Hats Off to Our Graduates!

Hats Off to Our Graduates!
UKZN will roll out the red carpet for graduates at the Spring Graduation ceremonies next week.

UKZN is pleased to announce that its Spring Graduation ceremonies will be held on the Westville campus on 21 and 22 September.

Known for its joyous and trending Graduation ceremonies, the University will see 1 720 graduands cross the stage, with an impressive 57% being women.

Ms Normah Zondo, Executive Director of Corporate Relations, said the University is thrilled to once again host in-person ceremonies. ‘Graduation ceremonies are a celebration of hard work - the countless hours of studying, learning and research that our graduates put in. They and their loved ones will once again celebrate their achievements as only UKZN can!

‘We look forward to seeing you cross the stage as we welcome you to the community of illustrious alumni of the University,’ she said.

UKZN will confer 981 undergraduate and 739 postgraduate degrees, of which 206 are doctoral degrees. ‘The University is incredibly proud of the achievements of 16 students with disabilities, six of whom completed postgraduate studies,’ said Zondo.

A total of 359 degrees will be conferred in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science; 212 in the College of Health Sciences; 666 in the College of Humanities and 483 in the College of Law and Management Studies.

Among the graduates are 132 international students, 130 of whom will receive postgraduate degrees.

Twenty-seven students will graduate cum laude and four summa cum laude.

Professor David Spurrett of the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics will be awarded a UKZN Fellowship on 21 September at 10 am. Fellowship of the University is awarded to professors or senior professors in recognition of distinguished academic achievement and the production of high-quality scholarly work that demonstrates originality and creativity.

We invite you to celebrate our graduates’ achievements with us on the University’s Facebook and YouTube livestreams and by using the hashtag #UKZNgrad2022.

Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

Photographs: Supplied (file pics)

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Medical Student Invited to WHO’s 72nd African Regional Meeting

Medical Student Invited to WHO’s 72nd African Regional Meeting
Mr Mohamed Hoosen Suleman has become a regular face at WHO meetings.Click here for isiZulu version

Mr Mohamed Hoosen Suleman, a fourth-year Medical student at UKZN, has become a regular face within the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ranks. After attending their international meeting in Geneva earlier this year, Suleman was selected to attend the WHO’s African (WHO-Afro) Regional Meeting in Lomé, Togo (West Africa).

Suleman formed part of the official youth delegation to the WHO, alongside two other Medical students, one from Cameroon and a second from The Gambia. Their tasks entailed, amongst others, giving input to health policies on the African continent. This included outlining priority health issues that require increased WHO support.

The youth submitted statements on Mental Health; Human Resources for Health; Universal Health Coverage; Health Insecurities; and Environmental Determinants of Health to the meeting. Suleman was tasked with drafting the statements on Mental Health and Human Resources for Health.

Suleman, who is counted amongst the Top 200 Young South Africans, says the statements were well received and have been accepted for discussion and implementation.

‘I am glad to have been afforded the opportunity to make some small contribution to health policy and decision-making for WHO member states. There is a trend by the WHO to invite young professionals to contribute to the dialogue on how to advance the United Nations’ 2030 agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is unfortunate that I was unable to physically attend the meeting, but it was an honour and privilege to be called upon to contribute,’ he said.

The WHO Regional Committee for Africa is the organisation’s decision-making body on health policy in the African region. It comprises of Ministers of Health or their representatives from each of the region’s 47-member states. The main functions of the Regional Committee include formulating regional policies and supervising the regional office as set out in Article 50 of the WHO Constitution.

‘There is a need to scale up efforts towards universal health coverage and it is reassuring that African member states are united on this front. I am also pleased that each of the four WHO pillars continues to find expression within African governments’ decisions,’ said Suleman.

Words: MaryAnn Francis

Photograph: Supplied

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Floods Inspire Environmental Champion to Pen Poetry

Floods Inspire Environmental Champion to Pen Poetry
Mr Skhumbuzo Mhlongo was inspired to write poetry after experiencing the KZN floods.

Mr Skhumuzo Mhlongo, an MSc student in Waste and Climate Change on UKZN’s Howard College campus under the supervision of Professor Cristina Trois, has turned to poetry to raise awareness of people’s impact on climate change.

A novice in the art of writing poetry, Mhlongo was inspired to pen his first poem after experiencing the devastating floods that wrought havoc in KwaZulu-Natal earlier this year. ‘I felt a burning desire to warn people about our negative impact on the environment,’ he said.

Mhlongo has always been interested in environmental issues. ‘I grew up in Folweni Township in Durban and attended Sobonakhona High School where I was a class representative and head boy,’ he said. ‘During my school days I would ask all the class reps to lead by example and join me in cleaning up the school. I also often gathered a group of young children to join me in cleaning up the streets, a community hall and a church near where I lived.’

‘Now, thanks to Professor Trois who is leading this amazing MSc coursework in Waste and Climate Change, I am able to contribute and give back to people in different ways.’

Mhlongo is currently leading a waste management community engagement project at Mangosuthu University of Technology and will be visiting schools to educate learners about the importance of proper waste disposal.

‘Going forward I am hoping to contribute to reducing illegal dumping in a small area of Lower Illovo and a small area in uMgababa - two pilot projects I will be involved in.’

He hopes his debut poem will raise awareness of the importance of acting against climate change.

