Sharing Health and Beauty Tips for the Elderly

Sharing Health and Beauty Tips for the Elderly
Miss UKZN, Ms Nompumelelo Nkosi at Zamazulu Old Age Home in KwaMashu.

Senior citizens are never too old for pampering and adopting active lifestyles, according to third-year Medical student and winner of the 2014-15 Miss UKZN title, Ms Nompumelelo Nkosi.

This message was relayed at a recent visit she paid to elderly women staying at Zamazulu Old Age Home in KwaMashu which is supported by Yunibo Health Trust, an organisation founded by UKZN Medical students.

The 21-year-old Nkosi from Mandeni was crowned Miss UKZN, Miss Vibe FM and became a top-10 finalist for Miss Signature, all in 2014-15.

The visit to the old age home was part of a community engagement challenge given to Miss Signature 2014-15 finalists.

Nkosi provided refreshments and sponsored Signature Cosmetics gifts ranging from skincare products to sleeping warmers and morning shoes before teaming up with Medical students to provide free medical check-ups to the elderly, including testing their blood pressure, cardio exercises for those who were not too frail and lots of entertainment.

Nkosi and students conducted a skincare workshop with staff and the elderly women at the home who were also pampered with foot massages and had their hair washed. Then there was a beauty contest for the elderly who were “dolled up” with make-up by the students.

‘The focus is usually on children and empowering the youth these days,’ said Nkosi, ‘leaving the elderly on the sidelines. I wanted to put a smile on their faces and to bring back their youth, even if just for a day.’

Nkosi said not only was she a compassionate Medical student but she loved modelling and being a professional dancer.  She has danced for a variety of South African music artists including Bongi Dube, Thabsile, Benzi no Mzakes, Dj Cindo as well as Afrotainment and Fact Durban Rocks.

‘Although it was overwhelming to be crowned Miss UKZN 2014-15, I felt worthy of the title because I always had a vision for Miss UKZN.’

She says modelling and being a Medical student allow her to reach out to communities and change the lives of people often in serious need of care.

Nkosi is interested in pursuing a career in Sports Medicine.

Lunga Memela


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Bright Future Ahead for Top Electronic Engineering Student

Bright Future Ahead for Top Electronic Engineering Student
Ms Hansa Sewnarain with her final year project.

Electrical Engineering student Ms Hansa Sewnarain’s final year project won top honours at the Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering Open Day.

Hansa’s winning project, titled: “Ring Main Protection of a Power System”, was a protection system for the interconnection between power stations, transmission grids and the distribution of electricity. She chose the project because power systems is a major course in Electrical Engineering.

‘Owing to the versatility of the modern era, there is a demand for the continuity and availability of electricity,’ said Hansa. ‘Power system protection offers consumers and industries a continuous supply of electricity even during interconnections between the grid. I chose a power system project in order to achieve the background necessary for my introduction into the industry next year.’

Hansa was selected as the Best Final Year Student in Electrical Engineering, Best Final Year student in Power Systems and won a Top 10 award for a Highly Commended design project.

‘It is hard for a woman in a field stereotyped as male dominated. Women have to work twice as hard to prove that their capabilities are equal to those of men’s. It required a lot of dedication and perseverance to be successful and I did not expect to graduate at the top of my class. I am happy that the hard work paid off,’ said Hansa.

Hansa’s Mechanical Engineer brother is her role model who has always motivated her to work hard and persevere through every obstacle in life.

Next year, Hansa will be an Engineer in Training at Eskom.

Prashina Kallideen


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Season greetings

Season greetings
.Best wishes to you and your loved ones. May you enjoy the festive season and travel safely. We hope you return refreshed and inspired, and look forward to seeing you in 2015.
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UKZN Hosts Dinner in New York

UKZN Hosts Dinner in New York
Guests at the dinner with Consul-General George Monyemangene (fifth left), Mr Richard Paverd, President of the Friends of UKZN Inc (fifth right), Professor Jane Meyerowitz (fourth right) and Professor John Mubangizi (second right).

The Executive Director of the UKZN Foundation, Professor Jane Meyerowitz, hosted a dinner at the office of the South African Consul-General in New York for United States-based alumni and friends.

The function, co-hosted by Consul-General George Monyemangene and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the College of Law and Management Studies, Professor John Mubangizi, brought together members of the USA-based trust Friends of UKZN Inc, consular staff and alumni to discuss ways in which the Foundation could expand its presence amongst alumni, donors and friends in New York.

Addressing the group, Monyemangene spoke about the number of highly rated universities on the East Coast of America and his desire to assist South African universities to forge partnerships with them.

Meyerowitz outlined the role of the Foundation and shared some ideas for engaging with alumni and friends abroad, while Mubangizi updated guests on recent events at UKZN.

A most convivial evening followed where the guests enjoyed a South African dinner, fine wines and engaged in discussion on a wide range of issues.

Rudi Kimmie


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Top UKZN Physics Researcher Brings Quantum Physics to Life

Top UKZN Physics Researcher Brings Quantum Physics to Life
Professor Alessandro Sergi.

A Quantum Physicist with a passion for research and mentorship, Professor Alessandro Sergi of the School of Chemistry and Physics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, is one of the Institution’s top-published researchers.

Sergi’s journey towards bringing quantum mechanics to life has been driven by the aim of making a valuable contribution to society by trying to unravel the mysteries of quantum physics.

Sergi, who hails from Messina on the island of Sicily in the Mediterranean, views his contributions to the field of academia through the eyes of Socrates - one of the greatest teachers in history - thanks to the long-standing academic heritage of his native land which was also known as Magna Grecia, or Big Greece.

‘I would very much like to be remembered by all the young people who interact with me as a guide and a source of inspiration,’ said Sergi. Mentorship played an important role in Sergi’s career development, with Professor Paolo Giaquinta playing an important role in his life thanks to their common vision regarding Higher Education as well as a common sensibility towards matters of science and society.

As a teenager, Sergi was drawn to popular accounts of Einstein’s theory of gravitation and was intrigued by the Greek symbol for the letter Psi in a scientific encyclopaedia at his home. These symbols and theories, combined with the fact that such ideas, which could be put down on paper, could form the basis of plans to build rockets to travel to the moon and more, enchanted Sergi.

Once enrolled in Physics at university, Sergi realised that the study of subjects such as Einstein’s theory of gravitation was being pursued in Mathematics departments, a fact which drove him toward quantum physics, with its search of the definition of reality and the explanation of many of the mysteries of life.

The application of quantum physics to everyday life is something that Sergi sees as vital, despite perceptions that the subject is too complex to be understood by the majority of society.

Sergi’s passion for teaching and for plumbing the mysteries of the world of quantum mechanics have resulted in him being placed 19th in the top 30 researchers at UKZN, which he joined in 2007 after working in postdoctoral research positions in North America and Italy. After searching for a permanent position in which he could make valuable contributions to his field, Sergi believes UKZN has proved to be that place.

‘My much more famous countryman Archimedes said: “Give me a place to stand and I will move the Earth”. UKZN has been that place for me,’ said Sergi.

Sergi’s work at UKZN has involved a number of collaborative projects, for example with Professor Francesco Petruccione of UKZN’s Centre for Quantum Technology, as well as with international partners from Cornell University, the University of Bristol, the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia and the University of Messina. His research group currently comprises six postgraduate students: one masters student, three PhD students and two postdoctoral researchers.

With his students, Sergi is working on developing novel algorithms to simulate the dynamics of quantum systems on computers, a challenging problem because of memory requirements and the dynamical oscillations which characterise quantum systems. He is also trying to devise a novel quantum formalism, which is suited to represent the dissipative effects of the environment on quantum systems of interest, a project which he is pursuing with one of his postdocs, Dr Konstantin Zloshchastiev.

A B3-rated NRF researcher, Sergi is the Co-Author of more than 40 research papers and three book chapters, and he has been a speaker at conferences all over the world.

Christine Cuénod


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Life Sciences Professor Elected Fellow of the International Ornithologists’ Union

Life Sciences Professor Elected Fellow of the International Ornithologists’ Union
Professor Colleen Downs.

Professor Colleen Down of the School of Life Sciences at UKZN has been elected a Fellow of the International Ornithologists’ Union (IOU).

She was nominated and recommended for the honour by the Executive Committee of the IOU in recognition of her excellent scientific work and her involvement in promoting ornithology.

Downs, who joined the University in 1994 and was initially part of the Science Foundation Programme, lectures to undergraduates and Honours students in Biological Sciences on the Pietermaritzburg campus.

Her primary research interests are in the field of terrestrial vertebrates, initially in mammals, however her birding hobby gradually found its way into her research, leading to an increasing research focus on avian vertebrates.

Downs’ passion for this area of research is reflected in the work of the postgraduates she has supervised with half having completed research focused on birdlife. Currently most of her students are researching aspects of the effects of changing land use on biodiversity. This kind of research is broad, says Downs, and allows for an interdisciplinary scope.

She is also the Top-Published female Researcher in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, thanks in part to the extensive work she does in the birding sector.

Downs’ term as a Fellow of the IOU is indefinite, and will complement her other work on conservation and public awareness around birding. Her work is in line with IOU’s aims of supporting, promoting and advancing avian biology by disseminating Ornithological knowledge, interacting with other scientific organisations, stimulating and strengthening locally-based research, cultivating mutually supportive collaborative relationships among ornithologists internationally and fostering knowledge transfer between basic research and applied sciences.

