UKZN Honours Apartheid Struggle Icon with First Memorial Lecture

UKZN Honours Apartheid Struggle Icon with First Memorial Lecture
From left: Professor Uma Dhupelia-Mesthrie, Professor Shireen Hassim and Dr Gcina Mhlophe.

The College of Humanities and the School of Social Sciences recently hosted the inaugural Professor Fatima Meer Memorial Lecture on the topic of The Role of the Scholar Activist in Contemporary South Africa.

The lecture was held virtually.

Professor Shireen Hassim (Carleton University, Canada) was the keynote speaker, with Professor Uma Dhupelia-Mesthrie (University of the Western Cape) as a respondent. The inaugural lecture was facilitated by renowned South African storyteller, Dr Gcina Mhlophe.

Dean and Head of the School of Social Sciences, Professor Vivian Ojong said, ‘The Fatima Meer Memorial Lecture remains a flagship project that reminds us of the role played by women in the liberation of our country. As the School of Social Sciences, we are proud to associate with the legacy of Professor Fatima Meer as she plied her intellectual trade in the hallways of our School. Professor Fatima Meer was affectionately embraced both in the world of politics and academia. She was a reminder that there is a great intersection between liberation theory and being practically involved in pursuit of people’s struggles in society.’

UKZN’s Dr Lubna Nadvi and Chairperson of the Professor Fatima Meer Memorial Lecture committee, added, ‘The inaugural Professor Fatima Meer Memorial lecture showcased the work and legacy of this stalwart of the anti-apartheid movement, academic, sociologist, activist, mentor, artist and the many other roles that she played within the broader community. The University is proud to honour Professor Meer through the establishment of this memorial lecture since she was a part of the history of the University.’

Meer’s daughter Shamim said, ‘We are, as a family, very pleased that UKZN has set up the memorial lecture, both as a tribute to our mother and as a tribute to the ideas and the activism that shaped her life. Our mother is well-known for her fearlessness during the struggles against apartheid. She engaged in these struggles, even though this meant confronting and challenging the ANC, an organisation she had supported and been a part of for most of her life. We are now a country in crisis in so many ways. As my mother always said, we have to be in the process of perpetual revolution in order to progress and guarantee the rights of people. There can be no peacetime so long as there is poverty, hunger, and basic human rights are trodden. Clearly the struggle for freedom is not over.’

In her keynote address, Hassim defined the term “scholar-activist” as being an academic that uses their work to address key questions of the day and bring into conversation their research with communities by asking questions that matter to them and providing empirically sound information and data that would shape the responses of communities.

‘Fatima Meer was driven by the task to develop a sociology for a common society, by a rage against injustice and by a profound belief in the value and capacity of research to convince the powerful of the consequences of their choices. She was, first and foremost, a humanist who explored ideas of freedom, equality, sociability and progress. It is not enough for democracy that scholars are value-driven, we must ask what those values are and whether those values are rooted in democracy, and in mutual respect and well-being for all,’ said Hassim.

She delved further into Meer’s life from academia to politics (Black Consciousness Movement) to activism and even to her writings.

Hassim reflected on the recent events in KwaZulu Natal, and in particular, the tensions between Indian and Black residents in and around Phoenix which for her, made Meer’s work immediately useful for analysis. ‘Meer’s response would have been sharp and clear, and her research into the ragged lives at the margins of the South African miracle would have been used to great effect in public debates.’

‘Meer’s thinking offers a new generation of scholars and activists a different conceptual roadmap to navigating patriarchal racial capitalism and may reinvigorate the radical aspects of the project of nonracialism. It certainly offers Indian South Africans a place, a stake in the country that is clear - not an in-between space, not a space in which Indians are less-than or not enough (not Black, not White), not one foot in India - but decisively here and part of the complexity and diversity that is South Africa,’ said Hassim.

She believes that ‘we will take forward the example of engaged and transformative scholarship that we are offered by Prof Fatima Meer in deliberate and practical ways, and not merely in rhetoric. More than ever, we need historically accurate and fact-based scholarship to ensure that we move towards a genuine and inclusive democracy.’

In response, Dhupelia-Mesthrie shared anecdotes of meeting and engaging with Meer during high school and university. She pointed out that ‘Meer often used her writings as a form of activism but her vision was always for a more just future.’ In relation to forced removals and the Group Areas Act, Dhupelia-Mesthrie reflected on her own scholar activism and that of others. ‘Disillusioned with the trajectory of democracy, scholars also became active in housing struggles. Their writings pointed out the similarities of apartheid-style removals to that of removals under democratically elected local councils,’ she said.

Dhupelia-Mesthrie argues that scholar activism is about being mindful of boundary settings between scholar activists and communities, for example, shack-dwellers seek help and not decisions taken on their behalf because they lack skills and resources.

The virtual lecture included the presentation of the Fatima Meer Social Science Clinical Sociology Honours Book Prize to students, Mr Mohammed Barradeen and Ms Swazi Hlatshwayo. The recipients demonstrated formulation of an exceptional clinical intervention, affecting change.

‘The first UKZN Bachelor of Social Science Clinical Sociology Honours Book Prize 2022 is distinctive in recognising exceptional students’ mini dissertations that develop and facilitate gender, race and class equity. The book prize is conferred annually to a single laureate to advance their clinical and applied work as change agents,’ said Professor Mariam Seedat-Khan, founder of the Clinical Sociology Honours Programme at UKZN and grandniece of Professor Fatima Meer.

A humbled Hlatshwayo said, ‘Much like sociologist Professor Meer, yet on a smaller scale, I fight tirelessly to prevent suicide, encouraging youth to seek treatment and help for depression.’

Barradeen added, ‘Growing up in Overport (Durban) I frequently remember hearing family talk about the magnanimous Professor Fatima Meer. I came to recognise her altruistic role as an activist who fought tirelessly against apartheid. I discovered Meer’s writings on suicide which demonstrated advanced thinking and the ability to disrupt traditional thinking. Prof Meer’s legacy continues to affect the lives of all South Africans.’

Both students expressed gratitude to Seedat-Khan and Dr Jayanathan Govender and are keen to pursue their Master’s in Clinical Sociology.

UKZN has embarked on assembling a special collection of the academic and creative work of sociologist, Professor Fatima Meer. Members of the public who would like to make any contributions to the archive can email

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Supplied

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Defining Female Leadership in Science and Public Health

Defining Female Leadership in Science and Public Health
Dynamic UKZN medical students and alumni (top from left) Ms Tivana Chellan, Dr Ashiq Pramchand, Ms Rivona Haricharran, (bottom) Dr Tumisang Melete, Ms Xoliswa Njapha, and Mr Yanga Mbele.Click here for isiZulu version

In line with celebrating Women’s Month which takes place during the month of August, the College of Health Sciences recently held an inspiring webinar featuring a panel of Medical students and interns who deconstructed the theme: ‘Female Leadership in Science and Public Health.’

