UKZN Comrades Refreshment Table a Winner on the Day!

UKZN Comrades Refreshment Table a Winner on the Day!
UKZN students in preparation for the runners.

UKZN staff and students ran a refreshment station at Old Main Road in Botha’s Hill for runners in this year’s Comrades Marathon.

Staff from Corporate Relations Division and Extended Learning as well as students from the Physiotherapy Department in the College of Health Sciences supported runners as they made their way from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.

Many of the runners slowed down only slightly for refreshments, mindful as usual of time pressures to complete the race.

The table worked feverishly to keep up with the high volumes of runners with Physiotherapy students offering quick massages to loosen tight and cramped muscles. 

One of the runners who stopped at the station was Mr Rajen Munesar, a member of staff in UKZN’s Finance Division who was competing in his ninth Comrades.

It was a long and tiring day for all those working at the station but an enjoyable one where everybody worked as a team to ensure things ran smoothly. 

-          Shakila Thakurpersad


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School Hosts Inaugural Research Day

School Hosts Inaugural Research Day
Prize winners at the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences Research Day on the Westville campus.

The School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences (LMMS) has held its inaugural Research Symposium billing it as an occasion for staff and students to identify the opportunities, skills and research being conducted at an optimal level at UKZN.

Plenary speaker the Associate Scientific Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, provided motivational insight for the students. ‘Research is about advancing what we know. With technology evolving so swiftly, globalisation has brought about a major realisation,’ said Abdool Karim.

‘A threat in a certain corner of the globe is relevant to people in this part of the world. We are surrounded by many public health challenges with so many diseases prevalent on our back door. Research is about combining and synergising our ideas to stay ahead of the knowledge curve while collaborating and bringing about a difference. Self-belief is also very important in your pursuit and generation of knowledge.’

The Research Day featured postgraduate students presenting talks on a wide selection of topics categorised into three distinct themes. Winners were graded on their presentations and the best presentations were recognised at the prize-giving ceremony held at the end of the day.

Masters student, Ms Rivona Harricharan, won a prize under the section on Human Body Form and Function. Her topic,Tat-Induced Neurotoxicity Mediates Hippocampus-Associated Behavioural Impairments and Histological Alterations, provided insight into the behaviour of the HIV/TAT, a protein which caused HIV-mediated dementia in patients. 

Her study mimicked the effects of the protein on the brains of rats and found a significant loss of brain layers.

In the section Genetic, Molecular and Cellular Disease, the winner was Ms Shivona Gounden, a PhD student whose topic was titled: Sirtuin 3 Initiates a Cell-Survival Response under Hyperglycaemic Conditions in Human Heptoma Cells. Type 2 Diabetes is predicted to affect around 300 million people worldwide. If stress is reduced and mitocondriac integrity is lowered, diabetes can be controlled. Sirtuins form a family of central regulators of metabolic function and cell survival. Gounden emphasised the regulators of DNA repair and Sirt 3 key regulators that activate target proteins.

In the Infectious Diseases section, PhD student Ms Catherine Koofhethile won with her topic: Reduction in Breadth and not Polyfunctionality or Proliferative Capacity of CD8+ T Cells is Associated with Loss of Virologic HIV Control.

Koofhethile found there was no significant difference in the polyfunctionality of the CD8+ T Cells. There was also no significant difference in the overall breadth of HIV CD8+ T cells responses between P and VCs at baseline.

For the poster session, students were encouraged to create posters which were also rated. First prize went to Mr Ernest Ebell’a Dalle for the poster titled: The Identification of a Possible Biomarker for Cognitive impairment.

Second was Dolly Seipone for HIV-1 Viral Load Dynamics and Compartmentalization in the Cerebrospinal Fluid and Blood in Patients Presenting with Tuberculosis Meningitis (TBM) versus Other Meningitis.

Third was Ms Kimane Josephs’ poster The Effect of Tulbaghia Violacea HARV on Blood Glucose Levels and Antioxidant Status in Streptozotocin-induced Diabetic Rats.

Professor William Daniels, Dean of LMMS, said with the Research Day being so well received, there was hope that  next year more students could present and create a fantastic opportunity to get to learn and know about the research taking place within the University.

-         Zakia Jeewa

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Race, Space and the City

Race, Space and the City
Some research group members from left: Ms Nompumelelo Kubheka, Ms Nandipha Makhaye, Ms Londiwe Sokhabase and Ms Nompilo Khanyile, with Professor Rozena Maart.

Race, Space and the City is a new research group at the Centre for Critical Research on Race and Identity (ccrri).

The Director of the ccrri, Professor Rozena Maart, said this year with the focus on slain activist, former medical student at our University, Steve Biko and the Biko Education Project, students have also engaged with the work of Biko as a means of addressing his analysis and drawing it into their understanding of land, space, and aesthetics.

Maart said the approach was not to simply treat these concepts as though they existed without people and without a history of oppression and subjugation. ‘Learning through their agency as learners, they can develop better approaches to establishing the many parameters of African scholarship,’ Maart noted.

‘There is a belief that somehow the construction of race takes place outside of the construction of buildings, which is erroneous.  Every building has a history, every building has a foundation, and that foundation reflects the history of the country, the demarcation of the city, the soil upon which it is built, the history of those who till the soil and the history of those who inhabit it,’ said Maart.

Race, Space and the City was first started in order to address research questions students brought to the Centre on land, race and space.  Students reported an absence of discussions on race in a number of disciplines where design, aesthetics, land, the city, and space formed part of the curriculum yet where an analysis of race was either absent as a consequence of imposing this absence or dismissed when raised by students. ‘Somehow this is left outside of architectural textbooks and there are those who still conveniently teach architecture as though racialised living spaces were not the cornerstone of the policy of racial segregation, the aftermath of which we are still living through today,’ said Maart

Students in architecture and the built environment together with students in community development, peace and conflict studies, law, sociology and politics, all come together in the Race, Space and the City Research Group, where they exchange ideas and offer their input.

‘South African colonial and apartheid history is reflected in the buildings and in all the spaces we come face to face with,’ said student, Ms Nompilo Khanyile. ‘I am so fortunate the ccrri provided me with the opportunity, the freedom and academic materials to learn about the history that resulted in the socio-spatial milieu of the African built environment.’

‘I know now that when I graduate I will not become another ordinary architect displaced in South Africa, but I will be a uniquely African architect with global professional and academic appeal,’ said Khanyile.

‘Attending seminars and engaging in general group discussions with students at the ccrri have broadened my views on how crucial social issues should be addressed. In addition to that, I’ve been empowered to write and establish my knowledge beyond architecture.’ Said another student, Ms Nompumelelo Kubheka:

‘The Biko and Black Consciousness seminar was an eye opener for me as a Black woman studying architecture in South Africa,’ said student, Ms Londiwe Sokhabase.

‘I look forward to what these students can produce in the form of published journal articles and we are certainly working towards this process in a number of different ways,’ Maart remarked.


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What is Not in a Name? A Response to the Griot


As a guest Grioter, I must apologise for intruding on Professor Keyan Tomaselli’s space. After reading the back issues of Griot, especially the one about his computer escapades, I am certain that this is a sacred space for  the official Griot to do what he doesn’t do often in class: joke. Now that I have moved beyond the ‘public sphere’ to violate the Griot’s cyberspace, I will explain why CCMS (The Centre for Communication, Media and Society) is UKZN’s best kept secret. But first, to disagree with Shakespeare’s Juliet, I would rather say: what is not in a name?

