UKZN Music Duo N’den Release Debut Album

UKZN Music Duo N’den Release Debut Album
Vocalist, Thulile Zama (right) and pianist, David Smith.Click here for isiZulu version

N’den, a duo featuring vocalist Thulile Zama and pianist David Smith of the UKZN Centre for Jazz and Popular Music, have released their debut album, Sisingathiwe.

Smith said Sisingathiwe followed the success of their debut single Coffee in the Morning, which was well received and reflected a shared expression of original music they had created over the last few years from pre-COVID-19 and beyond.

The album is a 10-track collection in which Zama notes ‘echoes the essence of guardianship, warmth, protection and love for humanity. It revolves around a musical collaboration that was born out of the odd camaraderie between the two musicians and stylistic nuances that straddle jazz, neo-soul and a dash of modern Durban jazz flair.’

Reflecting on their humble musical beginnings, Smith said he was a member of the successful jazz/ hip-hop band Big Idea, which made waves throughout the country. Zama meanwhile, was a dynamic lead vocalist of the all-female contemporary jazz group Heels Over Head (Yamaha Young Artist winners in 2010; best contemporary jazz candidates - South African Music Awards [SAMA] - 2011).

‘Zama’s versatility as a vocalist is well-known and loved within the jazz circuit in Durban, and her talents have taken her to Hamburg, Berlin, and New Orleans,’ said Smith.

N’den has performed in various venues nationwide and headlined the No Franco#5 festival in Maputo, Mozambique, in May 2023. The duo recently performed at the UKZN Centre for Jazz and Popular Music.

The unit’s original music and some of their favourite songs are on their YouTube channel and social media pages: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela

Photograph: Supplied


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Professor Fatima Meer

Professor Fatima Meer
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The School of Social Sciences within the College of Humanities recently hosted the Professor Fatima Meer Memorial Lecture on Defiance and Resistance: Meer’s Cultural Creativity, Social Capital and Artistic Vision at UKZN’s Howard College Theatre.

Meer was born to immigrant parents in Durban, South Africa, on 12 August 1928. She earned a reputation as a brilliant student, reading for both a BA and MA degree in Sociology at the former University of Natal (now University of KwaZulu-Natal). Her academic excellence was recognised at a time when few Black women graduated from universities.

Meer was the first Black woman appointed in Sociology at a designated White-only South African university from 1956-1988, which is an important historic feat. In 1972, Meer founded the Institute of Black Research (IBR) to advance the intellectual project through research, activism and publishing. Meer was a prolific writer, authoring and editing over 40 books on various social problems, including suicide, apartheid, social justice, and women’s rights. Her most famous book: Higher Than Hope, is a biography on the life of Nelson Mandela. In 1975, Meer received the Union of South African Journalists Award; was awarded the Imam Abdullah Haroon Award for the Struggle against Oppression and Racial Discrimination in 1990; received the Vishwa Gurjari Award for Contribution to Human Rights in 1994; and was named as one of the Top 100 Women Who Shook South Africa in 1999.

Her first public act of defiance in her long and pioneering political life began in high school at age 17. Her political and spiritual education were influenced by Mohandas Gandhi and Albert Luthuli. Meer’s life was filled with love, joy, triumph, longing, loss and regrets. She was a scholar, activist, prisoner, and family matriarch, yet she is best remembered as a free spirit, whose truth was crowned by rebellion and revolution. Despite assassination attempts, petrol bombs, house arrests, imprisonment, torture and family harassment, she remained steadfast in her pursuit for freedom.

Meer’s early activism involved organising the 1956 anti-pass law Women’s March to the Union Buildings. She was a founding member of the Black Consciousness Movement and a close associate of Steve Biko. She founded and headed the Natal Education Trust, raising funds from the Indian community to build schools in African townships. She was a founding member of the Jubilee 2000 South African movement, which called for the cancellation of the debt owed by developing countries. In 1994, Meer served as an advisor to a democratic government, appointed to a number of commissions and boards, all the while remaining committed to supporting the poor and maintaining her pro-active approach working for social justice. Meer remained critical and vocal of the democratic government’s slow response to pro-poor programmes.

Meer paid a heavy price for her activism. She was banned from speaking in public for five years and was repeatedly detained without trial. However, she remained committed to the fight for justice. The apartheid prison was an instrument meant to dehumanise and de-conscientise. However, every apartheid prisoner returned apartheid brutality with reconciliation and love for South Africa. Meer used her gift for writing to disrupt the apartheid narrative.

Meer was a respected academic and writer known worldwide. Her scholarly work shed light on the experiences of marginalised communities, bringing their stories to the forefront. Her writings provided insightful analyses of apartheids impacts on individuals and society. Her academic career became a powerful tool to expose the atrocities of apartheid and inspire change. Her writing on political activist, Andrew Zondo - who dedicated his life to end apartheid - demonstrates her sociological method.

Few will remember Andrew Zondo, who was executed after receiving five death sentences for planting a bomb on 23 December 1985 at a shopping centre in Amanzimtoti. Zondo joined the Umkhonto we Sizwe at age 16 and was executed at age 19. In 1987, Meer’s book, The Trial of Andrew Zondo: A Sociological Insight, recorded the events and circumstances surrounding Andrew Zondo’s trial and subsequent execution. The book is indeed sociologically insightful, given its careful scientific methodology. Opening with a legal fact, Meer tells us that the bomb resulted in the death of “[a] baby, a young boy, a girl and two women”, and the injury of “seventeen White men and boys, twenty-eight White women and girls, one Black man and two Black women”.

Meer’s project is a deep suspicion of the courts, which are as a matter of course, extensions of the enemy state. Meer’s sociological project is about the common person among Black South Africans. Nelson Mandela argues a similar sentiment at his trial decades earlier. Zondo is also confounded at his pro deo council. However, Meer is sensitised and deeply respectful of Zondo’s psychological construction: firstly, he is a disciplined militant political activist, and then second, he never wavers to show proper respect for his deeply religious parents.

His intense distaste for the irredeemable apartheid state contrasts nebulously with his caring and love for family. Meer builds Zondo’s story with the obvious - hardships, sickness and poverty. Turning to the legal proceedings, that frames Zondo’s state of mind at the time of the bombing. Then in shock, Meer relates the court’s bias in rejecting Zondo’s history of mental illness.

