Love for African Music and Dance Spurs Student on to Graduate

Love for African Music and Dance Spurs Student on to Graduate
Bachelor of Arts: Music graduate, Ms Nozuko Nguqu.

BA Music graduate Ms Nozuko Nguqu was introduced to music fundamental theory when she attended the Bartel Arts Trust (BAT) Centre’s Live Band Development for Band Leaders event in Durban in 2010. 

Nguqu had always yearned to be music literate and being at the event piqued her interest leading to her enrolling at UKZN and majoring in African Music and Dance (AMD) through the College of Humanities.

She believes the three years at UKZN have helped grow as a musician.  ‘Despite hiccups in the beginning, it’s been a great three years of absorbing all I had been interested in, both theoretically and practically.’ 

She believes compulsory modules for AMD majors are African Music Outreach Music Education and African Music Outreach (AMO), both done in the third and final year of the degree. ‘They equip and prepare students for the outside world. In AMO Music education one is trained to teach music, and in AMD Community Development one gets to know the ins and outs of administrating and organising a big event.’

Nguqu feels her music degree will help her immensely in her future career.

‘I strongly believe that completing the first degree is success on its own. My path is paved and opportunities await me. The journey continues as I now do my postgraduate study.’ 

Nguqu, who hails from Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape, started her career in music as a backing vocalist for Mfiliseni Magubane, a Maskandi musician, who inspires her music a lot. 

Although she is into jazz and Western classical music, she focuses on African Music and Dance, being involved with many theatrical productions and has performed around South Africa and abroad.  

Nguqu has worked with UKZN’s touring ensemble Ikusasa Lethu, directed by Dr Patricia Opondo.  

Said Dr Opondo: ‘Nozuko joined the University as an accomplished artist. During her audition three years ago, I was impressed by her vocal gifts/talents. My proudest moment was when we examined Nozuko during her final exit Public Recital in November 2014 and saw how she had grown in leaps and bounds and was able to play three African instruments including the Mbira (Zimbabwe) and the Maskandi guitar. She is a refreshing voice in the Maskandi scene. 

‘Look out for her as she begins to embrace international platforms. I feel like the late Busi Mhlongo is reborn in Nozuko. What a gift to the KZN province and South Africa.’ 

Nguqu’s original songs were recorded in 2009 on an album titled: “Mavula-Kuvaliwe”.  

She holds an award from the KZN Provincial Department of Arts and Culture for Best Maskandi Band and also received a Certificate of Merit in every single AMD module she took, which was described by Dr Opondo as ‘a unique milestone, the first time ever in 18 years of the Programme’s existence’. 

As a solo artist, Nguqu has been featured in highly recognised events such as the Annual Woman Power in Music 2014 and UKZN’s Annual African Cultural Calabash 2014. ‘My vision is to see the world being healed, educated, developed and entertained through live music.’ 

She is currently registered for a BA Honours in Applied Ethnomusicology degree and is working at the BAT Centre as a Music Co-ordinator. 

Melissa Mungroo

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Music Student Graduates with Jazz Diploma

Music Student Graduates with Jazz Diploma
Mr Lucky Swele.

Musician Mr Lucky Swele of Limpopo believes the Diploma in Jazz and Popular Music he was awarded by UKZN is the launch pad for his career. 

‘It’s an honour and privilege for me to be fulfilling my music dreams at UKZN,’ said Swele. 

Seeing UKZN Jazz students perform at church, sparked a yearning to read, analyse, arrange, compose, teach and learn music. ‘Studying jazz was a challenge for me because I didn’t have any jazz musical background in terms of vocabulary and language. 

‘During my studies, I’ve learned so many things about jazz music and experienced so much preparing me for the outside world. I have met great Jazz artists such as Sibongile Khumalo, guitarist Themba Mokoena, Bheki Khoza and Madala Kunene at UKZN. I also met good people who helped and supported me throughout my studying journey.’ 

Swele has performed at UKZN graduation ceremonies with his group Ubuciko, The Art since 2013. The group consists of Swele on guitar, Mr Nkululeko Mchunu (poet, dancer and writer) of Hammarsdale and Mr Nhlanhla Mzobe (recordist) of KwaMashu. The band members are all currently studying towards a BA (Honours) within the School of Arts. ‘Performing at the graduation ceremony gave us confidence that we are capable of achieving greater things,’ said Swele. 

Swele, who holds classical guitar practical qualifications from Trinity College of Music in London, hoped to bring his mother to Durban for his graduation and show her the city and the ocean for the first time.

Speaking about his love for music and his musical journey, he said: ‘Music feeds our souls, it’s a prayer for me and I express myself through it. I love to perform music in order to entertain an audience and to change their lives by sharing a message that connects the social life and social ills of the community.’ 

It all began for Swele while playing with an empty oil can guitar! When professional guitarist and educator Mr Tom Toomey of England visited Limpopo, this touched him deeply because there was no music education in the curriculum at the schools in the area. He saw how much Swele and his community needed both music education and musical instruments so with the help of local people he set up an independent music school, the Music for Africa Charity Project, at Polokwane.  

He appointed local teachers Mr Mathew Matebane and Mrs Elsie Mahloko to teach Swele and others how to play keyboard, flute, and classical and electric guitar. ‘Each student had their own instrument to learn, which we could take home,’ said Swele. ‘In 2014, I entered for guitar grade exams with the Trinity College of Music in London, studying from Grade 1 to Grade 6. After I completed high school, I became a guitar teacher at the Project from 2008 to 2010. In 2011, I left my teaching job to enrol for Jazz and Popular Music at UKZN and here I am today!’ 