Underpinning the robust discussions, the panel agreed that leadership must be built on a solid foundation of human values, spirituality, networking, service, and breaking down barriers to ensure the provision of holistic healthcare.

The initiative was that of Ms Tivana Chellan, a final-year Medical student and Global Outstanding Leadership Awards finalist. ‘Leadership comes from within and is influenced by our thoughts and beliefs. Selfless leadership is a desire to uplift, motivate and serve and that should be the foundation of all good leaders,’ she said.

Dr Ashiq Pramchand, first-year Medical intern and author of The Great Medical Student Odyssey reflected on the time he spent as a student engaging in community work. He recalled, ‘The role of leadership in public health has been a source of internal debate for me for a while. The community work I’ve always engaged in was about helping others. Our role should always be to inspire others to craft their own vision and goals and find ways to break down barriers, be innovative and lead with kindness and empathy.’

Said final-year Medical student, Ms Rivona Harricharan, ‘How we as healthcare workers receive our patients can make a huge impact on the lives of our patients and their families. We are always judged by our human values and the impact we have on other people’s lives, so treat others with compassion.’ Harricharan has a Master’s degree in Medical Sciences (summa cum laude) and is the Chairperson of the Medical Dean’s Research Group, affectionately dubbed “The Masterminds”. Her talk focused on human values which are the internal virtues and beliefs that guide us in the world.

She said, ‘Based on Robin Sharma’s teachings, human values are as unique to each individual as one’s thumb print and are characterised by our mindset, soulset, heartset and healthset.’ Being a woman in university places more emphasis on one’s mindset but as a healthcare practitioner, we must embrace all the human values. Human values must be aligned with your university degree which presents you with the opportunity to empower other women.’

Dr Tumisang Malete, a senior Medical intern who was selected as one of UKZN’s Top 40 Most Inspiring Students in 2017 and is the author of Leading in a Sel­fie Generation, said spirituality - one’s connectiveness with one’s self and the environment - must be a common theme in leadership. ‘Spirituality does not always equate to religion. It is the belief in a higher power or something greater than you. Integrating spirituality into your leadership role will guide you on how to lead others and also provide holistic healthcare to your patients.’

Ms Xoliswa Njapha, final-year Medical student and co-founder of the #IMadeADoctor fundraising campaign, said she drew inspiration from Traditional Affairs Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. ‘She is not scared to speak her mind and this skill is very important in leadership. Have a vision and do not be afraid to dream big. As Saint Teresa mentioned, it is important to remember that no one person alone can change the world but step-by-step, we all can contribute.’ Njapha hopes that South Africa’s next president will be a woman.

Undermining women in society is the scourge of gender-based violence (GBV). Mr Yanga Mbele who is a fi­nal-year Medical student serving as class representative (2020-2022) and was voted by the Medical student body as the Best REACH? (Respect, Excellence, Accountability, Client-Orientation, Honesty and Trust) Student MBChB- fifth year, presented an emotional message focusing on the importance of creating an environment that is safe, respectful and ensures the protection of all women. ‘We need to form closer connections with boys to mentor and teach them to break away from the “typical stereotypes” that encourage men to exert force in order to effectively communicate. We must move away from other toxic masculinity expectations such as buying a woman a drink and expecting sex in return,’ he said. He also encouraged men to be responsible and sensible in the messages they send on social media to ensure that gender stereotypes are not perpetuated.

Rounding off the webinar was Ms Kiara Govender, programme director, fi­nal-year Medical student and founder of iCarePledge, a youth student campaign. ‘Women are the strength of our nation. Through practicing core human values, immersing ourselves in our spirituality, standing up for what we believe in and generating innovative solutions in public health, we will become the impactful leaders that our nation and the world needs.’

The webinar can be viewed on the UKZN YouTube channel at

Words: MaryAnn Francis

Photographs: Supplied

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Seminar Explores the Role of Women in Eradicating Gender-Based Violence and Femicide

Seminar Explores the Role of Women in Eradicating Gender-Based Violence and Femicide
Scenes from the DSRA women’s seminar.

UKZN’s Department of Student Residences Affairs (DSRA) hosted a leadership seminar that explored the role of women in eradicating Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and femicide.

Introducing the purpose of the day, event organiser, Residence Life Co-ordinator and student development practitioner, Ms Qhamo Gumede highlighted her Department’s role in implementing holistic development programmes for students and acknowledged the HIV/AIDS Unit for always lending a helping hand in these endeavours.

She noted GBV and femicide as global pandemics, saying: ‘We are here not just to celebrate but to capacitate each other as leaders, making sure that we find solutions to this pandemic.’

Mrs Sisana Machi, DSRA interim Director, said she was excited about the event, with GBV and femicide being issues close to her heart. Welcoming guests, she highlighted some of the most horrific GBV acts that have taken place in South Africa, namely the Krugerdorp rapes and the murders of Uyinene “Nene” Mrwetyana, Tshegofatso Pule and Nosicelo Mtebeni. Recalling her own painful experience of dealing with students who had been subjected to GBV, she called on residence leaders to use the seminar to learn, identify, address and respond to GBV and be better equipped with the tools, skills and information to fight the scourge.

The event, facilitated by Dr Maserole Kgari-Masondo, acting Academic Leader for Community Engagement, included panellists Ms Kwena Tlhaku, master’s student and DSRA residence assistant; Dr Siyabonga Nzimande, public health expert and mental health practitioner; and Ms Ongezwa Mbele, Drama and Performance Studies lecturer at UKZN.

Defining “red flags” as ‘things that don’t sit well and aren’t healthy behaviour from your partner.’ Tlhaku acknowledged how relationships ought to be safe spaces where one feels secure. Noting the importance of identifying toxic behaviours, she urged women to recognise their value and worth in order to have the courage to leave spaces that no longer serve them. She also encouraged parents to instil confidence and an understanding of their own value in their daughters from a young age and for students to break unhealthy family cycles by choosing and wanting better for themselves.

Nzimande reviewed an individual’s worldview - which stems largely from their upbringing - and the mental health associated with that which needs to be changed. He called for gender roles to be decoded and for the socio-economic injustices faced by girls to be addressed. Stressing the importance of understanding “who you are”, Nzimande said individuals, especially males, needed to recognise that self-development goes beyond your surname and culture, but looks at your values and what you contribute to society. ‘Before you transition into changing the world, first find the foundation of who you are.’

Mbele discussed the importance of men being allowed to feel and the need to disrupt pedagogies of culture. Highlighting her involvement in the Total Shutdown, she noted the strength of women being able to come together and their sense of urgency in requiring new leadership. Mbele evaluated the far-reaching scourge of GBV and questioned how they can begin to address these issues holistically as teachers and leaders. She also focused on how today’s issues are intersectional and require individuals to constantly check in with themselves in order to heal. As an academic who is learning from her students, she said: ‘We are unlearning to relearn so we can learn.’