The defence, to its shame, claims that psychiatry is not an exact science. Next, Meer examines the historical, sociological and judicial perspectives of the notion of truth. For Meer, it was clear that Zondo was denied all these truths. Meer is justifiably unwavering in that Zondo’s life should have been constructed to shine a light on his choice to plant a bomb and knowingly kill a number of people. There are unbreakable invisible continuities between past and present, life context and life chances, and mind and action. Meer demonstrates a greater truth is available to us, but denied to Zondo. The judicial process will be representative of the character of the apartheid state - so much is obvious. How is it then, Zondo, fighting for a greater cause on behalf of an entire nation, that highly qualified academics, professionals and practitioners maintained their silence and kept a virulent distance from Zondo’s trial? Only Meer was the believing friend to Zondo and the family.

We can only imagine how Meer felt on the morning of the hanging. To complete the story, Zondo’s accomplice in the bombing, who turned state witness, got to live, and Zondo was hanged on 9 September 1986. Zondo’s wonder at the bluest blue seas of Port Shepstone was no more. 

Meer’s legacy inspires new generations of activists, scholars, and individuals committed to justice. Her life’s work serves as a reminder that one person’s dedication and determination can profoundly impact a nation. As we honour her memory, we carry forward her vision of a just and equitable society where all people are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their background or circumstances.

Fatima Meer died on 13 March 2010, at the age of 81. She was an erudite figure in the fight against apartheid, and her legacy continues to inspire people worldwide. A remarkable woman is remembered as a champion of justice and a tireless fighter for a better future for the poor. Meer is notably recognised as one of South Africa’s most distinguished twentieth-century political leaders, publisher, writer, and human rights and gender activist. The Professor Meer Archives reflect her writings on race relations, promotion of justice, reconciliation, non-violent action, education, social work, poverty alleviation, labour and healthcare.

•    Dr Jayanathan Govender is based at the School of Social Sciences. He researches civil society, public policy, inequality studies, clinical sociology, BRICS sociology and COVID-19. His recent edited publication is Handbook on the Sociology of Inequalities in BRICS Countries (Frontpage, London). 

•    Professor Mariam Seedat-Khan is based at the School of Social Sciences and is an NRF (National Research Foundation) rated researcher and one of 40 internationally certified clinical sociologists in the world. She serves as the vice president for the Association for applied and Clinical Sociology AACS and the International Sociological Association RC 46 Clinical Sociology.

Photographs: 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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Inaugural Lecture Looks at the Past and Projects the Future of Religion, Theology, Classics, Ethics and Philosophy Teaching at UKZN

Inaugural Lecture Looks at the Past and Projects the Future of Religion, Theology, Classics, Ethics and Philosophy Teaching at UKZN
Professor R Simangaliso Kumalo.

The inaugural lecture of UKZN’s Professor R Simangaliso Kumalo contextualised and traced the journey of the teaching of religion, theology, classics, ethics and philosophy across the ages and gave insights on the place and future of these disciplines at UKZN.

The significant occasion was made even sweeter for Kumalo by the announcement of his appointment as Dean and Head of UKZN’s School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics (SRPC). He is also Director of the Centre for Constructive Theology at UKZN, a centre dedicated to research on new religious movements in South Africa based at the School.

The presentation of an inaugural lecture is a significant milestone in an academic’s career, creating a space for their research and body of work to be showcased and shared with a broad audience.

Kumalo’s virtual presentation was titled: Instrument of Perpetual Indoctrination or Decolonisation? Discourses and Perceptions on Religion and Theology at UKZN.

He said Religion, Theology and Philosophy had once been described as the “Queen of Sciences” and heralded as the “Summit of Learning” but had been relegated to the periphery of academia in more recent times.

He reflected on the relevance and place of Theology and Religion at a secular university such as UKZN and what the study of theology in such an environment should look like?

Kumalo investigated how to decolonise the SRPC disciplines in order to free them from their colonial vestiges, highlighting the strides that had been made by the School to ensure the disciplines are relevant to their context. ‘Today, the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics is fully engaged in real scholarship and intellectual projects at UKZN.’

His ambition is to legitimise the disciplines of the School at the University and focus on their transformative role in society by working to dispel the ivory tower status often associated with them.

He acknowledged that Theology was a product of the colonial empire and touched on its complicity within a colonial context but stated that although this may have been part of its past, it certainly did not define its future. Many pathways are being formed and created to carve out a very different experience for its current students.

 ‘In moving towards decolonisation, Religion and Theology taught at UKZN are an academic, non-sectarian discipline aimed at equipping students with knowledge and skills they can use for their own liberation and that of their society,’ said Kumalo. ‘In order to remain relevant, Theology needs to address issues in the local context. This is what the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics has been doing extremely well. Theology engages with society, in addressing concerns. Theology at a university ensures critical thinking.’

Citing two examples of this collaboration with local communities, Kumalo identified the Ujamaa Centre for Biblical and Theological Community Development and Research, and the School’s Religion, Gender and Health Programme.

‘The Ujamaa Centre is an interface between biblical and theological scholars, intellectuals, and local working-class communities which are often marginalised. Together they use biblical and theological resources for individual and social transformation. The Centre supports capacity building, good governance on church and civil society levels through theological education to ensure rigorous participation of all citizens in social transformation,’ he said.

‘Against the background of the discrimination of the LGBTIQA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual) community, gender-based violence and gender imbalances that still exist in the church and broader South African society, the School started the Religion, Gender and Health Programme, to equip students with the competence and literacy for gender justice and sexual diversity. Working with communities, the programme has transformed dangerous and retrogressive cultural practices and religious beliefs.’

Khumalo said the School had made deliberate efforts to source literature authored by Africans from an African point of view, and as more African theologians publish academic works, there has been an exponential growth in the text books the School uses for teaching allowing the African experience of the church and its theology to inform ministerial formation and training instead.

Kumalo concluded by saying that Theological and Religious Studies had for the moment secured their space in the secular university. However, there were challenges and opportunities for the discipline in the future.