Swele, who said he was grateful to his family and friends for their ongoing support over the years, plans to travel with his group, Ubuciko, performing in and out of the country and to give back to the Music for Africa Project by teaching and inspiring upcoming young artists.

 Melissa Mungroo

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Role of South African Revolutionary Songs Explored by Graduate

Role of South African Revolutionary Songs Explored by Graduate
Mr Nhlakanipho Ngcobo graduates with his Honours in Applied Ethnomusicology.

Mr Nhlakanipho Ngcobo recently graduated from the College of Humanities with his Honours in Applied Ethnomusicology. His research looked at the role of revolutionary songs in different communities and contexts such as songs in different protest actions from communities, workers, students to political organisation members’ strikes.  

It looks at how these songs influence social change, their evolution from apartheid to the democratic era and their relevance today in South Africa. 

Ngcobo believes that there is a misconception about revolutionary songs, their role and whom they are directed at. ‘This misconception erases the reality and relevance of these songs.’

Through his research, he wants society to be able to understand deeply the role of these songs and how they can be used to shape and challenge unpleasant social conditions, while also praising the good deeds. ‘Through these songs people will be able to understand their history and political heroes, these songs will help them to unite, understand and exercise their rights in contribution to building a prosperous South Africa.’ 

Asked about the findings of his research, Ngcobo replied: ‘Revolutionary songs encourage unity as they are sung by huge groups of people with the same vision, these songs encourage people to exercise their rights, for example workers and students rights.’ 

‘They give hope and strength to people. They are educational, instructional; they are archives and our heritage. These songs are able to exist in different contexts without changing their lyrics but meaning, they also allow for creativity. These songs deal with issues at hand and encourage rapid composition.’ 

Ngcobo was also one of UKZN’s Top 40 most inspiring students for 2014, also presenting his honours research project at the ICTM International symposium and Kenyatta University Culture Seminar (Kenya). He will also be presenting his research paper at the 43rd World Conference of the International Council for Traditional Music, which will be held in Astana, Kazakhstan in July 2015. 

‘I am also on a Local Arrangements Committee of the 10th Anniversary of the African Cultural Calabash and the 1st International Council for Traditional Music of African Music Study Group Symposium to be held at UKZN Howard College campus from the 30th of September - 3rd of October 2015.’ 

Currently, Ngcobo is commencing his Masters in Applied Ethnomusicology in the School of Arts, and is hopeful to continue onto his PhD. ‘I see myself in the future as a professional Applied Ethnomusicologist and an academic.’ 

Dr Patricia Opondo, his supervisor has found Ngcobo’s work to be relevant and timely. ‘He shows enormous potential and he is indeed a great writer with an acute, analytical mind.’


Melissa Mungroo

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Student Wears Mom’s Academic Gown, Graduates with same Degree

Student Wears Mom’s Academic Gown, Graduates with same Degree
Mr Nhlosenhle Mpontshane with his proud mom Professor Nompumelelo Zondi.

Mr Nhlosenhle Mpontshane recently graduated with his Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree from UKZN whilst wearing his mother’s academic gown. The gown was worn by his mother Professor Nompumelelo Zondi, a former UKZN staff member and now a professor at the University of Zululand. 

Explaining the significance of the academic gown Zondi said ‘He is graduating with the same degree I obtained in 1991 at the same University, two years before he was born, and we even share one of the majors, English. The other reason I am thrilled about him wearing my gown, which is now his, is that after giving birth to him on the 21 April 1993, I told the hospital staff that I was supposed to be graduating for my BA Honours in the next two days but I guess would not since I was there with my one hour old precious son.  

‘The doctors said, “Day after tomorrow you will go to your graduation and we will take good care of your baby boy.” And it came to pass. It was the evening session. My family took me back to the hospital around 10pm and I was still garbed in my academic attire.’ 

‘On arrival the hospital staff and new mothers congratulated me and my son was brought to me; I held him in my arms and covered him with the same gown he is now wearing, praying that he would in the future see value in education. Tears of joy came rolling down my face. Not only had I achieved another degree but I had also been blessed with this bundle of joy.’  

Zondi’s dream was that her son would one day walk the same podium as a young graduate. ‘I thought keeping it in the house where he would see it all the time would instil love for education and he would also one day want to be a graduate like his dad and I. And today, seven days before he turns 22 he is graduating and wearing it. It gave me so much joy a few weeks ago when I took it and the cap out from the closet for dry cleaning after all these years. Had the hood not changed, obviously he would also be inheriting it.’ 

Speaking about this Mpontshane said, ‘I am extremely excited and honored that I will be wearing my mom’s academic gown. In all honesty I just recently learned the beautiful story behind the gown I will be wearing and it makes me even prouder that my mother and I walked the same path.’ 

He described his undergraduate years at UKZN as a non-stop learning experience. ‘I think that is the best way I can explain it. Whether it was learning in a lecture venue or learning life lessons on campus, I feel like I gained a great deal of knowledge through my campus life interactions. University is a perfect social setting to learn how to interact and relate with other people which is what I tried to do every day.’ 

Some of his highlights included meeting different people. ‘I love the fact that I’ve befriended individuals who will probably be in my life for a long time. Third year was also an interesting moment for me as this was the year where I was truly enlightened about what the whole concept of academia is about. I really learned how to be a free thinker and how to cultivate my own ideas.’ 

