Top Physicists Get Down to Business in Durban Schools

Top Physicists Get Down to Business in Durban Schools
Nobel Symposium physicists interact with learners from Phembisizwe High School and Mayville Secondary School.

It is not every day that the world’s leading physicists come to Durban, but such was the case recently when UKZN hosted the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) leg of the 183rd Nobel Symposium in Physics Public Outreach programme.

Under the auspices of the Nobel Foundation, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study, it was the first time that this prestigious Nobel Symposium has come to Africa.

Two township schools in Durban, Phembisizwe High School in Ntuzuma and Mayville Secondary School benefitted from in-person visits from Professors Erik Aurell (Sweden), Mogens Hogh Jensen (Denmark), Armita Nourmohammad (USA), Luca Gammaitoni (Italy) and Angelo Vulpiani (Italy).

The professors spoke of their personal journeys as scientists and their areas of expertise.

On hand to welcome Aurell and Gammaitoni to Phembisizwe High School was Mr Kwanele Mthembu who introduced his guests to the 40 Grade 10 and 11 learners who were eagerly awaiting their arrival. While Gammaitonni shared the secrets of physics and the universe using a capful of Durban beach sand to illustrate his message, Aurell tackled the elusive nature of quantum physics. Learners were kept on their toes but responded with ‘interesting and challenging questions,’ said Aurell. The session concluded with a lively science show given by STEC@UKZN Science Centre interns, Mr Samkele Njiva and Mr Thembelani Khumalo.

At Mayville Secondary school, Jensen, Vulpiani and Nourmohammad shared their own experiences as physicists in the world of Science. UKZN’s famous “Dr T” (Dr Tanja Reinhardt, Co-ordinator of UKZN’s Science Centre), pulled out all the stops for her Science Show, exciting both the learners and the visiting researchers! This visit was conducted in partnership with the Umkhumbane Schools project represented by Ms Precious Ngcobo and Mr Siphila Mtshali.

‘This was such a wonderful event that was fun, informative, and inspiring for our learners,’ said Umkhumbane Schools project Director, Ms Martha Bishai. ‘Thank you for making this opportunity for learning and exposure possible.

‘It was truly an awesome experience for myself and my team at UKZN,’ said Reinhardt. ‘Having the opportunity to meet and talk to world class scientists will hopefully inspire these learners to study for a career in Science once they finish school.’

‘This visit was illuminating in all kinds of respects,’ said Gammaitoni. ‘It was a real pleasure to share our knowledge and interact with these learners, whose circumstances mean that studying is often a luxury.’

Words: Sally Frost

Photographs: Supplied


author : .
author email : .

UKZN Academics Drive Legal Development

UKZN Academics Drive Legal Development
A filed image of a mother and her child.

- By Professor Donrich Thaldar

In March of 2022, the High Court, in the case of Ex Parte JCR, introduced a new requirement for surrogacy applications: the psychological evaluation of the existing children of the parties to a surrogate motherhood agreement.

There were several serious concerns about this new requirement, as it results in children exercising veto power over parents’ reproductive decisions.

The consequences of this expansion of “children’s rights” could be dramatic for families generally. As a result, a group of seven academics from the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Law authored a joint letter to Judge Ledwaba, the acting Judge President of the Gauteng High Court on 7 April 2022, requesting him to have the new requirement reconsidered.

Considering the letter from the UKZN academics, and a similar letter from academics at the University of South Africa, the acting Judge President convened a sitting of a full court - three judges - to consider the validity of the new requirement. Notably, this was not an appeal to Ex Parte JCR; this was a special sitting of the High Court to specifically consider whether the new requirement was valid. This was an exceptional step, which is rarely taken by any Judge President.

The academics who authored the UKZN letter were admitted as amici curiae (friends of the court) and jointly filed comprehensive written submissions which were orally argued before the court by Professor Donrich Thaldar and Dr Bonginkosi Shozi at a hearing on 12 September 2022. In these submissions, the UKZN academics contended that the new requirement was unconstitutional because (i) it was not in the best interests of the child; and (ii) it infringed the rights of the commissioning parents. In October 2022, the full court handed down its judgment. It aligned itself with the submissions made by the UKZN academics and invalidated the new requirement laid down in Ex Parte JCR.

The full court held that it would not be in the best interests of children of prospective surrogate mothers, or commissioning parents, for the law to require they undergo a psychological assessment as a general rule. Rather, if the circumstances of a particular case render such assessment necessary, only then should any assessment of children of prospective surrogate mothers or commissioning parents be permitted.

In conclusion, as a result of the actions taken by the UKZN academics, it is no longer legally required for the existing children of the parties to a surrogate motherhood agreement to be psychologically evaluated.

This is an excellent example of how UKZN academics are involved in the community, and how they have taken an initiative to address problems constructively and effectively.

*Professor Donrich Thaldar is a full professor in the School of Law where he chairs the Health Law and Ethics Research Interest Group.