Like warm plastics

A new culture of cleanliness
A new behavior of cleanliness
We are clean, our environment is clean not
Our environment has warned us
Our environment is full of full warm bins

Our fishes are feeding on warm, melting plastic-like waste
The sea ice is melting, seas are filling up, the landfills are filling up
It’s celebration time, foolishness & happiness in the air
Like sea level, our full balloons are rising to the warm heavens
Like glacier, our empty balloons are descending into warm oceans

Our fishes are feeding on plastic soup
We are feeding on fish, tastes more like plastic soup
We don’t get full, are you still hungry?
I waste and dump into a full dumpsite, not in my back yard
I throw my waste through my dolphin’s window, through taxi window

Through the window I see the floods sweeping
Through the same window I see the winds sweeping
Government will tax my cold pocket and sweep by the window
Yet the tortoises are choking, the seabirds are choking
Like this poem, the polar bears are warming up

Extinction is nearer
The museum is near the future generations
Like that dolphin in a fishing net, my garbage is trapped in a stormwater drain
Like that window by the riverbank, we are trapped in floods traffic

The economy is trapped, cold, frozen like our bank accounts
We are trapped, thirsty and warming up
We drink from our warm rivers, tastes more like plastic soup
I said we are warming the planet!!!
We are full of plastics

by Skhumbuzo Mhlongo (copyright)

Words: Sally Frost

Photograph: Supplied

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The African Book Festival 2022 - Representing Africa in all its Diversity

The African Book Festival 2022 - Representing Africa in all its Diversity

I received an invitation from publisher and organiser of the African Book Festival Ms Stefanie Hirsbrunner to attend the festival held in Berlin from 26 to 28 August. I met Hirsbrunner in 2021 when she was visiting South Africa and we had a long chat about what UKZN is doing in the language space.

I shared with her our project of intellectualising African languages, with a focus on South Africa’s previously marginalised official languages, with literature development central to this project. We agreed that this is a mammoth task that calls for collaboration to develop African writers and accord them international recognition. The invitation to the festival was an opportunity to witness what African writers can do if they are properly supported. Here I share some of the lessons learnt from this extraordinary literary experience.

Firstly, I was in awe of the amount of talent South Africa has in the literary creative space. The theme of the festival was Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. The musical entertainment included South Africa’s Bongeziwe Mabandla, known as the “enigmatic spirit of African Soul” and the festival included book reviews, readings, panel discussions, poetry and comedy.

The South African contingent of writers included Fred Khumalo, Niq Mhlongo, Lidudumalingani Mqombothi, Nozizwe Cynthia Jele, Athabile Masola, Bongani Kona, Buhle Ngaba, Dudu Busani-Dube, Goitseone Montsho, J J Bola, Lerato Bogoathle, Mane Mohalle, Mphuthumi Ntabeni, Nomonde Buthelezi, Saneliswa Nyaba, Sinenhlanhla Buthelezi and Xabiso Vili.

I was blown away by their contributions in the panel discussions. Their wealth of knowledge and the depth of African history in their repertoires is amazing. They traversed multiple themes including African spirituality, history, politics, romance, mental health, socio-cultural complexities and day-to-day South African lives.

Other prominent African writers present were Igoni Barrett, Ainehi Edoro, Alian Missala, Alexandedra Antwi-Boasiako, Allisa Hitzemann, Ann Ider-Konadu, Anna Samwell Manyanza, Aseman G Bahadori, Bahakti Shringarpure, Daniel Okine, Dzekashu Macviban, Emeka Okereke, Emmanuel Iduma, Fiston Kwanza Mujila, Hans Jurgen Balmes, Ifeatu Nnaobi, Ijoma Mangold, Jinnifer Nasubuga Makumbi, Jinner Neal, Joanne Hichens, Josephine Apraku, Keith Black, Lauri Kubuitsile, Marrie-Sopphie Adeoso, Max Lobe, Moses Marz, Thelma Buabeng, Tinashe Mushakavanhu, Musa Okwonga and many more.

Secondly, the festival was graced by His Excellency the Ambassador of South Africa to Germany, Phumelele Stone Sizani, who officiated at the opening. It was curated by our very own young writer, film-maker and photographer, Lidudumalingani Mqombothi.

The keynote addresses were delivered by Mqombothi and Ms Margaret Busby, a well-known cultural figure, writer, editor, broadcaster and literary critic. A long-time campaigner for diversity in publishing, she is the editor of the ground-breaking Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Words and Writings by Women of African Descent from the Ancient Egyptian to the Present (1992) and New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent (2019), each of which showcases the writing of more than 200 Black women from different parts of the world. The main aim of the festival was to profile African writers with a focus on those from South Africa. In her opening address, Busby highlighted the importance of promoting the African voice and exploring a diversified publishing space.

Thirdly, coming to the lessons learnt… this is a bit of a sore point for me. South Africa has a wealth of literary talent, but we must make resources available to our writers so that they can thrive. This is not simply about money, but the tools of the trade, eg supporting reading and writing clubs with technology, creating conducive creative spaces where people can write, and sponsoring courses where they can share their expertise with aspiring writers. Universities should play their role by conferring doctoral degrees on deserving writers. Listening to these writers speak, it was clear that they yearn for support from all sectors, especially the ministries of Arts, Culture and Sports, the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Higher Education and Training.

It has become a cliché to say we have enabling policies, but 29 years on we still lag behind. We must learn to put our money where our mouths are. Looking at the overall festival attendance and the manner in which the German government supported the event, not only in words but in deeds, shows that there is a lot that we can learn from them. They take the arts seriously. It pained me to hear how other countries are supporting such initiatives for the benefit of their communities. It is a known fact that literature plays a significant role in developing countries. Besides enriching young readers’ vocabularies, it shapes their perspectives of the world around them, encourages critical thinking and opens a window to endless possibilities. These are some of the great benefits of having creative minds that are not worrying about resources, but focusing on doing what they do best. 