Mpontshane is thankful for his support system during his studies, ‘Having supportive parents made this period of my life so much easier. Even when I decided to change my degree from BCom to BA, knowing that my mom and dad were supportive of my decision put my mind at ease. The fact that my mother worked at UKZN also made the transition to tertiary easy for me. My learning curve was definitely cut in half because of that.’  

‘I also had a loving support system in the form of close family friends like Stan Khoza, the Drokheur family and the people of Emmaus House, who were a pillar of strength for both my mother and I. Being around like-minded friends who were also dedicated to their studies definitely helped me keep focus over the years.’ 

Zondi’s message to her son is, ‘My one and only child and son, I firmly believe you are the greatest gift God ever gave me.  I named you Mpontshane, which means Good Intent because I had a vision for you.  You have lived up to my aspirations and made me a proud mom.’ 

‘You have been blessed with so many people who have wanted nothing but a good life for you from the time you were born; your father, your maternal and paternal grandmothers, your aunts and cousins, your Uncle Stan, your two special and loving families; the Drockuers from Germany and the Boehrer-Conroy’s from the US and my friends who have always been there in our lives.  But then remember, education comes with more responsibility and accountability. Be the light of the world and shine on!’   

Mpontshane is enrolled in a Music Business Course at the Campus of Performing Arts in Johannesburg. ‘I took this new direction and decision because of my incredible passion for all things music related. During the year of 2015 I intend to gain as much experience as I possibly can and learn the ins and outs of the local music industry.’ 

 Melissa Mungroo

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Academic Triumph in Adversity for Durban Educationist

Academic Triumph in Adversity for Durban Educationist
Dr Saritha Beni graduates with a PhD in Education.

Research which focused on how foundation phase teachers interpret and implement the Natural Science Curriculum within the Life Skills programme earned a determined Durban woman her PhD in Education.  

For mother-of-two, Dr Saritha Beni, receiving her degree from the College of Humanities at the annual UKZN Graduation ceremony was the culmination of a long, hard journey, exacerbated in 2010 by being diagnosed with breast cancer which is now thankfully in remission. 

‘There were periods when I was undergoing treatment that I was unable to do much work,’ said Beni. ‘However, I continued to register every year and refused to give up.  

‘My dad passed away during the course of my study and his death had a huge impact on me. I knew my dad would have wanted me to complete my studies so I persevered and have dedicated my thesis to him. 

‘It was a difficult time for my family and I, but I am a determined person and I was motivated to complete my studies. My husband, Laren, was a pillar of strength and assisted with some of the responsibilities at home which created the space and time I needed to devote to my studies,’ said Beni. 

‘I needed to complete my degree as I wanted my sons, Nirav and Advik, to know that anything can be accomplished if you set your mind to it.’ 

Drawing from her past experiences as a natural science teacher in the Intermediate Phase as well as lecturing students studying Bachelor of Education degrees, Beni gravitated towards doing research that focused on how foundation phase teachers interpret and implement the Natural Science Curriculum within the Life Skills programme.  

‘With science viewed as a scarce skill in South Africa, our education system has the mammoth task of producing graduates in science and related fields.  Natural science is compulsory from Grade R to Grade Nine.  It is therefore crucial that we instil the love for science from an early age so that learners can elect to study the subject in Grade 10,’ said Beni. 

‘We need to invest in the Foundation Phase and more specifically in the teaching of natural science to make provision for teachers to implement the curriculum.  The focus has to be on the teachers as they are the critical agents who bring about transformation within the classroom when implementing the curriculum.’  

According to Beni, it is envisaged that the findings of her study - which resulted in the development of a model that explains the barrier experienced by teachers as well as the expansion of the theoretical framework for curriculum implementation - will afford curriculum planners a useful framework for developing innovative curricula. 

Beni, who advised other researchers not to give up even when ‘life gets in the way’,  thanked her strong support system consisting of family, friends and her supervisors, Dr Michèlle Stears and Dr Angela James, for their motivation and in giving her the time and space to recuperate.  

Beni currently works in a private Higher Education Institution where she is the Head of the Quality Assurance and Accreditation Department. 

Melissa Mungroo

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Husband and Wife Duo Graduate with PhD’s in Education

Husband and Wife Duo Graduate with PhD’s in Education
Drs Dhanasagaran (Sagie) and Rubandhree (Ruban) Naicker graduate with PhD’s in Education.

Husband and wife duo Drs Dhanasagaran (Sagie) and Rubandhree (Ruban) Naicker proudly celebrated each other’s academic achievements when they both graduated with their PhD’s in Education from UKZN recently. 

However, one half of the academic power couple Sagie had to deal with his existing yet debilitating effects of paraplegia and chronic ill health while completing his PhD. Midway through his study, Sagie underwent surgery for spinal stenosis and his research was curtailed.  

But with the support of his loving wife, family and friends, he pulled through and managed to complete his thesis on time. His PhD is titled Piecing together the leadership puzzle: A self-study of practice.  

In his study he reflected on his leadership practice in key nodal experiences in various contexts. He also explored the consequences of being a person with a disability  and observed that he has a “vibrant and alert mind trapped in a disobedient body”.  

‘The motor accident that led to my becoming a paraplegic at the peak of my youth altered my being significantly. Even though 29 years have gone by I still experience a sense of otherness as paraplegia differentiates me from “able-bodied people”. This experience has heightened my sense for justice, equity and fair play and I have become a champion campaigning for the rights of people with disabilities.’ 

‘My inner strength and resilience has helped me to cope and forge ahead in spite of the barriers that disable me. I am of the view that I can still realise my life’s purpose and transform myself into becoming the best that I can be. Paraplegia describes my physical state but it does not define who I am.’ 