Reflecting on his appointment as Dean of the School, Kumalo said the following:

‘I regard every position of authority granted to me as an opportunity to serve our country and its peoples. Coming from a religious background, I refuse to see these as opportunities of privilege and power for one. They are opportunities to serve and make a difference in people’s lives especially those who are on the margins of society, who cannot access Higher Education. My focus will be to consolidate the disciplines of the School into a formidable unit, engaged in excellence, research and teaching in order to transform society for the better.’

Included among the awards Kumalo has received during his illustrious academic career are Fellow of Wesley House College, University of Cambridge, 2017; UKZN Top 30 Researcher Award for 2010, the Mellon Foundation Award for Best Emerging Researcher 2009; and being listed by the Mail & Guardian in 2000 among its Top 100: People who have excelled in their fields.

His areas of research include Religion and Governance, the Social History of the Church, Christian Education, Church and the Environment and Pastoral Leadership.

Words: Jennene Naidu

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN’s Professor Gert Kruger Honoured with Fellowship

UKZN’s Professor Gert Kruger Honoured with Fellowship
Professor Gert Kruger.

A luminary figure in UKZN’s Pharmaceutical Sciences discipline, Professor Gert Kruger, has been made a Fellow of the South African Chemical Institute (SACI) for 2023.

Kruger’s nomination for the Fellowship followed his substantial contributions to the South African Journal of Chemistry (SAJC) which were acknowledged by his peers.

The pathway to this prestigious recognition was not carved out overnight, rather it is the result of Kruger’s steadfast commitment and unwavering devotion to the field of chemistry.

Criteria for this prestigious Fellowship were stringent, requiring the nominee to be a current full member of the SACI in good standing and a member of the institute for at least 10 years!

‘I am very honoured,’ he said before giving some background to his initial association with the SAJC, a journey initiated by Professor Tony Ford’s invitation in January 2006. Over the years, this association became an integral part of his identity. ‘I never expected a reward as I see my service to the journal as part of my responsibility as a scientist.’

Professor Tricia Naicker of the Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences, congratulated Kruger, stressing that his nomination was a tribute to his significant role in shaping the SAJC.

‘Professor Kruger has contributed 17 years of exceptional assistance as an unpaid volunteer, in the publication of scientific information and vision at SAJC since he joined as an organic section editor in 2006,’ said Naicker. ‘His dedication extended beyond the ordinary, encompassing various transformative initiatives that shaped the journal’s journey into the 21st century.’

Nomination statements submitted by Naicker and Ford are a testament to the profound impact of Kruger’s leadership. Serving as the editor-in-chief of the SAJC from 2014 to 2017, Kruger steered it through monumental changes as the journal transitioned to an online format, adopted an open-access policy, integrated plagiarism screening, launched a new website, and embraced ORCiDS. Kruger’s hand was on each of these milestones, testifying to his proactive role in implementation and management.

And his commitment wasn’t confined to technical upgrades as he actively fostered inclusivity within the journal’s editorial team, paving the way for the first Black editor-in-chief (2017-2019) and the first female editor-in-chief (2018-2020). He championed the inclusion of young, high-achieving chemists as editors, furthering knowledge transfer and fostering diversity.

The orchestration of co-editors-in-chief streamlined the journal’s processes, speeding up its operations and enhancing its efficiency. Kruger’s contributions extended far beyond mere managerial prowess as his visionary efforts sustained the journal’s relevance, fostered innovation, upheld open access and ensured unwavering quality across all dimensions.

The fruits of his labour were evident in the journal’s steadfast presence across recognised platforms, securing a place in global indices and earning a steady ascent in impact factor. From a modest 0.5 in 2006, the impact factor surged to an impressive 2.9. His indomitable dedication emerged as the cornerstone of the SAJC’s legacy, turning it into a beacon of excellence in the realm of chemistry research.

The story didn’t stop there, for Kruger’s passion and determination found new avenues of expression. His recent accolades include the NRF (National research foundation) South Africa-Japan and MRC (Medical research foundation) BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, SA) grant which he has used to embark on a quest to unveil reaction paths for enzyme reactions, with a focus on novel HIV protease and Metallo-Beta-Lactamase inhibitors, employing the Parallel Cascade Molecular Dynamics approach.

In the Catalysis and Peptide Research Unit at UKZN, he diligently pursued the synthesis, computational chemistry, and biotesting of cage compounds, contributing significantly to the understanding of these complex molecules.

With a legacy encompassing more than 100 mentored graduate students and over 400 peer-reviewed scientific papers, Kruger’s impact is undeniable. His journey wasn’t just a personal ascent; it was a profound influence that shaped the realm of chemistry research. His academic family tree stands as a testament to the lasting legacy he has etched, an embodiment of dedication, passion, and an unwavering pursuit of excellence.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied


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Dr Emma Johnston off to Harvard for Postdoctoral Pursuits

Dr Emma Johnston off to Harvard for Postdoctoral Pursuits
Dr Emma Johnston.

In a remarkable journey that has taken her from the corridors of clinical practice and academic exploration in South Africa to the prestigious halls of Harvard University in the United States, Dr Emma Johnston’s dedication and accomplishments shine as an inspiring testament to her unwavering commitment to mental health care and social betterment.

After successfully completing her PhD in Behavioural Medicine at UKZN in 2020, she has soared to international acclaim, earning the coveted Harvard South Africa Fellowship Program (HSAFP) Award. This distinguished honour will see her embarking on a transformative postdoctoral journey at the esteemed Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston during the 2023/24 academic year.

The genesis of Johnston’s journey is rooted in her ground-breaking doctoral thesis, titled Multiculturalism, Globalisation and Developing Relevant Clinical Psychology Services in South Africa. Her pioneering work has not only contributed significantly to the field but has also garnered global recognition. With this rich foundation, she now steps onto the global stage to further her knowledge and skills under the banner of Harvard.

A focal point of her postdoctoral pursuit is the Master of Public Health (MPH) coursework in Health and Social Behaviour. As she immerses herself in this comprehensive programme, Johnston is poised to expand her expertise in mental health care, within the broader context of critical societal issues. Her studies encompass profound themes such as poverty, inequity, multiculturalism, and globalisation, aligning perfectly with her dedication to fostering a more holistic, inclusive and compassionate approach to mental health care.

