UKZN Alumnus Creates Animated Short Psychological Thriller Film

UKZN Alumnus Creates Animated Short Psychological Thriller Film
The short psychological thriller film, The Detective.

Click here for the isiZulu version

Digital artist, filmmaker and UKZN graphic design intern, Mr Mvelo Zimu has written, directed and animated a short psychological thriller film: The Detective.

The film is about a detective who suffers psychological injury due to the loss of the closest people in his life. It is narrated by another alumnus, Mr Qhawe Ndlovu.

‘This film was inspired by several thriller movies that I watched. There were so many drafts, and the preparations and storyboards took about four months to complete before animation,’ explained Zimu.

The film was Zimu’s honours practical project. ‘I spent a lot of time preparing and executing the animation. The process was very difficult. I had zero budget, so I had to do everything myself, the sound effects, music and directing. I was also using a very low budget laptop to improve the film’s graphics and quality to the level I’d imagined it would be. I’m planning to improve the graphics and quality before it is released in the public domain,’ he said.

His message to aspiring filmmakers is, ‘If you have an idea, or a story to tell, start telling it now. It doesn’t matter how minimal your resources are. I managed to reach the Top 8 in an international student film festival with just my laptop as my resource. I also managed to network with industry bigwigs and other young talented filmmakers. You can do it to.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Humanities Dean of Teaching and Learning Appointed to SANRC Advisory Board

Humanities Dean of Teaching and Learning Appointed to SANRC Advisory Board
Professor Ruth Hoskins.

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Dean of Teaching and Learning in the College of Humanities, Professor Ruth Hoskins has been appointed to the South African National Resource Centre for the First-Year Experience (FYE) and Students in Transition (SANRC) Advisory Board.

Based at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), SANRC is a national centre that focuses on promoting student success in South Africa’s Higher Education system.

The Centre serves the national Higher Education system by supporting all South Africa’s public universities with academic knowledge and practical training that will enable them to serve their students effectively with regard to student transition as part of the Higher Education journey, and contribute to their success.

‘The role of SANRC board members is to strengthen national FYE practice and experience, and facilitate scholarship and research on the FYE nationally and internationally. UKZN will benefit from the collaborative FYE efforts facilitated by SANRC with the Department of Higher Education and Training, the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa, Higher Education Leadership and Management, the South African Institute for Distance Education, Siyaphumelela FYE national projects and the international initiatives of the University of South Carolina SANRC,’ said Hoskins.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN to host 24th JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience

UKZN to host 24th JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience
Some of the expected performances at JOMBA!

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The 24th JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience hosted by the Centre for Creative Arts within UKZN’s College of Humanities takes place at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre from 30 August to 11 September 2022.

This year’s theme is “the (im)possibility of home”, which offers dance and theatre fans a treat of 13 days of world-class contemporary dance and performance from both local and international dance-makers. The artists hail from South Africa, Mozambique, Switzerland, Reunion Island and India.

This edition offers a powerhouse of performances, workshops, after-performance Q&As, panel discussions, virtual screen dances, and the return of the JOMBA! youth dance platform that continues to support the growth of Durban’s young dance communities.

‘We are thrilled and relieved to finally be presenting our much-loved festival live and in-person, while keeping some works and events online to include those not able to attend,’ said JOMBA! Artistic Director and UKZN Dance lecturer, Dr Lliane Loots. ‘This year, through the theme “the (im)possibility of home”, we have set out to interrogate a series of dance offerings that negotiate heritage, culture, nostalgia, and identity, which explore a sense of belonging and how this persists, changes, and transforms through time - and what a time (both local and global) for this moment!’

Mr Vincent Sekwati Mantsoe will be honoured as the 2022 JOMBA! Legacy Artist. ‘This year marks 30 years of Mantsoe’s career as a dancer and choreographer and we can think of no better way to honour this incredible icon in South Africa’s historical dance trajectory than to celebrate with him,’ said Loots. There will be also be a live performance of Mantsoe’s new solo work KOMA.  

South Africa’s doyens of contemporary dance Ms Mamela Nyamza and Ms Nelisiwe Xaba will open this year’s festival in a collaboration with Swiss dance maker Marie-Caroline Hominal in a work titled Hominal/Xaba

In partnership with the Goethe-Institute South Africa, JOMBA! will host Mozambican dance-maker Ms Edna Jaime in her remarkable solo Um Segundo (One Second).

Mr Fana Tshabalala, the 2019 JOMBA! Mellon Artist-in-Residence, makes a welcome return with his Broken Borders Arts Project to premiere his latest solo work Zann, which he began creating as part of the 2019 residency. 

Three new works by Durban choreographers/dancers, Mr Sandile Mkhize, Ms Tegan Peacock, and Mr Pavishen Paideya will premiere at the festival. All three received grants for their creation of new local work in the JOMBA! EDGE mentored platform.

The JOMBA! YOUTH OPEN HORIZONS (formerly the Youth Fringe), will feature a host of local dance talent at The Stable Theatre, while the virtual offerings include the JOMBA! AFRICAN DIGITAL VOICES, OPEN HORIZONS and an online panel discussion.