Sagie pointed out that while completing his degree, he encountered various challenges such as struggling to get access to the library and various lecture rooms because of a lack of wheelchair-friendly ramps.  

‘The paraplegic toilets were always locked. The paraplegic parking bays at the Edgewood campus were frequently abused by able bodied persons and I had to find alternate parking which was inconvenient.’ 

‘There were times when my dignity and independence was impaired when my supervisor Dr Inbanathan Naicker had to assist me when the lifts did not work. He was at all times sensitive to my special needs and never made me feel that I was less capable.’ 

‘At the cohort sessions I once had to have my refreshments alone in the lecture room because I could not access the staff room – I experienced exclusion and really felt the effects of being “othered”.’

Speaking about his wife Sagie said: ‘While both my wife and I came from very humble backgrounds with social and financial constraints, we have forged ahead against these odds to achieve academically. We now live in Kharwastan. We were both school guidance counsellors and met at a meeting when school counsellors were being rationalised by the Department of Education.  We’ve been married since 1992 and are soulmates.’ 

Sagie had chosen to do his PhD, citing his wife Ruban as the inspiration. ‘Watching her study for her master’s degree awoke the academic being in me.  She encouraged me to pursue PhD studies and made enquiries for me. As soon as she completed her master’s degree passing with cum laude she started her PhD journey.’ 

‘It was a huge advantage having two researchers in the same home as we lived and breathed every experience together. We leaned on each other for emotional support; shared a forum to test ideas; and used this opportunity to clarify technical issues.’ 

Ruban’s thesis explored how teachers’ responded to critical incidents in their teaching lives and why they respond the way they do. Her findings revealed that teachers are either inspirited or dispirited depending on their resilience, leadership support, school culture, social support and their values and beliefs. 

Drawing from both their research, they wish to advance leadership and management development in South Africa and have put together a programme that will benefit existing and aspiring leaders in government, corporate and non-govermental sector.  

‘Our programme phronetic leadership or leading with wisdom starts by leading the most difficult person that is you. Details can be found on our website’ 

Sharing a few words of advice, Sagie said, ‘This is a message to society that people with disabilities are capable of achieving if the barriers which disable them are removed. I dedicate my success to people with disabilities and pray that society embraces them and allow them to also shine.’ 

Melissa Mungroo

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Former Security Guard Capped Doctor of Public Policy

Former Security Guard Capped Doctor of Public Policy
Dr Sipho Buthelezi received his PhD in Public Policy from UKZN.

Dr Sipho Buthelezi started his working career as a security guard in Louwsburg in northern KwaZulu-Natal using the three years he spent in the job to wisely plan the way forward to a better life. 

Buthelezi started saving and eventually had enough money to resign from his security guard position to register at UKZN where, with the help of Student Financial Aid, he completed the following degrees: BA (Tourism) cum laude; BSocSc (Honours) and MSocSc. 

He has worked in various provincial government departments in South Africa over the past 13 years.  He provided secretariat support and co-ordination for Government Relations in the Office of the KZN Premier; conducted research on Governance and Administration in the Department of Public Service and Administration in Pretoria; co-ordinated governance programmes for the Office of the Premier in the Western Cape; and is currently a Deputy Manager for Policy and Research in the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs in KZN. 

‘Having an education means that I am empowered and better equipped to add value to society, especially in KwaZulu-Natal,’ said Buthelezi. ‘With a combination of skills and applied research, means I can take on any given task or responsibility and excel in it. I am trained to think and do; hence I can bring innovation and new approaches into my work.’ 

Buthelezi’s research for his PhD explored how effective the KwaZulu-Natal Tourism Implementation structure has been in managing inter-organisational relations for tourism policy implementation. 

A highlight for him was seeing himself grow in areas of critical thinking and analytic writing. ‘Now I have a deep sense of respect and appreciation for my thoughts, visioning, ability and actions. It feels wonderful to get my PhD - I feel affirmed as an emerging researcher. I am encouraged to work even harder.’ 

Looking back over his journey from security guard to PhD graduate, he had these words of advice for other students: ‘It’s important to secure additional research support and guidance. It could be beneficial to have a practitioner/specialist as a co-supervisor, because that can expand your scope of thinking and application of findings and recommendations.’ 

Buthelezi expressed his gratitude to his family, friends, his supervisor, Dr Suzanne Francis, and work colleagues for their continual support.  

He hopes to join UKZN sometime in the future as he is passionate about teaching and knowledge production.   

Melissa Mungroo

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Record Number of Students Graduate Through Educational Leadership, Management and Policy Discipline

Record Number of Students Graduate Through Educational Leadership, Management and Policy Discipline
The Educational Leadership, Management and Policy (ELMP) Discipline’s graduates.

A record number of 34 postgraduate students - 30 masters candidates and four PhD’s - received their degrees through the Educational Leadership, Management and Policy (ELMP) Discipline within the School of Education in the College of Humanities. 

Speaking about the increasing number of students graduating from the discipline, Cluster Leader Dr Thamsanqa Bhengu expressed his appreciation for the increased number of MEd and PhD graduates over the past few years.

‘We are noticing a gradual increase and we hope to maintain the upward trajectory,’ said Bhengu. ‘We attribute this success to a number of factors, including the cohort support programme we provide for our students - especially masters students,  the commitment and dedication of staff members, and the meticulous planning which is based on our University’s goal of increased production of research students.

‘As part of our plan, we will continue to increase research capacity to our students by providing support programmes which are aimed at ensuring that students complete their degrees on time. We hope that the University will continue to support us in our endeavour to increase intake and throughput rates.’