Johnston’s aspirations are deeply rooted in the soil of her homeland, South Africa. Armed with the advanced knowledge and skills she’s set to acquire, she aims to bolster local mental health services, particularly within the public mental health sector. Her extensive engagement in this sector for over two decades, as part of the Joint Health Establishment between UKZN’s Discipline of Behavioural Medicine and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health at Town Hill Hospital in Pietermaritzburg, serves as a testament to her dedication and experience in the realm of clinical psychology services.

A key facet of Johnston’s journey lies in her commitment to training mental health professionals, including intern clinical psychologists. Her profound influence within the sector and her vision to enhance its effectiveness are poised to create a ripple effect that resonates through South Africa and beyond.

Johnston’s academic pursuits will be enhanced through her exposure to the MPH coursework, where she delves into the intricacies of inequities and social disparities in health services. Guided by luminaries in the field, these teachings promise to enrich her understanding of complex societal dynamics, further equipping her to tackle mental health challenges with the latest evidence-based approaches.

A beacon of inspiration and transformation, Johnston’s story is a testament to the power of individual dedication in fostering broader societal change. The Discipline of Behavioural Medicine and the UKZN community wish her well.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN Presents Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery Workshop at National Congress

UKZN Presents Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery Workshop at National Congress
Delegates at the workshop.

This year’s SA Thoracic Society Congress opened with a stimulating video-assisted thoracic surgery workshop on the Westville campus presented by UKZN’s Biomedical Resources Unit (BRU).

Thoracic surgery refers to operations on organs in the chest, including the heart, lungs and oesophagus.

Facilitated by cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Ivan Schewitz, the first day of the workshop involved mentoring registrars (specialists in training) from all seven cardiothoracic training units in South Africa on the minimally-invasive method of surgery which was performed on pigs.

Steve Biko Academic Hospital Registrar, Dr Phemelo Leeuw said it was the first time he had worked on a pig and its anatomy, which is quite similar to that of a human. ‘The workshop encouraged teamwork among the institutions, all working towards a common goal.’

UKZN’s Head of Cardiothoracic Surgery Dr Rajhmun Madansein said the first day of the congress equipped members of the society with practical skills to empower them to become better surgeons in the theatre. ‘One wants trainees to be trained and have the necessary skills before they start operating on patients in theatre,’ said Madansein.

‘Known as keyhole surgery, we’re trying to do smaller and smaller incisions so that patients recover rapidly, pain is less of a problem, there are shorter stays in hospital, and scars are generally much smaller. The trend in surgical training is to do more and more in smaller and smaller incisions.

‘Surgical training is different to non-surgical medical disciplines in that the training involves not only reading and acquiring knowledge but also getting the necessary technical skills,’ said Madansein.

‘BRU is an important component in training, not only in veterinary medicine but in human medicine as well. It’s not a dry laboratory where one would use non-animal and non-human materials. A wet laboratory involves using some form of organic tissue, so usually what we would use is pig hearts, their veins and arteries for human simulation.’

He said there were three common groups of heart patients in South Africa - those born with defective heart conditions, those with rheumatic heart disease which involves heart valves that often need to be replaced with artificial valves, and patients with coronary artery disease - blockages in the blood vessels that can lead to heart attacks or death if untreated.

Madansein said cardiothoracic surgeons depended on teamwork involving cardiologists, perfusionists, anaesthetists and the nursing staff for the success of any theatre procedure. ‘Cardiothoracic surgery is expensive but it is also lifesaving surgery. Another thoracic surgery performed is often on lungs infected by TB and lung cancer. This country is the epicentre for TB, HIV and their co-infection. We have many cases of multidrug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant TB and have also treated a lot of oesophageal cancer,’ he said.

Schewitz said he enjoyed interacting with the registrars, practically exposing them to the instruments and the feasibility of the video-assisted lobectomies (surgery to remove one of the lobes of the lungs), the quality of which was constantly improving.

Trained at UKZN’s Cardiothoracic Department and today a consultant based at Harare’s Parirenyatwa Hospital, Dr Kudzai Kanyepi said she found the workshop to be ‘a great hands-on experience, with excellent mentorship and guidance from senior surgeons.’

UKZN College of Health Sciences Telehealth Senior Technician Mr Mhlengi Zondi said it was always fascinating to record and live-stream such interactive workshops to a virtual audience.

BRU was primarily designed to breed and house a variety of experimental animals with a core focus being to meet the scientific needs of teachers and researchers in an area of the biomedical sciences of the entire eastern seaboard of South Africa.

BRU Manager and veterinarian Dr Nqobile Jaca said that it was gratifying to be able to get back to hosting workshops in the unit post-COVID-19. ‘It is so rewarding to have the human medicine and veterinary fields together to do ground-breaking and life-changing training for the registrars,’ said Jaca. ‘Thank you to vets Dr Sanil Singh and Dr Edmore Mushoriwa, and BRU staff members Dr Linda Bester, Mrs Ritta Govender, Ms Thabisile Mkhize, Bab’ Thokozani Ndwandwe and Mr Lubabalo Gweleshe. All these individuals worked tirelessly to ensure the workshop was a success.’

Words and photographs: Lunga Memela


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UKZN Hosts Global Irish Diaspora Congress

UKZN Hosts Global Irish Diaspora Congress
Scenes at the Irish Diaspora Congress.Click here for isiZulu version

UKZN’s College of Humanities hosted the 2nd Global Irish Diaspora Congress, bringing together scholars from countries all over the world, including Argentina, Britain, China, Ireland, South Africa, the United States of America and Zimbabwe.

School of Applied Human Sciences’ Emeritus Professor Donal McCracken led the event with his research interests divided between environmental history and the Irish Diaspora in Africa.

McCracken said the aim of the congress was to have people engage and study the extent and impact of the millions of Irish people who fled harsh conditions in Ireland to settle in distant lands, including on the African continent, where a lot of people worked in health and education fields as well as becoming missionaries.

Among many socio-economic themes focused on were presentations on the experience of Black South African doctors trained in Ireland; the South African Irish experience referring to alcohol and drug use; the Irish portrayals and experiences in London and New York; Irish identities and the identities of destination countries; a study of a family who moved from an Irish county to the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast as well as a case study by Professor Ruth Teer-Tomaselli and Dr Mary Lange of four memorial museums on sites of incarceration.

