomed everyone and spoke on the objectives of the workshop, encouraging members of the audience to voice what they hoped for out of the workshop.

Professor Anthony Collins, who specialises in the area of GBV, painted different scenarios to explain the contexts in which the abuse happens.

Other speakers included Ms Sharita Samuel, Dr Monique Emser and Ms Ndumiso Ngidi, while representatives from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Jes Foord Foundation gave advice on how to respond to GBV, including making use of legislation.

It was explained that by using the Protection from Harassment and Domestic Violence Act and the Sexual Offences Act, audience members are able to implement Human Rights Frameworks.

It was also pointed out that organisational bodies such as the Legal Resources Centre could be approached to assist.

Dr Suria Govender, Ms Jabulisile Langa, Ms Alishia Joseph, Ms Lucinda Johns and Ms Row-Ann Hunsley interacted with participants in fields such as training, development, advocacy, activism, and crisis intervention.

Participating counsellors were given role-playing exercises to illustrate different counselling mechanisms to use when dealing with GBV cases.

At the close of the workshop, participants agreed they had been provided with practical solutions to fight the scourge of domestic and gender based violence.

Words and photograph by: Ziphezinhle Silindile Biyela

author : .
author email : .

Academics Present Research Papers at Maritime Economics Conference

Academics Present Research Papers at Maritime Economics Conference
AADP academics Mr Sanele Gumede (left) and Mr Ayanda Meyiwa at the IAME Conference in Kyoto, Japan.

Accelerated Academic Development Programme (AADP) lecturers Mr Ayanda Meyiwa and Mr Sanele Gumede presented papers while attending their first ever International Association of Maritime Economists (IAME) Conference in Kyoto, Japan.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the IAME Conference has been attended by some of the most prominent academic society of scholars with an interest in maritime economics, coming from a variety of research backgrounds.

The IAME Conference aims to provide an opportunity for the world scientific community to meet and discuss current research topics and contribute to the development of maritime economics and management as a well-established academic discipline.

Meyiwa said he was proud to represent UKZN and rub shoulders with recognised specialists in the maritime economics community.

‘It was my first international conference experience as an academic. It was a learning curve and I got to meet, engage in conversations and exchange contacts with Port Governance experts such as Professor Theo Notteboom of the University of Antwerp and Professor Dong-Wook Song, who is the Republic of Korea Chair and Professor of Maritime Logistics at the World Maritime University, Sweden ,’ he said.

Under the theme “Maritime Transport Quality in the Evolving World”, Meyiwa’s paper was titled: “South Africa’s Port Doctrine: Dilemmas and the Way Forward”; while Gumede presented the “Regulation of South Africa’s Ports: Dilemmas and Reforms”.

Both papers presented by these emerging scholars were co-authored with their supervisor and Maritime Economist, Dr Mihalis Chasomeris from the Graduate School of Business & Leadership (GSB&L). Their papers, which are also a contribution toward their PhDs, examined the phenomenon of port governance, port pricing and port logistics within the maritime transportation industry.

Meyiwa explained that attending international conferences such as the IAME secured the School of Accounting Economics and Finance a place in the international sector where the University is viewed as a research institution rather than just a teaching institution.

‘The fact that we can take our work and put it in the international arena for review, feedback and critical analysis by other scholars of diverse backgrounds really gives us the edge to say that we have peer-reviewed work, not only amongst ourselves as a University or a nation, but by individuals who have no knowledge of our Institution giving us credibility,’ he added. 

Words by: Sibonelo Shinga

author : .
author email : .

UKZN Research Group to attend Economic Discussion Forum in Grahamstown

UKZN Research Group to attend Economic Discussion Forum in Grahamstown
Macroeconomics Working Group Members.

Members of the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance’s (SAEF) Macroeconomics Working Group (MWG), will present their research papers at the Biennial Conference of the Economic Society of South Africa (ESSA) at Rhodes University in Grahamstown beginning on 30 August.

