Masters student in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies, Mr Menzi Bhengu, was recently awarded the prestigious Chevening Scholarship to study for his degree at Oxford University. This will be his second master’s qualification.
‘This is the fulfilment of a lifelong goal and a momentous occasion in my academic and professional journey,’ said Bhengu. ‘I am excited at the prospect of improving my knowledge and refining my skills through tutelage from the doyens in my field, and broadening my vista by standing on the shoulders of giants at Oxford.’
His current research, which is funded by the Department of Science and Technology – National Research Fund Centre of Excellence (DST-NRF COE), employs a qualitative methodology to ascertain and understand the intersecting dimensions of gender and precarity on the production and sale of traditional vegetables (imifino/morogo/miroho) by women in a rural community in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
Bhengu’s passion for Social Anthropology is fired by the Discipline of Development Studies ability ‘to build on the natural curiosity we all have about what it means to be human’. He believes that the Discipline has the ability to ‘undermine our ethnocentric ideas by comparing and understanding various lifestyles as meaningful but diverse responses to common human problems that all deserve our respectful engagement.
‘It is this ethos, this guiding spirit, which I intend to carry with me to Oxford to enable me to glean invaluable knowledge that will enrich my efforts in civil society and in my professional career. I approach this new chapter with confidence. My previous Masters in Development Studies at UKZN has made me conversant with varying discourses due to its multi-disciplinary nature.’
Said his supervisor Dr Mvuselelo Ngcoya: ‘I have had the pleasure of supervising Menzi for the last year or so. He is in the final stages of research titled: “Gender and the Precariousness of Producing and Selling Indigenous Vegetables in KwaZulu-Natal”.
‘He is a rare breed among our students - he is a thinker and gets excited about the idea of thinking.
His passion for intellectual engagement has made him a great pleasure to supervise as he requires little guidance and works well independently. He reads widely and argues intelligently and I have no doubt that he will do himself and us proud during his stint abroad.’