MBA Students Benefit from a Guest Lecture on Strategic Management

MBA Students Benefit from a Guest Lecture on Strategic Management
Godraj South Africa CEO, Mr Kapil Dev Pillai (seated, left) engaging with MBA students.

Shaping future leaders is one of the Graduate School of Business and Leadership’s strongest philosophy. 

In an effort to achieve this vision, the CEO of Godraj South Africa - a leading emerging markets company, Mr Kapil Dev Pillai shared the company’s business approach with the MBA students.

The guest lecture, which was part of the strategic management class, was aimed to share business strategies with students that industry leaders are implementing to achieve success in volatile economic conditions. 

Pillai spoke about financial and product innovation strategies and social responsibility initiatives involved in heading a leading organisation behind renowned hair care products such as Inecto, Renew and Kinky Hair.

‘Our global business strategy is focused on emerging markets. We are more than a business, we believe in giving back to community hence we look at opportunities to create a social footprint in every country we operate in,’ said Pillai.     

Pillai also spoke about the importance of value creation for consumers, and increasing pressure on companies to evolve faster to meet changing consumer demand. 

‘Value is very important on both sides, value for business is when they sell more products and the value for customers is when they benefit from buying a quality product. You have to understand adoption and consumption barriers and why consumers buy your products and build sustainable proportions,’ he added. 

On the subject of personal growth, Pillai informed students about Godraj’s LOUD (Live Out Your Dream) initiative which sees university undergraduate and postgraduate students being sponsored and mentored to pursue their dreams. 

Pillai launched the LOUD initiative which offers R 40 000 to the final winner to pursue his / her dream. Godraj is offering three job opportunities in Marketing, Sales and Operations.

‘Where I grew up, the career paths that were encouraged were engineering or being part of the government sector but I chose my path differently and did my MBA so I can pursue my dreams. So, please take the advantage of this opportunity and live your dream,’ he said. 

Interested candidates for LOUD and job opportunities can send their dream write up and resume at dhanishkan@godrejafrica.com before 07 September 2016.


author : Thandiwe Jumo
author email : jumo@ukzn.ac.za

Focus on Alumni - The spotlight falls on accomplished musician, Lindi Ngonelo!

Focus on Alumni  - The spotlight falls on accomplished musician, Lindi Ngonelo!
Ms Lindi Ngonelo.

UKZN alumni are making inroads in just about every field imaginable – from captains of industry such as international hotelier Sol Kerzner to cricket’s Jonty Rhodes. 

NdabaOnline’s Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer interviewed UKZN Jazz graduate, pianist, performer, arranger, educator and composer, Lindi Ngonelo, who holds a Bachelor of Practical Music (B. Prac. Mus), and is doing her Bachelor of Music Honours (B. Mus. Hons) at the University of Pretoria: 

How old were you when you took up music? 

I started playing piano at the age of 12 when my parents formed a church. I began with classical piano but I was not entirely fulfilled. I then met Nicholas Engel who introduced me to gospel and jazz and throughout my high school years he was my keyboard teacher.  

What instruments do you play and what genre of music are you drawn to? 

I play piano. I’m very drawn to jazz, however I do enjoy other genres such as contemporary gospel, soulful house and hip hop. 

You have received accolades from the music industry. Tell us about that. 

Being part of Heels Over Head allowed me the opportunity to experience a lot of exciting things - having the group nominated for a SAMA in 2011 was one of the most memorable things I have experienced. 

Music is seen as a challenging career because so few people make it in the industry. So what are your top tips for success? 

Hard work, discipline and perseverance are key aspects to making it in the music industry. It also helps to be humble as more people will want to work with you. Nobody wants to work with someone who is rude and stuck up. Also, it’s not a good idea to stick to one style of music. The more you know, the more you grow and the more versatile you become. 

You head up the LindiNgonelo Quintet – tell us about the group. 

I formed the quintet in 2013 after feeling the need to gather musicians who understand me and my ideas and would be able to execute them accordingly. I also appreciate their contributions to my music. I am an avid arranger and I put this aspect of being a musician to good use in my quintet when arranging standards or covers.  

You studied at UKZN – how has this prepared you for the world of music? 

Being able to ask my lecturers about pretty much anything regarding the music industry has been a great advantage as it gives one an idea of what to expect in the real world. I have also found that a large portion of what I learned in varsity is becoming more and more useful by the day, especially since I am also a music teacher. All the music theory I learned then is helping me with the kids I teach now. 

Teaching aspiring musicians at the East Rand School of Arts must be very interesting! What inspired you to get into education? 

As cliched as it may sound, I am of the belief that knowledge is power. The more equipped with knowledge one is, the more powerful you become. Imparting knowledge to upcoming musicians and contributing to their growth is a fulfilling feeling. 

Which song gets the crowds on their feet? 

If we are talking covers, I would have to say Salif Keita’s “Africa”. If you are referring to one of my compositions, I will soon be performing some of my new material which has some upbeat tunes. 

Who inspires you? 

I have so many forms of inspiration. The life God has blessed me with is a daily inspiration, then there’s my parents, my family, my friends, my profession, and my pupils. I am also inspired and highly motivated by musicians whose work has influenced me. At the top of the list I would place Mr Themba Mkhize and the late Mr George Duke immediately after, although there are many others.  

Where can we listen to your music - iTunes, YouTube, do you have a CD? 

I do not yet have an album out but do watch this space. However, I have a channel on Soundcloud (Lindz_Keyano) as well as on YouTube (Lindi Ngonelo). People can listen to and check out some videos on these platforms.  

What are your plans for the future? 

I plan to travel the world extensively with my quintet, release a few albums, and perform with all the great musos I look up to and admire. I think my long term goal would be to be a university lecturer in Jazz Performance.  