Fourthly, I was impressed by the writers, publishers and marketers’ open-mindedness in seeking ways and means to ensure that the African voice is heard globally. Access to information through translation was at the centre of their discussions. African literature written in English or an African language can be translated into German, French or Portuguese. Most writers write in English as it is regarded as the lingua-franca of the world. While there may be a large market for English writers, what about the other continental languages? Diversity of voices is critical if we are serious about the global village we often talk about. The culture of reading and writing cuts across linguistic communities; therefore, it is important that this plethora of creative ideas is accessible to everyone. This also paves the way for universities to strengthen language practice courses and make them more interlinguistic and multidisciplinary.

Lastly, given that the Higher Education sector is currently tackling the issue of intellectualising African languages, I cannot over-emphasise the importance of literature development. It is imperative that all 26 Higher Education Institutions finalise their language policies to take this particular strand seriously. The currency of these languages has always been an excuse for doomsayers, but if they can be promoted in schools, colleges and universities, much can be achieved in elevating their status.

UKZN has pioneered initiatives to further the intellectualisation of African languages since 2006 and has trained and published many young and upcoming writers in various strands - a project that is ongoing. This will help to boost the currency of these African languages. I wish I had more space to share the lessons learnt at the African Book Fair. The trip was indeed a worthwhile eye-opener.

Mr Khumbulani Mngadi is an independent analyst based at UKZN.

Photograph: Supplied

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

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Anaesthesiologist Lobbies for Infrastructural Development in Hospitals

Anaesthesiologist Lobbies for Infrastructural Development in Hospitals
Dr Zane Farina.

The School of Clinical Medicine has acknowledged Dr Zane Farina for his contribution to the development of the doctor’s lounge at Grey’s Hospital. As a member of the Pietermaritzburg Medical School subcommittee, Farina lobbied for internet connectivity and shared spaces for Medical staff at the hospital. He played a crucial role in planning lounge areas that will build a sense of community amongst doctors and staff.

Farina remarked that the Pietermaritzburg complex is an integral part of UKZN’s undergraduate and postgraduate teaching programmes. Given the hospital’s distance from the Pietermaritzburg and Durban campuses, it is difficult to cement the links between it and the University. He therefore set out to solicit resources to promote engagement among clinical staff across sites.

Farina is the Head of the Clinical Department of Anaesthesia at Grey’s Hospital and Deputy Head of Clinical Services of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care at UKZN.

The doctor’s lounge initiative is the brainchild of Dean and Head of the School of Clinical Medicine Professor Ncoza Dlova, who thanked Farina for his contribution in improving UKZN facilities and infrastructure in the Pietermaritzburg complex.

Words: Lihle Sosibo

Photograph: Supplied

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Music Lecturer Wins Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album

Music Lecturer Wins Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album
Jazz lecturer Mr Sibusiso Mashiloane.Click here for isiZulu version

Jazz lecturer Mr Sibusiso Mashiloane won Best Contemporary Jazz Album at the 2022 Mzantsi Jazz Awards (MJA) for his sixth album titled Music From My People.

This is a jury award evaluated against excellence and contribution criteria by the MJA judges. The organisers said they appreciate Mashiloane’s contribution to the South African jazz scene.

Music From My People is a 10-track album with a comprehensive approach that echoes many rhythmic languages, multi-generational comradery in sound, and an exploration of self-identity. It is woven in the fabric of family, community, country, the African continent and the world. 

‘It feels good to be recognised at home, especially when I write or compose inspired by local sounds. We are all thankful for the sound of home that is the formation of our identity, and the world appreciates it. We saw the impact of artists such as Hugh Masekela, Mariam Makeba, and Busi Mhlongo. I would also like to thank the contributors to the album.’

The contributors include Bab’ Khaya Mahlangu, Buddy Wells, Shaun Johannes, Tlale Makhene, Wandithanda Makandula and Xolisa Dlamini.

Mashiloane is a multi-award-winning artist who has been nominated for the SAMAs, the AFRIMA awards and the International Urban Music Awards. He is currently studying towards a PhD which employs the lens of South African Jazz to focus on the nostalgia-seeped themes of home that Mashiloane can’t help but find himself instinctively returning to.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Simanga Zondo

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Champions Demo Day Showcases Social Entrepreneurship

Champions Demo Day Showcases Social Entrepreneurship
Highlights from the Champions Demo Day programme.

UKZN in partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) hosted a Champions Demo Day to showcase the initiatives of 20 social entrepreneurs.

Headed by the Local Economic Development (LED) Unit in UKZN’s Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L), the programme aims to bridge LED capacity gaps in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) through coordinated and integrated teaching, learning and applied research.

These programmes that are jointly delivered with the University of Zululand (UNIZULU) and Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) empower social entrepreneurs, also known as “LED Champions” to be changemakers in their communities.

In his keynote address, GSB&L senior lecturer Dr Macdonald Kanyangale highlighted the importance of businesses generating revenue but also being able to address real-life problems. Encouraging financial institutions to come to the party and support LED Champions as catalysts for social change, he said, ‘We invite you as financial institutions to come along and watch these social entrepreneurs as they start small, grow and expand.’ Kanyangale also urged participants to implement the advice given to them and to value networking as an opportunity to gain knowledge and information from like-minded individuals.

Project Manager for the LED Unit and Project Lead of the programme, Dr Simon Taylor reflected on his involvement in preparing the entrepreneurs for their pitches as well as lecturing them. Commenting on UKZN’s partnership with EDTEA which dates back to 2010, he shared plans for the programme next year and acknowledged lecturing staff at UNIZULU and MUT for their support and engagement in the project.

The 20 social entrepreneurs had 10 minutes to elevator pitch their enterprises and five minutes for a Q&A session before a panel of judges from fields in academia, banking and investment.

