Explore SciFest 2017 ‘Tour de Science’
What Trump’s success means for us
Making sanitary pads more accessible at UCKAR
The Oppidan Press Edition 2, 11 March 2017
Illustration by Brendon Reyneke Photograph: Sourced
Does Grahamstown need a ‘Batman’?
The Oppidan Press 11 March 2017
News Features SciFest returns for 21st year Elle Williams
eturning for its 21st year, South Africa’s National Science Festival – commonly known as SciFest– is just around the corner, running from 8 to 14 March 2017. The theme this year is ‘Tour de Science’, which aims to take you on a journey through the different aspects of science. The purpose of SciFest is to make science fun and accessible to all. SciFest Manager, Pumza Tshebe, believes there are gaps in the South African education system. She said, “SciFest aims to provide a platform for learners and teachers in new
educational concepts, including improving teaching methods with regards to science and encouraging learners to see it in a different light.” Every year’s theme brings something new and diverse to the festival, which SciFest Africa tries to align with UN declarations. The UN declared that this is the year for sustainable tourism for development. Tshebe stated, “This year’s theme encourages contributors to take visitors on a journey about their scientific background and the milestones which have been achieved in science.” This is important in South Africa as tourism generates income and employment opportunities.
Tshebe said, “This is a global concept and at Scifest, we feel we need to align with this notion as a national science festival and show our support for the UN.” The declaration and theme has made the festival consider how science can make tourism greener. “We have gone beyond this year in terms of trying to make SciFest a greener festival; for example, we uploaded the program and information online,” added Tshebe. This notion is continued, including lectures on renewable energy and the effect that plastic shopping bags have on the environment. SciFest is one for all ages. The
workshops are interactive, bringing the fun into science while encouraging public participation. The lectures are a platform for scientists to exhibit LE INAB USTA S: S their work and research, and are a CLAS great opportunity for everyone to 0 expand their scientific knowledge. 09h0 E 159 LEDG 3.14 W The festival is free to enter, but it O N ER,K 3.17 42 SEEK 14.0 is encouraged that all festival-goers 3x10 A C I R H AF 3.17 register at the reception desk at the SOUT 08.0 OWN, AMST GRAH 1820 Settlers National Monument. ∞ Some workshops and lectures do require tickets to be bought with ROCKETS a price of around R25. This year’s festival is not to be missed, so go AURS DINOS along and enhance your scientific TOUR DE SCIENCE 2-8 MARCH 2017 knowledge whilst having fun with The Science Festival aims to make the sciences fun www.scifest.org.za your friends. and accessible to everyone. Photo: SOURCED. GE
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What does Human Rights Day mean to you? 21 March marks the historic day commemorating the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, commonly known as Human Rights Day. The upcoming public holiday serves as a reminder of past events and provides an opportunity for South Africans to reflect on the country’s progress in regards to human rights.By Elle Williams.
“In South Africa we need to be careful talking about rights. Freedom of expression and the right to vote is not enough. We need to think about the second generation. We need the right to equal housing and healthcare for everyone.” –Fourthyear Journalism student, Thingo Mthombeni.
There are many universities around the world to which students can go on exchange. Photo: LAUREN BUCKLE.
Widening the scope of going on exchange Holly Allison
“Solidarity within international relations is primarily important.” –Television production manager, Paddy Donnelly.
“We all deserve the right to live in an integrated community, where different races come together, and to have the same rights. It is important for us to commemorate the happenings of the past and to remember that all are equal in our society.” – Psychology Masters student Zipho Dolamo.
“Education is a very important and essential right to everyone worldwide. For me, the right to safety is the most important, and trumps all other rights. I first became aware that a lot of children live in unsafe environments when I was teaching last year. It is vital to look after the welfare of South Africa’s youth.” – English Masters student, Oriole Friedemann.
Approximately 20% of the student body at UCKAR is made up of international students and internationalism is a major tenet within the University. However, there is a difference concerning the idea of becoming an exchange student and going overseas to do so. UCKAR has partnerships with a number of universities across the world. However, only two are in Africa, in Sub-Saharan Africa. Although students at UCKAR are free to attend any university within the exchange program, the emphasis does fall upon attending Western universities. This may be because of common interest in these countries or the institution’s willingness to form a partnership. However, it does show the gap in such an exchange between African universities. Although there is a knowledgesharing culture amongst African scholars, one may question whether the need for transformation in South African higher education can also be seen within the idea of Western exceptionalism. The stunting of African ideals and knowledge for the more widely accepted Western ideals has been called to the attention of South African scholars. A move towards changing this is said to be in process and its actuality can be debated. However, there remains a bias in South African students with access to exchange programmes of choosing a university in the West.
