Pieter-Dirk Uys Gets UKZN’s Highest Literary Honour

Pieter-Dirk Uys Gets UKZN’s Highest Literary Honour
Professor Cheryl Potgieter with honorary graduate Dr Pieter-Dirk Uys.

Author, satirist and activist Pieter-Dirk Uys has been a fearless critic of injustice in South Africa and an ardent campaigner for an open, tolerant and democratic society for more than four decades.

UKZN rewarded Uys for his fearless stance by awarding him its highest honour, the Degree of Doctor of Literature honoris causa.

In his opening remarks at the Graduation ceremony, Uys said: ‘We stand 30 days away from the most important election in the history of our place on earth. For the first time ever, young South Africans born after we had our first democratic election in 1994 will vote. They will vote without sentiment and not out of habit. They will vote for the future and not the past.’

Directly addressing the University’s graduates, he said: ‘When I went to study at the University of Cape Town in 1965, I was encouraged to go and get a degree to fall back on. Do we still say that?

‘When will we be encouraged to get a degree to fall forward on? That retreat mentality has haunted so many of us, starting life being told that: Your dream will never come true. So get something to fall back on.

Let me say this to all the individual minds that graduate today. Fall forward! You will never get the job you want. Become your job today. I’ve been unemployed for 40 years and I’m still here. You each have a unique talent that no-one in the world can match. Develop that. Work with that and for that. Be unique. Be special. Never stand in a queue to fall back on something that isn’t your dream.’

On the upcoming elections, Uys reflected on his experiences and memories during the apartheid era and afterwards, shared with the audience his experience of being allowed for the first time to stand in a queue with all races to cast his vote in the 1994 elections.

‘On 27th April in 1994 millions of South Africans queued up to vote for the very first time - and many of them voted many times. The Rainbow Nation was born. A new national anthem was sung. Nelson Mandela freed me from my jail of my prejudice and fear. It was now no longer politically-correct to be a racist in South Africa. In fact, I was no longer just a White Afrikaner; I was now a citizen in a democracy… at last. Who said life can’t start at 50?’

He shared his memories of the 1980s, both personal and from the theatre, saying: ‘It wasn’t just the National Party who gave me those gifts of a PW Botha, a Pik Botha, a Fanie Botha, a Buthelezi. There were also inspirational people among those White South Africans who fought the system from within the system.

‘Especially an unlikely freedom fighter called Helen Suzman. She showed what one woman could do, bravely trying as best she could to make her government accountable. For all those years - 13 of them alone - she sat in the South African Parliament, the only member of a White opposition to the apartheid regime.’

In 1985, Uys was invited to have lunch with Helen Suzman in Parliament. It was there that he encountered PW Botha, who he impersonated during his stage shows.

‘I took my seat and looked down: there sat all my scriptwriters, the entire apartheid government. And alone at his desk sat PW Botha, making copious notes on a pad – or signing death warrants. But busy. Then he put down the pen and looked up, up, up, right into my soul. My scrotum disappeared!’

Discussing the 2011 Census he pinpointed one of the question asked: ‘What is your race? Black, White, Coloured, Indian, Asian or other?’

‘I didn’t know what to fill in, as a few months before they did a DNA test on me for a television show, and the DNA test proved that I originated in the Congo. So obviously I’m Black. For 49 years my Book of Life assured me that I am White.

‘Then I did some research into my father’s family background and found that we had a great-great-great grandmother who in 1791 plied her trade on the road between Cape Town and Paarl. Her name was Wilhelmiena Opklim. So that means I’m also Coloured! I don’t know about Indian, Asian or Other, but hell, that’s 3 out of 6? I’m truly South African!’

Uys currently lives in Darling in the Western Cape where he continues to perform. He also continues his AIDS awareness activism and serves on the board of directors of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation. 

-           Melissa Mungroo

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Hardworking Educator Triumphs Despite Adversity

Hardworking Educator Triumphs Despite Adversity
Masters in Education graduate, Ms Funani Shezi.

It was the triumphant culmination of a long hard road for Ms Funani Shezi when she graduated with a Master’s degree in Education.