Being elected as one of the 300 Fellows of the IOU brings the focus on avian research at UKZN to the fore. Despite the excellence of its work with birds, the Institution isn’t often recognised for its bird research.

Downs credits the hard work on projects by postgraduates and colleagues in the School as a contributing factor towards recognition of the School’s work.

For Downs, working with birds has gone beyond just the realm of academics. Her postgraduate research, is published regularly and she does presentations at a wide range of public forums.

Downs and her students are also involved in bird ringing and as the Chair of the Cape Parrot Working Group she is well-known for her 17 years of contributions to the Cape Parrot Big Birding Day.

Dean and Head of School, Professor Sam Mukaratirwa, congratulated Downs on her nomination and election, highlighting the excellence of her work in ornithology.

Christine Cuénod


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UKZN at NRF/DST South African PhD Conference

UKZN at NRF/DST South African PhD Conference
Academics and postgraduate students from the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science who exhibited at the recent NRF PhD conference held at Coastlands.

UKZN was invited to exhibit opportunities for doctoral studies and well as its areas of research specialisation at the 2014/2015 South African PhD Conference in Umhlanga.

The Conference - one of a series of three taking place in the country annually - is an initiative of the National Research Foundation (NRF) and endorsed by the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

One of the main aims of the project is to notably increase the number and diversity of South African research doctoral graduates. 

The objectives are to:

•    increase the number of qualified South Africans for critical positions in academia, public and private sector  provide a hub for nurturing peer and mentor support networks for potential PhD students increase the number and diversity of role models and mentors  contribute towards development of a more equitable private and public sector workforce to service a diversified customer base, and foster collaborative private public partnerships for human capital development in South Africa. 

Various UKZN centres and research groups within the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science went the extra mile to display the research taking place in the different units. This included the Eskom Centre of Excellence (HVDC/Smart Grid Research Centre), Vibration Research and Testing Centre, Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU), Energy, Food and Water Engineering Research Group and the Reactor Technology Research Group. The participants from these Centres and Research Groups were afforded the opportunity to:

•    promote their activities and resources to potential and current PhD students

•    help shape the career choices of potential and current postgraduate students 

•   alert potential students about the skills set required for employment  

•   network with local and international Higher Education and research institution representatives. 

Current and potential students and academics from the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science were given the opportunity to interact with role models, mentors, and representatives from funding agencies, Higher Education Institutions offering doctoral training programmes, public and private research institutions and government departments. 

Professor Tilahun Seyoum of the Energy, Food and Water Engineering Research Group within the School of Engineering said: ‘The Conference was very informative and I found it quite useful, especially for postgraduate students. In terms of the exhibition, the Conference participants had a chance to attend the exhibition mainly during the lunch and tea times. We managed to target and distribute our information booklets as planned.’

Chemical Engineering Lecturer Dr David Lokhat said: ‘The Conference and exhibition were a great opportunity for staff within the individual disciplines to interact with students and faculty members from other institutions, present opportunities for research and tout potential collaborations. Many of the students I spoke to were at masters level and interested in the life and human sciences. I think the event was a success in showing the strength of our College in terms of high-level doctoral and postdoctoral research.’

Post-Doctoral Fellow in the School of Life Sciences, Ms Priyanka Jha, said: ‘The conference was a good one.  The event was focused to increase the number of qualified South African research doctoral graduates. It was a perfect initiative to attract students towards research and development of the nation.’

Director, Human and Infrastructure Capacity Development, Dr Kwezi Mzilikazi, said: ‘The various speakers at the Conference discussed a range of topics including the importance of a PhD in building the knowledge economy; research and academic ethics; publishing as a PhD student; how a PhD thesis is examined; and postdoctoral funding opportunities for research in South Africa and abroad.   Recent PhD graduates shared experiences learnt during the PhD journey and were an inspiration to the postgraduate students.’

            Leena Rajpal


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UKZN Partners with University of Buenos Aires in Robot Research

UKZN Partners with University of Buenos Aires in Robot Research
Professor Glen Bright and Dr Jose Franscisco Zelasco.

Research, design and implementation of technologies associated with the operation of search and rescue robots forms the focus of a joint Science and Technology research project between UKZN and the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) in Argentina.

The project, jointly co-ordinated by UKZN’s Professor Glen Bright and Dr Jose Franscisco Zelasco of UBA, provides a platform for research, design, construction, assembly and testing of simulations, models and equipment required for optimum performance of a semi-autonomous robot.

The purpose of the research is also to investigate current field robots used in such operations and then develop new technologies to optimise vehicle performance operation.

Objectives of the project are to develop:

A technologically advanced semi-autonomous robot that uses the latest research and development innovation to provide a vehicle that can be used in disaster zones by South Africa, Argentina and other countries worldwide for search and rescue operations. A strong research collaboration partnership between Bright and his UKZN research group and Dr Jose Franscisco Zelasco and his research group. Innovative technologies that can be used on semi-autonomous robots to enhance the quality of life of people who reside in South Africa and Argentina.

The outputs include:

·        Publication of joint findings in high level conferences and journals around the world.

·        Enhanced Science and Technology research between UKZN and UBA.

·        Opportunity for students and staff from both institutions to improve their education while working on the joint projects in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes (BSc, MSc and PhD).

Zelasco said: ‘I enjoyed my 10 day stay in Durban and the hospitality of the staff in Mechanical Engineering. The research equipment and infra-structure of the Mechanical Engineering Department was extremely impressive. I am grateful to Mechanical Engineering Department staff for hosting me.’

Bright said: ‘The significance of the project is that the researched, designed and implemented semi-autonomous mobile robot will be able to perform search and rescue operations in hazardous environments.  This will eliminate the need for human intervention in an environment that would cause casualties and in many cases, death. The destruction of the Twin Towers buildings in New York earthquakes in Haiti, tsunamis in East Asia, nuclear disasters in Japan, mining disasters in South America and fires in low cost housing developments highlight the need for search and rescue robots worldwide.’

Leena Rajpal


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UKZN Student on Exchange Programme in Brazil

UKZN Student on Exchange Programme in Brazil
Mr Godfrey Keru using a glove box which provides an inert atmosphere for organic solar cell preparation and characterisation.

School of Chemistry PhD candidate Mr Godfrey Keru spent three months in Brazil on a student exchange programme at the University of Campinas.

Keru is a member of the India, Brazil, and South Africa (IBSA) Nanotechnology and Energy initiative which enables students from the three countries who have common projects an opportunity to meet at one location to exchange ideas. Students on the programme can also visit any of the laboratories in any of the three countries for specialised equipment. 

While in Brazil, Keru was hosted by the Institute of Chemistry under the guidance of Dr Ana Flavia Nogueira. He was able to use the transient absorption spectroscopy equipment housed at the Nanotechnology and Solar Cell laboratory. 

The iniatative was co-ordinated by Professor Vincent Nyamori and Dr Patrick Ndungu of UKZN’s School of Chemistry and Physics.

Professor Neal Coville of Wits, who plays a pivotal role in co-ordinating such initiatives for the IBSA programme, said: ‘The IBSA programme has not only led to interactions between the three IBSA countries but has also led to the development of solar energy research programmes being developed on organic photovoltaics in Chemistry Departments in South Africa. Transfer of technology by Geoffrey from Brazil to South Africa will lead to the enhancement of research capabilities in solar device synthesis at UKZN.’

Said Keru: ‘The Nanotechnology and Solar laboratory housed impressive and expensive research equipment. The access to the equipment allowed me to collect valuable data for my dissertation. I was also able to interact with students from Uruguay, Turkey and the Royal College in the United Kingdom.

‘The Brazilian people were very hospitable. I am particularly grateful to all those people who made my stay at the University of Campinas a truly wonderful experience. Special thanks to Dr Nogueira for hosting me.’

Professor Vincent Nyamori said: ‘I am very grateful Mr Keru had an opportunity to visit one of the most advanced laboratories on solar energy research.  This was under the auspices of the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) collaboration in the area of nanotechnology which forms part of his PhD research.  Mr Keru’s research involves the exploration of new energy innovations with special reference to solar photovoltaics.  From this visit, he has not only advanced his knowledge but also brought back lots of new findings which makes his project even more interesting and should address the societal energy crisis.’  

            Leena Rajpal


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Prosthetic Arm Design Wins Award for UKZN Masters Graduate

Prosthetic Arm Design Wins Award for UKZN Masters Graduate
Mr Drew Van Der Riet.

UKZN Mechanical Engineering Masters graduate, Mr Drew Van Der Riet, has won third prize in the GAP Medical competition for a prosthetic arm he designed under the supervision of Dr Riaan Stopforth in 2013.

Van der Riet developed the proof of concept work during his MSc Eng research project with Stopforth which involved designing a sensory feedback system able to send information to the amputee.

An innovative control system makes several grip-types available for use on the arm. The user controls the prosthetic arm by giving the system commands to control the hand.

Van der Riet marketed the arm at the GAP Medical competition in which entrants are required to create and submit a fully detailed business plan.

His business plan was on: “Advanced Prosthetics Engineering”, a proposed spin-off company of UKZN, based on the robotic prosthetics research currently being done.