Image: Shutterstock


author : .
author email : .

UKZN Student Elected SAMSA President

UKZN Student Elected SAMSA President
Ms Maryam Mahomed, SAMSA national President.Click here for isiZulu version

Ms Maryam Mahomed, third-year Medical student, has been appointed as the President of the South African Medical Students Association (SAMSA), nationally.

SAMSA is a body for Medical students from across the country aimed at making a difference in communities through professional medical development and community outreach initiatives.

Mahomed, who joined SAMSA in 2020 upon starting her Medical degree, said she was inspired to be part of this initiative by its members who encompassed the ‘principles of ardour and benevolence’ which she values.

Having previously occupied the positions of Regional President and National Vice-Chair, she highlighted some of the projects SAMSA has been involved in, including establishing a South African Bone Marrow Donor Station at UKZN’s Medical School; holding professional development workshops titled: Business and Medicine: A Duality Workshop and The Process of Specialisation in South Africa; being part of the Comrades Marathon Medical Response Team; fundraising for the Shavathon Cancer Campaign; and conducting a health screening day at the Masihambisane Clinic in Cato Manor, Durban.

As the national President, she plans to facilitate the collection of rape “comfort handbags” filled with hygienic and sanitary products necessary for victims of sexual assault as part of the Jes Foord Foundation; expand the South African Bone Marrow Donor Stations in university campuses and mobile screening programmes nationally; establish a sustainable blood donor programme with the South African National Blood Services; create a structured peer education tutor programme on campus; and bring about social networking events such as academic liaison, research networking and interprofessional development.

Mahomed said she was honoured and humbled to be elected to this role, thanking the SAMSA 2022 executive team as well as her family for their support. ‘It’s not every day that we are afforded the privilege of addressing the grievances within our systems. For me, national presidency is an opportunity to not only serve our communities, but to also serve my peers who have entrusted me with such a role. I hope that through this position, I can serve with an attitude of student leadership and help carve avenues through which my colleagues can practice the same virtues.’

Her mother, Mrs Sultana Mahomed, a special needs educator and father, Mr Swaleh Mahomed, an attorney, both agreed that the role of national President was made for her.

Said Sultana: ‘Maryam has always put the interest of others first, serving for the betterment and wellbeing of our community,’ while Swaleh remarked: ‘Maryam has all the hallmarks of a humble, sincere and dedicated individual that will do the role justice.’

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photograph: Supplied


author : .
author email : .

Law Academic Runner-Up in National Three Minute Thesis Competition

Law Academic Runner-Up in National Three Minute Thesis Competition
Ms Suhayfa Bhamjee.

School of Law Senior lecturer, Ms Suhayfa Bhamjee’s excellent ability of effectively explaining her PhD research in three minutes, earned her second place at the national Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

The competition was hosted by the University of Free State and saw 18 PhD participants - varying across the different disciplines - from nine South African universities compete for top honours. These competitors were selected following heats at the regional rounds of the competition hosted by their respective universities.

Titled: Murder or Mercy? End-of-Life Decision Making and a Patient’s Right to Choose Euthanasia, Bhamjee’s presentation was based on her PhD thesis: Death and Dying in aConstitutional Democracy - An Analysis of the Criminal Law and a Call for Law Reform, which won her the UKZN Three-Minute Thesis Competition and also received the People’s Choice Award. At this leg of the competition, Mr Sylvester Mukono placed second at the UKZN heat. He also represented UKZN at the national competition. His presentation was titled: Scourging Slime and was based on his thesis: Biofilm Control in Water Supply Pipeline Systems.

Speaking on her achievement, Bhamjee said summarising her research and explaining a complicated legal concept in layman’s terms was no easy feat, but is glad to have risen to the challenge.

‘The competition made me think about how I communicate and transmit ideas to an audience that is wider than the legal fraternity. Lawyers are prone to being long-winded and verbose, so it felt quite against the rules of nature to sum up an entire PhD thesis in just three minutes. To fight every instinct to say dolus and volenti made me feel like a Jedi without a lightsaber!’ she said.

Bhamjee revealed that her research findings include a parliament-ready piece of legislation which is expected to be presented to the relevant minister for consideration in due course.

‘My thesis makes an argument for the decriminalisation of voluntary active euthanasia (VAE). I do this by looking at the doctrinal principles which are the foundations of criminal law and consider these principles in the light of medical professional ethics, patients’ rights and the Constitution. Murder is the “unlawful, intentional causing of death of another person”,’ explained Bhamjee.

She added that the Law makes no liability distinction based on whether an accused person is a doctor, or whether the “victim” is a patient who has asked a doctor to help them die.

‘Assessing intention and causation in euthanasia scenarios proved that euthanasia intends to and does cause death. However, a further issue is unlawfulness. Contextually, an argument is that the patient voluntarily requested euthanasia, and so the doctor’s role ought to be excusable because the patient consented. The law is clear: consent is never a defence to murder. Fearing prosecution and punishment, doctors refuse to help.’