Shezi suffered hardships such as a lack of finance, poor research working conditions, long distance travelling and the death of her sister during her studies but she gritted her teeth and refused to give up, adamant she would graduate.

Asked about her research she said: ‘I looked at the experiences of Grade 4 learners studying mathematics using English as a second language after using isiZulu as their mother tongue in the foundation phase.

‘For three years learners acquired mathematics knowledge in isiZulu but would not use that knowledge in their future learning as most of the counting is usually done in English.’

Shezi found the Grade 4 learners had a problem in understanding English while learning mathematics. Data from the test scores revealed that the learners performed better in the isiZulu version than in the English equivalent of the same test.

Her research was based at the Nkandla school where she teaches.

To attend classes at UKZN, she had to drive 400km a day often braving muddy, slippery roads and driving at night.

There is no electricity supply in Nkandla so Shezi bought a solar panel to partly solve the problem. Previously, she used her car battery to charge her laptop.

‘During cloudy days I was unable to use the laptop and in winter too, the sun was not strong enough to produce power through the solar panel. I woke up at midnight and using candlelight, I would do assignments on paper because I could not use the laptop.

‘To add to the difficulties I had to use water from the nearby river for drinking and washing. I needed healthy food for my diet so I laid out a vegetable garden to get fresh produce.’

With her meagre salary and added expenses, Shezi made her own dresses and did beadwork for herself. She also had to deal with the death of her sister and take on the task of raising her sister’s children.

Shezi’s youngest son Mlondolozi is proud of his mom and hopes to follow in her footsteps. Her other son, Mzwandile, said to her, ‘Congratulations on your success and your achievements, this will not help only you, but the whole nation, as South Africa needs more people like you who believe in education.’

She expressed her heart-felt gratitude to her family and friends and her supervisor Dr Lokesh Ramnath Maharajh.

Her advice to other students is: ‘Work hard for success. Brighten the corner where you are. If you show love and respect to the community, they will also love and respect you. Strive for success always.’

 -   Melissa Mungroo

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Honours Degree to be Followed by Matrimony for Cum Laude Graduate

Honours Degree to be Followed by Matrimony for <em>Cum Laude Graduate</em>
Ms Nokubonga Mazibuko (centre) with her fiancé, Mr Naledi Ngidi (left) and her supervisor Dr Maheshvari Naidu (right).

Ms Nokubonga Nokwanda Mazibuko was raised by her unemployed aunt under harsh conditions in the Folweni Township in the Umbumbulu area.

Despite the challenges, she was determined to succeed and drew strength from the words of Nelson Mandela that ‘education is the only weapon we can use to change the world we live in’.

After completing her early education at Folweni Primary School, she moved to Okumhlophe Secondary School where she matriculated in 2008 before starting her studies on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus in 2009.

Now she has received an Honours degree cum laude in Gender Studies and is registered for a Master’s in Anthropology supervised by Dr Maheshvari Naidu.

Mazibuko, who is researching alternative constructions of masculinities/sexualities in various townships, says she is excited by her current master’s study as probing and writing about gendered roles from a critical stance is where her interest lies.

‘Losing my mom to HIV-related illnesses at the age of eight taught me to be strong. I didn’t have a matric and because of that I was scorned by some people. I knew the only way I could shame them was through education. Today, all the people who said negative things about me respect the person I have become. I thank God for my aunt who sacrificed her life to ensure that I went to school,’ said Mazibuko.

Apart from her graduation another big event in her life is her marriage to her fiancé, Mr Naledi Ngidi, later this month!

Her future plans also include completing her master’s degree and to go on to a PhD. She also wants to travel and study abroad.

Said her supervisor Dr Naidu: ‘Nokwanda impresses me with her vivacious and determined character and her tenacious spirit. I wish her well in the marriage… and of course in her master’s study.’

-          Melissa Mungroo

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Summa Cum Laude Graduate Puts Education in the Spotlight

<em>Summa Cum Laude</em> Graduate Puts Education in the Spotlight
Ms Raeesa Ismail, summa cum laude Master’s in Education graduate.