Van der Riet gave a presentation at the competition followed by a 15-minute Q & A session with a panel of eight judges which was well received with useful questions and feedback taking place. 

A five-minute open presentation was later given to interested investors and the general public.

The competition also gave van der Riet a great opportunity to network and he made some useful contacts who will be able to mentor him in growing the company and help with the development.

Further development and testing of the prosthetic hand is being conducted at UKZN and the business support package will help to streamline the research towards establishing a company.

Prashina Kallideen


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Research Shows Elephants Suffer Post Traumatic Stress

Research Shows Elephants Suffer Post Traumatic Stress
Elephants at sunset eating from Marula trees.

It’s not just humans whose behaviour is affected by stress. Research has established that elephants face the same problem.

Stress can make them fearful, aggressive and unable to form strong social ties. The symptoms they experience can be likened to post-traumatic stress disorder, and can linger for decades, believe researchers.

The Amarula Trust, which is contributing R6 million to research into elephant behaviour, has made elephant stress a key study focus area of the Amarula Elephant Research Programme (AERP). Its findings are used to develop elephant management conservation programmes.

Elephants are intensely social mammals, according to AERP Director, Professor Rob Slotow of UKZN’s School of Life Sciences.

‘They live in close-knit, kin-based societies, conduct intricate social relationships and transmit knowledge between generations. Their social skills are crucial to their ability to operate successfully within their highly complex societies. Key decision-making abilities are fundamental to the way they live.

‘It is very important that we improve our understanding of how disruption can affect their social functioning, decision-making abilities and responses to real or perceived threats.

Slotow, who is also an Honorary Professor at University College in the United Kingdom,  says elephant herds can be disturbed by poaching, culling, when their habitat becomes fragmented because of farming or property development, or as a result of the impact of tourism. With increasing pressures on natural resources and climate change, the effects of stress could become more severe.

‘By comparing stress levels across a range of reserves in South Africa, the AERP has shown that the trauma of seeing the killing of herd members or of being moved from one location to another, persists for well over a decade.

‘Better understanding of what can provoke stress and how it manifests, helps us to develop appropriate conservation management solutions.’

The AERP uses two ways to determine stress, firstly by measuring the level of cortisol in elephant dung. Cortisol is a hormone that regulates a wide range of processes throughout the body including metabolism and the immune response, and has a very important role in helping the body respond to stress. Using dung means that blood does not have to be drawn from elephants, which would be stressful in itself.

The AERP also collars elephants with GPS devices that automatically record their location every 30 minutes. The speed, and how much they turn while moving through the environment, can act as a proxy measurement of their stress and how they respond to stressors.

Slotow points out that even within relatively small reserves, elephants identify refuge areas for themselves, where they tend to retreat when stressed. He says the AERP is proposing that managers reduce the use of these refuge areas by people, and that they highlight the increased risks of aggressive encounters with elephants when they don’t. ‘The AERP is working with managers to turn these ideas into concrete on-the-ground plans that can improve the welfare of elephants in our reserves, improve the experience of tourists and promote their safety.’

DKC (De Kock Communications)


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CCMS Connects With Students at Year End Gathering

CCMS Connects With Students at Year End Gathering
CCMS staff and students at their first student year-end gathering.

The year-end gathering of the Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS) within the School of Applied Human Sciences was hosted by academic duo Professor Keyan Tomaselli and Professor Ruth Teer-Tomaselli at their home.

Speaking about the braai, Tomaselli said the global success of the CCMS was due to a number of factors:  collegiality, partnership, teamwork and most of all, making everyone including students feel part of a mission, a vision and a learning team that involves both staff and students.

‘We usually organise one or two such get-togethers annually and student responses are overwhelming. They feel that they are taken seriously by their lecturers as individuals; they interact with their lecturers in a different informal setting and come to understand that study is also a socialisation process.

‘It’s not just about classrooms, exams, and certificates.  It’s about relationships, partnerships and mutual goals.  CCMS is hospitable, hardworking and creative in a world that is often alienating. We learn as much from our students as they might learn from us. For us, this is critical pedagogy in practice,’ said Tomaselli.

Masters student at CCMS, Ms Phiwe Nota, said: ‘Initially, when I heard that we were going to have a braai at my Professor’s house for our end-of-year function, I was somewhat sceptical. I thought it would be the typical “academic get –together” where we arrive, eat and rush off. But it was a lovely evening filled with laughter as students revealed their initial terror of their lecturers. I enjoyed the warm atmosphere and sharing of past moments on field trips to the Kalahari.’

Nota believes that socialising outside of the “university context” builds trust, friendship and a sense of “belonging”.  ‘I really got to know my peers better and more importantly I got to have fun with people I normally just discuss work with. There is no doubt in my mind that I did not make a mistake in enrolling for my honours and masters at CCMS.’

‘I have seen how dedicated, loyal and true lecturers are to their students. More importantly I saw a level of support I never thought I would encounter at university. Last year when my mom passed away, I wanted to give up and stop studying but my lecturers supported me in a tremendous way. They encouraged me to carry on. I didn’t think I could do it but they told me I could. I would like to extend my gratitude to them.’

CCMS graduate and researcher Ms Varona Sathiyah said: ‘This social event was just one among numerous other such field trips, book launches and conferences that CCMS students are included in. As a Centre, it takes pride in the mentorship ethos that helps to socialise the students on a holistic level not just as emergent scholars but as individuals. It fosters a sense of collective progress. Collaboration is a cornerstone of what we do. So yes, the braai itself was awesome but it was a reflection of a larger teaching process.’

Graduate Ms Tasmin Paul expressed her gratitude to the CCMS staff: ‘The Tomaselli’s kindly opened up their home to all our students’ for an afternoon of good social fun. Professor Ruth Teer-Tomaselli made delicious salads and a mouth-watering chocolate mousse.’

Melissa Mungroo


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UKZN Academic has Paper in isiZulu Published in Respected Journal

UKZN Academic has Paper in isiZulu Published in Respected Journal
Dr Zinhle Nkosi.

An article by Dr Zinhle Nkosi of the School of Education was recently published in isiZulu in the South African Journal of African Languages - a peer reviewed publication recognised by the Department of Higher Education.

This the first time Nkosi has had an article in isiZulu published in the journal.

‘Being able to publish a paper means a lot to me, and in fact, the whole University,’ said Nkosi.

‘UKZN is known to be the “Premier University of African Scholarship”. As the words suggest, this means that UKZN encourages the development of African scholarship, particularly isiZulu, the language spoken by many people in the country.’

Her article examines the relationship between the teaching of reading and teachers’ beliefs, focusing on isiZulu home language classes at Foundation Phase.

Research for the paper was conducted in a Durban township school among six Grade 2 and 3 teachers.  Included in the findings was that some teachers  are significantly influenced by their beliefs, which impacts on the way they plan their lessons, the methods they use, and their understanding about the reading phenomenon.

‘These beliefs relate to issues such as experience; methods of teaching; assessment of reading; and teaching materials. While the Department of Basic Education provides support to the teachers, some do not believe in new teaching methodologies and resources, and they prefer using their old curriculum teaching materials and methods of teaching and assessment.

‘As a consequence, my study finds teachers’ beliefs have an impact on the low reading levels of most learners, particularly in isiZulu home language.’

Nkosi believes that publishing a journal article in isiZulu is in line with the University’s language policy. ‘The Language Policy of UKZN (2006) and its Transformation Charter (2012) both recognise that African languages should be promoted as academic languages and the languages of research. Both documents emphasise that UKZN seeks to elevate isiZulu to the status of an academic language and a language of instruction and research as well as of general communication. Therefore, publishing a paper in isiZulu means that this vision is achievable.’

She also sees the article providing a good opportunity to showcase that isiZulu can be used for research purpose, and as a medium of instruction in Higher Education.  ‘We need papers authored in isiZulu to teach our undergraduate and postgraduate students. The problem we have right now is that you rarely find an academic isiZulu authored paper, which is a challenge when we prepare study materials for our students,’ said Nkosi.

‘We end up translating the available English papers, only to find that sometimes the meaning is lost in translation, and you will see that when comparing the translated text with the original one. As African academics, we need to work very hard to produce more papers, to ensure that we reduce the utilisation of translated sources. This is not difficult, we can do it.’

Her advice to other isiZulu speaking colleagues outside her Department is not to be wary of writing in isiZulu.  ‘I cannot blame any of them for being reluctant to write papers in isiZulu because of their concern that very few papers in isiZulu are accepted for publication by journals. Everybody likes to get published, but what is the use if journals don’t accept such papers?

‘We have good language policies, but it is vital that journals accept our papers when we want to publish in our languages.’

Nkosi pointed out that all her colleagues in the Department were working diligently to elevate the growth of isiZulu at the University. ‘I am not the only one in the struggle.  You will see many more papers written by my colleagues.  The fact is that I have been lucky to be the first to have a paper written in isiZulu accepted by a journal - many more are in the pipeline.’

Melissa Mungroo


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Academic Author's Book on Music and Social Change in South Africa

Academic Author's Book on Music and Social Change in South Africa
Dr Kathryn Olsen with her new book: Music and Social Change in South Africa: Maskanda Past and Present.

Lecturer in the Music Discipline within the School of Arts, Dr Kathryn Olsen, recently launched her book Music and Social Change in South Africa: Maskanda Past and Present, at UKZN’s Centre for Jazz and Popular Music (CJPM).