My first encounter with the name Tomaselli was back in Uganda in 2009. As a first year Master’s student interested in development communication, I read his seminal introduction to a 1997 issue of the Africa Media Review. His argument was that communication for development had failed to understand ‘contexts which mobilise indigenous values and knowledge’. The title, “Action Research, Participatory Communication: Why Governments Don't Listen”, was appealing to me because I lived in a country where the government did not listen. Over time, I looked out for Tomaselli’s name more than his work because I found his output most times too heavy for a person like me, fresh from a career in journalism.

If the name came above the words, then the article was good enough. Because of the influence his work had on me, I tried to picture Tomaselli in my mind. He was a huge black man with an unkempt grey goatee and a potbelly nurtured by all the sitting required to write brilliant academic pieces. My Tomaselli also walked around with a bit of a limp in his left foot, talking to himself with a yellow sugar-free cup of coffee, which spilled all over the cemented floor. This way, his contemporaries could easily find him by following trails of brown coffee stains to his old wooden office door. Regardless, that Tomaselli helped me to get my Master’s degree in a country where academic facilities are not as abundant as they are in Glenmore where I now live a lavish life. For that, I fail to believe that Tomaselli, by any other name (Keyan Schwarzkopf) would have been great (my parody of Shakespeare).

In 2013, as a lecturer at a Ugandan university, the name Tomaselli reappeared. This time, it was Ruth (Teer)-Tomaselli. She was visiting my university as part of an arrangement for me to study a PhD at UKZN. I spent three days ‘investigating’ who this other Tomaselli was and why she was imposing on someone’s name. It was hard for me to picture this new Tomaselli because she was a woman and therefore, no goatee, no potbelly; I had nothing to work with. Then I ran to one of my senior colleagues who described the ‘new’ Tomaselli as an “accomplished academic”. I downloaded a few articles written by the “new one” and realised that she was not new in the academic sense.

During a two-day workshop among the people we refer to back home as Norwegians (they are the reason I am here), I had my eyes fixed on Tomaselli. I swear I could have pierced her skin with my red sleep-deprived eyes, if I wasn’t careful. My mind started to wander again. I could hear my voice talking to her directly: ‘Hey Ruth. How do you publish that much and manage to remain yourself?’ Later that evening, I sauntered near her to conquer my fear. I gathered all my deepest energy to say just one word: “Hello”. I have kept the suit I wore that first time I spoke to a Tomaselli safe so that I can show it to my children one day for inspiration.

I arrived at UKZN in January 2014 and, after looking for CCMS in several buildings, I finally showed up inside CCMS. On my way in, I ran into a woman who stormed out looking at me like I owed her child support. Probably she was just wondering what she was seeing in front of her: a Black mesmerised man with a crazy hairdo, wearing a red t-shirt. Ruth Tomaselli (not Ruth Teer-Schwarzkopf) welcomed me and did the unthinkable: she gave me a tour around CCMS. That was too much for my senses. Where I come from, if the Head shows you around, and you are not his/her relative, then it is around a disciplinary committee. CCMS was definitely the right place to be.

During the orientation, the body mapping exercise, helped me to visualise one’s personal goals in relation to the Self. This is a technique where students have other students draw a life size tracing of one’s body while lying on a long piece of paper.  The owner of the body then populates the body with drawings and writing that visualize their academic goals as internal body parts in relation to the Self. As reality kicked in, body mapping revealed something to me that I had never cared to admit to myself. This class was also the first in which I ever gazed deep down into my soul and fetched something that disturbed me for a full week. It was one of the best practical sessions ever in my academic life. The CCMS facilitators, Lauren Dyll-Myklebust and Eliza Govender, helped me later to understand Development Communication. The challenge to me though remains how I can be a Tomaselli back in my own country. It is a question that keeps haunting me.

The point is that highly respected academics earn this recognition and enable a new generation to replace them when they retire.

Brian Semujju

PhD Candidate from Uganda Christian University

PhD student at the Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS)

 Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the author’s own.s

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SHAPE Programme Brings the Business Industry to the Students

SHAPE Programme Brings the Business Industry to the Students
Sherwood Books Managing Director Mr Mohammad Gangat donating books.

Aspirant entrepreneurs  who need assistance in how to start a business, to research business opportunities or to form formal business friendships with the business industry are invited to visit the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance's (SHAPE) Shifting Hope, Activating Potential Entrepreneurship  Research Centre.

The Centre which was recently launched by the School as part of the action research programme creates a link between academia and the business world as mentors from eThekwini Municipality’s Business Support Unit and the Durban Chamber of Business and Industry will be based at the School to provide them with information and business support. Through the Centre, students will also have access to tutors from the Regional and Local Economic Development Initiative and access to management, leadership and entrepreneurship books which are valuable for their studies.

SHAPE founder Ms Thea van der Westhuizen encouraged students to take advantage of this opportunity which brings industry experience to support them.

‘Everybody is welcome to visit the Centre and benefit from its formal friendship with the Municipality and Chamber. This is the first time that we will have the Municipality and the Durban Chamber based at UKZN once a week to mentor and support  young entrepreneurs. This creates a link between theoretical knowledge and practical application to the business world. This initiative encourages like hearted people who share the same vision for enhancing regional and local economic development as entrepreneurs in our province.

During the opening of the Centre both academics and local businesses donated books to the Centre's library to provide a platform for learners to be creatively stimulated.

Book donations were received from the School's lecturers and SHAPE wants to especially thank Dr Ziska Fields who donated 5 books, Sherwood Books who donated 18 books and the Chamber’s Dr Stanley Hardman who donated over 20 books.

Sherwood Books Managing Director and UKZN Alumnus Mr Mohammad Gangat said that they want to be part of the student’s development and success.

‘Our decision to provide students with material that will benefit them was really a simple decision for us as a company. We are also very encouraged by our youth who attended the SHAPE seminar, they showed such enthusiasm, intelligence and motivation. It all speaks well for the future of South African business,’ he said.

Dean and Head of School, Professor Henry Wissink emphasised the importance of the private sector, education, industry, government and business chambers to take action in supporting young entrepreneurs and through being visible and available to turn entrepreneurial concepts into entrepreneurial action.

- Thandiwe Jumo

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Importance of Ethics in Business Highlighted at Entrepreneurship Lecture

Importance of Ethics in Business Highlighted at Entrepreneurship Lecture
Guests at the Entrepreneurs Engage forum.

Local entrepreneur, innovator, investor and sportsman, Mr Matthew Bouman, spoke on the importance of ethics in business at the Entrepreneurs Engage event hosted by the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance and the Graduate School of Business and Leadership.

The forum provides students with an opportunity to engage with successful local entrepreneurs who give them a realistic view of the business world thus blending theory and practice.

The lecture was also linked to the action research project Shifting Hope, Activating Potential Entrepreneurship (SHAPE) - a teaching and learning programme which encourages young entrepreneurs to form networks within the business sector.

Bauman - a specialist in industrial and commercial property development who has embarked on various successful and failed entrepreneurship ventures - shared his inspirational story about how he chose to be an ethical businessman with the aim of empowering the community.

‘For students, ethics is often only a book chapter but there is a difference between reading about it and practising it. I have had a lot of business ventures, some of them have failed but most of them are successful and that is because I am ethical in all that I do,’ said Bouman. ‘ I continuously empower myself with knowledge and I do what makes me happy, that includes giving  back to those who are less fortunate than I am as they also need an opportunity to be successful.’

Bouman also spoke on the impotence of setting short and long term goals, the value of going green in business, corporate responsibility and surviving failure through self-motivation.