JOMBA! OPEN HORIZONS (formerly the JOMBA! Fringe) continues to support dance-makers working in film. A jury will select six films to showcase from a call for submissions earlier this year, and the top three will be announced after the viewing. 

The festival closes with a virtual conversation between the Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts (Bangalore, India) and artist Mr Simon Senn (Switzerland) which looks at the dance work of the Centre and the project between Senn and Bharatha Natyam dancer Ms Rohee Oberoi.  

There are three open workshops (dancers over the age of 16 only) for dancers and dance-makers, and an industry-related session entitled JOMBA! Forging Futures, while the much-valued JOMBA! KHULUMA online writing residency will feature write-ups, interviews and reviews.

Tickets for performances at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre are R80 full price and R65 for students, scholars and pensioners. Booking is through Computicket.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Ivan Barros, David April and Val Adamson


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College of Humanities Celebrates Professional Services Women Staff

College of Humanities Celebrates Professional Services Women Staff
College of Humanities Professional Services women staff.

To mark Women’s Month, the College of Humanities celebrated professional female staff in the College office units at a breakfast event at Durban’s Maharani Hotel.

After more than two years of non-contact events, this was an opportunity to reconnect and rekindle relationships. Some staff members met in-person for the first time.

College Dean of Teaching and Learning, Professor Ruth Hoskins welcomed the guests and expressed her appreciation for their hard work and dedication during the unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘The College of Humanities is proud of the efforts of our female colleagues. This breakfast is a celebration of the hard work, dedication, and commitment displayed by our female professional staff over the past two-and-a-half years. It is an honour to welcome these female colleagues, appreciate their efforts and enjoy face-to-face interaction with them.’

Acting Director: College Professional Services, Dr Phumelele Zakwe said that Women’s Month recognises women’s achievements regardless of national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic, or political divides. ‘Women have a fierce and robust spirit, which makes them excel and they are deserving of love and support,’ she said.

‘This is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, who have played an extraordinary role especially under the stressful conditions of the pandemic,’ Zakwe added.

The good food, music and gifts were much appreciated by those who kept things stable during a time when everything was falling apart.

Hoskins closed the event by reciting Maya Angelou’s poem, Phenomenal Woman.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photograph: Andile Ndlovu


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Lecture Unpacks UKZN’s Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine Political History

Lecture Unpacks UKZN’s Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine Political History
Professor Ncoza Dlova (left) and Dr Qiniso Mlita (right) present a token of appreciation to Honourable Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

The Medical Campus Representative Council (MCRC) hosted a political class that unpacked the history of UKZN’s Medical School.

Welcoming guests, MCRC Chairperson and Medical student, Mr Tholumusa Sibiya noted that the event was the first of its kind and that it is important to conscientise students on the Medical School’s rich heritage.

Mr Fanele Gina, Medical student and MCRC College representative reflected on the purpose of the day and noted the importance of inviting students to the event as a form of introspection: ‘We need to remember that we don’t exist in a silo but within the community of South Africa, and we should use the voice we have as UKZN students and future doctors to make an impact.’

Honourable Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who spoke at the event said that the Medical School has a very deep and broad history of activism which has left an indelible mark on the history of South Africa. She noted that African, Coloured and Indian Medical students were viewed as second- and third-class citizens during apartheid and weren’t allowed to use the University residences, buses, blazers or be part of the sports teams. ‘However, that didn’t deter us, as we were determined to change the system,’ she said.

Dlamini-Zuma who was exiled due to her activism in the African National Congress (ANC) did not complete her studies at the Medical School but was later recognised by the University with an Honorary degree. Sharing some history of the area surrounding the Medical School that was acquired through land disposition she said that they were only allowed to practice at King Edward Hospital. ‘The oppression and how we were treated did not define us, we defined ourselves.’

Dlamini-Zuma listed some of the many prominent figures who studied at the Medical School including: Dr Mamphela Ramphele; Dr Aaron Motsoaledi; South Africa’s current First Lady Dr Tshepo Motsepe; Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba; Dr Diliza Mji; Professor Samuel Mokgokong; and Professor Hoosen Coovadia, among others.

She noted that the apartheid government found ways to oppress them at school and at home which led to the Medical School being a ‘vibrate hub of political activism and a reservoir of brains and leadership that fuelled all passions of our liberation struggle’. Nonetheless, students found ways to make themselves happy by throwing “gumbas” - parties.

Reflecting on the Medical School as the spiritual home of the South African Student Organisation (SASO) which was led by Steve Biko and formed in response to the lack of integration of Black students she quoted Biko: ‘If there are true liberals they must realise that they themselves are oppressed and that they must fight for their own freedom and not that of the nebulous with whom they can hardly claim identification.’

Dlamini-Zuma remarked on the COVID-19 curfew and joked that these were not the first curfews; the apartheid government used this weapon of oppression against Black people. She said that although times have changed the struggle is still largely defined by race, class, gender and rural and urban divides. The laws may have changed but mindsets, attitudes and conditions on the ground persist.

Commenting on education as the best and quickest equaliser Dlamini-Zuma advocated for a skills revolution and said that without education and skills, it will be challenging to deal with inequality and unemployment, create jobs, and change the economy.

Turning to Women’s Month, she noted that progress has been made in achieving pay parity amongst men and women, but much remains to be done for women to be regarded as equals especially in sports. Dlamini-Zuma called on men to end the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide by protecting women and speaking out against the perpetrators.

