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October 2014 Volume 30

WITSReview The magazine for ALUMNI and friends of the University of the Witwatersrand

Wits views

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Braamfontein


EDITOR’S LETTER

Investing for success

W

e feature some recent world

The danger is that, whilst many other governments

university ranking results for

see the national benefit of globally competitive

Wits in the infographic alongside

universities and invest in them and the rich universities

and Keyan Tomaselli takes a

in the world get richer through endowments, South

swipe at the rankings in Wits

African universities may find it increasingly difficult to

End. Whilst competing in the global rankings should not distract a university from focusing on its mission, it is nonetheless important to remain responsive to national research, development and human resource needs and to remain internationally competitive. Whatever reservations one might have about methodologies, many university ranking systems do act as benchmark indicators of performance, quality, and graduate success.

compete. A strong argument however can be made that we should look to US universities for an answer. Despite many European countries having strong economies and universities that have hundreds of years of history, US universities overwhelmingly dominate the top 100 in all the reputable university ranking systems. However, rather than rely on government allocations to fund their success, US universities looked to their alumni.

The reality is that world university rankings have

It was a conscious decision on the part of many of

become an entrenched part of the higher educational

these universities to strengthen ties with their alumni

landscape and, whether one likes them or not, have

based on the initial success of universities like Harvard.

an impact on a university’s global reputation. This

Today many US universities invest heavily in ensuring

in turn influences where academics and researchers

the kind of student experience on campus that instils

would like to work, where under- and postgraduate

gratitude, loyalty, pride and passion for their alma

students would like to study, and where alumni and

mater. This is reinforced by extremely strong and vi-

benefactors would like to invest.

brant alumni programmes that strengthen alumni ties

And herein lies the rub. Success invariably develops a virtuous cycle of growth and development. If one looks at most of the world’s top universities it seems apparent that success breeds ongoing, even entrenched, success. The question is: how do relatively under-resourced universities in Africa compete with

to their alma mater. The consequent result in alumni giving to their alma maters is staggering. Universities win by using alumni endowments to constantly improve their institutional performance and alumni win by seeing the reputational value of their qualifications improve.

the well-endowed ones in the developed world

Perhaps we can emulate this

that dominate the rankings? A few South African

success story.

universities, most notably Wits and UCT, are globally

Peter Maher Director: Alumni Relations

competitive despite the resource gap. But greater investment is needed to ensure they retain their edge. Some are concerned that South Africa is increasingly out of step with our BRICS partners in not overtly investing in selected universities to compete globally. A differentiated higher education system is still not accepted as the basis for a higher education funding model in South Africa.

PS: Three issues of WITSReview will be published in 2015 (March, July and November). We hope to revert back to publishing four issues in 2016.

October 2014 | WITSReview | 1


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26

1

EDITOR’S LETTER

16

AN ACCOUNTABLE IMPACT

4

LETTERS

18

LISA GARSON:

8

SOCIAL | NEWS

14

DR SAUL LEVIN: PSYCHED ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH

Best External Magazine 2013 (SA Publication Forum) Best External Magazine 2012 (SA Publication Forum) Best External Magazine 2012 (MACE) Best External Magazine 2011 (SA Publication Forum) Best External Magazine 2010 (MACE) Editor of the Year 2010 (SA Publication Forum)

Cover: Wits views Braamfontein. View from Randlords. Image credit: Play Braamfontein and South Point

2 | WITSReview | October 2014

THE FORGOTTEN YOUNG 26

WITSFONTEIN – UNITING WITS AND BRAAMFONTEIN


39

65

39

DOING HAIR

55

WITSIES WITH THE WRITING EDGE

44

KEVIN VOLANS: THE PURSUIT

58

BOOK REVIEWS

OF FEARLESSNESS

62

OBITUARIES

SELMA BROWDE:

65

NADINE GORDIMER: A LITERARY LIFE

PASSION & COMPASSION

67

WITS END

50

52

WITSIES WITH THE EDGE

Editor: Peter Maher | peter.maher@wits.ac.za Contributors: Heather Dugmore | heather@icon.co.za Deborah Minors | deborah.minors@wits.ac.za Kathy Munro | katherine.munro@wits.ac.za Lana Jacobson | ljacobson@icon.co.za Stephen Clingman and Keyan G Tomaselli Design & Layout: Nicole Sterling nicole.sterling@wits.ac.za Printing: Colorpress (Pty) Limited WITSReview is a quarterly publication. The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the editor, the Office of Alumni Relations or of the University of the Witwatersrand. © Copyright of all material in this publication is vested in the authors thereof. Requests to reproduce any of the material should be directed to the editor.

Published by the Office of Alumni Relations, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg Tel: +27 (0)11 717 1090 Fax: +27 (0)11 717 1099 Address: Private Bag 3, Wits, 2050, South Africa E-mail: alumni@wits.ac.za | Website: www.wits.ac.za/alumni Update contact details: www.wits.ac.za/alumni/update SUBSCRIPTIONS: International subscribers: R100 per annum Local subscribers: R80 per annum PAYMENT OPTIONS: Online payment using a Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Diners Club credit card at: www.wits.ac.za/alumni/payment or by electronic transfer or bank deposit to: First National Bank, Account No. 62077141580, Branch Code 255-005, Ref.No. 1142 (+ your name) or by cash or credit card payment at the Alumni Office.

October 2014 | WITSReview | 3


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Letters

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR ARE WELCOME AND CAN BE SENT C/O THE ALUMNI RELATIONS OFFICE OR E-MAIL ALUMNI@WITS.AC.ZA.

Wits storming up the rankings Dear Editor It seems everywhere I look these days Wits is storming up the international rankings. First there was the Academic Rankings of World Universities, which placed Wits as the top Photos of Dr Cornelis de Kiewiet supplied by University of Rochester

Calling Rochester/Wits graduates Dear Editor It is little known that the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa has strong historical links with the University of Rochester, New York, USA. Dr Cornelis de Kiewiet, the University of Rochester President 1951-1961, was a graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand for his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, while Dr Cyril Myerowitz, a dental graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand, was Director of the Eastman Dental Center from 1999 to 2009.

university in Africa, let alone South Africa. Then there was the Shanghai Jiao Tong index of world university rankings which placed Wits and UCT on par as the two best universities in South Africa. University rankings carry massive weight here in Australia and Australian universities tend to do a fair bit of crowing about their successes in these rankings. So of course, it’s time for Wits to take a bow! Whether you agree with the methodology of a specific index or not, whether you agree wholeheartedly with the concept of ranking an entire university overall, or whether you are less than wholehearted in your agreement about such “beauty contests”, let’s at least agree that the results are none-

The connections continue with 18 Rochester alumni

theless indicative of magnificent work by Wits’

living in South Africa, and currently four undergrad-

academics and research leaders. We can also

uates and one graduate student from South Africa

agree that, according to those who conduct

studying at Rochester. As a dual graduate of both

such rankings, Wits, along with UCT, is unques-

universities, I elicit interest of possible other dual

tionably one of the world’s great institutions of

graduates of Wits and Rochester.

higher learning.

Prof. Geoffrey H. Sperber (BSc 1954, BDS 1956, BSC Hons 1958, PhD 1973) Edmonton, Canada gsperber@ualberta.ca

Adv Dr Andy Schmulow (BA 1993, BA Hons 1994, LLB 1998) Melbourne, Australia

Cornelis de Kiewiet (BA 1923, MA 1924) was also

Letter has been shortened – Ed

Provost of Cornell University from 1948 - 1951 – Ed

4 | WITSReview | October 2014


Letters Letters

Letters

Letters Letters

Letters

Letters Letters Letters

Letters Letters Letters

Visual arts initiative

Letters Letters Letters

Dear Editor I finished my Honours degree in Geography and Sociology at Wits in 2009 and have gone on to complete an MPhil at Oxford University and will be returning

Proud to be Witsies Dear Editor

there later this year to begin my PhD. My academic

We visited the Wits Club last week and enjoyed

“home” however will always be Wits, where I attend

a very pleasant lunch in the company of our

lectures and seminars most weeks.

granddaughter, who is due to graduate at the

I thought the latest edition of WITSReview was fantastic and thoroughly enjoyed reading the letters to the editor, learning about Architects of Justice and the lengthy piece on Maboneng. My good friend, Louise Van der Bijl and Anthea Pokroy (both Wits graduates) founded Assemblage in Newtown, Johannesburg. It is a non-profit organisation which intends for the visual arts community of Johannesburg to connect, to share ideas, information and advice, and to collaborate. I wondered if WITSReview might want to profile this exciting initative in a future edition.

end of the year. After lunch Sarah took us on a walk around the West Campus, which we found to be most impressive. She is the latest in a long line of the Pope family who have been proud to be associated with Wits. Noel, my husband, graduated as an ex-serviceman in 1949 (BSc Mech Eng) and then PhD in 1960. I have a collection of BMus (1949), BEd (1969) and MEd (1979). Our son Trevor has BSc Elec Eng and MSc and his son Alexander is also an Electrical Engineer thanks to Wits. We thoroughly enjoy the WITSReview although we tend to linger on the “In Memoriam”

Thank you for all your efforts in building a strong and

section, which often tells us about the demise

proud alumni network!

of old friends.

Hannah Dawson (BA 2009; BA Hons 2010) Randburg, South Africa

Thank you for keeping us in touch with Wits,

Editor replies: Thank you for alerting us to the

time in our lives.

work being done by Witsies at Assemblage. We’ve

Vivia Pope (BMus 1951, BEd 1970, MEd 1979) Randburg, South Africa

published the story in The Edge at http://web.wits.

which represents a very happy and important

ac.za/customfiles/alumnicam/TheEdge_Aug2014.html

October 2014 | WITSReview | 5


REMEMBER WHEN

WITSIESREFLECT

Notes on my student years Dear Editor My student years at Wits (1946 – 1950) spanned a uniquely self-contained chapter in the University’s history. I describe the era as “unique” and “self-contained”, because, for those five post-WWII years, campus demographics and character were conspicuously affected by the massive influx of ex-servicemen, impatient to make up for the “lost time” spent in military service, and hugely disdainful of the “juvenile” antics of their teen-aged fellow-freshers. Sing-song practice on the campus lawns – green swards that were soon to disappear beneath the pre-fab structures needed to supplement the overflowing lecture-theatres; exuberant cavorting through downtown Johannesburg in academic gowns and mortar-boards for Graduation Day, which was celebrated in the City Hall and followed by mass student occupation of the Metro Cinema for a special matinée, plus a rousing audience performance of University songs to the accompaniment of the mighty

Esmé Berman (BAFA 1950)

Wurlitzer organ…. At the outset such frivolity was scornfully dismissed by the jaded old-young veterans in their macho khaki bunny jackets and clunking army boots. Within the grossly over-crowded halls of academe, the volatile convergence of two such incompatible groups seemed precariously unpromising. Yet, by virtue of some kind of campus alchemy, each faction benefited from encounter with the other, and their integration generated a creative dynamism that was probably unequalled in any other period in the history of Wits.

6 | WITSReview | October 2014


PAGE NAME A remarkably high percentage of Wits alumni of that era went on to win exceptional distinction in their chosen fields. Although they ornamented every discipline, I am reluctant to present a roster, for fear of major errors of omission. However, I have no hesitation about mentioning the names of the students alongside whom I studied in the embryonic Wits Fine Art Department: Cecil Skotnes, Nel Erasmus, Larry Scully, Christo Coetzee and Gordon Vorster would become leading members of the national art scene during subsequent decades. Incidentally, we received instruction in Anatomy at Medical School, where our knowledgeable tutor was another stellar student. His name was Phillip Tobias. During my third year, I played Electra in The University Players’ production of Jean Paul Sartre’s The Flies. Opposite me, as Orestes, was David Sussman (later CEO of Woolworths). Neither of us won renown as thespians. The event is mentioned for the historical significance of its opening night, Thursday 27 May 1948. During

RAG

memories Wits benefactor and alumna Joan Campkin (BSc 1953) sent us these RAG photos. Send your photos and memories of RAG to peter.maher@wits.ac.za

the intermission between the second and third acts, from portable radios amid the audience – which was anxiously awaiting results of the previous day’s General Election – came the news that Jan Smuts, leader of the ruling United Party, had lost his seat. From that moment onward, for almost the entire second half of the 20th Century, South Africa was forced to endure the imposition of the oppressive ideology of apartheid. For Wits, that election was a turning point. Students of the era spent their university years on both sides of the historical divide. From 1946, we celebrated the defeat of Nazism and vowed that its evils would never recur in our generation. From 1948, we attended frequent raucous meetings in the Great Hall; many of us joined marches through Johannesburg, in protest against new oppressive laws. But the die was cast. The Wits we knew was far too liberal for the taste of our new leaders. For much of the ensuing 40 years, the energy that had vitalised the immediate post-War period was diverted to the struggle for the survival of independent thought and the liberal ideals for which Wits University existed.

Esmé Berman (BAFA 1950)

October 2014 | WITSReview | 7


NEWS

8 | WITSReview | October 2014


NEWS

LAB LAUNCHED AT MALAPA A mobile laboratory and visitors’ platform was launched at Malapa in the Cradle of Humankind west of Johannesburg on 4 September. The “temporary-permanent” structure, co-funded by Wits University, Gauteng Tourism and the National Research Foundation, protects the fossil-rich area from the elements. The structure is primarily a platform for research but can also accommodate tour groups of 48 people. As a lab, it can lift one-tonne rocks and relocate them. It is free-standing, devoid of any significant foundations, with the potential to be moved to other sites. It is fire and animal resistant, harvests rain water and is constructed from environmentally friendly products. The structure was unanimously judged the overall winner of the 2014 Steel Awards presented by the Southern African Institute of Steel Construction on 17 September. In 2008, Wits paleoanthropologist Professor Lee Berger (PhD 1994, DSc 2014) discovered Malapa and the first known remains of the new species of human ancestor, Australopithecus sediba. Berger is a National Geographic Explorer who leads the now world-renowned Rising Star expedition excavating the site.

