THE MAGAZINE FOR ALUMNI AND FRIENDS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF THE WITWATERSRAND
APRIL EDITION 2022 VOLUME 47 PART ONE Apr il 2022 1
Our alma mater, ageing with grace Left: Aerial views of the original Milner Park Campus in 1939. From its origins on the Witwatersrand against the backdrop of emerging skyscrapers, cooling towers and mine dumps, the University has matured into a haven that nourishes a global community. Images: Wits Archives and Snippet Video
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Look to the future Through the Centenary Campaign alumni can give more people access to quality education at Wits, attract top teaching and research talent, tackle inequality and contribute to employment and the drive toward sustainable development. Image: Shivan Parusnath
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In this issue
ALUMNI BEHIND A FEW SIGNIFICANT INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS IN SOUTH AFRICA
REGULARS EDITOR’S NOTE .......................... 07 LETTERS .................................. 08 SOCIALS .................................. 09 RESEARCH ................................ 14 WITSIES WITH THE EDGE ................ 34 I N T E R N A T I O N A L W I T S I E S . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74 BOOKS .................................... 90 IN MEMORIAM ............................ 98 W I T S E N D . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. 1 5
F E AT U R E
W I T SI E S W I T H E D G E
Passages of change EXPLORE WITS’ CONNECTIONS TO THE NATIONAL ANTHEM AND COAT OF ARMS
Awards PROFESSOR HELEN REES AWARDED THE P R E S T I G I O U S L’ O R D R E NATIONAL DU MÉRITE
S O C IA L S
Music to our ears CENTENARY C AMPAIGN LAUNCHED IN S TATE-OF -THE-AR T MUSIC HALL
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I N T E R NAT IONA L W I T SI E S
Tokyo calling NONDO SIKAZWE SHARES HIS EXPERIENCE OF JAPANESE CULTURE AS A TECH DESIGNER
Image: Brett Eloff
F E AT U R E
Wits leaders WE CELEBRATE OUR FIRS T PRINCIPAL AND WHO WILL BE TAKING US INTO THE FUTURE
M A G A Z I N E Editor Peter Maher Contributors Heather Dugmore, Jacqueline Steeneveldt, Ufrieda Ho, Professor Kathy Munro, Professor Chris Thurman, Craig McClenaghan Architecture Photography Brett Eloff, Shivan Parusnath
FA SH ION
A RC H I T E C T U R E
Blast from the past
STUDENTS’ ST YLES SINCE THE UNIVERSIT Y’S INCEPTION
The Tennis Shelter
HERITAGE BUILDING LINK S IMPOR TANT FIGURES IN ARCHITECTURE
R E SE A RC H ENGINEERING
In pursuit of the perfect formula
UNSUNG HEROES OF FORMULA ONE AND THEIR WITSIE ROOTS
Graphic design Jignasa Diar
Homo naledi ANOTHER GEM FROM AFRICA’S RICH FOSSIL SITE
Published by the Office of Alumni Relations, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Address: Private Bag 3, Wits, 2050, South Africa / T +27 (0)11 717 1090 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.wits.ac.za/alumni www.facebook.com/witsalumni/ www.twitter.com/witsalumni www.linkedin.com/groups/76204 www.flickr.com/groups/witsie/ Update contact details: www.wits.ac.za/alumni/ updateyourdetails Subscriptions per copy: South Africa R25 (incl. VAT & postage) International R50 (incl. postage) 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. 29613 (+ your name) or by cash or credit card payment at the Alumni Office. WITSReview is published twice a year. 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. WITSReview Magazine, Volume 47, April edition 2022
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From the archive 1934 The William Cullen Library is a loved landmark on East Campus, which replaced Wits’ first library that burned down in 1931. Dr William Cullen, a Scottish chemist, organised an appeal to stock the library with 32000 volumes when it opened. Today it houses the Historical Papers Research Archive and other gems.
Colourisation: Brett Eloff
Time to celebrate
We have waited in excited anticipation for this momentous year to arrive, and finally it’s here, our centenary!
eing so familiar with the Wits of today, it’s difficult to imagine the Wits that opened its doors to students for the first time 100 years ago; before television, computers, the internet, the atom bomb and social media. A time when the average life span in America was about 54 years and South Africa 34. The world and Wits have seen many changes and been through many challenges since then. But mostly it’s been a trajectory of progress as each generation builds on accumulated experience and knowledge to contribute to the betterment of the following one. Researching the year 1922, I noticed this was the Year of the Dog in the Chinese zodiac that would assign the University the attributes of loyalty, truthfulness, and an uncompromising code of ethics as well as an inclination to fight injustice and side with the underdog. While not scientific, these characteristics certainly resonated with the Wits I know and love. The mission, values and principles of the University’s founders continue to guide the institution to this day, being an open and autonomous university with a policy of non-discrimination, making no distinction of class, wealth, race or creed and committed to providing a quality education that prepares students to be independent thinkers and productive citizens. Celebrating a centenary presents several opportunities for Wits. One is to look back and reflect; have we stayed true to our values, principles and standards, have we grown and flourished? I think most would agree the University has strengthened the foundation it was built on and without question has cemented its reputation as a leading University on the African continent, ranked among the top 1% of universities in the world. Regardless of challenging environments, Wits has always remained resilient and managed to excel and grow through the
talent and commitment of its people. Which brings us to the second opportunity of a centenary; to honour and acknowledge the shoulders we stand on, the contributions of eminent academics and courageous leaders and of everyday staff who have ensured the success of the University. A third opportunity is to unite and commemorate the success and achievements of Wits alumni. There is an exciting line-up of events to celebrate Wits and Witsies, including alumni reunions around the world and, for the first time, an alumni homecoming weekend from 2 – 4 September (see page 89 or www.wits.ac.za/centenary-events for more information). A fourth opportunity is the chance to look to the future, to set new goals and ambitions that will ensure a bright future and even greater celebrations at the University’s bicentennial! Lastly, a centenary is an opportunity to inspire philanthropy towards the University. All the world’s great universities rely on the generosity of benefactors, most often alumni, to give them the edge. Wits set itself a target to raise R3 billion for its centenary fund and remains on track to achieve this ambitious target. As we celebrate this year, we can look back with genuine pride at our University’s achievements since it first opened its doors to students in 1922. It takes 100 years for a bottle of Louis XIII Cognac to be properly aged. Wits too has matured into a University with stature and gravitas and having stood the test of time, we can drink a toast to its success and rest assured that the best is still to come.
Peter Maher, Director, Alumni Relations
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Letters OPEN YOUR EYES AND SEE THE GOOD I am writing to thank you and congratulate you on the latest magazine. It is not the first and only one that makes me happy and proud of being a Wits alumna, however, I found myself wanting to pen something this time around. The write-up on Buhlebesizwe Siwani (BA FA 2012) is to blame. I swelled with pride when I read about
Stay in touch: Please share your news and remember to update your contact details. Please email letters to email@example.com
her and her latest achievements. Buhlebezwe’s maternal grandmother, Joyce Siwani, is a big sister-friend of mine. I therefore know Buhle almost from birth; to read what she did in the magazine just filled me with joy and pride. When I glanced throughout those pages and I realised that there is a lot of good happening around us, we just have to open our eyes and see it. You and your team do it tirelessly. Yes, Wits for the public good. The Centenary Campaign theme talks to me: Wits.For Good. I did my tertiary education as a mother, wife, career woman and activist. I knew when I finished matric that my parents couldn’t afford university, it was not even a discussion. When I was ready, I visited the Wits Business School, in Nick Binedell’s days. I have not looked back and have not regretted one moment. For both the PDM and MM classes I was awarded the Personality of the Course Recognition.
Thanks for the heads up for the Centenary Celebration weekend, I have diarised, God willing, I will be there. Elizabeth Dhlamini-Kumalo (PDM 1997, MM 2001)
CONGRATULATIONS • The latest WITSReview (Vol 46) is so good that I had to congratulate and thank you for it. Fantastic effort by all concerned. Every good wish. r John Potter (BEd 1993, MEd 1995, D UED 1996), executive Chair, the Australian Land Management College
• Many thanks, loved this edition of the magazine. Great to see some “old” friends like Bonnie Norton (BA 1978, BA hons 1983, PGDip Ed 1978) and Michael Skapinker (BA 1977). A simply superb magazine from start to finish. Peter Laubscher (BA 1977, BA Hons 1978)
Kudos for WITSReview WITSReview was recognised as the best corporate publication in South Africa in the 2021 corporate publication competition hosted by the SA Publication Forum. WITSReview also won best external magazine (category A), excellence in writing, best design and best headlines categories in the competition. Judges said: “The WITSReview manages to exude the high standards of the academic institution it represents while at the same time never sounding pompous or boring. It is un-put-downable and a proud flag-bearer of one of South Africa’s finest universities.” In July 2021, the publication was also awarded Gold in the Printed External Magazines category and in the design division of the skills category at the Marketing, Advancement and
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Communication in Education Excellence Awards (MACE), representing universities in Southern Africa. Judges said: “The publication and entry clearly indicate a high quality of writing and superior production, which is inspirational. This is a lovely publication — very creative in its variety and treatment of photography, typography and design. It is extremely well done, with content that is structured, written and packaged superbly. The publication left a lasting impression on the evaluator.”
W I T S I E S A R O U N D T H ES O WCOIRALLDS
Music to our ears The University launched its centenary campaign with the opening of the new state-of-the-art WITS CHRIS SEABROOKE MUSIC HALL on 1 March 2022. The event featured jazz, classical and contemporary musical performances from alumni in the Wits School of Arts. The modern acoustic design of this live music venue was made possible by generous donations from alumnus and philanthropist Chris Seabrooke (MBA 1985) – inset. “I’m absolutely delighted with the outcome. I think it’s beautiful, the acoustics are great and I know that a lot of people coming through Wits will get tremendous value from this being in place,” he said. Images: Shivan Parusnath
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Welcome centenary class! Thousands of new first-year students and their proud families arrived on campus on 6 February 2022 for Welcome Day. They were warmly greeted by student leaders and the University’s senior executive team. Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal said: “For every step forward that we take as we create new knowledge, we shape our city, we shape our country, we shape our world. Let us walk this journey for good together, as you begin yours”. Images: Engel Rangata
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W E L C O M E DAY
WITS SPIRIT GAME 2022
That’s the spirit Wits Alumni Relations, Wits Sport and the Student Development and Leadership Unit welcomed the centenary crop of first-year students on 25 February 2022. About 2 000 students relished in the annual experience of joining the Wits family. The Wits Stadium on East Campus was awash with blue and gold; Kudu headbands and Wits-W-foam hand signs. A Highveld thunderstorm prematurely ended the soccer match between Wits University and Orlando Pirates that followed. Images: Snippet Video
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Webinars 24 FEBRUARY 2022
Popular South African broadcaster and Witsie JOANNE JOSEPH (BA 2000, BA Hons 2001, MA 2008) was in conversation with Professor Dilip Menon to kickstart the Wits Alumni Relations webinar series of the University’s centenary year. The discussion, titled “State of Affairs” used Joseph’s latest book Children of Sugarcane (Jonathan Ball, 2021), as a prism to shed light on some contemporary South African challenges.
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Three former Wits Vice-Chancellors, PROFESSOR LOYISO NONGXA, PROFESSOR COLIN BUNDY and PROFESSOR ADAM HABIB, were in conversation with current Chancellor, Dr Judy Dlamini in a webinar titled “A mathematician, an historian, and a political scientist walk into a bar…”. They shared stories in a “virtual bar” and discussed how Wits’ first 100 years inform its second century. Professor Zeblon Vilakazi and chair of the Wits Fund, Dr Stanley Bergman (BCom 1972, CTA 1973, DCom honoris causa 2016) joined in the discussion. “We invite you to walk this journey with us. Wits is a beacon of hope in society, and is a place to which others should aspire. Since its establishment, Wits has dramatically changed Johannesburg, and South Africa for good. Witsies can consider themselves lucky to have an extraordinary head start all over the world. But all members of society have undoubtedly benefitted from the work undertaken at Wits,” said Professor Vilakazi.
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TSAKANI MALULEKE (PDM 2017) has been South Africa’s auditor-general since December 2020. She is the first woman to hold this position in the audit institution’s 109-year history. She was in discussion with Wits’ Head of School of Accountancy Professor Nirupa Padia (BCom 1986, BAcc 1996, MCom 2006) in a talk titled “The Professional’s Responsibility in Promoting Accountability and Ethical Leadership in a Democracy”.