At UCKAR, the perception is that becoming an outbound exchange student means going to study overseas. Any search will confirm this with programs and scholarships all referring to Europe, the USA or New Zealand. The idea here is that studying overseas is a golden opportunity to make more money after graduation, to gain exposure to a wide variety of cultures or languages, and develope a chance to be employed in that country. There is the belief that to broaden your scope in experience and knowledge, studying outside Africa is where to do so. This may also play a part in the 'brain drain' that continues to occur in Africa where scholars and professionals leave their country in order to find better opportunities. This does hold merit as South Africa’s unemployment rate is solid proof of an unfortunate job market. The search for a stable job and lifestyle has been said to be a contributing factor to choosing to study overseas. However, the process and opportunity of studying abroad is a luxury in itself with the large financial burden as well as the need for the support of one’s family. Although the distinct appeal of studying overseas can be seen, the strength of knowledge and potential in Africa is often overlooked by exchange programs with a focus on elite, Western universities. With the powerful role of universities in any country, it is unfortunate that the ideal international experience typically falls outside Africa.
11 March 2017 The Oppidan Press
Community engagement or communal entitlement? Julia Fish “He is the hero we need but not the hero we deserve right now”– the famous line from the acclaimed movie, The Dark Knight, describes a flawed hero swooping in to rescue a city from itself. Though Batman wears a black cape, he is a typical representation of white privilege and ego. The man, Harvey Dent, who comes undone in his attempts to combat evil, is a product of our selfish natures that breaks anything good or real in this world. However, this is not a movie filled with good intentions and happy endings. Communities do not require saving by a lone wolf with a heart of gold, they need targeted and constructive engagement that has sustainable long-term effects.
UCKAR, the city of Grahamstown, and the people making up this municipality exist within a context. We are in the Eastern Cape, one of the poorest provinces in terms of service delivery and infrastructure development in the country. Almost 500 000 households in the province reported having run out of money for food in a month to Stats SA last year. The inequality in Grahamstown rises in the East and glares at the affluence of Grahamstown West or ‘White’ daily. I say Grahamstown ‘White’ because this is all a legacy of Apartheid. Yes, the ‘A’ word over which most
of South African middle-class white people have a collective amnesia. We claim restoration, reformation and reconciliation when it suits us but keep our property and privilege without historical recognition. You didn’t work for it nearly as hard as you think you did. You can suffer and still not know the systematic destruction of your person if you are white. While we refuse to acknowledge privilege, we often refuse to listen to the disenfranchised - this is when the white saviour complex approach to charity and community upliftment
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comes into play. The white saviour narrative, like Batman, is a popular “cinematic trope portraying a white character saving people of colour from their plight”, according to Wikipedia. Through personal sacrifice and hardship, the white saviour – who knows best and has suffered much in their own past redeems the morality of the poor community of colour, restoring them to a life of ease and happiness. Some singing in local dialect and traditional dancing at their feet is usually displayed in absolute gratitude for their intervention. Did he ask if they needed the 10 tonnes of polyester blankets that cost more than a month’s worth of electricity for a household of eight living on one disability grant, or do they actually need assistance
with getting in touch with the local municipality about their housing application? Is there a problem with dumping, and instead you build walls to keep people out rather than build recycling depots that create longterm employment? The white saviour doesn’t ask because bureaucracy is boring and doesn’t make for nice short newsreel videos and instant recognition. Working with, not for, a community doesn’t get you a rent-acrowd of grateful locals. Working with communities to stage necessary and lasting symbiotic relationships is called community engagement. Going into communities and ripping things up or knocking them over is a one-man crusade. Further, what is problematic about these kinds of interventions is when those bestowed upon are not grateful for misplaced and entitled ‘help’, they are perceived as lazy and problematic. The most important part of listening to communities is not just seeing what they need, but hearing them when they tell you what they don’t need. One white man cannot tell womxn that they don’t understand and are wrong when asking to be taken into account on problematic interventions on their behalf. The UCKAR community engagement office is located on Prince Alfred Street. Masifunde is located on Bathurst Street by the Observatory museum. These groups have been continuously and thoughtfully engaging with the Makana community for years, making lasting partnerships for change. Ask them what you can do to help. Stay engaged to criticism, your privilege, and learn to listen to what people are actually asking for when they ask for help. Put the cape away crusader. We don’t deserve or need that kind of hero.