Admiring her generation’s ability to identify the struggle for equality and to fight for it, she remarked that, as students, they had to be revolutionaries and servants who served their communities through service delivery: ‘The enemy was clear and well defined during the apartheid era; today the enemy may be less visible but its effects of poverty, unemployment and inequality can still be seen.

‘There is an ever-growing need for revolutionary doctors and activists… and we are duty bound to advance the struggles of the poor especially in this cold capitalist world we are living in, where the value of life is unequal and determined by access to wealth and opportunities.’

Alumnus and UKZN Convocation President, Dr Qiniso Mlita encouraged student leaders to embrace diversity, practice discipline, seek to learn and listen to others. He added that the challenges confronting South Africa require everyone to work together in finding solutions.

Mlita also urged student doctors to aspire to make a difference in their communities and contribute to socio-economic restructuring. Student doctors should join political structures and be the change that they want to see, because ‘the economy is still in the hands of the few’.

Closing the event, Dean and Head of the School of Clinical Medicine Professor Ncoza Dlova acknowledged the current MCRC as one of the best in her tenure and said that, as an alumnus, the theme of the lecture was close to her heart. Speaking on behalf of Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Health Sciences Professor Busisiwe Ncama she said: ‘We thank the MCRC for co-ordinating this event which explores the important political history of this Medical School.

‘While it is important to spend time and resources on shaping the future and the path you want to travel, it is equally important to pause every now and then and reflect on where you come from.’

Ncoza noted that luminaries such as Steve Biko, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Sbongiseni Dlomo, etc. started their political journeys at the Medical School as participants in student organisations and underground structures.

She added that the Medical School will continue its duty of producing selfless medical professionals who understand that the profession is not merely about making money but requires a higher calling of serving one’s community.

To watch the lecture, click here.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photograph: Sethu Dlamini


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UKZN UPPS Shines a Spotlight on Female Paediatricians and Neonatology

UKZN UPPS Shines a Spotlight on Female Paediatricians and Neonatology
Drs Nomgcobo Mzizana (left) and Zakithi Mathenjwa.

The UKZN Update for Paediatrics and Paediatric Surgery (UPPS) 2022 held at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital shone a spotlight on two female paediatric specialists who are now training to be sub-specialists in Neonatology.

Drs Nomgcobo Mzizana and Zakithi Mathenjwa are among the few Black women paediatricians to sub-specialise in Neonatology that focuses on babies’ health in the first 28 days after birth. The Neonatology programme offered by UKZN’s Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health is a two-year training programme that rotates between Inkosi Albert Luthuli, King Edward, Grey’s and Edendale hospitals. It is designed to equip pediatricians with the knowledge and skills to manage a wide range of neonatal diseases in both premature and term babies.

Prematurity and diseases in the neonatal period still contribute significantly to the death of children in KwaZulu Natal. Improving access to good quality care for these young babies is critical to improving survival and outcomes in children in South Africa.

Mzizana’s passion for paediatrics motivated her to relocate to KwaZulu-Natal from the Eastern Cape to join the registrar programme at UKZN.  ‘I am excited to have been chosen as one of the fellows training in this specialty. My advice to other women is to never give up on your dreams. Your dreams are valid and as women, we need to support one another to grow in our careers and be able to make a difference in our society.’

Mathenjwa is excited about being part of a team that is dedicated to ensuring the survival of neonates who in the past would have had poor health outcomes. She describes Neonatology as an exciting and growing sub-speciality.

‘I am grateful to God for the opportunity to learn and contribute to the goal of children surviving, thriving and transforming.’

Born in Mtubatuba, kwaShikishela in northern KwaZulu-Natal, she is currently pursuing her Master of Science degree in Child Health through the University of the Witwatersrand.

Words: Mandisa Shozi and Lihle Sosibo

Photographs: Lihle Sosibo


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Student Presents PhD Work at International AIDS Conference

Student Presents PhD Work at International AIDS Conference
Mr Kwabena Asare.

Mr Kwabena Asare, a Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency/Health Economics HIV and AIDS Research Division (HEARD)-funded PhD candidate in Public Health and a Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) Fellow, presented his work at the 24th International AIDS conference in Montreal, Canada, which took place from 27 July to 2 August 2022.

The presentation was based on his first publication for his PhD studies which was recently accepted for publication in the Annals of Epidemiology. It describes the burden and factors associated with four curable sexually transmitted infections (STIs), namely Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Chlamydia trachomatis, Trichomonas vaginalis and Mycoplasma genitalium infection, among women living with HIV (WLHIV) in South Africa.

Asare highlighted the high incidence of STIs, with even higher re-infection rates among WLHIV, particularly among those of a younger age, poor HIV treatment status (low CD4 count or high viral load), increased number of sexual partners and those with bacterial vaginosis.  He stressed that, since the women in the study were appropriately treated for each diagnosed STI, the high re-infection rates were probably due to continuing to have unprotected sex with infected male partners who remain undiagnosed and untreated. He added, ‘At this stage of the HIV epidemic where South Africa has recorded success in reducing new HIV infections and transmission rates through the roll out of antiretroviral therapy services, other infections and diseases still burden WLHIV and require attention.’