An exhibition by the Embassy of Ireland in South Africa focused on the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement, An Gluaiseacht Éireannach in Aghaid Apartheid, while a paper by McCracken examined Irish Zuluism, a study of the Irish and the Zulus during and in the aftermath of the Anglo-Zulu War. McCracken also led delegates on a two-day tour of the KwaZulu-Natal battlefields, including Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift.

Professor Sihawukele Ngubane of the School of Arts said the publications presented at a panel session at the congress delved mainly into socio-economic divisions of Ireland which he related to as a South African. ‘The core issue for the majority of the presenters, some of whom have Irish ancestry, was one of identification, culture and historical experiences.’

The eye-opening and informative event showed Ireland’s rich history of conflicting cultures and discrimination at the hands of the British, a factor common to African countries, said Ngubane.

Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela

Photographs: Supplied


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“Growing Our Own Timber” and Workplace Readiness Featured on Webinar

“Growing Our Own Timber” and Workplace Readiness Featured on Webinar
UKZN students at a Graduation ceremony.Click here for isiZulu version

Helping prepare students for the demands of the modern workplace was the aim of a webinar hosted by the School of Social Sciences.

Unemployment figures indicate that the graduate unemployment rate in South Africa has increased significantly over the past 10 years with additional factors having an international impact on knowledge creation including climate change and the government’s limited ability to fund students.

The Dean and Head of the School of Social Sciences, Professor Vivian Ojong, said there were various areas being revisited in the Bachelor of Social Science degree to adjust to technological changes. ‘We are living in a digital age; therefore, we need to rethink our technology, however, the last graduate survey revealed that the current curriculum does not prepare students for employment.’

Ojong identified opportunities in the creation of internship positions through strategic Memoranda of Understanding with government organisations such as the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) and the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Legislature.

Academic and wellness champion Dr Mabuyi Gumede reflected on teaching methods and implored academics not to teach for the sake of teaching. ‘Let us not only make teaching a process of imparting knowledge to the students but also practice pro-activeness in embracing technological changes.’

Professor David Curt of the University of Massachusetts in the United States presented on Global Perspectives, followed by Professor Simphiwe Nojiyeza of the University of Zululand, who spoke on Social Sciences and Entrepreneurship.

Ms Nomfundo Mbatha, a UKZN student in Cultural and Heritage Tourism, shared positive feedback on the event. ‘I want to thank all involved. We have greatly benefited from the resources offered, such as online portal access and networking opportunities, in terms of advancing our skills and maintaining relationships with other participants and professionals in the field. Additionally, the programme’s alumni network offers a useful venue for potential future partnerships and employment.’

Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN Expands International Presence in Ghana with Partnerships and Student Recruitment

UKZN Expands International Presence in Ghana with Partnerships and Student Recruitment
University of Ghana officials with UKZN delegates.Click here for isiZulu version

UKZN made further strides in expanding its international reach through a visit to Ghana by a University delegation led by Professor Stephen Mutula, the Dean and Head of the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance (SMIG).

The purpose of the visit was to recruit international students and forge collaborative partnerships.

Said Mutula: ‘The visit directly aligned with UKZN’s 2023-2032 Strategic Plan, Project Renewal, the College of Law and Management Studies Strategy, and the SMIG strategy which all underscore diversifying the student profile, partnerships and internationalisation. The second goal of the UKZN strategic plan is to provide an excellent student experience by diversifying the student community. By seeking out prospective students from Accra, the Institution aims to attract a more diverse student body, that enrich the educational experience for all.’

The visit to Accra was also an opportunity for the School to establish collaborative partnerships with institutions in Ghana with an emphasis on research, innovation, and entrepreneurship, thus, supporting UKZN’s strategic goal of fostering excellent and high-impact contributions in these areas. Through these partnerships, both UKZN and institutions in Ghana can share knowledge, resources and mutually benefit from academic co-operation.

At every institution visited, the delegation was welcomed by vice-chancellors, deputy vice-chancellors, deans and directors of international relations. More than 300 prospective students were addressed by delegation members about UKZN’s vision, mission, values, and strategic institutional ambitions. Five universities discussed with the delegation potential Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with UKZN.

With a strong emphasis on internationalisation, the University recognises the importance of engaging with global partners and the delegation’s visit served to tap into a potential growth area in the African market. By fostering relationships with institutions in Ghana, UKZN can expand its network, attract international students, and promote its academic offerings abroad.

The delegation engaged with prospective students in various institutions, including the University of Ghana, University of Cape Coast, Pentecost University, Ghana Communication Technology University, Regent University of Science and Technology, SOS-Hermann Gmeiner International College and East Legon Worship Centre at the Church of Pentecost with a congregation of about 500 of whom about 90% are young people aspiring to pursue university education outside the country.

Words: Sibonginkosi Mabika

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN Academic on Visiting Scholar Programme at University of Massachusetts

UKZN Academic on Visiting Scholar Programme at University of Massachusetts
Dr Lerato Hlengiwe Sokhulu.

A University of Massachusetts (UMass) civic initiative designed to support research into American politics, education and political thought offered UKZN staff member, Dr Lerato Hlengiwe Sokhulu the opportunity to enhance her professional expertise and provide insights into and comparisons with South African culture, education, and political thought.

Sokhulu said the programme highlighted the role of prominent former US leaders such as Thomas Jefferson, James Oglethorpe and Thomas Paine in shaping that nation’s identity, constitution, democracy and liberty. It also explored the demographic composition of the US population which significantly impacts its political landscape.

Among various discoveries, she believes that with the integration of US political and educational system studies into the Education Studies modules, pre-service teachers have a unique opportunity for comparative analysis through a systematic examination. ‘This will allow aspiring educators to be equipped and distinguish similarities and differences between the educational landscapes of South Africa and the United States,’ she said.

Sokhulu said the analytical approach would also foster a broader understanding of the diverse influences that shape educational contexts whilst enabling pre-service teachers to cultivate a nuanced and globally informed perspective. ‘The knowledge and expertise acquired through the programme will be strategically employed to enhance the quality and depth of course content within the area of American civic education.

‘This endeavour aligns with a broader objective of nurturing a cohort of educators who possess a comprehensive global outlook, capable of critically evaluating and enriching educational practices within the South African context by drawing upon international insights and experiences,’ she said.