Communities do not require saving by a lone wolf with a heart of gold, they need targeted and constructive engagement that has sustainable long-term effects.
The Oppidan Press
11 March 2017
The Oppidan Press Now that the year has kicked off to an exciting start, The Oppidan Press would like to wish new and returning students the best of luck in their studies. First term is time for new learning experiences, uncomfortable discussions, and mistakes. Whether it is your first time living away from home or outside of a boarding school, the first term is bound to present different opportunities and curious temptations. March sees the 21st annual National Science Festival from 8 to 14 March. This year’s Festival, in line with UN declarations, focuses on sustainable tourism for development and making science accessible to all. This year’s theme, ‘Tour de science’, aims to incorporate these aspects while taking visitors on a journey through science. March also sees Human Rights Day on 21 March, commemorating the 57th anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre in which 69 black South Africans were killed by police. It is essential that we remember these lives lost as we continue to face police brutality and tactics reminiscent of apartheid. The Oppidan Press spoke to students and staff members around campus to find out what Human Rights Day means to them. For this edition, our team has worked hard to provide content that touches on a number of interesting and uncomfortable campus - as well as Grahamstown-centric - issues. The cover of this edition may be of peculiar interest, particularly with its inclusion of the iconic Batman symbol. With UCKAR students making a name for themselves on various Grahamstown social media outlets, discussions surrounding community ‘engagement’ and privilege have become extremely popular. With Grahamstown facing a number of socio-economic and service delivery issues, community members who seek to fix these problems in misguided ways are finding themselves under fire from students pushing to engage in discussions of privilege, race, and class. Therefore, we have problematised this ‘Batman’ persona via our cover art as well as a featured opinion piece. Accompanying ‘Batman’, The Oppidan Press provides another interesting perspective in light of recent global events - namely, the election of Donald Trump. Though our staff understands that the featured piece may anger some of our readers, we feel it is important to publish content from a wide array of perspectives. The Grahamstown Residents’ Association (GRA) and Inkululeko are featured in this edition’s Community section. The GRA has found themselves under scrutiny of late regarding one of their recent meetings. Students are invited to their Annual General Meeting on 29 March (more details on page five). Inkululeko is a non-profit organisation based at Ntsika Secondary which aims to uplift learners and aid them to fulfill their potential.
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Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States, is a very controversial and highly divisive figure. Illustration: CAMERON SEEGERS.
Post-election anxiety: Why we should care about Trump’s success Speech Movement of 1964 - who defended the freedom of students at he world watched in silence the University of California, Berkeley on 9 November 2016 as to be politically active on campus. Donald J Trump won the One of the responses to censorUnited States’ 2016 Presidential ship on campuses has been a rise in Election, and became the President conservatism. By diminishing spaces of the United States of America. that encourage open debate, society Many found this outcome unbeliev- is undermining its ability to commuable: how could a misogynistic, nicate honestly. Instead, we distance immigrant-hating, Ku Klux Klanourselves from one another, and isoendorsed, pathological liar become late people who have opinions with the leader of a global superpower? which we disagree. In many cases, A new culture of intolerance is if an individual were to spreading mention to friends or across the family members that globe. Universithey considered voting ties have always for Trump, they could You can’t tell expect been intellectuan onslaught of people that it insults and questions about al spaces filled with debate, will be terrible if whether they were indeed discourse and sexist, racist bigots. This Donald Trump is a dangerous assumpdiscussion. Yet, in many becomes the tion that leaves no room to instances, they the possibility that president if the explore have changed there could be far more world they live in complex and systemic reafor the worse. Sp!ked, an is already terrible. sons behind people voting online Britfor Trump. ish political Without the opportunity magazine, to express oneself, ideas stated that in a 2017 study of 115 cannot be shared, shaped or changed. British universities, 63,5% of these We miss the chance to enlighten and institutions have imposed increased educate one another because, as a censorship of their students. One is generation, we are no longer interinclined to balk at such a statistic, ested in nor open to perspectives considering the efforts of previous that differ from our own. Yet simply generations of activists who fought dismissing other people’s opinions against systemic restrictions such and perpetuating divisive discourse as censorship. One such person was is not the way to change mindsets. Mario Savio - founder of The Free After all, a majority (albeit slight) of Christopher Boertje
American citizens elected Trump, perhaps in part because the so-called ‘liberal’ left has long since alienated them through sheer intolerance. The Democrats were undeniably guilty of this alienation, evident in actions such as Hillary Clinton’s reference to the Republican voting body as a “basket of deplorables”. In my opinion, Clinton offered the U.S. public little when it came to her policies. She offered no real change and her only advantage was one that she did not fashion: she was not Trump. That was not enough. As Russell Brand points out on his show Trews, “You can’t tell people that it will be terrible if Donald Trump becomes the President if the world they live in is already terrible.” Noam Chomsky echoed this in an interview following the election. These are two examples of the many political analysts and writers who have addressed the fact that Trump’s victory, much like the Brexit crisis, came about because people have lost faith in political liberalism. So instead of being angry with one man, should we not rather be angry about the society and conditions that allowed him to become President? Perhaps we needed this shock to make us realise the state our society has reached and how we are failing one another. Instead of focusing our energy on belittling people for their opinions and creating divisiveness, let us recognise that we have to offer people an alternative to Trump someone worth voting for.