The book investigates contemporary maskanda - a folk musical genre distinguished by fast guitar picking and blues-style vocal intonation - against the backdrop of South Africa’s history.

Maskanda, a performance practice that emerged in the early decades of the 20th century among Zulu migrant workers, is strongly associated with young Zulu men’s experiences of repression and dislocation during imperial and, more particularly, apartheid rule.

Working closely with translated song lyrics and musical notation and applying musical and socio-political analysis to this music and its cultural context, Olsen argues that maskanda offers insight into how the post-apartheid ideal of social transformation was experienced by those who were marginalised for most of the 20th century.

Drawing on a decade of research, Olsen strives to demystify the Zulu part of contemporary experience in South Africa and to reveal some of the complexities of the social, economic, and political landscape of contemporary South Africa. The book is enhanced by audio-visual material on the Ethnomusicology Multimedia website of Temple University Press.

‘While the book is  primarily intended for Ethnomusicologists who are interested in  South African music particularly within the context of social transformation in the post-apartheid era, it is also intended for a broader audience of people interested in understanding how the politics of transformation  plays out in ordinary people’s lives.

‘I believe that in order for transformation to be successful we need to engage with individual experience and perspectives in an attempt to seek resonances with our own lives. I target an academic audience in order to claim a space for the local music within the realm of tertiary education and a broader audience in the hope that it brings about a realisation that individual action can be put to work for the greater good,’ said Olsen.

Olsen said while writing the book she was able to work and travel abroad with the late Mr Shiyani Ngcobo who was a master of the genre and who openly shared much about his music, his life and maskanda generally with her.

She also managed to build relationships with musicians central to the study and using academia to give them a voice. The experience of writing the book made Olsen realise it is possible to connect in meaningful ways with those who are so often constructed as “others” in general public discourse. 

‘Writing this book was a way of exploring the workings of South Africa in transformation through the uncontrived representations of social experience that are expressed in musical performance. It was also a way of showing how music can work as a meaning-making strategy and hence to give both music performance and the study of it greater value in a world that is obsessed by consumerism.’

The book is available directly from Temple University Press or on Amazon.

Melissa Mungroo


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Future of Treatment Action Campaign Debated at Seminar

Future of Treatment Action Campaign Debated at Seminar
From left: Ms Vuyiseka Dubula, Ms Faith ka-Manzi, Mr Mzamo Zondi.

The Centre for Civil Society (CCS), housed within the College of Humanities, recently hosted a seminar titled: “Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) Reaches the Knife-Edge”.

Presenters at the seminar were former General Secretary of TAC, Ms Vuyiseka Dubula; CCS staffer, Ms Faith ka-Manzi and TAC regional Co-ordinator for Durban, Mr Mzamo Zondi.

The trio said the lives of millions of South Africans living with HIV had been saved because of the tireless campaigning of TAC over the years.

Prior to the organisation’s formation in 1998 and the breakthrough in acquiring generic medicines in 2004, anti-retrovirals (ARVs) were mainly only available to the wealthy.  Access to ARVs had led to a rise in life expectancy in South Africa from 52 in 2004 to 62 today.

The speakers said TAC was facing a financial crisis and they believed it was vital to assess its role in society’s health system and civil society advocacy leadership.

Dubula asked whether historic breakthroughs achieved because of AIDS activism would be updated and renewed or would the TAC become a casualty of donor fatigue and recent funding whims?

‘We need to find resources from within our own movements, both nationally and internationally, to fund social justice activism, breaking our dependence on donor governments. The reliance on donor funding has been both a blessing and a curse. While it has provided the resources to tackle important issues, it has also made civil society organisations vulnerable to the accusation that they are imposing foreign ideas and agendas on local populations.

‘No matter how absurd these claims, they have been damaging in the war of ideas in which human rights are a critical concept. There are a number of interesting alternatives emerging now, including raising independent domestic resources for difficult activism from Africa’s new wealthy billionaires and from membership associations,’ said Dubula.

Addressing the audience, Zondi said: ‘Today the future of the TAC is under threat. This means AIDS activism is under threat.  This means the South African AIDS response is under threat. Therefore we must speak in the context of a humanitarian crisis when we respond to the HIV epidemic in South Africa.

‘KwaZulu-Natal is the hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The province remains the epicentre with an HIV prevalence of 16.9% and it is even higher among women of reproductive age where the prevalence is 27.9%. The message we must convey to all the people of KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa and international partners is that whilst we have made substantial progress, we cannot afford to be complacent.’

Zondi believes that activism is needed to monitor and hold to account those responsible for implementing policies. ‘We need to ensure that there is transparency because corruption at all levels of government is killing poor people in our country.’

Stemming from her own personal struggle and dealing with the country’s health system, ka-Manzi praised the efforts of activists and the TAC but - within the context of proper functioning transparent health systems - criticised the government for failing its needy citizens. She tackled the “missing link” at ARV dispensing clinics for the poor and recounted how waiting in long queues could dishearten the sick and poor even further.

‘My complaint is that because of the lack of manpower, the procedure being followed now is to dish out ARVs and not to look after the medical welfare of the patients. However, I must commend the health workers in ARV clinics who go out of their way to serve us regardless of the challenges they themselves are confronted with.

‘They are faced with people who default both in taking ARVs and TB medication. It must be so disheartening for them to have seen a patient recovering then reverting back to a weak immunity.’

The audience became involved in the debate raising issues of concern about the country’s health system.

Melissa Mungroo


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Classics Discipline Hosts Visiting Scholars

Classics Discipline Hosts Visiting Scholars
Visiting Classics scholars Professor Ewen Bowie (left) and Professor Lucia Athanassaki.

The Classics Discipline within the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics (SRPC) recently hosted two international scholars who presented papers on Greek culture in Arrian’s Bithynia and Xenophon’s Simonides.

They were Professor Ewen Bowie of the University of Oxford in England and Professor Lucia Athanassaki of the University of Crete.

Offering an insight into Greek culture in Xenophon’s Simonides, Athanassaki shared an excerpt from her paper stating: ‘In the carefully staged fictitious dialogue between Hieron and Simonides, the poet gives the embattled tyrant a novel and intriguing solution that will put an end to his misery: a good leader, Simonides contends, should use choral competition as a model of government.

‘Xenophon’s views on tyranny and leadership have been extensively discussed by Leo Strauss and recently by Vivienne Gray who argues against Strauss’s influential interpretation. Neither scholar, however, explores the choice and significance of agon and choregia as a model of government.’

Athanassaki addressed all structures of organising competitions as Xenophon opts for choregia as a political model. She further explored whether Xenophon tried to get the attention of Dionysius II of Syracuse, as some scholars have thought, or whether he targeted other audiences as well.

Through a survey of the significance of choral competition in the Xenophontic corpus, she argued that Xenophon opted for the choral paradigm ‘because it offers a collective civic educational model that guarantees the highest standard of discipline, order and expertise; this civic model is a prerequisite of good leadership’.

Through comparison of Simonides’ proposal with Athenian debates on leadership and competition, as reported by Thucydides, Isocrates and [Andocides], Athanassaki also argued that in the dialogue Xenophon does not simply reject the tyrant’s competitive ethos and patronage, but more importantly reflects on the potential abuse of the Athenian competitive model by high-profile politicians.

‘For this reason, I suggest the treatise is a meditation on leadership, competition and megaloprepeia that is intended for all those who wish to avoid breeding would-be tyrants in their cities and especially for the Athenians; in this sense Simonides’ proposal has a preventative rather than corrective purpose.’

Bowie’s paper noted that before Arrian almost all Bithynian cultural eminences were from Nicaea (e.g. Hipparchus, Parthenius and originally Asclepiades, later of Myrleia) and few, if any, from Nicomedia ‘where it is not even clear rhetoric and philosophy were taught, as rhetoric was at Bithynion and philosophy at Prusa.

‘So Arrian may have had his tertiary education at Athens. His subsequent career was chiefly outside Bithynia, as apparently were those of some near-contemporaries, Calpurnius Asclepiades from Prusa, Sacerdos (of AP 15.4-8) and Catillius Macer (honoured in Hadrianic Delphi) from Nicaea. Likewise Nicomedian cultural figures found overseas do not precede Arrian but follow him – the medical philosopher Menodotus, the sophists P. Aelius Samius Isocrates and Quirinus. Nevertheless in the third century Philostratus can still see Bithynia as marginal.’

According to Dr Elke Steinmeyer of UKZN’s Classics Department, the lectures were well received by the audience which led to a stimulating discussion on Greek Culture.

Melissa Mungroo


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KZN still has World’s Highest HIV Infection among Women

KZN still has World’s Highest HIV Infection among Women
Panellists at a World AIDS Day gathering light a candle in remembrance of those lost to HIV.

In spite of all the advances made in the fight against HIV, KwaZulu-Natal still has the highest rate of infection among women anywhere in the world.

This is according to the Associate Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, an international leader in HIV research.

Abdool Karim was speaking at a panel discussion hosted by the College of Health Sciences, in collaboration with K-RITH, CAPRISA, HEARD, the Medical Research Council and Health Systems Trust to commemorate World AIDS Day (WAD) 2014.