Asare recommended the following strategies to improve STI care and control the population burden, particularly among WLHIV:

•   Early HIV diagnosis and antiretroviral treatment (ART) initiation should be combined with routine etiological based STI screening and treatment for WLHIV to prevent HIV and STI transmission.

•   The acceptability, uptake and effectiveness of current partner notification strategies should be re-evaluated and innovative strategies like expedited partner therapy should be considered for implementation in high STI/HIV endemic settings in sub-Saharan Africa.

•   Innovative studies are required to develop behavioural strategies aimed at improving safe sexual practices among young people, especially young women.

Asare is supervised by Professor Nigel Garrett (CAPRISA) and Dr Andrew Tomita in the School of Nursing and Public Health. Other co-authors affiliated to UKZN include Dr Sinaye Ngcapu from CAPRISA and the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences and Professor Salim Abdool Karim, Director of CAPRISA and UKZN Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research).

Words: NdabaOnline

Photograph: Supplied


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“Class Notes” Appreciation Alumni Lunches

“Class Notes” Appreciation Alumni Lunches
UKZN alumni and staff members at one of the lunches.

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The call for Class Notes for the alumni publication UKZNTouch in 2021 elicited a bumper 140 submissions.

Class Notes are brief profiles submitted by alumni on what they are currently doing, where they are located and what they have achieved.

On reading the submissions the Alumni Relations team was struck by the alumni’s impressive achievements, with many holding important positions in companies, starting successful businesses and having very interesting careers whether it be locally or internationally.

The number of high-profile positions held by alumni internationally is a testament to the quality of UKZN qualifications and the calibre of our graduates abroad. Locally-based graduates had equally interesting career paths and the Alumni Relations team decided to meet some of those based in KwaZulu-Natal to thank them for submitting profiles and to get to know them better.

Two successful lunches were held in Durban in August, with some alumni having travelled from as far afield as the Richards Bay area and Kokstad. It is hoped that such interactions will lead to further collaboration between these alumni and UKZN.

As one remarked: ‘It was a great event and we hope to be an asset to our University in the future in programmes like incubation, mentoring, etc that take UKZN forward. This University is so dear to me. I hold two qualifications from UKZN and want to see it becoming the top university on a national stage.’

Further meetings are planned in other regions for alumni who could not travel to Durban.

Words: Finn Christensen

Photographs: Nomcebo Msweli and Grimaldi’s staff member


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Dentistry Students Promote Sparkle Brush Programme

Dentistry Students Promote Sparkle Brush Programme
UKZN staff and students, UWC staff, representatives from Colgate-Palmolive and the Department of Health at the Sparkle Brush Programme at West Park School.

UKZN’s Discipline of Dentistry in collaboration with the University of Western Cape (UWC), visited the Westpark School to present the Sparkle Brush Programme on 5 August.

The community engagement programme, which was conceptualised by Dr Magendhree Naidoo, a PhD graduate from UKZN who is now a faculty member at UWC, is directed at school-going learners with special needs in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape. The lessons learned are infused into the undergraduate Dentistry curriculum.

Naidoo was accompanied by her UWC colleagues, the Dean of the Dental Faculty Professor V Yengopal, Head of the Oral Hygiene Department Dr P Brijlal, and academics Mrs R Cader, Ms S Ndwandwe and Mrs S Hassan-Yengopal, as well as Professor Janice Williams a visiting academic from Tennessee State University in the United States. Programme coordinator at UKZN, Mrs Lucy Reddy was joined by the Academic Leader of Dentistry Dr Ilana Moodley, academic staff member Ms Jayne Gangiah, staff from the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health Mrs Ayesha Mayat and Ms Slindile Ndimande and final-year Oral Hygiene students.

The team was welcomed by learners at the school with special banners that they created for this event.  The school choir performed a heartwarming song entitled, This is me which portrayed learners’ acceptance of who they are rather than how society views them. The UKZN students also presented a song and dance routine to pass on the message of oral health care.

Supervised by UKZN and UWC staff, the students provided oral health education and fluoride treatment for more than 300 learners. Learners were able to visit the Colgate mobile unit to sensitise them to a dental chair and facilitate future dental visits.  Each learner was provided with a toothbrush, toothpaste and cup, sponsored by Colgate, Glaxo Smith Kline and Johnson & Johnson. The t-shirts for the staff and students were sponsored by LHL Engineering and Impact.

The school principal and staff welcomed this initiative and expressed the hope that it will be an ongoing project. The programme will be evaluated for its impact and sustainability and will be expanded to include more special needs schools in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

A collaborative meeting was also held between academics from UKZN’s Discipline of Dentistry and UWC’s Faculty of Dentistry. Yengopal welcomed the re-introduction of the Oral Hygiene programme at UKZN and highlighted the importance of the oral hygienist and the dental therapist in the prevention and management of common oral diseases in South Africa. The academics agreed to explore future collaboration to share experiences and best practices in the delivery of the Oral Hygiene programmes in the form of mentorship workshops as well as joint research projects, and joint postgraduate supervision of master’s and PhD students. Brijlal offered to draft an MOU to promote such collaboration.