UKZN staff members who have assisted in increasing the number of graduates from the ELMP discipline are Dr Thamsanqa Thulani Bhengu, Dr Siphiwe Eric Mthiyane, Dr Inbanathan Naicker, Professor Vitallis Chikoko, Dr Phumlani Myende and Mr Sibusiso Bayeni.

PhD graduate and Circuit Manager for the KZN Department of Education, Dr Perumal Naicker, sees the increase as a sign that leadership is contributing to positive change and the overall transformation process.

His research examined the Struggle for Quality Education in South Africa and focused on the dynamics of how rural and township learners were integrated into urban schools.

Naicker’s findings show that even though the country was going through the transformation process, policies and legislation should promote the Transformation Agenda and that government should take on the role of enablers to facilitate the transition.

He noted there were various factors which came into play during the integration process of moving rural/township learners to urban schools such as language barriers, cultural differences and the knowledge gap but that once these learners were exposed to the calibre of academic work in urban schools, they become proficient in it.

Naicker said in the 1990s he was appointed principal at a rural school which had a 4% pass rate.  He increased that to an 80% rate, maintaining high standards of education at the school for more than a decade. Seeing learners perform better academically and how communities were transformed with quality education, sparked Naicker’s interest in pursuing the topic for his PhD thesis.

Head of the Department for Commerce at the Margate Middle School on the South Coast, Mr Sithembele Ndovela, spoke about the joy of earning his Masters in Education through UKZN. ‘I am very happy to finally graduate. Doing my masters has allowed me to contribute academically at my school and to grow professionally. My lecturers have been very supportive and motivated me to complete my dissertation.’

Ndovela’s research explored collaborative learning in schools in the Ugu District.

Another graduate from the Discipline, Ms Yachna Gowpall, who is an English teacher at Westridge High School, said studying for her masters degree at UKZN had allowed her to grow as a person as she was exposed to ‘a different and larger paradigm’ which impacted positively on her as an educator.

‘It’s really great to see the Discipline of Educational Leadership, Management and Policy working towards getting more students to pursue postgraduate study. What the students learn from their studies will enable them to lead their communities and schools to new heights.’

Gowpall’s research examines Instructional Leadership in the Promotion of Teaching and Learning in schools where she focused on the support and facilities afforded to Teaching and Learning to increase student learning.  Her overall findings show that instructional leadership plays a pivotal role in the promotion of Teaching and Learning.

Both students said they wanted to continue their studies and complete PhDs at UKZN.


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Cum laude Masters for students from Memory and Teacher Development Studies project

<em>Cum laude</em> Masters for students from Memory and Teacher Development Studies project
From left: Mr Sifiso Magubane, Dr Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan, Dr Daisy Pillay, Ms Fatima Malek, Ms Leighandri Pillay and Mr S’phiwe Madondo.

Four Masters Students from the School of Education who participated in the Memory and Teacher Development Studies research project recently graduated cum laude.  

Mr S’phiwe Madondo, Mr Sifiso Magubane, Ms Fatima Malek and Ms Leighandri Pillay all conducted innovative educational research that brought together two academic domains: Memory Studies and Teacher Development Studies.  

The student researchers used the methodologies of self-study of practice and narrative inquiry, together with a range of creative and participatory research methods including personal narrative writing, drawing, artefact retrieval, poetry and collage.  

The Memory and Teacher Development Studies project was conceptualised and lead by Dr Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan and Dr Daisy Pillay and was funded by a Teaching and Learning Competitive Grant from the University Teaching and Learning Office (UTLO).  

Madondo, Magubane and Malek were supervised by Dr Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan and Ms Leighandri Pillay was supervised by Dr Daisy Pillay. 

Dr Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan and Dr Daisy Pillay commented: ‘We are delighted that these four students will be graduating cum laude. This academic recognition is very well deserved. The students have worked diligently and shown consistent initiative and perseverance.’ 

‘The examiners of the students’ theses commended them on producing timely and enlightening studies that demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of qualitative research methodologies. They also highlighted the originality of approach and range of data generating demonstrated in each of the studies.  

Madondo said, ‘I'm feeling very proud and excited to be awarded a distinction for my hard work.’ While his colleague Magubane added, ‘I feel extremely happy, obtaining cum laude has lifted my self -confidence about my research abilities and it has taught me about the importance of the healthy relationship between the teacher (my supervisor) and the learner (myself).’ 

His research looked at the development for a flair for English written communication among isiZulu-speaking grade six learners. ‘Through this self-study, I came to understand that the development of flair for written communication demands support from all significant stakeholders in learners’ education. Another important lesson that I drew from this study is that creativity should form an integral part of the teaching and learning process of written communication.’  

Magubane explored how as a teacher he could cultivate intrinsic motivation among learners to make learning Technology more enjoyable and interesting for them. ‘I was concerned because learners in my school seemed demotivated. Through my study, I discovered that the use of multiple strategies of teaching and including game elements and fun in the teaching and learning process helped to enhance learners’ motivation.’  

‘Engaging in self-study gave me a chance to consider how and why I respond the way I do to certain situations that I face as a teacher. I have learned that providing care and support for learners is central to intrinsic motivation, especially when learners experience many demotivating factors in their daily lives.’

Ms Fatima Malek stated that graduating Cum Laude is the most exhilarating feeling. ‘I feel that I can scream out in joy that every dream can become a reality once your heart is embedded in it!  