Ms Raeesa Ismail, who researched pre-service science teacher education in 2012 with a particular focus on Indigenous Knowledge Systems, graduated summa cum laude with a Master’s degree in Education (Science Education).

The relationship between knowledge and power, and the notion that knowledge which are rooted in non-western systems are “naturally” subaltern, was what spurred her to examine the teaching and learning of Indigenous Knowledge Systems in teacher education programmes. She located the teacher as central to the intellectual decolonisation of a society.

Ismail’s study adopted a qualitative approach that explored pre-service teachers’ experiences and views of learning to teach culturally inclusive science in a pedagogic content knowledge module at a tertiary institution in KwaZulu-Natal.

Her research was embedded in an interpretive paradigm, and multiple data generation methods were used in order to understand pre-service teachers’ experiences and views of learning to teach a culturally inclusive sciencewhich is embedded in Indigenous Knowledge Systems.

‘This research will benefit society by influencing teachers and teacher education. Teachers play a pivotal role in shaping young people’s minds. This research will enable in-service and pre-service teachers to acknowledge the value of alternate knowledge systems,’ said Ismail.

‘It will raise the consciousness of teachers about the wisdom inherent in different knowledge systems and they will, in turn, share these views with learners whose epistemic horizons will be broadened, and who will value their sense of self and reclaim their proudly African heritage.’

Ismail also presented a conference paper titled “Pre-Service Teachers’ Experiences of Learning to Teach Culturally Inclusive Science”, at the Race, Power and Indigenous Knowledge Systems Conference on 13 July 2012.

She also co-wrote a SAPSE accredited article with her supervisor Dr Ronicka Mudaly which was published in Alternation 20(1), pp. 178-202, titled “Teacher Learning through Tapping into Indigenous Knowledge Systems in the Science Classroom”.

Ismail has been an exemplary academic achiever throughout her educational journey, and her work ethic is worthy of emulation by students in the field of teacher education.  In the final year of her BEd degree she enrolled for nine modules and achieved six distinctions, and the Dean’s Commendation. In 2011 she completed her BEd Honours degree with a first class pass.

The examiner of her master’s thesis said: ‘Overall, the candidate has produced an outstanding scholarly report incorporating generous literature, extensive data and coherent and convincing arguments. The quality of the presentation of the report is excellent. The language and expression are fluent and highly readable. The candidate has demonstrated critical scholarship in handling secondary source material and quotations.’

Ismail has demonstrated excellent scholarship at master’s level and is planning to pursue studies towards a PhD at UKZN.


-   Melissa Mungroo

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Graduate Suffers Mild Stroke During Studies

Graduate Suffers Mild Stroke During Studies
Ms Bongiwe Vilakazi with her Master’s in Education.

Despite suffering a minor stroke during her studies, Ms Bongiwe Vilakazi graduated with a Master’s in Education degree.

‘This was a life test as I was physically challenged because I could not use my right hand and my right arm was dysfunctional.’

The incident forced Vilakazi to take a temporary break from her studies.

‘I had a persuasive, encouraging supervisor, who referred me to the disability department at the University where I saw the supervisor who was very friendly and arranged for someone to do the typing for me while I narrated my dissertation.

‘However, I found that this frustrated me more because I could not think while she was waiting to type,’ she said.

Vilakazi returned to her supervisor and explained the situation after which it was decided that Bongiwe would suspend her studies for a year. ‘The wonderful thing was that during the year’s break my friends were always encouraging me to complete and finally graduate. My supervisor also encouraged me to write at least a paragraph a day. Typing on a computer using my left hand was possible; however, it was very slow.’

Vilakazi, who is a teacher, viewed this period in her life as a thought-provoking valuable lesson. ‘I learned that whenever my learners are in such a situation I will need to refer them to relevant people for assistance. Also, the constant reminder of love and encouragement that was shown by my supervisor gave me strength to continue and finish this tough race.