Students said they found the presentation inspirational and educational. Entrepreneur, Mr Ndoda Ntilini, said the lecture provided him with valuable information about how people not only buy your product but also what you do to develop the community. He was excited about adopting this principle in his business.

Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s newly appointed SMME Manager, Ms Nana Sabela, who also attended the lecture, said she was looking forward to getting actively involved with the SHAPE programme.

‘One never stops learning, that’s why it is important to make use of forums like this to get an understanding of how business and ethics go together,’ she said.

-          Thandiwe Jumo

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UKZN Power Line Robot Wows Crowds at Chicago Expo

UKZN Power Line Robot Wows Crowds at Chicago Expo
UKZN’s power line inspection robot, which was recently exhibited in the United States.

Engineers at UKZN working on a power line inspection robot, Mr Timothy Rowell and Mr Trevor Lorimer, from the Discipline of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering, recently exhibited their technology at the IEEE PES Transmission and Distribution Exposition, which was held in Chicago from 14-17 April 2014. According to its organisers, the exhibition is aimed at showcasing the technologies, products, companies and minds that will lead the electricity industry through the next fifty years – and beyond. 

The power line inspection robot was started by Professor Edward Boje as a master’s project, which has since grown with industry backing due to its potential use in a real-world application. The robot is essentially a platform that can carry inspection equipment along overhead power lines. The purpose of this is to find damage on the lines and the towers that support them before that damage progresses enough to cause disruptions to the transmission of electricity. The robot is innovative in that it aims to perform inspection tasks in a way that should be cheaper, use up fewer man-hours, and provide more detail of the line when compared to existing methods of inspection. The project is a joint effort between the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Eskom.

Lorimer said, ‘We put our robot on display at PES 2014 to publicise our advancements and make contacts in the electricity industry, with the view of eventually marketing the technology.  The robot drew crowds of onlookers while it moved on its own around the expo stand – a mockup of a piece of power line and associated hardware – to demonstrate its capabilities, while we engaged with people from around the world, interested in using the machine on their lines.’

-          Prashina Kallideen

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Isifundiswa sase-UKZN sigcizelele ukubaluleka kokunakekelwa komlomo ngenkathi sethula inkulumo e-Barbados

Isifundiswa sase-UKZN sigcizelele ukubaluleka kokunakekelwa komlomo ngenkathi sethula inkulumo e-Barbados
Kusukela kwesokunxele: uDkt Victor Eastmond, Dkt Shenuka Singh noNgqongqoshe Wezempilo e-Barbados, uMhlonishwa uJohn Boyce.

Umlando wezempilo kusukela ngesikhathi sobandlululo kuya kwesentando yeningi bekuyisihloko senkulumo ka-Dkt Shenuka Singh oyilungu loMkhakha wezokuNakekelwa kwamaZinyo eUKZN ngenkathi ekhuluma engqungqutheleni i-Caribbean Dental Convention e-Barbados, le ngqungquthela ihlanganisa abasebenza emkhakheni wezokunakekelwa kwamazinyo abavela emazweni ahlukene omhlaba.

uSingh ubuye wethula inkulumo kumbutho wezokuVikela e-Barbados nomphakathi, wabuye waba nomhlangano noNgqongqoshe wezeMpilo e-Barbados.

Inkulumo yakhe ibicacisa ngomlando wezempilo kusukela ngesikhathi sobandlululo kuya kwesentando yeningi iphinde ihlaziye ukuthi izinguquko zilulethe kanjani ushintsho eNingizimu Afrika.

 ‘Umthwalo womlando wezifo zomlomo wenza kubaluleke ukucacisa ngezimo zenhlalo nezomnotho nokuthi zinamuphi umthelela ekuhlinzekweni kwezempilo kulesikhathi samanje,’ kusho uSingh. ‘Iningi labasebenzei bezempilo litholakala ezimbonini zangasese lapho abasebenzi abangama 80% benakekela isibalo sabantu abangama 20%.’

Uthe ukuguquka kwezindlela zezifo, ukwethembela kakhulu kwezempilo ezihlinzekwa uhulumeni nokuntuleka kolwazi mayelana nokunakekelwa komlomo kushiye izifundazwe zaseNingizimu Afrika zishiyana ngosekwenziwe kulo mkhakha. ‘ Ulwazi olukhona ngenkinga yezifo zomlomo alugculisi. Ukuhlelwa kwezinqubomgomo akususelwa enkingeni yezifo futhi konke okwenziwayo ukungenelela ngokwezempilo kwenziwa kube kungaziwa ukuthi hlobo luni lwezinkinga ekuhlangabezwana nazo.’

 ‘Konke lokhu kumele kubhekisiswe kabanzi ukuze kubonakale ukuthi siziphatha kanjani ezokunakekelwa kwempilo yomlomo. Esikhundleni sokungenelela ngezisombululo ezihlakazekile, sigqugquzela indlela yokusebenza ehlangene ekuhlinzekweni kwezempilo yomlomo. Abasebenzi abaningi bezempilo bayakuhlukanisa ukunakekelwa komlomo kwezempilo jikelele esikhundleni sokuthi bakubheke njengento eyodwa.’

uSingh uthe izifo zomlomo eNingizimu Afrika ziyafana nakwamanye amazwe futhi izindlela zokuphila zinomthelela omkhulu esimweni sempilo yomlomo womuntu. ‘ Wonke amazwe abhekene nezinselelo ezimayelana nokuziphatha ekunakekelweni komlomo. Uphuzo oludakayo, ukubhema nokudla kuxhumene nezinkinga zenhliziyo, ushukela nezinga eliphezulu lomfutho wegazi okubuye kube nomthelela empilweni yomlomo womuntu.’

Enye yezinto uSingh ayigqugquzele eBarbados bekuwudaba lokunakekelwa komlomo nezindlela zokuzinakekelela umlomo. ‘Abasebenzi bezempilo kumele bagqugquzele okwaziwa “ngobuciko bokuzixilonga”. Uma umntu evuka nje ekuseni eyozibuka esibukweni, kumele azibheke amazinyo nezinsini. Kumele sibheke umbala nesimo samazinyo, ulimi, ulwanga nezinsini njalo ukuze sibone uma kukhona okungahambi kahle. Ngale ndlela sizokwazi ukubona izinguquko emlonyenibese siyofuna usizo olufanele.’

* uSingh unguMphathi woMkhakha WezokuNakekelwa kwamaZinyo eSikoleni seziFundo zezeMpilo futhi ungusihlalo weKomidi Lezemibandela yoCwaningo kwezeSintu Nezezifundo Ngenhlalo Yomphakathi e-UKZN.

Click here for English version

- u-Zakia Jeewa

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UNASA-UKZN Hosts International Labour Organisation

UNASA-UKZN Hosts International Labour Organisation
UNASA-UKZN Chairperson, Mr Pammynus Moinogu; Public Relations Officer, Mr Chiwueze Benedict Udeh; Secretary- General, Mr Gwendolene Hankwebe; Mr Vic van Vuuren; and Event Co-ordinator Mr Sibonelo Gumede.

UKZN students were brought up to speed recently with the role of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

This happened when the United Nations Association of the South Africa-UKZN Chapter (UNASA-UKZN) in partnership with the School of Social Sciences welcomed and hosted a representative of the ILO, a United Nations Organisation agency.

Among those who facilitated and welcomed ILO Director, Mr Vic van Vuuren, were International and Public Affairs (IPA) Cluster leader Dr Bheki Mngomezulu and Dr Lubna Nadvi of the School of Social Sciences.

Speaking at the event, van Vuuren highlighted the role of his organisation in the field of global labour development and discussed the essence and role of organised labour unions as well as global peace in the economic development of Africa and the rest of the world.