She looked at understanding and attending to the emotional curriculum in her practice as a teacher within the Foundation Phase (grade 1-3). ‘Taking a humanistic perspective in my study allowed me to understand the emotional curriculum as a process of attending to the inter-related emotional, academic and social needs of learners.’ 

‘Through this self-study research, I became aware that there is a need for learners to obtain not only academic support at school, but also the emotional support that was mostly lacking in my own schooling, but that I did receive at home.’ 

After three years of sacrifice and burning the midnight oil Ms Leighandri Pillay’s hard work has paid off. ‘I feel a sense of accomplishment and I am proud of my contribution to the field of narrative Inquiry. Self-motivation, dedication and determination has earned me this sweet success which is priceless.’ 

Her research looked at an understanding of the personal-professional selves of Novice Teachers (NTs) teaching in a Private Catholic School in Durban. The study documents the lived lives of NTs. ‘By reconstructing the narratives of three NT participants, I was able to get glimpses into their meaning-making of selves, what they do, think, feel and act within the context of a Private Catholic School.’ 

‘A unique, flexible self, creative, non-traditional self and activist, reflective self is how these NTs sustain themselves, through exercising agency in the classroom and with learners. In the absence of induction and mentoring, NTs in this study formed informal collective learning relationships and individual learning relationships to discuss, manage and cope with the everyday challenges. Through improvising and working spontaneously NTs are able to rethink and rework their meanings and are therefore able to reconstruct their identities.’

Melissa Mungroo

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Music Trio Graduates Together

Music Trio Graduates Together
Ubuciko The Art group members when they graduated from the College of Humanities.

Three Music students, who are not only in a music group but are also good friends, could not hide their excitement when they graduated together from UKZN’s College of Humanities.

Mr Nhlanhla Mzobe, Mr Nkululeko Mchunu and Mr Lucky Swele are the members of a trio called Ubuciko The Art, a group that recites poems fusing vocals and musical instruments - a guitar and a recorder.

Mchunu, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Drama, said his success in both academic and performance fields is driven by passion and the love of the arts.

The poet in the group, Mchunu of Hammarsdale, said balancing performing and studying gave the members of the group the power of understanding and groomed them to reach their goals.

Bachelor of Arts in Music graduate Mzobe said he was happy he chose to study at UKZN. He said performance was part of his degree which compelled him to perform at several different venues, including UKZN functions.

Recordist Mzobe of KwaMashu thanked his mother for letting him study music and a benefactor who paid for his registration fees. Mzobe’s brother also graduated at UKZN on the same day.

Guitarist Swele of Limpopo said he met up with his two friends and group members by chance after they were allocated the same student residence, and they were all studying Music.

The group members thanked their families, friends and God for keeping them together since 2011 and for continuing to respect each other.

They will continue performing while studying for their postgraduate degrees and have plans to take their talent to the townships to motivate the youth and encourage them to believe in themselves.

 Sithembile Shabangu

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Renowned Musician Philip Tabane Receives an Honorary Doctorate from UKZN

Renowned Musician Philip Tabane Receives an Honorary Doctorate from UKZN
Honorary Doctorate recipient, Mr Philip Tabane.

In recognition of renowned musician Mr Philip Tabane’s contribution to the development of indigenous music and his phenomenal contribution to the music of Africa and of the world, UKZN awarded him its highest honour, the degree of Doctor of Music honoris causa.

‘I am greatly humbled and honoured to be receiving this award,’ said Tabane. ‘This is a great privilege for me and I am touched that this highly rated University has recognised my contribution to the music industry.

‘I accept this honour on behalf of all musicians out there who have made a significant contribution to the music industry. This award belongs to all the musicians who sing traditional music,’ said Tabane.

He also dedicated the award to his fans and proudly declared that the future of South African music was with many of UKZN’s graduates.

‘The rhythm and the beat of Africa pulsates through you. You must take the sound and make it yours. May I take this opportunity to congratulate all of you today, more especially those who have obtained qualifications in Music.

‘It is up to you to take the colourful story of South African music into an even brighter future. Find your own unique style but remain true to the sound of Africa.’

He advised all graduates present to use music responsibly. ‘We must teach and educate our communities and our societies to do what is right but above all, we must be responsible in all that we do because young people look to us as role models. With success comes responsibility.’

Philip Tabane can best be described as the African Renaissance music man who expresses his creative spirit in a fusion of Pedi, Shangaan/Tsonga and Venda - the languages of his ancestral home. Despite his massive musical talent he has remained the quintessential African performer who has long been true to his African roots.

Born in 1934, Tabane is one of South Africa’s most respected and innovative vocalists, jazz guitarists and band leaders. The 80-year-old has been a mentor to a host of musicians the world over while his music has crossed borders and genres and he has been recognised nationally and internationally for his unique musical style. There are musicians and ensembles in Europe that have adopted the Malombo sound. His unique blend of music has helped to shape and inspire other subsequent South African music legends.

 Melissa Mungroo

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UKZN lauded for its leadership in Africa

UKZN lauded for its leadership in Africa
From left: Dr Thabo Msibi, Professor Gregory Kamwendo, Guest Speaker Dr Oomandra Nath Varma, College of Humanities Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Professor Cheryl Potgieter and Professor Pholoho Morojele.

The quality of thinking and relevance of graduates’ knowledge will be compromised if not enough attention is paid to the development of indigenous knowledge and research capacity through post graduate work, said the Director of the Mauritius Institute of Education (MIE), Dr Oomandra Nath Varma.