WAD focuses on remembering those lost to the epidemic and also on the mobilisation of resources to advocate for people vulnerable to and living with HIV. 2014 marks a decade since the World AIDS Day theme of: “Women, Girls, HIV and AIDS”.

The panel discussion was held to share knowledge drawn from biomedical science, social and behavioural studies and community perspectives on the persistent vulnerability of women and girls to HIV infection, a topic which forms the nexus of multiple health, cultural and development issues.

Emeritus Professor in Paediatrics and Scientific Advisor at UKZN’s School of Clinical Medicine, Professor Miriam Adhikari, opened the discussion around how to reduce the burden of HIV on women and girls, and good practice models for protecting women’s sexual and reproductive health rights.

Framing her remarks within the lens of preventing HIV infection in young women as a key challenge to ending AIDS in Africa, Abdool Karim noted that although South Africa had transformed HIV and AIDS from a fatal disease to a manageable chronic condition through access to the world’s largest antiretroviral treatment programme, and had almost eradicated mother-to-child transmission of HIV to infants, KwaZulu-Natal still had the highest rate of HIV among women anywhere in the world. 

‘There are still many challenges to infant feeding, and the health of mothers is crucial for society’s survival,’ she said. ‘The overarching challenge is that despite many interventions focusing on safe sex practices and voluntary medical male circumcision, young women cannot exercise control over men’s responses to these programmes. Data from South African cohort and population-based studies show that women aged 15 to19 years are being infected by men older than 25. Epidemic control will never be achieved if HIV transmission through these age-disparate relationships is not reduced. Although we have a number of emerging and available tools to address this, we cannot rest until we have a viable HIV vaccine. 

‘With prevalence measured at 1% for boys and 9% for girls in the 15 to 19 year age group, transactional sex between adolescent girls and men older than 25 is a significant risk factor, with immature genital tracts making younger women particularly vulnerable to HIV infection.  Pursuing viral load reduction among older men through ARVs can help to lower these infection rates, but the social and economic factors underlying sex in exchange for goods or money require deeper investigation,’ said Abdool Karim.

Andrew Gibbs, a researcher in the Gender Equality and Health Programme at the Health Economics and AIDS Research Division (HEARD), called for radical restructuring of gender relationships to address women’s economic dependence on men and eliminate gender-based violence, especially in domestic settings. The key aspects of such programming were changing social norms and expectations, targeted livelihood interventions for young women and girls, and working effectively with men and boys towards stronger perceptions of gender equality, said Gibbs.

‘Moralising and scare tactics will not support women towards thinking more critically about their sexual health and relationships. We need to help them understand their choices. Reshaping the broader context in which they live is not glamorous or easy, but it starts with building women’s economic empowerment – beyond craft projects and skills transfer – into securing sustainable work opportunities in their immediate environment.’

Work with men and boys had to retain the centrality of women’s and girls’ needs, and recognise the danger of reinforcing the dominant masculine role. ‘Perpetuating the role of men as the protectors of society and family displaces the notion of men and women as equal partners,’ said Gibbs. ‘Global implementation of the Stepping Stones Creating Futures project in both rural and urban settings has demonstrated success in altering attitudes about gender norms in the context of poverty. In Malawi, for example, girls continue to have sex when they were less materially dependent on men, but made different partner choices.’

Research and Community Manager for the South African Medical Research Council’s HIV Prevention Research Unit, Ms Neetha Morar, underlined the importance of understanding the interplay of dynamics between the individual using the intervention, the partner, the family and the community.  ‘Our study participants have taught us that merely issuing a prevention product will not guarantee its usage in a woman’s daily life,’ said Morar. ‘Condoms and microbicide gels are discarded at train stations because cultural and social norms do not support an environment that enables women to use them effectively. We must continue to build partnerships at community level, and ask for women’s guidance as to why certain means and methods are acceptable or not, what fears are associated with vaccines, and how we can help them to make prevention choices that they can sustain in their homes.”

Adhikari noted that work with and within families – teaching both sons and daughters to respect all women – laid the foundation for public health programme implementation to be effective.

Health Systems Trust’s KZN Co-ordinator for the South African Sustainable Response to HIV and AIDS (SA SURE) project, Ms Sibongile Shezi endorsed this view, saying that the focus should be on empowering couples and not only individuals. Shezi’s work has highlighted that empowering women is not about power over men, but about power with men, in families and communities.

‘Why, in this age of robust prevention programmes and with women needing and demanding their own forms of protection, is condom uptake so low? she asked. ‘We have made gains in prevention of mother-to-child transmission, but women are not booking for antenatal care at clinics before 20 weeks of pregnancy.’

Turning back to biomedical options for reducing HIV infection among women and girls, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV (K-RITH), Dr Jenniffer Maroa, confirmed that uptake of and adherence to prevention interventions remained challenging. ‘The only clear path to eradication of HIV is a vaccine,’ she said. ‘To this end, we’ve established that antibodies can block a freely existing HI virus, and we are now working on the use of antibodies to block a cell-based virus. We also need to know more about the differences in women’s and men’s mucosal immunity. So far, we’ve isolated “broadly neutralising antibodies” that can recognise the different virus strains and binding spots, and are hopeful that we can build on this knowledge to develop an effective vaccine.’

Dr Elizabeth Lutge of the Department of Health said the Department valued its partnerships with researchers and appealed to research programmers to involve health workers in their studies.

Ms Helga Koch of UKZN’s Department of Occupational Therapy called for intervention strategies to incorporate the needs of HIV-positive people with disabilities within a community framework.

Judith King


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Top Designs Recognised at Open Day

Top Designs Recognised at Open Day
School of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering students at their annual awards function.

The School of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering (EECE) held its annual projects Open Day and awards function at the UNITE Building on the Howard College campus where the designs of final year students were on display.

Mr Elijah Indarjit won the award for the Most Innovative Design Project in Computer Engineering with his project titled: “Gesture Recognition using a Smart Glove”. The project involved a robot controlled by a person wearing a glove who performs hand gestures captured by embedded sensors. An appropriate command is transmitted to the robot which then moves accordingly.

The prize of R2 500 was sponsored by Denel Dynamics.

Indarit also received the Best Final Year Student in Computer Engineering award which carried with it a prize of R4 000 sponsored by the CSIR.

Mr Keagan Govender was the winner of the Best Computer Engineering Final Year Design Project with his exhibit titled: “Combi-CNC” which involved the design and production of a combinational 3D printer and CNC Milling device. In this work a PC is used to control a machine capable of manufacturing three dimensional objects, both by a building up process and a material and material removal process.  The prize of R3 000 was sponsored by the CSIR.

Electrical Engineering student Ms Hansa Sewnarain was selected as the Best Final Year Student in Electrical Engineering, Best Final Year student in Power Systems and won a Top 10 award for a Highly Commended design project.

Hansa’s winning project, titled: “Ring Main Protection of a Power System”, was a protection system for the interconnection between power stations, transmission grids and the distribution of electricity. She chose the project because power systems is a major course in Electrical Engineering.

The award for the Best Final Year Student in Electronic Engineering went to Ms Sarisha Ojageer for her project: 3D Scene Reconstruction: Stereovision Enables a Degree of Depth Perception in Humans. This project aimed to emulate aspects of human depth perception using stereoscopic cameras and projective geometry.

Prashina Kallideen


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Westville ResLife Celebration

Westville ResLife Celebration
Westville ResLife leaders at the awards function.

The Department of Student Residence Affairs hosted the annual Westville ResLife Leadership awards function to celebrate accolades the Westville ResLife Team has achieved in prioritising the academic success and well-being of students.

Tribute was paid to the various stakeholders who have made a contribution to ResLife in developing and grooming students in residences.

Manager for Student Residence Affairs, Mr Morumula, officially opened the function acknowledging the good work done by the Westville ResLife Team under the leadership of Ms Lerato Khoadi, who is the Residence Life Co-ordinator for the Westville campus.

‘Such great events are not only for Student Housing but also for the University at large to represent the brand and display our corporate identity as an institution of higher learning,’ said Morumula.

Among the speakers for the evening was Mr Siphephile Khanyile who is the Residence Assistant for Longsdale, one of the off-campus residences for Westville students. He spoke about events since he joined the Res Life team encouraging other student leaders and advising them that leadership was not about popularity but about knowing and understanding people.

Keynote speaker, Ms Dudu Shabane, a Teacher who is doing her doctorate through UKZN, said: ‘Never let challenges stop you from dreaming especially if you are a UKZN student because the Institution has all the resources to inspire academic excellence.’

Shabane reminded students that university was preparation for entry into the big world where life began for real. She said values such as respect, self-discipline and humbleness were vital in the work environment.

‘As a First Language English Teacher, humility, humbleness and all the challenges I have experienced in my life shaped me to be the person I am today. People see your background - never forget where you come from and people who have assisted you in life even if you are blessed with high positions because you still need other people in life - umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu.’

An award was made to Mr Mandlakayise Ndaba from the Student Governance and Leadership Development Office who has assisted with mentorship programmes and also to Ms Elanor Langley and Ms Pinky Mnyaka for their contribution in facilitating HIV and AIDS Programmes in residences.

Residence Assistants, Mentors and House Committees were also acknowledged for their hard work and dedication in assisting students and creating a healthy environment at University residences.