She said among the perks that came with being part of the programme were a sightseeing journey through three states - New York, Virginia, and Massachusetts - as well as the distinctive district of Washington DC with an itinerary comprising awe-inspiring landmarks and significant tourist attractions that stand as monumental representations of the United States.

Sokhulu is grateful to Professor Simon Khoza of the School of Education who provided invaluable support for her application to the SUSI programme and took the initiative to personally bring it to her attention. ‘He graciously composed a reference letter on my behalf. I am genuinely indebted to him for his mentorship and unwavering support throughout my academic pursuit,’ she said.

Sokhulu also thanked Head and Dean of the School of Education, Professor Thabo Msibi, whose consistent dissemination of such opportunities and encouragement to the School has been highly beneficial.

Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela

Photograph: Supplied


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Use of Photography to Track “Slow Violence” of Environmental Disasters Debated in Webinar

Use of Photography to Track “Slow Violence” of Environmental Disasters Debated in Webinar
Part of Durban’s informal settlements after the 2022 floods.

The Centre for Civil Society within the School of Built Environment hosted a webinar to discuss the use of photography to trace the “slow violence” of environmental disasters in Durban.

Presenters included Ms Alexandra Rose Howland, an abstract painter who has spent the last decade living in the Middle East creating work that challenges traditional coverage of the region and its geopolitics, and Ms Emily Ragus, a PhD student at the University of Amsterdam in Holland, whose research interests are on the impact of the 2022 KwaZulu-Natal floods on physical, social and environmental issues.

The duo traced the footprint of what they term “slow violence” because of environmental damage following the 2022 Durban floods - an event that “intersected” over four years with other catastrophes, including COVID-19, multiple environmental disasters and widespread civil and political unrest.

An informal settlement located on the low-lying banks of the Palmiet River, was the focus of the study. This urban environment is enmeshed with environmental changes exacerbated by apartheid-era spatial inequalities.

Ragus’s work explored injury, focusing on anthropological interviews to navigate through the victim’s healing spaces and different ways to move towards healing. ‘The majority of our ethnographic observation took place over six months and then responses and recovery observations also required a significant amount of time with different NGOs in the community answering questions’

Howland shared her work to provide an understanding of her methods and how she approaches new topics or issues, saying that some images can give perceptions of conflict zones. A photographer is able to represent different types of situations - the transition from normal life into conflict and what that photographic situation means.

Howland and Ragus used a methodological framework grounded in ethnographic inquiry, photography, and arts-based methods for research co-creation.

The duo’s aim is to understand the ways in which individuals negotiate and exercise their agency within the context of escalating instability.

Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela

Photograph: Darren Stewart - Gallo Images


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MOU with KZN Legislature Offers Exciting Benefits for Postgraduate Students

MOU with KZN Legislature Offers Exciting Benefits for Postgraduate Students
Professor Vivian Ojong (second left) and KZN Legislature delegates.

UKZN has signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature in a development aimed at expanding career opportunities for School of Social Science postgraduate students.

The goal of the MoU - signed for UKZN by the Dean and Head of the School, Professor Vivian Besem Ojong - is to provide students with research and legislative skills.

Advantages for UKZN include the promotion of internship opportunities, facilitation of postgraduate placements, and translation of research studies for Legislature Committees through briefing sessions.

Other benefits involve sharing research and programme evaluation processes, information, and research expertise on various areas of collaboration with the Legislature to identify academics and students for placement and to oversee projects such as collaboration on publications and conferences.

Ojong said she was pleased with the agreement, noting that all programmes and the availability of resources indicated a readiness for the required research to get underway. Plans for the School’s curriculum include the implementation of short courses and expanding skills development.

‘We are thrilled to be able to provide our students with relationships that will help them grow their skill sets through the new partnership. We will be able to assist them to get the training they need for their specialities while building a beneficial relationship with the Legislature,’ she added.

Secretary of the Legislature Ms Nerusha Naidoo said the institution had long planned to form a relationship with UKZN as they had a shortage of researchers.

‘We are here to acknowledge the strategic cooperation we currently have with UKZN which goes beyond a working relationship. We will discover things as our connection develops that we had not previously thought of in terms of mutual benefits,’ she added.

Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela and Rakshika Sibran

Photograph: Supplied


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Playful and Artistic Teaching Approaches Workshop on Edgewood Campus

Playful and Artistic Teaching Approaches Workshop on Edgewood Campus
Highlights from the workshop.

A group of academics completed a workshop on UKZN’s Edgewood campus that introduced participants to integrated playful teaching approaches.

The workshop - led by a Creative Art lecturer Ms Nosipho Mbatha who developed the presentation from her doctoral research - explored playful approaches to teaching and learning for Higher Education. Inspired by her research findings, Mbatha applied for and was earlier this year awarded the Teaching Enhancement Quality and Innovation Grant (TEQIG) and is currently running a project that assists academics integrate playful and artistic approaches into their teaching.

The project is titled: Giving it a Try: Possibilities of Playful Pedagogies in Teacher-Education Modules, and its objective is to skill academics with the ability to incorporate at least one playful teaching approach and/or one artistic method of assessment in one or more of the modules they teach.

The workshop ran for three days during which time Mbatha presented her work and shared other research on playful approaches while working with the participants through practical playful activities, developing an artistic assessment tool for teaching and learning.

Participants will use their planned teaching and assessment tools in their teaching this semester and thereafter collaborate on a research paper to share their experiences.

In their reflection at the end of the event, academics said they appreciated the chance to participate and be assisted to innovate their teaching artistically.

Said Professor Phumlani Myende: ‘I’m pleased I attended as I am now aware how some of these techniques will help in my postgraduate teaching, such as the usage of collages as a tool for assessment or even for supervision. I have a lot to think about.’

Mbatha thanked the Teaching and Learning Office for awarding her the grant to conduct the project as an emerging researcher.

Words: Nosipho Precious Mbatha

Photographs: Supplied


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Induction Sessions for Computer Science Students

Induction Sessions for Computer Science Students
Highlights from the induction sessions.Click here for isiZulu version

UKZN School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science in collaboration with First National Bank (FNB) and Business Systems Group (BSG) hosted student induction sessions on the Westville and Pietermaritzburg campuses for Computer Science students.

To emphasise the unity among aspirant computer scientists, the School invited students from first-year to postgraduate levels.