The aim of the Conference is to promote the discussion of and research into economic matters, particularly those affecting South Africa.

Attending the forum is Dean of Research Professor Harold Ngalawa; Economics lecturer Dr Christian Tipoy; Accelerated Academic Development Programme (AADP) lecturers Mr Ayanda Meyiwa, Mr Simiso Msomi, Mr Ntokozo Nzimande and Mr Sanele Gumede, and PhD and Masters candidates Ms Lenhle Dlamini, Mr Ojo Adelakun, Mr Malibongwe Nyati, Mr Doctor Sangweni, Mr Joseph Akande, Mr Adebayo Kutu, Mr Mathew Rotimi, Mr Edson Vengesai and Ms Margaret Olarewaju.

The MWG believes that taking part in the Conference will increase the visibility and display the quality of research being conducted by UKZN.

‘There are numerous macroeconomic questions that we do not have answers to,’ said Ngalawa. ‘There are also many empirical problems whose solutions have eluded policymakers. In South Africa, for instance, economic growth has been consistently very low, unemployment has been considerably high, inflation and interest rates are relatively high, savings rates are low, and the budget deficit has been growing. At the Conference our group will deliver a message that UKZN has a specialised unit and expertise to solve these and other problems,’ he said.

Nzimande who is the Conference co-ordinator of the group says the MWG has progressed a lot since last year, with presenting their research papers at several conferences, not only in South Africa, but also in countries such as the United States of America, Hungary, China and France. They have also published research papers in local and international Journals such as the Journal of Economic and Behavioural Studies, the Inter disciplinary Journal of Economics and Business law and the South African Journal of Economics.

Moving forward, the MWG has plans to further advance macroeconomic research and host their own conferences at UKZN.

‘Next semester we plan to invite the South African Reserve Bank’s Professor Nicola Viegi to teach us the basics on how to run the Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium Model which attempts to explain impacts of shocks to the economic system. The most interesting part is that DSGE is formulated from microeconomic foundations, and therefore allows one to study more than one sector at once,’ added Nzimande.

Words by: Sibonelo Shinga

author : .
author email : .

Agrometeorology Discipline Hosts Eddy Covariance Workshop

Agrometeorology Discipline Hosts Eddy Covariance Workshop
Delegates at a workshop on Eddy Covariance (EC) hosted by UKZN’s Discipline of Agrometeorology.

The Discipline of Agrometeorology in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) recently held a two-day workshop on the Pietermaritzburg campus on eddy covariance (EC) in partnership with 37 representatives from a variety of institutions.

Institutions involved included the University of the Free State, the University of Pretoria, the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

The workshop, the first of its kind in the country, was held in response to the increased popularity of the EC technique internationally and locally and the total lack of EC training available in South Africa.

According to UKZN’s Senior Professor of Agrometeorology, Professor Michael Savage, EC is a micrometeorological method for measuring the exchange of water, carbon dioxide and methane between the earth’s surface and the overlying atmosphere. These three important greenhouse gases play a significant role in global warming. The EC method allows for the direct measurement of these exchanges.

Thirteen masters and PhD postgraduates from Hydrology and Agrometeorology were among those who attended. The School LAN ensured that each participant was able to install the relevant software and then, with guidance, analyse high frequency EC data.

Dr Colin Everson of SAEON gave a presentation on his EC experiences while Dr Alistair Clulow of the Agrometeorology discipline presented a laboratory session on gas analyser calibration. An Agrometeorology PhD postgraduate, Mr Nicholas Mbangiwa, presented a session on software templates.

Participants praised the excellent planning and quality of the workshop, lauding the interactive sessions and the clear understanding communicated by Savage and his team. Participants left the workshop saying that they felt they had been well equipped to apply the theories and practices of EC in their work.