‘Under such circumstances caring is very important and motivation can lift up a person who has lost hope of completing the journey. From this incident, I am hoping to learn more and to be able to help my Intermediate Phase teachers when they face challenges in their lifelong learning.’

Her thesis looked at lifelong teacher learning. Within the study she highlighted that teachers needed to learn all the time to fit into the 21st century. She pointed out lifelong teacher learning was encouraged by the South African Department of Higher Education and Training’s Minimum Requirements for Teacher Education Qualifications (DoHET, 2011) which demands that every teacher is expected to be a researcher and a lifelong learner.

Vilakazi advised other researchers wanting to use personal history self-study as a methodology, to use a range of data generation strategies as advised by Samaras et al. (2004).

‘Moreover, it is helpful to retain artefacts and value them as I have done with mine. In addition, keeping records of what is happening in your personal life and of your professional growth is a necessity, especially if you plan to be a lifelong learner teacher. As a researcher and teacher, the regular use of a journal can also be very helpful. Never let challenges hinder your destination.

  -   Melissa Mungroo

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Abuse of Women Central in Honours Graduate’s Research

Abuse of Women Central in Honours Graduate’s Research
Ms Zanele Jele, graduates with an Honours degree in Gender Studies.

Ms Zanele Jele’s passion for the study of gender- based violence has resulted in her graduating with an Honours degree in Gender Studies.

Jele’s research looked at uplifting the capacity of women and the youth in South Africa by removing acts of violence that perpetuate the inequality of women and children.

‘I realised that as a woman I have the opportunity to change the acts of abuse and violence into respect and protection through Let’s Talk Issues seminars organised within the Centre for Critical Research on Race and Identity (ccrri),’ said Jele

‘Let’s Talk Issues is a just a concept I use to refer on how I look at the designation of seminars,’ said Jele.

She believes her research will have an influence on policy design on gender equality and women empowerment. ‘When mastered effectively it will minimise the risk of women and children abuse.’

Jele is thankful to her family and friends for their support and her supervisor Professor Rozena Maart who ‘played a major role as professor, sister as well as a feminist in my studies’.

Jele plans to pursue a master’s degree and to be a woman and youth ambassador advocating for women empowerment.

-          Melissa Mungroo

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For the love of African Music and Dance

For the love of African Music and Dance
Rising star, Ms Thabile Buthelezi.

An unwavering passion for African Music and Dance (AMD) was the impetus for musician and choreographer Ms Thabile Buthelezi who was awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Drama Performance Studies degree at a UKZN Graduation ceremony.

Buthelezi received six Certificates of Merit in African Music and Dance in the following modules: AMD1A – ngoma and gumboot dance, AMD2A – umkhweyana bow, AMD2B – timbila xylophones from Mozambique, AMD 3B – mbira from Zimbabwe/Final year recital, African Music Outreach: Music Education and African Music Outreach: Community Development.

According to her Lecturer, Dr Patricia Opondo, Buthelezi has distinguished herself in African Music and Dance and played a key role in the University’s Cultural Calabash, a service learning cultural production mounted by final year students majoring in African Music and Dance.

‘Since 2011 she has choreographed for Ikusasa Lethu – the professional touring ensemble of the African Music Project. With Ikusasa Lethu, she travelled to Peru, has performed for President Jacob Zuma, for the Provincial leadership in KwaZulu-Natal, and at COP17, Ushaka Marine World and the International Library of African Music Instrument Exhibition opening at the KwaMuhle Museum.

‘Thabile has collaborated with a number of internationally acclaimed artists including Eva Labrousse (Reunion Island), Jose Chemane (Mozambique), Jeremy Labelle (Reunion Islands/France). She presented such an outstanding final year exit recital that the external examiner deemed it fit to be broadcast on SABC. She has recently launched her own dance company DIBABZA and is currently on the part-time teaching staff in UKZN’s African Music and Dance, in the School of Arts, teaching African Music and Dance 1A Ngoma Dance,’ said Opondo.

Speaking about her passion, Thabile said: ‘The choice to do AMD was very easy for me because I come from a musical production background having been part of K-Cap (Kwa-Mashu Community Advancement Project) for 10 years now. My passion for performing arts has been inspired by a lot of programmes under K-Cap so I knew that I wanted to have a career in the industry making AMD my number one choice.’