October 2014 | WITSReview | 9


PAGE NAME “In every dispute you eventually reach a point where neither party is altogether right or altogether wrong, when compromise is the only alternative for those who eventually want peace and stability…” Nelson Mandela

WITS ALUMNI IN ISRAEL REMEMBER NELSON MANDELA

He discusses his involvement with South Africa

BY LANA JACOBSON

minutes I was caught in the spirit of the man and

July 10 2014: Israel may be at war, but at 17:45 at

people of South Africa.”

Tel Aviv Jaffa Academic College, 230 guests from all walks of life are schmoozing and enjoying cocktails in the foyer at an event celebrating the memory of the greatest leader of our time, illustrious Wits alumnus Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

as Israeli representative at Mandela’s memorial ceremony last December. “I sat in the stadium and within a matter of 15 we realised how this man touched the lives of the

South African Ambassador Sisa Ngombane reminisces about “the early days” with Mandela. Former exile, ANC stalwart and veteran Ngombane says that when Mandela first met leaders for peace talks he had survived 10 attempts on his life. Ngombane

The gathering is to honour the man and his legacy

tells the audience how Mandela inspired a whole

– to debate and learn lessons from his remarkable

generation of people to follow his decisions.

philosophy and leadership, to see how his examples could be applied to seemingly intractable conflicts. The crowd file into the auditorium, where five luminaries form a unique panel of guest speakers. Each speaker will share fascinating insights observed during time spent with Mandela. The speakers will recount examples of Mandela’s exemplary spirit of

“What really made South Africa so special?” he asks. “It is the manner in which we made peace, reconciling as one Rainbow Nation. “First we recognised there were no places to run to. We all had to live together. Then, after realising this fact, everybody took steps to achieve peace.

forgiveness and how his leadership and spirit can be

“Ubuntu, reconciliation. It happened because we

applied to the Israel-Palestine situation. Member of

realised whites weren’t going to live in Europe.

the Israeli Knesset (MK) Rabbi Dov Lipman begins.

Africans weren’t going to disappear.

Gallo images: A statue of Nelson Mandela was placed outside the prison in Franschoek,

his stay in prison, his struggle and eventual triumph over the forces of apartheid. 10commemorates | WITSReview | October 2014


SOCIAL Once we all accepted that there wasn’t another piece

“As we all know, we are living through hard, hard

of land for South Africans to move to, we knew we

times, but tonight hopefully we can find inspiration in

had to live together. With Mandela at the helm we

forging forward. When Mandela emerged from pris-

decided on peaceful co-existence. It grew easier after

on, he said, ‘Throw pangas into the ocean’.” Pogrund

taking the first step. Reconciliation is about everyone

discusses the background to Mandela’s life and the

taking a first step.”

process of change he facilitated in South Africa.

Next to speak is Wits alumnus Benjamin Pogrund (BA

The last speaker is Nicholas Wolpe, the driving force

Hons 1971). Author, former deputy editor of the Rand

behind the Liliesleaf Legacy Project and CEO of the

Daily Mail in Johannesburg, reporter of the Sharpeville

Liliesleaf Trust. He is also the son of Wits alumnus

massacre on 21 March 1960, close friend of Mandela,

Harold Wolpe (BA 1950, LLB 1953), a leading activist

and founder of Yakar Centre for Social Concern in

in NUSAS and former SRC President who was arrested

Jerusalem. He takes centre stage.

and imprisoned in 1963 but escaped and lived in exile in England for 30 years. Nicholas gives a wide ranging talk on the freedom struggle in South Africa, emphasising the contribution of other ANC leaders, like Mandela’s mentor Walter Sisulu. “I want to emphasise that peace in South Africa was not only a one-man show,” he says. The Mandela Remembrance event was an initiative of Wits Alumni representative in Israel, Dr Les Glassman, in conjunction with Telfed (a non-political organisation

(L-R) Benjamin Pogrund, Nic Wolpe, Sisa Ngombane, Tova Herzl, Dave Bloom, Tamar Jezmer, Les Glassman

representing South Africans living in Israel), the SA Embassy in Israel, and Forum Tzorah.

Wired to deliver: North West MEC of Health Dr Magome Masike (centre) with WIRHE graduates

ALUMNI RETURN TO RURAL ROOTS The Wits Centre for Rural Health lauded alumni of the Wits Initiative for Rural Health Education (WIRHE) at an event in North West province in August when an alumni support network was launched. WIRHE is a scholarship programme funded by the provincial government that enables disadvantaged students from rural areas to become health professionals in their communities. Since WIRHE’s establishment in 2004, 55 alumni have graduated, of whom 41 are from North West. Tshepo Ramotshele (BPharm 2010) and Onkarabetse Maboitshego (BSc (OT) 2012) now work in their communities. Ramotshele is the first permanent pharmacist at Ganyesa Hospital, and Maboitshego is the first occupational therapist at Christiana Hospital.

October 2014 | WITSReview | 11


SOCIAL

VALUABLE TALES FROM THE SANDPIT Culture eats strategy for breakfast, according to Colin Browne, an organisational culture consultant and the speaker at an alumni networking breakfast on 7 August 2014. Browne addressed about 70 alumni at the Wits Barns on “How to build a happy sandpit: How SA companies create employee engagement, loyalty and performance”. Browne’s leadership tips for cultural harmony include extending trust, two-way respect, and an obsession with values – which are not democratically selected, take time to stick and must be tested and guarded.

Sandpit Sorcery: Colin Browne Alumni networking culture: Witsies at the talk about organisational culture

12 | WITSReview | October 2014


PAGE NAME

KUDU PRINTS IN PARKTOWN Around 1 500 Joburgers and alumni competed in the fourth annual Wits Road Race on 17 August 2014. Race Day dawned cool and freshly laundered after Joburg’s early spring rain. A festive carnival atmosphere prevailed as athletes gathered outside Alumni House on West Campus and Wits mascot

#OneLife in the Big Apple

Kudos Kudu trotted about lending support and

Alumna Nikiwe Bikitsha (BA Hons 2010) and Londi

encouragement. Athletes traversed the hilly suburbs

Sibisi were among those pounding 21.1km of pave-

of Westcliff and Parkview in a demanding 10km or

ment in the Wits Road Race. The duo will run the New

21.1km race and an informal prize-giving ceremony

York Marathon on 2 November 2014 to raise R100

took place on the field below the Wits Club

000 for Dreamfields, a grassroots soccer initiative for

afterwards. The University’s alumni running club,

disadvantaged children in KwaZulu-Natal.

the Varsity Kudus, and the Alumni Relations Office host the Wits Road Race, which features on the

Bikitsha says, “Children learn important life lessons by

Central Gauteng Athletics calendar.

participating in team sports. The sense of achievement and affirmation they get from playing weekly league

Results – 21.1km: First female: Shitaya Gemechie, Individual (1:22:31). First male: Mbongeni Ngxazozo, Gauteng Striders (1:08:25) Results – 10km: First female: Alemtshehay Kakisa, Nedbank (37:10), First male: Derocious Makhobale, Nedbank (32:01)

football is priceless. It’s just one step towards building the society we all want.”

October 2014 | WITSReview | 13


WITSIE ACHIEVER

Psyched about

MentaHealth

BY DEBORAH MINORS

Dr Saul Levin tells me he couldn’t reply to my first email in October 2013 because he was in Russia. Although he’d been appointed Chief Executive and Medical Director of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in July, he’d anticipated this holiday for a while and knew another was unlikely in future.

14 | WITSReview | October 2014


WITSIE ACHIEVER

“M

y father’s

“There’s a move towards integrated health-

family is

care in the US where clinicians, government

originally from

and stakeholders collaborate and integrate

Russia and

to patients’ benefit,” says Levin. He adds

I’ve always

that the hands-on medical training he

had a fascination with the country – even in

received at Wits also contributed in part to

high school at Damelin in the 1970s, when

his appointment. “In the US, medicine is very

Russia was synonymous with communism,”

text-book, very learned,” he says, compared

explains Levin over lunch at the Wits Club in

to the more visceral “hands-on” training

August 2014.

healthcare professionals are exposed to in SA

He speaks fondly of his high school history teacher, Izaak Kriel, who visited Russia

Levin emigrated in 1984 and his career

when Levin was a teenager. On his return,

since then has included appointments in the

the kids bombarded their teacher with

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services

questions about Communist Russia. Levin

Administration of the US Department of

recalls his teacher describing Swan Lake and

Health and Human Services. He earned

how, when the velvet curtains lifted, there

a Masters in Public Administration from

on stage was an actual lake upon which

Harvard University before establishing and

glided live swans. “And we had the Pretoria

leading a healthcare consulting company for

State Theatre…” says Levin ruefully. “So

a decade.

perceptions can change with additional information.”

He then became President and CEO of MESAB (Medical Education of South African

The Swan Lake-in-Russia story contextualises

Blacks), which provided scholarships to

the “internationalisation” of psychiatry that

black South Africans. There he worked with

Levin envisages as CEO of the APA – the

alumni Stan Bergman, Chairman of the Wits

largest professional, Science-based associa-

Fund Inc, Dr Nthato Motlana, and MESAB’s

tion in the world, boasting around 35 000

first Chairman, Professor Phillip V Tobias.

US and international members. It’s also the

Levin was Vice-President of the American

oldest in America, dating from 1844 when

Medical Association for Science, Medicine

it was called the Association of Medical

and Public Health before joining APA.

Superintendents of American Institutions for PHOTO: PETER MAHER

and at Wits in particular.

the Insane.

Levin’s appointment is full-time, salaried, and funded by the APA – not government.

Dr Saul Marc Levin, 57, (MBBCh 1982) is the

This independence enables the APA to

first non-American to lead the APA. He was

tackle local and global matters in psychiatry,

appointed for five years after an exhaustive

such as international knowledge transfer.

country-wide search. Levin suggests it’s

The APA’s moving towards enabling open

that he recognised the role of all players

source knowledge that can benefit patients

in the psychiatric community, the need for

and their psychiatrists. This is partly why

integration with solo practitioners, and that

Levin was in South Africa – to explore how

the US health system is changing, that gave

the US and SA psychiatric communities can

him the edge in landing the job.

collaborate to mutual benefit.

October 2014 | WITSReview | 15


PAGE NAME Five students in the School of Accountancy are a step closer to writing CA (SA) behind their names, thanks to bursaries that fund their entire student experience.

An Accountable

Impact

16 | WITSReview | October 2014

PHOTO: PETER MAHER

BY DEBORAH MINORS


PHILANTHROPY

B

ursaries provided by Srinivasan “Venkat” Venkatakrishnan have enabled the studies of Phindile Khumalo, Khanya Memela, Reabetswe Molete, Eric Sithole and Emmy

Taunyane. They have successfully completed their first semester towards becoming Chartered Accountants. “I made a commitment last year to fund the education of five South African students each year, in the fields of finance, accounting or economics, at Wits,” explains Venkat. “This was a personal decision that my wife, Hamsa, and I made, based on our belief in the importance of access to high quality education. We hope this modest contribution will build skills that will benefit South Africa, and make a positive change in the lives of the students.”

“SEEING MR VENKAT GIVE SO MUCH HEART, SOUL AND PASSION TO EDUCATING STRANGERS LIKE US HAS INSPIRED ME TO ALSO GIVE BACK IN FUTURE”

The bursaries fund everything from tuition fees

Venkat explains, “Each student is mentored by one of my colleagues in senior management. In particular, Carien Heinus has helped the students a lot, entirely voluntarily. I catch up with the students during the year

to academic support and everything in between.

for general discussions, and I keep in close contact by

“University fees are very expensive so I don’t think I

email. I keep a schedule pinned above my desk which

would have come to Wits if I hadn’t got the Venkat

shows their progress and also helps me maintain an

bursary. I’m very grateful,” says Phindile. “The bursary

important perspective on the future.”

covers everything – books, accommodation and

The bursaries have already changed lives but their

university fees.”

potential for future change is even more exciting. The

“This is no ordinary bursary!” declares Reabetswe.

spirit of philanthropy is not lost on the students, who

“It is what I call ‘a God-given overflow of abundance’.

intend giving back as alumni. “Seeing Mr Venkat give

It covers tuition, residence and book fees, and an

so much heart, soul and passion to educating strang-

allowance on top of that.” The bursary enables

ers like us has inspired me to also give back in future

students to focus on their studies so that “funding is

and make means available for many others who want

not a hindrance to academics”, says Khanya.

to pursue their careers and dreams,” says Reabetswe,

Aside from financial aid, the bursary ensures a supportive academic environment. This is particularly

while Emmy says the bursary has taught her “about the importance of giving back to the community”.

important for first-years who risk being overwhelmed

The only male bursar, Eric, says, “Since I was young

at university. Phindile says the bursary’s academic

I’ve always had aspirations of becoming a well-educat-

support goes a long way. “We’ve got a mentor who

ed person. This bursary has changed the way I see life

is very helpful. She helps us a lot in dealing with the

in general. It has shown me the importance of giving

workload of university and all the different university

back to others – ‘one’s little is another’s everything’.”

issues,” she says.

Venkat is the Chief Executive of AngloGold Ashanti.

Adds up to excellence: Future chartered accountants (l-r) Emmy Taunyane, Nokukhanya Memela, Reabetswe Motele, Phindile Khumalo and Eric Sithole (front)

He funds the students in his personal capacity.

October 2014 | WITSReview | 17


PAGE NAME

The

forgotten BY HEATHER DUGMORE

young

18 | WITSReview | October 2014


(L-R) Project Coordinator for Action Volunteers Africa (AVA) Yvette Moses, AVA intern and ex-recruit Lindiwe Sishuba, AVA intern Siyabonga Dingela and Lisa Garson

October 2014 | WITSReview | 19

PHOTOS: VIVID IMAGES

PAGE NAME


PAGE NAME

They’re young, they’re unskilled, they don’t have jobs, most are not well educated and they are sitting at home not knowing what to do. Wits BSc alumna Lisa Garson has a plan.