Savage plays a role in mentoring young scientists, academics and practitioners in his field, and views the hosting of these types of workshops as part of achieving that aim. He arranged a similar workshop in 2016 on a different topic, and indicated that future workshops on topics of relevance and importance in his field were in the pipeline.

Words and photograph by: Christine Cuénod

author : .
author email : .

UKZN Staff Union Praised for its Achievements

UKZN Staff Union Praised for its Achievements
UKSU members.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal Staff Union (UKSU) was praised at a roadshow it held at the Medical School in Durban for ‘its tenacity in negotiating benefits for all staff.’

Those in attendance lauded the union for its efforts in ensuring that ‘many staff members still had jobs, although some had to be relocated during the College of Health Service’s reorganisation processes.

UKSU’s involvement in the insourcing of security personnel and general assistants into the university system was noted with thanks. ‘The sterling efforts to achieve parity for all staff for the PM bonuses and removing discrimination in the area of Conditions of Service were noteworthy achievements. Now we are looking forward to the parity of the Notch Adjusted Ranges.’

UKSU Chairperson, Mr Raymond Parkies, encouraged staff to study and understand the 2017-2021 Strategic Plan of the University once it was approved by Council and made accessible on the University website. ‘It is a very interesting document, precise and people-centred,’ he said.

Parkies said with 1 430 members UKSU was the largest union at UKZN. ‘We really love our members.  We respect them and thank them for being loyal to the union.’

The next road show will be held on the Main Library Lawn of the Pietermaritzburg campus at 13h00 on 26 July 2017.

Words by: UKZNDabaOnline

author : .
author email : .

Durban International Film Festival Opens With SA Thriller

Durban International Film Festival Opens With SA Thriller
A South African film SERPENT will be screened at the opening of the 38th Durban International Film Festival.

The Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within the College of Humanities has announced that SERPENT, a South African movie directed by Amanda Evans, will open the 38th Durban International Film Festival on 13 July.

The film has already made significant headway since its launch last year with international distribution already secured. It is a gripping, spine-tingling tale of love, betrayal and the ultimate sacrifice.

The film follows a couple’s emotional journey as they battle to find and reignite their love in a wilderness where they are trapped in a tent with a venomous snake. As secrets unravel, with no escape, they are forced to deal with their demons, simultaneously making life and death decisions.

SERPENT is a tightly wound, psychological time bomb that unravels with an intense, disturbing conviction. The snake, a black mamba, is one of the deadliest in Africa and has a lightning strike.

 It is distinctive for the black colouring in its mouth, delivering what is dubbed “the kiss of death”.

Said Evans: ‘For me the hook of this film is the way it explores the human nature of two characters, their will to survive, and who should survive, not to mention the visceral and primal high of being trapped in a nylon capsule with an apex predator. Viewers may find they are not sure who is more terrifying - man or mamba!’

Film Festival Manager Ms Chipo Zhou added: ‘It is a fitting production to open the Festival with. Having a film directed by a female is aligned with our women-led film focus this year and my vision for a more inclusive DIFF.’

Produced by Enigma Pictures and Videovision Entertainment, the film is based on a script selected for the Berlinale Official Co-Production Market in 2012. Sarah Dumont (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, Don Jon, and 6 Below) stars in the film along with Tom Ainsley, best known for his roles in Versailles and The Royals.

Words  by: Melissa Mungroo

author : .
author email : .

Workshop Equips Nurses with MDR-TB Management Skills

Workshop Equips Nurses with MDR-TB Management Skills
Members of the team of professional nurses who attended the MDR-TB management workshop.

The Discipline of Nursing in the School of Nursing and Public Health at UKZN hosted a Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB) workshop for professional nurses enrolled in the primary healthcare programme at UKZN.

The four-day workshop - facilitated by the Johns Hopkins University in the United States, UKZN and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health - was a clinical management course designed for healthcare workers ((HCWs) in primary health care centres, preparing them to plan and deliver MDR-TB care in the community.