The winner was Ms Nompumelelo Gabashe, a MUT student, from Banophuma Trading Enterprise who shared her plans to develop a shopping centre closer to home; while the runner-up was Mr Sinenhlanhla Gazu, a UNIZULU student, who owns Digital World Marketing and Communications that provides affordable and convenient advertising services to his community. They each received cash prizes of R5 000 sponsored by Nedbank that also pledged to assist them with mentorship and financial literacy programmes.

In closing, Mr Patrick Mbokazi, Deputy Director for Capacity Building and Institutional Development at EDTEA thanked all those who made the event a success. Highlighting the value of such events in promoting social entrepreneurship and the social economy, he added: ‘As government, working hand in hand with you, we believe that social entrepreneurs have the potential to create job opportunities and alleviate the burden of youth unemployment.’

The event was facilitated by Mr Themba Ngwaba, founder of a number of co-operatives, who graduated from the programme in 2018.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photographs: Albert Hirasen

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UKZN Alumna Studies Political Science and French Abroad

UKZN Alumna Studies Political Science and French Abroad
UKZN alumna Ms Sibusisiwe Mngadi enjoying the sights and sounds of France.Click here for isiZulu version

If you fancy brushing up on your French, there’s no better place than France! UKZN alumna Ms Sibusisiwe Mngadi spent nine months at the Université de Tours as part of the Erasmus+ Mobility Scholarship.

Born in Esikhawini, a small township near Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal, Mngadi holds a BA in International Studies (majoring in Political Science and French) from UKZN.

‘I was fortunate to be chosen to be part of an exchange programme to France that allowed me to improve my French and gain a broader understanding of politics,’ she said.

The medium of instruction was mostly French; however, some classes were taught in English. Mngadi attended her French classes in French and her Political Science ones in English. ‘The first three months were challenging because I was trying to adapt to my new surroundings, new people, the language, and the courses, but with help from the staff and students I got used to the way of life,’ she said.

‘My fondest memory is being able to use my French with local students and have a basic conversation and express myself because French is not my mother language, so expression and pronunciation are sometimes a challenge.’

Mngadi is currently reading for her honours in French, and looks forwards to a career in politics ‘where I can use the skills I gained from this programme in France. I gained a lot during this programme and the international exposure really motivated me to work hard for opportunities like this and opened my mind to many possibilities.’

While she loved the beautiful town of Tours with its ‘wonderful architecture’ and beautiful castles with a rich history, she managed to get in a spot of sightseeing between attending lectures. ‘One of my hobbies is travelling and during my stay, I visited Paris and got to see the Eiffel Tower which was so amazing and huge in person. I also visited Bordeaux, Toulouse, Le Mans and other beautiful places. I really enjoyed my time and I’m forever grateful for the opportunity and all the wonderful people I met from all parts of the world as well as the shared memories.’

Mngadi acknowledged her family for helping her achieve her goals. ‘I’m grateful for the support that I received from my family - they helped me a lot through this journey and supported me throughout my stay.’

Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

Photographs: Supplied

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UKZN Student Immerses Herself in French Culture

UKZN Student Immerses Herself in French Culture
Miss Solam Nande Gcobo at Paris’s iconic museum, La Louvre.

Miss Solam Nande Gcobo spent four months at the Université de Tours in France as part of the Erasmus+ Mobility Scholarship.

The 22-year-old is completing her BA Honours in International Relations (majoring in French) at UKZN. While the medium of instruction for her main course was English, her background in French allowed her to tackle her French classes with aplomb. ‘I picked up the lingo without any hassles as I was already majoring in French at UKZN,’ she said.

Gcobo’s fondest memory of her time abroad is meeting new people and cultures. ‘I was fortunate enough to be part of and experience the amazing culture,’ she said.

Her plans for the future include getting more qualifications under her belt, becoming an expert in international relations and starting a company that includes a stable of private political analysts.

Born in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape, Gcobo said her close family ties contributed to her academic success and drive. ‘I was raised in a very warm home with my mom, grandmother, and siblings. Growing up, I loved staying indoors and marking some homework activities for my mother, Miss Nosithembele Colleen Gcobo, a primary school teacher.’

She had these words of advice for fellow UKZN students: ‘Life is all about change and evolving as a person. Your comfort zone can only take you that far. Don’t be afraid to change and evolve.’

Gcobo is preparing for her next trip to France as part of her honours programme. One thing’s for sure, she is going places!

Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

Photograph: Supplied

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New Study Investigates Link Between Vaginal, Gastro Tract Infections and Premature Birth

New Study Investigates Link Between Vaginal, Gastro Tract Infections and Premature Birth
Principal investigators of the Baby U study, Professors Thumbi Ndung’u (left), and Doug S Kwon.

The HIV Pathogenesis Programme (HPP) at UKZN launched a new study, the Baby U Study on 5 September. Based at the FRESH Clinic in Umlazi, it focuses on the role of vaginal and gastrointestinal tract microbiota in preterm birth (PTB), a common public health challenge.

A cohort of pregnant South African women will be followed up with a longitudinal collection of genital and gastrointestinal tract samples for assessment of the vaginal and gut microbiome from early in the second trimester of their pregnancy until nine months postpartum. The aim is to characterise the associations between microbial communities and PTB. In addition, peripartum alterations in vaginal and gastrointestinal (rectal) microbial communities will be assessed with postpartum follow up for nine months. The study will also have an educational component aimed at empowering participants to provide a solid foundation for their child’s development.

This dual strategy will be used to support the women in the community while also advancing the understanding of important biological contributors of PTB in an African population.

The Baby U study is a collaboration between the HPP and the Ragon Institute of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard. Professors Thumbi Ndung’u, BVM, PhD, HPP Scientific Director and Doug S. Kwon, MD, PhD from the Ragon Institute are the principal investigators.