Van Vuuren told students about vast career opportunities in the UN. ‘There are lots of benefits in working for the UN as there are career opportunities for African graduates and professionals.’

He said he wanted to visit the University again to further enlighten students about the ILO.

For more information on UNASA-UKZN events and membership enrolment e-mail or follow the organisation on Twitter @unasaukzn or on their blog at

-          Melissa Mungroo and Chiwueze Benedict Udeh

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UKZN Historian Keynote Speaker at UniZulu Graduation Ceremony

UKZN Historian Keynote Speaker at UniZulu Graduation Ceremony
Professor Donal McCracken speaking at the University of Zululand’s Graduation ceremony.

Applied Humanities were the central theme in the keynote address by UKZN academic and historian Professor Donal McCracken at a Graduation ceremony at the University of Zululand.

‘University education is looking, preparing, learning and, most important, allowing independence of thought; seeing the difference between truth and fiction.  It is this human application, the marriage of human nature with acquired scholarship, which makes the humanities special but also affords it a lifeline for the future,’ said McCracken.

He spoke about the forthcoming “Graduate Destination Survey” which seeks to ascertain the employability of graduates completing their studies within the South African university system and, to determine the existing pathways from Higher Education into the labour market.

He advised every undergraduate to read the works of Zakes Mda and Mazizi Kunene. ‘African philosophy is as important to us in KwaZulu-Natal in 2014 as French philosophy was to Rousseau in 1774. But the novels of Gabriel Garcia Marquez are not a career end in themselves, but an important adjunct to a wider goal.

‘Applied Humanities as a concept is the key to the future and an applied humanities mind-set is now essential for any discipline head or dean of Arts/Humanities.’

‘If that means History becoming Heritage or French becoming Francophone-African studies (with a module or two in Marketing and Economics) so be it. The Humanities – the most Ubuntu-friendly of the university academic cohorts – have the ability, in some respects more so than the natural sciences, to transmogrify and adapt. At the end of the day, the Arts/Humanities are about people; and people are spirit; and spirit has never been the hand maiden of inertia,’ said McCracken.

-          Melissa Mungroo

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School of Education Hosts Science and Maths Competition

School of Education Hosts Science and Maths Competition
Grade 12 Science and Mathematics pupils participated in the Minquiz Regional Competition.

The School of Education hosted the Minquiz Regional Competition, an annual national Science and Mathematics competition for Grade 12 learners.

About 130 pupils, accompanied by their teachers, were involved in the event on the Edgewood campus.

Mintek sponsored the event which included lunch, T-shirts/hats, prizes, accommodation and air travel.

According to UKZN academic and co-ordinator of the Quiz, Dr Nadaraj Govender, the School has hosted the competition for the last 14 years.  Govender said the competition aimed to encourage an interest in careers in Science, Engineering and Technology, especially in minerals and metallurgy, and to promote an awareness of the importance of minerals and metallurgy to South Africa.

‘Minquiz is entertaining for all involved while at the same time highlighting the importance of Mathematics and Science as foundational subjects for a career in the minerals and metallurgy industries and other sciences as well as promoting interest in Science and Mathematics teacher education.

‘Ten staff and 15 pre-service science students organise the event and they also advise school students on programme offerings by UKZN as a premier university in South Africa,’ he said.

Govender said participating learners wrote a preliminary multiple-choice question test individually, followed by competing as a team during a live, on-stage oral quiz, also with multiple-choice questions.

‘Semi-finals are held in all nine provinces on the same day and the final is in Johannesburg in July. Questions - in the areas of Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and general knowledge in Science, Engineering and Technology - are in line with the National Curriculum.’

Speaking at the event, Mintek Senior Scientist Mr Tumelo Sepeng encouraged all learners to pursue a career in Science, Engineering and Technology. He advised teachers to maintain passion for the sciences and to reflect their passion in their teaching.

‘As teachers, you should teach science in a fun practical form to enable an easy grasp of the subject. Be aware of the many careers in science and take learners to associated industries and allow them to interact there.’

Winners of the regional competition were grouped into Gold or Platinum categories based on the school’s historical resources and results.

The top two winners for the written quiz in the Platinum category were Ehsaan Mahomed Rajak and Shihal Munesher Sapray, both of Star College. Winners in the Gold category were Senamile Buthelezi of Mlokothwa High School and Mxolisi Ngongoma of Mbambangalo High.

The winners all compete in the Nationals in July in Johannesburg.  The top three schools in the oral quiz in the Platinum category were winners Star College followed by Kloof High and Crawford La Lucia. In the Gold category Siyamukela High was first followed by Mlokothwa High and Sihayo High School.

-          Melissa Mungroo

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CPIE Postgraduate Diploma Accreditation Celebration

CPIE Postgraduate Diploma Accreditation Celebration
From left: CPIE Course Manager, Mr Jeremy Grest (UKZN); Ms Joan Van Niekerk; CPIE Project Manager Ms Marlene Abrahams; and Professor Thokozani Xaba.

The School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) hosted a gala dinner to celebrate the accreditation of its Child Protection in Emergencies (CPIE) postgraduate diploma.

BEDS in partnership with UNICEF, the Child Protection Working Group and Save the Children UK, will launch the Child Protection in Emergencies Post Graduate Diploma next year.

Speaking at the dinner, Dean and Head of the School Professor Thokozani Xaba said: ‘The accreditation of the programme stands out as a major milestone in the entire project. Reaching this point has not been easy or straightforward.

‘It took far longer than we anticipated at the outset and it took more resources than we had planned but what kept us moving forward was the original vision we had for the project - to see the first successful graduation of our programme. And we are looking forward to this graduation in the next two years.’

Childline representative, Ms Joan Van Niekerk, also expressed her excitement at the programme being accredited and congratulated UKZN and the School on the achievement.

‘I am so proud of UKZN and the School in developing this diploma as it is both necessary and important in today’s world. This is such a relevant programme for the University and I look forward to working with the CPIE team and to see the first CPIE graduates in the future.’

The CPIE postgraduate diploma seeks to strengthen the capacity of staff within national child protection systems to respond to emergencies and to increase the number and capacity of deployable child protection mid-level staff in international organisations to respond to emergencies.

- Melissa Mungroo

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Accounting Student Participates in Unilever Future Leaders League Challenge

Accounting Student Participates in Unilever Future Leaders League Challenge
UKZN student Ms Nolwazi Mdunge (third from right) with her team.

Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting student Ms Nolwazi Mdunge’s business acumen and leadership abilities led to her representing UKZN at the Unilever Future Leaders League Challenge.

Mdunge was part of a group of 21 students from a variety of South Africa’s universities selected to represent their province on a three-day experience which involved them working with the company’s brand team on a business challenge and meeting top Unilever executives and building relationships with other finalists at Unilever’s Head Office in La Lucia, Durban.

To enter the competition, participants were required to come up with an innovative idea of how they would make a Unilever product or process more water-friendly - Mdunge’s unique drydishwash product was one such concept.

‘Drydishwash is basically a product designed to enable the cleansing of dishes without water. It can be classified as a dishwashing sanitiser which currently does not exist in the market,’ said Mdunge.

‘After submitting my idea, I was shortlisted and tasked to present my idea to the managers. 
The following day after my presentation, I was informed that I was one of four finalists from KwaZulu-Natal. I was excited about this opportunity, especially since I was up almost the whole night and sacrificed one of my Taxation tutorials to come up with this idea which thankfully paid off.’

The competition’s final round involved the participants working in a group to collaborate on a case study using Unilever products.