Words Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied


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RMS Supervisor Graduates with Diploma

RMS Supervisor Graduates with Diploma
Mr Siphosakhe Ngcobo graduated with a Diploma in Safety and Management.

Risk Management Services (RMS) supervisor on the Howard College campus, Mr Siphosakhe Ngcobo has graduated with a Diploma in Safety and Management from the University of South Africa (UNISA).

Ngcobo, who thanked UKZN for funding his final year of study, said he was grateful for the immense support from his colleagues, especially management in balancing work and studies.

Ngcobo who comes from a disadvantaged background, added that he was happy to achieve his diploma and fulfil a life-long dream, having been raised by his mother who did not learn how to read and write: ‘My family is so excited about this achievement. I’m the first of my mother’s children to graduate with a diploma and I had the privilege of taking her to my graduation ceremony, which was a great a joy for everyone at home.’

Noting that his qualification will assist him in his current job, Ngcobo said he hopes to motivate others, especially the youth, to pursue further education.

He acknowledged Mrs Snegugu Tshabalala, Acting RMS Director for assisting him with his practical training during his time off and shared his desire to continue studying.

Tshabalala said: ‘This was not an easy one for Mr Ngcobo who came during his days off to spend time and observe our day-to-day tasks.

‘His dedication was amazing and we as the RMS Division are really proud of his achievement and the passion he has displayed to improve himself. The nature of this diploma is very complex, but he showed that one can achieve anything one puts one’s mind to. This will encourage other colleagues to study further.’

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photograph: Supplied


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Public Lecture on Digital Devotional Networks and the Global Reach of Hindu Nationalism

Public Lecture on Digital Devotional Networks and the Global Reach of Hindu Nationalism
Highlights from the public lecture on The Rashtra is Online: How Digital Devotional Networks Aid the Global Reach of Hindu Nationalism.

The College of Humanities and the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics hosted a public lecture on The Rashtra is Online: How Digital Devotional Networks Aid the Global Reach of Hindu Nationalism.

The lecture was delivered by visiting scholar Professor Dheepa Sundaram, assistant professor of Hindu Studies at the University of Denver, US. Her research interests lie in hate politics, ritual, nationalism, and digital culture in South Asian contexts. She focuses on the formation of Hindu virtual religious publics through online platforms, social media, Apps, and emerging technologies such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

Dean and Head of the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics, Professor Simangaliso Kumalo said, ‘This public lecture further cements the partnership we have with the University of Denver. As a University we prioritise internationalisation to share, produce and disseminate knowledge.’

Executive Director: Corporate Relations, Ms Normah Zondo added, ‘Hosting scholars of Professor Sundaram’s calibre is particularly important for us at the University of KwaZulu-Natal as we are forever looking to exchange knowledge with the best in the world.’

As a segue into the lecture, a prayer dance was performed onstage by Nehaal Productions showcasing the Hindu Goddess Durga as she transforms into her ferocious avatar of Kali ahead of a battle and then into a calming avatar of Shakti. The dance represented the triumph of good over evil.

Sundaram explored how devotional networks provide the infrastructure for ethnonationalist politics in the Hindu digital sphere. Devotional publics are forged using shared messaging that links supporters through various platforms (e.g., social media, website, Apps, etc.). ‘Digital platforms ensure a dynamic, “living” canon of work that can be altered to suit the needs of the collective body of users within the network. Rather than making digital canons less rigid, such flexibility enables an authenticity of politics to which the “canon” can now be moulded to support,’ explained Sundaram.

Focusing on two seemingly disparate case studies, the virtual spiritual corpus of global guru Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma the Hugging Guru) and the militant Hindu priest Yati Narasinghanand’s violent, anti-Muslim messaging, Sundaram argued that ‘both figures convert orthopraxic canons into accessible, saleable formats which rely on Hindu digital devotional networks or “publics” invested in Hindu majoritarianism. As such, these devotional networks provide ground for Hindu nationalist ideology and beliefs to become normalised as part of Hindu praxis.’

Sundaram also noted that Hindu majoritarian values traverse digital networks in a variety of ways. ‘Even spiritual networks like that of Amma for whom the rhetoric of inclusivity is a vital aspect of her movement can still be instrumentalised as part of a majoritarian politics - it can still contribute to the Hindutva ethos by continuing to promote the hallmarks of a caste privileged, often sanitised, digitally portable Hinduism.

‘Turning Hindu values and culture into a commodity that can in effect be marketed and sold through spiritual networks invariably fosters market dynamics rather than representational inclusion,’ she said.

Lecturer in the School Mr Che Chetty commented that online or virtual platforms are easily accessible, and will become increasingly potent in shaping contemporary perceptions of Hindu literature, and the substratum of Hindu worldviews: ‘Such platforms have the potential to become tools to determine the acceptability and authenticity of particular Hindu worldviews, and moreover become a means to regulate religious thinking, and in turn govern how the Hindu canon is interpreted and analysed. With the added input and focus of Hindu nationalist ideology, the tenets and values of Hindu nationalist worldviews become regarded as part and parcel of “correct” Hindu religious expression, and belief,’

The public lecture can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-PNTErficA

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Albert Hirasen 


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Public Administration Academics Attend 2022 IASIA Conference

Public Administration Academics Attend 2022 IASIA Conference
From left: Professor Ian Nzimakwe; Dr Najat Zarrouk, IASIA President and UCLG Development Director; and Professor Purshottama Reddy at the conference.