Khoadi said the gathering was more like a thanks-giving ceremony. ‘I want to thank my management team, especially my line Manager Mr Sbu Khumalo, for the support he gave me. Thanks also to all my colleagues - ngiyabonga kakhulu kunina nonke,’ said Khoadi.

Sizwe Sithole


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Academic Monitoring and Support Under the Spotlight

Academic Monitoring and Support Under the Spotlight
From left: Professor Kriben Pillay, Professor Phil Stegen, Mr Kishore Gobardan and Mr Calvin Thomas at the AMS Colloquium.

Academic Monitoring and Support practitioners at UKZN attended the 2nd Annual Research Colloquium on Academic Monitoring and Support (AMS) to share their challenges and contribute to the solutions with the aim of improving teaching and learning practices at the University.

The Colloquium, hosted by the College of Law and Management Studies Teaching and Learning Unit in partnership with the Teaching and Learning Office, saw academics present research under the theme: “Beyond Academic Development: Reconceptualising and Institutionalising Academic Monitoring and Support”.

College Dean of Teaching and Learning Professor Kriben Pillay said this year’s Colloquium was continuing the dialogue on the refining and development of AMS practices across disciplines, mainstream academics and academic development practitioners which started at the inaugural AMS colloquium hosted by the College of Health Sciences in 2013.

‘The challenge that most universities continue to experience is that AMS is largely seen to be the responsibility of academic development staff, a responsibility that resides outside mainstream teaching and learning and outside the core responsibility of academic staff, said Pillay.

‘The corollary is the “professionalising” of the “academic development” sector, where there is a suggestion of “specialisation” that is not within the grasp of the disciplinary academic, and therefore AMS should continue to be the province of the specialist. I question this for a number of reasons, too many to unpack here, but highlighted for deeper engagement within dialogues that will hopefully be initiated by this Colloquium.’

The keynote address titled: “Academic Monitoring and Support as a Value: A Reflective Study”, was delivered by School of Management, Information Technology and Governance academic, Dr Shaun Ruggunan.

Ruggunan reflected on his journey as a Lecturer in Human Resources Management and spoke about ways of bringing academic development into mainstream teaching, demonstrating how and why academic development needs to happen in the classroom.

‘Through sharing these experiences and practices, I hope to provoke both a discussion and debate about how by reconceptualising how we work with students we shift our ideas of what academic development is beyond merely being transmitters of discipline content.

‘This reconceptualisation means we also have to see ourselves as transmitters of values. I contend that AMS needs to be internalised as a value by academics, and need not be an onerous or bureaucratic task outsourced to remote units. This may mean a profound mind shift in how we see our work as academics but ultimately holds benefits for both academics and students.  I also suggest ways in which UKZN can support academics in achieving these aims,’ said Ruggunan.

Apart from the presentation of research, there were also three plenary discussions on Institutionalising Academic Monitoring and Support in which delegates split up to discuss this topic. The Colloquium ended with a critical reflection of the day’s process proceedings and how delegates could contribute to the way forward.

The first plenary session facilitated by College of Humanities academic Dr Angela James included panellists: Ms Angeline Stephens (Humanities), Ms Prim Naidoo (Law and Management Studies), Ms Roshanthni Subrayen (Student Services), Ms Urisha Naidoo (Health Sciences) and a student’s experience given by Mr Sabelo Mavundla of the School of Education.

Mavundla spoke about the challenges students from rural areas faced when moving from high school to tertiary education and the importance of orientation and support from lecturers and student service practitioners in making the transition a smooth one.

The second session, chaired by the Dean of Teaching and Learning in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, Professor Bala Pillay, critically reflected on tutorial provision at UKZN. The panel made up of Humanities Director of Professional Services, Mr Kishore Gobardan; Law and Management Studies Academic Co-ordinator, Professor Phil Stegen; Humanities School Operations Manager, Mr Calvin Thomas, and Pillay examined the issue of funding when it comes to mainstreaming tutorials.

After the group discussions were concluded, delegates gave feedback in the last plenary session on a Policy Framework for Harmonising Key Roles and Responsibilities for AMS Personnel at UKZN. Issues addressed included how Colleges wanted to reconceptualise AMS and a proposal was put forward for the possibility of the College structure being adopted in residences so that AMS practitioners were able to extend their services to more students.

UKZN’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Learning, Professor Renuka Vithal, said the Colloquium was not only important for informing policy  and guidelines for institutional change but also provided a platform for identifying and raising new questions which lead to research.

‘We are increasingly and vigorously being held accountable for providing quality education to our undergraduate students hence the need for this colloquium which provides a forum for sharing effective activities and programmes across Colleges and Schools as well as an opportunity to discuss research findings, especially outputs from the range of projects funded by the University,’ she said.

Thandiwe Jumo


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Collegiality Celebrated at Year End Function

Collegiality Celebrated at Year End Function
College Deans (from left): Professor Anesh Singh, Professor Managay Reddi and Professor Henry Wissink (far right) congratulating Professor Mubangizi (centre) on his 15 years of service.

The College of Law and Management Studies recently hosted its first combined Year End and Awards Ceremony function.

The celebratory event which was organised by the office of the College Director of Professional Services saw over 250 College staff members embrace the day’s theme:” A’lter e’go (Latin), One’s other self” as they came dressed in interesting  outfits ranging from Cleopatra, the queen of the Nile to the Grim Ripper.

The rationale behind combining the two events was to encourage staff members to interact in a less formal setting thus fostering the spirit of team work and award excellence in research, teaching and learning and the newly introduced professional support services as well as to recognise staff for their commitment to the University.

In his address, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of College, Professor John Mubangizi who was also a recipient of a long service award for his 15 years of service, applauded the staff for their dedication towards ensuring that the College reached its milestones including an improvement in research productivity.

‘The function is also intended to be a celebration and acknowledgement of the effort and the hard work of all those involved in the management and leadership of the College. Altogether these people have put in more than 440 years of service to this Institution.’

‘These people are capable of working anywhere but they have dedicated their years to UKZN and we thank them for their hard work and effort they have put in at the College. We also want to acknowledge and recognise those academics who distinguished themselves as the most productive researchers in the College. Today’s function is an occasion to celebrate the resilience of this College. So, we are celebrating your resilience – each one of you,’ said Mubangizi.

To ensure that every one was in a jovial mood, the Master of Ceremonies Professor Kriben Pillay lived up to his reputation of being the master of illusion with his amazing magic tricks as well as kept the guests entertained with his comedy routines.

Amongst the research highlights was the Research Productivity Award which was awarded to School of Law academic, Professor Shannon Hoctor for being the most “productive researcher in the College in 2013”. School of Management, Information Technology and Governance academics Professor Betty Mubangizi and Dr Irene Govender were also recognised for their new “NRF ratings as established academics”.

The Research Impact Award for the “most cited academic paper” went to School of Accounting, Economics and Finance academic Dr Harold Ngalawa while the “Research Funding Award” for the most funding sourced by an individual academic in 2013 was awarded to Mr Marcel Kohler who generated over R2 million rand in funding.

College academics Dr Shaun Ruggunan, Ms Vanessa Tang, Dr Upasana Gitanjali Singh and Mr Samuel Douglas Engelbrecht, were recognised for participating in the Teaching and Learning Forums, where the presentations given lent themselves to further research and publication and served teaching and learning in the College.

Support staff were also awarded for their invaluable contribution to the College through the Professional Services.

After the formal presentations the dance floor was opened as the staff from the College displayed their dancing skills with a dance routine but it was the staff from the office of the Director of Professional Services’ spectacular dance interpretation to the hit song Waka Waka that earned a standing ovation.

The College is looking forward to a bigger and better event in 2015.

Thandiwe Jumo


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UKZN Academic Presents Paper at International Conference on SA’s Constitution

UKZN Academic Presents Paper at International Conference on SA’s Constitution
Professor Nomthandazo Ntlama.

Law academic Professor Nomthandazo Ntlama was among legal experts who presented their research at the 20 Years of South African Constitutionalism: Constitutional; Rights, Judicial Independence and the Transition to Democracy International Conference in New York.

The interdisciplinary Conference, organised by the South African Law Study Group under the auspices of the New York Law School, brought together constitutional Law experts, South African and American Law society scholars, innovative legal educators and public interest lawyers to examine both the achievements and challenges of the 20 years of the South African constitutionalism.

Ntlama presented a paper titled: “Transformation of the South African Judiciary: a Measure to Weaken its Capacity?”

‘This paper established that the process of transformation has not yet been embraced by all in South Africa as it is viewed as a strategy that is designed to weaken the capacity of the bench because of the inexperienced officers that may be appointed,’ said Ntlama. ‘Notwithstanding the critique, it also established that considerable progress, even though slow, has been made since the attainment of democracy in 1994 in ensuring the reflection of South Africa’s diversity in the composition of the judiciary.’

Ntlama described presenting at the Conference as an enriching experience as she got the opportunity to network and share knowledge with other experts in the field of Constitutional Law.

‘The papers that were presented examined the progress made and challenges faced in South Africa’s 20 years of constitutionalism. The Conference further provided an opportunity for the reflection on the strategies that may be adopted in improving the quality of legal education that we are providing as institutions of higher learning.’

Thandiwe Jumo


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PhD Student is Joint Winner of Conservation Award in Australia

PhD Student is Joint Winner of Conservation Award in Australia
Ms Tiwonge Mzumara-Gawa (left) receives the International Young Conservationist Award from Mr Ernesto Enkerlin Hoeflich, Chair, IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) in Sydney, Australia.