Check Ngonelo out on social media: Facebook: Lindz Key-ano Ngonelo; Twitter: lindzngonelo; Instagram: lindz_keyano; YouTube: Lindi Ngonelo, and Soundcloud: Lindz_Keyano. 

* Ngonelo will perform with the Lindi Ngonelo Quintet from 3pm on Sunday 21 August at the Bat Centre in Durban. Entrance is free. 


author : Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer
author email : Captainr@ukzn.ac.za

Meet Ndoni Mcunu – a Wonder Women in Science!

Meet Ndoni Mcunu – a Wonder Women in Science!
Ms Ndoni Mcunu, a Wonder Women In Science.

National Science Week from  5 – 8 August is a countrywide initiative that promotes careers in Science, Engineering and Technology for South African students while National Women’s Day on 9 August commemorates the 1956 march of 20 000 women protesting against the country’s pass laws.

Both events shed light on important issues including a skills shortage in Science, Engineering and Technology and the limited presence of women in these fields. 

UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science will showcase its support for the causes through a series of articles acknowledging its own Wonder Women in Science - all passionate, pioneering and persistent heroines who are “kicking ass” in Science and stand as shining examples for all women.

Meet our first heroine - Ms Ndoni Mcunu, a Wonder Women in Science from the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences. 

Mcunu says her first science-related memory goes back to a National Science week initiative at Rhodes University in Grahamstown when she was 16. She was mesmerised by a chemistry experiment which piqued her interest and she ultimately decided to pursue studies in Food Security and Agricultural Production at UKZN. 

Mcunu, now pursuing her PhD at Wits and still in the early stages of her career, has encountered challenges in a field where women scientists are rare and seldom acknowledged. ‘There is a lack of mentorship, guidance and support from women already in the industry for those wanting to enter,’ she said. 

Scientists tend to be solitary characters, so Mcunu feels the scientific community needs to come together to create a sisterhood in science. ‘There are not enough women in the sector to empower others.’ 

She brings solutions to problems she identifies through the Black Women In Science (BWIS) organisation - a non-profit organisation she started to promote careers for young, Black women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). 

Operating mainly in Ulundi, BWIS assists young women considering a career in Science. BWIS aims to dispel myths such as: ‘Science is an abstract subject reserved for the brainy or those with goods maths marks’. 

‘We try to simplify things by looking at ways to solve real world problems such as water conservation or waste management,’ said Mcunu.

She sees a lot of herself in the girls she works with, as she too started with optimism and hunger for knowledge although struggling with Maths in high school. 

Her work with BWIS earned her a position on the Mail & Guardian’s 2016 list of 200 Young South Africans. She was nominated by a friend without her knowledge, and was completely surprised when told of her success.

Mcunu believes that there is a lot to do to prepare and develop the next generation of scientists. ‘The gap between Science taught at high schools and at university needs to be bridged. The private and government sectors need to encourage innovation that applies to real world problems, while PhD graduates should be more actively involved in policy development and giving advice on major issues in South Africa.’

What’s next for this Wonder Women in Science? She wants to get involved in policy development and strategic sustainable planning in the agricultural, food security and climate change sectors. ‘I hope to establish an institute of knowledge within a South African university,’ she said, adding that she also wants to help BWIS nurture and grow, hoping that it will someday fund students for Higher Education.

 We asked Mcunu to create a “super hero profile” for herself: 

Q. What would your super power be and why?        

      A. It would be to read people’s minds, so I could tell who is authentic and who is not. 

Q. What would be your theme song?

      A. Beyonce’s Flawless, because ‘I woke up like this’ (she does the obligatory hand

      gesture). 

Q. Who would be your sidekicks and why?    

      A. My brothers Simo and Zibuko because they build me up, don’t hold back the truth

           and keep me grounded. 

Q. Where would your secret lair/ hide out be?

      A.  Wherever my nieces Enziwe and Moyo are because they help bring me peace and I can just be Ndoni. 

Q. Describe your happy place.   

       A. Whenever I get a moment to myself (usually in my room) I find my happy place. "Me" time helps keep me centred and lets me reflect. 

* Each week in August, the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science will present an article on a Wonder Women in Science story that will hopefully inspire others to be ‘superheroes’.

To find all the articles go to: http://caes.ukzn.ac.za/Homepage/Wonder_Women_in_Science


author : Sashlin Girraj
author email : girraj@ukzn.ac.za

School of Engineering Targets Young Talent

School of Engineering Targets Young Talent
High school learners get a taste of what it’s like to study Engineering at UKZN.

In striving for greatness, UKZN’s School of Engineering aims to actively raise awareness about career prospects in the field for young people. 

With this aim in mind, the School invited interested Grade 11 and Grade 12 learners from high schools in Durban and surrounding areas to its annual Engineering Winter School. 

The first three days of the expo were packed with talks about different types of engineering given by staff members and speakers invited from the corporate world of engineering. 

Mr James Collins of consulting company, Aurecon, spoke about some of the projects engineers at his company were working on as well as on the future for budding engineers. 

Mr Benji Naidoo of the eThekwini Municipality and colleague, Mr Binay Maharaj of eThekwini Water and Sanitation, updated learners about future plans within local government. 

UKZN staff members who took part in the talks and experiments included Dr Khalid Osman of Chemical Engineering and Dr Jared Padayachee of Mechanical Engineering. Ms Denise O’Reilly and Ms Cathy Bond enlightened the learners on how to apply to study at the School of Engineering as well as providing information on funding programmes. 

The highlight of the week was undoubtedly a tour to Moses Mabhida Stadium where learners experienced the renowned stadium sky car before going on to learn about how sugar is processed and packaged at the SA Sugar Association’s vast processing plant in Durban. 

With a final braai and a session of outdoor games, learners declared their short time with UKZN Engineering a great success. 

The five student learners who assisted did well in communicating and making the learners feel comfortable. 