Two senior academics in the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance (SMIG), Professors Purshottama Reddy and Ian Nzimakwe attended the 2022 annual International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration (IASIA) Conference in Rabat, Morocco from 25 to 29 July.

The theme of the conference, which was hosted by the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa) and the Mohamed University at Rabat, was the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Implementing and Promoting Effective Governance Principles to leave No One, No Place Behind.

Reddy presented a paper co-authored by a master’s student entitled: An Assessment of Integrated Development Planning in Mtubatuba Local Municipality with Particular Reference to the Somkhele Rural Area. The paper recommends that this municipality implement programmes that promote local economic development to create employment opportunities. Public participation is an important strategy to promote collaboration.

As the Vice-President: Programmes and a member of the board of management of IASIA, Reddy chaired a statutory meeting and a roundtable discussion on Capacity Development for the SDGs: Continental and Country Experiences. Panellists highlighted the importance of localisation of the SDGs; the need to link national development programmes to the SDGs; the importance of a “Whole of Society Approach”; the need to determine which SDG is a priority; improved national statistical systems; and the need for partnerships and development co-operation, transformational leadership and financial assistance from developed countries. It was emphasised that the SDGs will not be attained unless public governance improves at national and continental levels. 

Nzimakwe presented a paper on the District Development Model (DDM) as an instrument to transform municipal service delivery in South African local government, which was co-authored by Dr Sakhile Zondi, also from the SMIG. Under the DDM, the three governmental spheres co-ordinate and integrate development plans and budgets and mobilise the government’s capacity and resources. This calls for a clear evidence-based model of prioritisation, which must be transparent so that communities understand that they will not necessarily receive what they requested. The model involves a shift from alignment to joint planning.   

Words: NdabaOnline

Photograph: Supplied


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Paediatric Research Insights shared at UKZN Update

Paediatric Research Insights shared at UKZN Update
Clinical professionals at the UKZN UPPS workshops.

UKZN’s Update for Paediatrics and Paediatric Surgery (UPPS 2022) at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital was an opportunity to share knowledge in this field.

The two-day conference was convened by the head of the Clinical Unit in Paediatrics at King Edward VIII hospital, Dr Kimesh Naidoo and Head of Discipline: Paediatrics and Child Health at UKZN, Professor Refiloe Masekela. The programme consisted of a series of workshops focusing on topics such as cardiology, critical care: ventilation and allergies. Other topics covered at the conference included neurology, neonatology and infectious diseases. Invited speakers included Professor Heather Zar from the University of Cape Town who presented a lecture on the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in children and Dr Omolemo Kitchin from the Paediatric Management Group who provided tips to starting in Paediatric Private Practise.

In the critical care and ventilation workshop, Dr Shivani Singh, Ms Ronnelle Walker and Dr Martie Wege highlighted the need to follow the correct procedures during ventilation and to remain calm at all times.

Drs Visva Naidoo, Reratilwe Mphahlele, Kumaran Mosley, and Erica Goldstone ran the allergy workshop that focused on allergies. This session provided practical guidelines to test selection in allergic children and gave a practical workshop on skin prick testing.

‘Skin prick testing provides information on the presence of a specific IgE protein and peptide antigens (allergens). It’s an excellent diagnostic tool as its cost effective, the results are available immediately and tests can be performed in a consultation room,’ said Goldstone.

Specialist in Neonatology, Dr Zakithi Mathenjwa’s presentation focused on congenital syphilis. ‘Syphilis is one of the oldest known infections. A vaccine has not yet been found but syphilis control programmes rely on diagnosis and treatment. In South Africa, screening such as Rapid Plasma Reagin (RPR) and benzathine benzylpenicillin for treatment are recommended during pregnancy,’ she said.

Dr Nozi Voxeka, Paediatric Neurologist at the Pietermaritzburg Hospital Complex said that headaches are the most frequent neurological symptom among children. Her recent study estimated an overall prevalence of around 58.4% in the paediatric population.

UKZN dermatologist, Dr Gillian Lawrie presented an update on common paediatric skin conditions and possible remedies. She noted that, ‘common neonatal rashes include neonatal cephalic pustulosis, neonatal acne, neonatal villas and atopical eczema. The best treatment is general measures such as avoiding allergens, basic bath practices and moisturising, topical steroids and antihistamine.’

Specialist in Paediatrics, Dr Nomgcobo Mzizana shared an update on Heated Humidified High Flow Nasal Cannula (HHHFNC) in neonates and the difference it is making in neonatology. She explained that, ‘Heated Humidified High Flow Nasal Cannula is a form of non-invasive respiratory support that uses conditioned gas flow (heated and humidified) at flow rates that meet respiratory demand applied via small nasal cannula.’

The workshop was well received by medical professionals from KwaZulu-Natal representing the district, regional and provincial hospitals. It was sponsored by PPS, RCA, Ampath Laboratories, National Bioproduct Institute, Futurelife, AstraZeneca, Medical Protection, Safeline Pharmaceutical, Immunospec, Abela Africa Medical, ICA Respiratory Africa and SANOFI.