PhD student in the School of Life Sciences Ms Tiwonge Mzumara-Gawa was the joint winner of the International Young Conservationist Award of the International Ranger Federation (IRF) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature - World Commission on Protected Areas (IUCN/ WCPA).

Mzumara-Gawa, who shared the award with Mr Maximillian Jenes from Tanzania, received the honour at the IUCN’s World Parks Congress (WPC) in Sydney, Australia.

The International Young Conservationist Award was instituted to recognise outstanding contributions made by young people through ongoing, extraordinary commitment to the conservation of protected areas. It raises awareness around the work of passionate young conservationists, be they scientists, rangers or community workers, and provides recipients with opportunities to promote their work and to develop networks to support their efforts.

For Malawian Mzumara-Gawa, the award is a fitting honour as it acknowledges her efforts to provide important data to those who manage her country’s protected areas. Mzumara-Gawa has played an important role in bird conservation in Malawi where there is a dearth of information on and popular interest in the activity of birding and conservation.

She volunteers as a Conservation and Research officer for the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi (WESM), which is the Bird Life Partner in Malawi, co-ordinates a garden bird count and works as an Ornithologist for the Museum of Malawi.

The award recognises her instrumental assessment of important threatened and endangered species in Malawi, such as the yellow throated apalis, the blue swallow, vultures and parrots. She is also heavily involved in initiatives to get more young people interested in birds through student involvement, school visits and citizen science.

Mzumara-Gawa was given the opportunity to present at the WPC in Sydney, where she spoke on the topic: “Conserving Malawi’s Birds”, summarising some of the work she is doing in Malawi.

Her presentation highlighted the support she has received from Malawian NGOs such as Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust and African Parks, Majete, and the government officers in the Forestry Department and the Department of National Parks, as well as international support from small grants, bursaries and fellowships.

‘I feel blessed and honoured,’ said Mzumara-Gawa. ‘It’s humbling to think the work I do in the small country of Malawi can be recognised at such an international level. This is particularly encouraging for the great team of people I work with, because I did not achieve this alone.’

Mzumara-Gawa, who is at UKZN in the final stage of her PhD in ecology under the supervision of Professor Colleen Downs and Professor Mike Perrin, says her passion for conservation is inspired by the ability it gives her to be a voice for ‘beautiful, amazing and important wildlife’. She says she loves being in the wild and in natural habitats.

The focus of her PhD research is on: “The Ecology and Conservation Biology of the Lilian’s Lovebird in Malawi”.

Mzumara-Gawa, who is currently also monitoring vultures and blue swallows as well as assessing the availability of suitable breeding sites for the brown - and grey-headed parrots in Liwonde National Park, says she has enjoyed her time at UKZN being part of the community of postgraduates and academic staff. 

Her colleague, Mr David Nangoma from the Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust who nominated her for the award, said he believed she was uniquely positioned to make a marked change to bird conservation in Malawi thanks to her passion and drive. He feels her contributions will put Malawi on the map in terms of its ornithology and enable the publication of records of the country’s birdlife.

‘Tiwonge has consistently helped update bird lists on Mount Mulanje, a Biosphere Reserve, which is now designated an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA),’ explained Nangoma. ‘There is a lot that must be done to populate the IBA Database, which I think only Tiwonge will be able to do.’

‘It is my strong belief that a young lady of Tiwonge’s calibre will inspire other young women and youth in Malawi to take up a career in bird research and conservation,’ said Nangoma. ‘By involving college students from our local universities in her studies on Mount Mulanje and other protected areas in Malawi, Tiwonge has proved to be a great mentor. She certainly deserves the award and more.’

 Christine Cuénod

[Photo by IISD/ENB]*


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UKZN Essay Writing Competition Winners Announced

UKZN Essay Writing Competition Winners Announced
From left: Mr Rasvanth Chunylall, Ms Colisile Mathonsi, Mr Lesiba Seshoka and Mr Daniel Larsson.

Masters student Ms Colisile Mathonsi has won UKZN’s essay writing competition with her entry which argued that mentoring by means of peer and professional support was a practical way of creating strong and progressive graduates who could be guided towards becoming confident and competent future leaders.

In the competition, held to celebrate UKZN’s 10th anniversary, students were invited to write on the topic: “Ten years in and ten years into the future…Changing spaces, new places and a better UKZN. Your vision shapes the world”.

Executive Director Corporate Relations, Mr Lesiba Seshoka, said 85 students had submitted critical essays offering opinions and strategies to improve physical and operational aspects of the University. The diversity in approach, style, and creative thinking was most impressive!  Our panel of judges had no easy task and each student can be justifiably proud of their thoughtful submissions.

‘Ms Mathonsi’s insight of a strong alumni network and relationship between staff and pupils addressed the commitment we all have to each other as custodians of the University’s mission and goals. We congratulate the students on their achievements and thank them for being proud custodians of UKZN,’ said Seshoka.

Masters students Mr Rasvanth Chunylall and Mr Daniel Larsson received merit awards for their entries.

Chunylall suggested a greener, more sustainable University in addition to his stance on animal rights.  Competition judges felt his progressive social consciousness was laudable and an example for both staff and students.

Larsson wrote on what contributed towards a healthy, more vital student life suggesting, among other things, healthier food options and improved extramural activities.

Mathonsi won a Samsung Galaxy Tablet while Chunylall and Larsson each won Apple iPods.

Rakshika Sibran


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Busy Year for Life Sciences Professor

Busy Year for Life Sciences Professor
Professor Ahmed Thandar (centre) with other trainers and students during field trip in Algeria.

Professor Ahmed Thandar, Emeritus Professor in the School of Life Sciences (Biology), has had a hectic year attending several international conferences in various parts of the world.

Thandar attended the 5th American Echinoderm Conference in Pensacola; presented a paper on the Biodiversity and Biogeography of Southern African sea cucumbers at the 3rd World Marine Biodiversity Conference in Qingdao, China, in October, and went on invitation to the University of Mostaganem in Algeria and the Marine College in Algiers, to offer training courses in Taxonomy to masters, doctoral and post-doctoral students.

He found China and Algeria most accommodating and hospitable and the students in Algeria very motivated and eager to learn.

UKZNDabaOnline


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Chief Albert Luthuli Memorial Lecture Honours ‘A Great Statesman’

Chief Albert Luthuli Memorial Lecture Honours ‘A Great Statesman’
Chief Albert Luthuli Memorial Lecture at UKZN’s Westville campus.

National Minister of Arts and Culture Mr Nathi Mthethwa delivered the 2014 Chief Albert Luthuli Memorial Lecture at UKZN. It was the 10th year the University has hosted the Lecture. 

Paying tribute to the life and legacy of ‘a great statesman’, Mthethwa said Luthuli fought for full political, economic and social opportunities for oppressed people of South Africa regardless of colour, creed, nationality or race.

‘Chief Luthuli was a profound thinker, a scholar, a man of powerful logic with a keen sense of justice; a man of lofty principles, a bold and courageous fighter and a statesman. He was a true African nationalist and an unflinching patriot.’

Mthethwa noted the contributions of all those who helped South Africa achieve freedom. ‘Twenty years ago was the culmination of 300 years of struggle that brought us to that point in history where we could say definitively that we had seized the moment and entered a new space and a new time.’

He commended Luthuli for being the first African on the continent to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1960 and encouraged South Africans to ‘show the world a new pattern of democracy’ as Luthuli once predicted.

Broadcast live on SABC on DSTV’s Channel 404, a recurring theme throughout the lecture was the mystery surrounding Luthuli’s death in 1967. While the apartheid government declared Luthuli, a former President of the African National Congress, had been struck by a goods train, many have questioned this.

The Memorial Lecture included a panel discussion facilitated by television personality Mr Peter Ndoro. The panel included Mthethwa, Mr Jabulani Sithole, Dr Jabulani Mzaliya and Professor Simangaliso Kumalo.

Sithole explored the relevance today of the values bequeathed by Luthuli, while Mazliya’s presentation was titled: “Death by Train: The Manga Manga Story of Chief Albert Luthuli’s Death”. Kumalo spoke on: “The Legacy of Inkosi Albert John Luthuli’s Christian Centred Political Leadership”.

The sentiments surrounding the mystery of Luthuli’s death were echoed by his daughter, Dr Albertina Luthuli and his grandson and Chairperson of the Luthuli Foundation, Mr Mthunzi Luthuli.

Referring to this Memorial Lecture as the most moving of all those in the Luthuli series, Albertina Luthuli said it called into question something which had been uppermost in her mind - the death of her father.

She said the nation was concerned as there had been no closure following his untimely death. ‘It remains an open wound, not just for the family, but for many people,’ she said.

Also speaking at the event, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for the College of Humanities, Professor Cheryl Potgieter, said the University was honoured to be associated with the Chief Albert Luthuli Memorial Lecture. ‘The University’s vision to be the Premier University of African Scholarship commits us to the potential of Africa and to making a vital contribution to the world.’

Potgieter said she hoped the dialogue would inspire the youth to pursue a world of justice and respect for fundamental human rights and inspire South Africa to recommit to Luthuli’s principles.