Bhamjee argues for the decriminalisation of VAE by focussing on consent, autonomy and dignity per medical practice, the law and the Constitution.

‘As it stands, VAE is murder, but it does not have to be. I confirmed that doctors must and do routinely assess patient-competence, and proved that the same can be done when a patient requests VAE. Shortened life expectancy does not mean lack of competence - except of course when VAE is discussed. “Do no harm” also means “do not force patients to suffer”. I recommend law reforms by providing a complete piece of legislation, ready for parliamentary approval. The Medically Assisted Death with Dignity Bill sets the parameters for regulated VAE, allowing patients the freedom to choose and doctors the freedom to help. It is my great hope that the law reforms I recommend will assist in making realisable the wishes of patients who seek a dignified death with medical assistance,’ she said.

The 3MT competition is an annual event, and UKZN will once again begin its preparations for the 2023 National Competition.

Bhamjee is encouraging those who qualify to enter. ‘I encourage all PhD candidates to pick up the mantle and give it a go. The 3MT was one of the most challenging, yet liberating and affirming experiences I have ever encountered on this PhD journey. Aside from personal growth, the support and encouragement from my friends, family and colleagues has been overwhelming. Not only for the 3MT, but throughout the duration of my PhD journey. I am so humbled by it all. UKZN really is a place that allows you to find your voice and grow as an academic,’ she said.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Supplied


author : .
author email : .

BAQONDE Summer School - Putting Indigenous Languages First

BAQONDE Summer School - Putting Indigenous Languages First
Learning in your language prioritised at the BAQONDE Summer School.

UKZN continues to collaborate with South African and European universities in promoting and facilitating the use of African languages as a medium of instruction in tertiary institutions through BAQONDE. BAQONDE (UKZN) is co-ordinated by Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa (Dean and Head of School: Arts), working together with Mr Khumbulani Mngadi (Director: University Language Planning and Development Office) as well as Dr Gugu Mazibuko (Academic Leader: African Languages, Linguistics and Development Modules).

Derived from Boosting the use of African languages in education: A Qualified Organised Nationwide Development strategy for South Africa, BAQONDE was established as an instrumental tool to effectively provide access to the use of African languages in Higher Education.

UKZN hosted the BAQONDE Summer School 2022 at Southern Sun: Maharani Hotel as an exchange training programme among universities. During the training sessions, various participants shared implementational strategies for teaching and learning. The Summer School was a week-long conference with different discussions and presentations from national and international speakers on multilingual pedagogies.

BAQONDE has been an ongoing project since 2020, allowing academics from various disciplines to engage, through training and learning, in implementing and promoting the use of indigenous languages in their classrooms. Research has underlined the challenges and negative impact on the use of non-indigenous languages and its impact on students’ performance throughout their education.

The focus on the last training session was looking at universities’ role in promoting African languages, among other goals. ‘How can we as universities support the use and promotion of African Languages in Higher Education, develop material and mobilise it into technology?’ asked Hlongwa.

UKZN is currently working with Ambani Africa, a culture-centric and future facing technology company that specialises in educational courses teaching and promoting African languages and culture. Commenting on collaborating with UKZN, Ms Mukundi Lambani, Ambani Africa founder and CEO said: ‘There’s existing coursework that is on text and we were tasked with figuring out how to take it from text and pass it in a digital way. It’s not just taking something and putting it online as it is, we are really thinking about how this course lives online.’

Dr Tshikani Mabasa from the Department of Sport, Art and Culture (DSAC) spoke of the importance of developing, promoting and preserving languages through technology. As part of preserving languages, DSAC has launched the first dictionary written in English, Afrikaans and Khoekhoegowab and Ntsu languages which was also presented to the delegates. Khoisan and sign language are among languages to be promoted and preserved. ‘To ensure that indigenous languages are developed and taken care of, DSAC offers bursaries to students interested in studying these languages,’ said Mabasa.

BAQONDE workshops enable lecturers from different disciplines to engage and share different strategies and experiences of teaching using indigenous languages. Commenting on the project, UKZN senior lecturer and Academic Leader for African Languages, Linguistics and Developmental Modules in the School of Arts, Dr Gugu Mazibuko said: ‘BAQONDE is mainly about advancing the use of African languages in institutions of higher learning which is in line with the UKZN Language Policy and implementation plan.’

The institutions involved in the project include UKZN, Rhodes University, North-West University, the University of the Western Cape and three European institutions of higher learning: Salamanca University, University of Groningen and Trinity College Dublin.

Hlongwa thanked all parties involved in the project throughout the summer school, adding that there is a possibility that it (the project) will be expanded.

Words: Zama Khoza

Photograph: Mfanafuthi Makhanya


author : .
author email : .