LISA GARSON GRADUATED FROM WITS WITH HER BSC IN 1989 AND BSC HONS IN 1990.

T

here are millions of very frightened young

That’s where Lisa Garson comes in. For most of her

South Africans who are facing bleak

life, she has been driven to make a difference to the

futures and losing hope fast. These are not

lives of young South Africans who come from difficult

the promising achievers that universities,

and impoverished backgrounds.

colleges, industry and youth advancement

programmes are looking for. Quite the opposite; they don’t have good track records or academic profiles or anything with which to sell themselves. And they don’t know where to turn.

Two years ago she established an NGO called Action Volunteers Africa (AVA) in Cape Town to place young people from townships around Cape Town who are not in employment, education or training (known as NEETS) in NGOs as volunteers and interns to gain skills and much-needed work experience.

“THESE YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE NEVER BEEN GIVEN A CHANCE IN LIFE” 20 | WITSReview | October 2014


MAKING A DIFFERENCE More than 3.7-million NEETS

Computer skills, personal branding skills

“In the 18-25 age group South Africa has more

All recruits are screened and interviewed by Garson

than 3.7-million NEETS. They have been churned out

and participate in the AVA orientation programme

through one of the worst education systems in the

before starting work. Aspects covered include a basic

world and then little is done to help them progress

introduction to computers and using the Internet,

after leaving school. The result is a rapidly growing

interview skills and an introduction to NGOs.

group of young people whom everyone forgets. I looked at this group and thought that something needs to be done about this,” says Cape Town-based Garson, who is the founder and director of a successful placement agency for NGOs in South Africa and Africa. Established 20 years ago, it is called Action Appointments Development Recruitment.

Recruits also attend a monthly motivation forum where they acquire a range of navigational skills, including career guidance, how to look for opportunities, personal branding, producing a CV, networking and communication and how to deal with stress. Each recruit also gets a small monthly stipend. “Poverty levels are dire in their homes and many of them use the stipend to put food on the table,” says Garson.

FOR MOST OF HER LIFE, SHE HAS BEEN DRIVEN

TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO

THE LIVES OF YOUNG SOUTH AFRICANS WHO COME FROM DIFFICULT AND IMPOVERISHED BACKGROUNDS. Body maps and vision boards “Knowing the NGO environment as I do, I decided to approach several Cape Town-based NGOs – such as the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, the SPCA and Afrika Tikkun – to partner with the AVA model,” says Garson, who set up an AVA office in Claremont. “The NGOs receive R750 per month per recruit and in turn they help the recruit to learn skills and to be mentored. The NGOs also benefit from an extra person helping them, and all NGOs need this.”

As part of the programme the recruits create body maps and vision boards. “We work with an art facilitator and the recruits create artworks about themselves, which express how they see themselves, how others see them and what they hope for in their future, based on realistic career goals,” Garson explains. They take the vision boards home and put them up on a wall where they can look at them regularly, which helps them to start internalising how they want to see themselves and what they want to achieve.

October 2014 | WITSReview | 21


MAKING A DIFFERENCE

“THE RECRUITS CREATE ARTWORKS ABOUT THEMSELVES, WHICH EXPRESS HOW THEY SEE THEMSELVES, HOW OTHERS

SEE THEM AND WHAT THEY HOPE

THEIR FUTURE”

FOR IN

100 AVA recruits in two years

Their body language changes

“The aim is for recruits to be employed for up to one

Given a bit of a start in life, many of the recruits

year with the host NGOs,” says Garson, who, over the

start transforming – they become stronger and more

past two years, has placed over 90 AVA recruits.

confident, their body language changes and they are

What she is doing is as rewarding as it is heartbreaking. “These young people have never been given a chance in life. Many come from very dysfunctional backgrounds where drug abuse, joblessness and violence is endemic,” she explains. “Many have no emotional coping skills and when something goes wrong at home or a parent tells them to stay at home, that is what they do. We teach them that being employed and being reliable is hard work,

able to find solutions. Several are now employed. One of them is a 2013 recruit, 20-year-old Siphumelele Zibi, from the Eastern Cape, who lives in Khayelitsha. His mother moved the family there so that she could look for work after his father abandoned them. Zibi was in Grade 10 at the time. His dream is to work in conservation but he didn’t have a science or maths teacher for the last two years of school, which meant he didn’t achieve the marks required to study in that field.

and that it takes stamina and dedication to turn up at

“We didn’t have a conservation NGO placement

work no matter what is happening in their lives.”

opportunity so we decided to place him with the SPCA in Grassy Park because he is passionate about animals,” says Garson.

22 | WITSReview | October 2014


MAKING A DIFFERENCE 2013 AVA recruits, 20-year-old Muneeba Maart from Retreat and 22-year-old Siphumelele Zibi, from the Eastern Cape

Used his networking skills Travelling to Grassy Park each day and working long hours, often doing extremely menial work, was not easy but he showed great commitment and great

“I have learnt that even though young people in

care for the animals. After eight months he used the

our country are rebellious, fun-loving, materialistic

networking skills he developed on the programme to

and narcissistic, they are also willing, tenacious,

secure a job at the Tygerberg Animal Hospital.

determined and courageous. Basically, they’re like

The HR manager at the Tygerberg Animal Hospital contacted AVA and the SPCA for a reference, and

most young people across the world, facing the chasm between school and the adult world of work.

they could both vouch for him. He is now a perma-

Our youth are very frightened

nent staff member there; he supports his mother and

“The difference is that our youth are also very

sister, and still plans to study conservation one day.

frightened because they have no prospects. When I

Another successful placement is 18-year-old Muneeba

interview them to become recruits, they don’t come

Maart from Retreat, who had just had a baby when she joined the AVA programme at the beginning of

up with fancy reasons why they want to be chosen; most say it’s because they don’t want to sit at home

2013.

doing nothing.”

“It’s far from ideal to take on recruits with babies

Garson funded AVA from her recruitment business for

because it makes organising their lives far more difficult, but the reality is that many of these young

the first six months and has since been fund-raising. “I don’t like fund-raising but there is no alternative if

people already have children,” says Garson.

we are to grow the programme,” she says. She has

Muneeba was really battling with life when she was

including Discovery, the DG Murray Trust and the

placed as a teacher’s assistant at Capricorn Primary

Christian Development Trust.

in an informal settlement near Muizenberg called Vrygrond. She proved to be very good with children

since received funding from a range of organisations,

Funders recognise it as an excellent model that is

and has since been offered a fulltime job and the

extremely cost effective and it works.

opportunity to study through Unisa to become a

AVA is currently only in Cape Town. Garson’s next

teacher.

challenge is to have AVA offices all over South Africa,

Long, hard, close-up look at our youth

and she is already working on this. “That’s my big

“Over the past two years, I have met and come to

dream.”

know many young people like Siphumelele and Muneeba, and I have had the opportunity to take a long, hard, close-up look at the state of our youth.

FOR MORE INFORMATION GO TO WWW.AVAFRICA.ORG.ZA

“From this I have learnt a lot,” says Garson.

October 2014 | WITSReview | 23


WITSIE CLAN

Lisa Garson and her sisters, Catherine, Fiona and Philippa, grew up at Wits. Their father, Noel Garson, was Head of History, Dean of Arts, and member of Council during his 1957 to 1996 tenure at the University. Their mother, Yvonne, was a librarian at the William Cullen. Both are 82 now and still active.

witspedigree

“M

y childhood sights,

She and her business partner, Nina Cohen, won the

sounds and smells are

competition to design the Wits Art Museum. They

from Wits,” says Lisa.

continue to work on University architectural projects.

“I vividly remember the

Fiona is married to Dr Robbie Potenza (MBBCh 1986),

smell of the corridors of

a GP in private practice.

Central Block, where my Dad had his office in the left hand corner on the ground floor. I remember skidding down the beautifully polished floors, and being fascinated by the Koi fish in the huge pond outside his office window. “I even learnt to swim at Wits, with the terrifying Mr Macfarlane. I can still hear his harsh reprimands when

Philippa holds a BA Hons (Politics) (1989) and is a freelance journalist. She previously worked at the Mail & Guardian. She married psychiatrist Dr Charles Perkel (MBCCh 1985). They live in New York. Lisa was previously married to Dugan Fraser (MA Sociology, 1995), who is now at the RAITH Foundation.

we did something wrong. He would film us swimming

First-Year: 1976

to show us where we went wrong – pretty advanced

The sisters were aware of apartheid from a young

for the 1960s. Thanks to him I can swim very well.”

Alumni Relations All four sisters are Wits alumnae and three of their husbands are alumni. Catherine holds a postgraduate diploma in Education (1981) and a BA Hons (Transla-

age. “Through our parents we knew exactly what was happening here,” says Lisa, whose first year was 1976, when the Soweto uprisings happened. The deaths were so shocking for Lisa that she battled to focus on her studies.

tion Studies) (2009). She is a freelance editor special-

“Everything was in chaos and campus was ablaze,”

ising in policy and economic research on developing

she recalls. “I was depressed about South Africa. I

countries, and is also writing a novel.

thought Madiba would spend his life in jail and that

Fiona (BArch 1988) taught a foundation programme at Wits for 10 years that aimed to help disadvantaged students cope with the architectural degree.

24 | WITSReview | October 2014

nothing would ever change.”


WITSIE CLAN

The Garson clan: All four of the Garson sisters are Wits alumnae and three of their husbands are alumni. Photo courtesy of Lisa Garson.

She abandoned university, moved to Australia for

“MY CHILDHOOD SIGHTS, SOUNDS AND SMELLS ARE FROM WITS”

seven years and became a tax assessor. But she could not get South Africa out of her system and returned home.

Offspring

“I felt that I couldn’t be out of my country any longer.

In 1990 Lisa married Dugan. They adopted two

I was obsessed with South Africa all the while I was

children and she gave birth to two.

in Australia. South Africa is not an easy country to

“Our adopted children were the grandchildren of

leave,” she says.

Deborah Malebe, who worked for my parents for 25

Lisa returned, enrolled for a BSc, moved into a com-

years,” explains Lisa. “Deborah had raised Maphiri

mune in Yeoville, and ran an educational programme

and Lefiri, and we adopted them after she died.”

called the German Academic Exchange Enrichment

Maphiri, 31, works in Human Resources at Wits, and

Programme (GAEEP).

is studying for a BA. Lefiri studied sound engineering

“It was a part-time job where a group of Wits

and lives in Fish Hoek. Callum, 19, is at UCT and Oona

students tutored 150 Grade 11 and 12 learners from

Jane, 16, in high school.

Pretoria’s townships. Fiona taught Biology and she

Lisa and Dugan divorced amicably in 2000.

was a very good teacher,” Lisa recalls.

A green Beetle

Late Activism “I moved to Cape Town from Joburg seven years ago

Lisa’s battered green VW Beetle, loaded with an

because I found it nerve-racking raising teenagers in

urn, 150 cups and a huge TV, was a familiar sight in

Joburg,” says Lisa. “I’m very connected to the natural

Yeoville. “We showed the learners struggle movies,

environment and I wanted them to experience this. I

like The Battle for Algiers, after lessons. We were

felt Cape Town offered a better lifestyle for them.

obsessed with being relevant,” she smiles.

While we have experienced this, I must add that Cape

After graduating BSc Hons in 1990, Lisa joined the

Town is still very much a city divided, with an extreme

Science Education Project, a national supplementary

divide between the have’s and have not’s. This is what

education system that regrettably no longer exists. “I

has made me become so much more of an activist in

was the HR manager and we grew the project from 30

my later life.”

staff to 100 in one year,” says Lisa.

October 2014 | WITSReview | 25


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Witsfontein Uniting Wits and Braamfontein BY HEATHER DUGMORE

In this, our third feature in the Joburg series, the WITSReview browses |the University’s 26 team | WITSReview October 2014 precinct of Braamfontein.


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October 2014 | WITSReview | 27

PHOTOS: PLAY BRAAMFONTEIN AND SOUTH POINT

Like a pair of odd shoes, that’s what Braamfontein and Wits University were 10 years back. It did not make sense because Braamfontein and Wits are one. Braamfontein is to Wits what Greenwich Village is to New York University, or what Bloomsbury and Camden are to the University of London.


A VIEW OF BRAAMFONTEIN

B

ut the mismatch was real and, instead of Braamfontein being a place of vibrant student and business activity, it had slumped, with growing signs of inner city decay. In this atmosphere of neglect, only the very brave

were investing. One such person was Wits alumnus Andrew Bannister, who bought a building in De Beer Street in 2002 where he had his photographic studio. He also rented out space to fellow creatives and cross-border traders who stored their wares there and used it as an overnight stay.

Some day the down-and-out precinct would rise Many thought Bannister was making a bad financial move in buying the building; such was the pessimism of the times. But he had two motives for doing so: his grandfather had built it, and Bannister believed that some day the down-and-out precinct would rise. “It was naïve faith more than anything else and I went through some very rough times, including the murder in my building in October 2004 of a close friend and fellow photographer, Andrew Meintjies, who had his studio here,” Bannister explains. A week before Meintjies was shot dead, the manager of the Braamfontein Recreation Centre, Louis Ngcobo, had also been shot dead in the centre’s offices. Braamfontein did not feel like a safe space. But better times were ahead.

A sign of better things to come “For me, a sign of better things to come was when Wits alumna Lael Bethlehem became CEO of the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) around 2005,” says Bannister. Bethlehem was CEO of the JDA until 2010 and her contribution to the inner city upgrade, including Braamfontein, was considerable. This included buildings, parks, museums, public artworks and public transport. The Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit system was one of her projects, and something she described as “a key element in the process of democratisation of the city”.