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11 March 2017
The Oppidan Press
Our new Community section With the start of a new year, The Oppidan Press has launched a new Community section in our publication. Our Community Curator, Lebogang Khoza, works to communicate with local organisations to compile a section that is not only for the community, but by the community. We hope that by featuring this new section both students and staff can work to build better relationships with people outside of the University space. The section will feature information about organisations, upcoming community events, as well as ways to get involved. If you know of a local organisation that would like to be featured, let us know by sending us an email at email@example.com.
Inkululeko is a non-profit organisation which aims to provide a platform for learners to fully realise their potential. Picture: SOURCED.
Inkululeko: Small NPO, big goals Contributed by Inkuleleko
nkululeko is a small nonprofit with big goals. The organisation, based at Ntsika Secondary in Extension 7, began in 2011. It serves learners from grade eight from five high schools in Joza. “Our goal with Inkululeko is to provide a platform for learners to fully realise their potential,” said Jason Torreano, founder and Executive Director. “We provide academic support, an after-school enrichment programme and opportunities to build business skills for those students who are entrepreneurially inclined. We also have a social enterprise unit – a small cafe – that our learners are building from the ground up alongside a local entrepreneur.” Students come to Inkululeko after school for two hours a day, three days a week. “The focus is to help students with academics in areas where they are academically weak,” said Carmen Brandt, Inkululeko’s Academic Coordinator. “By providing extra lessons, we aim to help students move successfully through their curriculum
and on to graduation.” As part of the organisation’s strategic planning, Inkululeko also recently launched a social enterprise unit – Common Ground Cafe – that is run by local entrepreneur Zukisani Lamani with the help of the learners. Common Ground Cafe operates out of a repurposed storage container, donated by Rotary Grahamstown, on the Ntsika property. “We sell roosterkoek and Russian sausages to students and learners at Ntsika,” said Lamani. “It’s nice to work with our learners to slowly build this business. We’re hoping to also have an internet cafe.” Common Ground Cafe’s humble beginnings began a year ago with support from the John Ben Snow Memorial Trust in upstate New York. Its purpose is twofold: to create a revenue stream that makes Inkululeko sustainable, and to provide an opportunity for learners with an entrepreneurial spirit to develop business skills that can they can leverage long after they leave Inkululeko. “Common Ground Cafe puts the academic curriculum into practice,” said Madoda Mkalipi, Inkululeko’s Social Enterprise Coordinator.
“Students apply their maths and accounting to figuring out profit margins on different products and see what they learn in the classroom translating to real world application.” The organisation is based in South Africa – with three colleagues in Grahamstown year-round – and has roots in New York. It collaborates closely with Syracuse University (SU), with students and faculty from SU visiting Grahamstown annually. Inkululeko is currently looking for reliable, consistent volunteers to help in the classroom with tutoring and in our social enterprise to bring it to the next level. Inkululeko is online at www.inkululeko.org and various other social media platforms including Twitter @ inkululeko1 and on Facebook and Instagram @Inkululeko. If you’re interested in learning more about the organisation: Common Ground Cafe interest: Madoda Mkalipi, Madoda.Mkalipi@ inkululeko.org. Classroom tutoring: Carmen Brandt, Carmen.Brandt@inkululeko.org General organisational queries: Jason Torreano, Jason.Torreano@ inkululeko.org.