Words: Mandisa Shozi and Lihle Sosibo

Photographs: College of Health Sciences


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Hobbyist Author Pens Comrades Centenary History on the Side

Hobbyist Author Pens Comrades Centenary History on the Side
UKZN staff member and co-author, Mr Steve Camp.

Click here for the isiZulu version

When not raising funds for the University, Acting Executive Director of the UKZN Foundation, Mr Steve Camp relaxes by writing books.

The hobbyist author who already has some 22 titles under his belt ranging from children’s books to military history, recently penned the official definitive history of the Comrades Marathon - South Africa’s greatest ultra-marathon - with co-author Mr Brad Morgan.

In Your Stride:  100 Years of the Comrades Marathon, was completed at the end of 2021 in time for the centenary of this iconic sporting event. 

‘The world’s oldest and greatest ultra-marathon, the Comrades Marathon is a South African institution that is internationally recognised for the body-sapping challenge it poses and the camaraderie it fosters among its thousands of participants from all over the world,’ said Camp.

‘Researching its history was fascinating.  The race was born from an idea dreamed by First World War veteran Vic Clapham, who wanted a living memorial to those South African soldiers killed in the Great War. Clapham, who had endured a 2 700 kilometre march through sweltering German East Africa, wanted the memorial to be a unique test of physical endurance.

‘The constitution of the race states that one of its primary aims is to “celebrate mankind’s [sic] spirit over adversity”. First run in 1921, the Comrades Marathon has been held every year since, except from 1941-1945 when it was stopped during the Second World War, and in 2020-21, owing to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Thirty-four runners entered the first race; it peaked at more than 20 000 athletes; and on Sunday 28 August 2022 the 89 km route will once again be run from Maritzburg to Durban with a capped field of 15 000 entrants, all keen to test their endurance in this “Ultimate Human Race”.’

Among their number will be 20 UKZN staff running under University colours.

In Your Stride captures the story and the images of this remarkable event, spanning 100 years, and appeals not only to runners but to those captivated by the triumph of the human spirit.

‘Writing books has been a hobby of mine for as long as I can remember,’ said Camp.  ‘Even at school, I would spend hours in the library and in bookshops, browsing the shelves and dreaming of one day writing my own book.

‘After a day in the office, I find it relaxing to spend time researching a topic that interests me, delving into the archives, paging through old newspapers, talking to the experts and hunting down relevant pictures and illustrations.  You never know what you will find.’

Camp has written a number of children’s books - mainly on environmental topics - as well as one on the architecture of Pietermaritzburg (Historic Pietermaritzburg), the history of South African manufactured landmine-protected military vehicles (Surviving the Ride), and one to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Dusi Canoe Marathon (Adventures on an African River), also with Morgan.

He is not only a man of letters, describing himself as a social sportsman who likes adventure.  He is one of only a handful of people to have competed in all five of South Africa’s “Big Five” events: 10 Comrades, 17 Dusi Canoe Marathons, 14 Cape Town Cycle Tours, 19 Midmar Miles and one Cape to Rio Yacht Race. He has also run seven Two Oceans. He is part of an elite group of international runners to have run a marathon on all seven continents, namely, the Great Wall of China, London, Inca Trail, New York, Sydney and Antarctica Marathons.

A keen scout, Camp has reached the summits of four of the world’s highest seven continental peaks: Mt Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro and Kosciusko. He was a member of the South African teams that competed in multi-day expedition adventure races in Ecuador and Vietnam (Raid Gauloises), and in Patagonia, Argentina (Discovery Channel Eco Challenge).  He also led the six-week African Powered Paragliding Expedition, flying a motorised paraglider from Kilimanjaro to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, and successfully completed the Roof of Africa Rally in Lesotho on a motorbike. Earlier this year he took time off work to circumnavigate the island of Mauritius in a canoe with his son, Stuart; and to paddle the 346km length of the river Thames from source to sea with his daughter, Sarah.

During his military training in the South African Army, Camp qualified for paratrooper wings and has since trained with and been awarded the military airborne wings of Israel, Burma, Estonia, Cuba and America. This particular interest led to his latest book project - researching and writing the history of the South African Paratroopers along with retired paratrooper General McGill Alexander.  They hope to get the book out sometime in 2023.

And to add a slightly off-beat quiver to the bow of this Renaissance man:  Camp still holds the Guinness World Record for the longest distance travelled in a Zorb - a whopping 570 metres, set way back in 2006.

Not your average office-bound E.D.!

Words: Sally Frost

Photographs: Supplied


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UKZN Hosts Ukhozi FM for Language Usage Workshop

UKZN Hosts Ukhozi FM for Language Usage Workshop
Speakers at the language usage workshop included (from left): Mr Nhlanhla Xala, Ms Vicky Masuku, Dr Gugu Mazibuko (Programme Director), Dr Mpumelelo Mbatha, Professor OEHM Nxumalo and Mr Khumbulani Mngadi.

Language Usage on the Radio was the title of a recent one-day training workshop hosted by the University Language Planning and Development Office (ULPDO) in partnership with Ukhozi FM.