The event opened with welcome addresses from Dean and Head of the School Professor Serestina Viriri, and College Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Fhatuwani Mudau, whose inspiring words were well received by participants who listened intently as the speakers emphasised the profound role computer science is playing in shaping the world of tomorrow.

The driving forces behind the induction sessions event were Mrs Rosanne Els, a lecturer in the Computer Science discipline and the academic leader in the Computer Science discipline at UKZN Dr Mandla Gwetu, who explained that the purpose of the t-shirt project was to once again establish a sense of community amongst Computer Science students as this was stripped from them during COVID-19 times with the sudden shift to online teaching and learning.

The Computer Science T-shirts were sponsored by event partners, BSG and FNB. The event was also an opportunity to celebrate the unity and shared aspirations of emerging computer scientists within the UKZN community.

BSG and FNB representatives addressed students with the Principal Chief Transformation Advisor at BSG, Mr Rishi Birbal, delivering a presentation titled: Unlock your Potential. Accelerate your Career; while Solution Architect at FNB Ms Bhavna Pithamber, clarified how FNB had been pioneering in the tech space and also shared valuable advice for prospective employees.

The event partners had exhibition stands at which students were able to engage with the partners and get valuable information about work opportunities at FNB and BSG.

Students also interacted with Computer Science alumnus Ms Ayesha Osman of BSG, Mr Sahil Lawton and Mr Alexander Goudemond.

Participants joined in a fun dance contest and received computer science T-shirts designed by Computer Science graduate Ms Salurie Padayachee, symbolising the profound connection between students and lecturers and reflecting the discipline’s journey.

Els was overjoyed, saying she had long nurtured the vision of organising T-shirts for the students and the overwhelming turnout and enthusiasm surpassed even her optimistic expectations. Els also expressed her gratitude to Leena Rajpal and her team for making this event as successful as it was.

Words: Siphesihle Owen Shezi

Photographs: Supplied


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UKZN and SA Institute of Chartered Accountants Meet to Strengthen Co-operation

UKZN and SA Institute of Chartered Accountants Meet to Strengthen Co-operation
Highlights of the meeting held by SAEF with SAICA Executives.

In a significant step towards enhancing collaboration, especially in the area of bursaries, representatives of the Discipline of Accounting within the School of Accounting, Economics, and Finance (SAEF) met with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) executives.

The meeting concentrated on strengthening the institutions’ partnership and to foster new initiatives for the Thuthuka Bursary Programme, a vital initiative that supports students from previously disadvantaged backgrounds pursuing the coveted CA (SA) qualification.

Among those present were key figures from SAICA, including CEO Mr Freeman Nomvalo, and the Executive for National Projects, Mr Robert Zwane, while UKZN personnel included Dean and Head of the School Professor Mabutho Sibanda; Co-ordinator of Accounting Programmes Professor Suren Pillay, and UKZN Thuthuka Bursary Programme Manager Mr Rudolf Mbanjwa.

SAICA places great importance on maintaining open communication channels with universities involved in running the Thuthuka Bursary Programme and continually seeks ways to enhance the funding programme. During the meeting, both parties evaluated several options to improve the overall experience of students participating in the bursary programme.

‘UKZN has been running the bursary programme successfully in collaboration with SAICA for over four years and has now entered its fifth academic year in 2023. The programme significantly contributes to SAEF’s efforts, particularly in terms of SAICA’s accreditation of the Accounting qualification,’ said Mbanjwa.

He highlighted that the meeting also provided UKZN with an opportunity to showcase some of the initiatives and programmes that have been integrated into the bursary programme. Notably, the Thuthuka Bursary Fund plays a crucial role in achieving the transformation objectives of the government and SAICA for the accounting profession.

The Thuthuka Bursary Programme serves as a crucial platform to redress historical injustices that have hindered deserving students from pursuing the CA(SA) qualification due to financial constraints. Sibanda said the programme played a pivotal role in producing future chartered accountants with global mobility. 

‘As a School, we have built numerous partnerships with both the private and public sectors for enhanced student experience and graduate employability. The Thuthuka programme is one such partnership, and we are confident that it will achieve its set goals of transformation through the University of KwaZulu-Natal.’

SAICA thanked those involved for efforts and progress made through the Thuthuka Bursary Programme and welcomed the interventions implemented by UKZN to provide additional support to students facing challenges.

For those interested in applying for the bursary, qualifying students can visit www.thuthukabursaryfund.co.za.

Words: NdabaOnline

Photographs: Supplied


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UKZN Celebrates Legacy of Professor Fatima Meer

UKZN Celebrates Legacy of Professor Fatima Meer
Speakers and audience at the Fatima Meer Lecture.

The extraordinary life of South African human rights activist, academic, author, prisoner and sociologist Professor Fatima Meer was commemorated at the second annual memorial lecture at UKZN.

Meer’s grandson Mr Zen Marie served as programme director, while fellow activist and friend Ela Gandhi had the audience captivated with personal memories and reflections on Meer’s life.

The annual Professor Fatima Meer Memorial Lecture - PFMML acknowledges Meer’s contribution to South African social justice. Launched virtually in 2022 in the School of Social Science - College of Humanities it has firmly a platform to build on Meer’s legacy.

This year’s keynote address was delivered by Dr Same Mdluli on Defiance and Resistance: Meer’s Cultural Creativity, Social Capital and Artistic Vision intersections of Meer’s Creativity. ‘As we remember and honour Professor Meer’s achievements and contributions, we welcome insights and critical engagement that will undoubtedly continue to enrich meaningful discussion.’

Meer’s work is preserved in the Professor Fatima Meer Archives and Special Collections to intensify research. Dr Roshini Pather of UKZN Library Services said: ‘We believe that digitising such delicate material will also increase the material’s visibility and accessibility. Our responsibility is to accurately maintain the history, social, cultural, religious, political, educational, and recreational lines of the community by making these resources available to the community.’ She encouraged the donation of artefacts and materials for the Meer archives (for more information visit fmeerarchives@ukzn.ac.za.)

UKZN’s Professor Mariam Seedat-Khan, chair of the FMMLC and Meer’s grandniece awarded the first in person Clinical and Applied Sociology Book prize, reflected that ‘The vision for a Clinical and Applied Sociology Programme was born under Professor Meer and Mr Ramesh Harcharan’s mentorship in the early 90s at the Institute for Black Research-IBR. As a master’s candidate, I worked tirelessly, conducting research, driving, filing, sorting, interviewing, transcribing and archiving documents.