Get to know the Grahamstown Residents’ Association Contributed by the Grahamstown Residents’ Association We know that the idea of a Residents’ Association isn’t ‘cool’. But living in a town with poor service delivery and high youth unemployment isn’t ‘cool’ either. None of us can fix the national problems, but we can do something where we live. The GRA has a committee made up of people from different backgrounds who are establishing projects to improve Grahamstown.We work daily with Makana Municipality, attending meetings, improving communications and bridging divides. It should not be a political decision whether clean water comes out of your tap. Everyone should have clean running water. The GRA will work with anyone who wants to make the town better. Our current projects include engaging Eastern Cape Province to fix the roads in town, addressing litter and illegal dumping issues, monitoring and reporting on Council meetings, and encouraging better Municipal communications and public consultation. UCKAR students can contribute by supporting direct work in the community such as the rubbish clean-ups, or by encouraging others to be active citizens. One could pick an area of interest and attend relevant council meetings, and write a summary of the meeting to publish on the GRA website in order to inform others. Even taking an interest in the area around you would help. The GRA is working closely with MobiSAM (www.mobisam.net) to improve fault reporting and tracking so that problems get fixed more efficiently and people get feedback. Please register with MobiSAM and report things like leaking water and sewage. What is happening with GRA is also happening around the world, where local people do not feel listened to or cared for by their
local government. Civic activism is increasing and in the past 15 months the GRA has grown from 48 members to 915. At this rate, GRA aims to reach 2000 members by the end of 2017 (about 5% of the adult population). We are also in the process of recruiting an administrator to help us manage members. It will help us to communicate with people who don’t have access to internet. We are working towards being more inclusive, particularly by expanding our communication to three languages rather than one (English). A GRA subscription costs R10, however, we rely on members who voluntarily make monthly contributions in order to finance things like running a staffed office. Even if you are a temporary resident in Grahamstown, you are welcome to join. Perhaps you’ll come to the GRA Annual General Meeting at City Hall at 6pm on Wednesday 29 March. Entrance is free. Doors will open at 17:30 and local musicians will be playing as you arrive. The ‘Business of the meeting’ will be a brief report back on our year's activities, finances and elections. We then have two guest speakers: Nicci Hayes, Principal of Nombulelo High School and Tony Lankester, CEO of the National Arts Festival. On 22 March 2017 at 13:00 the GRA will be meeting up with approximately 400 pupils at Ntsika Secondary School to complete a mass clean-up. Bags and gloves will be provided. Any extra helpers would be welcome. If cleaning up rubbish does not appeal, perhaps you would be interested in helping to spread messages about disposing of rubbish responsibly and promoting recycling. If you want to get involved in assisting the local community you can email the GRA at info@grahamstownresidentsassociation or find out more on Facebook: https://www. facebook.com/GrahamstownResidentsAssociation/
The Oppidan Press
11 March 2017
Arts & Entertainment
Body art like tattoos and piercings are a popular form of self-expression at UCKAR. Photo: JAMES FOWLER.
Tattoos, piercings, and no rebellion Elle Williams and Andrea le Goabe
attoos and piercings are one of the most common forms of artistic self-expression. Many students at UCKAR have participated in forms of body art by getting tattoos and piercings that introduce a flavour of freedom amongst the UCKAR Community. The Oppidan Press sat down with UCKAR students to reveal their values and perspectives on body art, focusing on tattoos and piercings. Pharmacy student Cléa Naudé considers tattoos art, as she used to design her own whilst sitting in art class. Those who become tattoo artists have a shared interest in art, and view it as a form of artistic expression. Journalism student Katryn Nieuwoudt shares this idea and said, “Tattoos
are definitely art as most tattoo artists have studied art or have an art background.” She sees having multiple tattoos as a way of collecting moments in the form of art. So, is your body the canvas and the tattoos the art? Tim Steiner, a former tattoo parlour manager from Zurich, certainly thinks so: he has sold his body to a German tattoo artist and exhibits his tattoos in galleries. He said, “My back is the canvas, I am the temporary frame.” Many get tattoos for sentimental reasons, including second-year student Beugene Green who stated, “An image known as the tree of life struck me as captivating, and I thought that symbol would be my way of representing to myself what value I would like to follow.” Third-year student Khiara Govender, who has a tattoo of a semi-colon symbolising
her mental health struggles, revealed, “My story goes on. I am not made up of only anxiety attacks and depressive thoughts.” Govender believes that the promotion of body art is important and it does not determine a person’s capability or work ethic. Discrimination is a word frequently mentioned with regard to tattoos. Nieuwoudt recollects being called, “A pretty girl making herself ugly through tattoos.” However, discrimination doesn’t stop at a personal level: it can alter career choices. Naudé expresses that she got smaller and less visible tattoos because in Pharmacy – her dream career – it wouldn’t be appropriate to have larger, visible tattoos. However, for some, tattoos pave the way for their career. Nieuwoudt states that she got a tattoo on her forearm as it would “lead [her]
to pursue [her] dreams in music or journalism”. Similar views were held by Travis Barker, drummer of rock band Blink-182, who was adamant on a career in music and got extensively tattood to ensure he succeeded. Barker is famous for being outspoken regarding his tattoos and said, “ I tattooed my body so I couldn’t fall back on anything. I purposely did that so I couldn’t get a normal job and live a normal life. I had to play music.” How people perceive tattoos and what counts as extreme is an ongoing debate. Green said, “People who go to the extent of having their whole body and face tattooed or pierced are likely to do so because of the pleasure they receive from the pain of different body art forms.” Govender believes, “What one person would call extreme is another’s person self-expression.”