Words: Mary Vanderstok and Lihle Sosibo

Photographs: Supplied

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Architecture Academic Part of Spatial Inequality Dialogue

Architecture Academic Part of Spatial Inequality Dialogue
Dr Viloshin Govender.Click here for isiZulu version

Dr Viloshin Govender, a lecturer in Architecture at the School of Built Environment and Development Studies, has organised and participated in the KwaZulu-Natal branch of the South African Institute of Architects’ (SAIA KZN) Spatial Inequality Dialogue Series. The dialogue explores how tactical urbanism can empower marginalised communities and the parallels between economic marginalisation and spatial inequality.

In his role as SAIA KZN education chairperson, Govender introduces students to the broader goals in the field, offering them the opportunity to interact with practising architects.

‘After the July 2021 riots and flooding that affected Durban, we decided that the institute needs to create awareness to unpack the social injustices and, in some cases, ecological factors that led to these events. We planned a series of talks with invited panellists to participate in dialogue to highlight these issues and enable people to share knowledge in creating solutions for spatial injustice and environmental threats,’ said Govender.

The talks cover topics such as gender equality, urban design, transport, informality, education, and health. ‘This allows us to take a deeper look at the July unrest to understand the root causes. Some of the invited panellists are members of informal communities, and the marginalised whose voices are often not heard in society; by doing this we aim for a bottom-up approach to unpack social issues.

‘Spatial inequality looks at the injustices of the past. Durban was developed based on apartheid planning principles, so we are examining ways to restore justice and create an inclusive city. We look at the “right to the city” theory, which considers how spatial divisions were set and who the city belongs to,’ added Govender.

‘We see developments being built in areas like Ballito and uMhlanga, but rarely are they in township areas. That’s inequality. We are looking for ways to change the mindset of stakeholders and architects to start developing these areas to create socio-economic opportunities for those living there. This also involves an examination of the parallels between economic marginalisation and spatial inequality,’ he explained.

Developing informal areas has long been debated in the field of architecture.

‘Informal settlements are seen as illegal; however, when government intervenes, people are often relocated to areas that are inconvenient for them and far from their places of work. We are asking architects and governments to take these people’s opinions, needs and wants into account in the design process by using a bottom-up approach to plan and design, to co-create and share knowledge,’ said Govender.

He is currently teaching architectural design and theory at postgraduate level and supervising final-year masters and honours students. His research focuses on working with informal settlements and disadvantaged communities, applying a novel bottom-up methodological approach, including drone mapping, to co-produce knowledge with residents and create sustainable urban neighbourhoods.

Govender collaborates with many local non-governmental organisations and municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal and is part of the Isulabantu project team (community-led informal settlement upgrading for self-reliance) and the Latitude global network forum.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied

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UKZN Academic Part of Handbook on Early Childhood Education in South Africa

UKZN Academic Part of Handbook on Early Childhood Education in South Africa
Dr Makie Kortjass and her new book.Click here for isiZulu version

Dr Makie Kortjass, a senior lecturer in the School of Education, was part of a recent launch of the book, Curriculum Pedagogy and Assessment: A Handbook on Early Childhood Education in South Africa with Professor Hasina Ebrahim, and Drs Colwyn Deborah Martin, and Mary Clasquin-Johnson.

The book is a robust presentation of the tenets of Africanisation of education in South Africa. It introduces the concept of the “thinking teacher” that enables teacher agency for a transformative future that reflects the democratic South Africa. It aims to foster knowledge and understanding of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment relevant to local and international readers interested in Early Childhood Education.

As a teacher educator, Kortjass wanted to contribute to high-quality early childhood education.

‘A focus on early childhood development has incremental long-term benefits. The core focus is the interactional nature of the playing technique within the early childhood teaching and learning landscape. The other factor is the universality of ethnomathematics that affirms the space occupied by mathematics in day-to-day functioning. In one of the chapters, that I authored, the book offers a different perspective on how we begin to change the narrative of the challenge we have with mathematics,’ explained Kortjass.

She added that the book is relevant to teacher educators, teachers and student teachers in the Early Childhood Education sector due to its alignment with the South African National Curriculum Framework and related policies and guidelines. ‘It also aims to develop and inculcate the reflexive abilities that maintain and sustain developmental skills. This contributes to teachers and students becoming more competent, and increases their capabilities.’

Kortjass noted that, ‘the book begins to define early childhood education as a professional field in South Africa by creating a knowledge base that will come to define the content and contours of this exciting area of study. It was valuable to collaborate with other teacher educators in the field on how we could connect theory to policy to practice.’

The book is available as a hardcopy and e-book via https://shop.pearson.co.za/catalogsearch/result/?q=9781485716853.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Supplied

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AORC Webinar Showcases Sectoral Ombudsman

AORC Webinar Showcases Sectoral Ombudsman
Participants in the AORC Webinar, from left, (top) Mr Vusumzi Magwebu, Honorable Vusumuzi Masondo, Honourable Helena Nachtergaele, and (bottom from left) Honourable Oswald Reddy, Ms Marion Adonis and Mr Franky Lwelela.

Showcasing Sectoral Ombudsman (Municipal, Police, and Military Ombudsman) was the title of a webinar hosted by UKZN and the African Ombudsman Research Centre (AORC) on 22 August, which focused on the legal basis and mandate of sectoral ombudsman.

The guest speakers included Honorable Helena Nachtergaele (Ombudswoman of the City of Ghent), Honorable Vusumuzi Ramakala Masondo (Military Ombudsman of the Republic of South Africa) and the Western Cape Police Ombudsman, Honorable Major General Oswald Reddy.