South and North Coast Alumni Lunch “Get-Togethers”

South and North Coast Alumni Lunch “Get-Togethers”
UKZN Alumni Relations staff members and alumni at the North and South Coast lunches.Click here for isiZulu version

UKZN’s series of alumni lunch “get-togethers”, which have been incredibly successful and popular, began in the eThekwini area and culminated in two successful events in the KwaZulu-Natal coastal districts of Pennington and Ballito during the month of October.

The hosting of 12 to 14 alumni at informal lunches in pleasant venues began in May with 14 events having taken place this year. Similar lunches will take place in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands as well as other regions in South Africa next year.

The format consists of a lunch, the opportunity to network with both fellow alumni/friends and members of the UKZN Alumni Relations team, and updates on the latest developments at the University.

The two latest lunches took place at venues in Pennington on the KZN South Coast and in Ballito on the North Coast, attracting alumni from across disciplines and ages. The Pennington event targeted graduates and friends of UKZN who reside in the area. Great comradery amongst the group led to animated discussion and plans for future interaction. The Ballito event was as vibrant; guests were delighted that fellow graduate and nonagenarian, Dr Albertina Luthuli was able to impart her experiences as a student and provide insight into her career.

It was of great interest for the Alumni Relations team to interact with these graduates and hear their views on their alma mater, as well as hear what career paths they had followed and their successes. From all these lunches, it is apparent that alumni wish to “give-back” and contribute towards the University, with many expressing an interest in mentoring UKZN students and recent graduates.

The feedback from participants has been hugely encouraging and provides support for the plan to
co-ordinate more smaller events with a limited number of guests.

UKZN’s Alumni Relations Office encourages all graduates wishing to participate in the gatherings to email: alumni@ukzn.ac.za.

Words: Finn Christensen

Photographs: Ms Nomcebo Msweli and Beira Alta (Ballito) staffer


author : .
author email : .

Physics Meets Jazz

Physics Meets Jazz
Professors Salim Washington and Mogens Hogh Jensen (left) explore the meeting point of jazz and physics. Also pictured is Umlazi jazz impresario and left-hand guitarist, Mr Bheki Khoza.

Can physics meet jazz? Yes, say the experts, in the principle of complementarity - on the one hand both are bound to rules, on the other both are free.

By pushing the boundaries of established rules, deviating from them and improvising, the physicists and jazz aficionados agreed that both disciplines have burst through into novel paradigms to create something new.

The Nobel in Africa Jazz Session recently brought together prominent jazz musicians and top physicists for interaction and dialogue at Morris Place in Glenwood. The evening was the culmination of the 183rd Nobel Symposium in Physics Outreach Programme, which saw the world’s leading physicists gather in Africa for the first time under the auspices of the Nobel Foundation, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study.

Featuring the much-loved Umlazi-based Samkelo Njinji Quartet and the Bheki Khoza Quartet, jazz lovers and physicists jived away the evening in a celebration of physics and music, and the magic that emerges when boundaries are pushed and improvisation reigns.

In a session of dialogue and conversation Professor Salim Washington, saxophonist, multi-reedsman, composer and jazz educator at the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music at UKZN spoke to the history of jazz, explaining that it is rooted in the African American tradition and has taken elements from both African and European music to create something new. ‘Whereas in European music descending cadences resolve the tension of the music on the tonic, in jazz the tension remains unresolved,’ said Washington. ‘Western music is like the American dream - girl meets boy, falls in love and goes happily into the sunset. In jazz, [the] boy takes your girl …’

Representing the physicists, Professor Mogens Hogh Jensen - former President of the Royal Danish Academy of Science and Letters and Professor of Complex Systems and Biophysics at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen - spoke to the area of traditional deterministic physics versus quantum mechanics. ‘Classical physics is about determinism,’ said Jensen. ‘If you drop a stone it will fall and you know where it is. The great news about quantum mechanics is that it refuted deterministic physics. It showed that in certain situations there is uncertainty, indeterminism and complementarity. In quantum mechanics, you don’t know where the atom is or at which position it is in, you just have probabilities where you can find it.’

‘Complementarity was a term introduced by the Nobel physicist and quantum theorist Niels Bohr. It explains how you can know one property but at the same time you cannot know the other property. For example, you can know the velocity of a particle but you don’t know it’s position.’

So where do physics and jazz meet? Jensen and Washington agreed that the meeting point is in the deviation from old rules and the discovery of new territory. ‘Both jazz and physics have rules,’ said Jensen. ‘In physics one has to question the established rules and deviate in order to create new paradigms and go on to new horizons. Whilst in physics one has the paradigm shift into the realm of quantum mechanics, in the world of music, jazz has been the new pathfinder.’

For both disciplines, however, there is an important caveat: ‘You have to improvise over the rules. If it is only improvisation without rules, then you don’t get anywhere.’

The evening was the brainchild of UKZN physicist Professor Thomas Konrad who hosted the event and local jazz impresario Mr Dumi Ginindza from Jazz Xpressions, who organised the bands and the grand piano.

‘This was a special occasion which brought together scientists, musicians and artists. It was a new paradigm, and the result was electric!’ said Konrad.