28 | WITSReview | October 2014

“... SOME OF THE TRADERS WHO USED TO SLEEP ON MATTRESSES IN MY OLD BUILDING ARE NOW THRIVING ENTREPRENEURS WHO BOOK INTO MY HOTEL”


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The most fashionable part of Braamfontein today During this period Bannister developed his building into a boutique hotel and venue called The Bannister Hotel, which is situated in the most fashionable part of Braamfontein today, with over 70% occupancy. “What really pleases me is that some of the traders who used to sleep on mattresses in my old building are now thriving entrepreneurs who book into my hotel,” he says. Young, old, student, business person, traveller, artist, entrepreneur, local, foreigner … a wonderfully diverse cross-section of people can be found hanging out at The Bannister or across the road at Anti Est., a new establishment, where you can catch up on what’s trending in music anywhere in the world and meet people from everywhere. Anti Est. is one of the brainchildren of Wits alumnus and entrepreneur Adam Levy, the creator behind the Braamfontein-based property development and urban regeneration company Play Braamfontein.

October 2014 | WITSReview | 29


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“WHERE DIVERSE GROUPS OF PEOPLE COME TOGETHER, MIX AND MINGLE, BREAK DOWN BOUNDARIES AND DEVELOP INNOVATIVE IDEAS AND PROJECTS”

30 | WITSReview | October 2014


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“IN ITS PLACE IS A TANGIBLE FRIENDLINESS AND HIGH-SPIRITEDNESS THAT YOU DON’T Living like most people can’t OFTEN FIND” On the wall of Play Braamfontein’s offices in De Beer Street is an anonymous ode to the entrepreneur, which reads: “Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so that you can spend the rest of your life living like most people can’t.” Levy lives this code and has been instrumental in transforming Braamfontein over the past 10 years. He has bought and renovated buildings and opened a string of exciting entertainment, business and accommodation spaces, art galleries and restaurants. He also founded the Saturday Neighbourgoods Market in a building in central Braamfontein. Now in its fourth year, it is one of the biggest attractions in Joburg, with 4 500 to 6 500 people visiting every Saturday. Why did he choose Braamfontein? “I could see what it could become and I wanted to live here, but 10 years ago it wasn’t anywhere near the kind of environment I envisaged for myself,” he explains. His response was to build the world he wanted to live in, “where diverse groups of people come together, mix and mingle, break down boundaries and develop innovative ideas and projects.”

Tearing down the bricked-up ground floors

A crisp, sleek, high-rise penthouse “I believe that from this new energy in Braamfontein we are going to see great innovation coming out of here,” says Levy, who has redeveloped 10 buildings

This meant tearing down the bricked-up ground floors

in the past 10 years, including his home building,

that characterised derelict Braamfontein and replacing

where he has a crisp, sleek, high-rise penthouse with

them with inviting businesses that open onto the

big-screen views of the city.

streets.

Down below are the railway sheds where a large

“It’s all about restoring engagement in the city, where

billboard speaks of a different reality: “No condom.

I can see you and you can see me, and we can stop

No sex. 4 million people tested in Gauteng. Wena?”

and have a chat.”

“In a different way, I keep pushing for this concept of

Walking the streets here today, we get a strong sense

critical mass. If 10 000 people come to Braamfontein

of this. People are out and about on this beautiful

and enjoy the experience, that soon grows to 20 000

Joburg afternoon, getting on with their day. We’re

and so on. That’s how you have a shot at changing

alert because that’s how you have to be in SA, but the

culture and that’s what we’re seeing in Braamfon-

fear factor we once felt when walking these streets

tein,” explains Levy, who regards Braamfontein today

is no more. In its place is a tangible friendliness and

as “South Africa’s pre-eminent creative and cultural

high-spiritedness that you don’t often find.

hub”.

October 2014 | WITSReview | 31


A VIEW OF BRAAMFONTEIN The first inner city steakhouse in 30 years We head back into the street and he shows us around. We take in a choice of designer clothing and interiors stores, art galleries, like the Kalashnikov

“Instead, I’m constantly in legal battles with the City, and I’m facing the most unbelievable hurdles to get plans approved or to get assistance with basics, like fixing broken street lighting.

Gallery, trend forecasters like Instant Grass, and the

“After repeatedly contacting the City of Joburg about

Smokehouse and Grill – the first inner city steakhouse

this, I fixed the street lighting myself. I bought and

in 30 years.

installed 80 giant fluorescent lights in the neighbour-

He takes us to his latest project, 73 Juta Street, with its 1970s concrete brutalism façade by famed South African sculptor Eduardo Villa. This 1970s high-rise is being redeveloped into office space with a difference,

hood, for which we pay hefty electricity bills. If we want a great neighbourhood we can’t be held back by the City. It’s frustrating but we all have to choose our battles, and I choose the City of Joburg.”

including a rooftop venue with a garden and rim-flow pool. It will be ready at the end of this year and tenants that have already booked space at approximately R100 per square metre include Google, the British Consulate, Vice magazine and Motif Records.

An exciting time to be in Braamfontein “It’s an exciting time to be in Braamfontein. When we started, no one wanted to be here. Now we can choose between 50 excellent tenants,” says Levy, who has been featured in media including the prestigious Wallpaper design magazine. He attributes his success to his upbringing. “My late father, Ivan Levy, a self-made man and a great corporate attorney, taught me compassion and to think clearly. My artist mother, Barbara Levy, gave me creativity. I could be brave in life because my parents supported me and encouraged me to be different – that’s what enables the Davids to take on the Goliaths.”

Bureaucracy and blockage His Goliath is the bureaucratic and obstructive City of Joburg municipality. “What we’re doing in Braamfontein is supposed to be a partnership with the City, but they don’t give you this feeling. I’ve never been invited to meet the mayor, despite being one of Braamfontein’s key developers,” says Levy.

32 | WITSReview | October 2014

Urban ocean retreat: The Beach is one of Levy’s entertainment options


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“WE’RE IN THE PROCESS OF RESTORING ITS PRESTIGE, BUILDING BY BUILDING” The bars and music venues

Randlords on the 22nd floor

Back in the streets we seek out the bars and music

Where rooftop venues are concerned, you have to

venues, without which no reimagined village can

experience Randlords on the 22nd floor of South Point

succeed.

Towers in De Korte Street.

Witsies will be happy to hear the old Devonshire Hotel

Wits architects Lesley Carstens and Silvio Rech gutted

is being redone and any of you who have old photos

the top three floors of an office building to create this

from the Dev must please send them to us.

bar and dining facility with beaded swings and giant

A current student favourite is The Great Dane, with its

resting beds set in a 360-degree view.

remarkable floor made with thousands of 5c coins, as

Even the men’s urinal is a talking point. Positioned

a statement about the loss of monetary value.

in front of wall-to-floor glass, men without a fear of

DJs abound here but if this is a bit too trendy for you,

heights can peruse the northern lights of Joburg.

head next door to Kitchener’s, one of Joburg’s oldest

South Point Towers is owned by South Point, a major

bars, where they have comedy nights and bands, and

property development company in Braamfontein,

where you can philosophise with fellow hipsters.

which is considering converting some of the other

There’s also a new jazz venue, The Orbit, and an

floors into high-end apartments.

ubercool rooftop venue called The Beach, with real beach sand, where patrons can relax on deck chairs and create sandcastles in the urban sea.

October 2014 | WITSReview | 33


A VIEW OF BRAAMFONTEIN Secure, trendy, well-managed student accommodation South Point has made a considerable contribution to Braamfontein since 2003, when it started renovating a number of office buildings into secure, trendy, well-managed student accommodation. It worked wonderfully for Wits as the residences could not accommodate the growing number of students, and it also nurtured the student village atmosphere in Braamfontein. “We currently accommodate 5 000 students in Braamfontein, predominantly from Wits, in a range of undergrad and postgrad accommodation options. We also have apartments and penthouses for academics and business people,” says Josef Talotta, Executive Head of Precinct Development for South Point. The accommodation ranges from R2 700 to R7 500 per month. “On the retail side, we have a range of desirable new tenants, such as Puma and the Branson School of Entrepreneurship. At the same time we make sure that we look after our longstanding tenants – from tailors to takeaways – who have been here for decades,” Talotta explains. South Point owns and rents over 30 buildings. It made the rare exception of selling one of them to World Wildlife Foundation -SA, which has renovated it and will be opening its Joburg offices here this year.

The Madison Avenue of Joburg “Between the 1950s and 1970s, Braamfontein was the Madison Avenue of Joburg, with prestigious law firms and advertising agencies. We’re in the process of restoring its prestige, building by building,” says Talotta. “Together with Wits and Play Braamfontein, we collectively own over 50 buildings here. We are partners in the precinct’s rebirth, together with the JDA and a handful of other privately owned property groups.” The JDA is currently leading what is called a “complete street” project in Braamfontein, with bicycle lanes, public transport, public art and street lighting.

34 | WITSReview | October 2014

Accommodating: South Point develops properties that house, feed and entertain thousands of Witsies


“COME BACK TO BRAAMFONTEIN. IT’S ALIVE AND EXCITING, IT’S ON THE UP AND UP, AND THE SHOES ARE STARTING TO MATCH Love Food, Father Coffee, Vuyo’s BEAUTIFULLY”

Another essential element in the rebirth of the precinct is a choice of coffee shops, delis and restaurants for all pockets. Braamfontein has burgeoned with some excellent venues, including Love Food, Post, Father Coffee and Daleah’s. Wits alumnus and gastronomist Miles Kubheka owns Vuyo’s. We join Kubheka for a cappuccino at Vuyo’s before heading for the Neighbourgoods Market, which attracts thousands of visitors every Saturday. It feels like the whole of middle class Joburg and beyond is gathered at the market, tucking into everything from eggs benedict to paella, cooked in enormous pans imported from Spain and overseen by yet another Wits entrepreneur, Daniel Forsthofer of the Tutto Food Company. His goal is “to feed the world, one paella at a time”.

Come back to Braamfontein Wits and Wits alumni have played a major role in the rebirth of Braamfontein and are meeting with each other and with Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib and other leading members of the University to escalate the growth and reunion of Wits and its precinct. A pivotal new Wits-led development is the IT Hub, driven by Professor Barry Dwolatzky, which promises to become Africa’s Silicon Valley. All that remains to be said is: come back to Braamfontein. It’s alive and exciting, it’s on the up and up, and the shoes are starting to match beautifully.

October 2014 | WITSReview | 35


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Silicon Valley of Africa

36 | WITSReview | October 2014

The Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa named the head of Software Engineering at Wits, Professor Barry Dwolatzky, South African IT Personality of the Year for 2013/14.

PHOTO: PETER MAHER

in Braamfontein


TECHNOLOGY

D

wolatzky is also the Director of the

“If you think what digital technology has done to

Joburg Centre for Software Engineering,

our world in the last 20 years, the future in this field

a joint venture between Wits and the

is wide open, with technology hubs driving this all

City of Johannesburg. As part of this, he

over the world, including several in Africa, such as the

is pioneering the so-called Silicon Valley

extremely impressive iHub in Nairobi.

of Africa – what promises to be the most important

“The hub we are creating here in Braamfontein is an

digital technology hub in Africa, right here in half

open-plan co-working space for 350-400 IT interns,

a city block in Juta Street, Braamfontein. It’s been

postgraduates, innovators and entrepreneurs.

named the Tshimologong Precinct.

“One of our projects is an app development factory

Wits University owns the buildings in this precinct,

sponsored by Microsoft. Another is a project funded

formerly used as warehouses and a nightclub. They

by the Department of Trade and Industry to create

are being renovated and redeveloped into the hub from October 2014. Wits alumnus Jon Jacobson is the architect.

high maturity software development teams where we train interns in high-level software development methods as they work on a range of projects. An example is our partnership with researchers from Wits and Oxford

Dwolatzky explains:

University to develop a software system that collects

“South Africa is facing the bizarre situation of a skills shortage on the one hand but approximately 600 000 unemployed graduates on the other. This is a huge

data from meters providing real-time measures of domestic electricity use. The system will improve our understanding of how different communities can use

resource of bright, energetic young people. What

electricity far more efficiently in the future.

we are doing is channelling these young people into digital technology to develop hardware, software and

“We also have a postgraduate leadership development

content. Where these three meet we are going to

programme in ICT-related disciplines called CoachLab.

see huge and rapid innovation that will underpin all

The hub will provide space to IT start-up entrepreneurs

aspects of economic and social life in the 21st century,

who work from here for a nominal monthly fee.

and we want our youth to be at the centre of this.

“The name for the hub has not yet been finalised, but

“Once this happens it will make a reality of the ‘Africa

given the support we received from our Vice-Chancel-

Rising’ concept because we will be bringing large

lor, one of the names that came up is Hub-bib!”

numbers of young South Africans and Africans into the mainstream economy.

PROF DWOLATZKY IS CURRENTLY SEEKING SPONSORS AND FOUNDING PARTNERS FOR THE TECHNOLOGY HUB.

For more information contact him on: Phone +27 (0)11 717 6390 | Cell +27 (0)82 881 7856 Email barry@jcse.org.za | Web www.jcse.org.za Blog www.SoftwareEngineer.org.za

October 2014 | WITSReview | 37


A NEW ENERGY EMERGING IN BRAAMFONTEIN

“From Wits’ side, some of the initiatives we are wanting to pursue include: •

Partnering with investors and developers to

re-energise the entire area between the Wits Art Museum and the Origins Centre – from Jan Smuts Avenue to Yale Road. This would include

WITS UNIVERSITY’S VICE-CHANCELLOR, PROFESSOR ADAM HABIB, ON BRAAMFONTEIN:

developing student and staff accommodation, retail spaces, restaurants, music clubs, bookshops and other offerings that would be attractive to our staff, students and members of the public.