Speaking about her undergraduate years at the University, Thabile said, ‘I’ve learnt so many things about performance arts and have gained so much knowledge and experience that has prepared me for the outside world. I’ve been part of productions in the Drama department and I’ve performed in almost every lunch hour concert under the AMD programme. I’ve received over five certificates of Merits in the AMD programme and my overall average has been increasing every year.’

She thanked her family, friends and UKZN’s Music discipline for their support and encouragement during her studies.

Her advice to other students is: ‘You should work hard and set a motto for yourself that will drive you to excel. Mine is to work hard and build my grandmother a house because she deserves it especially after all the hard work and effort she put into me and my son.’

Thabile is currently completing her Honours in Applied Ethnomusicology and researching on African Choreography, while at the same time continuing with her performance work with Ikusasa Lethu.

She hopes to make it big as an entertainer in the near future.

-           Melissa Mungroo

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Thesis Explores Role of Fathers in Child Rearing

Thesis Explores Role of Fathers in Child Rearing
PhD graduate in Gender studies, Mr Tawanda Makusha with his daughter, Tadiwa.

PhD graduate in Gender studies, Mr Tawanda Makusha, researched the different dimensions of a father’s involvement in bringing up children.

Makusha interviewed women, men and children on the role of fathers in children’s lives and focused on the different factors that affect father involvement in KwaZulu-Natal.

According to his research, more than two thirds of Black fathers in South Africa are absent in households where their children are living.

He pointed out that fathers were an important part of families and society at large and children and women needed fathers to be present and involved in their lives.

Makusha established the various factors that affected fatherhood in South Africa, focusing on both resident and non-resident fathers.

Makusha’s research topic stemmed from a personal experience. ‘I grew up in a family where my parents were separated. My father was very involved financially but because we did not live with him we did not have that father-child emotional engagement.

‘I decided I needed to conduct a study on fatherhood to explore the father-child relationships and come up with positive recommendations that promote father-child involvement beyond financial support even when fathers are non-resident in the household.’

His research results showed men’s involvement with children was important even if the man was not the biological father and not living with his children. The quality of men’s involvement with children was found to be strongly influenced by their financial capacity to provide for children and to marry, and by mother-father couple relationship.

However, he also found that even when men could not provide for their children because of unemployment, most remained involved in their children’s lives.

His thesis further argues that understanding local determinants of father-child involvement is crucial for improving family policies to support men’s involvement in children’s well-being.

Makusha thanked his supervisors, Professor Deevia Bhana and Professor Linda Richter for their insightful support, patience and guidance.

Makusha, who currently works as a Research Specialist at the Human Sciences Research Council, hopes to engage more with Government, academics, civil society and other interested parties on how to make more men involved in their children’s lives.

He also plans to continue contributing to literature on fatherhood in South Africa. ‘I feel a lot still needs to be done on policy to promote involved fatherhood in South Africa.

‘Personally, I am a father of a beautiful young daughter, Tadiwa, and I want to be involved and engaged in her life for as long as possible.’  

-           Melissa Mungroo

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Humanities Graduates Advised to be Role Models

Humanities Graduates Advised to be Role Models
Vice-Chancellor of the Great Zimbabwe University, Professor Rungano Jonas Zvobgo addresses a Graduation audience.

‘Tonight’s ceremony is the consummating moment of what I believe has been a solid and productive partnership between the University, parents, spouses and industry in nurturing and developing human capital for this country and the region.’

These words by keynote speaker, the Vice-Chancellor of the Great Zimbabwe University, Professor Rungano Jonas Zvobgo, were well received by graduates and the audience at the College of Humanities 2014 Graduation ceremony.

Zvobgo called on all graduates to make a mark on their communities as they went into the world of work. ‘The teaching profession is passionate and requires honesty, dedication and discipline.  The greatest role model of a child’s or student’s life is usually the teacher. Be the model that you want the young ones to follow.’