To prepare for this challenge, Mdunge had to apply the concepts she had learnt from her Managerial Accounting and Finance (MAFM 300) module thus translating theory learned in class into practice.

‘Although I could not prepare in advance because the case study was handed to us at the competition, I however did seek help from Supply Chain Management Lecturer Mr Hans Salisbury and Academic Development Officer Mr Kenneth Ngwenya who taught me the fundamentals on approaching a case study.

‘Although my team didn’t win, I feel like a winner just by participating in this challenge. This was the best thing that has happened to me this year and I will be using the experience as motivation to complete my degree at the end of this year,’ she said.

Salisbury said Mdunge’s achievement indicated that she was able to impress the judges with her ability to apply her subject knowledge to address a realistic business problem.

‘We are delighted to hear that Nolwazi did so well in the challenge and it is a big deal to us as she is not a student in our Discipline and was referred to me as I run a case study coaching clinic. We are finding that case studies are used increasingly to select students for internships and in job interviews. It is equally important that she can also co-operate with and understand people from other disciplines in order to provide a more complex and holistic solution,’ he said.

-          Thandiwe Jumo

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CCMS Researchers Contribute to Book on Rock Engravings

CCMS Researchers Contribute to Book on Rock Engravings
From left: Dr Lauren Dyll-Myklebust; Professor Keyan Tomaselli and Ms Mary Lange.

Two UKZN academics have published a book on rock engravings near Kakamas in the Northern Cape.

This follows a project involving ?Khomani San community members and researchers from UKZN’s Centre for Communication Media and Society (CCMS), the University of Pretoria, the University of Cape Town, the McGregor Museum Kimberley, and ARROWSA.

The book, titled: Engraved Landscape Biesje Poort: Many Voices, was written by Professor Keyan Tomaselli and Ms Mary Lange of the CCMS with contributions from Centre members, Dr Lauren Dyll-Myklebust and Ms Shanade Barnabas.

The launch was held at the Duggan-Cronin Gallery at the McGregor Museum in Kimberley.

The project was managed via CCMS in association with ARROWSA - an art, culture and heritage for peace outreach organisation affiliated with the Centre.  Lange, a CCMS graduate and research advisor, wrote the proposal and raised the research funds from the National Heritage Council. 

According to Tomaselli, CCMS staff and graduate students were closely involved in the project in writing chapters, doing their theses on the topic, and evaluating the work done.  This involved the CCMS team interacting with teams from the University of Cape Town, the University of Pretoria and archaeologists from the McGregor Museum, in the area of landscape architecture and architecture.

‘UKZN puts great store in the study of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) and indigenous languages,’ said Tomaselli. ‘This book publishes its rock engraving narratives in English, Afrikaans and in Nama, the latter being one of the languages of Kalahari communities.  The contributions by our indigenous co-researchers totally rethinks the notion that research must and can only be done by the educated and written and presented in technical “scientific” formats,’ said Tomaselli.

‘The main challenge is explaining to our peers and the SAPSE bureaucrats that this kind of research and publication is the natural and positive outcome of IKS thinking – one of the cornerstones of the post-apartheid education condition.  A highlight was that we established a new post-modern archaeological paradigm that reads landscapes in new, indigenous-centred, ways.’

The book was described by archaeologist Professor Sven Ouzman as, ‘A very timely book-project-performance because such projects are so rare’, while cultural and media scholar Dr Nhamo Mhiripiri said, ‘Descendants of the “First People” participate as co-authors… their voices include stories and myths about their own experiential and ontological perspectives.’  Landscape architect Ms Melinda Silverman says the book showcases new ways of doing research in a contested and fractured environment.

The book costs R360 and will be available online soon.

-          Melissa Mungroo

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Education Important in Financial Liberation

Education Important in Financial Liberation
From left: Professor Anesh Singh; Dr Mosibudi Mangena; the widow of the late Strini Moodley, Ms Asha Moodley, and Umtapo Board Member, Dr James Marsh.

The importance of education in the financial liberation of people was the dominant theme of the keynote address delivered at the annual Strini Moodley Memorial Lecture by the former Minister of Science and Techology and former President of Azapo, Dr Mosibudi Mangena.

Director of Proceedings at the UKZN event, Umtapo’s Ms Arun Naicker, quoted the Strini Moodley statement: “Free the mind, free the land,” which proved to be particularly pertinent being in line with Mangena’s speech.

Mangena recalled the first time he met a young Strini Moodley, a political activist and journalist. ‘I first set eyes on him in the early 1970s at the University of Zululand where I was a student and he was a cast member in the Theatre Company of Natal, performing, on that first occasion, the drama, Antigone. Tall, thin and with a flowing hairstyle, you would have been forgiven for mistaking him for a pop star.’

Mangena noted Moodley’s commitment to South Africa and its people. ‘It was only with interactions later that I was exposed to his profound intellectual prowess, his gift with words, his sharp tongue, his tenacious revolutionary commitment and an unconditional love for this country and its people.

‘In his unwavering quest for freedom, he endured detentions, banning orders and time on Robben Island, where he found me well into my own term of imprisonment. In a sense, I taught him a bit about prison life, but with him generally ungovernable, that was not an easy task. So, Strini was all these attributes and more, rolled into his persona. That’s why he is not easy to forget.’

Mangena explored the developmental challenges facing the country in his lecture titled: “Beyond Elections: Towards One Nation and a People’s Democracy”. He commended South Africa’s successes, including a democratic government and a ‘vibrant civil society’.

‘On the positive side, we can be proud that at the political level, we succeeded, through heroic struggles, to overthrow the yoke of racist oppression and put in its place a democratic order where our people are able to elect their rulers. This is one of the factors that must be present in the lives of all free people throughout the world.’

He noted that inequalities remained entrenched more or less along the racial divides of the past. ‘The rich of yesterday are the rich of today and the poor of yesterday are the poor of today. This is unsustainable and is almost certain to lead to social explosions in the near future.’

Mangena examined the current state of education, and questioned the perceived lack of quality education.  ‘It is particularly tragic that we are unable to provide quality public education for all our children. And there is no excuse for this. Hendrik Verwoerd is long dead. We are in charge of the fiscus.

‘And yet education is one of the most potent weapons available to take people out of poverty. While social grants freeze people in their state of poverty and powerlessness, education gives people knowledge, skills and possibilities, not only to escape poverty, but a decent chance to thrive and find their true potential,’ he added.

UKZN’s Professor Anesh Singh and Professor Kesh Govinder thanked Umtapo for collaborating with the University in hosting the Memorial Lecture and ensuring it was a success.

Moodley’s eldest daughter, Ms Kimara Moodley, said a few words on behalf of her family and presented the Strini Moodley Peace Awards to the recipients.

Entertainment was provided by students Ms Silindile Meyiwa from Umtapo’s Tertiary Peace Forum (the UKZN chapter) and Mr Siyabulela Godlwana from Umtapo’s Tertiary Peace Forum (the UNISA chapter) who recited a poem.

-       Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

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Clothing Donations a Success for Community Empowerment Project

Clothing Donations a Success for Community Empowerment Project
Fourth year Occupational Therapy students with members of the Mariannridge community.

Fourth year Occupational Therapy (OT) students on the Westville campus have kick-started an innovative entrepreneurship project which empowers disabled members of the Mariannridge community through second hand clothing sales.

The entrepreneurship project originally began as a female empowerment initiative to provide a platform for employment for women and was soon extended to all disabled members of the community as a result of a critical analysis of the opportunities vested within the project.

‘The idea was to be a platform to get members of the community empowered through the selling of second hand clothes,’ said Ms Sarah Larkin, a fourth year OT student who is participating in the project.