“There is a new energy emerging in Braamfontein, sparked by a range of public and private stakeholders, including the University. For us, this is essential

Supporting Prof. Dwolatzky in the develop-

ment of the technology hub.

because a university needs to be immersed in society,

and the environment around the university is key to

partnership with the City of Joburg and the JDA,

its success.

including assisting with lighting, security and the

“In South Africa, given the challenges of crime

Creating a safer, more attractive precinct in

general upliftment of Braamfontein.

and service delivery, universities have tended to

“In the medium term we may start considering

block themselves off from the very societies and

dropping our fences and integrating the university

environments in which they are located. This is not

into Braamfontein where we already own a

sustainable because if you want to attract top staff

significant amount of property.

and students, you have to ensure that the university is situated in an attractive, safe, inviting precinct.

“Just as New York University played a pivotal role in the revitalisation of Greenwich Village, and

“Towards this we are discussing our strategic role in

there are many other similar examples from other

Braamfontein, in partnership with the City of Joburg,

universities worldwide, so too does Wits want to

the JDA and private investors and entrepreneurs.

do the same in Braamfontein.”

38 | WITSReview | October 2014

PHOTO: PETER MAHER

PAGE NAME


PAGE NAME

The creativity by Ayodimeji Biobaku

There’s been a profusion of shock-mops, dreadlocks and goldilocks on campus since Wits has been Doing Hair.

Doinghair BY DEBORAH MINORS

October 2014 | WITSReview | 39


TRANSFORMATION

T

he Transformation and Employment Equity Office and Wits Art Museum (WAM) put their heads together

and made hair the “mane” theme for a student photographic competition, an exhibition and a catalogue. Identity through Hair at Wits – Transformation through the Lens of Wits Students was the theme of the 2014 photographic competition. Entries had to “speak” about hair as an expression of transformative identities (not limited to race, age, authority, social status, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, culture, fashion and trends) and about Wits located within Johannesburg. Entries flooded in by the 30 May deadline and were posted online. The most “liked” images on Facebook by 21 July won the Public Vote prize. A panel of external judges reviewed all images and winners were announced at the John Moffat Foyer on 12 August, and are currently exhibited at WAM.

40 | WITSReview w | October 2014 201 14


ART

Top: (l-r) Carefree man by Mabelane Mogale, Golden Rainbows by Zewande Bhengu, Macaw by Zewande Bhengu, For the LOVE of nature by Portia Koali Ramoabi Above: What do you SEE? by Lanice Jegels Opposite page: The glamour by Ayodimeji Biobaku

October 2014 | WITSReview | 41


TRANSFORMATION

On 23 August WAM and the Transformation and Employment Equity Office’s Tish White (BA 2012) hosted a public TALKABOUT and discussed selected winners’ entries. Visitors who attended the TALKABOUT were also given the opportunity to discuss the winning images with the photographers. WAM has published an accompaniment to the exhibition, Doing Hair: Art and Hair in Africa, edited by Laura De Becker and alumna Anitra Nettleton. (See review alongside.) Order the catalogue from WAM at a cost of R150.

The Doing Hair: Art and Hair in Africa exhibition opened at WAM on 20 August. At the interactive launch, visitors were treated to on-site hair-styling and spot prizes were awarded for the most exciting hairstyles. The exhibition explores how people manage their hair and its portrayal culturally and artistically in Africa over time. The exhibition runs until 2 November.

Top: In Control by Ntokozo Xaba Below: (left) (in)heritage by Marguerite de Villiers (right) Almost by Skhumbuzo Mtshali

42 | WITSReview | October 2014


ART

DOING HAIR: ART AND HAIR IN AFRICA EDITED BY LAURA DE BECKER AND ANITRA NETTLETON

Published by Wits Art Museum, 2014 The Wits Arts Museum has rapidly established a reputation for mounting unusual exhibitions drawn from its own fine collections of African art. The strength of the Wits art collection lies in the diverse reach across disciplines such as fine arts and anthropology, as well as the age and the foresight of the original collections. The exhibitions show a lively approach to the art of presenting fascinating items in an accessible manner. The curators incorporate modern technology via film, video clips, audio recordings and interactive stations. Each exhibition is put together with intelligence and a sharp eye for the juxtaposing of objects to offer fresh insights. Labels and introductory boards carry detailed information. WAM works hard to educate diverse audiences. In the

A series of barber shop signs from Ghana features

process each exhibition becomes a landmark moment

political heroes and film stars who become hair

to reflect on a theme and raise new and thoughtful

fashion icons and models; the signs are works of art

questions about art, sculptures, installations and

in their own right. A corrugated iron barber shop

objects in the Wits collection.

adds to the ambience of the exhibition. Hair separated

The most recent exhibition, Doing Hair: Art and Hair in Africa, running from 20 August to 2 November, is no exception. The subject is how people manage their hair and how this has been portrayed in different cultures in an array of art forms through the ages in Africa. Hair can be sculpted, combed, treated and dyed to address issues of beauty, style, gender, status and control. Men and women do different things with their hair to follow a fashion or express their

from the human body can be objectified, such as the helmet masks of the Makonde of Mozambique, and exert a benevolent or malevolent influence, such as the nkisi charms of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Following the British legal tradition, judges in Botswana present themselves as figures commanding respect and authority in red flowing robes, white gloves and bibs and flowing elaborate wigs (made from horse hair rather than human hair).

individuality. When you join the army and have your

The accompanying catalogue is a highly collectable

crowning glory shaved off you and your fellow recruits

and attractive book, comprising scholarly but accessi-

become brothers in arms. An Afro natural hairdo can

ble essays by nine authors and illustrations of selected

be a political statement. When people lose their hair

works on exhibition. See the exhibition but if you miss

as they age, there’s an industry to bring it back in

it, order a copy of the book from WAM.

wigs, treatments and implants. KATHERINE MUNRO, SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE AND PLANNING AND VOLUNTARY WAM DOCENT

October 2014 | WITSReview | 43


PAGE NAME

The Pursuit of Fearlessness

44 | WITSReview | October 2014

PHOTO BY PABLO PASCUAL

From Chicago to London to Outer Mongolia, Wits alumnus Kevin Volans’ classical compositions reach beyond creed, culture or established form. Emanating from a desire for freedom, they orbit the world.


MAKING MUSIC

BY HEATHER DUGMORE

T

he Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras (570BC - 95BC) proposed that the Sun, Moon and all the planets emit their own unique, orbital sounds – known as the music of the spheres.

The story goes that the human soul could once hear these sounds, but that as the quality of life on Earth faded so too did the music. What remained is the hope that one day, when our humanity has been

“MY ULTIMATE GOAL IS FREEDOM; FREEDOM FROM STYLE, FORM AND CONTENT; FREEDOM FROM FEAR. I ASPIRE TO FEARLESSNESS”

restored, we will awaken once more to the rhythm of our souls.

Beyond this realm On hearing a Volans piano concerto, the possibility exists that one or two among us never stopped hearing the music of the spheres. As a composer he draws inspiration from the widest orbit: from Liszt, Chopin, Stockhausen, the music of Africa, the abstract expressionist painters, Japanese minimalism… but his music also goes beyond this to a realm that liberates him from being typecast in any creed, culture or established form. “My ultimate goal is freedom; freedom from style, form and content; freedom from fear. I aspire to

Fearlessness Fearlessness, Volans explains, “means trying to do what you know to be correct for you without being pressured into producing work of a particular style, or according to what a particular audience might expect, or what a producer thinks will make the most money.” It is not easily achieved.

fearlessness,” Volans explains during a visit to

For example, when you are composing for giant

Johannesburg to rehearse with two acclaimed South

venues like the Royal Albert Hall, “your natural

African musicians with whom he has collaborated

inclination is to write something loud and large

for many years: concert pianist Jill Richards and

so that it won’t be overwhelmed, but this is a bad

violinist Waldo Alexander. They are rehearsing for

mistake – a result of anxiety. The reality is that you

a violin, viola and piano album to be recorded in

can just as well write something soft and delicate

Berlin later in 2014.

and it will be well heard,” Volans explains.

October 2014 | WITSReview | 45


MAKING MUSIC 100 performances and concerts each year He has as many as 100 performances and concerts all over the world each year – as far afield as Ulan Bator, Durban, Stockholm, Mexico City, Perth, Vancouver, New York… A recent YouTube search for videos of his music came up with about 6 700 results.

“Creatively it was also incredibly inspiring. There were classical music performances at the Wits Concert Hall, the City Hall and the SABC on a regular basis, and as students we were often given free entrance. Back then Johannesburg had the greatest concert artists coming to perform here, on invitation by the extremely well supported Johannesburg Music Society and Musica

All this from the boy who grew up in Pietermaritzburg,

Viva.”

started composing at the age of 13

By the end of the 1970s

and discovered freedom and musical

neither of these music

direction when, in 1968, he enrolled

societies existed. One

at Wits.

of the organisers told

A certain Mr Edgar Heap

Volans that it was the

The story of his success cannot be

emigration from South

told without reference to a certain Mr

Africa in the 1970s,

Edgar Heap at Maritzburg College, as

particularly of Jewish

Volans explains:

South Africans, that led to their demise.

“Mr Heap was my music teacher. He

More interested in composing

was a wonderful man of about 85 and he smelled of tea and snuff. I had taken piano lessons from the age of 10 but it was through Mr Heap that I got really excited about music. Each week he would give me a new piece to play and each week I got carried away with it.” Mr Heap encouraged him to study music but Volans’ parents wanted him to study mathematics and science. “I tried their route but I knew it was not for me. I knew I had to study music. There was no music department

During his time at

THE BOY WHO... STARTED COMPOSING AT THE AGE OF 13

Wits, Volans, who was proving to be a gifted concert pianist, realised he was more interested in composing, inspired by his final year supervisor, the brilliant Dr June Schneider. “She encouraged me to write my thesis on the modernist

at what was then the University of Natal, and

Karlheinz Stockhausen, a

it was therefore my good fortune to enrol for

leader of the avant-garde,”

a music degree at Wits.”

Volans recalls.

A new sense of freedom at Wits At Wits he discovered a new sense of freedom. “It was entirely liberating. I could go everywhere and anywhere whenever I wanted without anyone controlling my movements. I lived in residence and had friends all over – in Hillbrow, in the centre of the city – and I walked everywhere.

46 | WITSReview | October 2014

“When I first heard Stockhausen’s piano pieces, I was fascinated. For me, in a visual sense, Stockhausen’s music was very similar to the art of Jackson Pollock.”


PHOTO BY NICK MILLER/CHESTER MUSIC

PAGE NAME

Meeting Stockhausen Stockhausen was one of the artists invited to appear in Johannesburg, and Volans met him for the first time at the SABC. He met him again at the International Summer School in Darmstadt in Germany, which Volans had been invited to attend. Here, he gave Stockhausen his Wits thesis and was subsequently invited to audition for Stockhausen’s composition class at the Musikhochschule in Cologne – the largest music school in Europe. “It was fantastically exciting and daunting at the same time as there were only five people accepted into Stockhausen’s class and I had no return ticket.” With his fate in the stars, the spheres smiled kindly on Volans. Not only was he accepted into the class, but in 1975 he was appointed as Stockhausen’s teaching assistant.

October 2014 | WITSReview | 47


MAKING MUSIC The best times of your life

What I love about African music

“It was an incredibly rich time but also a hard time.

“What I love about African music and African textiles

I was penniless, living in a two-roomed flat with no

are the odd, unexpected things that occur,” he

heating, bathroom or furniture (it took me two years

explains. “I start with something and let it grow and

to save up for a cupboard), but I made wonderful

develop, as opposed to the architectural process of

friends and had such inspiring experiences. Those are

Stockhausen, where you actually plan the whole

always the best times of your life,” he recalls.

structure before you write a note.”

After three years Volans went freelance, as he was already regularly composing for concerts. He also studied piano, music theatre and electronic music, inspired once again by Stockhausen, who was one of the world’s first electronic composers.

Constantly experimenting with sound

...HE SEEKS THE ELUSIVE MASTERY OF THE ANCIENT JAPANESE NOTION OF “VOLUNTARY POVERTY”

Volans is constantly experimenting with sound. He resists the

His focus on Africa

temptation to rely on

was sparked in the

past glories to carry him

mid-1970s when he

forward.

produced shows on African music for leading

“His music is free of baggage” is how his

West German radio stations.

friend, the late English

In 1976 and 1977 he spent time in

novelist and travel

South Africa, putting together col-

writer Bruce Chatwin,

lections of African music, including

described Volans’

Zulu guitar and concertina music,

music.

and the music of Zulu Princess Ma-

At times a rigorously

gogo Ka Dinuzulu, one of South

minimalist composer,

Africa’s most important traditional composers, an exceptional singer,

he seeks the elusive mastery of the ancient Japanese notion of “voluntary

music teacher and political activist.

poverty”, where a note here or a pebble there is

Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Johnny Clegg, Sipho Mchunu

placed with such subtle thought that it appears to be incidental.

He also bought the records of Ladysmith Black

And just when he appears to have settled on a

Mambazo and played them on German radio. “The

thought, he darts off into the unexpected, inspired by

German producers loved their music and they also

a worldview that hovers between his global persona,

loved Johnny Clegg and Sipho Mchunu. Both groups

his home in Ireland and his African roots.

were invited to perform in Germany and we had great times together.”

PAINTINGS BY NICK MILLER

48 | WITSReview | October 2014


MAKING MUSIC During his trip to South Africa, Volans also recorded

They think they own you and they pay publicists to

natural sounds to create soundscapes: “My aim was

have this or that name on the front page of every

to record African soundscapes that were as pure as

newspaper possible. But it doesn’t mean you are

possible – no aeroplanes or traffic, just the sounds

getting the best that is available. In many situations

of birds, insects, wind, thunder – the sounds of the

you are getting what the accountants have decided

bushveld world we evolved in.”

will sell.