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DR DAVID FINE (BSc 1964) is a renowned innovator who has made a major centenary gift of $3 million for the establishment of the Angela and David Fine Chair in Innovation in the newly established Wits Innovation Centre. He participated in a webinar titled “Innovators as problem solvers: Setting the direction for Wits in its second century” on 31 March 2022. Dr Fine has founded many companies and is the inventor of over 90 US patents. He urged alumni to contribute to the Centenary Campaign: "Let's give something back. Wits is where our careers were launched."
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DR PATRICK SOONSHIONG (MBBCh 1975) visited the Faculty of Health Sciences on Friday 25 March 2022. He is one of the biggest investors in South Africa’s launch of the Nant SA vaccine production hub in January 2022. Images: Shivan Parusnath
All roads lead back to Wits
ROBBIE BROZIN (BCom 1984), co-founder of Nando’s, was hosted on a walkabout on 25 March 2022 to reconnect with his alma mater. He visited the Wits Sibanye Infinity Bridge, the Origins Centre, the Fossil Vault and interacted with students on campus. Since he stepped away from Nando’s in 2010 he has been involved a number of social impact projects such as the Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, which helps unemployed youth through training, gauging work-readiness, increasing retention rates and a pathways platform. The programme won the 2019 Skoll Award for social impact.
Reunion 15 DECEMBER 2021
THE MEDICAL CLASS OF 1961 celebrated their 60th diamond reunion via Zoom across multiple time zones. The organiser Dr Ivan Sampson (MBBCh 1961) dedicated his time to meticulously find old classmates, compiled biographies https://witsiefhsclassof1961.wordpress.com/ and encouraged old classmates to donate towards the Phillip V Tobias Bursary Fund “as a token pay back for the excellent education we received at Wits and to help medical school students in need”. Dr Sampson said the project turned “what could have been a boring, frustrating year into a pleasurable, time-passing interesting and enjoyable period”.
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Two alumni, two Nobel laureates, one university Sir Aaron Klug (BSc 1946, DSc honoris causa 1984) and Dr Sydney Brenner (BSc 1945, BSc Hons 1946, BSc Med 1951, DSc honoris causa 1972) share incredible parallels in their careers. Both were born to immigrant parents from Eastern Europe. They both started at Wits at the age of 15 with the intention to study medicine. Sir Klug switched to natural science and graduated with first-class honours in physics, chemistry and mathematics. Dr Brenner initially failed his final year of internal medicine, but finished his medical degree and devoted himself to cell biology. 14 W I T S R E V I E W
SIR KLUG AND DR BRENNER WERE CENTRAL TO VISUALISING AND UNDERS TANDING THE FUNCTION OF DNA, WHICH DIRECTS THE ACTIVITIES OF NEARLY ALL LIVING ORGANISMS Gallo/Getty Images
FA R L E F T: AARON KLUG AND SYDNEY BRENNER, CIRCA 2000 (CAMBRIDGE) Image: Courtesy of Sydney Brenner
Sources: Wits Archives, Sydney Brenner: A biography by Errol Friedberg (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 2010)
Sir Klug was instrumental in revealing the structures of complex biological molecules, from viruses to tRNA, to chromatin and zinc fingers. His most important contribution to scientific research was his painstaking development of crystallographic electron microscopy. This combines the techniques of electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction to recover three-dimensional structural information from twodimensional electron micrographs. For this he was the sole recipient of the 1982 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In 2002, Dr Brenner won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with John Sulston and H Robert Horwitz for their contribution in deciphering the genetics of programmed cell death and animal development, including how the nervous system forms. He is also remembered for his work on DNA with Francis Crick and James Watson. Both alumni left South Africa and pursued the bulk of their scientific careers at the UK Medical Research Council’s famous Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the University of Cambridge. Between 1986 and 1996 Sir Klug, as director, was instrumental in the British part of the Human Genome Project.
CARRYING THE TORCH On 28 March 2008, Dr Brenner agreed to the use of his name for the Sydney Brenner Institute for Molecular Bioscience at Wits under the directorship of Professor Michèle Ramsay (PhD 1987). Today a new generation of African scientists is being nurtured at the institute to generate data on genomic diversity across the continent — data that can be used globally to improve human health. A new research lab was launched in October 2021. Unique in Africa, it is an extension to the existing biobank at the Institute, in which valuable African genetic material (DNA) is preserved for analysis and research. The new lab will enable expanded capacity to store the high-tech equipment required for PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing and genomic sequencing.
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Alone in the darkness
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An international team of researchers led by Professor Lee Berger (PhD 1994, DSc 2014), chair in paleo-anthropology at the Centre for Exploration of the Deep Human Journey, revealed the first partial skull of a Homo naledi child that was found in the remote depths of the Rising Star Cave in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in November 2021. The team of 21 researchers from Wits and 13 other universities announced the discovery of parts of the skull and teeth of the child that died almost 250 000 years ago when it was approximately four to six years old. The team have named the child “Leti” meaning “the lost one”. Scientists theorise that it is likely other members of its species were involved in the skull reaching such a difficult place.
L E F T: A R E CO N S T RU C T I O N OF THE SKULL OF LETI IN THE HAND OF PROFESSOR LEE BERGER ABOVE: EXPLORERS SQUEEZE THROUGH NARROW SPACES IN THE RISING S TAR C AVE S YS TEM IN JOHANNESBURG TO REACH THE TINY CHAMBER IN WHICH LETI WAS DISCOVERED Images: Shivan Parusnath
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From the archive 1930 Wits Rag started in 1922 as a procession of decorated vehicles and students wielding collection tins to raise money in aid of cancer patients at the Johannesburg General Hospital.
Colourisation: Brett Eloff
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Blast from the past WE R UM M AG E D THR OUG H T HE A RC HI V E S TO UNEART H ST UD E N T FASHI O N SI N C E THE U NI VE RSI T Y ' S I NCEP TI ON . I T HA S A U NI QU E ST ORY T O T E L L . . .
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F E AT U R E : FA S H I O N
1920s Students were proud of their status and membership of the University, advertising their blazers whenever the opportunity allowed. Men wore lounge suits, or sports coats and grey flannels, together with collar and tie, to lectures. Women students were required to wear a “conventional” dress with stockings. Short crop and bob hairstyles were popular, as were cross strapped Cuban heeled court shoes. Brylcreem was the iconic product to keep all quiffs neat since 1928. It remained the fashion for a few decades until the 1960s.
A suit, a tie and a gown were the “respectful” way to arrive at all lectures.
“Owing to the stocking shortage, I feel it is desirable that women students at Milner Park and the second and third-year women students working at the Medical School should be permitted to wear slacks or dungarees at lectures. Women students will be expected to see that apparel of this nature which they may wear is of quiet and businesslike ‘tailored’ cut.” – HR Raikes, Principal in an official letter to students dated 15 October 1942.
Former president Nelson Mandela (LLD honoris causa 1991) was one of the best dressed students during his time at Wits, his friend Advocate George Bizos (BA 1951, LLB 1954, LLD honoris causa 1999) said: “I remember Nelson Mandela as tall, handsome and the best dressed student always.” Mandela was always in a suit and shiny shoes.
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Phillip Tobias and Sydney Brenner, students in the Anatomy Department, 1946/47.
1950s Regulations were marked by what “not to wear” – no University blazers, shorts and lumber jackets for men. Women couldn’t wear blazers, slacks, jeans and shorts. The end of post-war austerity marked a renewed interest in fashion. There was meticulous attention paid to the Rag Queen’s wardrobe. The main social events were Rag, Intervarsity and the Arts Festival. “Many of the guys wore blazers and ties. There was one girl on campus who wore a see-through top and you could see her bra; all the other girls were horrified.” Robin Jarman (BSc Civil Eng 1955).
1960s The bouffant, which gave the towering “beehive” look, favoured volumes of hairspray and curlers seemed to be everywhere on campus. By the late sixties, magazines from student Rags were filled with fashion tips: “On campus we are destined to see a lot of colour, because the ‘in thing’ is vivid floral prints, polka dots, paisleys in washable cottons, arnels and even linens”. Hemlines shortened, the “holey” look prevailed with holey shoes and midriffs.
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F E AT U R E : FA S H I O N
1970s The 1970s marked the birth of the new radicals: Bellbottoms, big hair, (side) burns and briefcases abound. “It was a heady, inspiring time.” – Johnny Clegg (BA 1976, BA Hons 1977, D Mus honoris causa 2007)
“It was certainly the worst of times…Yet it was also the best of times!” – Firoz Cachalia (BA 1981, BA Hons 1983, LLB 1988, HDipLaw 2003)
This decade of activism and mobilisation against apartheid had many bold colours and permed hair. “Then, Wits was a real hotbed of political resistance.” – Ferial Haffajee (BA 1989)
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1990s Everyday clothing included a “band” T-shirt and worn-out jeans, flannel shirts and Doc Martens boots. Vintage clothing stores were used to find “grunge” fashion items. For women, a slip dress worn with chunky boots sufficed.
2000s onwards Fashion choices are marked by practicality, comfort and casualness. Jeans come in all shapes: hi-waists, tight and skinny, or torn. Designer-branded sneakers are common, as well as large T-shirts tied in knots. For graduation rules are reminiscent of the 1940s: “In keeping with the formal nature of our graduation ceremonies, we would like to remind you that the dress code is formal and respectable.”
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Wits leaders MA NY LEADERS HAVE H EL P E D TO GUID E WI TS A S AN INS TITUTI ON S I N C E 1 9 22. OUR C ENTENNIA L YEAR I S A PERFEC T TIME TO C EL E B RATE WHER E I T S TA RTED AND WHO W I L L B E TAK ING U S I NT O TH E FUTUR E.
JAN HENDRIK HOFMEYR THE FIRS T PRINCIPAL OF WITS
Tell my friends to carry on HOME LIFE
Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr was born in Cape Town on 20 March 1894, the younger son of Andries Brink Hofmeyr and his second wife Deborah Catherina Boyers. His father was business manager of the newspaper Ons Land and died when Hofmeyr was three. His mother, Deborah, never married again and proved a domineering influence on his life, supervising his eating habits and hovering over his social life. She also encouraged her son to impose stern discipline in the residences and around staff behaviour. Alan Paton writes in the biography of Hofmeyr that charades were often played at the Hofmeyrs’ home, but “sometimes JHH was asked to abstain because he guessed the answers too quickly”. Hofmeyr was a child prodigy. He matriculated at age 12, obtained a first class honours degree at 15 from the University of Cape Town and a first class master’s at 17. At Oxford, as a Rhodes scholar, he was awarded a double first. He became a professor of classics at the age of 22 and Principal of Wits at the age of 24, in 1919.
Historian Professor Bruce Murray noted that Hofmeyr lacked physical presence and style, and captured people’s attention through his command of words. “Appearance did not concern him. He wore ill-fitting, crumpled suits, and cycled each day to Plein Square, invariably emerging at his office with bicycle pump in hand.” 24 W I T S R E V I E W
Hofmeyr was a formidable administrator, displaying great efficiency and “an amazing grasp of detail. He forgot nothing”. Although he was greatly admired by his students, few of his colleagues regarded him as a friend. Academics complained his mother “set herself up as a judge of their morals and she passed judgement and he executed sentence.” Professor Murray noted: “His academic and administrative capacity was exceptional and his understanding of what a South African university could be was, in many ways, ahead of the times. But he was handicapped by his youth and inexperience, his rigid interpretation of sexual mores and a reluctance to contain his mother’s meddling…” Informally known as the Stibbe affair, the scandal involved anatomy Professor Edward Phillip Stibbe and a college typist. Professor Stibbe was an authority in anatomy, who contributed to Gray’s Anatomy and was loved by his students. He was forced to resign under duress as a consequence of action initiated by Hofmeyr and returned to the United Kingdom to further his career. Academics were outraged and animosity towards Hofmeyr increased. The incident is described by Paton as “the most desperate in Hofmeyr’s life”. Hofmeyr wrote to Lady Selbourne at the time: “Professors and schoolmasters and parsons are most unreasonable people. They magnify specks of dust into rocks of offence and are always for the letter of the law as
HOFMEYR WITH HIS MOTHER DEBORAH
the endless adjustments and compromises by which life goes on. They set up idols for themselves – we all do that – but they take theirs desperately seriously.” Hofmeyr left Wits in 1927, but maintained a close relationship with the University.