‘There was some negative feedback at first from the entrepreneurship group members, but once it gained attention, it became an incredible success. A call for clothes donations was sent out and after garments had been gathered, these were taken to be sorted and sold by the group of disabled members.

‘It started off a little slow in the beginning because the members were sceptical about selling second hand clothes, but once they began sorting through what was donated, they found that the clothes donated were of a high quality and would generate a substantial profit,’ said another participating student, Ms Amy Brown.

‘A family involved in the entrepreneurship project who were unable to afford to pay for their water and electricity which was therefore cut off, became excited because they had an opportunity to have access to these services again with the money they made from their clothes sales.’

The participating students have interacted with disabled people with low levels of unemployment and through this initiative are attempting to break the cycle of hopelessness and helplessness and to improve quality of life.

‘We want people to feel empowered and know about the possibilities that are available out there for them within their communities,’ said Ms Chantal Christopher, a Senior Lecturer at the OT Department.

‘Our endpoint goal perhaps is for the participants of the programme to change, adapt and create opportunity for themselves in a way that meets their needs as well.’

A clothes donation box has been set up in the OT Department on the Westville campus and the project team has called on other departments and other campuses to donate to this worthy cause. For further information phone Chantal at 031 – 260 8218.

-          Zakia Jeewa

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Team K-RITH Wins Annual College Quiz

Team K-RITH Wins Annual College Quiz
Team K-RITH.

What do you call that little piece of plastic at the end of your shoelace? What is on the inside of a Baked Alaska pie? These are examples of questions asked at the College of Health Science’s Annual Quiz at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine.

In the quest to win the annual trophy, competing teams were grilled by quizmaster - Head of Anaesthetics, Dr Dean Gopalan - on a wide array of questions which tested competitors’ knowledge in fields such as current affairs, food, geography as well as general issues.

Team K-RITH were victorious winning the Quiz’s floating trophy.

With teams encouraged to adopt creative names and to dress up, The EFFer’s arrived wearing red berets and T-shirts to compete alongside teams such as “College DearDevils”, Eye Queue, Caesar Chiefs, Knights of Nitrous, BIS 100, eLemonators, The Eclectics, K-RITH and Obstetrics.

-          Zakia Jeewa

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Parasites in Pregnancy Debated at Symposium

Parasites in Pregnancy Debated at Symposium
From left: Ms Tsakani Furumele, Ms Takalani Nemungadi, Professor Kamiji Phiri, Professor Ayola Adegnika, Professor Joyce Tsoka-Gwegweni and Dr Mwele-Ntuli Malecela.

Concern about parasitical diseases and pregnant women affected by them was the focus of the Parasites in Pregnancy Symposium hosted by the Discipline of Public Health Medicine at UKZN’s Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine.

The Symposium, funded by the Southern African-Nordic Centre (SANORD) sought to bring attention to the burden and impact of various parasitic diseases affecting countries all over the African continent, but more importantly it shed light on how little information and awareness of parasitic diseases exist in South Africa.

Soil-transmitted helminths, a term used to refer to worm-like organisms which live in and feed off living hosts, are the cause of many parasitic diseases in Africa, usually contracted through contaminated water, food, soil and mosquito bites.  Poorly washed plants, vegetables and undercooked meat which contain the eggs of nematodes are also causes of parasitic infections and diseases.

Ms Tsakani Furumele of the National Department of Health provided an overview of the burden of parasites in South Africa, explaining that parasitic diseases are an increased threat to human health welfare in underdeveloped areas of South Africa.

‘Malaria, which occurs in the lowveld areas, is now a cause of morbidity and mortality over the last 10 years.  We’ve had to sharpen our strategies, since the problem areas were mainly in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. These areas have now been categorised as moderate risk areas,’ said Furumele.

Schistosomiasis, also known as bilharzia, is a disease caused by parasitic worms. ‘In South Africa, 4.7 million people are infected with bilharzia,’ said Furumele.

Soil transmitted helminths (STHs), hookworms and roundworms aggravated malnutrition and impeded growth and development. ‘Four and a half billion people are at risk of STH. Species of STH are found among schoolchildren and individuals attending Public Health Facilities. It was found in a recent study that 51% of 268 school children in KwaZulu-Natal had STH and at least 75% of school aged children needed to be treated for Schisto. There is a need for regular treatment of school going children for STH infections and bilharzias.’

Furumele said the only statutory parasite control programme in South Africa was for malaria. ‘It is notifiable, but schistosomiasis isn’t. There is poor surveillance of parasitic diseases. There is a lack of political commitment. The burden of parasitic diseases is under-estimated or unknown.’

Professor Ayola Adegnika of Gabon spoke about the Global burden of Parasites in Pregnancy in West Central Africa and East Africa. He said that while pregnancy results in major hormonal and nutritional change, ‘there are certain aspects of a parasitic disease that can cause great harm to a foetus. Parasites with higher risk infection like malaria and toxoplasmosis can result in abortion or serious consequences after birth. Geographically, 23 million are in high transmission areas of Africa (West, Central and East Africa) where there is heavy torrential rain for malaria to be prevalent.

‘Three to 15 percent of mothers are severely anaemic, with up to 10 000 malaria anaemia related deaths. Malaria infections contribute to bad pregnancy outcomes. For the foetus, there is a high chance of spontaneous abortion, prematurity, miscarriage and congenital infection,’ said Adegnika. ‘If the baby is born, there is risk of low birth weight, anaemia, risk of malaria infection at an early age and death. Malaria associated pregnancy is a public health problem. The symptoms and complications depend on geographical areas. If malaria is prevalent, it can affect any pregnant women.’

Adegnika said morbidity was caused by anaemia and malnutrition. ‘This affects those of a young age, from a low socio-economic standing and low education levels. The geographical distribution of helminths is just like malaria. Pregnant women have a higher risk of being infected by helminths while those pregnant with HIV and helminths, experience CD4 count decreases. Treatment is seen to increase the CD4 count. Having helminths can increase the chances of HIV being transferred to the child seven fold. Yet, while malaria is intensely reported, there is a scarcity of data regarding helminths.’

Dr Mwele-Ntuli Malecela of Tanzania said ‘the poorest of the poor are affected by these parasitic diseases. The government and policy makers are not getting to the issues of how these diseases affect people, therefore making this an area of advocacy.’

Malecela explained that placental malaria parasites accumulate and thrive in the placenta of pregnant women making them highly susceptible since there is no pre-existing immunity. ‘A lot of the time, there are people living in areas with little or no access to clean water. In certain areas of Tanzania, there are zones with four diseases or more that people can contract. If there is better sanitation, the prevalence of these diseases can be decreased, along with a sanitation intervention to control helminths.’

-           Zakia Jeewa

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Teaching and Learning Forum on Student Evaluations

Teaching and Learning Forum on Student Evaluations
Academic Mr Doug Engelbrecht with doctoral student Dr Peter Zakwe of the Department of Education.

Mr Doug Engelbrecht of the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance presented a thought-provoking seminar on student evaluations at a teaching and learning forum hosted by the College Dean of Teaching and Learning.

In his presentation, Englebrecht said the use of student evaluation data as a tool for performance management had distorted the alternative purpose of Student Evaluation of Teaching (SET) as a tool for instructor development.

The active proliferation of SET as a tool for evaluating instructor effectiveness which began in the 1970s had

•  the reliability and validity of SET as a proxy for direct evaluation of instructor effectiveness was arguable;

•  the use of a device aimed at measuring student satisfaction with instruction, could give rise to an ominous manipulation of  assessment and teaching practice;

•  there were flaws in the idea of achieving an objective, widely applicable interval measure of instructional effectiveness through subjective assessment, especially when there is limited control affected by the instructor over many factors contributing to student satisfaction.