Body art doesn’t only refer to tattoos, but also piercings. Toni Ngugi, a third-year student, got his septum pierced because he thought it would enhance his reputation. Ngugi said, “I would go as far as to get stretched earlobes because I would likely just want to.” Green stated, “I got a piercing because I wanted to feel the pain of getting a piercing. It was not as bad as getting a tattoo.” Now more than ever, body art is transforming into more creative ways for people to portray their self-expression that is personalised and loved by themselves. Body art is seeping into our everyday culture, despite discrimination held by others. Nieuwoudt believes, “Tattoos and piercings should be looked at as the same as makeup and fashion, as they are a way to accessorise your body.”
Bachelor of Fine Arts: The perks of creativity Andrea Le Goabe
The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) is a four-year degree that moulds and hones students' artistic skills. Photo: JAMES FOWLER.
Most individuals tend to forget that various arts degrees are available and important to those who have the passion for the arts. It is also important to establish a platform for students who may not be as gifted in other fields but are talented in artistic spheres. UCKAR includes a number of degrees, such as a Bachelor of Fine Arts, whereby students partake in learning and developing various artistic skills. Maureen De Jager, Head of the Fine Arts Department, unpacked the topic of whether obtaining a Fine Arts degree is important in today’s career environment. With a small portion of students (around 100) pursuing a BFA, De Jager commented, “Art is underrated, arguably. In some sectors art is still seen as a luxury degree and an untenable career choice. But the value of creative problem-solving as a critical tool shouldn’t be underestimated. A quality art education equips graduates with a host of skills, rendering them well-placed to contribute to society as lateral thinkers, as ‘makers’ and ‘doers’,
and as self-reflexive individuals.” The aim of the department, according to de Jager, is to “nurture creative individuals who have a nuanced apprehension of the visual world and their place in it”. Students find inspiration for their artwork from their
A quality art education equips graduates with a host of skills, rendering them well-placed to contribute to society as lateral thinkers, as ‘makers’ and ‘doers’, and as self-reflexive individuals -Maureen De Jager own realities and experiences and are able to move further into the psychosocial and political worlds. Students are able to explore various mediums that range from oil paint, acrylic paint, ink, charcoal, and pencils. These can be combined to develop, create and enhance
their art work. Aadila Chand, a BFA student at UCKAR, gave some insight into why obtaining this degree is important. Chand said she didn’t initially do a BFA and changed her degree. Chand said “I've always been creative and enjoyed creating things. I have friends who are older than me and were studying art, and their feedback also influenced my decision.” Chand comments on students who are interested in pursuing a degree in Fine Arts: “Allow the process to progress. Don't stay fixed on an idea. Let your work flow into new concepts. Have fun and try new things because you never know how they could turn out, or how much you could enjoy doing it.” One should not only look at how the mind works, but how creative the mind can be and allow themselves to accept that there is more to life than maths and science. Obtaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts is the beginning to altering the world’s ideas of art degrees and the chance for creative and artistic students to broaden and brighten their future to make it promising.