About 170 candidates, registered in the programme attended the workshop which provided a detailed overview of MDR-TB management, with special emphasis on treatment initiation at the community level by primary healthcare (PHC) nurses or clinical nurse practitioners (CNP) and medical officers.

This training was made possible by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

South Africa has the world’s highest rate of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis (TB)/ Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) co-infection and ranks third for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis incidence and HIV prevalence.

Despite advances made in treatment and diagnosis over the past decade, drug-resistant TB remains a growing threat to public health.

The South African National AIDS Council’s National Strategic Plan (NSP) for HIV, STIs and TB 2012-2016 recommends treatment initiation of MDR-TB by professional nurses at the community level to increase timely access to treatment and to ongoing care and treatment.

‘It is thus imperative to equip our healthcare workers providing services at PHC settings with the necessary knowledge to assist in their day-to-day clinical management systems and also improve the lives of our patients,’ said Dr Mbali Mhlongo, a lecturer in the School of Nursing and Public Health and a Developing Research Innovation, Localisation and Leadership (DRILL) Fellow,

Words by: Lihle Sosibo

author : .
author email : .

Research Excellence the Priority for College of Health Sciences DRILL Leadership Team

Research Excellence the Priority for College of Health Sciences DRILL Leadership Team
DRILL Team (Principal Investigators, Fellows and DRILL administration staff).

The Developing Research Innovation, Localisation and Leadership in South Africa (DRILL) leadership team at UKZN’s College of Health Sciences (CHS) has been awarded a competitive US National Institutes of Health, Fogarty International Center (NIH/FIC) grant.

DRILL’s programme seeks to produce and retain the next generation of highly skilled, local health science researchers equipped with the necessary skills to respond to South Africa’s multiple healthcare challenges. Its aim is to elevate knowledge production to a new level through mentoring, development and training.

Recently a series of training workshops were held at Coastlands Hotel and the Elangeni Hotel in Durban. A writing workshop aimed at imparting writing skills in the production of impactful articles, understanding the importance of visual story-telling and the use of social media, was held for DRILL Fellows.

Presenting scientific research in a popular style is important for researchers to ensure that their work is disseminated widely and reaches audiences beyond the academic sector. 

The use of social media networks (i.e. Twitter, blogs, Facebook) is gaining traction within academia and it is important for young, up-and-coming researchers to learn how to use these platforms to further their careers and individual professional brands. DRILL Fellow, Dr Jacobus Hendriks of the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Science, in the DRILL HIV/AIDS research theme area, said: ‘The workshop was interesting for me and I can’t wait to see the feedback for my first popular article. This will help me in future to be able to write my abstract in a simpler style.’

The workshop was facilitated by Mr Robert Inglis of Jive Media Africa which specialises in innovative science communication and engagement, bridging the gap between science and the public.

Supervising young researchers, while maintaining one’s own research focus can be challenging. In many cases, the DRILL Fellows may have problems conceptualising the central themes of their projects, making it hard for them to see the direction and decisions they need to make during the research process.

The Research Wheel workshop was facilitated over two sessions by Professor Michael Samuel of the School of Education. The sessions provided the Fellows with a toolkit to use in their supervision sessions.

Dr Varsha Bangalee of the School of Health Sciences in the Health Systems Strengthening research theme area, said: ‘Professor Michael’s chart has helped me get clarity.’

Samuel created the innovative toolkit that can be used by both postgraduate students and their supervisors to facilitate a better working relationship.

To conclude the month, a dinner was organised for the DRILL team and Fellows, providing an opportune time to become better acquainted. Principal Investigator Professor Fatima Suleman of the Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences, opened the evening asking fellows to see the dinner as a reflective session, where they could reflect on where they are in the programme.

Each Fellow had an opportunity to share their experiences of the past nine months. Dr Lihle Qulu of the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, who is in the Mental Health research theme area, felt that time to reflect was important.  ‘A human being who lacks refection is very stagnant and will not be successful,’ said Qulu.