The presentation emphasised that multiple perspectives were needed. Student feedback, peer assessment, results spread, results consistency and external examiner reports all contributed to theory triangulation, a construct familiar to academics.

Englebrecht summed it up: ‘SET is here to stay - get used to it and make it work for you.’

-            Kriben Pillay

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Sisters in Pyjamas Attend Evening Awareness Programme

Sisters in Pyjamas Attend Evening Awareness Programme
Female students and UKZN/AIDS Programme Women’s Forum discuss social issues.

About 120 students – in the comfort of their pyjamas unhampered by time or interruptions – attended a Sisterhood programme targeting female students at Howard College campus.

The presentation, held in the evening, was organised by the UKZN HIV/AIDS and Wellness Programme Women’s forum to create a platform for women on campus to gather together and discuss issues concerning themselves, their sexuality and their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The focus of the programme was also on the ZAZI Campaign aimed at empowering young women to know their strengths, understand their bodies and gain self-confidence to know themselves and what they stand for in order to guide their decisions about their future.

It was also about empowering young people to adopt healthy lifestyle practices with the focus on unplanned pregnancy, use of contraceptives, personal hygiene and other sexual reproductive health issues.

In the programme, two members of the Women’s Forum shared their experience and difficulties on unplanned pregnancy.

There are plans for more evening sessions while organisers hope to extend the programme to other campuses.

The Head of the UKZN HIV/AIDS and Wellness Programme, Ms Nomonde Magantolo, presented this strong message: ‘If you want to be a parent prepare emotionally and financially, otherwise wait until you ready for parenthood.’

-          Noxolo Batembu

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UKZN Professor Excels in Field of Mathematics and Statistical Sciences

UKZN Professor Excels in Field of Mathematics and Statistical Sciences
UKZN’s Professor Jacek Banasiak (far left) with Marek Bodnar and Dr Zuzanna Katarzyna Szymanska, both of Warsaw University, and Dr Maciej Grzeskowiak of Adam Mickiewicz University.

Mathematics Professor in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, Professor Jacek Banasiak, one of UKZN’s most respected and prolific researchers, has been appointed the leader of the University’s node of a new national Centre of Excellence in Mathematical and Statistical Sciences being established by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

A consortium of the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of Pretoria, UKZN and North-West University, made a submission to the NRF to establish the Centre following the recommendations of the International Review of Mathematical Sciences.

The UKZN node, which Banasiak oversees, models and analyses processes in natural sciences. The activities of the node will also cover symmetry analysis, mathematical physics, algebra and topology and applied statistics.

Banasiak’s work in this regard contributes to the aims of the Centre to support selected crucial disciplines of Mathematical Sciences in South Africa which face the threat of losing the critical mass needed for their survival. This support is achieved by awarding postdoctoral and student scholarships, supporting national and international staff mobility and organising workshops and seminars.

Being a leader of such an initiative, which is evidence of UKZN’s calibre in the field of Mathematics and contributes to the future of Mathematical Sciences in the country, is only one aspect of Banasiak’s success in his field.

It was not always so, however. Banasiak, who originates from Poland, says Mathematics was not his strong point during his earlier years.

‘In primary school and at the beginning of high school I was weak in Mathematics and far more interested in other scientific subjects like Geology and Chemistry – I failed miserably at School Maths Olympiads in Poland,’ said Banasiak. ‘My interest in Mathematics was sparked by a series of popular books by W.W. Sawyer, which I read once during a holiday and which showed how beautifully the world fits together when looked at through the lenses of mathematics.’

Banasiak has come a long way since he began developing a love for Mathematics. He earned a Master of Engineering degree from the Technical University of Lódz in Poland and his Doctor of Philosophy in Mathematics from the University of Strathclyde in the United Kingdom. He also received his Doctor of Science (habilitation) from the University of Warsaw in 1999 thanks to his research and holds the state title of Professor, conferred on him by the President of the Republic of Poland in 2007.

He is also an associate of the National Institute for Theoretical Physics (NITheP) and African Institute of Mathematical Sciences and a member of the executive of the African Mathematical Union for which he acts as the Editor in Chief of the AFRIKA MATEMATIKA, the only Pan African journal aimed at promoting African mathematical research in the world and bringing the international mathematics to Africa.

Banasiak was the Vice-President of the South African Mathematical Society from 2001-2005 and the Head of the School of Mathematical Sciences at UKZN between 2005 and 2007.

In 2013, Banasiak became one of few academics honoured with a UKZN Fellowship, which recognises research excellence and distinguished academic achievement.

Banasiak arrived at the then University of Natal’s Durban campus in 1992 as a Postdoctoral Fellow after lecturing at the Technical University of Lódz. He was invited to UKZN by Professor Janusz Mika, who was then the Head of Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics.

‘Mika was possibly the person who had the greatest influence on my research; he brought me to Durban and introduced me to the kinetic theory and, in general, to applied mathematics,’ said Banasiak.

He became a Senior Professor at UKZN in 2008 and Research Professor in 2011.

Banasiak has received numerous awards recognising his excellent research - he was awarded the 2012 South African Mathematical Society Award for Research Distinction, which is the highest recognition for Mathematical achievement in South Africa and he has held a B1 rating from the NRF since 2006, which was again renewed in 2013.

His honorary appointment in Poland also makes him eligible for Polish awards, and in 2013 the President of the Republic of Poland awarded Banasiak the Silver Cross of Merit. He was also recently awarded 1st Prize in the 2014 National Competition for the Best Paper in Applied Mathematics, organized by the Centre for Application of Mathematics in Gdansk, Poland.

Two of his monographs were published in 2013 and 2014 by the Cambridge University Press and Birkhäuser/Springer respectively; both are publishing houses regarded as the top international scientific publishers and therefore have very strict reviewing policies.

Most of the acclaimed papers published by Banasiak are based on the theory built and developed in an older monograph, Perturbations of Positive Semigroups with Applications, Springer Verlag, 2006, written jointly with L. Arlotti, for which he received the 2009 University of KwaZulu-Natal Book Prize in Health, Science and Engineering for 2007.

Banasiak’s main contribution to his field was, in his opinion, the development of the theory of the so-called substochastic semigroups which provided a comprehensive analytical explanation of phenomena of non-uniqueness and phase transitions in kinetic type equations and also paved a way to the theory classical solutions to fragmentation-coagulation equations.

‘This theory took several years to mature and also involved many dry years full of blind alleys and unexpected turns, said Banasiak. ‘But apart from pure research,   I am also very proud of my involvement in advancing mathematical research in Africa and other countries through supervision of students, organisation of research schools, and workshops and conferences and contributing to national and international scientific bodies. I consider this to be an integral part of the academic profile of any scientist.’

Banasiak said his time at UKZN had been characterised by the camaraderie he has experienced in the School. ‘To large extent we are a group of friends who enjoy working and spending time together,’ he explained.

He also feels grateful for the level of trust that used to exist between the management and academics which gave him the space to develop his academic research life to the best of his abilities and at his own pace.

‘Without this space I would have not been able to develop such an extensive network of excellent collaborators, and to develop new theories which have been coming to fruition only several years after they have been conceived,’ said Banasiak.

Banasiak hopes to have the space to build deeper and more extensive theories. ‘True research is a risky and unpredictable business and requires allowance for making mistakes, dry years or even simply years when one needs to incubate new ideas. In fact, Wernher von Braun said that “Basic research is what I am doing when I do not know what I am doing,” a statement which is true for me,’ he explained.