“MY AIM WAS TO RECORD AFRICAN SOUNDSCAPES THAT WERE AS PURE AS POSSIBLE... JUST THE SOUNDS OF BIRDS, INSECTS, WIND, THUNDER” He showcased these soundscapes in

“They are our enemy. If you want to maintain the quality of your art, you have to fight against the money counters.” Refusing to succumb to industry pressure, Volans counts himself fortunate to have strong supporters like the BBC, which gives him the freedom to do as he feels.

The Mountain that Left His latest BBC composition is a huge 30-minute piece for the BBC Singers called The Mountain that Left. It’s for their 90th birthday celebration in London and at the same time it celebrates 20 years of democracy

London in 1982, the same year he wrote

in South Africa. It’s written in 35 parts: 24 voices plus

White Man Sleeps, a celebration of African music and

a solo for South African soprano Pumeza Matshikiza

a political statement of the time.

and 10 players from the BBC symphony. The ending

White Man Sleeps

of the piece is a tribute to Nelson Mandela.

Such was the success of White Man Sleeps that the

It took Volans six months to write and it premiered in

record company that produced the album immediately

the Barbican in London on 24 September this year.

wanted him to get started on another, in the same

Preferring to work seven days a week

style. Volans was told it would have a major impact on his career. “I had to take a deep breath and say: I hate to inform you that I am not doing that. My work is more important than my career.”

No sooner has he completed one epic work than he is on to the next. The man hardly rests, preferring to work seven days a week: “I keep balanced by working,” he explains. “For me working is very relaxing, it’s a kind of meditation. I can

Fight against the money counters

do five hours at a stretch without noticing the time.

The record company was livid, he recalls. “The music

Sometimes I get to the end of a piece not knowing

industry is unbelievably powerful.

what was at the beginning.”

October 2014 | WITSReview | 49


PAGE PA P AG GEE N NAME AMEE AM

Radiation oncologist Professor Selma Browde is a doctor, academic, politician and health activist. She holds an MBBCh (1959), MMed (Radiation Oncology) (1967) and honorary DSc (2003), all from Wits.

B

rowde completed four years of Medicine at UCT before coming to Joburg in 1948 to marry Jules Browde (BA 1940, LLB 1948, honorary LLD 2000). She applied

to transfer to Wits, but the Medical School

Selma Browde

Passion& Compassion BY DEBORAH MINORS

was full of ex-servicemen. “I had to give up. I then had two children and many jobs. I was desperate to find a career,” says Browde. She reapplied to Wits after eight years and was admitted to thirdyear Medicine. “It was traumatic,” recalls Browde. “I remembered nothing. I was 10 years older than the boys in the class, who had fun teaching me wrong facts.” Browde graduated successfully, specialised in Radiation Oncology at Wits and worked as a consultant in the Radiation Oncology Department in the Johannesburg Academic Hospital until 1974.

50 | WITSReview | October 2014


WITSIE PROFILE In 1968, Browde suffered a stroke. The cause was diagnosed only in 1984 when another episode occurred. An MRI scan revealed a malformation, which caused a brain haemorrhage.

From pain to purpose Browde became interested in pain management in 1987. She attended international conferences and learned that pain management is part of Palliative

“The stroke caused a permanent condition called

Care, defined by the WHO as “the management

Prosopagnosia – inability to recognise faces,” explains

of physical, emotional, psycho-social, or spiritual

Browde. “I had many critics who thought I was

suffering for patients with serious or terminal

snobbish when I couldn’t recognise them.”

illnesses”. Browde says, “The pathophysiology of

Political prowess

pain demonstrates that emotions affect perceptions of pain, and also that inadequately relieved pain can

In 1972 Browde was elected as the only Progressive

cause an abnormal stress response that is detrimental.

Party councillor in the Johannesburg municipal

The mind-body relationship is real.”

elections. “It was life-changing,” she says. “I became the unofficial representative of the disenfranchised communities, which was a privilege.”

Browde established the Palliative Medicine Institute in 1998 to train doctors and nurses in an “Expanded Approach to Palliative Care”. In 2000, she established

Browde resigned from the Radiation Oncology

an NGO in the hospital called the Hospital Palliative

Department in 1974 when she was elected to the

Care Team (HPCT) to which doctors referred any

Transvaal Provincial Council. She served four years.

patient suffering from any cause, for management

Notable political achievements include obtaining

advice.

abolition of the quota system for the Standard 6 exam in Soweto schools, electrifying Soweto, and co-founding the Soweto Basketball Association, Action to Stop Evictions, and Operation Hunger with Dr Nthato Motlana.

A new life Browde returned to her department in 1978. “Shortly after I became Head of Department in 1982, a Professor of Radiation Physics was appointed. He’d never had Radiation Physics training, but he’d impressed with his numerous publications – eventually revealed as false,” recalls Browde. “He hid his inadequacies by reporting falsely on my competence and my department. When I read his reports, I had such an angry rush of blood to my head, I felt it would burst!”

Earlier this year, funding challenges almost stymied the HPCT. Fortunately a philanthropist stepped in as sponsor. “I’m very appreciative,” says Browde, relieved.

Community action While training nurses in communities, Browde was shocked at the high level of stigma around HIV/AIDS, despite extensive media education programmes. She found that these programmes were not understood. In 2001, she established Community Action. She wrote an easily accessible training manual on HIV/ AIDS, TB and other conditions to train selected community members to teach households individually. This model was successfully piloted in Soweto and Alexandra in 2008. “We presented it to the Minister

Browde developed symptoms requiring an MRI, which

of Health in 2013, who was very enthusiastic,” says

revealed the cause of the ’68 stroke and the recent

Browde.

symptoms. On her neurosurgeon’s advice, she took early retirement in 1986. “It was a painful ending,” she says.

The unstoppable octogenarian’s next project involves harnessing the energies of unemployed youth.

October Oc O cto tobe oberr 2014 20 2 014 14 | WITSReview WITSRevi WI Revi Re vie ew w | 51


ACHIEVEMENTS

Witsies with the

Edge

NEW LEADER FOR BUSINESS SCHOOL

FIRST AFRICAN ALUMNA ANATOMIST ELECTED

The new Director of Wits Business School, Professor

Wits Science alumna Professor Beverley Kramer is

Steve Bluen, holds three degrees from Wits, including

the first woman and African to be elected President

a PhD (Industrial Psychology). He previously lectured

of the International Federation of Associations of

at Wits for 12 years and served as Head of the

Anatomists (IFFA), announced at the IFFA’s congress in

Psychology Department, simultaneously running

Beijing in August. Kramer has a long association with

a consultancy serving blue-chip South African

the IFFA. She was President of the 2011 congress,

companies in various areas of human resources and

held then for the first time in Africa, and served as

organisational development. He was HR Director at

IFFA Vice-President from 2009 to 2014. At Wits,

SA Breweries from 1993 to 2010 and of SAB Ltd for

Kramer is Assistant Dean: Research and Postgraduate

eight years prior to that. He is the author of Talent

Support. Since 2009 she has led the Carnegie-Wits

Management in Emerging Markets (2012) and won

Alumni Diaspora Programme, which aims to enhance

the 2009 ABSA Business Achiever Award. He also

existing research networks by supporting collaboration

holds a business qualification from the University of

and exchange partnerships with alumni working at

Michigan Stephen M Ross School of Business.

international health research institutions.

52 | WITSReview | October 2014


ACHIEVEMENTS

BY DEBORAH MINORS

ECONOMICS EXPERT APPOINTED DEAN

ABOUT TIME FOR PUBLIC PROTECTOR

Professor Imraan Valodia was appointed Dean of the

Time magazine named Wits Law alumna Thuli

Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management at Wits

Madonsela, who is South Africa’s Public Protector,

from 1 April 2014. Valodia holds a doctorate in Eco-

on The Top 100 Most Influential People in the World

nomics from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where

list published on 5 May 2014. Madonsela is the only

he was formerly Associate Professor in the School

South African on the list. Her inclusion pays tribute to

of Built Environment and Development Studies. His

her work on constitutional and land reform, protect-

research interests include employment, the informal

ing human rights and equality, and particularly her

economy, gender and industrialisation. He is currently

ability to speak truth to power and address corruption

coordinating an international study, in 10 cities, of

at the highest levels. The Public Protector found in

the informal economy. He is one of just a handful of

March 2014 that President Jacob Zuma and his family

South African economists with a National Research

had unduly benefited from the R246m renovations to

Foundation B-rating. He has worked with international

his private Nkandla residence, and recommended that

development organisations including the United

the President repay a portion of the costs.

Nations Research Institute for Social Development and the World Bank.

October 2014 | WITSReview | 53


PAGE NAME

WITS LOUNGE & PUB AWAITS ALUMNI

A 76-year-old Grande Dame, the Wits Club and Barns Complex – comprising whitewashed Cape Dutch-style buildings nestled amongst ancient oak trees, a fishpond and manicured gardens – has had a face-lift, hoisted her petticoat and stepped out prettily as the Wits Alumni Complex, incorporating a restaurant, lounge-pub, conference centre and Alumni House. The Grande Dame awaits the return of alumni to their alma mater. The complex re-launched in 2012 and has since then provided a tranquil retreat for Witsies. Here alumni can enjoy a meal in the restaurant or outside beneath brollies in the scenic and leafy exterior. The merry sound of laughter, socialising and clinking cutlery on fine bone china while tasteful music drifts on the air already resonates. The Alumni Lounge & Pub boasts a big screen for sports extravaganzas, an elegant bar for comfortable socialising, and an array of pub-cuisine, liquor and spirits for the discerning alumni palate. The restaurant is ideal for alumni weddings, 21sts and birthday gatherings. Indeed, the old chapel that witnessed many weddings endures on the grounds, all of which now provide a charming, upmarket ambience in which alumni can socialise, network, or dine. CONTACT OLIVES & PLATES FOR RESERVATIONS TEL: 011 717 9365 OR EMAIL: INFO@OLIVESANDPLATES.CO.ZA FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE ALUMNI LOUNGE & PUB TEL. +27 11 717 1093 OR EMAIL: ALUMNI@WITS.AC.ZA

54 | WITSReview | October 2014


WITSIES WITH THE

WRITING EDGE BY DEBORAH MINORS

October 2014 | WITSReview | 55


WITSIES WITH THE WRITING EDGE

NON-FICTION Short-changed? South Africa Since Apartheid, by Colin Bundy

NON-FICTION Don’t Film Yourself Having Sex and Other Legal Advice for the Age of Social Media, by Emma Sadleir and Tamsyn de Beer

The Vice-Chancellor and Principal at Wits from 1997 to 2001, Professor Colin Bundy (BA Hons 1968) is one of South Africa’s foremost historians. He was a Rhodes Scholar and holds MPhil and DPhil degrees from the University of Oxford. He wrote The Rise

Attorneys Emma Sadleir (BA 2006, LLB cum laude

and Fall of the South African Peasantry (1988) and

2008) and Tamsyn de Beer both hold Masters degrees

Govan Mbeki’s biography. In 2010, Bundy retired

in Law from the London School of Economics. Togeth-

as Principal of Green Templeton College in Oxford.

er they run a social media law consultancy based in

Short-changed? South Africa Since Apartheid (Jacana,

Johannesburg. Much of their work involves creating

2014) attempts to answer questions about the most

social media strategies and policies, speaking at

significant socio-economic and political developments

conferences, and consulting on defamation, privacy,

in the country since democracy – questions about

data protection, revenge porn and online reputation

change and continuity, structure and agency, causes

management. Don’t Film Yourself Having Sex (Jacana,

and consequences. It examines the extent of transfor-

2014) is a guide to keeping out of legal trouble on

mation, but also its shortcomings and deformations;

social media. In a fun, witty and accessible way, this

it evaluates 20 years of robust democracy alongside

book details the legal, disciplinary and reputational

the corrosive effects of political corruption. Short-

risks that you, your company and your children face

changed? avoids simplified assessments of South

online. By outlining the laws and rules applicable to

Africa under Mandela, Mbeki and Zuma, and rather

what you do and say on social media, and providing

recognises both advances and limitations of ANC

practical and common-sense advice, this book ulti-

rule. The book demonstrates how the country’s past

mately shows you that responsible digital citizenship

permeates the present, complicating and constraining

is required to reap the benefits of technology without

the politics of transition so that genuine transforma-

succumbing to its risks.

tion has been short-changed.

56 | WITSReview | October 2014


WITSIES WITH THE WRITING EDGE

NOVEL Shadow Self, by Paula Marais Journalist Paula Marais holds an Honours degree in Publishing (cum laude, 2006) from Wits and a Masters in Creative Writing (2013) from UCT. She is an author, editor and proof reader at Logogog,

MEMOIR Young Man with a Red Tie: A Memoir of Mandela and the Failed Revolution 1960-63, by Bob Hepple

her own writing and editing consultancy, based in

Professor Sir Bob Hepple (BA 1954, LLB cum laude

Cape Town. Marais has 15 years’ communications

1957, Honorary LLD 1996) is Emeritus Master of Clare

experience and has worked in non-fiction (textbooks,

College and Emeritus Professor of Law in the Univer-

corporate and medical online writing), fiction (novels),

sity of Cambridge, Queen’s Counsel, and a Fellow of

marketing and event management. She has published

the British Academy. He is an international expert and

in South Africa and the UK and her books include

activist in the fields of labour law, equality and human

the novel The Punishment (2009) and non-fiction

rights. He was knighted in 2004 and in 2014 received

work When Your Blessings Don’t Count (2012).

the Order of Luthuli (Gold) from the South African

Her latest novel, Shadow Self (Human & Rousseau,

Presidency. At Wits Hepple was SRC President (1954

2014), explores notions of “good” or “bad” mothers

to 1955) and led protests against racial discrimination.

within a theme of postnatal depression. It tells the

As an advocate he acted as legal adviser to Nelson

story of Thea Middleton, an adoptee and imprisoned

Mandela and other liberation movement leaders.

mother, her husband Clay and her daughter Sanusha

Young Man with a Red Tie (Jacana, 2013) is Hepple’s

as they attempt to repair their devastated lives after

memoir of the dramatic events surrounding his arrest

an unthinkable horror. The characters narrate their

at Liliesleaf Farm in 1963 and his escape to England

individual stories from their specific viewpoints and in

to avoid testifying against his comrades in the Rivonia

their own unique dialects. These viewpoints enable

Trial. Hepple’s memoir illuminates the character of

a narrative challenge to society’s expectations of the

Mandela and other leaders, and the controversies

“perfect” mother. Shadow Self is also available in

around the South African Communist Party’s “secret”

Afrikaans as Skaduself.

resolution to take up arms in 1960.