Turning her focus on “love-bombing”, where one attempts to influence you through demonstrations of excessive admiration, attention and affection, Tlhaku urged women to recognise the power of manipulation and be independent.

Imploring students to avoid putting themselves in unnecessary situations due to peer pressure, Nzimande said: ‘When you get into a relationship, don’t do it to please anyone, you are there for yourself and if love is no longer served, learn to leave the table.’ He called on women to stop mothering men in relationships and evaluated how men cannot claim to have changed their behaviour without complete repentance. He also noted how GBV is not only physical, but also extends to emotional and verbal abuse as well.

Mbele said the future looked bright because of the student’s engagement which shows that the youth are grounded individuals who can think for themselves and listen to others. She also called on residence leaders to take the principle of Ubuntu and implement it in their roles going forward.

Kgari-Masondo acknowledged the strength of women leaders in the DSRA and their need to constantly be aware of signs that a student might be going through abuse or suffering from mental health issues. She encouraged students to abstain from sex and avoid substance abuse and noted the importance of being able to teach others how to treat you. Kgari-Masondo said GBV and femicide are dehumanising acts, urging everyone to take a stand she said, ‘We are all going through something, so we need to be kind to each other and love one another, and represent UKZN well as leaders.’

A Q&A session included questions and comments from Ms Pinky Mnyaka, an HIV Counsellor at UKZN who called on the University to provide safe spaces for female students who had reported cases of GBV and rape. She urged parents to stop raising kids in hierarchies where boy children are valued most and for women to start communicating what they want in order for change to happen. Mnyaka also discussed the need for programmes that impact behavioural change and how women need to support each other more.

Mr Kwanele Melani, a master’s student in Linguistics, introduced the Men of Virtue programme as an organisation for staff and students aimed at fighting GBV, femicide and homophobia. He said the programme offers men support, a shoulder to cry on, encourages them to be better and take accountability for their actions, and empowers them to talk about their issues. He encouraged others to look out for their upcoming events and participate in a Men’s Pledge on 3 September - for women to feel safe and protected.

Closing off the event, Dr Mabuyi Gumede, lecturer in the School of Social Sciences, thanked the DSRA for hosting this event, the speakers for offering their expertise, and the students for attending. She encouraged residence leaders to be agents of change going forward by implementing initiatives learnt on the day.

Guests were treated to the sweet sounds of N’den.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photographs: Sethu Dlamini

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UKZN Celebrates National Science Week

UKZN Celebrates National Science Week
AHRI staff and students interact with learners from Bonela Secondary School in Durban, during National Science Week.Click here for isiZulu version

Every year during the first week of August, South Africa celebrates National Science Week, a Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) initiative aimed at popularising STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) topics and careers amongst the general population.

This year saw STEC@UKZN team up with the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) to promote Science to the public. STEC@UKZN is the University’s in-house Science Centre situated within the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science on the Westville campus, whilst AHRI is an independent, transdisciplinary scientific research institute based across two campuses in KwaZulu-Natal, the Durban one being housed at UKZN’s Medical School.

The first three days of August witnessed a hive of activity at AHRI’s laboratories as Grade 11 learners from Bonela Secondary, Umkhumbane Secondary and Chesterville Secondary schools visited the internationally acclaimed facilities and learnt what it is like to be a medical researcher or laboratory technician. AHRI staff pulled out all the stops, setting up experiments for the aspirant scientists to participate in and chatting to them about their daily routine and cutting-edge research into diseases such as HIV, TB and COVID-19.

Two up-and-coming researchers, AHRI laboratory supervisor Dr Sandile Cele and UKZN PhD student Ms Zakithi Mkhize, shared their research into COVID-19 and HIV respectively at two well-attended online evening lectures. What Do Scientists Do? A Look Inside the Ivory Tower continued the highly successful 2021 series of edutaining public talks covering a variety of interesting scientific topics.

Cele took his audience “Behind the Scenes of COVID-19”, sharing his intimate involvement in the South African and global research response to COVID-19. He led the studies that first isolated and characterised the live Beta variant. He additionally led the study that described how variants can evolve in sub-Saharan Africa and his research output has helped put South Africa at the forefront of COVID-19 research. Mkhize - in her presentation - Doing HIV Research in the Lab: The Hunt for the Cure Continues shared her work in HIV cure studies, particularly on understanding the dynamics of transcription during HIV infection and latency.

UKZN’s National Science Week celebrations were rounded off with a fun-filled Open Day hosted by STEC@UKZN. Students and staff were welcomed to the Science Centre and shown the hidden wonders of UKZN’s Geological Museum and enjoyed the interactive displays housed in the Centre. 

‘Our goal is to bring Science to the public and share our excitement and passion for this fascinating and essential subject,’ said STEC Co-ordinator, Dr Tanja Reinhardt. ‘If we can reach South Africa’s future scientists whilst they are still at school and ignite their interest in pursuing Science as a career, then we have done our job.’

Words and photographs: Sally Frost

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Trauma and Burns Chief Specialist Applauded for Driving Transformation in Surgery

Trauma and Burns Chief Specialist Applauded for Driving Transformation in Surgery
Professor Timothy “Tim” Hardcastle.Click here for isiZulu version

The School of Clinical Medicine (SCM) under the leadership of its Head and Dean, Professor Ncoza Dlova, recently applauded Professor Timothy Hardcastle for his boundless and unselfish contribution towards the Discipline of General Surgery.

Hardcastle has successfully managed to keep the Discipline afloat whilst acting as Head from January to July 2022, ensuring that undergraduate and postgraduate training continued without interruptions.

Hardcastle fruitfully drove the transformation agenda in the Trauma Unit at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital (IALCH). This is evident with 60% of consultant staff in the Unit being female. Three specialists in the Unit have Fellow posts and one has already completed Fellow training as a sub-specialist in Trauma Surgery. He is also leading the transformation in medical officer staffing and already, 50% of medical officers are female and of these, 33% are Black.

Hardcastle is a Chief Specialist in Trauma and Burns. He heads the Clinical Department: Trauma and Burns at IALCH. He is an Honorary Research Associate Professor in Health Sciences at the Durban University of Technology and an Honorary Associate Professor of Trauma and Surgery at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

He began his career at IALCH as Head of Clinical Unit: Trauma in 2008 after relocating from Stellenbosch. He undertook his PhD between 2011 and 2014. He has supervised numerous MMed degrees and three PhDs to completion. He was promoted to Honorary Associate Professor of Surgery at UKZN earlier this year (2022).

Words: Lihle Sosibo

Photograph: Supplied

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Law Student Chapter Launched

Law Student Chapter Launched
Students at the launch of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL) Student Chapter in Kwazulu-Natal.

The National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL, Durban and Coast Branch) has launched a student chapter at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. This follows many successful initiatives such as Court Shadowing, both in the CCMA and the Magistrate’s Courts in June/July and assisting applicants in the Family Court on Mandela Day.