‘Therein lies the very reason why we sought the assistance of your esteemed institution (UKZN). Your standing in South Africa and the continent, the international reputation of your staff, and the disposition of your leaders to establish UKZN as a key university in the region, have motivated our choice. We have not looked back ever since.’

Varma was speaking at the 2015 Graduation Ceremony of the College of Humanities.

He reminded students that graduation was not only a time to look back at how far they had come down the road of success, but also a time to examine how they were going to build on the past to be able to act in the future.

‘Every success achieved, great or small, is a stepping stone to reach higher. In partaking in your education. UKZN is not only equipping you with knowledge and skills, but is equally inspiring you to move beyond the narrow confines of professional and personal success to be able to see how the world needs you to think and act for others. Every good action you do, however insignificant it may seem to you, is worth the effort,’ he said.

Varma advised graduates to keep abreast of cutting edge knowledge as this ensured legitimacy [for them] as professionals. ‘For teachers especially, this means maintaining over an entire lifespan an open channel through activities of continuous development. The knowledge developed through the course is not only meant to make you functional, but equally to provide you with the intellectual leverage to examine the conditions of your practice and to critique the latter.’

He touched on the partnership between MIE and UKZN saying it was based on respect, friendship and a desire to promote African scholarship.

‘It has been carefully nurtured for almost a decade now by staff and leaders of your institution who envisioned the mutually enriching benefits to be derived from engaging with peers from somewhat different backgrounds.

‘I admire the courage of people at the university, the intellectuals, the level of graduates, the careful generosity with which resources are allocated to support students, research and community service. There are many good practices from UKZN which I feel, other higher education institutes can adopt and customise to achieve their own mission.

‘At the MIE, we have adapted some of these practices, and they are serving us well. We do hope that in time, we will be in a position to contribute, even in a small way, to your institution, through the scholarship of our PhD candidates,’ he added.

In his closing remarks to the graduates, Varma said: ‘Allow me on behalf of the organisation I proudly represent today, the Mauritius Institute of Education, to offer my very warm congratulations to you, to your loved ones who have supported you along this exciting journey, and to your teachers, who have plodded along with you through the ups and downs.

‘I salute your endurance, your spirit and I wish you the very best for a long and rewarding career in education. Moreover, may I also thank UKZN for its hospitality and friendship.”

Ndaba Online

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Language policy investigation part of cum laude graduate’s thesis

Language policy investigation part of <em>cum laude</em> graduate’s thesis
MA graduate Mr Zamani Msomi with his supervisor, Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa.

Mr Zamani Msomi graduated with an MA cum laude degree with research centred on an investigation into the language policy in schools in the Mafukuzela Gandhi district. 

The aim of Msomi’s study was to find out if the schools had their own language policy. 

The study established that language policies did not exist within the circuit and that parents prefer their children to be taught in English rather than in their mother-tongue.  

Msomi hopes his study will contribute to knowledge production and in turn allow indigenous languages to flourish and play a part in the education system.  

He said he was grateful for the support he got from his family, friends and his supervisor College Dean for Teaching and Learning, Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa

‘I’d like to thank Professor Hlongwa for her assistance and guidance during my research process. Without her, this would not have been possible.’ 

He advised students to listen to their supervisors, to be dedicated and to persevere, especially when the going got tough.  

Msomi is currently registered to do his PhD within the School of Arts

Melissa Mungroo

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Mother and daughter graduate from UKZN

Mother and daughter graduate from UKZN
Mother and daughter - Chibwe with her mother Doris Akombelwa during a Westville campus Graduation Ceremony.

It was a double celebration for the Akombelwa family as both Ms Doris Akombelwa and her daughter, Chibwe, graduated from UKZN.

Doris graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work, while Chibwe graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science.

‘It hasn’t been easy. I used to feel emotional sometimes. I wanted to stop in third year,’ said Doris.  ‘I went to my lecturers and told them that I couldn’t cope. They told me that Social Work was a professional degree and I needed to finish it,’ said Doris.

‘I told them I was super stressed but they responded that I had to continue and I went into fourth year and finished. Now I’m pursuing my MA in Childcare and Protection. I thank the lecturers for not letting me give up. They were very encouraging. Social work is something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s not very easy but it’s my passion. I just want to help people.’

Pursuing her studies at the same time as her daughter, had been challenging, however.

‘It was so scary when I knew we would pursue our studies at the same time. I didn’t know how my life was going to be but I would say to her: “Do your work, don’t bother with your house chores now”.’

‘My husband was also very supportive and assisted with everything. My four years have been hectic and it’s still not easy now that I’m doing my masters’

Chibwe (21) said it was ‘awesome’ to graduate with her mother.

‘It really feels good to be graduating with my mom. I’m proud of her. She’s worked so hard for it and despite the challenges of having a family, she managed.’

Chibwe is currently pursuing Honours in Media Theory degree.

‘I want to be a writer for newspapers. I’m currently writing three books and I also write poetry.’

Ndaba Online

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Graduate meets Zulu King during Research on Reed Dance

Graduate meets Zulu King during Research on Reed Dance
Ms Thabile Buthelezi who graduated with an Applied Ethnomusicology (Honours) degree cum laude.

Meeting King Goodwill Zwelithini was a highlight of research completed by well-known performer, Ms Thabile Buthelezi, for her Applied Ethnomusicology (Honours) degree which was she awarded cum laude at a recent UKZN Graduation ceremony. 

Buthelezi was also thrilled to meet her namesake, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) President Mangosuthu Buthelezi. 