October 2014 | WITSReview | 57


BookReviews RACE, MEMORY AND THE APARTHEID ARCHIVE, TOWARDS A PSYCHOSOCIAL PRAXIS EDITED BY GARTH STEVENS, NORMAN DUNCAN AND DEREK HOOK

Published by Wits University Press, 2014

The collected narratives can be accessed in the historical papers housed in the William Cullen Library at the University of the Witwatersrand. Some 30 South African and international researchers from a variety of disciplines collected narratives of the experiences of diverse people. This book brings together in 16 independent essays the collaborative efforts of 14 psychologists who were interested in a psychological praxis, “a consciousness of everyday experiences

This is a book that must

re-lived as a basis for critical reflection and social

invite reflection by South

transformation”.

Africans on what a life lived during the apartheid era meant to you. What was your story?

This book covers four topic areas: a theoretical scaffolding; how apartheid’s signifiers of racial identity impacted on the everyday life of ordinary South Africans; how issues of race, gender and sexuality

The Apartheid Archive

were intertwined; and the possibilities, challenges and

Project was started at

limits of using this archive.

the University of the Witwatersrand in 2008, by two psychologists who realized that it was important to capture and collect the personal stories and narrative accounts of ordinary South Africans about their experiences of racism during apartheid. In particular, poor people who were marginalised in different respects were given the opportunity to tell their life stories. The objective

Each theme has a framing introduction. The essays draw on some 48 narratives from the Apartheid Archive. There is a superb and comprehensive master reference list (rather than a bibliography). The book speaks to a wider readership of psychologists as well as to those with an interest in how psychological methods applied to human stories may deepen our understanding of what happened in our society over those life spans.

was to bring these oral and personal histories into the

I found myself wanting more extracts and more

mainstream and to offer an alternative entry point into

quotes from the actual narratives and to hear that

understanding what happened to people over four

lived experience. However it is useful to have the ac-

decades. It was a brilliant initiative as it meant that

ademic psychologist interpose his or her method and

people formerly without a voice had their lives written

expertise to provide a methodological approach. The

down and captured for posterity.

eight black and white photographs add little to the

A bank of memories – a rich contemporary historical source – has been created that testifies to the era and reveals the impact of apartheid beyond the laws and the institutional structures.

58 | WITSReview | October 2014

text and I think detract from the depth of the evident scholarship. I think this is a book which will become a sociological as much as a psychological classic.


BOOK REVIEWS

REVIEWS BY KATHERINE MUNRO, SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE AND PLANNING

AFRICAN LOCAL KNOWLEDGE AND LIVESTOCK HEALTH: DISEASES AND TREATMENTS IN SOUTH AFRICA BY WILLIAM BEINART AND KAREN BROWN

Published by Wits University Press, 2013

The objective is to understand local African knowledge in a systematic way by interviewing livestock farmers and to examine how that knowledge relates to scientific knowledge. The authors consider how African approaches to livestock diseases have changed in recent decades and what the areas of debate and contestation are. The appendix incorporates well thought through recommendations and advice that should be absorbed to advantage by the State, the private sector, NGOs and the individual farmer.

William Beinart has

Not so surprisingly, knowing Beinart’s style, this book

established an admired

quickly grabs the lay reader too. We learn about

and respected reputation

ticks, animal nutrition, the role of the environment

as an historian known

and the state of the veld in the health of cattle.

for his hands-on

The authors are familiar with diseases that were

research and his breadth

important in the past, such as rinderpest, as well

of knowledge about

as contemporary problems such as pneumonia and

South Africa. He is the

bovine tuberculosis. This context helps us understand

Rhodes Professor of Race

current local practices. Beliefs about witchcraft and

Relations at the African

the supernatural, taboos, gender and sexuality are all

Studies Centre at the

treated as serious topics that explain local practice.

University of Oxford.

The work highlights the parallel worlds and pluralism

In this excellent study, he and Karen Brown of the

that still characterise South African life. Appendices

Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, also at the

tabulate African ideas about disease including

University of Oxford, have added another important

supernatural causation and naming differences, and

piece of scholarship to South African historiography.

list the plants and other remedies used in treatments.

This book is about indigenous African knowledge of

Did you know that Coca-Cola mixed with vinegar

animal diseases and remedies, and the juxtaposing

provides a strong laxative for cattle? Simple maps

of that knowledge against scientific biomedical

locate the sites of study, and a select bibliography

explanations of diagnosis, causation and treatment

encourages further reading. The black and white

of animals. It provides a significant overview of

photographs are useful but not visually appealing.

contemporary African veterinary knowledge and

Nonetheless, I found the book both readable and

implicit is the question as to how that local knowledge

worth reading.

can be integrated, used or worked around in the application of scientific veterinary practice.

October 2014 | WITSReview | 59


BOOK REVIEWS

IN THE SHADOW OF POLICY: EVERYDAY PRACTICES IN SOUTH AFRICAN LAND AND AGRARIAN REFORM EDITED BY PAUL HEBINCK AND BEN COUSINS

Published by Wits University Press, 2013

The 1913 Land Act was the pivotal piece of legislation that then added a racial dimension to ownership that was stultifying, backward looking and did little to advance agriculture. The challenge after 1994 was to break with the past and rescind legislation – but also to worry about market conditions and food security. This book is an important collaborative product and the outcome of a project called the Cape Rural Innovation Project which was implemented between 2008

Land reform is a vexed

and 2012. The project enabled experts from different

question in South Africa

institutions to discuss and study rural development

as the past distribution,

and transformation in post-apartheid South Africa.

ownership, occupation and productive use of land was an outcome of a complex history of occupation, conquest, frontier wars, segregation, colonial and apartheid legislation, cultural differences and the operation of the market. South Africa’s path to economic development was unusual and differed from that of other countries in as much as modern development was driven by mining and not by a broad

This set of essays by over 20 scholars offers a critical examination of land and agrarian reform policies in specifically the Western and Eastern Cape. The collective objective is to explore the intersection and interaction of land and agrarian reform processes and implementation of new ideas and policies. The authors seek to show what has happened on the ground, in the fields and in the homesteads and lives of ordinary people because of land reform. Good intentions at the level of state policies are a world away from implementation. The book documents in specific case studies and places the sites of real changes in villages

agricultural revolution. It took a very long time for

and communities.

specific agricultural industries such as maize, sugar,

Implementation of policy is often difficult to apply

wine, fruit and wool to emerge as market players and

at local level and there may be unintended conse-

the state was often expected to view the activity of

quences. Many of the studies show how policies and

the farmer with sympathy, handsome concessions and

practices become intertwined and shape each other.

subsidies. The geography and climate, a lack of water and a dire shortage of capital meant that too many poor people either eked an existence from the soil and water or had to leave the land for cities and mines.

The principal themes covered by this endeavour are the history of agrarian development policies, the discrepancies between policies and practices in South African land reform, and competing knowledge regimes in communal area agriculture.

Wits University Press publications can be ordered online from www.witspress.co.za | UK & Europe: +44 (0)20 7240 0856 www.eurospanbookstore.com | North & South America: Toll-free: (800) 888 – IPG1 (4741) | orders@ipgbook.com FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.witspress.co.za +27 (0)11 717 8700 | info.witspress@wits.ac.za

60 | WITSReview | October 2014

WITS UNIVERSITY PRESS PUBLICATIONS ARE OFFERED AT A 20% DISCOUNT TO WITS STAFF, WITS ALUMNI AND WITS STUDENTS WHEN BOUGHT AT THE WITS UNIVERSITY PRESS OFFICE PREMISES.


BOOK REVIEWS

The book is important in documenting in the early 21st century what has happened in South Africa and draws conclusions and lessons for policy makers about the discrepancies between policy and practices, unequal power relationships, how the

REGARDING MUSLIMS: FROM SLAVERY TO POST-APARTHEID BY GABEBA BADEROON

Published by Wits University Press, 2014

beneficiaries of land reform respond and

Gabeba Baderoon is a poet

what matters in livelihood strategies. The

and literary scholar and it is this

strength of the book lies in its synthesis

perspective that informs her

of history and contemporary perspectives,

analysis of slavery, Islam and

and in documenting what has happened to

Muslim life in the South African

individual people in specific places in battles

story. Her perspective and methodology are original. She seeks

to escape poverty through new ways of

to explain how Muslims fit into the

farming. The case studies give texture

varied narratives of colonialism,

to what it really means for individuals to

apartheid, post-colonial and

be involved in, say, a food production

contemporary life. She dips into

programme in the Mbhashe local

popular culture, visual arts, food,

municipality in the Eastern Cape or access to land for women in Namaqualand. While an introductory chapter by Paul Hebinck synthesizes the book there is no concluding chapter that makes strong policy recommendations arising out of these well researched micro local studies. I would have liked some reflections too on the relationship of land reform and local practices to the agricultural industry at large

oral history, sexual practices and past literary representations to give a distinctive, proud and sometimes shocking picture of Muslim identity. Humour and anger sharpen her insights. Her mix of literature, history and sociology pushes the boundaries. She starts by showing how the social relations embedded in Cape slavery shaped the society’s ideas about race and human rights. This analysis strips away nostalgic and picturesque images of the Muslim community. The title of the book, Regarding Muslims, is a clever play on words around establishing esteem

and the macro implications of these micro

and taking a critical view of past romantic images. Her objective

studies. The international comparisons and

is to rewrite the place of Muslims in South Africa and find

contribution to the wider debate about

continuities to claim a new beginning and well-grounded

land reform are rather limited. In summary I

legitimacy for this community in the formation of the “rainbow

recommend the book because it teases out

nation”.

what policy can and does mean to ordinary people living rural lives.

The author inserts her own strong presence into the book and at times I found the use of the first person pronoun a little jarring but I nonetheless found much in this book to stimulate, debate and inform. There is a useful bibliography and a handsome set of centrally inserted illustrations. The quality of the book’s production is a tribute to Wits University Press, which continues to bring out well designed scholarly books at reasonable prices.

October 2014 | WITSReview | 61


IN MEMORIAM

Obituaries WITS UNIVERSITY FONDLY REMEMBERS THOSE WHO HAVE PASSED AWAY BY DEBORAH MINORS

MERVYN SUSSER (1921 – 2014) Eminent epidemiologist Professor

Apartheid drove the couple to emigrate in 1956, first

Mervyn Wilfred Susser died in New

to England and then to the US. Susser became Chair

York, USA on 14 August 2014,

of Epidemiology at Columbia University in 1966. Here

aged 92. Susser was renowned for

he founded and led the Sergievsky Center, which

“social medicine” which explored

researches genetic, environmental and social factors

the relationship between diseases

of disease.

and their socio-economic causes. He pioneered epidemiology in South Africa in the 20th century, and early programmes for AIDS in this country.

In the 1980s, Susser and Stein (also at Columbia) were among the first epidemiologists to study the emerging AIDS pandemic in New York. They then turned their focus to South Africa and AIDS here, as part of the

Susser was born in Johannesburg on 26 September

Committee on Health in Southern Africa (CHISA).

1921. He served during WWII and the Holocaust

When Susser retired from the Center in 1990, he

and then apartheid influenced his decision to study

and Stein, under the auspices of CHISA, arranged an

medicine. He graduated MBBCh from Wits in 1950,

international conference in Mozambique focusing on

the year after he married Dr Zena Stein (MBBCh

the impact of HIV on SA.

1950, honorary DSc 1993) – his lifelong partner and colleague.

Susser was a Wits benefactor and his alma mater awarded him an honorary DSc (Medicine) in 1993

He worked at the Alexandra Health Centre after

for his contributions to epidemiology and human

graduating, where he was exposed to the malaises of

rights. His wife, daughters Ida and Ruth, son Ezra and

black patients. In 1955, Susser and Stein published

Chilean foster-daughter, Elie, and nine grandchildren,

Medical Care in a South African Township, the

survive him.

first study of community-oriented primary care in a developing country.

62 | WITSReview | October 2014


IN MEMORIAM WALLACE LEVY (1928 – 2014)

NANCY VAN SCHAIK (1930 – 2014)

Dr Wallace Michael Levy died in

The third woman to whom Wits

Johannesburg on 19 May 2014,

awarded a full-time Chair, Professor

aged 85. He was born in Benoni

Emeritus Nancy van Schaik, died

on 16 September 1928 and held

in Betty’s Bay, Western Cape on

an MBBCh (1952) from Wits. He

10 June 2014, aged 84. She was

specialised at the Institute of Oph-

born in Miami, USA on 7 February

thalmology, University of London.

1930 and studied botany and

He worked in ophthalmology at

zoology in Illinois. Pursuing a

the Johannesburg General Hospital, at Baragwanath

PhD at the University of Wisconsin, she met South

Hospital where he ran eye surgery clinics, and for

African Dr Theo van Schaik. They married in 1954

the Mines Benefit Society. Levy laterwent into private

and settled in Pretoria. Van Schaik completed her

practice with Dr Leo Staz and worked in the Lister

PhD in 1957 and had two sons. After Theo died, Van

Building in Johannesburg and then at the Highlands

Schaik began lecturing at the University of Pretoria

North Medical Centre until he retired. Levy was a

in 1960. Seventeen years later she left to head the

member of the Orange Grove Rotary Club and an

new genetics department at Wits. She married Louis

accomplished pianist who enjoyed music. He married

van Heerden in 1976 and they retired to Kogelberg,

Phyllis Lipschitz in 1965. Phyllis and their daughters,

Western Cape. Through her vast knowledge of

Wendy and Janet, are all Wits alumnae. They and four

plants, she then contributed to South Africa and the

grandchildren survive him.