As part of the University’s language development and transformation efforts, the workshop was aimed at reskilling and equipping Ukhozi FM announcers, DJs, content producers, and print media professionals, as well as translators, on the correct usage of the isiZulu language when speaking, writing or translating. The workshop was also to inform them and the broader community of the latest developments with regard to ULPDO’s new human language technologies - a freely available digital resource that provides isiZulu terminology for a variety of disciplines.

Panellists included Ukhozi FM veteran broadcaster, Ms Vicky Masuku; renowned author of isiZulu books, novels, poetry, essays, short stories and children's books, Professor OEHM Nxumalo; retired teacher and lecturer, Mr Nhlanhla Xala; author and member of the isiZulu National Lexicography Unit, Dr Mpumelelo Mbatha; and African Languages senior lecturer, Dr Gugu Mazibuko who directed the programme.

In his welcome, UKZN Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Professor Sandile Songca said the use of Nguni languages in the media has played a huge role in inclusivity. He said Nguni language speakers can now participate in economic, societal and social news debates, information gathering and utilisation.

He said there are a plethora of methods that can be used in developing these languages. He assured everyone that the UKZN executive is fully behind the project of intellectualising African languages. He further said the University language Board, of which he is a chair, is busy finalising the revision of the University language policy and plan, envisaged to be publicised in 2023.

Speaking on behalf of Ukhozi FM, Mr Mandla Mdletshe, acting Programmes Manager said the isiZulu language continues to grow and the radio station appreciates the opportunity to learn about new language developments. He said other languages like isiXhosa have grown, especially in sports. ‘We need to get to that level if we have not yet reached it.’ He proposed that an MoU must be signed to formalise the relationship between the station and the University.

Nxumalo said the isiZulu language should be inclusive, citing examples of other nations that do not water down their languages. He said there are a number of changes and improvements that would need to be done on the radio but advised experts in the audience to advise regularly and not wait for formal gatherings to voice out their concerns.

Xala spoke about strategies for translating text and demonstrated to the audience the do’s and don’ts of translating. He warned translators against literal translations, taking away the meaning of the original text, and encouraged them to be mindful of the sector they are translating for and to consider the culture of the language they are translating to.

Veteran broadcaster Masuku encouraged radio personalities to speak the language purely when on the radio without adding other languages unnecessarily. Commending the University, she said ‘gatherings like this help us improve on our language.’ She reminded radio broadcasters that audiences trust and listen to whatever is said on radio as they trust them to have the correct information.

Mbatha reminded the participants that this is the third workshop since 2018 and urged all stakeholders to come up with a way forward, saying languages are rich and grow regularly however it is not possible to know every word in a particular language.

In his closing remarks, ULPDO Director, Mr Khumbulani Mngadi thanked Ukhozi FM for making it possible to have the workshop and taking part in growing the isiZulu language. Mngadi said the University aims to fully teach, research and examine in isiZulu by 2040. He said because isiZulu is the largest spoken Nguni language in the country, the University must make sure it stays ahead. ‘That is why we work with you. This is our contribution for coming generations.’

He encouraged workshop participants to take advantage of all the available ULPDO resources including the UKZN Term Bank. He said the Office has also published seven books in isiZulu that are available to the public.

The workshop was attended by representatives from the KwaZulu-Natal Departments of Arts, Sports and Culture, the Provincial legislature, eThekwini and Umsunduzi Municipalities, PanSALB, Usiba, the Durban University of Technology, University of Zululand, Mangosuthu University of Technology, UKZN staff and students, retired school inspectors and retired isiZulu professors.  

Words: Sithembile Shabangu

Photograph: Albert Hirasen


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Academic Recognised for Her Contribution to Student Support and Community Engagement

Academic Recognised for Her Contribution to Student Support and Community Engagement
Ms Siphumelele Dlungwane.

Lecturer in the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance Ms Siphumelele Dlungwane received the African Women Chartered Accountants (AWCA) President’s Award in recognition of her role in student support and community engagement at UKZN.

Dlungwane received the award at the AWCA’s 20th Anniversary Conference. The non-profit organisation’s mission is to accelerate the advancement of qualified and aspiring female Black Chartered Accountants (CAs) through providing active support and access to opportunities.

‘It is an honour and a privilege to be a recipient of the President’s Award in the year that the AWCA is celebrating its 20th anniversary. One does not join and participate in such initiatives for awards, but it is a fantastic feeling when the work we do as a team in KwaZulu-Natal is recognised,’ said Dlungwane.

Dlungwane, who is a member of the University’s Student Support and Community Engagement Subcommittee and qualified CA, was recognised for organising and running a Coffee Chat series for KwaZulu-Natal’s student body following the July 2021 civil unrest and for ensuring that mental wellness support was available and accessible to students to help them cope with the impact of the looting and riots.

‘I am passionate about training, developing and empowering young minds. I transitioned into academia at the beginning of this year because this platform provides me with an opportunity to work with students who aspire to become CAs. I believe that representation matters and interacting with lecturers like myself who are qualified makes students realise that their goals are attainable,’ she said.

Dlungwane added that being recognised for her hard work motivates her to continue with community engagement work.

‘My community work is ongoing. I have taken the initiative to empower South Africans to become financially literate and be able to make smart financial decisions in order to achieve their financial goals. I share knowledge on personal finance-related matters through social media platforms and consider myself to be “Your financial friend”.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Supplied


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