‘We appreciate and thank all staff members who took part in the talks and experiments, and the excellent student helpers who ensured everything went smoothly,’ said Public Relations Officer, Ms Prashina Budree. 

‘Many thanks to all the parents and the learners who spent their week at UKZN.  We hope to see you as one of our first year students next year,’ added Budree.


author : Basetsana Mogashoa
author email : Mogashoab@ukzn.ac.za

Pathologists attend International Plant Virology Epidemiology Symposium

Pathologists attend International Plant Virology Epidemiology Symposium
At the conference in France are (from left) Dr Gus Gubba, Ms Sinethemba Ximba, a conference delegate, and Mr Vaneson Moodley.

UKZN flew the South African flag high at the 13th International Plant Virology Epidemiology Symposium held in Avignon, France, under the theme: “Building Bridges Between Disciplines for Sustainable Management of Plant Virus Diseases”. 

The comprehensive meeting programme included sessions on Etiology and Diagnosis, Evolution and Molecular Epidemiology, Virus-Vector Interactions, Quantitative Epidemiology and Modelling, and Virus Control. 

The Plant Virology research group leader, Dr Gus Gubba, attended the meeting with two students, Ms Sinethemba Ximba and Mr Vaneson Moodley. 

Ximba, who is working towards her Masters in Science (MSc), presented a poster titled: “Detection and Identification of Potato Virus Y Infecting the Vegetable in the Msinga area in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa”. 

PhD candidate Moodley gave an oral presentation on: “Disease Mapping and Risk Assessment of Whitefly Transmitted Virus Infecting Vegetable Crops in South Africa”. 

Another PhD student, Mr Charles Karavina, who could not attend the meeting, had a poster displayed titled: “Occurrence and Distribution of Iris Yellow Spot Virus on Allium Species in Zimbabwe”. 

At the event, Gubba accepted the nomination to be a member of the International Committee for Plant Virus Epidemiology (ICPVE), which is a subject (Plant Virology) committee of the International Society for Plant Pathology (ISPP). 

The 14th IPVE symposium will be held at CIAT, Colombia in 2019 with the 15th edition in South Africa in 2022.


author : Christine Cuénod
author email : cuenod@ukzn.ac.za

Aspirant Academics Hear Inspiring Address at UKZN

Aspirant Academics Hear Inspiring Address at UKZN
Professor Kebongile Mokoena (right) and Professor Joyce Tsoka-Gwegweni.

Professor Kebongile Mokwena of the Sefako Makagtho Health Sciences University in Pretoria delivered an inspirational presentation to aspirant academics during a UKZN Women in Leadership and Leverage Committee (WILL) gathering. 

WILL is a committee of female academics within UKZN’s  College of Health Sciences dedicated and committed to supporting junior academics in realising their goals of becoming successful academics and/or scientists. 

Mokwena started her presentation by explaining how she was raised by parents who were factory workers wanting their children to get a good education and have options in terms of a career. 

Mokwena encouraged aspirant academics to not let their past determine their future. ‘I knew in my heart that I wanted to become a doctor.’ 

She spoke about the theory of gender and power in relation to women in the working environment.

‘Women are expected to live double lives in the sense that they are expected to work professionally and when they come home, they are expected to perform their household duties and to take care of the family.’

She said she was a mother, a wife, a sister, an aunt and a professor - and encouraged all women in the room to adopt a similar approach. 

Women were going to face problems in the workplace such as discrimination and academic sabotage based on their gender. ‘I became stronger through the negative situations I faced - they helped me become a better academic and mentor.’ 

Mokwena said although women faced social expectations and discrimination at home and in the workplace they should not compare themselves to men as that would end in disaster.  ‘Marriage, pregnancy and children will come but they should not distract you rather they should drive you to want to work harder and achieve your personal goals.’


author : Sinenhlanhla Ngubane
author email : Ngubanes2@ukzn.ac.za

HEARD’s Disability Research named in UNICEF’s Best for 2016

HEARD’s Disability Research named in UNICEF’s Best for 2016
HEARD’s disability research has been named in UNICEF’s Best Research for 2016.

A pilot study conducted by HEARD researchers at UKZN on the hidden cost of disability in South Africa has been named in UNICEF’s Best Research in 2016. 

UNICEF - the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund - is a United Nations programme which provides humanitarian assistance and development to mothers and children in the developing world. 

Researchers at HEARD – the Health Economics and HIV and AIDS Research Division  - conducted their work in partnership with the South African Department of Social Development (DSD), the National Development Agency (NDA), the UN Partnership to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). 

Hailed by UNICEF for its innovation, the study by Dr Jill Hanass-Hancock and Ms Nicola Deghaye explores the economic impact of disability on households, a field in which is relatively unexplored in South Africa today. Working within the broader themes of HEARD’s efforts towards advancing health equity in Africa, the study provides a magnified outlook into the country’s health landscape, one which should consider the disabled. 

Taking into consideration the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), an international treaty aimed at protecting the rights of persons with disabilities worldwide, the study explored the extent to which the government of a middle-income country would be able to provide proper care and resources to those living with disabilities and to their families. 

The study found that the concept of a more ‘disability-inclusive development’ was essential to equity. This would necessitate the inclusion of the disabled into all systems of society, which would not only advance the position of the disabled person in society, but also allow for disabled citizens to make greater contributions to overall development. 

While the study’s primary focus was on the cost impact for people living with disabilities and their families, what emerged was that cost also had a social burden on the disabled as they were often not properly assimilated into society. 

More than just examining costs to institutions, the study explored how economically vulnerable households with disabled people were, and how this would impede larger societal developmental goals. 

The study, which considered factors such as opportunity and out-of-pocket costs and different types and degrees of disability, found that a lesser financial burden on the disabled and their families/carers would advance the lives of the disabled significantly. 