LIFE AFTER WITS
When Hofmeyr was 29, the then Prime Minister, General Jan Smuts appointed him as Administrator of the Transvaal. He was later elected to Parliament and in 1933 he was given the portfolios of education, the interior and public health. In 1936, General JBM Hertzog presented his “Representation of Natives Bill”. This proposed to deny black South Africans the vote and appoint white representatives for them, one for each of the then four main regions in the Union of South Africa. Hofmeyr opposed the bill and said in Parliament: “By this bill we are sowing the seeds of greater potential conflict…This bill says that even the most educated native shall never have political equality with even the least educated and the least cultured white or coloured man. “I know my remarks will be described as unrealistic… But these are matters on which the future must be left to judge.” Paton writes: “It turned, as great speeches are able to do, despondency into resolution. Men and women took new courage because Hofmeyr was there…From then on Hofmeyr was the ‘champion of the voiceless’ ”. In 1938 the Convocation of Wits honoured Hofmeyr
A YOUNG HOFMEYR WITH HIS C AT
by making him Chancellor. On the occasion he said: “Undoubtedly the greatest conflict in the world today is the conflict between the spirit of democracy and the spirit of authoritarianism. In that conflict no University worthy of its great tradition can fail to range itself on the side of democracy…” In 1940 Hertzog was forced to resign and Smuts asked Hofmeyr to be his minister of finance. During World War II, he was Smuts’s right-hand man. The prime minister loaded him with work and it took a toll on his health. In March 1946, he spoke at the graduation ceremony. It became known as the “Herrenvolk address”. He said: “Surely it is a mockery for us to talk of ourselves as free people…we are as a nation the slaves of prejudice, we allow our sense of dislike of the colour of some of our fellow South Africans to stand in the way of dealing with them, we let ourselves become victims of the anti-Semitic doctrines which were a most important part of the Nazi ideology that we fought to destroy. The dominant mentality in South Africa is a herrenvolk mentality.” In November 1948 he suffered a heart attack. The next day he was due to play cricket at the YMCA’s new ground at Bedfordview to declare the ground open. Despite his mother’s opposition, he left for the appointment. He put on his pads, and was walking down the wicket when he fell in pain and later lapsed into unconsciousness. He died on 3 December and his last whispered words were: “Tell my friends to carry on.” Sources: Wits: The Early Years (WUP, 1982); Hofmeyr by Alan Paton (Oxford University Press, 1964); Images: Wits Historical Papers
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F E AT U R E : C U R R E N T L E A D E R S
IMRAAN VALODIA PRO-VC CLIMATE CHANGE, SUS TAINABILIT Y & INEQUALIT Y BY UFRIEDA HO IMAGES: BRETT ELOFF
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How do we build strong ecosystems within a university environment that draws together over 40 000 students who mirror a country of diversity and also dire inequalities? There are three parts to my answer. Firstly, we have to understand that one of the biggest reasons why inequality is such a big problem in South Africa is that there’s so little social mobility for so many people. If you are born into a rich family you will have more chances to succeed than someone born into a poor household. However, universities are the one critical institution that can be a bridge for more social mobility. The second part is that as a university we have a role to make society aware of these huge inequalities and we should be doing research that supports policy processes to change the patterns of inequality. And thirdly, climate change and sustainability cuts across of all of this. So we need to bring our expertise, resources and commitment to adapt to these realities. The university has invested in institutions such as the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies because we live in a society that is the most unequal in the world. We need to contribute to solving this problem.
What’s your key strategy for how students can find some common ground as the Wits community? We need to see diversity as a big advantage. Universities are about allowing difference and different points of view. We’re at the milestone of 100 years of Wits. Is there something that sticks out for you about Wits that makes you particularly proud? I only joined Wits in 2014 and before then I was not fully aware of the importance of the university to the broader society. What’s the one thing you’d change about Wits? We need to improve our administrative capacity. Do you have a personal favourite “something” about Wits? When I was a child I used to walk from Braamfontein station to the Tower of Light where the Rand Show used to be on West Campus. So even now when I do that walk from the tower towards Wits Club it always reminds me of a nice childhood memory.
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F E AT U R E : C U R R E N T L E A D E R S
RUKSANA OSMAN SENIOR DEPUT Y VICE-CHANCELLOR: ACADEMIC
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What is the relevance of a bricks and mortar university in 2022? I would argue that it is not about the buildings but rather about the academics and students who engage and interact in these spaces and engage with ideas – not just on academic matters, but about how to navigate and change the world. The university learning experience includes direct engagement with people who hold different views from your own. It gives access to specialised knowledge and skills which can be tested with an academic community. Importantly it opens up opportunities to consult with others. To my mind a bricks and mortar university is an aspirational site, vital for human flourishing and for inspiring students to become social actors in their communities. The COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping all dimensions of life. Universities have to be innovative rather than transactional, reactive and adaptive. To broaden our publics, and to bring into view again our core values of truth, reason and inclusivity to reimagine the University that we want and craft our collective futures together. What is the one thing university taught you that has stayed with you throughout your life? Wits in particular has taught me to interact with a diverse range of people, to engage with different ideas, to explore disciplines,
and to see the world from multiple perspectives. In my own teaching and research, I have learnt to value the interconnections between knowledge forms and have drawn strength from diverse ways to produce and disseminate knowledge. University should be about developing critical thinking, especially in a world polarised and flooded with fake news. What’s your “hack” to build deeper critical thinking? Read everything, access different sources, keep informed, stay abreast of key issues and speak to multiple people before making up your own mind. The ability to discern and to think relationally is something that is becoming more and more important. What’s the one thing you would change about Wits? Would create more spaces for students to gather and interact informally. Do you have a personal favourite “something” about Wits? There are so many: I often eat at the Matrix to get a sense of the student vibe on the ground. The Education Campus in Parktown is my intellectual home and the Wits Art Museum is special for bringing together different disciplines and for being an inviting space for the public.
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F E AT U R E : C U R R E N T L E A D E R S
IAN JANDRELL DEPUT Y VICE-CHANCELLOR: S YS TEMS AND OPERATIONS
Systems and Operations are at the heart of getting and keeping things working, both in a university context and in every ecosystem. What do we need to be doing smarter or differently as a university that has legacy to uphold and also needs to be forward thinking? Looking just at my portfolio, there are seven directorates reporting to my office, all with high expertise and depth of competence, but we won’t build anything significant unless we work across all the boundaries, and start thinking about building and maintaining systems in a sustainable way. We cannot simply patch over things. We have to be honest, identify issues and formulate strategies. We need to build a solid foundation for the academic programme so that this university can be the launch pad for our moonshot moments. The University has become a space that’s both public but also increasingly closed off. What’s the balance for a university that is part of the heart of Joburg? Over the years the university has become increasingly closed off largely because of the circumstances of the society we find ourselves in. It’s literally to protect ourselves but is also an indictment of the society. It means there’s a greater obligation on the university to reach out into society – in ways that make sense to society.
What’s the one thing from your university days that you have carried with you throughout your life? I had some unbelievably good mentors. These folks taught me that teamwork is key and success is a team sport. To get people to move in the same direction as you, you must inspire, support and remain humble. What’s the one thing you would change about Wits? I wish we had done more maintenance – starting 100 years ago. But we need to reimagine the way we make the campus sustainable, from water and energy, to safety and even the contracts with people who provide food to our canteens. Do you have a personal favourite “something” about Wits? I have two; one is just standing on the library lawns – it’s very special to me! The other thing that blows my mind is the incredible work done in lightning research at this university long ago by people like Basil Schonland (1896-1972). [Schonland received the Order of Mapungubwe: Gold for outstanding achievement as a physicist and founding president of the CSIR.]
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F E AT U R E : C U R R E N T L E A D E R S
LYNN MORRIS DEPUT Y VICE-CHANCELLOR: RESEARCH AND INNOVATION COVID-19 thrust science and research – also the communication of science and research – to the forefront. What are some of your takeaways from our journey for raising the next generation of scientists and researchers to adapt to these changing roles? COVID-19 has had the impact of making careers in science and research more appealing because suddenly we are seeing the role scientists played out with immediate impact. Vaccines were also being produced within a year. COVID-19 changed the dynamic and interface of science with the public. There’s an urgency to get things done that has permeated all levels. People are sharing information much more willingly, actively and faster. But this too should raise the question of why we are not pushing harder in the same way to achieve something like an HIV vaccine. COVID-19 has also reaffirmed the necessity for clear communication of science and raising a generation that speaks up. It’s been important for students to see the role models within Wits who have been brave to speak out. What was “the spark” that made you fall in love with the sciences when you were a child? It was in high school – Hyde Park High; we were given a project to go and research something and collate it into a project. My project was on fungi, and for a very curious child who loved
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reading and exploring, this was now a good thing. I could express my own ideas, share what I researched and somebody was going to read it and mark it. Essentially it was going into the unknown, with no one directing me, and seeing what I could find. Is there a bit of Wits history that resonates strongly with you? It’s the Free People’s Concerts that Wits organised. I remember going to one of these concerts in the early 1980s and hearing Johnny Clegg live for the first time. These were turbulent times with riots and protests and the concerts were hugely symbolic. It was one of the few occasions people of different race groups could gather together. What’s the one thing you would change about Wits? Wits must be a much safer space, not just physically, but safer in every single way so people can come here and be who they are, and be accepted. Do you have a personal favourite “something” about Wits? I work on the 10th floor of Solomon Mahlangu House. I have a beautiful view but I like to take a walk down over the Amic Deck (which is going to be renamed as part of the centenary celebrations) and buy a sandwich at the coffee shop and sit quietly among the students and soak up all the university activity while listening to the cars go by on the M1 bridge.
WITSIES AROUND THE WORLD
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Image: Lerato Ntombela
Witsies with the edge
LEBOHANG KGANYE Winner of the internationally acclaimed Foam Paul Huf Award — 2021/2022 Grand Prix Images Vevey winner
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Award-winning photographer and Wits master’s student Lebohang Kganye is the 16th winner of the internationally acclaimed Foam Paul Huf Award. She was chosen by a five-member jury of experts from a pool of around 100 nominees, selected from 21 countries. The Foam Paul Huf Award is presented annually to an up-and-coming talent. She will receive an amount of €20 000 and her work will be on display during a solo exhibition at the Foam Fotografiemuseum in Amsterdam. This follows her most recent accomplishment in January 2022 as the Grand Prix Images Vevey winner. In 2020 she received the Paulo Cunha e Silva Art Prize and in 2019 the Camera Austria Award. She was also a finalist of the Rolex Mentor & Protégé Arts Initiative in 2019. Her work has been exhibited at the Carnegie
Museum of Art in Pennsylvania and the Walther Collection in Ulm. Over the past eight years she has exhibited her work extensively within curated group exhibitions and biennales, most recently Family Affairs. With her work, Kganye delves into themes from her own history and origin, which simultaneously resonate with the history of South Africa and apartheid. “The award comes at a time when my relationship with the way I make art has changed quite a bit and I recognise that healing is the main goal in my stories. I am grateful that others experience this healing as well. The way I express myself visually has changed and relevance and oral traditions are central to this. The selection of works shows how I am thinking through my practice and shows the connections that I make,” she said.
Presidential Orders South African President Cyril Ramaphosa awarded four Witsies his office’s highest honour for their services to South Africa. • PROFESSOR SIBUSISO NYEMBEZI (BA Hons 1947; MA 1950; DLitt honoris causa 1982) was posthumously awarded the Order of Ikhamanga, Gold for his work as isiZulu poet, novelist, scholar and editor. He played a tremendous role in defying apartheid and preserving the language.
HABO PATIENCE KA BOKHATHE II, 2013, HER STORY SERIES
• DR RAYMOND LOUW (DLitt honoris causa 2015) received the Order of Ikhamanga, Gold posthumously for “his enormous contribution to the field of journalism, and using his pen as a weapon to expose lies and shine the light on the atrocities of apartheid.” • JUSTICE EDWIN CAMERON (LLD honoris causa 2010) was awarded the Order of Baobab, Gold for his contribution to “the judicial system and tireless campaigning against the stigma of HIV and AIDS, and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA+) communities”.