Words: Sally Frost

Photographs: Albert Hirasen


author : .
author email : .

Liepaja University Staff Visit School of Education

Liepaja University Staff Visit School of Education
From left: Ms Sintija Leigute, Professor Angela James, Ms Bongekile Bhengu, and Professor Linda Pavitola.

UKZN’s School of Education recently hosted two staff members from Liepaja University in Latvia: Professor Linda Pavitola, Faculty of Pedagogy and Social Work Dean, and Ms Sintija Leigute, International Relations Senior Specialist.

Their visit was part of the Erasmus+ mobility exchange project which includedmeetings, teaching, a public lecture, conferences, UKZN events and excursions.

UKZN’s existing Memorandum of Understanding with Liepaja University (LiepU) allows staff and students at both institutions to study, undertake collaborative research, and participate in student exchange programmes. The agreement was initiated by Professor Angela James of the School of Education.

Pavitola lectured students on the bachelor, master’s, and doctoral study programmes on the work of various communities and educational research perspectives in the context of Latvia; sharing her experience of teacher training and its challenges in LiepU and Latvia.

Leigute, who is the manager of this project, introduced students and staff to Liepaja University and its internationalisation strategy, Erasmus+ exchange opportunities in co-operation with UKZN and LiepU for full-time studies.

Speaking about the visit, Pavitola said, ‘This exchange allows us to get acquainted with the work and functions of UKZN, particularly their teacher education study process and research. This is beneficial because it allows us to improve professional experience and competencies to promote intercultural dialogue and understand cultural and educational issues.’

Leigute added: ‘In the context of the modernisation and internationalisation strategies of our two institutions, we are searching for long-term co-operation points in the fields of teacher education, joint scientific research, guest lecturing, international projects and all kinds of knowledge exchange. We plan to foster a stronger partnership for student and staff exchange and the creation of a summer school.’

For Pavitola, it was her first visit to South Africa, citing the experience as enlightening. ‘We came together and found the key points for discussion related to inclusive education, early childhood education, the importance of teacher competence development and joint workshops on current issues, especially in the field of community engagement, music therapy methods in education and teacher education. We can learn a lot from each other and share experiences that open our thinking and expand the boundaries of knowledge and understanding.’

Leigute found it interesting to learn about the environment of the surrounding universities and schools, understand from what environment and conditions potential South African students come from and the cultural differences of students. She commended the School of Education for its exchange programme, academic environment and activities.

She added: ‘We have a lot of common fields of study that we can jointly develop internationally to make education more inclusive and accessible to South African students as well. I am really excited about the openness and hospitality of people and the colourfulness of the culture, which never ceases to surprise.’

The partnership will be strengthened with the submission of a joint Erasmus+ mobility project in 2023 in order to give LiepU doctoral students and academic staff more opportunities to visit regularly and co-operate more closely with various educational issues, as well as expand other fields of study for mutual international experience and expertise.

*This mobility is linked to the mutual Memorandum of Understanding, Erasmus+ partnership agreement and international Erasmus+ mobility exchange project KA107 of students and staff between programme and partner countries (No. 2020-1-LV01-KA107-077408) which has been implemented between the School of Education, UKZN, and Liepaja University (LiepU).

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


author : .
author email : .

Spotlight Awards for Education Students

Spotlight Awards for Education Students
Award recipients, Mr Andile Gumede (left) and Ms Phakamile Mazibuko (right) with UTLO’s Mr Abdulbaqi Badru.

Two students from the School of Education, Ms Phakamile Mazibuko and Mr Andile Gumede, were recently awarded the 2022 UKZN Student Spotlight Award which recognises academically excelling students who also actively participated in University and community outreach programmes during the online learning period.

The award was presented during the second UKZN Teaching and Learning Office’s (UTLO) virtual e-learning symposium titled: Imagining a Technology Enhanced Higher Education Future.

Symposium Chair, Mr Abdulbaqi Badru said as part of UTLO’s objectives to ensure that students are carried along in the University e-learning community of practice, they conceptualised the Spotlight Student Award.

He said students were required to submit a portfolio of evidence, which went through rigorous reviews to finally select the two winning students.

Mazibuko, a Master of Education student, said the transition from traditional to online learning was challenging at first because of the unfamiliarity which caused much anxiety and fear. She said she was grateful for the support services initiated by the University through workshops and webinars.

Through her non-profit organisation the Phakamile Mazibuko Foundation she was also able to offer career support through online workshops and social media.

Gumede, a final year Bachelor of Education student, who is also an academic monitoring and support mentor and member of Enactus UKZN, said the challenges brought on by online learning motivated him to lead by example.

He said besides the academic challenges, he also faced a lot of losses in his family. ‘Being able to help and receive help from my peers has been one of the top ingredients in achieving my success.’ 

He thanked UTLO and the symposium committee members for their support. Advising other students, he said: ‘Know that your dreams are valid and that on your path, you are never denied but redirected.’