A very significant factor examined in the study was that spending varies depending on disability type, the level of support needed and the economic status of the family. Other costs, such as transport, caregiver assistance, communication devices and maintenance of assistive devices emerged as major drivers of out-of-pocket costs. These expenses could be detrimental to those in low-income households or those dependent on social grants. 

The study provided recommendations such as legislative reform, better allocation of resources and the development of a broader understanding of the economic vulnerability the disabled faced to address the problem of assimilation. Other key suggestions include access to inclusive education, caregiver support, affordable assistive devices, sustainable employment for the disabled, better co-ordination of health services and the inclusion of the disabled in the design process of housing and transport systems. 

Research partnerships such as this one, conducted with government and developmental institutions, lead the way for reform and better health and social services for those living with disabilities. This promotes a more aware, rights-based and inclusive social system which has the potential to provide equity through health care. 


author : Thomais Armaos
author email : Armaost@ukzn.ac.za

International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation Attracts UKZN Academics

International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation Attracts UKZN Academics
At the Conference in the United States are UKZN representatives (from left): Dr Pedro Mafa-Takisa, Dr Sudan Hansraj, Dr Byron Brassel, Professor Sunil Maharaj and Dr Gezahegn Abebe.

The Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU) in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science sent a representative delegation to the 21st International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation at Columbia University in the United States. 

Led by the Unit’s Director, Professor Sunil Maharaj, who is the SARChI Chair in Gravitating Systems at UKZN, a contingent of doctoral students, post-doctoral fellows and academics attended and participated. 

Post-doctoral Fellow Dr Gezahegn Zewdie Abebe gave a talk on: “A Group Theoretic Approach to Shear-Free Radiating Stars”, and also presented a poster on separable metrics and radiating stars.  Another doctoral student, Rakesh Mohanlal, displayed a poster focusing on radiating stars with exponential lie symmetries. 

Post-doctoral Fellow Dr Pedro Mafa-Takisa spoke on: “Stellar Objects in the Quadratic Regime”, while colleague, Dr Byron Brassel, presented a poster on dynamical radiating stars with equations of state. 

ACRU academics were impressed by the high standard of presentations by UKZN students and post-doctoral fellows. 

UKZN staff member Dr Rivendra Narain displayed his poster which focused on stellar models generated via the horizon function; academic leader of Mathematics Dr Sudan Hansraj gave a talk on: “Compact Objects in Lovelock Gravity Theory”, and Professor Subharthi Ray participated in the scientific activities and provided moral support, particularly to the students and fellows.  

The Conference - the premier gathering in this field - attracts some of the biggest names in this research area with about 1 000 scientists attending this year from around the world. 

A highlight of the Conference was awarding a special prize to the team which discovered Gravitational Waves (a long-standing prediction of Einstein) during February 2016. 

‘Our participants spoke with confidence, handled questions with ease and overall secured important kudos for UKZN,’ said Maharaj.   


author : Sudan Hansraj
author email : hansrajs@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN Farmer Support Group Hosts 6th Annual Food and Nutrition Fair

UKZN Farmer Support Group Hosts 6th Annual Food and Nutrition Fair
From left: Ms Nokubonga Shezi of the UKZN Farmer Support Group; Ms Mugeliwe Mchunu of Machunwini; and Ms Sizakele Nkala, Ms Buyenani Ngubane and Ms Qhoshangani Ngubane, all of uMsinga.

More than 250 people attended the 6th annual Food and Nutrition Fair in Msinga hosted by the Farmer Support Group (FSG) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). 

Participants included community members, FSG and UKZN staff members, representatives from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (KZN DARD), staff and students from the University of Zululand, and ward councillors for the area. 

Small-scale farmers from Msinga and Bergville shared how they plant, tend their plots (using minimum tillage), save their seeds, cultivate their seedlings and market their produce, encouraging the use of organic produce, even in animal feed. The theme was “From Seed to Plate”, and featured displays of crops and crafts which were on sale. 

The event included a visit to vegetable plots alongside the Mooi River, where two pumps, supplied by the FSG and by the Department of Social Development, and an irrigation system, have enabled farmers to continue producing crops despite the severe drought. 

The group of 30 farmers grow vegetables, and farmed cattle until the drought decimated their herds. 

The farmers use no fertilisers or chemicals, and use inter-cropping methods to control pests. Despite the abundant and healthy crops produced year round, market access remains a challenge. The profit from the crops runs households and sends children to school. 

Farmers have been able to work with unemployed youth, teaching them the value of agriculture. 

Dean and Head of the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES), Professor Albert Modi, invited young people to visit the University to learn and access opportunities to improve their communities. 

The farmers lauded FSG for their assistance in enabling them to teach their children, make profit and support themselves. 

Ms Nonhlanhla Mthembu of FSG, who facilitated the day, expressed hope that those who attended learnt something. 

A spokesperson for one community said they were happy with what they had learnt, and joked that one day they hoped to buy an aeroplane with their farming profits. They also thanked the FSG for teaching them how to grow their own seedlings. 

KZN DARD Extension Officer Ms Phumelele Khanyile was pleased to see farming operations had grown, saying the focus should move to goat farming. She encouraged the one home, one garden concept, and the use of grey water for irrigation. 

FSG Director Dr Maxwell Mudhara thanked those who attended, particularly the group hosting the event for the second time. 

‘This group struggled a little bit,’ he said, ‘but their new gardens have blossomed and they have gone from strength to strength, with many new members joining.’ 

Mudhara also raised the issue of climate change, emphasising the importance of enhancing resilience. He encouraged farmers to continue growing their own seedlings rather than buying them, and re-emphasised the importance of considering what chemicals were put into food, and mentioned the need to find ways to sell what was produced.


author : Christine Cuénod
author email : cuenod@ukzn.ac.za

Scientific Article Dedicated to former UKZN Vice-Chancellor, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba

Scientific Article Dedicated to former UKZN Vice-Chancellor, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba
Dr Tricia Naicker.