These initiatives encompassed the length and breadth of KwaZulu-Natal and, in addition to assisting members of the public, empowered the participants.

The student chapter is aligned with the values of NADEL which promotes and defends the constitutional order to ensure access to justice and the realisation of civil, political and socio-economic rights.

The chapter, in association with the Branch, will, inter alia, launch legal education projects, help students hone their research skills as well as create opportunities for them to gain practical experience.

The launch was a huge success and was graced by the attendance of the leadership of Nadel National, including Deputy President of Nadel, Comrade Motloung, Secretary General Comrade Nolitha Jali, member of the Exco Bukky Olowookorun and virtually by Comrades Carol Selepe and Lizelle Haskins. Comrade Mhlangabezi Maliwa the chairperson of the Pretoria Branch also attended.

NADEL’s Deputy President Mr Motloung said South Africa is faced with a great deal of social justice and leadership challenges that require the youth to actively participate in transforming the country and society.

‘We need young people who are trained to be lawyers. This is the perfect platform to prepare and transform them into human rights activists who will be able to confront these challenges,’ said Motloung.

Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Mr John Jeffery voiced his support for the chapter saying it would make students aware of the realities of justice and transform them into professional leaders.

‘Poverty and inequality remain an existential threat to the rule of law in our country and it is in that area where the value of bodies such as this chapter are so important, as they are able to fulfil a vital role in the areas of social responsibility and social justice.’

Speaking from a student’s perspective, third-year Law candidate Miss Samira Phiri said they were looking forward to taking advantage of what the Chapter had to offer to enhance legal knowledge and practical skills.

‘We are very fortunate to have this forum,’ said Phiri. ‘The programmes involved will provide us with a comprehensive understanding of the legal profession. We are more grateful knowing that the organisation has strong democratic leaders who are eager to mentor us.’

Words: Savera Maharaj

Photograph: Samukelisiwe Cele

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Inaugural Lecture Explores Epistemic Freedom, Reflexivity and Light-working in the Quality Improvement of Public Governance

Inaugural Lecture Explores Epistemic Freedom, Reflexivity and Light-working in the Quality Improvement of Public Governance
Professor Fayth Anese Ruffin delivering her inaugural lecture.

How can we ensure that there is epistemic freedom in the theory and practice of public governance?

This was the question posed by School Management, Information Technology and Governance academic Professor Fayth Anese Ruffin at her inaugural lecture.

Titled: The Rigor of Epistemic Freedom in Public Governance: Light-Working in Higher Education, Ruffin’s inaugural lecture forms part of UKZN’s Public Lectures series that may only be presented by newly-appointed full professors.

This milestone in an academic’s career is an opportunity to showcase exciting and ground-breaking research and teaching.

Drawing from over 30 years’ worth of experience spanning across law, business, government, the non-profit sector and academia, Ruffin unpacked how the principles of epistemic freedom, reflexivity and light-working all dove tail and come into public governance.

‘One way or another, public governance is involved in all sectors. Whether it’s in the business, management, NPO, NGO, regional, national, continental or global aspect, public governance abounds and this is why we must ensure that it has epistemic freedom,’ said Ruffin.

She added that unfortunately, individuals working within the public governance sector and other sectors get preoccupied with only having the same experts giving context and shaping the sector instead of all role players considering the bottom-context, designing Africanised theories and ways of knowing and being in the world.

‘When we look at epistemic freedom connected to public governance, this means exploring different types of knowledge systems and not just being led by knowledge that already exists but being willing to interrogate that knowledge and its sources. Reflexivity means professional and personal introspection and light-working is about the light we all possess as human beings. We have to ask ourselves, what energy are we emitting as academics, as students and people in the Higher Education landscape that want to make a positive difference in the country and internationally?’

Drawing on her vast professional experience as a multi-inter-trans-disciplinary academic committed to curricula transformation in Higher Education, Ruffin also spoke on research, knowledge generation, contextualised application of findings, community appraisal of application as well as curricula design and delivery as being key in the continuous loop of quality improvement in public governance.

‘We want to use varied research methodologies to generate knowledge that fits the South African and African context whilst contributing to the global pool of knowledge. We must contextualise our application of findings whether through master’s/PhD or academic research, and we need a community appraisal of that application. The community must come in and tell us if they think it’s working or not. That must then be filtered into curricula design and development because what we research and what we put in action we must learn from and then teach from that. Then we start to get this continuous loop of quality improvement for public governance or any sector.’

Ruffin used the concept of reflexive praxis to draw parallels from traditional, pre-colonial and intergenerational periods of time to highlight how ways of knowing, being and doing things are evolving and the work that needs to happen to highlight why public governance, as a study and practice, cannot be restricted to the prevailing status quo.

‘We talk about these ills - inequality, unemployment, poverty, but they didn’t come from yesterday. There are some structures; institutions and spirits that we emitted as human beings that have led us to where we are today in this era of coloniality. We must acknowledge that we are connected to each other and the natural environment and once we do that, the epistemic freedom becomes easier, then light-working becomes enjoyable and reflexivity becomes a part of our lives, whether we do that individually or communally.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Image: Supplied

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Inaugural Lecture Details Journeying from Mathematical Modelling to the Iterative Visualisation Thinking Cycle and Beyond

Inaugural Lecture Details Journeying from Mathematical Modelling to the Iterative Visualisation Thinking Cycle and Beyond
Professor Vimolan Mudaly.

Professor Vimolan Mudaly, Deputy-Academic Leader for Mathematics and Technology Education, presented his inaugural lecture detailing his journey as a researcher from back when he was a fourth-year undergraduate student through to his successful development of the Iterative Visualisation Thinking Cycle (IVTC) published in 2021.

Mudaly says IVTC’s evolution is in fact a historical account of his evolution as a researcher - when challenged in an English Usage class as an undergraduate student, he responded with a 21-page mini thesis about the significance of mathematics education. The paper drew on the spatial aspects of creation and how mathematics could explain much of the unknowns around us.

The IVTC will appear as a theoretical framework for visualisation research later this year (2022) in the opening chapter of a book titled: Visualisation and Epistemological Access to Mathematics Education in Southern Africa as a theoretical framework for visualization research.

Mudaly has been at UKZN since early 2003. He joined the Institution after serving as an examiner and Chief Maker of the National Senior Certificate examinations, as well as the KZN Chairperson of the Association of Mathematics Educators South Africa.

He attained his undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Science Education at the former University of Durban-Westville (now UKZN) and his Honours in Education from the University of South Africa (UNISA). He was awarded a Master of Education cum laude and subsequently obtained a doctoral degree from UKZN.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize welcomed guests, colleagues, and friends of UKZN to the lecture on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor and Principal. He said inaugural lectures provide official recognition of an individual’s promotion to full professor and showcase the exciting and ground-breaking research and teaching being carried out at UKZN to a wider audience.