The students were awarded a laptop and gift bags to aid them in their online learning.

Words: Sithembile Shabangu

Photographs: Supplied


author : .
author email : .

UKZN Campbell Collections Hosts Annual Dr Killie Campbell Lecture

UKZN Campbell Collections Hosts Annual Dr Killie Campbell Lecture
Ms Sibusisiwe Nxongo, guest speaker at the Dr Killie Campbell annual lecture.

The UKZN Campbell Collections recently hosted the 2022 Dr Killie Campbell annual lecture titled: The History of Black Women in Social Research in South Africa (1960-1994).

In her welcome address, Dr Roshini Pather from the University’s Library Services said the lecture invites people to engage in dialogue on historical and social issues. She said when Dr Killie Campbell died in 1965, UKZN had the honour of receiving her work which included manuscripts, books, excerpts, photographs, maps, etc which the University continues to administer and add to.

Guest speaker, Ms Sibusisiwe Nxongo, a lecturer in the Department of History at the University of South Africa (UNISA) and PhD candidate at the University of Johannesburg’s History Department presented her talk titledThe History of Black Women in Social Research in Apartheid South Africa (1950-1991).

She said her research aims to excavate and find moments and spaces where Black women were involved and fulfilled their role as researchers and scholars despite them not being part of the main academic discourse. She said they (Black women) were deeply involved in the making of that knowledge that became the public discourse.

Phyllis Ntantala, a scholar and an intellectual born in 1920 in the Eastern Cape who did her schooling through missionary schools and went on to obtain a Diploma in Native Administration from the University of Cape Town, was among the African women Nxongo discussed in her talk. Nxongo said like many Black women in that era, Ntantala’s work was not widely circulated and even in libraries, her work seems to have been left to be forgotten.

Ntantala published her first article in 1956 titled: Widows of the Reserves followed by other work including An African Tragedy. Nxongo said the writer researched her work by being among the “low class” women in the reserves even though she was an intellectual. To gather her information, she observed, conversed, listened, remembered - when she was in exile, read and translated, and constructed her knowledge. While in exile, she published a book titled: An African Tragedy, The Black Women Under Apartheid.

Nxongo also spoke about the current feminists and the women who are pillars of society but are often forgotten or ignored. ‘It is important for us to embark in a practice of being attuned through critically analysing work such as Ntantala and the work by Black women…we can now come to a point where we truly unsilence their voices,’ she said.

A question and answer session followed and through her responses, Nxongo reminded guests that female intellectuals at the time, especially those who were married to male scholars, often lived in the shadow of their husbands and male leaders.

The programme was directed by Mr Muzi Hadebe and guests included the family of Dr Killie Campbell, members of the advisory board, UKZN Executive Management, staff, students, alumni and the media.

Words: Sithembile Shabangu

Photograph: Supplied


author : .
author email : .

“My Eyes are My Ears and My Hands are My Mouth” - Audiology Annual Deaf Awareness Campaign

“My Eyes are My Ears and My Hands are My Mouth” - Audiology Annual Deaf Awareness Campaign
Final-year Audiology students.Click here for isiZulu version

Final-year Audiology students hosted their annual Deaf Awareness Month campaign at Fulton School for the Deaf, in Gillitts, Durban.

Facilitated by Audiology students and supervised by Audiology lecturer, Dr Zandile Shezi, the event featured guest speakers as well as fun activities and prizes.

‘I’ve always wanted to learn sign language and work with Deaf children; this has always been my passion and I’m truly living my dream,’ said Gift of the Givers Audiologist, Ms Taskeen Ameer.

Guest speakers Ms Voloshni Annamallay, who is also a UKZN alumnus, Mr Adhil Ramnath and Mr Suhail Ganie shared their personal experiences as Deaf persons living and working in South Africa.

‘I’m an Information Technology Specialist by profession but my passion lies in modelling, art and music. Don’t limit yourself, Deaf people are able to accomplish everything abled people can, don’t allow the world to tell you otherwise,’ said Ramnath.

Ganie, a YouTube content creator, encouraged learners, saying: ‘You can achieve anything as long as you put in the work. You shouldn’t let setbacks bring you down because life is too short.’

Criminologist and Fulton alumnus, Ms Voloshni Annamallay, shared the hardships she encountered whilst studying at UKZN, from finding an interpreter to navigating varsity life as a hearing-impaired person. Despite the challenges she faced, she will graduate with an Honours degree in Criminology at next year’s Autumn Graduation Ceremonies.

Mrs Mala Perumal shared her experience as a parent of a Deaf child and a Social Worker at the KwaZulu-Natal Blind and Deaf Society, focused on Deaf culture.

The event ended with insightful presentations from Miss, Mr and Ms Deaf South Africa 2022.

Words and photograph: Mandisa Shozi


author : .
author email : .

UKZN Academic Hosts Global Classroom Webinar

UKZN Academic Hosts Global Classroom Webinar
Global Classroom webinar participants.