An article by UKZN’s Catalysis and Peptide Research Unit, based in the College of Health Sciences, titled: “Enantioselective Organocatalyzed Transformations of ß-Ketoesters”, has appeared in the prestigious Chemical Reviews journal.

The article is dedicated to Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, the former Vice-Chancellor of UKZN, for his significant contributions to research.

The main author of the study, Dr Tricia Naicker, said she had been thrilled to learn that the article was one of only six UKZN-affiliated works to have been accepted for publication in the prominent journal. 

Naicker’s field of expertise lies in applying organocatalysis to drug synthesis. Since the completion of her post-doctoral studies in 2013, under the guidance of world renowned leader in the field, Professor KA Jørgensen (H-index 91), Naicker has been doing independent research at UKZN’s Catalysis and Peptide Research Unit. 

She has already published in the most esteemed journals in the field of organic synthesis, including in the Journal of American Chemical Society; Angewandte Chemie, Journal of Organic Chemisty, Organic Letters and Chemical Communications

Her publication output can be viewed at http://www.researcherid.com/rid/D-1257-2014  

As an emerging researcher, she has displayed passion and focus for her interests in the field of asymmetric organocatalysis and is currently supervisor/co-supervisor of four PhDs, six masters and three post-doctoral students. 

Naicker says she attributes her achievements to her innovative and supportive research team as well as her understanding family. ‘The field of organocatalysis is currently one of the most competitive research areas in Chemistry.  This article highlights the ß-ketoester structural motif which is a privileged starting material in which its chiral derivatives continue to be key building blocks in organic synthesis, natural products, and medicinal chemistry.

* Chemical Reviews has a higher five-year impact factor than the prestigious scientific journal, Nature, with impact factors of 37 and 38 respectively based on 2015 statistics.


author : Gert Kruger
author email : kruger@ukzn.ac.za

US Professor Gives Insight on Ancient Greek Theatre

US Professor Gives Insight on Ancient Greek Theatre
Professor Al Duncan.

Professor Al Duncan of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the United States presented a paper on ancient Greek theatre during the Classics Research Colloquium at UKZN. 

The paper, titled: “The Materialism, Symbolism and Aesthetics of the Ancient Greek Theatrical Masks”, showcased the use and meaning of a variety of theatrical masks and costumes. 

Duncan compared them to modern day “tools” and found that, although their function had evolved, ancient masks did share similarities with their modern counterparts, symbolising the arts in general. 

‘How much is the mask separate from the costume?’ he asked during the presentation. He said his experiences directing and producing theatre made him curious about the role of costumes in the dramatic experience and he wanted especially to know what ancient theatregoers found ugly or beautiful. 

In 2010, Duncan presented a paper at UKZN titled: “Ugliness and Painful Sight in Attic Tragedy”, during which he spoke about connections between ugliness and “painful sight” - that is, having a painful/unpleasant response to things seen in ancient Greek literature. It took as its focus the human fascination with seeing dead bodies in theatre (or, more frequently today, on television or in the cinema) though the reactions are quite different in real life.  

‘I have been working on the Ugly project since 2009 but this current paper has been a separate project for the past six months’. He has an interest in researching Greek drama, aesthetics, and theatre history. 


author : Reatlehile Karabo Moeti
author email : MoetiR@ukzn.ac.za

Humanities Academics Comment in Media on Local Municipal Elections

Humanities Academics Comment in Media on Local Municipal Elections
UKZN academics (from left) Dr Lubna Nadvi, Dr Bheki Mngomezulu, Mr Zakhele Ndlovu, Mr Lukhona Mnguni, Mr Sakhile Hadebe and Mr Imraan Buccus.

Six academics from the College of Humanities commented in the media on the South African municipal elections. 

The academics were Dr Lubna Nadvi, Dr Bheki Mngomezulu, Mr Zakhele Ndlovu, Mr Lukhona Mnguni, Dr Sakhile Hadebe and Mr Imraan Buccus. 

They gave their predictions ahead of election day, their analysis of political parties and the subsequent votes they would receive, and then on the results themselves and the impact they would have.

Buccus saw the elections as momentous ‘because electoral support shows significant changes across the country’. 

PhD intern at UKZN’s Maurice Webb Race Relations Unit, Mr Lukhona Mnguni, was the resident eNCA Political Analyst, discussing in-depth issues such as the internal struggles of the ANC, the extent of political party votes in KwaZulu-Natal, political killings, and the reasons behind why South African municipalities were failing and how to fix them. 

On his experience on eNCA, Mnguni said: ‘It was an exciting moment to occupy the front seat in these elections. From meeting well respected news anchors to working with them in packaging the content for analysis, it was a rare moment and privilege. 

‘Elections are important for any democracy and seeing the South African democracy mature and make history in this way was most humbling.’ 

Commenting on the role of social media during the elections, Ndlovu said he believed the traditional media still had an influential part to play, while Hadebe discussed the controversy that dogged Zuma ahead of the elections and how the President had tightened his grip on the ANC to gain traction. 

Among his comments, Buccus said: ‘The rejection of the ANC by significant sections of the electorate could prove to be a very positive development in so far as it means that we are moving towards a situation of “substantive uncertainty” with regard to elections. When a ruling party knows that it may lose a ward or a council it will not continue to treat voters with the contempt that has become a norm of political life in recent years.’ 

Overall, Nadvi described the elections as “a fluid and dynamic process”.


author : Melissa Mungroo
author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

School of Accounting, Economics and Finance Academic contributes to Maritime Economics on a Global Scale

School of Accounting, Economics and Finance Academic contributes to Maritime Economics on a Global Scale
Mr Sanele Gumede at the international Maritime Transport and Ports Conference in China.

Maritime Economics Researcher, Mr Sanele Gumede is part of an international Maritime Transport and Ports special interest group which sees researchers and scholars deliberate and exchange ideas on maritime issues with the aim of growing the global economy. 