Her research sought to understand the procedures and preparations for the Umkhosi Womhlanga (Reed Dance) ceremony and to engage in further discussions in examining the ritual process of the festival, studying activities performed at different stages of the ceremony while focusing on the Amahubo songs of the Zulu maidens.  

‘My research draws from the desire I have for preserving and sharing culture,’ said Buthelezi. ‘I am a passionate performer and performance has been part of my life since 2000. I wanted to incorporate my research with performance hence I chose to focus on the bi-musicality method by Mantle Hood as I got to interact with the people involved in my research, whether by learning their songs or witnessing how they move their bodies during the Umkhosi Womhlanga ceremony,’ she said. 

‘By using a performance approach to seek a better understanding, I not only educated audiences about the dances and songs of the ceremony but continued through a dialogue of expression through my ethnographic film: An Ethnographic Study of Umkhosi Womhlanga in Zululand and Swaziland 2014.’ 

Buthelezi believes her research will benefit society just as her family benefitted from her research. ‘They didn’t have an understanding of what Umkhosi Womhlanga is and how significant it is to our culture. But I included my sister who played the role of being a Zulu maiden in my recital and my mother who played a role in being a Swati wife.

 ‘I wanted them to have a secondary experience of what this event means and in this way both my family and those who witnessed/read or heard about my research will understand the Reed Dance ceremony as a dialogue for transmitting culture through performance.’ 

During her research, she met and interacted with King Goodwill Zwelithini, IFP President Mangosuthu Buthelezi and Chiefs from Swaziland. 

‘It is important that we take the initiative to promote and preserve our culture by researching, learning these dances and songs, and writing articles that reflect on the stories and truths about our traditions so that the next generation will also have first-hand experience of our culture.’ 

Her supervisor, Dr Patricia Opondo, said: ‘Thabile is every supervisor's dream student as she consistently produces outstanding original work and exceeds all expectations. We look forward to her continued growth as she embarks on her Masters in Applied Ethnomusicology and trust that in a few years she will emerge as a pioneer in performance-based Applied Ethnomusicology.’ 

Buthelezi is currently working as Marketing and Communications Manager for the KwaZulu-Natal United Music Industry Association (KUMISA) which she feels is a great platform to pursue her dreams to become an advocate for music and promote arts in KwaZulu-Natal and the world. 

She is completing her masters degree and plans to continue on to a PhD. 

Melissa Mungroo

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Writer Imraan Coovadia Subject of Graduate’s Research

Writer Imraan Coovadia Subject of Graduate’s Research
Masters in Arts cum laude graduate, Mr Alan Muller.

For Mr Alan Muller getting his Masters in Arts degree cum laude was a logical step in crafting a career in the world of words, books, and knowledge.  

‘My masters topic was initially pitched to me by my supervisor, Professor Lindy Stiebel,’ said Muller. ‘While I had heard of Imraan Coovadia, I had not read any of his novels.  As I began to read them and do some preliminary research, I realised I enjoyed his writing and discovered there was very little scholarly research done on his work. 

‘The combination of pleasure I got from reading his novels and the gap in the academic “market” prompted me to pursue the topic.’ 

Muller’s study examines how Coovadia is able to look simultaneously both directly at and beyond the South African cultural milieu in his novels, creating work punctuated by cosmopolitan places and people while retaining local specificity. 

Using selected theories of space, place, and identity, Muller suggests that the novels under discussion reflect an era of globalisation, interconnectedness, and hybridity through the construction of cosmopolitan literary cities and the hybrid identities which inhabit them. 

He argues that his works can be tentatively labelled as post-transitional texts that strive to craft connections rather than to construct self-isolating communities and characters seen in South African texts such as Richard Rive’s Buckingham Palace, District Six (1986), Aziz Hassim’s The Lotus People (2003), and Phyllis Naidoo’s Footprints in Grey Street (2002). 

Speaking about the highlights of his research, Muller said he was able to present at two conferences: the first annual Postcolonial Narrations postgraduate forum at the University of Göttingen in October 2013 and the ALA Conference hosted by Wits University in April 2014.  

‘Meeting Imraan Coovadia last year was the most memorable moment during my research. He took the time to answer my questions via email on a number of occasions and agreed to an interview at his home in Cape Town as I was beginning to wrap up my dissertation.  Being able to ask burning questions about his novels and about his writing process was enlightening. 

‘It is often easy to think of novelists as being removed from normal society and living exclusively in the world of ideas and imagination.  Meeting Imraan has been an eye-opener and reminded me that they are normal people who may, at times, also have trouble writing.’  

Muller feels that while the sciences make life possible and more comfortable, the arts make life worth living and interesting.  ‘I see my research as one of many voices in conversation concerning the contemporary South African cultural landscape.  Therefore, I hope that it will help to contribute to a growing body of work on our country’s endlessly interesting and shifting cultural milieu.’ 

He is grateful to his family, friends, his supervisor and his partner, Liliana, for providing support and assistance during his studies. ‘While a career in the arts is seldom a thing that parents encourage their children to pursue, both my mother and father have seen the value therein. I am also immensely grateful to them for showing an interest in my work. 

‘I would also like to thank all those who have read my work either in part or as a whole.  Without your eyes and constructive feedback, this project would not have been as rounded and complete as I believe it to be.’ 

He advised students to choose supervisors wisely and ensure they developed a good relationship with them. 

Muller is currently doing preliminary research for a PhD through UKZN and plans to continue on an academic path.

He is currently collaborating with Olivier Moreillon of the University of Zurich in Switzerland and Danyela Demir of the University of Augsburg in Germany on a volume of interviews with contemporary South African authors.  


Melissa Mungroo

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