Mudaly began his lecture by publicly acknowledging all those who contributed to his success, thanking his late parents and brother; wife and children; as well as colleagues both at UKZN and beyond who have had a great impact on his Möbius trip.

Explaining his lecture title, he said the Möbius strip, which is a one-sided surface, is cleverly used to illustrate how the model evolved over time, and how as a researcher, he has travelled through this Möbius loop, becoming stronger and more confident in the process.

‘The significance of the Mobius strip in my research trajectory is that I started off at a point, young, eager, and uncertain about what I wanted to do. Here I am today, researching in the same field but stronger, confident, and recognised internationally for the work that I am doing,’ he said.

Mudaly has made a substantive and significant contribution through a cogent body of work in both visualisation and active learning in mathematics, and this is attested to by his authorship of more than 58 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and conference proceedings. He has published in several international and high-impact journals, such as The Montana Mathematics Enthusiast

In 2016, he was ranked among the Top 30 Prolific Researchers in UKZN and received accolades for having achieved the first position in the School of Education. His commitment to developing and enhancing scholarship in the field is evident by the graduation of more than 36 PhD and master’s students under his supervision.

Mudaly’s work has a significant and far-reaching impact on society. He was appointed to the South African Government Expert team to report on the effects of COVID-19 on education by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), the Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC) and the National Research Foundation (NRF). He has served as the lead author of the Education Chapter of the Country Report on COVID-19.

‘I began this daunting task aeons ago as a baby in the field. I have stood on the shoulders of so many giants and I am glad that I completed this Möbius trip, on a strip that has no start and no end. Here I am, at the threshold of my next trip. This is a never-ending journey - imagining, thinking, theorising, and feeling the excitement of reading and writing,’ concluded Mudaly.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photograph: Supplied

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UKZN Alumnus Publishes Book on Biological Naturalism and the Mind-Body Problem

UKZN Alumnus Publishes Book on <em>Biological Naturalism and the Mind-Body Problem</em>
Dr Jane Anderson and her new book.

Dr Jane Anderson, School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics alumnus, recently published a book: Biological Naturalism and the Mind-Body Problem, that stemmed from her PhD studies.

The book offers a new theoretical framework within which to understand the “mind-body problem”.

‘The crux of this problem is phenomenal experience, which Thomas Nagel famously described as “what it is like” to be a certain living creature. David Chalmers refers to the problem of what it is like as “the hard problem of consciousness”, and claims that this problem is so hard to investigate that many investigators have avoided tackling it directly. Many even go so far as to claim that there is literally nothing to investigate: that phenomenal experience is illusory. In contrast, this book contends that phenomenal experience is both very real and very important,’ explained Anderson.

Offering advice to aspiring writers, Anderson said, ‘I had a pretty bad time trying to finish my PhD in the face of every kind of problem and delay you can imagine, but I stuck it out, and now just look at my reward! A publication by one of the top academic publishers in Philosophy! Believe in yourself, grit your teeth, and just imagine how you will feel when you are finally able to get the result of all your hard work out into the world.’

The book is available for purchase from Palgrave Macmillan (EUR93.08 for the eBook, and EUR109.99 for the hardcover book).

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied

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Partnership with the Community and Law Students at Heart

Partnership with the Community and Law Students at Heart
Mr Adrian Bellengere (left) handing over the Memorandum of Understanding to Mr Emmanuel Hinson from Illovo Sugar Group.Click here for isiZulu version

UKZN recently signed an agreement with Illovo Sugar Africa (Pty)Ltd’s Legal Department which will enable various initiatives that will not only empower Law students but communities surrounding Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

The main objective of this partnership is to financially and professionally support Law students while simultaneously providing underprivileged communities with access to legal services through the UKZN Law Clinic.

This will be carried out by actively co-operating on various initiatives including, but not limited to ad-hoc guest lecturers, vacation programmes, career days, scholarships/bursaries, research, and community support through the UKZN Law Clinic in so far as it falls within the expertise of Illovo Sugar Africa’s team of legal practitioners.

Both parties met to explore possible ways to implement and carry out these initiatives. Mr Emmanuel Hinson, General Counsel and Illovo Company Secretary who will be steering this ship said that their organisation is looking forward to making a meaningful contribution towards the development of law students into well-rounded legal practitioners.

‘We want to make sure this engagement is felt by students; hence we have introduced programmes that are directly aimed at students. We will also have ad-hoc guest lectures and career days to ensure that students are supported in all academic aspects,’ explained Hinson.

Serving and reaching out to communities the parties’ main objectives and strategic plans were compiled to ensure that the Law Clinic is adequately equipped and that there is enough staff working to deliver legal services to communities.

Collaborating with the company’s legal team, which comprises attorneys and paralegals from South Africa and other southern African countries, the agreement will be beneficial to students by providing them with industry experience.

‘We need such support to make sure our legal services are accessible to our communities. Getting sites that are near these communities will have a huge impact in terms of community members knowing the availability of our services and us being able to deliver them. We can recruit more students who can take turns working there,’ said Mr Adrian Bellengere, School of Law Acting Dean.

The UKZN Law Clinic is amongst the thriving Law clinics in South Africa where students under professional supervision are involved in solving real-life cases.

Words: Samukelisiwe Nomusa Fezile Cele

Photograph: Supplied

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UKZN Hosts Pasta Luncheon for Comrades Participants

UKZN Hosts Pasta Luncheon for Comrades Participants
Comrades Marathon participants hosted at a Pasta Luncheon.

UKZN’s Corporate Relations Division (CRD) hosted a Pasta Luncheon for all staff and students registered to take place in this year’s Comrades Marathon.

Known as the “Ultimate Human Race”, the Comrades took place on Sunday, 28 August 2022, with a down run of 89km starting from Pietermaritzburg.

In her welcome address, Ms Normah Zondo, CRD Executive Director, said the University is proud to have many (staff and students) participating in the world’s oldest and largest ultramarathon. Reflecting on the history of the race - which celebrated its centenary last year - Zondo said it has evolved to celebrate the human spirit, endurance, diversity, charity and triumph against adversity.

Zondo noted the devastation caused by COVID-19, which led to the marathon being cancelled and its awaited return this year. She said: ‘As UKZN, we are fully behind you, cheering you on and making sure you have all the support you need. We hope that such support, coupled with your preparedness and determination, will spur you on during the race, ensuring you get to the finish line. We are proud of you and wish you all the best. Fly the UKZN flag high! We look forward to seeing you on our screens!’

Sharing some of the marathon’s traditions, Mr Steve Camp, UKZN Foundation acting Executive Director and director of proceedings at the event, said the Comrades Marathon keeps people coming back because of its rich history, traditions, heritage and culture. Having run the marathon 10 times himself, Camp co-authored In Your Stride: 100 Years of the Comrades Marathon, a book which looks at the history of the Comrades Marathon as South Africa’s greatest ultramarathon.