The group is part of the World Conference on Transportation Research Studies.  This year’s triennial conference took place at Tongji University in Shanghai, China and saw over 1 300 papers in the disciplines of transport studies, from engineering, economics, energy and environmental affairs, law, urban and rural planning being presented. 

“Restructuring of South Africa’s port pricing strategy” was the title of Gumede’s presentation. It evaluated the evolution of port pricing strategy (PPS) in South Africa in order to achieve economic objectives of South African maritime ports and the objectives of the country. 

‘The conference helped me to better improve my research and to understand the nuances of maritime economics on a global scale,’ said Gumede. 

He added that being part of the special interest group will help him gain new insights which will add value to the pursuit of his doctoral studies qualifications. 

‘I plan to use the experience and exposure gained to contribute to the development of maritime sector in South Africa. I therefore encourage postgraduate students and academics to engage in research initiatives that seek to provide practical solutions, both long term and short term, for domestic challenges,’ he said.


author : Thandiwe Jumo
author email : jumo@ukzn.ac.za

Students receive Career Information at Employers Career Exhibition

Students receive Career Information at Employers Career Exhibition
Students engaging with prospective employers at the career exhibition.

Are you one of tomorrow’s future leaders? What makes you stand out?  Are you ready to begin your journey to a successful career? 

Students hoping to get guidance on the above attended the annual Employers Career Exhibition where they interacted with prospective employers. 

The exhibition was hosted on the Pietermaritzburg, Westville and Howard College campuses by the College of Law and Management Studies in partnership with College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science. 

The event created a platform for students to engage with prospective employers about opportunities for personal development, full time and vacation employment, training contracts, learnerships, international work-placement and bursary opportunities. 

Over 40 companies - including Coca-Cola, Amazon, RCL Foods, Johnsons and Unilever – as well as about 2 000 students attended. 

Supply Chain students, Ms Palesa Mosikili and Ms Nothile Gida said the event created an opportunity for them to not only find out about career opportunities in the supply chain sector but it also introduced them to companies they did not even know existed which has widened their career outlook. 

Economics student, Mr Progius Mabusela said the event empowered him with the career guidance he needed to make an informed decision about his future. 

‘Sometimes you know what you want to do but are not sure where you fit or what the application process is for that career path. Today, I got to ask those questions to the right people and get the information I needed. This has motivated me to explore all the options available to me and not limit myself,’ he said.


author : Thandiwe Jumo
author email : jumo@ukzn.ac.za

Young Academics get Upskilled in a Variety of Areas

Young Academics get Upskilled in a Variety of Areas
Professor Theresa Coetzer presenting at the WILL presentation.

The Women in Leadership and Leverage Committee (WILL) has hosted an informative workshop aimed at developing academics wanting to improve their academic or research profiles. 

WILL is a committee of female academics within the UKZN’s College of Health Sciences who are dedicated and committed to supporting junior academics in realising their goal of becoming successful academics and scientists. 

The first session was presented by Professor Theresa Coetzer of Life Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, who advised participants about how to write their academic resumes. 

The required content for a resume was thoroughly discussed, with Coetzer going over the do’s and don’ts. She also explained how developing academics could identify a research niche, seek mentorship and how to go about obtaining funding for research through networking, or from the National Research Foundation (NRF) or privately. 

The second session was presented by Professor Thirmumala Govender of the College of Health Sciences who spoke on working towards a National Research Fund (NRF) rating. Govender discussed what was needed to meet requirements when applying for a promotion. 

She also explained what an NRF rating was, why it was important and how the rating was allocated. 

Overall the workshop was a huge success as everybody’s questions were answered relatively well and they left feeling confident about what was expected of them.


author : Sinenhlanhla Ngubane
author email : Ngubanes2@ukzn.ac.za

Centre for Jazz to host Guitar Maestro Seb Goldswain

Centre for Jazz to host Guitar Maestro Seb Goldswain
Mr Seb Goldswain.

UKZN alumnus Seb Goldswain will perform at the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music at 18h00 on 16 August. 

The 24-year-old modern day guitar maestro is currently on his ‘Not-Quite-Spring’ KwaZulu-Natal tour which consists of six acoustic performances around the province. 

With this tour, Goldswain hopes to further establish himself as a performing artist and concert guitarist in his home province. 

‘I spent over a decade honing my ability on the guitar while studying music at high school and tertiary level.’ He studied Jazz Guitar and Composition up to Honours level at UKZN. 

Goldswain released his debut album, Pictures of a Thousand Words, last year and has performed both locally and internationally, including alongside world star George Ezra and local artists such as Ard Matthews, Beatenberg, Kahn Morbee of The Parlotones, and Lloyd Cele. 

He lists Australian guitarist, Tommy Emmanuel, as one of his greatest influences. 

‘My aim is to provide an experience for the audience. Songs and music in general are very powerful tools, and that combined with an excited interactive crowd and the right mix of songs can make for some amazing memories.’ 

Tickets, available at the door on the night of the show, cost R60 for general admission, R40 for pensioners, and R20 for students. 

*The Centre for Jazz and Popular music (CJPM) is on Level 2 of the Shepstone Building on Durban’s Howard College campus. For further information, contact Thuli Zama on 031 260 3385 or email Zamat1@ukzn.ac.za.


author : Reatlehile Karabo Moeti
author email : MoetiR@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN Launches 90-90-90 UNAIDS Strategy

UKZN Launches 90-90-90 UNAIDS Strategy
Staff and students launch the 90-90-90 UNAIDS Strategy.

UKZN Student Services Division’s HIV and AIDS Programme has launched the 90-90-90 UNAIDS Strategy on the Westville campus, with participants going on a 5km fun walk in a show of support. 