KA MOSE WA MALOMO KWANA 44 II, 2013, HER STORY SERIES
•M AX (BSc Eng 1949) and AUDREY COLEMAN were awarded the Order of Luthuli, Silver. The Colemans were the founders of the Detainees’ Parents Support Committee, an organisation of parents formed to provide food, clothing and legal assistance to detainees under apartheid, as well as to monitor and publicise state repression. They were honoured for their “contribution to the fight for liberation and the promotion of human rights through active involvement in lobbying using both civic organisations and later government institutions”. (see also In Memoriam page 101)
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Awards PROFESSOR HELEN REES Awarded the prestigious L’ordre national du Mérite (National Order of Merit) by the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron
Wits RHI Executive Director and loyal Witsie Professor Helen Rees has been awarded the prestigious L’ordre national du Mérite (National Order of Merit) by the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, in recognition of her ground-breaking career. The National Order of Merit is a French order of merit that was founded in 1963 by President Charles de Gaulle and is the second national Order after the Legion of Honour. Its purpose is to reward “distinguished merit”. Over the years Prof Rees has received numerous national and international awards for her contribution to science: an Order of the British Empire in 2001; the Order of the Baobab in 2015 and a National Science and Technology Forum Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015 among others. When asked about the significance of this award she said: “As a parent, I think I am most proud of my children. I don’t think in those terms. I feel honoured that I had the privilege of a career as a scientist and physician and that I have been able to make a difference. “I did not start off with a clear idea that I would do this, or that. I think the direction your life takes is determined by who you are. I was a doctor activist, activism was always with me. I witnessed injustice and tried to improve that. I think that was the driving force.” There has been a theme of service and improving public health in Africa throughout her career: “You want to help. It gives you an inner gratification,” she said. When asked about her commitment to Wits for so many years she said: “Johannesburg is a very gritty environment. Wits has embraced that on many levels – as a truly African institution, it has looked at the problems of poverty, human-rights abuses, and violence, and responded to that with open arms – as seen through our work on HIV and COVID. 36 W I T S R E V I E W
“As I’ve grown older, I realise that the award is not about you, it’s about providing leadership and making a path for other women scientists and building up the next generation.” PROFESSOR HELEN REES
“As I’ve grown older, I realise that the award is not about you,” she said, choosing instead to acknowledge the work of her committed colleagues. “It’s about providing leadership and making a path for other women scientists and building up the next generation.” • On the 24 March 2022, she was awarded the Ministerial COVID-19 Special Award at the National Batho Pele Excellence Awards in the Platinum Category in recognition of her contributions to COVID-19 research in 2021/2022.
WITSIES WITH THE EDGE
DR MICHAEL HEYMANN 2022 Mary Ellen Avery Award from American Paediatric Society and the Society for Paediatric Research
KHENSANI NOBANDA 2021 Loeries Marketing Leadership and Innovation Award — 2021 FM AdFocus Industry Leader of the Year Award
Dr Michael Heymann (MBBCh 1959) received the 2022 Mary Ellen Avery Award from the American Paediatric Society and the Society for Paediatric Research. This award honours a paediatric investigator “who has made important contributions to neonatal health through basic or translational research”. It honours Dr Heymann’s extraordinary career as physician and scientist, which has centred on cardiorespiratory disorders in the newborn infant. Dr Heymann has lived in Carmel, in the United States since his retirement from the University of California, San Francisco. He spent intermittent periods of time at the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland in New Zealand. “Most of my time there was spent working with and helping PhD students and running their research office. I have been fully retired for about three years,” he writes to WITSReview. He is among a “trio” of celebrated Wits-trained physician scientists whose careers intersected in the United States. His father, Dr Seymour Heymann (BSc 1924, MBBCh 1928), was the head of Paediatrics at Wits and the Transvaal Memorial Hospital (TMH). “I never
considered any other profession. After my house jobs at the General Hospital and then at TMH, I had become interested specifically in cardiology and with my father’s help arranged to undertake specialty training with Professor Abraham Rudolph (MBBCh 1946, MM 1951, DSc honoris causa 2006) in New York. Professor Rudolph had been my father’s registrar before he went to Boston. Dr Julien Hoffman (BSc 1945, BSc Hons 1946, MBBCh 1949, DSc 1970, DSc Med honoris causa 2015) was the second faculty member in Dr Rudolph’s programme in New York.” After two years training with Drs Hoffmann and Rudolph in New York, Dr Heymann moved to San Francisco and joined them at the Department of Paediatrics at the University of California. “Thus, the Trio of Witsies was formed.” He said that he has fond memories of Wits: “My memories of student days at Wits are, in general, all very good; hard work and studying, but also quite a bit of fun. I served on Rag Committee for several years, and also was involved in the training and management of the drum majorettes (hardly a chore).”
Seasoned marketer and Nedbank group executive for marketing and corporate affairs, Khensani Nobanda (BCom 2000), was recognised for individual excellence in brand communication at the 2021 Loeries Awards as well as Industry Leader of the Year at the FM Ad Focus Awards. “It’s incredible,” she told WITSReview. “I’ve been fortunate enough to work in world-class organisations, with bosses who’ve given me a lot of support, and with exceptional teams.” She said her Wits lecturer, Professor Steven Burgess (PhD 1990) was responsible for her love affair with marketing: “That first lecture in my second year, sitting on West Campus, I knew that this is what I wanted to do.” She shared fond memories: “Staying at the Sunnyside Res, I made friends who I’m still connected to. I loved being part of Rag. I was also chairperson of our Res committee and the finance head for the commerce faculty residence council. That level of involvement on campus meant I had a well-rounded varsity experience beyond just the degree.” Apr il 2022 37
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KIMBERLEY TAYLOR Invented the app, Loop, which improves interaction for everyone involved in the supply chain
Kimberley Taylor (BSc Eng 2016) is CEO of Loop, a logistics solutions company that counts Nando’s, Kauai, Quench, Servest and RTT Checkers among its clients. It all started out as a third-year chemical engineering assignment at Wits in 2015. She was tasked with developing a route optimisation algorithm that showed the shortest distance for travelling salespeople. Now her company, and the app she invented, improves interaction for everyone involved in the supply chain – the business, the driver and the customer. Born in Edenvale, Taylor was raised by an “incredible” single mother who built a nursery school
DR FAREED ABDULLAH Awarded Knight of the French National Order of Merit
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at the back of her house. “She was my first example of an entrepreneur who embodies bravery, hard work, passion, and a strong vision,” she said. Taylor’s app functions in four parts: a management console, a driver app, customer tracking page and data analytics. The functionalities of the app are individually configurable for different business models, setting it apart from any other delivery management app in the market, with its ability to respond in real-time to the evolving needs of its users. To date the company employs a total of 12 people. She told the Financial Mail in an interview that “In the beginning it’s like playing chequers, but eventually you need to play chess.”
Director of the Office of AIDS & TB Research at the South African Medical Research Council and former CEO of the South African National AIDS Council Dr Fareed Abdullah (DOH 1991) has been appointed as Knight of the French National Order of Merit. Dr Abdullah was honoured for his involvement as a researcher and public health specialist in the fight against HIV and tuberculosis. “This award is really the work of a whole movement of clinicians, scientists, managers and activists that turned the tide against HIV and put the TB challenge firmly on the map,” he told WITSReview. “Our entire lives have been dedicated to building South Africa as a free and prosperous nation and we
try to make our modest contribution in the field of public health. Medicine is one of the great professions and we try to practise as caringly and ethically as we can.” When asked about his recollections of Wits in the early 1990s, doing his diploma in occupational health, he said: “The entire class stood out for its special interest in the health of downtrodden workers and the health of the environment at a time when it was not fashionable. As a young doctor I got to meet public health icons such as Professor Lucille Blumberg (MBBCh 1974, DTM&H, DOH 1991, MMed 2003, DSc honoris causa 2020) who was a fellow classmate and Dr David Rees (MBBCh 1979, DOH 1986, MSc 1990) who ran the course.”
WITSIES WITH THE EDGE
Image: Judges Matter
presided over high profile commercial and corporate matters.
Justice Jody Kollapen
• J ustice Jody Kollapen (BProc 1978, LLB 1982) was appointed to the Constitutional Court of South Africa by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Justice Kollapen has a long track-record of service with numerous NGOs and community-based organisations, including the Legal Resources Centre, the Foundation for Human Rights and Laudium Care Services for the Aged. In his most recent address at the SECTION27 two-day constitutional lecture series he said: “Perhaps Gandhi’s words ring true at our current time, when he said that the rich need to learn to live more simply so that the poor can simply live. As we start the next quarter of a century of the life of our Constitution, it is a future that awaits us and we must believe it is one that is reachable, as former President Nelson Mandela reminded us some 25 years ago in 1996. Today we ask: how was it possible and how did South Africa and the world allow apartheid to survive for so long? That same question will be asked of us — namely, how did a society that suffered and sacrificed so much, allow poverty and inequality to endure for so long when we had the means and the ability to overcome it? What will our answer be?” • J ustice David Hammerschlag (BA 1975, LLB 1978) has been appointed as Chief Judge in Equity in the New South Wales Supreme Court. Gifted with the surname “hammer blow”, Justice Hammerschlag has given due honour to this heritage with his cross-examinations and bellowing voice. Justice Hammerschlag started his legal career at the commercial law firm Werksmans. He became a partner at the firm at the age of 26 and was admitted to the Bar in 1983. Following his emigration to Australia in 1985, he rapidly became a partner of Freehill Hollingdale and Page before moving to the New South Wales Bar in 1991 and taking silk in 2000. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2007 where he has
• Witsie Duncan Wanblad (BSc Eng 1989, GDE 1997) has been appointed as chief executive of global mining company Anglo American. He will also join the Board of Anglo American as an executive director and succeeds Mark Cutifani. In 2016 Wanblad was appointed group director of strategy and business development. He also served as CEO of Anglo American’s base metals business from 2013 to 2019. He is a non-executive director of De Beers and Kumba Iron Ore, and chairs the Anglo American Foundation. He said: “Having started my career underground as a junior engineer, I have never lost sight of what it takes to produce the metals and minerals that are ever more vital to support our life on this planet. Our responsibility to do so safely and sustainably, including meeting our employees’ and stakeholders’ expectations of us, has never been greater. Through the way we work, the technologies we are deploying to drive us towards our sustainability goals, and the breadth of opportunities I can see, we are determined to live up to that promise.”
Duncan Wanblad was excited to see his mechanical engineering class photo from 1989 on display during a recent visit to Wits. He was introduced to the School of Mining Engineering's Digimine, which is a state-ofthe-art mining laboratory that aims to make mining safer and sustainable using digital technology. Image: Shivan Parusnath
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Notable Witsie honours • Wits alumna Thuso Mbedu (BADA 2014) has added one more prestigious award for her performance in the television series The Underground Railroad. She was awarded Best Female Performance in a New Scripted Series at the 37th Film Independent Spirit Awards in Los Angeles. Mbedu has mesmerised Hollywood with her performance of Cora Randall. Last year she tied for Outstanding Performance in a New Series at the Gotham Awards and won the award for TV Breakout Star at the Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards.