UKZN staffer and veteran Comrades Marathon runner, Mr Tony Singarum, who has run the race 23 times and attained his own personal race number 25356 - which is given to runners after their 10th race - highlighted the importance of the marathon as the first after COVID-19 caused mass devastation across the globe. Thanking CRD for always supporting this initiative, he said the Comrades Marathon is about inspiring others to join in and be part of the starting line.

Singarum urged runners to take care of themselves and plan appropriately. He ran over the dos of participating in the race, urging runners to remember to pack plasters, Vaseline and supplements in their pouch; charge digital devices such as watches; eat a full breakfast on race day to preserve one’s energy; hydrate on the road; know where to find parking for your family after the race, and check the weather forecast and pack necessary supplies such as caps or an extra vest or t-shirt.

He warned runners against running in anything new on the day, such as shoes and shorts; trying new foods on race day to avoid diarrhea and dehydration; running if you are not feeling well; and going to the incorrect seed area.

Encouraging runners to hold back and reserve their energy for the last 30km, Singarum said, ‘if you run too hard in the beginning, you will pay for it in the end.’ He also implored runners to run their own race, walk when needed, enjoy the experience and most importantly, remember to smile for the cameras!

College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science Financial Manager and Comrades Marathon runner, Mr Mandla Mdhluli, gave runners some tips on race preparations. He shared his journey as a runner and his audacious plan of running five marathons in five consecutive weeks all around the world earlier this year. 

Mdhluli said it was important to stick to your race plan, strategy and pace on the day. Evaluating a detailed graph with cut-off times for each point, he informed runners of a reasonable time to get to their points in order to finish on time. Noting how a fade factor comes into play when running, he said runners must be aware that their running time decreases the longer they run.

He also highlighted how the “down run” is filled with steep inclines along the way. Mdhluli encouraged runners to conserve their energy for hills and not to waste time on the trail by stopping to spend time with family or taking unnecessary breaks. As an experienced pace-setter who leads runners and sets their pace along the way, he said it was important for runners to determine their finish time according to their abilities.

In her closing remarks, Ms Xoliswa Zulu, University Relations Director, said she hoped that Singarum and Mdhluli had inspired the runners to do their absolute best on race day. Reflecting on her memories of the Comrades Marathon while growing up, she said she was even more excited to watch the marathon with some technical know-how, courtesy of the speakers.

Thanking the speakers, she wished all of the participating runners well as they fly the UKZN flag high.

All 20 UKZN staff members who ran in their University colours on the day finished the race. ‘We appreciate the University’s support in organising the Pasta Luncheon, which added to our determination as staff in finishing the race,’ Singarum said.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photograph: Albert Hirasen

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PhD Candidate Explores Mathematics Education in Latvia

PhD Candidate Explores Mathematics Education in Latvia
A snapshot of nGAP lecturer, Mr Mzwandile Zulu’s time in Europe as part of the Erasmus+ exchange programme.

PhD candidate, Mr Mzwandile Zulu is back in South Africa after spending five months at Liepaja University, Latvia, Europe, as part of the Erasmus+ mobility scholarship.

Zulu, an nGAP lecturer in Mathematics Education at UKZN’s School of Education, said teaching at a high school and addressing lectures at Liepaja University was a ‘valuable learning experience’ and one that he will always treasure.

‘I was exposed to a new approach to looking at my research and the research on Mathematics Education in general. As a young academic from the Global South, learning the teaching pedagogies of the Global North from seasoned professors and mathematics teachers was extremely beneficial to me.

‘I had a wonderful experience when I spent a few days at a school in Latvia where I observed teaching and learning in Grades 10, 11 and 12 during Mathematics and English lessons. Giving talks in their classes was exciting because I was welcomed with open arms by the educators and pupils who were eager to learn more about South Africa’s educational system and other fascinating facts about my home country.

‘One of the key impressions I had during my mobility experience was the interesting culture and traditions of the Latvian people outside of the context of schools and universities.’

After completing his PhD studies, he plans to focus on his career and development as an academic. ‘Considering that I have already visited a European university, I plan to travel abroad in the near future as a postdoctoral fellow at one of the universities in the US or UK.’

Zulu arrived in Latvia during the autumnal equinox. It was the “honeymoon phase” of his first trip abroad and everything seemed perfect. ‘The multi-coloured maple leaves are truly unforgettable. The autumn season quickly gave way to a snowy winter - the snowflakes were astoundingly beautiful, to start.

'Then, the “honeymoon” phase came to an end. The slip-and-slide started as the deep winter set in and everything was mostly covered in snow,’ said Zulu, recalling the challenges he faced as a result of Latvia’s climate.

During his spare time, he visited Italy, France, Hungary, and Austria as travelling in Europe was very affordable.

Born in Ntambanana in Empangeni where he attended primary school until Grade 8 when his family relocated to KwaDabeka township, Durban, Zulu has three sisters. ‘If I’m not spending time with my family or friends during my spare time, I like to help children learn and appreciate mathematics,’ he said.

*The New Generation of Academics Programme (nGAP) programme affords newly-recruited lecturers the benefits of teaching development and research development opportunities.

Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

Photographs: Supplied

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Accounting Student Shares His Finance and Business Knowledge through Online Publication

Accounting Student Shares His Finance and Business Knowledge through Online Publication
Final-year Accounting student Mr Kusa Nkosi.

Third-year Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting student, Mr Kusa Nkosi is honing his skills as an aspiring Chartered Accountant through his online finance and business publication Curiosity.

‘My interest with financial markets, the investment business and global economic world was initially sparked by introduction to bitcoin by one of my close friends during the first COVID-19 national lockdown in 2020. I then started reading avidly on these topics, trying to understand the solution bitcoin brought at the intersection of the problems faced in these topics,’ he said.

‘As I have the understanding of economics and the technical fundamentals of crypto tech, I felt like our generation was being left behind with the narrative that bitcoin is a scam. I then sought to address that by writing a series of WhatsApp status threads of in-depth explanations of how bitcoin is one of the biggest financial innovations of our generation, if not ever,’ added Nkosi.

Positive feedback from his WhatsApp threads and LinkedIn articles motivated him to share his knowledge with a wider audience. This led to Nkosi establishing the online thought leadership newsletter to share his opinion pieces analysing the complex world of finance, business and the global economy.

Curiosity covers concepts that would traditionally give people a hard time to understand. I recently wrote an article on how bond yields (returns) affect the valuation of shares which anchored around why an investor in the stock market should care for bond yields. This article was inspired by what I learnt in class and had to thoroughly read my textbook to properly explain the concept so that it relates to real life. I hope that readers who engage with my content will take away the acumen to accelerate discourse amongst our generation on the topics that affect our lives the most,’ said Nkosi.

With aspirations of growing Curiosity from an online newsletter to other media platforms, Nkosi is also looking forward to graduating with his Accounting degree and cutting his teeth in the corporate and investment banking world.