Using the City of Ghent in Belgium as an example, Honorable Nachtergaele noted that some countries have established sector-specific Ombudsman to deal with issues relating to different sectors. The regional Ombudsman can also act as a local Ombudsman who attends to complaints in relation to city administration such as those involving the local police and housing.

‘In this day and age where everything is digital, it is very important that people can visit us physically. We open our doors every month for the federal and pensioners Ombudsman to hold consultations.’

Honorable Masondo outlined the objectives of the Military Ombud Act and said that his office aims to ensure that complaints are resolved fairly and expeditiously.

‘The Military Ombudsman Office investigates complaints about the manner in which the conditions of service of current or former members have been administered and also investigates public complaints about the official conduct of members of the force,’ he explained. He added that the legislation is under review to address the challenges it faces and enhance its effectiveness and efficiency.

Honorable Major General Reddy said, ‘Any person on behalf of another person, any member of the provincial parliament, department or civil society organisation can complain in the prescribed manner regarding the inefficiency of the police or a breakdown in relations between the police and a community.’ He noted that the Ombudsman follows the processes set out in the legislation.

During the question and answer session, the speakers provided further information on how their offices protect the rights of citizens.

Watch the webinar at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shJmeGHS3JQ.

Words: Samukelisiwe Cele

Image: Supplied

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Students Showcase Their Legal Skills at Moot Court Competition

Students Showcase Their Legal Skills at Moot Court Competition
Finalists of the Moot Court competition, from left, Mr Roberto Brown, Ms Mbalenhle Khumalo, Ms Sandisile Hlongwane and Mr Kwandile Mathebula.

Second- and third-year Law students showcased their practical legal skills at the Black Lawyers Association Student Chapter’s (BLAsc) inaugural Moot Court Competition on the Howard College campus. The student-led initiative championed by the College of Law and Management Studies Public Relations Unit was a hybrid event attended by participants and judges in person and online by other guests.

Finalists Mr Roberto Brown and Mr Kwandile Mathebula representing the appellant and Ms Sandisile Hlongwane and Ms Mbalenhle Khumalo representing the respondent argued a hypothetical labour law scenario before judges: Ms Aandhia Panday (Candidate Attorney at Austen Smith Inc.), Mr Noveni Kubayi (Black Lawyers Association Treasurer General) and School of Law academic Ms Zamankwali Njobe.

‘The aim of this competition is to equip students with skills before they go for the moots in their fourth year. We understand that when you do something for the first time and in your final-year, it is challenging,’ said Ms Nompendulo Cele who gave the vote of thanks on behalf of the BLAsc.

The judges were impressed by the students’ arguments. 

‘Some of the questions we asked were difficult, but we wanted to know if they can think on their feet,’ said Kubayi.

Third-year students Mathebula and Brown were thrilled to be pronounced the winners. Brown said that, while the competition was tough, it was an insightful experience for a student who had only completed half of their theoretical law learning.

‘Winning the competition opens the way to an exciting career path. Law is all about pushing oneself beyond the limits. Being a finalist and a winner motivates me to believe in my capabilities,’ he added.

Mathebula said: ‘It is an honour and privilege to be crowned moot champions for 2022. It was a fruitful journey that broadened my knowledge of the law in general and the specific law underlying the disputed claim.’

Awards and certificates were handed over to the winners and participants of the Moot Court competitions at the end of the event.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo and Samukelisiwe Cele

Photograph: Thandiwe Jumo

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Webinar Delves into KZN Flood Disaster Management

Webinar Delves into KZN Flood Disaster Management
The Durban Research Action Partnership and eThekwini Municipality’s Municipal Institute of Learning hosted a webinar on the response to the KwaZulu-Natal floods.

The Durban Research Action Partnership (D’RAP) and eThekwini Municipality’s (EM) Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE) hosted a webinar where the municipality’s Disaster Management Unit spoke about its response to the severe floods experienced in KwaZulu-Natal in April 2022 while UKZN’s Professor Catherine Sutherland presented a research perspective on the social impact of the floods.

The webinar was attended by more than 160 participants from a wide range of institutes, organisations and communities who engaged on the damage caused by the floods, the contributing factors, response, challenges, plans for future disasters and the opportunities for collaboration.

Stakeholders interested in preventing and managing such events raised concerns that the D’RAP and MILE teams noted for reporting to EM.

The D’RAP is a joint initiative between UKZN and EM that was launched in 2011 to produce actionable research on biodiversity, climate, and people.

Senior Co-ordinator at EM Disaster Management and Emergency Control Mr Malcolm Canham discussed the classification of a disaster, what disaster management is, and the legislative background underpinning his unit’s response to disasters.

He described a disaster as a progressive, sudden, widespread or localised natural or human-made incident that impacts on existing hazards and could cause or threaten to cause death, injury, disease, or damage to property or infrastructure and the environment. This disrupts community life and systems, particularly in vulnerable areas.

Disasters occur when the impact is of such a magnitude that those affected are unable to cope with its effects using their own resources, as was the case in Durban, which resulted in the declaration of a state of disaster.

‘Disaster management is a continuous, integrated, multisectoral, multidisciplinary process of risk identification and risk reduction that sets up measures aimed at preventing or reducing the risks of disasters; preparedness is important,’ said Canham.

The framework guiding the unit’s work focuses on integrated institutional arrangements, risk assessments, risk reduction, and response and recovery.

Canham presented statistics on the number of people affected by the floods, including those missing who have yet to be found as search and rescue efforts are ongoing. He presented images depicting the damage and provided updates on relief measures, water supply and infrastructure repairs, and the financial considerations.

Discussions centred on construction and infrastructure that disrupt floodplains and wetlands, with the adage of disasters causing development and development causing disasters cited, and Canham commenting that more thought needs to be given to development in the South Durban basin in particular.