• Wits alumnus and Distinguished Research Fellow at Imperial College London, Dr Aboubaker “Bucker” Dangor (BSc Hons 1971, DSc 2005), was awarded the prestigious 2021 Michael Faraday Medal and Prize by the Institute of Physics. The prize is awarded for experimental physics and Dr Dangor was praised for “outstanding contributions to experimental plasma physics, and in particular for his role in the development of the field of laser–plasma acceleration.” His experiments in this field were hugely successful and laid the foundations of laser-driven particle accelerators. • One of Canada’s highest civilian honours, the Officer of the Order of Canada, has been awarded to Wits alumnus and CEO of the Canadian Blood Services Dr Graham Sher (BSc 1984, BSc Hons 1986, MBBCh 1987, PhD 1999). Dr Sher, who has been CEO since 2001, initially pursued a post-doctoral research programme at the University of Toronto and then specialised in blood disorders at the same university after his studies at Wits. He gravitated towards working in the public health system, which combined clinical medicine, research and teaching. • Emeritus Professor Leslie Michael Irwig (BSc 1967, MBBCh 1970, PhD 1986) was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his significant service to tertiary education and medicine. He holds a Personal Chair in Epidemiology at Sydney Medical School. His research involves the application of epidemiological methods to generate evidence on which clinical and public health decisions may be based. SEE MORE WITSIE HONOURS HTTPS://WWW.WITS.AC.ZA/ NEWS/SOURCES/ALUMNI-NEWS/
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“Jo’burg can’t do without us, We build cities without fuss, Build, draw, booze and be raucous, We are the Architects”. – snippet from the SRC faculty songbook, 1964
GREAT CITIES ARE SYNONYMOUS WITH GREAT ARCHITECTURE, AND IN TURN ARCHITECTS. THE INFLUENCE OF WITS’ FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE ON THE GROWTH OF JOHANNESBURG HAS BEEN SIGNIFICANT. WITSREVIEW SHARES STORIES PRESENT AND PAST OF THIS RICH HERITAGE. Apr il 2022 41
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F E A T U R E : I N D W E PA R K
Opening Braam to the touch A
When Indwe Park, Wits’ new neighbour in Braamfontein, opens later this year it will be a nod to healing and connection for everyone after two and a half years of COVID-19. BY UFRIEDA HO IMAGES: BRETT ELOFF
L E F T: I N DW E PA R K , A BOV E : EDMUND BATLEY IN FRONT OF THE PARK’S PORTE-COCHÈRE
s corporate spaces go, there aren’t many where you’re invited to take off your shoes. But Indwe Park’s earthing mound bubbles up as a lawn-covered, unambiguous “yes” to ditching your footwear and letting the grass and earth get between your toes. For architect and Witsie Edmund Batley (BArch 1994) of Batley Partners International Architecture and Design, the project to reimagine the unused concrete parking spaces between Liberty Group’s main building on Ameshoff Street and the heritage SA Breweries building is very special and has generated exceptional interest. It’s not difficult to understand why. What Batley and his collaborators have achieved is a gentle wish of hope and mindful regeneration embodied in a multiuse, urban green lung. The park spans about four hectares and take its name from the national bird, the blue crane, or indwe in isiXhosa. Apr il 2022 43
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“We started on this project before COVID-19, and coming out of the worst of the pandemic we realised we needed to change some of our plans because people want to touch things, to feel things and to be connected again to being outdoors,” says Batley. He remembers how hard lockdown kept people from even standing outside their homes. The park is Wits’ direct neighbour across the road. But you would never have known what was going on there in the past few months – unless you’d had a view from an upper floor at University Corner. Batley remembers that even when he was a student the space was a bit of a mystery. “I remember being on Wits breakfast runs when I was a student and you’d pass that door in the wall along Jan Smuts Avenue, but that was about it,” he says of the nondescript boundary wall of the property. Now, though, Batley’s designs open up the park to the street on both Jan Smuts Avenue and Ameshoff Street and it’s anything but nondescript. The earthing mound (a place to connect with the energy of the ground) is a dominant feature that gives a view of the edge of Wits, the Clive van den Bergh eland sculpture and down to the Nelson Mandela Bridge. There’s also a “reflexology” walkway (with a textured surface), medicinal plant gardens and natural pools that are mini ecosystems requiring little maintenance. The park has incorporated some of the existing trees, including a 60-year-old eucalyptus, and there is a mix of indigenous plants, mostly grasses, and exotics. There are also lawn, seating and concourse areas. “We retained and revamped the old service lifts from basement parking lots so that people can exit the lifts in the park,” says Batley. Indwe Park will have sculptures and installations that add to the public art heritage of the city. The works will include a 6m mosaic designed by the late artist and community art activist Andrew Lindsay. There will also be installations by Rirhandzu Makhubele, Zanele Montle, Grace Mokalapa, Kagiso “Pat” Mautloa, Hannelie Coetzee (ADipFA 1998) and James Delaney. Delaney is credited for bringing The Wilds in Houghton back to life and driving public ownership of the once neglected park. Other collaborators include Patrick Watson 44 W I T S R E V I E W
F E A T U R E : I N D W E PA R K
for indigenous gardening; Paul Pamboukian for lighting; art facilitation company Moja Nation; sustainability consultant and co-founder of PaperThinkLAB Thulani Kuzwayo and Pawel Gradowski for his knowledge of water features. Batley says the water features have been made “idiot proof ” and were designed to reduce water and energy usage. “We decided to incorporate water features because of the impact on wellness and healing that comes with seeing flowing water and the sound of running water. It also removes some of the noise from the city and the traffic.” The park’s porte-cochère is another striking feature. It gives a sense of space and movement to the corporate foyer. It feels urban and modern but is also open and leads back to the park area. The materials used are a technology of thin copolymer films that create air-filled cushions – lightweight, durable and cost effective, regulating temperature and giving effective coverage. Batley has designed the park to support multiple uses and adapt in different directions in the future. It has spaces for corporate functions and for pop-up events where food trucks or performances can be hosted. The designer is already thinking about coffee shop spaces and a climbing wall. There are also plans to help light up The Eland and to coax Wits to reimagine the blank walls of University Corner. For Batley the triumph of Indwe Park lies in Liberty Group deciding that the park will be opened to the general public and will open at night too. He says property management is one of Liberty’s business strengths. “People do need to feel confident that they are safe but we also need to find ways to bring life back into the city without making people feel policed,” he says. Wins for Braamfontein matter to him because he lived in the suburb as a student in the late 1980s. He has watched Braam through the decades work hard to be hum and heartbeat in a part of Joburg that’s had some hard knocks – it deserves a break. The park stands ready as the “what next” for Braamfontein. It challenges design and architectural limits while celebrating strategic collaboration, greener options and bringing down barriers between “us and them”. It’s a leap of faith for sure. Apr il 2022 45
From the archive
F E A T U R E : PA S S A G E S O F S T O N E
1937 Central Block, renamed the Robert Sobukwe building in 2017, has been the University’s centre-piece since its origins in the 1920s. The building to the East is the Physics and Chemistry building. The style drew inspiration from neo-classical buildings of the United States and Oxbridge.
Colourisation: Brett Eloff
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F E AT U R E : F I R S T WO M A N A R C H I T E C T
A very modern influence GERTRUIDA BRINKMAN, née Siemerink, (BArch 1932), was one of the early women architects to qualify from Wits. She was born in Pretoria, and her work was influenced by Arthur Stanley Furner, a full-time senior lecturer at the Wits School of Architecture and editor of the South African Architectural Record, who introduced Modern Architecture to his students. Brinkman’s work is often characterised by the vertical expression of staircases, the sophisticated detailing of handrails and thresholds, and the unique design of the wrought iron work of boundary fences and entrance gates. She designed House Stockelbach, which is one of the significant examples of Early Modern Architecture in Port Elizabeth. Today it is the GFI Art Gallery surrounded by the Baakens Valley and the historical St George’s Park. Source: http://artefacts.co.za/main/Buildings/archframes.php?archid=2054 R I G H T: T H E H O U S E , K NOW N AS "RIDGEWOOD", WAS DESIGNED FOR THE THEN MANAGING DIRECTOR OF F O R D M O T O R C O M PA N Y, AF STOCKELBACH, BELOW: DETAIL OF GARDEN WALL Images: Gerald Humphrey
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Image: Brett Eloff
F E AT U R E : T H E T E N N I S S H E LT E R
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Of labour & friendship Sometimes big treasures arrive in small packages. Few of us would give the tennis shelter on the East Campus a second look. It is functional and rather ordinary looking — a good place to shelter from the rain or sun or take a break from a tennis game sipping an ice-cool drink. But how many of us would recognise that this structure is a heritage building dating back to 1950? This small building links a few important figures in architecture. BY KATHY MUNRO
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F E AT U R E : T H E T E N N I S S H E LT E R
he tennis shelter was built by Professor John Fassler (BArch 1932), some staff and second-year students as a practical project in design and construction. It was functional, fun, made for bonding among students that could last a lifetime and promote teamwork. Mira Fassler (BArch 1961), daughter of John, who took over design of Senate House [now Solomon Mahlangu House] when her father died prematurely in 1971, explained the purpose of the project of student engagement in design: “This was an annual project. The philosophy behind it was that architectural students should have some practical knowledge of building”. I discovered the tennis shelter when Denise Scott Brown (DArch honoris causa 2011) sent a wonderful selection of 30 black-and-white photographs of the 1950 class at work. It covers the erection of the tennis shelter from the laying of the foundation stone to the erection of the roof and copies of these historic photos have now passed to the archive of the Wits
Dick Steinberg, Hank Glazer, Professor John Fassler
John Fassler, Wits Rowing Club late 1920’s L E F T: T H E T E N N I S SHELTER, COMPLETED, OCTOBER 1950
“We each had to produce a design, and the best (or most suitable) would be built. I was astonished to find that mine was one of the two chosen, so Steve Cope and I had to combine our designs of construction. Our design has a brick screen wall and a concrete roof on steel columns.” CLIVE HICKS, ARENA, 2003
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CLIVE HICK S (1932-2017) WAS 16 YEARS OLD AT THE TIME AND WAS THE YOUNGES T MEMBER OF T H E “ T E N N I S S H E L T E R ” G R O U P. SEEN HERE, UNLOADING A DELIVERY OF SCAFFOLDING
CON S TRUC TIO N O F T H E T E N N I S S HE LTE R BY S E C O N D Y E A R AR C HITE C TUR A L ST U D E N T S Images: Clive Hicks
Julian Fisher, Eli Abt
Professor Fassler and Keith Krudsen directing construction
Steve Cope, Doug Dickinson, Professor John Fassler, Philipe Maucorps
School of Architecture and Planning. The late Clive Hicks (BArch 1957), a London-based architect, photographer, writer and ballet dancer, took the photographs. Scott Brown writes: “Clive was in our class and younger than me. He was bright and, following a Wits fashion at the time, he studied ballet. When Clive graduated, he left for England and for the first year of his career he danced at Sadlers Wells where he was admired for his ‘lift’. Then went back to practising architecture in London. But he also made a hobby of photographing leaf-man sculpture in gothic architecture, and he wrote a book on it.” Turning over these photographs is rather like watching an old black-and-white movie. There is a spirit of youthful enthusiasm, fun and pleasure of community. They are action shots. It is nostalgic, a moment frozen in time. Scott Brown (nee Lokofski) remembers the photograph of herself as a 17-year-old student at the time, hands in big gardening gloves (see pic): “I was hanging over the wall,
Steve Cope, Philipe Maucorps, Jonah Glazer, Denise Lakofski, Arthur Goldreich, Gordon Hood, Diana Evenary
Fay Thomson, Robert Scott Brown
Keith Krudsen, Philipe Maucorps, Denise Lakofski, Alec Glocer, Hank Glazer
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F E AT U R E : T H E T E N N I S S H E LT E R
‘Kilroy-was-here’ style. I had in fact just inscribed in the wet mortar at the top of the wall a line of poetry, ‘Say not the struggle nought availeth’ by Arthur Hugh Clough. It was a comment on our construction work.” She married Robert Scott Brown (BArch, 1954) and in 1955 they travelled abroad. Although she did not complete her degree at Wits, she went on to study at London’s Architectural Association School of Architecture. The couple returned to South Africa but later went to the US to study with Louis Kahn at the University of Pennsylvania. Robert was killed in an auto accident in 1959 and Denise married the American architect Robert Venturi in 1967. Together they achieved fame with the publication of Learning from Las Vegas (MIT Press, 1972) as well as designing the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in London. (See WITSReview Vol 45). Diana Evenary (BArch 1953) married Bernard Kirsch (MBBCh 1950) and they too emigrated to the US. She established her career as an architect in New York, later settling in San Francisco. She married again as Goldstein. Another young architectural student who features in these photographs is the liberation struggle figure, Arthur Goldreich. He was a successful young artist in South Africa in the 1950s. Although he studied architecture he did not graduate from Wits. Instead, he purchased Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia with lawyer Harold Wolpe, which became the headquarters of the then banned African National Congress and its armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe. In 1963 both Goldreich and Wolpe were arrested but escaped from Marshall Square and fled from South Africa. Fassler was the inspiring presence directing, organising and leading students in the project. Mira recalls: “My father was a great believer in giving students some practical knowledge of building. He was an accomplished bricklayer himself! He built many things in the gardens of our homes from walls to paving.” Fassler joined the staff of Wits as a young academic in 1934 and was an outstanding draughtsman and watercolourist who first came to the attention of Professor Geoffrey Eastcott Pearce when he was selected to help in the compilation of his magnum opus on 18th century Cape architecture. He became a partner in the legendary but short-lived partnership of 52 W I T S R E V I E W
Robert Scott Brown, Julian Fisher, Diana Evenary
Philipe Maucorps, Gordon Hood, Diana Evenary, Arthur Goldreich
People identified in the 1950s photographs: Eli Abt (BArch 1952); Steve Cope; Doug Dickenson (B Arch 1954; Diana Evenary; Professor John Fassler; Julian Fisher (BArch 1954); Hank Glazer; Alec Glocer (DipArch 1957); Arthur Goldreich; Clive Hicks; Gordon Hood (BArch 1957); Keith Knudsen (staff member); John Levy (BArch 1954); Philippe Maucorps; Abe Sacks (BArch 1956); Robert ScottBrown; Dick Steinberg (BArch 1954); Fay Thompson
Rex Martienssen (BArch 1930, MArch 1940, DLitt 1941), John Fassler and Bernard Cooke (DipArch 1933, BArch 1942, PDTP 1949) in the mid-1930s. The partnership gave him stature and early prominence set aflame by the exciting local take on the modern movement in Johannesburg. He was a member of the young Transvaal group of architects admired and praised by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier. On the early death of Martienssen in 1942, Fassler was promoted to a senior lectureship and on the retirement of his mentor Professor
Image: Brett Eloff
Pearse in 1948, he was made chair of architecture and became the head of department. Fassler left a huge legacy in his design of a number of important buildings at Wits: the Wits Dental Hospital – now the School of Arts (1951); the Gate House on the East Campus (1967); the John Moffat Building (1959) and Senate House (now Solomon Mahlangu), designed in 1967 and under construction at the time of his death. The tennis shelter is Fassler’s smallest Wits building but it demonstrates his values and teaching style.