‘My family tolerates my long hours at work and extensive travel valiantly and I am sincerely grateful for their understanding.

‘I also hope to see my results taken on and developed beyond their original ambit.’

-          Christine Cuénod

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UKZN Academic at Plant Design Workshop in Kenya

UKZN Academic at Plant Design Workshop in Kenya
Participants at the international consultative workshop held in Nairobi. UKZN’s Professor Hussein Shimelis is sixth from the left in the back row.

Professor Hussein Shimelis of UKZN’s African Centre for Crop Improvement (ACCI) presented a paper at an International Consultative Workshop on Demand-led Plant Variety Design in Africa held in Kenya.

The workshop was organised by partners including the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, the Australian International Food Security Research Centre, the Crawford Fund (Australia), Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

About 35 delegates attended the event.  Shimelis’s paper was on the contribution of the ACCI to plant breeding education and its unique PhD training programme which aligns to demand-led variety design in Africa.

In Africa the uptake rate of new plant varieties by small holder farmers over the past 15 years is estimated at 35%, relatively low compared to the adoption of new plant varieties in Asia (60%) and South America (80%).

Factors for the low adoption rate of newly bred varieties include lack of access to seeds, credit and other production inputs. Furthermore, lack of suitability of new varieties to meet the current and changing customer demand due to new market opportunities presented a key limiting factor in plant varietal adoption.

The workshop was thus organised to discuss critical issues on demand-led plant variety design in Africa to enhance uptake of new plant varieties in ensuring food security.

The two day programme discussed:

  1. Issues of demand led plant variety design and uptake of new plant varieties in Africa. This session proposed target crops for further case studies of adoption or non-adoption of new varieties. Further, it suggested pilot plant breeding programmes to test new breeding approaches and identified key partners and responsibilities.
  2. Current plant breeding education, training and professional development programmes in Africa. The theme provided an overview of education, training and professional development of plant breeders in Africa. Presentations were made on current approaches, gaps and needs in relation to education and training in demand led variety design. Future discussions will be held to: a) devise content of courses or curriculum to be developed on demand led plant variety design, b) propose source of teaching materials to be adapted in future courses, c) review modules offered in the formal post graduate training as well as professional development courses and d) follow up on establishing the Association of African Plant Breeders.
  3. Implications of demand led approaches on policies and institutions.

This session addressed the scope and content of policy issues on demand-led plant variety design through various contributions of NEPAD, the Forum of Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in eastern and central Africa (ASARECA), Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF), private seed companies such as AFRISAM-Tanzania, and East-West seeds-Kenya.

Overall, the workshop highlighted the need to develop customer and demand based plant varieties with pre- and post-harvest traits for successful uptake by growers.

Prior to the actual breeding of their respective crops, most ACCI students assess socio-economic aspects such as farmers’ production constraints, priorities and trait preferences through a Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) study.

 The ACCI approach was commended by the workshop delegates because it ensures successful uptake of newly developed varieties by farmers.

-          UKZNDabaOnline

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Business Forum to Scrutinise State of SA Economy

Business Forum to Scrutinise State of SA Economy
From left: MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu, Professor Patrick Bond, Mr Owen Nkomo and Mr Jacob Twala.

In the midst of the ongoing debate about whether South Africa is in a recession or not, the UKZN Graduate School of Business and Leadership’s (GSB&L) third Business Forum is themed: “The South African Economy – 20 Years and Beyond”.

The forum will be held in the GSB&L Auditorium on the Westville campus from 18h00 on Wednesday, 11 June.

It will be an interactive panel discussion involving postgraduate students, political economists and independent economic analysts including the MEC for Economic Development and Tourism in KwaZulu-Natal, Mr Mike Mabuyakhulu; Director of the Centre for Civil Society, Professor Patrick Bond; Executive Partner at Inkunzi Investments and former economics commentator on SAFm, Mr Owen Nkomo; and Economic Specialist at the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Treasury, Mr Jacob Twala.

The discussion will be moderated by the Executive Director of Corporate Relations at UKZN Mr Lesiba Seshoka.

Mabuyakhulu will unpack the economic policies geared towards the economic growth of the country. Bond will provide his projections of the future of the South African economy and Nkomo will focus on the investor perspective while Twala will examine the topic in relation to the KwaZulu-Natal economy.

The event is aimed at creating a platform for political economists, independent economists and academic economists to critically engage on issues related to the future of our country’s volatile economy. It is envisaged that the panel members will share various economic strategies that could be used to promote the future development of the South African economy.

The event is open to the public at no cost but booking is essential as seats are limited. To book phone Ms Nokukhanya Mthanti on 031-260 8673 or send an email to

-          Hazel Langa

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HETD Leader Speaks at a Global Conference in Miami

HETD Leader Speaks at a Global Conference in Miami
Professor Damtew Teferra at the Going Global Conference in Miami with some of the panellists.

Leader of Higher Education Training and Development (HETD) at UKZN, Professor Damtew Teferra, was part of a panel at the Going Global 2014 Conference for Leaders of International Education: Inclusion, Innovation, Impact, held in Florida in the United States.

The Conference was attended by more than 1 000 participants - including ministers, senior government officials, policy makers, senior institutional leaders, academics, and researchers – from 70 countries.

The British Council invited Teferra, along with four other panellists - Presidents of a North American university and an Asian university, a Presidential Advisor at a national educational body in the United States and a senior official at the British Council.

Discussions were on the global role of Higher Education diplomacy and the kinds of relationships that fall within its broader purview. Stemming from that meeting, Teferra recently published an article titled: “Treacherous Ambivalence on World View-Inside Higher Education”.

Teferra also attended a special roundtable meeting which included ministers of education from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan and other senior government officials, institutional leaders, and staff of multilateral agencies.

Sponsored by the British Council, the meeting deliberated on prospects and challenges of countries with large academic systems in the world.

At the final deliberation, the meeting named Professor Philip Altbach to lead the team and take the conversation forward. Altbach, who was a key note speaker at the 7th Annual Teaching and Learning Conference in Durban last year, is an internationally renowned Higher Education expert who directs the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College. HETD has a strong affiliation with the Centre through the International Network for Higher Education in Africa which is headed by Teferra, its founder.

-          UKZNDabaOnline

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Striving Towards Zero Infection

Striving Towards Zero Infection
Dr Sibusiso Chalufu Executive Director of Student Service Division (far right) lighting the candle at the UKZN HIV/AIDS candlelight Memorial.

The UKZN HIV/AIDS Programme in partnership with the Campus Health Clinic and the Department of Health held a Candlelight Memorial at the Margaret Martin Lecture Theatre.

The aim of the event was to remember those who have died because of HIV/AIDS as well as those infected by the disease.

On the same platform, the AIDS Programme offered an opportunity to discuss issues affecting the students such as the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS, embracing sexual diversity, and gender-based violence.

The Executive Director of Student Services, Dr Sibusiso Chalufu, emphasised the importance of responsible behaviour.

Mr Sizwe Mthembu of the Family Life Institute spoke about the peer pressure students are exposed to on campus saying students are from different financial backgrounds and therefore should not compete amongst each other.

Teaching and Learning Co-ordinator at Edgewood, Dr Sithabile Ntombela, spoke on the importance of education and also encouraged good behaviour among UKZN students.

The HIV/AIDS Programme Co-ordinator, Ms Nomonde Magantolo, encouraged students to get tested so they could be aware of their HIV status and continue living healthy lifestyles.

-          Kenneth Qalaza

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