Read Curiosity here:

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Supplied

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UKZN Foundation’s Engagement with PPS Foundation Trust

UKZN Foundation’s Engagement with PPS Foundation Trust
UKZN Foundation hosts PPS Foundation.

The Professional Provident Society of South Africa (PPS) Foundation visited the UKZN Foundation to extend their collaboration with UKZN through bursaries for Medical students.

The meeting - hosted at UKZN Foundation’s quarters - was organised by Mr Tebelo Kokoropo, UKZN Foundation Donor Relations Manager.

Mr Steve Camp, UKZN Foundation acting Executive Director, welcomed guests and attendees, stating that the ‘UKZN Foundation worked closely with donors to source strategic funding for the University.’

UKZN Foundation is the formal fundraising arm of the University and sources funds primarily for bursaries, as well as infrastructure projects and the various Colleges. He also indicated that 70% of funding goes towards supporting student bursaries. ‘We try to make a difference working with funders by joining the dots, our working cause and interest is to try and look for ways to facilitate that and translate it to make a difference at a place like UKZN,’ said Camp.

PPS Foundation was established in 2016 essentially to improve access to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields for students. The Foundation also contributes to the sustainable development of South African communities. Mrs Subashni Gounder, Corporate Social Investment Senior Manager Head of the PPS Foundation Trust, thanked UKZN for its warm welcome. ‘This is how serious we are about developing a strong meaningful relationship with a highly reputable university like UKZN, we definitely see ourselves moving forward and building a stronger relationship as our ultimate objective is education,’ she said.

Ms Masenyane Molefe, PPS Group Executive Trustee and Group Executive: HR, held a brief presentation about the organisation (PPS Group) which has been around for 81 years, and formed a Foundation in 2016. ‘The challenges of this country are far too many to be left to the government alone, so this is our way as a corporate citizen to say we are going to play a part as well’, said Molefe.

The Foundation runs five supporting programmes, including the Bursary Programme and University Support Programme which fostered the Foundation’s engagement arm. ‘The PPS bursary is a fully holistic bursary that covers students with tuition fees, resident accommodation, books, meals and laptops,’ said Molefe, adding that the Foundation also provides infrastructure support to universities in accordance with students benefits, as well as student’s assistance outside the academic provision.

Commenting on the community relationship from a PPS perspective, Mr Nereshen Pillay said: ‘If I were to ask my colleagues to put up their hands probably all of us are alumni of UKZN, so the bond between the PPS and UKZN stems from our days as students’. He further stated, ‘PPS is a mutual company in South Africa and has a good relationship with UKZN, we must get more out of this, we must build stronger relationships and open up more facilities.’

Mr Pierre Coetzee, Graduate Marketing Specialist, said one of the Foundation’s expenditure strategies is to reach students physically and through sponsorships, targeting all eligible groups and future members of PPS. ‘The Scrub Project is a yearly project we roll out across universities in South Africa. We sponsor sixth-year Medical students, giving them scrubs at year-end functions’, he said, adding that the Foundation also teaches eligible final-year students about good financial habits.

Camp thanked PPS for its support, saying, ‘We work with a lot of donors and companies and very few have the level of support for students like PPS. It is all about building relationships and trying to make a difference as we all here feeling passionate in various forms trying to make a difference in our country and its through donors like yourself that make a huge significance’.

Professor Suvira Ramlall from UKZN’s Psychiatry Discipline and College of Psychiatrists (CMSA) President spoke on the gap between education and social development. ‘I really believe in holistic development and am very passionate about quality education. When we speak on education, we need to move beyond that narrow definition of education where you just collect degrees,’ she said. She spoke on the importance of holistic education and development, saying people have degrees and titles but remain impoverished which leads to vulnerability in the form of anxiety and stress. She also pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic taught us interconnection in terms of partnerships and relationships. ‘We really appreciate these partnerships and it’s really about the interconnectedness of us as a society.

‘I am so glad you (PPS) have shifted beyond just giving handouts. I feel very strongly about culture, we have to be able to support people in a more meaningful way that also fosters their growth,’ she said.

She thanked PPS on behalf of the Medical School as major beneficiaries are Medical students. ‘We are very passionate about the way things are done. We look forward to continuing partnerships and relationships not only for us as UKZN, but our country as a whole’.

Dr Saloschini Pillay, Health Science College Student Support Service Manager, also expressed her gratitude to PPS for its support. ‘PPS supported us with the exit orientation, we are the only College of UKZN that holds an exit orientation. The College has been hosting the exit orientation since 2012, a one-day function where we wish students well and prepare them for the world of work and give tips and strategies’, she said. The College plans to have a series of development workshops for professionals entering the world of work using the collaboration with PPS.

Words: Zama Khoza

Photograph: Albert Hirasen

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Umkomaas Secondary School Visits UKZN as Part of LINKS International STEM Project

Umkomaas Secondary School Visits UKZN as Part of LINKS International STEM Project
Umkomaas Secondary School learners enjoy UKZN’s Science and Technology Education Centre during National Science Week.

As part of National Science Week, STEC@UKZN - the University’s Science and Technology Education Centre - hosted the Umkomaas South Africa/Windy City (IL) LINKS-NSBE Jr. Chapters STEM Career Fair.

Forty Umkomaas Secondary School learners spent a stimulating and event-filled day at UKZN’s Science Centre as part of a project initiated by Windy City Chapter (IL), The Links Incorporated, an international women’s volunteer service organisation with more than 16 000 members who are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the cultural and economic survival of African-Americans and other persons of African ancestry.

‘We are committed to coaching and assisting Umkomaas learners to prepare, gain admission and succeed in STEM courses of study at South African tertiary institutions,’ explained Windy City Chapter’s Chair of International Trends and Services, Dr Adrienne Bailey, who Zoomed in from the USA to participate in the STEM-orientated day along with University of Missouri Biomedical Engineering student Ms Hirut Suraphel.

UKZN’s Dr Tanja Reinhardt - aka “Dr T” - kicked off the activities with a “Build Your Own Crazy Machine” workshop, which got the learners engaged with the intricacies of mechanical design. They then had the chance to meet and interact with current UKZN STEM students. Mr Thembelani Khumalo shared his journey of becoming an agricultural engineer, whilst Mr Samkelo Njiva spoke on the road he travelled to become a geological scientist. Learners also had a chance to explore UKZN’s geological museum as well as interact with other educative displays at the Science Centre.

Inspirational stories were provided by Ms Tholakele Ngubane, Links Scholar and Candidate Structural Engineer at the National Department of Public Works and Infrastructure; Mr Kwazi Mabaso, Chairperson, National Society of Black Engineers SA, who spoke on the place and role of engineers in South Africa; Mr Delon Naicker, PhD candidate at the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI); Ms Uvedhna Padia, Masters in Medical Science Virology candidate; and UKZN students Ms Tanita Permaul, Physics and Mr Warren Naidoo, Mathematics and Astronomy.