He said graduation reflected the transition from full time study to the world of work.

‘The credibility of an institution of higher learning is often determined by the quality of the graduate in terms of his or her adaptability to the work environment. What that says is how relevant the university is to the student and secondly to the demands of the world of work.

‘It is how the graduates are readily accepted into the world of work which justifies the relevance of the institution and its existence. This, too, is testimony of the university of the 21st century. This university can only claim to be a university of higher learning if it distinguishes itself from the rest of the country and beyond,’ said Zvobgo.

He pointed out that Higher Education today had become a global entity. ‘With the infusion of information communication technologies (ICTs), even we Africans have become active citizens of the global village. I salute UKZN’s goals especially goal number one which is to promote an African led globalisation through African scholarship by positioning the University, through its teaching, learning, scholarship, research and innovation, to enter the global knowledge system.’

He touched on the partnership between the Great Zimbabwe University and UKZN for the training of Great Zimbabwe University staff to obtain PhDs saying it would go a long way towards increasing quality standards.

Zvobgo praised UKZN’s commitment to quality and excellent service through the vision to become the Premier University of African Scholarship.

During his address, he requested all Zimbabwean students and other international students to stand and charged them to go back home and build their nation. ‘Make it the home you want it to be.  Remember to always ensure your relevance as a teacher by actively researching into your fields of specialty.’

‘Ensure that you are always up to date with rapid and radical technocratic developments and new trends, theories and practices. Knowledge learnt today might not be relevant tomorrow. Just as knowledge is dynamic so too must you be, as a personal professional culture.’

In his closing remarks to the graduates, Zvobgo said: ‘You walk this journey as authentic ambassadors of this prestigious Institution. How well you conduct yourself and perform your mandate will be clear testimony of how adequately this University has prepared you for service to the great nation of South Africa.’

‘It will also be testimony of how relevant the University is to this country’s vision to grow the nation's most critical human resource. Remember, the teacher is the key driver of national development and the mother who nurtures the baby from the cradle to adulthood.’

-           Melissa Mungroo

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Mauritius PhD cohort student graduates

Mauritius PhD cohort student graduates
Professor Michael Samuel with Ms Aruna Ankiah Gangadeen.

Ms Aruna Ankiah Gangadeen, who graduated from UKZN with a PhD in Education, is the first PhD graduate among a group of more than 30 who are part of a programme emanating from a 2011 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Mauritius Institute of Education (MIE) and the School of Education.

According to Gangadeen’s UKZN research supervisor, Professor Michael Samuel, the programme supports candidates through a site-based supervision cohort model using supervisors from South Africa and Mauritius.

‘The PhD students are largely staff members of the MIE and are researching areas of innovation and development within teacher education on the island,’ said Samuel.

Asked about her pursuit of the degree, Gangadeen said: ‘I had always planned to do my PhD and when I met Professor Samuel who spoke about his own study - which was on teachers’ lives - I was both intrigued and interested. I was also fascinated by his research methodology, namely life history. All this was new to me and provided the impetus for me to embark on my PhD.’

Gangadeen’s study focuses on the experiences of Early Childhood Education teachers in the formal schooling system. 

The specific challenges of addressing a multilingual and multicultural education system are the focus of the study. 

The thesis develops a model of teacher professional development drawing together resources of biography, pedagogical practice and experience.

She believes her research findings are significant to teacher educators as they highlight the need to value and draw from teachers’ knowledge.

‘As I say in my study, by acknowledging and considering the teachers’ knowledge of the context and of learners, teacher educators pave their way towards a better understanding of those whose education they seek to enhance.’

She hopes her research will be useful to policy makers to ‘bring out the potential limitations of adopting an “outside-in” model whereby more importance is given to goals established by international agencies at the expense of the local reality, be it in terms of resourcing or learner profiles.’

Gangadeen praised the inspiration she received through interaction with UKZN staff, and the MIE cohort. She visited and spent time working on the Edgewood campus and interacting with UKZN-based PhD staff and supervisors.