ABOVE: SENATE HOUSE (NOW SOLOMON MAHL ANGU), DESIGNED IN 1967 AND UNDER CONS TRUCTION AT THE TIME OF FASSLER'S DEATH BELOW: REX MARTIENSSEN SPEARHEADED THE MODERNIST ARCHITECTURAL MOVEMENT IN SOUTH AFRIC A; JOHN MOFFAT BUILDING, 1959
Sources: Artefacts; Wikipedia; Gilbert Herbert: “Through a Rear View Mirror – Recollections of the School of Architecture, Wits University, 1942-1947”. Lecture at Wits Oct 2010; Personal correspondence with Denise Scott Brown and Mira Fassler.
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by Craig McClenaghan Architecture
With the end of apartheid and the adoption of the Republic’s first democratic Constitution, South Africa found itself in a moment of monumental change. As we sought to redefine our national identity, existing national symbols were questioned, opening new and uncharted passages towards their re-imagining — in a country of rich cultural diversity, what narrative sources should determine the realisation of a new national flag? A national anthem? A national motto? A coat of arms? Following the adoption of a new Constitution, Wits University played an instrumental role in attempting to answer some of these questions through knowledge of language, music and art. At the request of the President, the spirit of the ancient now-extinct |xam language was resurrected to become the national motto… Two historically-opposed musical scores were folded together to form a hybridised composition of the national anthem... and San rock art was inserted into the heart of the national coat of arms. The following pages trace the timelines of two national symbols associated with Wits. We invite you to engage creatively with the pages that follow. Fold on the dotted lines as indicated to match up the national anthem (blue) and the coat of arms (red).
Passages of change
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After a perilous journey during which he loses his wife and son, |han≠kass’o moves into the Lloyd household in Cape Town where he narrates, amongst many more, the story of ‘!gaunu-tsaxau (the son of the Mantis), the Baboons, and the Mantis’. In it, a |Xam phrase reads ‘... !k’e´e¯ /xa´rra … ?’
Drakensberg c. 18th - 19th century
Using imagery of fish and eels, San artists depict the experiences of shamans in trance, by painting on rock in astonishingly complex detail
1897 Nancefield, south of Johannesburg
THIS IS AN I N T E R AC T I V E INFOGRAPHIC. PLEASE D O W N LOA D A N D P R I N T T H E PAG E S TO SEE WITS’ LINKS T O T H E N AT I O N A L ANTHEM AND THE C O AT O F A R M S
Enoch Sontonga, a Xhosa clergyman and school choirmaster composes ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika’, a Methodist Christian hymn of two stanzas in isiXhosa.
F E A T U R E : PA S S A G E S O F C H A N G E
‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika’ is popularised by John Dube (founding president of the ANC) through concerts by the Ohlange Zulu Choir
Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika Nkosi, sikelel’ iAfr ika Malupakam’ upondo lwayo; Yiva imitandazo yetu
Sikelela iNkosi zetu; Zimkumbule umDali wazo; Zimoyike zezimhlouele, Azisikelele.
Yihla Moya, yihla Moya Yihla Moya Oyingcwele
Sikelel’ amadol’ esizwe, Sikelela kwa nomlisela Ulitwal’ ilizwe ngomonde, Uwusikilele.
S i k e l e lN’ akmoa kso is i k aS z ii ; k e l N a w M a ol uo npk ’ha ma a kn ean en k ya zii ;s w ’ P a k a m i s Ya w i oz nwk ’ ua m tii nmj ain at h a N k o s i s i k Uewlu sei kl i al e l, e . t h i
S i kU e l ei l t’ u ldi mi oe n e bm flu oy ou; v a G z o t a zUo ni kt’ i n dd l ai l ea n edz ii f oe ; p t e Z a l i Os a oi lri z woe nn esm p ei l ow i g W a a r d Ui l ies i k ek l er l ae . n s e
Cape Town 1911
‘Specimens of Bushman Folklore’ , a collection of |xam stories translated by Bleek and Lloyd, is published. Lucy Lloyd’s record of ‘!gaunu-tsaxau (the son of the Mantis), the Baboons, and the Mantis’ is included in the book.
M o rS iek enl eal a ab boa flu no dki s ai s e BOe m fv aeb ad zi osn ke e zde lii lni z w t ew; a l U b a t w e s e n g o M o y a W a O s e b o l o k e , O s e k ob o l S e t j h a b a s aU ,b a sSi koe l ue l te .h A
S o uS i nk edl e sl ’ atm ha l ien g ac eat ul l t Awom A ann yda n au nno ki utz ae k da , w e A w e m f u L e t u nsd o ln ie m v vei s i saw na ndo s t I n S oU uw ats ihk e l Ae f r i Nkosi Sikelel, Afr ika; Cima bonk’ ubugwenza bayo Neziggito, Nezono zayo Uwazikelele.
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Renowned Xhosa poet Samuel E.K. Mqhayi adds seven additional stanzas to ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika’
Nkosi, sikelel’ iAfr ika Malupakam’ upondo lwayo; Yiva imitandazo yetu Yihla Moya, yihla Moya Yihla Moya Oyingcwele Sikelela iNkosi zetu; Zimkumbule umDali wazo; Zimoyike zezimhlouele, Azisikelele. Sikelel’ amadol’ esizwe, Sikelela kwa nomlisela Ulitwal’ ilizwe ngomonde, Uwusikilele.
S i k e l e l N’ akmoa kso si i k aS z ii ; k e l N a w M a ol ou npk ’ ha maa kn ean enk ya zii ;s w ’ P a k a m i s aY w i oz nwk ’ ua m t ii nmj a in at h a N k o s i s i k Uew lu sei kl i lae l, e . t h i
M o rS iek enl eal a ab b oa f lu no dki s ai s BOe m vf aeb ad zi osn kee zde l ii l ni z w t ew; a l O s e bU boa tl woe ske en g, o MOo y as We a k ob o l S e t j h a b a s aU ,b a sSi k oe l ue l et . h A
‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika’ becomes a symbol of the anti-apartheid struggle and is used as the official anthem of the ANC.
Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika
SikU e l ei l t’ u ldi mi oe n e m b flu oy ou; v a G z o t a zUo ni k t’ i n ddl ai l ae n edz ii f oe ; p t e ZaliO s a oi lri z woe nn esm p iel ow i g W a a r d Uil ies i k ek l er l ae . n s e
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k e dl e sl ’ a tm h a l ien g ac eat ul l t S o uS i n A w o mA a nn yda n au nno ki utz aek da , w e LA ew et m f uu nsd o ln ie m v vei s i saw na ndo s t e f r I n S oU w u ats ihk e l A Nkosi Sikelel, Afr ika; Cima bonk’ ubugwenza bayo Neziggito, Nezono zayo Uwazikelele.
A length of the San painting is found in a cave on a farm along the foothills of the Drakensberg, a 2m x 0,75m slab is excavated and moved into the South African Museum in Cape Town.
Linton Farm, Maclear (later: Nqanqarhu) 1917-1918
Afrikaans writer, C.J.Langenhoven, writes a poem called ‘Die Stem’
Rev. M.L. de Villiers of the Dutch Reformed Church, composes ‘Die Stem van Suid-Afrika’ with Langenhoven’s lyrics.The new anthem becomes widely broadcasted on the SABC, alongside ‘God Save the King‘
F E A T U R E : PA S S A G E S O F C H A N G E
Uit die blou van onse hemel, Uit die diepte van ons see, Oor ons ewige gebergtes Waar die kranse antwoord gee. Deur ons vêr-verlate vlaktes Met die kreun van ossewa – Ruis die stem van ons geliefde, Van ons land Suid-Afr ika. Ons sal antwoord op jou roepstem, Ons sal of fer wat jy vra: Ons sal lewe, ons sal sterwe – Ons vir jou, Suid-Afr ika.
In die murg van ons gebeente, lel’ iAfrika
Cape Town 1948
‘Bushman Dictionary’ by Dorothea Bleek is published, in which the phrase ‘!k?e e: /xarra’ is cited from Lucy Lloyd, 1911.
In ons har t en siel en gees, e l I’ n oi nAs fr or e im ko ap o n s v e r l e d e , u pI nh o on sn hdo oop olp ww aa t ys aol ,w e e s . n d aI nz oon s wy i el etn hw ue r ,k e n w a n d e l , i n a V a nl uo nss aw ipe gh too t aI awn ao nys og r.a f – Deel geen ander land ons liefde, e t j Thr e ak bg eae n as nad e rh t reo su oo n,s a f . l e Vma dae tr l sa nhd !w Oen sn sya le dhi e oa d, e l , o k eV a ns j eo ut nj aha ma m b eat e rse ad r ah: e s o , A f r W i ak aar e, n tSr oou ua st Ah f r i Ak afn re ris k– a . Kinders van Suid-Afr ika a n o n s e h e m e l , e v Ian nd i e os on nsg l o se de vea n, o n s s o m e r, e gI ne obn se wr i ng t te ren as g, s e k o u , e a Inn td iwe ol e on tre dv a ng oen se l ,i e f d e , In die lanfer van ons rou. o cB yo dmi e ek l i nt ko v ga ne htu h w ’ el i kr s,- k l o k k i e s , e s B h ya d li el k l su i tt -ak l na pd o,p d i e k i s – t r i vS ter e e fl joo ur s tfe m r eo ne s dn oo om i t ,v e r n i e t n i e , i c a W eoe tu j yr w al aar nj o du k. i n d e r s i s . Op jou roep sê ons nooit nee nie, Sê ons altyd, altyd ja: Om te lewe, om te sterwe – Ja, ons kom, Suid-Afr ika. Op U Almag vas ver trouend Het ons vadere gebou: Skenk ook ons die krag, o Here! Om te handhaaf en te hou – Dat die er we van ons vad’re Vir ons kinders erwe bly: Knegte van die Allerhoogste, Te e n d i e h e l e w ê r e l d v r y. Soos ons vadere ver trou het, Leer ook ons ver trou, o Heer – Met ons land en met ons nasie S a l d i t w e l w e e s , G o d r e g e e r.
‘The Call of South Africa’ , an English translation of ‘Die Stem van SuidAfrika’ is included as unofficial anthem alongside the original Afrikaans version, and ‘God Save the Queen.’
Moses Mphahlele, poet, musician, interpreter, and member of the ANC translates ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika’ into Sesotho.
Die Stem van Suid-Afrika
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Path- tarred Rocky Rocky
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n_m atus rm tsu__nt t_ram6 ra5tu_sn 4u_n_t m _nrmats ramtsu_t 2_tst_ 3 untra n_m1_ atus _trm ra8tus_n 7_u_tnm n_ramts a6tu_st n_trm m5tus_ ts_u_tnra _tn_ram4 a3tus s__trm ra2t
Rail Roof edge
Kerb Roof edge
RARI, Wits University, Johannesburg 1985
The Linton Panel is carefully traced and archived by Wits Honours student in Archaeology, Thomas Dowson
-Former President Thabo Mbeki
‘By inscribing these words on our Coat of Arms — !ke e: /xarra //ke — we make a commitment to value life, to respect all languages and cultures and to oppose racism, sexism, chauvinism and genocide’
‘Die Stem van Suid-Afrika’ is adopted as the official and sole national anthem of South Africa.
F E A T U R E : PA S S A G E S O F C H A N G E
58 W I T S R E V I E W
• • •
Kerb Roof edge
Kwaggafontein, Freedom Day
The new Coat of Arms is unveiled by President Mbeki. Its design, by Iaan Bekker, includes two symmetrical human figures, amended fom the tracing of a San figure on the Linton Panel. The motto it carries reads ‘!KE E: /XARRA //KE’.