The 90-90-90 target, set by the United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS, involves municipalities ensuring that by 2020, 90% of people living with HIV know their status, 90% living with HIV are on treatment and 90% on treatment have a suppressed viral load. 

The UKZN HIV and AIDS Programme has committed itself to support the UNAIDS initiative by raising awareness and offering services to assist the eThekwini Municipality reach the strategy targets. 

UKZN HIV and AIDS Programme Co-ordinator, Ms Nomonde Magantolo, said: ‘The aim of the campaign is to provide a collective identity and get youth in tertiary institutions to take responsibility for their health contributing positively to the world economy through appropriate lifestyle management. 

‘Currently some students miss class to collect treatment or even default treatment due to time constraints, lack of money, stigma and discrimination. The way forward is to ensure care and aid for all by promoting a support group and using social media as well as intense adherence classes.’ 

‘The Department of Health has committed to support on-campus antiretroviral treatment initiation,’ said Magantolo.

 


author : Rakshika Sibran
author email : Sibran@ukzn.ac.za

College of Health Sciences Inspires Greatness in Mtubatuba

College of Health Sciences Inspires Greatness in Mtubatuba
Mtubatuba High School learners.

More than 3 000 pupils from schools in the uMkhanyakude District attended the Mtubatuba Business Fair and Career Expo at Mtubatuba Sports Ground.

The exhibition was organised by the local municipality in collaboration with the Department of Education (DOE). The expo was attended by grade 10 to 12 learners from 37 high schools in and around Mtubatuba. 

College of Health Science’s Representatives Ms Vanessa Chetty, Mr Mlungisi Chili and Ms Nombuso Dlamini spoke to the learners about the available career options, rigorous selection processes and alerted learners of the closing date for applications. 

The purpose of this career fair was to provide the learners with the tools and resources to make important and valuable career decisions and also to educate high and middle school learners on career opportunities available in the community and the province at large and to expose students to enrolment requirements at the Higher Institutions of Learning and funding options available. 

Learners from a wide variety of schools were transported by the Mtubatuba Municipality to the Sports Ground to attend the expo which featured speakers from the Municipality, DOE and UKZN, who spoke to the learners and outlined relevant information on careers choices. 

UKZN’s CHS Academic Services staff spoke to the learners giving in-depth information on Health Sciences career opportunities.


author : Nombuso Dlamini
author email : dlaminin10@ukzn.ac.za

WHO Emphasises Exclusive Breastfeed

WHO Emphasises Exclusive Breastfeed
UKZN’s Paediatrics team with Professor Nigel Rollins (centre).

‘Mothers known to be HIV-infected should exclusively breastfeed their infants for the first six months of life, introducing appropriate complementary foods thereafter, and continue breastfeeding for the first 12 months of life,’ said former UKZN’s Head of Child Health Unit, Professor Nigel Rollins. 

Rollins, Director of the Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health at the World Health Organization (WHO) was presenting a talk titled: “HIV and Infant Feeding: 2016 Updated WHO Guidelines” at UKZN’s Medical School. 

He said breastfeeding should then only stop once a nutritionally adequate and safe diet without breast milk can be provided. 

The guideline was updated from the 2010 guideline with the key recommendation being the breastfeeding of all children born to HIV-infected mothers for the first 12 months of life. 

He suggested that breastfeeding continued until the age of two years and should be supported by ART adherence strategies. 

He stressed the importance and the effectiveness of ART in reducing transmission risk to the baby. ‘Breastfeeding is not only critical for the nutrition of the baby but has other implications in terms of reduction of mortality in children saving over 800 000 lives per year for children under five years,’ Rollins explained. 

He said the other benefits of breastfeeding included improved bonding, reduction of maternal breast and ovarian cancer in mothers and immune protective effects of breastfeeding. 

He also addressed the issue of healthcare workers, saying they play a central role in the programmatic support and strengthening of breastfeeding in the community. He emphasised the importance of education around breastfeeding in the context of HIV, myths and lack of information being the fundamental barriers to breastfeeding support programmes at all levels of care. 

Rollins was hosted by the Paediatrics and Child Health HoD, Professor Refiloe Masekela and the talk was attended by a variety of health professionals.


author : Nombuso Dlamini
author email : dlaminin10@ukzn.ac.za

ISikole SeziFundo NgeNhlalo YoMphakathi sisayine isivumelwano ne-COGTA

ISikole SeziFundo NgeNhlalo YoMphakathi sisayine isivumelwano ne-COGTA
Abasesithombeni (kusukela kwesokunxele) uDkt Desiree Manicom wase-UKZN; Umqondisi WezokuBuyekeza : KZN COGTA uMnu Manelisi Sogwagwa; IDini Eyinhloko Yesikole Sezifundo Ngenhlalo Yomphakathi e-UKZN uSolwazi Stephen Mutula, nePhini LoMqondisi – Ezokubuyekeza COGTA: KZN uNkz Zandile Dlamini.

ISikole SeziFundo NgeNhlalo YoMphakathi esiseKolishi LezeSintu sisayinde isivumelwano sokusebenzisana noMnyango WezoKuphatha Ngokubambisana Nezindaba Zomdabu Hulumeni e-KZN.

Le-MOU iqinisekisa ubudlelwane obuzovulela abafundi ithuba lokusebenza ngocwaningo nokubukezwa  kwamaphrojekthi okwenziwa yi-COGTA. Lokhu kuzobanikeza isipiliyoni esibalulekile kwezocwaningo kubasize futhi ngolwazi, nokuthuthukisa amakhono . Izolungiselela abafundi uguquko besuka eNyuvesi sebeyongena emsebenzini.

Lobu budlelwane buhlose ukuthuthukisa izinga lokucwaninga labasebenzi bakwa-COGTA

ngokusebenzisa amava abasebenzi base-UKZN. 