Umkomaas Secondary School graduate and UKZN first-year Marine Biology student, Mr Mongameli Shinga coached the learners on how to prepare for university as well as various STEM career and study options available.

As South Africa advisor to Umkomaas NSBE Jr. Chapters, Ms Noluthando Mapumulo contributed to planning and organising logistics for the career day.

‘Both the United States and South Africa are in strong need of STEM workers,’ said Bailey. ‘Worldwide, most careers in the future will be STEM based. We are living in a scientific and technological revolution which is characterised by exponential growth and accelerating change particularly in the fields of Science, Engineering, Technology and Innovation.

‘As articulated by the South Africa Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA), “South Africa needs to be self-sufficient and economically competitive and to achieve that the country needs young people who have a passion for the critical subjects of Science, Mathematics and Technology and who excel in these subjects. What needs to be done is to prepare our youth to be effective citizens in the scientific, mathematical and technological world of which we dream”.’

In addition to the Links, sponsors of the Umkomaas, NSBE Jr. Chapters include eThekwini Municipality, General Motors and Northrop Grumman.

Words: Sally Frost

Photographs: Supplied

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Exploring Violence and Wellbeing in the Context of the Student Movement

Exploring Violence and Wellbeing in the Context of the Student Movement
Highlights from the Aftermath Exhibition and book launch.

The Humanities Institute and the Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within the College of Humanities, in partnership with the University of Venda and Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), recently hosted the opening of the exhibition – Aftermath: Violence and Wellbeing in the Context of the Student Movement and book launch - #FeesMustFall and its Aftermath: Violence, Wellbeing, and the South African Student Movement, at the Howard College Theatre.

The exhibition is a collection of 34 images taken by student leaders as a reflection and representation of their experiences of violence during the #FeesMustFall student movement, and their search for wellbeing after these experiences. Curated by Carl Collison, the exhibition comprises nine themes: protest and violence, oppressive spaces, fear, escape, defying patriarchy, safe spaces, wellbeing, unity and trauma.

The images were selected and curated from more than 100 images that were produced as part of a photovoice research project by the HSRC in 2019/20. The project was funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Andrew W Mellon Foundation. Student participants were selected from the University of the Western Cape (UWC), University of Venda (UNIVEN), University of the Free State (UFS), University of Fort Hare (UFH) and the Durban University of Technology (DUT).

HSRC Research Director, Dr Thierry Luescher said the photovoice methodology is ‘an action research method that uses photos taken by the student participants to help them articulate difficult experiences such as violence and how they have regained a sense of wellbeing.’

The aim of this exhibition is to raise awareness about the levels of violence on university campuses and the impact this has on student wellbeing. The student leaders and activists, whose reflections are represented in these pictures and accompanying captions, have expressed the hope that by sharing their photos and stories, awareness would be created in the public, government and among Higher Education policymakers and university leaders.

Co-Principal Investigator from the University of Venda, Dr Keamogetse Morwe said ‘after the #FeesMustFall protests, the ongoing mental health challenges of former student activists and students in general became prevalent.’

The students of the project hope this awareness will ensure that student grievances are taken seriously without the need for protesting, and that student counselling services are expanded to better support students who struggle with mental health issues.

The book: #FeesMustFall and its Aftermath: Violence, Wellbeing, and the South African Student Movement was also launched at the event. The book showcases the experiences of violence and well-being of #FeesMustFall student activists from a range of South African universities, and tells their experiences through over 100 photos and related narratives that contextualise the photos and explain their meaning and significance.

Professor Saleem Badat of UKZN’s Humanities Institute said, ‘It is an exceptional book by socially committed scholars that is original, conceptually innovative and creatively narrated and presented. It is a welcome contribution to efforts to document and understand the 2015-2016 national student protests associated with #RhodesMustFall, #FeesMustFall, #EndOutsourcing and other movements.’

Badat added, ‘These universities were selected deliberately to highlight the experiences of students at universities that, unlike the universities of Cape Town and Witwatersrand, were not in the public limelight in 2015/16 but whose experiences could be more representative of the sector as a whole.’

Professor Relebohile Moletsane, JL Dube Chair in Rural Education at UKZN added, ‘In a period where students and student activists have been labelled as violent and not really focused on their studies, this book is not only important, it is also timely. It contributes to deepening our understanding of who our students are and what has shaped and continues to shape their experiences and outcomes in our institutions.’

Reflecting on the book, Ms Innocentia Alexander, a PhD candidate in the School of Education said, ‘It exposes the high levels of violence on university campuses and the impact it has on student wellbeing with calls for a more responsive Higher Education policy and leadership. The book serves as a catalyst for healing by the participants and speaks to decolonising university spaces.’

As part of the travelling exhibition, a colloquium was hosted by Badat on Student Politics and Higher Education Transformation in the Aftermath of #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall that featured 35 participants including the authors of the book, scholars and student leaders. A workshop was also hosted by Luescher on Restoring Wellbeing after Student Protests: Lessons from #FeesMustFall.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Sethu Dlamini

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UKZN Musician Adds Vibey “Sound Spark” for 24th JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience

UKZN Musician Adds Vibey “Sound Spark” for 24th JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience
UKZN alumnus and Durban musician, Mr Nick Pitman.Click here for isiZulu version

UKZN alumnus and Durban-based musician, Mr Nick Pitman has created a vibey “sound spark” called “Power Station” for the 24th JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience promotional video.

The dance festival opened on Tuesday, 30 August 2022 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

The JOMBA! promo video has been created and edited by Mr Wesley Maherry and features small snippets of the works being presented at JOMBA!

The JOMBA! trailer can be found here at

‘Power Station is electric, something lacking in Mzansi at the moment. I’m glad I could contribute a small spark to the prestigious JOMBA! Festival 2022,’ said Pitman.

JOMBA! Artistic Director and UKZN Dance lecturer, Dr Lliane Loots, said, ‘We love the idea of any dance and music collaboration, and this is such an uplifting piece to set the tone of just how celebratory we are feeling being back in the theatre and creating opportunities for artists - in person and live again!’

Pitman is a guitarist, producer, and music teacher with over 10 years’ experience as a recognised musician within the city’s performance scene. He graduated summa cum laude from UKZN in 2018 with a Bachelor’s degree in Music majoring in Composition and Arranging. Over and above these recognitions, he was selected for the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band in 2016 and 2017, toured to Cape Town to perform original music, and played at the Oslo Jazz Festival in Norway in 2016.

This year, he has performed with McCoy Mrubata at the Rainbow Restaurant, Lu Dlamini at UKZN’s Centre for Jazz and Popular Music and for Concerts SA Digital Mobility Fund (available on YouTube), as well at the Barnyard Theatre for their current production: Thank You for the Music. His music can be found on streaming platforms (YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music).

Go to to watch JOMBA! and subscribe to their channel.

The festival runs from 30 August to 11 September. Tickets are available at Computicket.

For the full programme and more information, go to

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Alastair Fraser

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