11 March 2017
The Oppidan Press
Environment UCKAR: paying you to pay back the environment
We need someone to help us make conclusions that will be trusted by policy makers - Dr. Thondhlana
Dr. Thondhlana is heading up an idea to give a Masters student an opportunity to lead an energy-saving initiative. Photo: MOKGATLE THULARE.
or the green-thumbed individuals of UCKAR and anyone passionate about environmental conservation and community engagement, a thrilling prospect may await. One Masters student will be able to pursue sustainability and environmental conservation with the department. The Department of Environmental Science at UCKAR is offering a bursary to a full-time Masters student to head an exciting initiative focused on fostering energy saving in South Africa. Dr. Thondhlana, a lecturer in the department, told The Oppidan Press that the ideal candidate would be someone passionate about environmental issues who is willing to take the reins and head the project. He described the ideal candidate as “[a] bright, young mind who would like to explore things”. The project focuses on creating awareness about energy-saving practices and energy conservation issues, especially in the context of
low-income households. Dr Thondhlana explained that the rationale behind focusing on low-income households stems from the realisation that South Africa faces a great challenge in attempting to diminish our dependence on fossil fuels whilst providing affordable and efficient electricity use. The recipient of this inspiring and important responsibility will need to strategise ways of promoting energy saving amongst households, whilst engaging with the needs and limitations faced by low-income households. “We need someone to help us make conclusions that will be trusted by policy makers,” Dr. Thondhlana emphasised. Dr. Thondhlana has personally witnessed the positive outcomes yielded by similar studies conducted in other parts of the world. He firmly believes that the most basic forms of awareness – such as handing out flyers – can have a great impact upon the applicants, subjects and of course, the environment. Perhaps this is your time to step up and accept the challenge.
Transforming students into leaders for a sustainable South Africa Rochelle Duvenage Finding a job after one’s studies can be difficult. Choosing between a chance to ‘make a difference’ and a stable financial future can be even more challenging. As centres of change and transformation, universities could be the perfect place to create a generation of educated and environmentallyconscious people. All over the world, topics like 'green jobs' and a 'green economy' are becoming increasingly important. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, businesses across the globe are introducing sustainability practices. This positively affects local communities and improves their reputations and even their profits. In light of this, it has become prudent for students to work toward degrees in fields relating to environmental sustainability. Some of these include renewable energy, waste reduction, and green agriculture. The Green Economy Post describes the massive upsurge in voluntary campus sustainability programs in the U.S. in recent years. The article highlights how these programs “[help] to institutionalise sustainability principles in everyday processes and actions … enabling these institutions to build strong sustainable communities”. According to UNESCO, during the last decade many African countries “[have] identified sustainable development as being a pillar of
their national development strategy”. In 2008, Rwanda became one of the first countries in the world to ban plastic bags. Dr. Marire, a lecturer in the Department of Economics, expressed that “Greening the curriculum in economics is an important transformational issue. We change the mindsets of future policymakers – the current crop of students – by mainstreaming these things into our
Greening the curriculum in economics is an important transformational issue. We change the mindsets of future policymakers – the current crop of students – by mainstreaming these things into our course content. -Dr. Marire
course content.” He explained that even at first-year level, the economics curriculum covers environmental issues. However, with regard to
greening courses in a systematic fashion, Dr. Marire said, “It is a matter of determined efforts to green the curriculum and not simply stick with tradition.” Prof. Dan Wylie in the English Literature Department had an inspired take on the issue: “My view is that the environmental situation will dominate all other issues. It is already affecting day-to-day life such as food supplies, water availability, pollination of vital plants, oxygenproducing forests, pollution, cancers, gender dynamics, and local-level politics. Ideally, I think syllabi should integrate ecological issues into courses rather than freestanding courses, since this keeps us in the mindset that the 'environment' is somehow outside of and separable from us,” he explained. James Elder, director of the Campaign for Environmental Literacy in Washington stated in an article in 2009, “Universities can – and must – help students understand the complex connections and interdependencies between the environment, energy sources, and the economy – connections that underpin the concept of a clean, green economy. Only then will a broad segment of the population begin to pull in the same direction as those who are leading this transition.” Now is the time to address this global crisis at an educational level and find ways of turning the environmental challenges we face as a society into opportunities rather than issues.
‘Green’ initiatives in business are quickly becoming a standard all over the world. Photos: LILITA GCWABE.