Another DRILL Fellow, Dr Bongani Nkambule of the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, who is in the HIV/AIDS research theme area said: ‘Often researchers are embedded in limited silos and the great thing about DRILL is meeting people from the same Discipline who you probably would never have met.’

The closing remarks by Suleman, reflected the core values of the DRILL programme. She urged the Fellows to fully embrace the opportunity, commit themselves to their development and to remember that everywhere they went, they represented themselves, DRILL, and the University, and to always put their best foot forward.

Words by: Lungelo Khanyile

author : .
author email : .

Relay Racing, Gladiator Contests and Tugs of War at Staff Sports Day

Relay Racing, Gladiator Contests and Tugs of War at Staff Sports Day
Participants at the College of Humanities Sports Day.

The College of Humanities staff had a fun time at their annual sports day this year in spite of the cold weather.

This year’s events also incorporated a Gladiator challenge with a 5,5 meter giant slide and a “face off” with the Raging Bull  who furiously  floored everyone that tried his/her luck. Other events included tug “o” war contests, relay sprints, shot put and fun in sun activities like sack and three-legged races.

The Sports Day was established in 2013 by the College’s Director of Professional Services Mr Kishore Gobardan and Finance Manager Mr Dane Arumugam, with the aim of bringing together professional services staff to build a strong team.

Said Gobardan: ‘We wanted an event for professional services to bring together everyone and promote commonality and team work within the College and the need to build a strong team.’

Staff members were split into four teams: Blue Fire, Yellow Bees, Green Mambas, and the Red Bulls.

The day commenced with Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities Professor Stephen Mutula describing the sports event as one that builds collegiality and team spirit. He said, ‘This event allows the College staff to work together as a team not only during these sporting activities but the aspect of teamwork will ultimately transcend into the workplace.’  

This sentiment was executed with a lip-sync battle among the contestants in order to break the ice. After this the games began with the Red Bulls emerging victorious.

Red Bulls’ captains, Ms Bongekile Bhengu and Mr Vulane Mthembu, both praised their teams, saying team work makes the dream work.

For future sports day events, the College plans to build on what they have done from the sporting perspective because it is all part of the wellness of the staff.

Gobardan and Arumugam said they would be planning to incorporate an academic sector in the near future and hold separate events – such as a fun walk/run – all in the aim of bringing the staff together.

‘We have plans to set up a gym for the College of Humanities staff which will help promote active healthy living and wellness,’ said Arumugam.

Given its phenomenal success and positive impact on staff in the College, we hope that other Colleges and support services could host similar events and at some point perhaps an inter-college sports day could materialise at UKZN.

‘Sport has the power to change to the world … It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does… Sport can create hope where once there was only despair...,’ - Nelson Mandela

Words by: Nomcebo Mncube

Photographs: Thandiwe Madikazi

author : .
author email : .

Team Building Unearths Talent

Team Building Unearths Talent
The top three performances of the day.

The School of Clinical Medicine (SCM) and the School of Laboratory Medicine (LMMS) in the College of Health Sciences recently held a team building staff talent show titled: “Show Us What You’ve GOT”.

Staff members enjoyed a fun-filled afternoon as they showcased their talents and creativity through group, duet and solo performances, using music, dance, karaoke and poetry.

The event aimed to enhance unity among staff, strengthen working relationships among the Schools, provide a relaxed fun platform for staff to celebrate their talents and creativity, and establish and strengthen working relations between academic and professional services staff.

The Woza Futhi music group led by Dr Michelle Gordon, Genomics Academic Leader for Research, dazzled the crowd with their performance.

It is hoped the annual event will grow from strength to strength and attract more participation from staff.

‘No matter how much talent one has (little or none), true potential and complete creativity can only be realised in working together,’ expressed Sharon Botha who is the Financial Administrator in the HIV Pathogenesis Programme, who enthusiastically partook in the staff talent show.

Words by: Lihle Sosibo

author : .
author email : .