Professor Mariam Seedat-Khan, a Clinical Sociologist, and Dr Jayanathan Govender from the School of Social Sciences, recently hosted a virtual Global Classroom for students in collaboration with international partners as well as Taylor University (Malaysia) and Toyo University (Japan) to examine social issues and clinical interventions intersecting culture, education barriers, Deaf and hearing communities and inclusion and diversity.

The event brought together students and academics across cultures to learn, engage and collaborate over four weeks. As part of the global classroom, students and professors worked together to design the experience, with activities ultimately becoming part of the class. This allowed all students to have an intercultural experience within their curriculum.

South African, Malaysian and Japanese students were required to analyse the cultural contexts within their respective countries. The collaboration plan included an International Collaborative Workshop delivered to the Deaf community in all three countries. This promoted intercontinental student networks, creating inter-institutional student groups and offering students autoethnographic narratives on diverse cultures.

In addition to identifying similarities, barriers, and Deaf awareness, the course also developed content and materials for interventions.

Seedat-Khan believes that national and international co-operation will enhance the global standards of academics, facilitators, and students. It will also promote inter-continental student networks and establish student partnerships between Japan, Malaysia, and South Africa.

Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela

Image: Supplied


author : .
author email : .

Doctoral Student Presents Research at International Conference

Doctoral Student Presents Research at International Conference
Ms Nonkululeko Zondo who has contributed to several strategic documents, provincially and nationally.

PhD student in Development Studies, Ms Nonkululeko Zondo recently presented her research at the 10th Annual Sustainable Development in the Minerals Industry (SDIMI) Conference held in Africa for the first time in Windhoek, Namibia.

The conference examined and discussed a range of critical issues facing the extractive sector, including mining in sensitive areas, water and energy scarcity, active artisanal and small-scale mining, the need for capacity building, fair trade practices, and opportunities for value-added production.

Zondo’s research is informed by critical development research methodologies and ‘seeks to document the lived realities of small-scale and artisanal mining communities. It further interrogates issues around mineral resource governance for both mining communities and mining-affected communities and the gendered and racialised dynamics of land and mineral resource struggles in South Africa’.

Zondo has contributed to several strategic documents at a provincial and national level, such as the KwaZulu-Natal Digital Transformation Strategy (2020-2025). She has worked with the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) and contributed to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), focusing on land reform and other important governance issues in the country.

In 2019, Zondo was part of the Bergen Summer Research School (BSRS) in Norway. The programme was composed of researchers from all over the world participating in six parallel disciplinary courses with a focus on critical global challenges including climate change and mobility; governance and inequality; economic experiments in developing countries; Higher Education and the arts; food security; and gender, justice and environmental crises.

She regards her latest feat as an important milestone in her research career as it was not only her first international experience but also capacitated her with fundamental skills to align her research with global challenges and helped stimulate her wider thinking.

Zondo has also worked as a Youth Advisory Panellist for the United Nations Population Fund. She currently serves as a Research Practitioner (independent contractor) for the Moses Kotane Institute, a research entity under the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


author : .
author email : .

UKZN Alumnus Donates Uniforms to Schools in KwaMashu

UKZN Alumnus Donates Uniforms to Schools in KwaMashu
Highlights from the School Uniform Donation Drive in KwaMashu spearheaded by UKZN alumnus, Mr Scelo Manyoni.Click here for isiZulu version

UKZN alumnus, Mr Scelo Manyoni recently donated full uniforms to Nkulisabantu Primary School, Maqadini Primary School, and his alma mater Isibonelo High School - all in KwaMashu.

‘I started my company STAVI Enterprises with the aim of giving back to my community but struggled to find the best way of doing it. An opportunity then presented itself - a good friend of mine who is a teacher at one of the schools posted about a learner being bullied because she didn’t have school shoes. We offered to assist,’ said Manyoni.

He strongly believes in Ubuntu and considers it a blessing to now be in a position to assist people and communities in need.

The learners, together with their parents, collected the full school uniforms, expressing gratitude to Manyoni and his team, for being role models to their children.

Guest speakers at the event were Mr Mdu Nyathikazi from the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) who spoke about the agency’s services and various grants, particularly Top-up, a new grant which benefits children on the Child Support Grant. Ms Raylene Meth from the Department of Social Work also addressed parents and learners on services offered by their department.

‘By donating these school uniforms, we hope it lessens the burden on parents for next year. STAVI Enterprises will continue to support communities in need whenever we can,’ said Manyoni.

Isibonelo High School teacher, Ms Bongiwe Mwale said what had been done for the needy children at her school was commendable. ‘Scelo and his team are building a nation, these are future fighters of this country. We are grateful for what they have done,’ she said.

Parent, Ms Thato Dube added: ‘This young man who has done this lives with us in the community and we thank him for not forgetting his community.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Supplied


author : .
author email : .