Have your say with the GRA
Body art at UCKAR
Bursary offer for a UCKAR green warrior
Sports & Health
The inaccessibility of sanitary products in South Africa Shannon Lorimer
Pads are widely available, but their sometimes prohibitive cost means they aren’t an option for many people. Illustration: ELLEN HEYDENRYCH.
ender equality in South Africa is far from the top of our gender equality goals. It is often further behind at universities where it is assumed that womxn attending are among the select few who are equal to men in these spaces by getting in. This is false. For many students, imagining a situation where their lives are restricted because they cannot access sanitary products presents a challenge, but not being able to afford pads is a reality for many at UCKAR. For the people that it affects, the consequences can be detrimental to their university careers. Being too poor to afford the necessary materials for dealing with menstruation should not have the power to interfere with academics and daily life. According to Celeste Mergens, founder and executive director of Days for Girls, “The lack of access [people] have to hygiene products is one of the keys to
why people end up in roles with less leadership options, how we end up having less opportunity around the globe, and how violence is perpetrated against people.” In South Africa alone, 8 000 000 people are without consistent access to pads. People are forced to resort to alternatives such as rags, toilet paper, newspaper, or used tampons and pads. Because these are not necessarily reliable options, many people will opt to remain out of the public eye for the duration of their period. This means that, for up to seven days a month, they are still expected to attend tutorials and tests, yet even eating dinner in the dining hall puts them in an uncomfortable position. Having a period is not a luxury and one’s access to the necessary products should not be dependent on one’s financial situation. While schools in KwaZulu-Natal have recently seen the launch of a governmental programme that provides pads to girls in disadvantaged
schools, the same cannot be said for the Eastern Cape. However, there are some student-run initiatives around campus that are helping to make difference. At UCKAR, there is currently #PledgeAPadThursday, which works to collect pads and donate them to those in need. Within almost all the female residences and some of the male residences, there are drives in place that encourage people to donate either money or hygiene products not limited to pads. One of the major barriers to the success of the project is the lack of awareness. In most female residences, almost all students who can afford to do so are becoming involved in the campaign. The same cannot be said for male residences, as many students remain unaware that these drives exist. But donating just one pack of pads or tampons can go a long way in dismantling this humiliating barrier against the advancement of womxn in the academic sphere.
Unsolved problem of Makana sewage leaks Holly Allison Sewage breaks and spillages have been a continuous problem in both Grahamstown and UCKAR. On campus alone, there are multiple sewage leaks often left unattended including those in front of Cory House and Courtenay Latimer Hall where there are constant breakages. Besides UCKAR’s campus, these leaks occur all over Makana Municipality, especially in the streets below 11th Avenue and in Lavender Valley. There have been some attempts to rectify these problems, but Grahamstown East is even less acknowledged with significant sewage spills going unresponded to for long periods of time. The main issue at play is the extensive sewage blockages and breaks. There is also the old and rusted piping
system in Grahamstown, which leads to brown, corrosive tap water. These problems have been brought to the attention of Makana Municipality officials numerous times, with only vague replies of it being “handled” and the responsibility constantly being passed around. In 2014, the Kowie Catchment Campaign (KCC), Water for Dignity and other water safety groups met with the local municipality regarding the Adopt-A-River venture, an initiative of the Department of Water Affairs which aims to improve the state of various rivers which have been ‘adopted’ by municipality members. The KCC visited the proposed site, Lavender Valley. On the basis of the unacceptable water purity, it was clear that a budget should be allocated to upgrades and consistent maintenance
of the area’s sewage infrastructure. There has been limited feedback on this issue in the time since. Reasons for this may include mismanagement through improper release of ‘processed’ sewage, lack of maintenance, and a lack of care within the community such as flushing improper items down the toilet. These are major contributors in the Makana piping problem as approximately 30% of Grahamstown’s sewage goes untreated into the Kowie River, while sewage spills are often left for weeks at a time. Research by Botany students late in 2016 showed that the Bloukrans River is also in a hazardous state, which “We would shudder to drink.” Such pollution undermines the ecosystem’s ability to recover and the catchment’s sanitation will decline
– a worrying thought, considering we live in the catchment. According to Nikki Kohly, the Safety, Health and Environmental Officer at UCKAR, the Makana Municipality is dysfunctional, with equipment often broken, resulting in few proactive fixes. The infrastructure is aging and “The reality on the ground will only get worse,” stated a Makana councillor. Although there are numerous problems, the KCC is committed to holding the municipality accountable through co-operative action to improve the infrastructure and the state of Makana’s river catchments. The disregard for the safe practices of sewage removal is frightening, as its effects pose a threat to people, livestock, and the environment. However, this remains one example in a country-wide problem.
The pipes and drains of Grahamstown have seen better days and spills and leaks are an ongoing problem. Photo: VICTORIA BRIGGS.