A joint initiative of UKZN, the Luthuli Museum and the Department of Arts and Culture, the Lecture at the Graduate School of Business and Leadership was attended by members of the Groutville community, academics, students, the media and the public.

Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer


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Awards Dinner Honours Leading UKZN Researchers

Awards Dinner Honours Leading UKZN Researchers
Professor Urmilla Bob and Professor Jonathan Blackledge.

Leading UKZN researchers were honoured at the annual Research Awards Gala Dinner in Durban.

Those recognised included 2012 and 2013 book prize winners, the Top 30 researchers, the Top Published Researcher, the Top Published Woman Researcher, the highest grant awardees, the 2014 NRF A-rated researchers, and University Fellows.

The recipients of the National Research Foundation (NRF) Lifetime Achievement, the World Academy of Science (TWAS) Lenovo Science Prize, South African Young Academy of Science nomination and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) Women in Science Awards were also recognised.

Chief Director: Science Missions at the Department of Science and Technology Professor Yonah Seleti delivered the keynote address titled: “The Value of Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Higher Education in the 21st Century”.

Seleti commended UKZN for being the first university on the continent to have an IKS policy and acknowledged it for committing resources to IKS.

He noted IKS initiatives underway including collaboration with Nestle to make vegetables from indigenous communities available on a global scale as well as current research into treatment for diabetes.

Seleti cautioned: ‘When people hear about Indigenous Knowledge Systems they only think of rituals and traditional healers and they do not actually look at the knowledge domains and the challenges and the world views that are behind Indigenous Knowledge Systems.’

Professor Jonathan Blackledge, UKZN’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, officially launched the 2013 Research Report which reflects on the University’s research highlights, developments and achievements.

Speaking at the event, Blackledge acknowledged the staggering amount of research being undertaken at UKZN. ‘2013 was a remarkable year for the University whose research productivity was compounded in a steady and sustained growth in terms of the number of publications, the postgraduate research throughput, the funding awarded and the participation in research by staff across the entire spectrum of the institute’s academic portfolio, making the University one of Africa’s premiere research focused centres of academic excellence,’ said Blackledge.

He listed the University’s ‘exceptional’ achievements over the past year. ‘The number of doctoral degrees awarded in 2013 increased by 24 percent compared to 2012, closely matched by an increase of 15 percent for Masters by Research awards.’

Funding from the NRF also increased by seven percent compared with 2012.

‘Indeed, in all aspects of the University’s research portfolio there has been a significant annual rise in research output as reflected in the Research Productivity Units of staff which increased by 13 percent over the same period,’ he said.

Blackledge outlined the University’s rankings: ‘The University has been ranked in the top two percent among the world’s leading academic institutions by the Centre for World University Rankings. The Academic Ranking of World Universities places us in the top three universities in Africa and we are now ranked 45th from a total of 700 universities according to the Times Higher Education’s first ranking of the BRICS and emerging economies universities.

‘Further, we are confident that for the second year running, UKZN will be ranked as the top university in South Africa for research productivity.’

Blackledge acknowledged the University’s duty to have a broad teaching and research portfolio that is dedicated to its students and their educational development. ‘Whether we are teaching first year undergraduates, supervising PhD students or mentoring post-doctoral students, as academics in one of the world’s leading universities, we have a duty to our students welfare and educational development. By helping them to the very best of our abilities, we help ourselves.’

Dean of University Research and Programme Director, Professor Urmilla Bob, acknowledged the hard work contained in the Research Report saying, ‘The Research Report is our pride and joy because in that text lies the blood, the sweat, the frustration which made so many research achievements possible.’

Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning Professor Renuka Vithal delivered the vote of thanks and echoed Blackledge’s sentiments of the strong connection between teaching and learning and research.

Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer


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Student Services Division Indaba

Student Services Division Indaba
Student Services Division.

The Student Services Division (SSD) hosted its inaugural Indaba at the UNITE Building on the Howard College campus recently.

This year’s gathering was labelled “Indaba” because of the Division’s need to promote a more interactive engagement and open-type discussion approach with staff in respect of its current and future strategies and direction.

The interactive and innovative approach, led to the event being attended by almost the entire SSD staff from all five campuses!

Student Services Information Officer, Mr Sachin Suknunan, served as the Programme Director and facilitated the programme which started with a welcoming address by the Executive Director: Student Services, Dr Sibusiso Chalufu.

Chalufu first asked the audience to observe a moment of silence in memory of students, staff and families/friends/relatives of staff who passed on this year.

He then spoke on realities within the SSD and work being carried out as well as future imperatives.

Chalufu thanked staff for their ongoing dedication and hard-work despite the trials and tribulations experienced during the course of the year, encouraging them to keep up the good work.

Staff of the Division then had the opportunity to introduce themselves and convey why their role is important and valuable in the Division/University. This proved to be a very empowering, informative and fun exercise.

Fraud and Prevention Specialist from Forensic Services, Mr Tony Singarum, then addressed the gathering on the harsh realities of fraud and corruption.

Head of Departments (HoDs) within SSD provided stimulating presentations on their departmental responsibilities and outputs for the year, along with challenges and future plans followed by feedback from staff.

HoDs included Mr Michael Davids (Student Funding), Ms Sharitha Seetal (Special Projects), Mr Mark Bashe (Student Health and Sport), Mr Meliqiniso Sibisi (Student Governance and Leadership Development), Mr Kgotlaetsile Marumola (Student Residence Affairs), and Mr Amith Ramballie (Senior Student Development Specialist - Disability Support Services and HIV and AIDS Programme).

Ms Sandra Pillay (Finance Student Services) could not join the Indaba due to ill health at the time.

The programme then proceeded to an interactive session with all staff participating, with a view to gaining insights on possible strategies that could promote the Division to become the leading provider of quality student support services embracing the holistic development of the diverse student population.

Overall, the Indaba proved to be an invaluable refreshing, empowering and successful exercise for the SSD, which provided a remarkable platform for all to engage effectively and promote knowledge exchange in line with the Division’s aspirations.

Sachin Suknunan 


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Ezolimi @ UKZN

Ezolimi @ UKZN
Abebebambe iqhaza kwiNdaba yezokuThuthukiswa nokuSatshalaliswa kwamaTemu EsiZulu bebhunga kabanzi.

Click here for English version

IHhovisi LeNyuvesi LezokuHlelwa NokuThuthukiswa KoLimi (ULPDO) belihlele Indaba Yokuthuthukiswa Nokusatshalaliswa Kwamatemu EsiZulu ekhempasini i-Howard College.

Ethula inkulumo yakhe kulomcimbi, uSekeleshansela noMphathi uSolwazi Malegapuru Makgoba uthe amaqiniso, ukucabanga ngokufanele nobuntu jikelele kulele olimini.

Le Indaba beyinengxoxo ebiholwa yiDini YezokuFunda NokuFundisa eKolishi YezoLuntu uSolwazi uNobuhle Hlongwa. Abebebambe iqhaza engxoxweni bebehlanganisa kubalwa iphini likaSekelashansela : KwezokuFunda NokuFundisa uSolwazi Renuka Vithal, uDkt Langa Khumalo umqondisi we-ULPDO nabebemele abezindaba okunguMnu B Zondi (Ilanga), Mnu I Sithole (Isolezwe), Nkz Z Mkhize (Ukhozi Fm), Solwazi O Nxumalo ( umbhali noSolwazi woLimi lwesiZulu).

UVithal uvule ingxoxo ngokucacisa ngempumelelo yeNyuvesi ehambisana nenqubomgomo yayo yolimi.

UDkt Khumalo uthe injongo yalengxoxo bekuwukubheka izindlela zokusabalalisa amatemu esiZulu athuthukiswa yiNyuvesi. 

USolwazi Otty Nxumalo (oyisifundiswa solimi esiphezulu) utshele izethameli ngokufunda kwakhe isiZulu ngesiNgisi eNyuvesi waphinda wadlulisa nentokozo anayo ngalezi zinguquko ezenzeka e-UKZN.

USolwazi uVithal uvule ngokusemthethweni ihhovisi lezokuHlelwa nokuThuthukiswa koLimi. Ubalule ukuzinikela kukaDkt Khumalo nethimba lakhe ngokubamba iqhaza elikhulu ekuphumeleleni kweNdaba phakathi kweminye imisebenzi eyenziwa yihhovisi.

USolwazi Laurette Pretorius waseNyuvesi yaseNingizimu Afrika wethule inkulumo ebinesihloko esithi “Language Technology and the web”. 

Ms S van Niekerk ukhulume ngokufunda kwakhe isifundo sesiZulu. Ubalule ukufunda isiZulu KwaZulu-Natali nokuthi kulusizo uma ekhuluma nabantu abakhuluma ulimi lwesiZulu okuhlanganisa nokubingelela nje kukodwa kumsize kakhulu.

Ekubungazeni Indaba Yokuthuthukiswa Nokusatshalaliswa Kwamatemu EsiZulu, iHhovisi lengeze ngokuhlela umncintiswano wamagama esiZulu. USolwazi Vithal umemezele onqobe umncintiswano uMnu Lwazi Cele oziwinele umathangeni (laptop).

Indaba yonke beyitolikwa ngesiZulu nesiNgisi uMnu Njabulo Manyoni noMs Winnie Ngongoma (eThekwini Municipality : Language Services).

  U-Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer


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