President Thabo Mbeki contacts RARI with an unusual request — to translate ‘People who are different come together’ into the extinct San language of |xam. The incoming director of RARI, Ben Smith, handed the task over to the outgoing director, Prof David Lewis-Williams, a contemporary |xam and San rock art expert. After being convinced it wasn’t all an April Fool’s prank, he turned to Bleek’s ‘Bushman Dictionary’
2000 RARI, Wits University, Johannesburg, 1 April
n_m atus rm tsu__nt t_ram6 ra5tu_sn 4u_n_t m _nrmats ramtsu_t 2_tst_ 3 untra n_m1_ atus _trm ra8tus_n 7_u_tnm n_ramts a6tu_st n_trm m5tus_ ts_u_tnra _tn_ram4 a3tus s__trm ra2t
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Barnard, A. 2010. Comment !Ke e: /xarra ke — Multiple origins and multiple meanings of the motto. African Studies, 62:2, 243-250 Bleek, D.F., Bleek, W.H.I, and Lloyd, L.C. The Digital Bleek and Lloyd. University of Cape Town. Online Archive: http:// lloydbleekcollection.cs.uct.ac.za/ (Accessed 02 March 2022) Dowson, T. undated. The Linton Panel. Archaeology Travel. Online: https://archaeology-travel.com/friday-find/linton-panel/ (Accessed 02 March 2022) Lakha-Singh, R. 2013. Evolution of an anthem. University of the Witwatersrand. Online: https://www.wits.ac.za/news/latestnews/research-news/2018/2018-09/evolution-of-an-anthem. html (Accessed 02 March 2022) Lewis-Williams, J.D. 2013. San Rock Art. Ohio University Press: Athens Lewis-Williams, J.D. (2022). Interview with David LewisWilliams. Interviewed by McClenaghan, C. 23 February. Rock Art Research Institute and Canon (2021) Welcome to History in Ultra High Definition. Exhibition Booklet SAHO. undated. Enoch Mankayi Sontonga. Online: https:// www.sahistory.org.za/people/enoch-mankayi-sontonga (Accessed 02 March 2022) SAHO. undated. The National Anthem. Online: https://www. sahistory.org.za/article/national-anthem (Accessed 02 March 2022) Smith, B., Lewis-Williams, J.D., Blundell, G., and Chippendale, C. (2000) Archaeology and Symbolism in the new South African Coat of Arms. Antiquity, 74, 467-468
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National symbols − more than emblems, songs and mottos, act as markers of an ongoing struggle, in which points of dialogue and the collective need to frame, re-frame, and continuously challenge our own ways of being, remain in flux. While it may be that no truly satisfying answers could ever really exist for any fledgling democratic society, particularly one as diverse as ours, it is only appropriate that universities such as Wits take their position at the forefront of these challenges in which rigorous debate, truthful dialogue and courageous protest are encouraged as the instruments of negotiation and navigation.
Wits #FeesMustFall protesters sang a revised version of ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika’ adapted by Koketso Poho in 2016…
In an act of radical defiance, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) petitioned for the removal of ‘Die Stem’ from the national anthem in 2014, citing it as “an adulteration of Sontonga’s prayer”
After a team of experts including Wits Emeritus Professor in Music, Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph, and the former head of the Department of African Languages at Wits, Professor Mzilikazi Khumalo carefully recompose the anthem, combining ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika’ and ‘Die Stem van Suid-Afrika’, a new anthem is adopted by President Nelson Mandela for a democratic South Africa
Indeed, the archaeologist Thomas Dowson (who traced the Linton Panel) expressed disappointment for what he believed to be inadequate usage of the San figure and an overtly European style of symbolism in the new coat of arms...
1997 Wits University, Johannesburg
These symbols are assigned significant power as representatives of our democratic values. In as much as they are designed to promote a sense of unity and national pride, they also inherently invite contestation.
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engineering 60 W I T S R E V I E W
“I’m a rambling wreck from Jo’burg Tech, And a helluvan Engineer. A helluva, helluva, helluvan Engineer. Like all good jolly fellows I drink my whisky clear. I’m a rambling wreck from Jo’burg Tech, And a helluvan Engineer”
– snippet from the SRC faculty songbook, 1964
SOUTH AFRICA’S RAPID POST-WAR ECONOMIC GROWTH CREATED AN INSATIABLE DEMAND FOR ENGINEERS OF ALL KINDS. WITSREVIEW SHARES STORIES OF A FEW ALUMNI, WHO MADE SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE COUNTRY'S INFRASTRUCTURE AND ARE PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES OF THEIR PROFESSION.
F E AT U R E : C I V I L E N G I N E E R S
The ever-evolving Sandton skyline in Johannesburg has been changed significantly by buildings such as the Michelangelo Hotel, the Michelangelo Towers, the Raphael, the DaVinci Penthouse Suites and Nelson Mandela Square. Wits alumnus Bart Dorrestein (BSc Eng 1971), founder and CEO of the Legacy Group, had a hand in the development of them all. It seemed fitting that Bart hosted the 50thyear reunion of the Wits 1971 Civil Engineering graduating class at the Leonardo, his most-recent project, which has been recognised as the tallest building in Africa. BY JACQUELINE STEENEVELDT
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F E AT U R E : C I V I L E N G I N E E R S
THE PUBLIC HARDLY PAY S ATTENTION TO THE C ALCUL ATIONS THAT MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR BUILDINGS SUCH AS THE LEONARDO (LEFT), DAVINCI HOTEL AND SUITES (RIGHT) AND THE MICHANGELO TOWERS (BOTTOM) TO S TAND
he Leonardo was completed in 2020 and its construction involved fellow classmate Don Midgley (BSc Eng 1971, GDE 1981), owner of Ritchie Midgley Consulting Engineers. The firm received a commendation in the category of megaprojects (with a value greater than R1-billion) at the 2021 Consulting Engineers of South Africa-Aon Engineering Excellence Awards. In a Zoom interview a few months after the reunion, Bart and Don seem uncomfortable to be singled out as among the “stars” from their class, though the two Witsies share a mutual admiration for each other’s work and have a long history of collaboration. “Bart has the drive and technique and contacts to get these things going – a great combination of negotiating skills and persuasion. The Leonardo is a case in point. It was an abandoned site for nearly 10 years before Bart put this iconic building into the hole in the ground, which no one wanted,” says Don. Bart remembers Don during their time in the Wits lecture halls: “Don sat in the front row and the intellectual capacity of the class diminished as you went backwards; I sat in the third row. He was a cool looking guy – he
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had a pin-up image and was a confident fellow. I started ahead of him, but we graduated in the same year,” Bart jokes. “We worked together when we started on Nelson Mandela Square. The partnership between Legacy Development and Ritchie Midgley Consulting Engineers involves almost every project development we’ve done since. I place great trust and value in them, that they would do it safely first and secondly cost-effectively.” They attribute their achievements to a combination of factors such as “being at the right place at the right time”; the particular opportunities in South Africa’s history; “blind bliss and enthusiasm” as well as committed lecturers at Wits. “One of the overriding things that I came away from university with was something Prof Jeremiah Jennings (DSc honoris causa 1978) said. He told the class that many of us would not go on to work as civil engineers or apply what he taught – in soil mechanics. But one thing he would leave with us, which would stand us in good stead for the rest of our lives, was the concept of ‘engineering judgement’. We would learn to judge a situation and if we made the wrong decision something would collapse or fall down,” says Bart. Over the years they seem to have had a hand in many landmark buildings around South Africa which have stood the test of time: Bart has worked on projects such as the construction of the Rand Afrikaans University (University of Johannesburg), and building the Sun City complex from scratch, with another classmate, Donald King (BSc Eng 1972), for Sol Kerzner. Don (Midgley) was also involved in the construction of the Johannesburg General Hospital (Charlotte Maxeke) among others. “Our motto was ‘We did’. We built on relationships
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A CONSTRUCTIVE BUNCH On a clear day, the 56-storey Leonardo offers panoramic views: the Magaliesberg mountains are visible in the west, the Voortrekker Monument in the north, OR Tambo International Airport in the east and Joburg city in the south. The sparkle of the surrounding city lights on the evening of the 9 November 2021 added to the magic of the Wits 1971 civil engineering class reunion. Dr John Sampson (BSc Eng 1971, PhD 1992), organiser of the reunion and ex-partner and consultant to JG Afrika says: “There is probably not a single major civil or environmental engineering project, be it road, dam, bridge, water, sewerage or refuse plant, mine or building in this country in the last 50 years where at least one of the class has not had a hand, whether in the planning, design or construction.” John recently received a distinguished Fellow of the Southern African Transport Conference Award, making him one of only eight people who have received this prestigious award. He offers an overview of the group’s accomplishments: “Many classmates, such as Alan Robinson, Brian Tromp, Duncan Peters, Mike Pavlakis, and myself also founded and ran our own consulting
engineering companies. “Howard Jones was CEO of Grinaker/LTA but many of our class such as Bryan Westcott, Chris Kirkwood, David Williams, Derek Berold, Gavin Byrne, Gavin Hardy, Ivan Vos, Peter Chivers, and Roy Kirkpatrick, formed and headed their own successful construction companies. “We have also had a couple of professors, such as Raymond Levitt, who is at Stanford University, but was one of the youngest professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, not to mention half a dozen PhDs. “Graham Pirie was the CEO of CESA, Duncan Peters was president of the Concrete Society, and I was appointed by the minister of transport as chairman of the board of the Road Traffic Management Corporation and a director of the Road Traffic Infringement Agency. Jacques Malan owns and runs a Stellenbosch Wine Estate. “There are many names I have left out but each and every one has succeeded in one way or another, with almost all mentioning successful and happy families as important in the list of achievements,” says John. L E F T: BA R T DORRESTEIN, DON MIDGLEY AND HIS WIFE OF 34 YEARS MARGIE, DR JOHN SAMPSON
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Image: Brett Eloff
and values forged at university: Be honest, do it correctly, check carefully and use your engineering judgement.” The classmates show no sign of slowing down, if anything, there seems to be a greater urgency to overcome “the blockages” that hinder their aspiration to develop opportunities for others. Don gives the example of the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital: “It’s been 11 months since the little fire happened, we still can’t get onto the site because of paperwork…There are hundreds of people employed telling you why you can’t do the job as opposed to those who can just get on with it.” “There aren’t enough hours in the day,” says Bart. “I am flummoxed by a society that puts you out to pasture after 60 years. You’ve got all those years of experience that should be passed on to others – so they can learn from the mistakes we’ve made and learn how we fixed it. “I’m 72, I’ve got about 10% of my life left and there’s a hell of a lot still to do. The legacy is not what we leave in the bank, but what we did and what’s our contribution. I think that’s very important and what makes you relevant... I am incredibly motivated by the fact that I work with an amazing bunch of people who have the energy to make things happen. There’s loads of good things out there,” says Bart. Don agrees and feels the need to build up something for the next generation, who he feels seem overly reliant on and trusting of machines: “The difference is between an analogue and a digital watch – with an analogue watch 64 W I T S R E V I E W
WITSIE STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS HAD A HAND IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE OPPENHEIMER LIFE SCIENCES BUILDING (TOP) AND THE SUN CIT Y COMPLEX (BOTTOM)
you can see how late or early you are; but with a digital watch, it just tells you the time. There is little context and it’s quite different. The analogue watch gives you a sense of the space you’re in – not looking through a keyhole, but you’re actually in a room. My idea of retirement is when my team are inside the room, not looking through the keyhole.”
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INFLUENTIAL LECTURERS “We all owe and have expressed a debt of gratitude to the University, professors and lecturers at the time for the excellent education we received and how it enabled us to contribute in the way we did,” says Dr John Sampson. PROFESSOR DESMOND MIDGLEY Described by historian Bruce Murray as a “very goal orientated, if rather shy person, Professor Midgley’s long-term contribution was to make Wits the centre for hydrological research in South Africa”. Prof Midgley was Don’s father and he remembers begrudgingly accompanying him on trips around the country. “He did what was called the magnetic survey of the water resources of South Africa. From Namibia on camel, navigating by stars through to the Atlantic Coast and everywhere else. As a youngster I didn’t really enjoy that, I wanted to have a holiday instead!”
PROFESSOR JEREMIAH JENNINGS Jennings was head of the department from 1954 to 1976. He is described “as an able teacher who got down to the fundamentals and knew all his students personally.” He emphasised the need for engineers to learn from people – from the labourers on site to the final users of the structure – and not just from data. He urged university authorities to encourage lecturers to remain in contact with practical problems and won for them the right to act as consultants on civil engineering assignments. He was involved with virtually all major geotechnical projects in Southern Africa from 1955 to 1979. He arranged for several black students to graduate
as civil engineers at Wits during the apartheid era, and he received an honorary doctorate from the University in 1978.
PROFESSOR GEOFF BLIGHT Professor Blight excelled as a teacher and particularly as a supervisor and mentor to senior students and emerging academics. During his time as the professor of soil mechanics and construction materials, he made enormous contributions to developing the undergraduate teaching laboratories. Students remember him as a lucid and challenging teacher who was able to make complex subject material more accessible and with just the right dose of empathy. He was recognised as being generous in the intellectual and financial support that he gave to his students while being very demanding and uncompromising in the quality of the work that he expected.
PROFESSOR ALLAN OCKLESTON Ockleston specialised in structural engineering and conducted tests on the floor slabs of the Bok Street Dental Hospital at the time of its demolition. His tests provided a deeper understanding of the yield-line behaviour and membrane action. A feature of his research and teaching was its precision, which was a trait he inculcated in his students.