East Coast Radio Supports Media Students

East Coast Radio Supports Media Students
Media students at East Coast Radio.Click here for isiZulu version

UKZN and East Coast Radio (ECR) came together to celebrate postgraduate Media students who were awarded bursaries and to acknowledge the radio station’s generous donations and contributions. The ceremony was held at ECR’s headquarters in Umhlanga.

In her welcome address ECR Human Resources manager, Ms Yvette Pillay said: ‘The aim of the programme is to provide bursaries for Media students focusing on scarce and critical skills in media and broadcasting. Our mission is to upskill the youth of today and address unemployment.’

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, ECR has worked remotely with the University and had not had the chance to meet bursary recipients face to face. ECR managing director, Ms Boni Mchunu, who is passionate about education expressed her excitement at meeting the faces behind the names. ‘As a brand we always say KZN matters are our matters, so it pains me when I see students burn institutions due to a lack of funding. Through education, one liberates oneself and one becomes a different person once one has a qualification. I also think it is important for students to have connections with a brand and management team,’ she said.

Executive Director of the UKZN Foundation Mr Steve Camp commented: ‘Education and passion make somebody successful in their career. Many students struggle to obtain bursaries and we appreciate organisations like ECR which make bursaries available for fine art and media studies that don’t attract a lot of funding.’

Professor Lauren Dyll of the Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS) and Academic Leader for Community Engagement in the School of Applied Science, also thanked ECR for their contribution.

Two groups of students from CCMS and Media and Communication Studies were excited to be part of the event and expressed their gratitude.

Words: Zama Khoza

Photographs: Sethu Dlamini


author : .
author email : .

UKZN Hosts Annual RINGS Conference

UKZN Hosts Annual RINGS Conference
Eighth annual RINGS Conference attendees.

UKZN hosted the eighth annual International Research Association of Institutions of Advanced Gender Studies (RINGS) Conference.

Themed: Decolonising Feminisms, the three-day hybrid event was organised by Professor Deevia Bhana RINGS Co-chair and South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) Chair in Gender and Childhood Sexuality in the School of Education. Bhana acknowledged participants for responding to the call for papers and highlighted RINGS’ aim of actively providing platforms for different generations of gender scholars including emerging academics providing new ways of framing feminist research.

Opening the conference, Professor Thabo Msibi, Dean and Head of UKZN’s School of Education, recounted the significance of the conference theme against the backdrop of local and international developments such as the banning and restriction of abortion rights in the United States of America; Black people being shunned during the start of the Ukrainian war; and closer to home, the national pandemic of gender-based violence and femicide.

Said Msibi: ‘It’s important for us to think through how we theorise issues of gender in the Global South because a lot of the analyses we tend to adopt is generally from a liberal lens that forgets that at a local level, colonisation and the history of migrant labour has had a devastating effect on how its reconfigured society and how people feel included and excluded in it.’

RINGS Co-chair, Professor Annette von Alemann from the University of Duisburg-Essen remarked on the relevance of the theme as a topic that unites researchers across the world. She said, ‘It’s crucial not to forget about colonialism and its damaging effects on heritage which calls on research about decolonisation to be achieved, providing equality and justice between the Global North and South.’

Delivering the keynote address, Dr Danai Mupotsa from the University of Witwatersrand reviewed The Dirge as her upcomingbook written after the passing of her mother which looks at the swollenness of grief as a form of slowness and response to survival.

She noted how, through research, she had been ‘asked to project into the world the experiences of Black women, Black feminists and African women to become usable under the guise of what is universal.’

She evaluated a life cycle that is particularly embedded in women which that states that they are born, go to school, attach themselves to a person, have children then die. Mupotsa discussed Ntshaveni wa Luruli’s film, Elelwani where the dirge is a long wedding scene upon which the protagonist crosses various thresholds performing a phase of rituals upon marriage. She focused on the bride’s uncle reciting clan names as the song of sorrow of her leaving her family to join another and marriage as the very threshold of life and death.

She also delved into the complex notions of “intimate modernity” which reviews White weddings as a form of “Whiteness” for Black people, missing all the processes in between that observe tradition and culture; “new customary” that looks at the law and customs of that specific country or area; and “socio/ethnopoetic” which notes how the recordings of oral or narrative texts are incomplete without the social aspect.

Professor Tamara Shefer from the University of the Western Cape and Professor Jeff Hearn from the University of Huddersfield launched their book titled: Knowledge Power and Young Sexualities: A Transnational Feminist Engagement which evaluated the troubling scholarship directed at young people regarding their sexuality and gender reflecting on the transnational dialogue.

Other themes of the conference included Decolonising Academia; Violence Against Women and Girls; Young People and Sexualities; Working with Creativity, Affect and Embodiment; Philosophy, Literature and Decolonisation; Black Feminist Reflections; Decolonising History, Religion and Politics; and Visual Activism, Affect and Decolonial Solidarity.

To watch the RINGS Conference day one, click here and for day two, click here.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photographs: Sethu Dlamini


author : .
author email : .