Gangadeen a Lecturer of English language teaching and learning at the MIE, holds a BA (Honours)  and an MA from the University of Delhi in India, and a MEd TESOL from Leeds University in London.

She plans to do further research. ‘I have just discovered “ethnodrama” and, with a few colleagues, am currently working on a performance that will be staged during a conference in April. I am also involved in curriculum development and another of my passions is the production of textbooks and other curriculum materials.

‘This is something I will be devoting quite a bit of time to in the near future. And, who knows, my post-doctoral studies may be round the corner - but right now my family remains the priority.’

 -   Melissa Mungroo

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Master’s Student Graduates on a Musical Note

Master’s Student Graduates on a Musical Note
Pianist Mr Sibusiso Mashiloane graduated cum laude with a Master of Music degree in Jazz Performance.

A passion for music and the Arts led to pianist Mr Sibusiso Mashiloane graduating cum laude with a Master of Music degree in Jazz Performance.

A part-time Lecturer in the Music discipline, Mashiloane is the first student who has progressed all the way from the one-year Music Foundation and Access Certificate to a three-year Diploma in Jazz and Popular Music and then onto a one-year Bachelor of Practical Music degree and finally a master’s degree.

‘This was the most challenging part of my masters because I didn’t have any references from previous students; basically I had to set the standard.’

Mashiloane developed an interest in the piano in 1997 when he was 13 years old, playing at church with the help of a senior church pianist, who taught him the fundamentals.

In 2001, he met a professional musician who was a student at Technikon Natal.  ‘This guy performed sophisticated harmonies I had never before heard. I was so struck by his ability to perform popular jazz numbers just like on the original recordings. This was when I started asking questions and wanting to know more about how I could achieve his level of performance.’

After matric, Mashiloane auditioned at Technikon Natal and was accepted to study music. At the end of his third year he applied for an exchange programme offered at UKZN to study in America and was accepted by Rowan University in New Jersey.

In his current research work, he explored the topic of “Full Public Performance” as he saw the need to further develop his personal style in the context of current global practice in jazz and a South African heritage.

One of the highlights of his research was repertoire. He explained that each recital had its own special repertoire and each repertoire was designed to meet a specific technical challenge.

‘It wasn’t simply a matter of choosing pieces that I like; each item was deliberately selected because it contained specific aspects that I wanted to master. In this way each repertoire was intended to provide a platform for mastering the specific topic of each recital.’

Asked about his future plans, he said: ‘I generally feel that I need to get more experience by travelling and playing with different musicians and playing different traditional music before pursuing a PhD.’


-          Melissa Mungroo

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Graduation Celebration for Mjwara Family

Graduation Celebration for Mjwara Family
The Mjwara family with graduates Nomalungelo Hlophe (front row, second left), Ms Yolanda Mjwara (front row, first right) and their grandmother Agnes Mjwara (centre).

Ms Nomalungelo Hlophe and her niece, Ms Yolanda Mjwara, graduated together from UKZN. Hlophe received a Bachelor of Social Science degree and Mjwara a Bachelor of Arts degree.

‘It feels amazing to graduate and get my degree and it’s especially great to experience it with family. I’m proud of my niece Yolanda and I know she’s proud of me. Our entire family is celebrating this achievement,’ said Hlophe.

Their grandmother Agnes Mjwara, or Gogolozi as she is affectionately known, is the 89-year-old matriarch of the 80-strong Mjwara family in Lamontville. She has attended every graduation in her family’s history and was in the Graduation ceremony hall ululating to the graduating class of 2014 and especially for her family members.

‘Gogolozi has always instilled the value of education within us and we thank her for it,’ said Mjwara.

According to Gogolozi’s daughter, Ms Nonhlanhla Kunene, HR Manager for the College of Humanities, her mother had defied her own uneducated background, pushing her children to make sacrifices for their own children when the time came.

‘We recall her recurring promise that: “You may not have much, but you will have an education”,’ said Kunene. Today she has grandchildren who have graduated in a variety of fields from various universities across the country.

Both Mjwara and Hlophe plan to pursue their studies further.

-           Melissa Mungroo

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