Kogelberg community.

ERNEST ATKINSON (1922 – 2014)

ALAN MEYER (1931 – 2013)

Ernest Leslie Atkinson died in

Alan Selig Meyer died on 26 Novem-

Johannesburg on 6 April 2014,

ber 2013, aged 82. He was born

aged 92. He graduated from Wits

near Witbank on 2 March 1931 and

with a BSc in Mining Engineering

held a BSc (1953) and MSc (1968)

(1943) before serving in the Special

in Electrical Engineering from Wits.

Signals Corps during World War

After an internship in the UK, he

II. He began his mining career

joined First Electric Corporation of

underground, as a shift boss, rising

South Africa (GEC), becoming Tech-

through the ranks to become consulting engineer at

nical Director. He specialised in designing large electric

Gold Fields for 34 years. In this capacity he travelled

motors, and for his Masters, he developed compu-

worldwide to keep up to date with trends in mining.

tational techniques for motor design. Meyer was a

His wife, Pegs, shared his passion for travelling and

consulting engineer before he joined Wits, where he

they had been married for 51 years when she died

was involved in electrical engineering research and

in 2000. Atkinson loved classical music, ballroom

teaching, even after retiring. He was passionate about

dancing and watching his hero, Mark Boucher, play

his profession and was previously President of the

international cricket. Atkinson was a Wits benefactor

South African Institute of Electrical Engineers. His wife,

who continued to meet with fellow Witsies well into

Ethne Abrams (BA 1954), their children Steven, Derek

his 80s. He leaves his only daughter, Wendy.

and Adele, and eight grandchildren, survive him.

October 2014 | WITSReview | 63


IN MEMORIAM HELEN LABURN (1951 – 2014) The former Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Wits, Professor Helen Patricia Laburn died of cancer on 19 September 2014, aged 64. She served as Dean from 2006 to 2010 and was most recently Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research at Wits. She stepped down as DVC in 2013 when she became ill. Professor Laburn held a BSc (1973), BSc Honours (1974) and a PhD (1977) in Physiology from Wits. Her association with her alma mater spanned ±45 years. She joined Wits as part-time lecturer in 1978 and advanced steadily, becoming Head of the School of Physiology in 2001 and Dean five years later. Over the years, she directed the Wits Health Consortium, Wits Enterprise, the Origins Centre Association and the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre. Professor of Thermal Physiology at Wits, Laburn was widely published and a world-renowned researcher in her field. The Wits flags flew at half-mast in recognition of one of its finest daughters. Prof. Laburn’s husband, Ted Woods, and daughters, Erica and Julia, survive her.

JEAN SHARPE BALLOT (1929 – 2014)

JOHN SYPKENS (1934 – 2014)

Jean Ballot, a pioneer in the field

Olympic rower John Former Sypkens died in Victoria,

of women in medicine, graduated

Australia on 10 June 2014, aged 80. He was born in

MBBCh from Wits in 1951. She was

Barberton, South Africa on 16 May 1934 and held a

invited to the University of Oxford

BSc (Mining Engineering, 1957) from Wits. He earned

(Radcliffe Infirmary) where she

Wits Blue for rowing and went on to become a world

qualified as a specialist Obstetrician

champion. He was six times Australian Champion-

and Gynaecologist in 1956, then

of-Champions Single Sculler in the 1990s and early

returned to South Africa. She

2000s. After graduating, Sypkens was a gold mining

established her own private practice in Johannesburg

surveyor in South Africa and a mine engineer and shift

in 1961 and was awarded her Fellowship of the Royal

boss in Canada. He married Susan Oddie in 1963 and

College of O&G in 1983. She remained fully active

that year joined a mining consultancy for three years.

in her practice until her sudden passing from a heart

From 1967 to 1976 Sypkens was a self-employed

attack on 22 May 2014. She was married for over

prospector in Australia and from 1970 to 2005

51 years to George Ballot (1924 – 2010), also a Wits

an orchardist, grazier and woodcutter. His wife,

alumnus, and is survived by their four children who all

Susan, children Peter, Jenni and Andrew, and two

hold qualifications from Wits.

grandchildren survive him.

RON TUCKER (1929 – 2014) A pioneer of coronary angiography, Dr Ronald Basil Kidger Tucker (MBBCh 1959) died on 12 April 2014, aged 85. He was born on 10 October 1929. Medicine was his passion but he lacked the finance for Medical School. He studied medical technology and then worked on the copper belts to raise funds. He enrolled at Wits, where he won the Cottrill Prize for academic achievement and student service. He specialised in Internal Medicine and Cardiology and worked at Johannesburg Hospital until 1968 before entering private practice. He was Chairman of the Asbestos International Association’s medical panel for 12 years, and a member of Council of the College of Medicine for 34 years. He received Wits’ Gold Medal in 1997. His wife of 57 years, Barbara, and four children survive him.

64 | WITSReview | October 2014


TRIBUTE

A Literary life

T

BY STEPHEN CLINGMAN he passing of Nadine Gordimer is a tremendous loss, both to South Africa and to the literary world. For those who knew her it will also be an enormous personal loss.

Born in November 1923, Nadine Gordimer came from a different era in which her first task was to discover that South Africa was worth writing about. Growing up, all her models were European, but then came her dawning realisation: the racially divided world she belonged to; the personal, lived experience of the political world; the deeper texts and subtexts of South African life: these and more became her roving ground. She followed where her instincts led, and was clear on the fact that it was writing that led her to

Nadine Sylvia Gordimer held an honorary Doctorate in Literature from Wits University, where she was “an occasional student” who took courses in English Literature and English Language in the early 1940s. She won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991. She was born in Springs on the East Rand on 20 November 1923 and died in Johannesburg on 13 July 2014, aged 90.

politics because – as she once memorably put it – “politics is character in South Africa”. Gordimer, chronicler and more of the personal, became the chronicler and more of the political in South Africa as well. She had a precocious talent, and to begin with short stories were her métier. Then, by the 1950s, came the novels. As she became immersed in the world of Johannesburg and the temper of the times, so too she wrote articles about politics – about censorship, and the 1976 Soweto uprising, and the chaos of the 1980s. Long before the political world understood it, she followed Gramsci in defining that decade as the “interregnum”, when the old was dying, the new could not be born, and the present was filled with a great diversity of morbid symptoms.

October 2014 | WITSReview | 65


TRIBUTE

Nadine Gordimer It was her dissection of those morbid symptoms that characterized her great novels of the 1970s and 1980s. Her 1974 novel, The Conservationist (in my view, her masterpiece), foretold the eventual reclamation by black South Africans of their land. Burger’s Daughter (1979) focused on the daughter of an anti-apartheid political figure (loosely based on Bram Fischer) finding her way in the challenging context of the Black Consciousness movement. July’s People (1981) was set in an imaginary future of revolutionary breakdown, but its real revolutionary gesture was to understand the underlying codes and assumptions of an apocalyptic present through the perspective an imagined future could provide. In the latter stages of apartheid, Gordimer appeared in court as a witness for ANC members charged with crimes against the state; she attended township

How do I, and will I, remember her? To many she

funerals where black youths were at risk from attack

was distant, her writing challenging and demanding.

by the police. As apartheid came to a close, many paid

I saw it as filled with an underlying passion and deep

tribute, including Nelson Mandela, but her post-apart-

feeling. I remember her eyes, observing all with a

heid novels continued to explore South African reality

piercing yet intimate effect. Though small, she had

without fear or favour in all its contradictions and

the poise of the dancer she had been as a young

continued problems. One pattern, though, never

girl – and it was there in her sentences as well. There

changed: time and again her characters would face an

was steadfastness, loyalty, toughness, tenderness,

impending choice on whether or not to leave South

and most of all great friendship. In July 2012 I stayed

Africa. Time and again the choice was not to leave, or,

in her house for a few days, and we went together

once having left, to return. South Africa was forever

to the Market Theatre. Though the weather was

Nadine Gordimer’s place.

freezing, there was in her an unmistakable zeal,

One morning in March 1980, I stood in great trepidation outside her front gate before going in to interview her for the work that became my doctoral

even as she became frailer, to live life to the brim. She had the rarest clarity of mind, body and spirit, there for everyone to see and read in her work.

thesis and in due course my first book. Later, I worked closely with her when I was editing the essays included in her non-fiction volume, The Essential Gesture. Through the years I saw her whenever circumstances allowed. We corresponded and spoke on the phone; I spoke with her just a few weeks before she died.

66 | WITSReview | October 2014

Wits alumnus Stephen Clingman (BA 1976, BA Hons 1977) is Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts. He is the author of The Novels of Nadine Gordimer: History from the Inside, and edited Gordimer’s collection of essays, The Essential Gesture. His biography of Bram Fischer (Jacana) won the Alan Paton Award.


WITS END

“What exactly is a world class ‘African’ city/university?

W

e all claim our priority is to be ‘nationally responsive’ and ‘African’ is added to everything. We have a National Plan to be

world class, using global comparisons and rankings, but we reject international university comparisons. Are we ostriches?” This question recently arrived in my inbox. Ostriches lay huge eggs. One of these is the big business of rankings. I know this because my own university’s automatic phone voice tells me that UKZN is No. 1 in research output. Bafana Bafana is world ranked – last. And the name is repeated to emphasise this glorious egalitarian achievement so celebrated by the players. Our cricket team retained the No. 1 spot when it drew against Sri Lanka, but the Aussies conniving with the Indians and the English will depose the Proteas via some dodgy ICC dealings which rank these also-rans higher than No. 1 in a kind of super league of three. One university is the No. 1 egg in African news media coverage,

Unscrambling rankings BY KEYAN G TOMASELLI*

but that’s for bad news; mostly the good news has to be bought. Applicants can rarely tell the difference, they just see the No. 1 designation.

October 2014 | WITSReview | 67


WITS END

Different organisations issue different rankings,

For the former institution, Waffle’s Law applies: “A

calculated differently and read differently. The No.

professor’s enthusiasm for teaching the introductory

1 research university may, in the broader scheme of

course varies inversely with the likelihood of himself

things, be number 400 if a different measurement

having to teach it.”

system is used. Measurements are often meaningless because it is not clear what is being measured or how the measurement is being done. Terman’s Law of Innovation applies here: “If you want a track team to win the high jump you find one person who can jump seven feet, not seven people who can each jump one foot.”

We all know that Wits is the best. That’s because we studied there. We have brand loyalty. We read this mag. We write letters to the editor. Why employ phalanxes of auditors to prove what we Witsies already know? I mean, hey, I got two degrees in geography and then taught in the School of Dramatic Art, where I got my other two. But the scientific rankers do

My correspondent continued, “We have world class

not know how to rank me. Do I care? No, because

over-regulation but near total lawlessness.” Imple-

I know that what I study all derives from a central

menting the policy of “decent work”, a 25-year-old

theoretical core – even if the ranking organisations cut

with No. 1 family connections is appointed “on merit”

up the theoretical core into separate and antagonist

as a Chief Director. Nice work if you can get it. How

“disciplines”, thereby impeding interdisciplinarity.

was this person ranked by the egghead government

They value lots of small disconnected eggs rolling

Human Resources (HR) division? Actually, “HR”, like

around in a big pan. I like the single large egg in one

the idea of “military intelligence”, is a contradiction in

tight-fitting pot, less steam and hot air. More yoke/

terms (as I learned from a 1960s English comedy radio

holism to go around.

show). These are the clueless officials who measure “performance”, ensuring that employees spend more and more of their time, performance and energy filling

Quite whose head is in the sand depends on one’s vantage point – above or below ground.

in forms and less and less time doing real work – or

That’s the problem with rankings. They hide more

laying healthy eggs.

than they reveal.

Imagine all those people working for organisations trying to rank the data fed them by universities wanting to be egg-ranked so that they can then trumpet their positions in expensive paid-for adverts. It’s like comparing apples with bricks – pointless. In the top-ranked universities undergrad students may never interact with a tenured professor, but the opposite may be commonplace in a bottom-ranked outfit.

68 | WITSReview | October 2014

KEYAN G TOMASELLI IS A WITS GRADUATE WHO WAS ONCE (TEMPORARILY) DENIED ENTRY TO HONOURS STUDY ’COS HE APPLIED A WEEK LATE. RANK THAT BUREAUCRAT! HE CAN BE CHASTISED AT TOMASELL@UKZN.AC.ZA.


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KINGJAMES II 081

PAGE NAME

Well it all starts with a plan, a goal and you. In the year 2022 , Wits University will be turning one hundred years old. While that is an achievement in its own right instead of stopping there, we thought we’d start something new. Imagine a system that benefits both our ambitions and aspirations. A community of like-minded individuals working towards one simple target: maintaining Wits’ status as a world-class African University in the 21st Century. It’s called The One Hundred Club and what it does is make sure we’re able to build more, educate more, learn more and give more all the while making sure your qualifications and Wits’ reputation stand you in better stead. This is a warm invitation to be part of history in the making - to be part of Wits’ second 100 years, a period that promises to be as challenging and dramatic as our first 100 years. Join the Wits One Hundred Club by giving R100 per month and help us grow a Century endowment gift that will fund projects appropriate to a worldclass African University in the 21st Century.

join the one hundred club today

GO TO WWW.WITSFOUNDATION.CO.ZA/100CLUB.ASP | DONATE R100 PER MONTH | BECOME A MEMBER CALL: +27 (0) 11 717 9702 I FAX: +27 (0) 11 717 9729 I SEND: PO BOX 107, WITS 2050

70 | WITSReview | October 2014

Wits Review October 2014  

Magazine for alumni and friends of the University of the Witwatersrand

Wits Review October 2014  

Magazine for alumni and friends of the University of the Witwatersrand