I-COGTA ilindele ukuthi usizo oluhlinzekwa abasebenzi nabafundi base-UKZN kuzosiza ekuthuthukiseni umthamo womsebenzi owenziwa uphiko i-Evaluation Unit.

IDini eyiNhloko YeSikole uSolwazi Stephen Mutula, ujube ongumfundisi osemnkantshubomvu emkhakheni wezifundo ngokuthuthukiswa kwenqubomgomo uDkt  Desiree Manicom, ukuze acabe indlela yokusebenza kwe-MOU. UManicom uzoxhumanisa futhi alekelele ngokutshala nokululekwa kwabafundi base-UKZN emisebenzini ye-COGTA. 

ISikole Sezifundo Ngenhlalo Yomphakathi sinethemba lokuthi lokhu kuxhumana nomnyango kahulumeni kazwelonke kuzoholela ekufezekeni kwenye yezinhloso zeNyuvesi- Ukuxhumana Nomphakathi.


author : Melissa Mungroo
author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

Sankofa Band Performs at Jazz Centre

Sankofa Band Performs at Jazz Centre
UKZN Jazz Lecturer Professor Salim Washington.

The Sankofa Band, headed by UKZN Jazz Lecturer Professor Salim Washington, gave a sparkling performance at the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music within the School of Arts

Washington brought together musicians whom he felt shared his sentiments about music and life.

Said Washington: ‘The inspiration for the ensemble came from the Sankofa bird, a Ghanian symbol of the return of diasporic Africans to the motherland. The Sankofa band is a true representation of moving forward while looking back.’ 

Accompanying Washington were Jazz Pianist, Nduduzo Makhathini, Drummer, Ayanda Sikade, Bass Player, UKZN student Dalisu Ndlazi, Trumpeter, Siyanda Zulu, and Leon Scharnick on alto and tenor saxophone. 

Washington was on tenor saxophone, flute, bass clarinet and oboe. 

In some selections, the six piece band also featured a four strong voice section which brought an operatic element to the jazz sounds. 

The numbers performed consisted of original compositions by Washington. 

Explaining his aesthetic goals, he said: ‘I have had many years of experience playing in various size jazz ensembles, performing at festivals and other gigs throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and the Caribbean. The scope of what I want to say musically and socially requires a larger platform. I am now using multiple horns and multiple voices as well as a slightly expanded rhythm section.’ 

‘It is my ultimate goal to have the jazz band expanded by a Philharmonic Orchestra, a South African choir, and a Pan African percussion ensemble, with styles ranging from West African to Cuban and Brazilian influences. The vocal component should also include poetry, which not only makes a nice bridge between semantic content and music, but also gives vent to direct social commentary to complement the music.’ 

The Sankofa Band has also performed in Johannesburg at the Afrikan Freedom Station and The Orbit.

Their highly anticipated album is due for release later this year.


author : Melissa Mungroo and Thuli Zama
author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

Books Donated to Umlazi School

Books Donated to Umlazi School
Ms Lungile Zulu (left) and Ms Nokwazi Nyaba donate books towards a new library in Bavumile Lower Primary School in Umlazi.

Masters student in Housing, Ms Lungile Zulu, and her cousin and UKZN alumnus, Ms Nokwazi Nyaba, recently donated 800 books to the Bavumile Lower Primary School in Umlazi as part of celebrating 67 minutes for Nelson Mandela. 

Zulu, a former pupil at the school, decided to give back to the community, believing that education and books are powerful tools to enable change and help learners succeed. 

‘The books are not part of the school curriculum but have the potential to enhance the children’s grammar, and broaden their general understanding of life and of how things are made and how they work. Books about people, animals and plant life in South Africa, Africa and the whole world,’ said Zulu. ‘These are books that will inspire a child to not only read more but have a general understanding of life.’

The school has an empty room with shelves, which will now be converted to a library. 

School Principal, Ms A Thango, said: ‘This is the first time our school will have a library. It is really great and we are appreciative that a former learner has come back to help their school. The learners are excited to have a library and we now have a plan in place to ensure that all of them can access the books.’

Zulu, who also works for the Department of Public Works in Pretoria, is keen to get more involved in community engagement projects and will assist her former school and other disadvantaged schools in the area.


author : Melissa Mungroo
author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

Humanities Student Tackles Bullying in Schools

Humanities Student Tackles Bullying in Schools
Mr Sandhir Sewmungal takes on bullying in schools.

UKZN Heritage and Tourism student Mr Sandhir Sewmungal is part of an anti-bullying organisation called Chauncey’s Epic Anti-Bullying Club and has written a book titled The Unknown Journey, which is about his experiences of being bullied at school. 

During Anti-Bullying Awareness week, Sewmungal together with Chauncey’s Epic Anti Bullying Club members, addressed and educated learners about bullying during visits to Bechet High School, Clairwood Secondary School, Manor Gardens Primary School and Malvern Children’s Home. 

‘As a victim I always wanted to help and reach out to schools in any way and I am now a member of a realistic campaign that does its work with love and compassion. 

‘The anti-bullying club is possibly the only campaign in the country that is educating learners, parents and educators on the effects and consequences of bullying. We encourage youngsters to speak out against bullying and at the same time we let the bullies know that what they are doing is unacceptable,’ said Sewmungal. 

‘I have also been in Cape Town to assist the campaign where possible, going to schools and telling learners about my experiences. I also attended an anti-bully hike to create awareness about the issue. I am proud to be part of the Anti-Bullying Club. 

‘I understand why victims are afraid to speak up and why victims contemplate suicide, getting involved in drugs and alcohol and going on a rampage and attacking the bullies. 

‘I think it is important that schools get involved and address the issue before it gets out of hand. Help is available - friends and family are there to assist, and so are anti-bullying campaigns,’ he added. 

Sewmungal and Chauncey’s Epic Anti-Bullying Club are back in Durban in October to address bullying at more schools.


author : Melissa Mungroo
author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za