‘A professional and personal experience that thrust me into the field of Clinical and Applied Sociology. Acknowledging and extending deep gratitude for my internship at IBR has culminated in multiple collective local and global efforts that undoubtedly seek to advance the intellectual project. Meer deserved far more recognition for her pioneering work dismantling systemic and institutional patriarchy - her work is by no means complete. We at UKZN and the broader academic community are grateful to be tasked with memorialising and sustaining her life’s work. As an early Southern woman sociologist and prisoner of apartheid she disrupted the narrative that dehumanised and de-conscientised her then and us today. Meer responded to racist and gendered brutality with reconciliation and love for her country. She expressed her love for life by repeated references to “bluer than the blue sea” and “bluer than the blue sky”,’ said Seedat-Khan.

Seedat-Khan conferred the 2023 Professor Fatima Meer Clinical Sociology Book Prize on Laureate Ms Viyuktha Deoparsad whose research focused on: The Impact of Apartheid Legislation on Three Schools in Pietermaritzburg. ‘Deoparsad has demonstrated exceptional capabilities and proficiencies in post-apartheid education. She is currently developing a clinical intervention for schools in her immediate community committed to positive change,’ said Seedat-Khan.

Deoparsad said she was humbled to receive the prize. ‘It’s never a good sign when your professor calls, so when I received a call and personal invitation from Professor Seedat-Khan to attend the Memorial Lecture, I was surprised.

‘Growing up in Pietermaritzburg I remember learning, studying and hearing family talk about the magnanimous Professor Fatima Meer. I came to recognise her altruistic role and her tireless struggle against apartheid. While reading for my degree, I was introduced to her writings, with increasing curiosity in her sociological research,’ she said. ‘I discovered her writings that demonstrated that advanced thinking always disrupted traditional views. So, receiving this prestigious award is surreal.’

The FMML featured a musical performance by Natalie Rungan and Niel Gonsalves.

Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela

Photographs: Supplied


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UKZN Launches STEM MentHer Programme

UKZN Launches STEM MentHer Programme
STEM MentHer programme launched at UKZN.

Eleven female Grade 12 learners in KwaZulu-Natal were given a launch pad to pursue careers involving Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at an inaugural STEM MentHer induction ceremony at UKZN.

The ceremony at the University’s Science Technology Education Centre (STEC) was hosted by Dr Cerene Rathilal, a UKZN lecturer in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science in partnership with the National Institute for Theoretical and Computational Sciences (NiTheCS) and UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science

The STEM MentHer Programme aims to bridge the gender gap in STEM by providing mentorship and support to young female learners who want to pursue careers in specific fields. By connecting the learners with experienced and accomplished female mentors, the programme strives to empower and guide them through their educational and professional journeys.

In 2022, Rathilal founded and piloted the STEM MentHer Programme at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), with a total of 16 students inducted. After its successful implementation, the programme which continues to run at UJ under the leadership of its director Dr Lungile Sitohle, was launched at Stellenbosch University where nine students have been inducted. This success and the support from the wider community led to the programme’s expansion to KZN with UKZN’s Dr Yaseera Ismail and Dr Chevarra Hansraj taking the lead.

The ceremony boasted an impressive lineup of accomplished women in STEM, including Dr Ronalda Benjamin, Dr Lungile Sithole, Dr Yaseera Ismail, Dr Chevarra Hansraj and Dr Dalia Varghese, all of whom have made significant contributions in their respective fields. Their presence inspired the mentees and sent a powerful message of encouragement to young learners and their parents.

The event opened with an informative and eye-opening presentation by Professor Rituparno Goswami, the Academic Leader of Research and Higher Degrees at the School of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science. His presentation clarified the various disciplines within the School and emphasised their important role in solving real-world problems. Goswami’s talk explained the path ahead for these aspiring scientists and engineers, fostering enthusiasm and igniting a passion for knowledge within them.

The highlight of the ceremony was the exciting moment when Sithole went on stage to hand over mentee badges and announce the much-anticipated mentor-mentee pairings. The mentors were carefully selected to ensure that each mentee’s aspirations aligned with her mentor’s expertise, allowing for a tailored and impactful mentorship experience. The mentor-mentee pairs are as follows:

1. Ms Jyothi Ramdhani - Dr Zamambo Mkhize
2. Ms Tamica Singh - Ms Sivumile Mbatha
3. Ms Thokozani Nene - Professor Joyce Chitja
4. Ms Tumelo Mbatha - Dr Boitumelo Precious Phakathi
5. Ms Rejente’ Dorasamy - Ms Yuvika Singh
6. Ms Tarika Harilal - Dr Nombuso Zondo and Dr Danielle Roberts
7. Ms Akeesha Maharaj - Ms Yuvika Singh
8. Ms Zaahira Khan - Dr Naimah Ebrahim-Khan
9. Ms Mishka Maharaj - Dr Reratilwe Mphahlele
10. Ms Misbah Hussain - Dr Sarisha Harrylal
11. Ms Maia Lucie Klijnstra - Dr Chevarra Hansraj and Ms Shavani Naicker

Following the announcements, a Principal Academic Development Officer at UKZN, Dr Dalia Varghese, explained the significance of STEM and presented this alarming statistic: globally, less than 30-35% of women pursue STEM careers and in South Africa the percentage drops to a mere 13%, emphasising the importance of initiatives such as the MentHer Programme in bridging the gender gap in those fields.

Dr Yaseera Ismail, the UKZN STEM MentHer programme manager, delivered a powerful closing statement, stressing that the programme served as a catalyst for positive change in STEM, encouraging women to pursue their passion, break barriers and contribute their unique perspectives and talents to make significant advancements in science and technology. Through mentorship and community building, this initiative aspires to create a more balanced and promising future for women in STEM careers.

The collaboration between STEM MentHer co-ordinators, NiTheCS, UKZN and the dedicated mentors reinforces the collective commitment to empowering women in STEM. The journey of these young mentees has just begun and with the amazing sessions and activities planned, they will receive guidance and support from their mentors and the wider STEM community.

Words: Siphesihle Owen Shezi

Photographs: Supplied


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