Sutherland, from UKZN’s School of Built Environment and Development Studies addressed the social dimensions of the April 2022 floods as well as those in April 2019.

She noted that, apart from the extensive loss of life and damage to housing, there was also loss of land, which is a vital resource for people, particularly those in informal settlements.

Through the D’RAP, Sutherland works in the Quarry Road West informal settlement where invasive alien plant and solid waste clearing, reporting of sewer leaks and industrial pollution, the establishment of an Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities (EPIC) programme and a Flood Early Warning System, as well as community training and employment opportunities have contributed to the community’s resilience.

‘This was a major social disruption to the everyday life of citizens, across the city,’ said Sutherland. ‘Despite the high volume of rainfall, it should not have caused this level of damage. Risk is the product of the hazard and the vulnerability of the context in which it occurs, and we need to draw on citizens’ experiential knowledge to inform adaptation.’

Sutherland described the lessons emerging from working with this community through disasters, noting that it is essential to collaborate with civil society, and to co-produce knowledge with various actors and add a social component to systems.

She highlighted the need to build geographic knowledge and literacy and said that if a disaster response is not socially and environmentally transformative, communities’ capabilities and options after these events are reduced.

Sutherland said that trauma counselling after the floods was vital and that disaster management should learn from internal community adaptation practices.

‘We need to cultivate state-citizen relationships, work across silos, build governance platforms, work at the local scale, and share knowledge. Instead of demanding too much resilience from people, we need to work collaboratively to do better,’ she said.

Dr Sean O’Donoghue, Senior Manager of the Climate Change Adaptation Branch at EM, said that the action research led by Sutherland aligns with strategies promoted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, including community-based research and committed municipal officials.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Image: Supplied

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BIO Africa Convention

BIO Africa Convention
Scenes from the BIO Africa Convention held in Durban.

The fifth annual BIO Africa Convention themed Africa Resilient: Life Sciences Innovation for Achieving Health and Food Security, held from 27 to 31 August brought together scientists, entrepreneurs, business leaders and policy-makers.

The convention, which is Africa’s biggest biotechnology event is hosted by Africa Bio in partnership with the Department of Science and Innovation, with the national Technology Innovation Agency as another funding partner. It was launched more than six years ago in partnership with the international Biotechnology Innovation Organisation (BIO). Other partners include the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), Emory University and the Innovation Hub (Gauteng).

The founding theme, which continues to be the guiding light of this movement, is leveraging biotechnology and life sciences to mobilise African innovation to achieve health and food security. The 2022 Convention was held at Durban’s ICC, the South African Sugar Association at Mount Edgecombe and UKZN’s Howard College campus in partnership with UKZN, Aspen, Amgen and other partners.

BIO International’s CEO Dr Michelle McMurry-Heath emphasised the importance of collaboration and the combination of resources and expertise to improve people’s lives, as ‘that’s what science is all about.’

She said that health, environmental and agricultural insecurities are growing and ‘COVID really highlighted what too many of us already knew - the world needs new answers to its problems.

‘The threat of infectious diseases is increasing and chronic diseases that continue to plague us are often overlooked. Food insecurity is leading to greater hunger and climate change is a leading cause. Many of these life- and culture-threatening crises are human made. We thus need a people-driven solution, and that is biotechnology.’

McMurry-Heath encouraged diverse and inclusive partnerships to develop ideas; efficient regulatory systems and strong intellectual property (IP) laws as well as advocacy for science as ‘investment in science pays off.’

President of AfricaBio Dr Nhlanhla Msomi commented that the number of students and startups at the convention augurs well for the future. ‘Startups and students are the agents that will give meaning to the goals that we have set ourselves of indigenous or local innovation to support development.’

Msomi and Dr Giorgio Roscigno, co-founder of the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) which developed the Gene Expert, announced the Durban Declaration which will focus on African product partnership development. It is expected to be launched later this year in partnership with the Africa CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) and UKZN, among a host of other partners on the continent.

Africa CDC Director Dr Ahmed Ouma said, ‘When Africa comes together, a lot of good things happen.’ He reflected on lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic and the many disease threats and health emergencies responded to on the African continent. ‘When a crisis is big, like the pandemic, Africa is on its own… When a crisis is smaller, more local and not a global priority, Africa still is on its own.’

He said that he hoped that discussions at the convention aligned with Africa’s vision as a continent. ‘One key African vision is Agenda 2063 - the Africa we want. It is a blueprint for this continent’s plan of transforming Africa into a global powerhouse. We can, because the ingredients are there.’

Addressing the Convention virtually from Indonesia, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Dr Blade Nzimande underscored the importance of the bio-economy. ‘Across the world, the concept of a bio-economy is being embraced as a sustainable model that brings together all commercial activity surrounding the use of renewable biological resources such as crops, forests, animals and micro-organisms, agricultural waste and residual materials. Women are central in the management of these resources.

‘This is being done with a view to addressing challenges related to food security, health, biodiversity and environmental protection, energy and industrial processes. It is therefore no exaggeration to state that the very survival of humanity depends on how we manage the earth’s resources.’

Former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka announced the recipients of the Dr Konji Sebati Fellowships. She said that the Fellowships ensure that the late diplomat and medical doctor lives on through the recipients of the awards which celebrate health innovation female leaders of tomorrow.

Speaking at a gala dinner, Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Mr Buti Manamela said African governments should make well thought-out and bold decisions which include the development of evidence-based bio-economic policies. ‘Bio-economic policies must be informed by credible scientific research - not the self-serving agenda of the domestic or foreign elite. Consistent with this understanding, African governments will also have to make deliberate and targeted investments in research and innovation with an emphasis on the development of young people and women scientists and researchers.’

One of the highlights of the convention was the signing of an MOU between the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) and the University of Venda.

The Convention included a packed menu of tracks including Healthcare innovation in the age of Pandemics; Strategic Capital Mobilisation and Market Access; Food Security (AgriBio); IK-Based Bio-Innovations; Entrepreneurship and Start-Ups; Cannabis Industrialisation and Building Social Capital as well as a bio entrepreneurship boot camp for startups.

Director of UKZN InQubate Ms Suvina Singh was a member of a panel on strategic support mechanisms. She said that the main drivers to create enabling environments to support entrepreneurship include an IP policy, infrastructure, and champions/ambassadors. She underscored the need to approach technology transfer offices (in university settings) early to ward off any potential issues.

Dean of Research in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science Professor Neil Koorbanally facilitated a session entitled Win-Win North-South Collaborations through a North former Start Up: New England Biolabs: How strong core values fueled success from Start-up to multinational.

Visit the BIO Africa YouTube channel to view the plenary sessions and tracks.

Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

Photographs: Albert Hirasen

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UKZN InQubate Hosts Workshop on Intellectual Property and Music

UKZN InQubate Hosts Workshop on Intellectual Property and Music
Black Blondy and Dr Naresh Veeren take centre stage at the IP meets music workshop.

UKZN’s Innovation Office, InQubate partnered with Spoor & Fisher and the Recording Industry of South Africa (RISA) to host a workshop on Intellectual Property (IP) and music.

The workshop aimed to educate aspiring musicians on the various ways IP can be used to protect their art as a business.

In his welcome address, Dr Ismail Mahomed, Director of UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) commented on the value of online media for artists to showcase their work - during and post the COVID-19 pandemic - and the challenges associated with monetising the space.

Noting that there are many issues surrounding IP and regulations, he said he hoped the event would be a catalyst for future conversations with student artists: ‘As the Centre of Creative Arts and the School of the Arts, we welcome initiatives such as these because whilst we know that an incredible amount of teaching happens around the creativity, technique and knowledge of becoming a good artist, one can learn from the experience of those in the industry.

‘This workshop is important in equipping you with the knowledge, skills, resources and networks that you will require to build a sustainable livelihood for yourselves when you start practicing as musicians.’

UKZN alumnus and partner at Spoor & Fisher Attorneys, Ms Zama Buthelezi described IP as creations of the mind and highlighted its importance in stopping others from copying the original work as well as facilitating financial gain. Focusing on trademarks as a distinctive brand, Buthelezi noted that they can be used to protect stage or band names and encouraged students to register a trademark with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC).

Turning to copyright, she said that original literary, artistic, musical, sound and cinematographic works can be protected, giving the owner and/or author exclusive rights while the owner and/or author is still alive and 50 years after their death, after which it becomes part of the public domain. Copyright for most works is secured automatically upon creation of the work by displaying the words “copyright” or “copyright reserved” or using the internationally recognised copyright symbol © followed by your name and the year however, the copyright for cinematography must be registered with the Registrar for Copyright.

Ms Nothando Migogo co-founder of Sosela and executive director of the 1020 Cartel and 1020 Management, a Johannesburg-based record label and music agency, presented a breakdown of the legal aspects of the music industry.

She focused on the importance of understanding how to approach music as a business and examined the music industry as an ecosystem. ‘The first point of this ecosystem is you as the creator, and the end point is getting your music to the user which includes digital platforms, broadcasters, film and adverts, live performances and brand collaborations. Everything that happens in-between is the music industry and you need that ecosystem to work effectively for you to earn money.’

Migogo highlighted the third part of the ecosystem as the distributor (digital), and the fourth as ‘the Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) who deliver the money that comes from mass consumption of your music.’ Examples of the latter include the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) which deals with public performance of music; the Composers, Authors and Publishers Association (CAPASSO) that handles mass reproduction; and the South African Music Performance Rights Association (SAMPRA) which deals with the mass public performance of the master.

The fifth structure is support structures and professions such as lawyers, managers, and financial and tax advisors. Migogo noted the lack of unions in South Africa to protect artists’ rights, remuneration and social security. The sixth part of the ecosystem is legislation and regulation of the industry. A Copyright Act that will recognise streaming and digital exploitation is currently in the pipeline.

Two types of copyright apply to a song, namely the composition owned by the creator, and the master owned by whoever paid for studio time, eg the recording label or the owner of the studio.

‘You sign on to a music publisher who represents you as the composer but takes a share of the composition to market it to different users (brands, movies, advertisers, etc.) which can result in a sync deal. There is a separate sync license for the composition and the master, which can earn a lot of money for an artist,’ said Migogo.

Urging artists to think of their brand long-term she advised them to be selective of who and what they associate themselves with and highlighted the concept of moral rights (linked to copyright) which gives the artist the right to choose what his/her brand is associated with.

UKZN alumnus and musician, Dr Naresh Veeren presented an insightful overview of the realities of being an artist. He implored student artists to nurture their mind and bodies before choosing this career and noted the importance of discipline and building a strong network early on.

Mrs Suvina Singh, Director of Intellectual Property and Commercialisation at UKZN InQubate summarised the Innovation Office’s portfolio which includes: protection of intellectual property and commercialisation of research output by academics and students (technology transfer); consultancy - identifying opportunities for academics to engage with industry outside of traditional research; and the student entrepreneurship skills programme - ENSPIRE.

She noted that the knowledge shared in the workshop would assist students to position themselves as emerging artists in the music industry, and thanked the School of the Arts, the Centre for Creative Arts, and the speakers for an intriguing workshop.

The participants were treated to a performance by UKZN student and artist Black Blondy and Veeren, as well as a concert to launch the Loveuations EP.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photograph: Supplied

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