Additional source and images: Wits: The 'Open' Years by Bruce Murray (WUP, 1997)
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IN PURSUIT OF THE PERFECT FORMULA
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Wits-trained engineers have quietly contributed to innovation in Formula One over the years. BY JACQUELINE STEENEVELDT
r Anthony Abbot (BSc Eng 1988, PhD 1996) remembers his childhood surrounded by the vehicles his late father, John, loved. John was an accountant with Williams Hunt, one of the oldest vehicle dealers in Johannesburg and John built a reputation for servicing, restoring and
DR ANTHONY ABBOT
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building classic Porsches. “I was sort of destined to become an engineer … I remember our home in Parkview, the two rear garages had two cars in progress in them. The cars were built-in essentially. There was a wall and a fence and all sorts of stuff in place. I remember the day we had to demolish the fence to get the
car out,” Anthony recalls. He chats from his home office in Ravenstone in Milton Keynes as the founder of Abbot Evolution, which converts classic cars into electric vehicles for an active, growing and elite market. “I always worked in the workshop; it was a brilliant facility. I was always dabbling and fiddling around with
mechanical stuff. I built some crazy beach buggy and when I was doing my PhD at Wits I used to arrive in this bright lime-green beach buggy, with an exhaust that stuck up over the back roof. It used to spit flames and do crazy stuff like that.” Anthony is a youthful-looking and lean 54-year-old who wears rectangular tortoiseshell glasses, with playful turquoise touches at the temples. He’s balding, and remnants of his sandy hair stick up at the back in tufts. He’s retained his South African accent, although he’s lived in the UK for the past 15 years. He doesn’t quite match the glamorised Formula One characters portrayed in the successful Netflix documentary series Formula 1: Drive to Survive. He does, however, have an enviable CV, having been part of teams that boast nine double world championships in a row: four with Red Bull Racing from 2010 to 2013 (with Sebastian Vettel) followed by another five at Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One racing from 2014 to 2018 (with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg).
FRIENDSHIP IN A LAB
Anthony credits his introduction to Formula One to fellow Witsie Dr Giles Wood (BSc Eng 1991). “He was in his final year and was a few years younger than me.” They shared space and equipment in an engineering lab on campus in the early 1990s. Anthony was working on his PhD in fluid mechanics, supervised by Professor Edward Moss (BSc Eng 1971, MSc 1974, PhD 1985). It required building an experimental apparatus and developing “computer modelling, control and data acquisitions from first principles”. Anthony self-deprecatingly says it was no more than being a “glorified plumber”, but the skills acquired were hugely powerful and lie at the heart of engineering. “Giles was doing a flow study
DR ANTHONY ABBOT HAS BEEN PAR T OF TEAMS THAT BOAST NINE DOUBLE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS IN A ROW
DR GILES WOOD IN HIS HOME OFFICE IN SAN FRANCISCO
using an iris diaphragm, to pinch the flow and see what it did in an unsteady state. We built a huge experimental rig in the North West Engineering building. I was in the corner that faces Senate House [now Solomon Mahlangu House]. There was a lovely balcony, it was a great place. Giles was an incredibly astute and driven chap. He started out looking at violin string vibration and then changed to something more practical in control theory.” Today Giles is a technical engineering manager at Apple, working on the company’s autonomous systems. “I absolutely cannot say anything about what I currently do,” he writes from San Francisco. Among the long list of awards he received at Wits were the Chancellor’s Medal for most distinguished graduand across
all faculties in 1992 as well as the Eskom National Engineering Award for academic excellence in engineering or science at a major South African university. After Wits, Giles pursued postgraduate studies at the University of Cambridge and became principal software engineer at the software computing company MathWorks. The company’s two leading products, MATLAB and Simulink, produce an environment for scientists, engineers and programmers to analyse and visualise data and create complex simulation environments. He successfully completed major projects in the areas of vehicle dynamics (F1 and Nascar), robotic simulation and control, and tank and weapons system modelling. It was with this background that he moved into Apr il 2022 69
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Formula One, as simulation lead at McLaren Racing in 2004. “Giles got me into motor racing – he was at McLaren at that stage, in the early 2000s. There was an opportunity to do some contracting work. It piqued my interest because I had always been interested in motorsport. That gave me an opportunity to meet some people such as the final team principal and chief engineer of Mercedes, Paddy Lowe (who went on to Williams and now is on his own).” In 2007 Anthony met up again
with Giles, who had been hired by Red Bull Racing, which was still a cheeky start-up. “It was a joke, fun team, but they had just acquired serious engineers such as Adrian Newey, who in turn acquired Giles.” Newey references Giles in his memoir How To Build a Car (Harper Collins, 2017) as “one of the cleverest people I know…Giles had contributed a lot to the McLaren driver-inthe-loop simulator, so he was the perfect person to drive the simulator project forward.”
Anthony was in South Africa, “weirdly working in software at Standard Bank,” he recalls, but jumped at the opportunity to join the Red Bull team and head the software and simulation architecture development for their driver-in-the-loop simulator, vehicle dynamics modelling, hardware-in-the-loop and race strategy systems. He left South Africa for the UK with his wife, Caroline, née Redman, (BA 1994, BA Hons 1996), and their two daughters, who were eight and 10 at the time.
As a child, Rory Byrne (BSc 1964 DSc honoris causa 2005) was attracted to competitions involving self-designed and constructed model gliders. He was fascinated with aerodynamics and lightweight structures. His first job was as a chief chemist in a polymer manufacturing plant in Germiston. During this time, he converted his Ford Anglia 105E into an Onyx production car with the help of friend Graham B Ross (BSc 1967, BSc Hons 1968) and another friend, Eric Adamson, doing the driving. Despite an absence of formal training or experience in automotive engineering, he showed real flair, with the mathematics and experimental methodologies that he learned at university. Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher celebrates victory with Ferrari Chief Designer Rory Byrne after the San Marino Formula One Grand Prix held in Imola, Italy in 2002.
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“The trust element is vitally important. The UK teams didn’t know anything about Wits. Giles’s trust in Wits engineering education was so important. “The power of Wits then, I still see it now. With my current business I’ve just employed a young Wits graduate. I am so impressed by the continuity of the manner of thought – despite all the challenges – that Wits has had. I can see that I can trust him and he asks the right questions and he’s been taught by the people I was taught by.
There’s a continuity of excellence. We punch above our weight. It’s a really good engineering school.” As the current head of the school, Professor Rob Reid (BSc Eng 1989, MSc 1992 PhD 2009), puts it, graduates are ready for anything, including the “hyper demanding world of motor sport”.
FORMULA ONE ENVIRONMENT
Giles (initially as head of simulation and later as chief engineer of
1973 Rory set off for England, where he assisted a friend who was racing in the British Formula Ford series. At the end of 1973 he was offered the job of chief designer at the Royale Company, where he was responsible for their championship-winning Super Vee Cars in 1974, Formula Fords in 1975 and 1976, and Formula Ford 2000 in 1977.
• In 1978, Rory was asked to join Toleman Group Motorsport. This resulted in the very successful design and development of the TG280, which finished first and second in the European Formula 2 Championship. Toleman TG280
simulation/analysis) and Anthony (as principal software architect) were central to the Red Bull team that developed the computer system which modelled the Formula One car for the design engineers. “This simulator was successfully deployed in 2009 and represented a significant step beyond the capabilities of other F1 teams and was a major contributor to four successive world championships,” writes Giles. It allowed engineers to work more efficiently using mathematics and it’s
• In 1992 he joined Benetton and his career took on a new dimension when Michael Schumacher arrived, using the car Rory had designed to win the Driver’s Championship. Schumacher’s success was repeated in 1995, when Benetton also won the Constructors Championship.
• Rory was persuaded by Schumacher to join him at Scuderia Ferrari in Maranello, which he did at the end of 1996, in time for the 1997 season. His first car was the 1998 Ferrari which took Schumacher close to the driver’s title.
• Rory’s dedication, passion and understanding of
design ultimately paid off when he took Scuderia Ferrari to their first Constructors Championship in 1999. This was followed by the Driver’s Championship for Schumacher from 2000 to 2004.
• In 2005 he was awarded an honorary doctorate • In 1982, Rory ventured into Formula One and aerodynamics. He designed the TG81, with its new engine, new chassis and new tyres and did not meet with immediate success. But he persisted, improving the design sufficiently to enable Toleman to score points in 1983.
in science by his alma mater because he had “put South Africa on the world map of excellence in mechanical engineering”.
• In 2018 he was inducted into the South African Hall of Fame.
He lives in Phuket, Thailand with his wife, Pornthip, and their two children.
WATCH: F1® 70TH ANNIVERSARY - INTERVIEW WITH RORY BYRNE, CHIEF DESIGNER, FERRARI F2002
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a model that has been replicated. “The whole thing to get the car to go faster is like an optimisation problem. The Formula One car is like a switchboard with about 500 dials on it that you can set, and the car will go fastest when all 500 dials are in the right position. You can’t twiddle one at a time. In the modern world the modelling has been driven into the mathematical realm. My role with Giles was working on the infrastructure to support that. It drives the car in a computer around a virtual track with a million permutations,” Anthony says with a look that seems a mixture of nostalgia and awe. “Thirty years ago, it was easy to
get a second off a lap time … nowadays these guys are fighting for 100ths of a second.” Giles led the simulation and analysis group with a remit to improve and extend modelling and analysis techniques until June 2014. Anthony moved on to the Mercedes-Benz AMG Petronas Formula One team, building on the work done at Red Bull, while Giles set his sights on the US.
COMING FULL CIRCLE
Anthony bid farewell to Mercedes in 2019 after 12 successful years in Formula One, choosing to return to his roots, like his father, of building
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WITSIES CURRENTLY IN FORMULA 1: Johannesburg-born Shau Mafuna (BSc Eng 2016) announced that he had joined MercedesAMG High-Performance Powertrains in November 2021. This is the team that supplies engines to the four teams (Mercedes-AMG, Aston Martin, McLaren and Williams) that Mercedes-AMG powers. He matriculated from St Stithians College before his studies at Wits. He moved to the UK and completed his master’s in motorsport engineering at Oxford Brookes University, which is in Motorsport Valley, a vast cluster of firms based around Oxfordshire and the Midlands which supplies cutting-edge technology to Formula One. He said on his Instagram account: “As much as I may be lost for words at this point, I can finally announce that I have managed to secure a full-time role as a Mechanical Engineer at Mercedes-AMG High-Performance Powertrains in the F1 division! This is a dream that a certain few know how hard we have pushed to reach this position! The last 12 months on the Work Experience Academy have been challenging but insightful and have prepared me to take up the permanent role with a lot more confidence.”
cars and tangibly interacting with the materials. “The electric vehicle world has the same feeling as early software development companies in the late 1990s. It’s open to innovation and opportunity and it’s just plain interesting. I am hoping to do it a lot better. “It’s also re-establishing myself as an engineer. I want to see out my days in a hi-tech workshop that I can touch with my own hands. I’ve taken the essence of what I learned at Formula One and am making it my own. I’m more of an artist painting with the tools of physics and maths. Ultimately, you’re judged by the laws of the universe.”
Other Witsies currently working in Formula One:
• J onty Culwick (BSc Eng 2008)
Senior specialist structures engineer at McLaren Racing; Joshua Shear (BSc Eng 2013) Composite suspension design engineer at Sauber Motorsport; Rowan Carstensen (BSc Eng 2015) Operations manager at Prodrive Composites; Stephan Engelbrecht (BSc Eng 2013) Senior engineer – vehicle integration, Group Lotus
• • •
”MY TIME WITH THE TEAM SO FAR HAS BEEN INCREDIBLE,“SAY S YOL ANDI WATKINS, BASED AT MERCEDES-AMG PETRONAS
IT WASN’T AN EASY JOURNEY Yolandi Watkins, née Potas (BSc Eng 2017) joined Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team as a cost analyst in September 2021. She writes from Milton Keynes that: “The culture at the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team has far exceeded my expectations and it’s an incredible environment to work in.” However, her dream to get there has been far from perfect. “I took a bit longer to complete my degree and worked at various companies in South Africa before moving to England. I spent some of my free time volunteering at a local Formula Ford team.” She says it was only once she started her master’s degree in advanced motorsport engineering at Cranfield University that her career in Formula One was launched. “Studying engineering at Wits is an enormous undertaking. Academically it’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever done and for a long time
it was a love-hate relationship. My time at Wits was filled with late nights and early mornings but I made a few really good friends who are still a part of my life today. Working in the engineering lab during my thesis, climbing on the wind tunnel to set up our vehicle model and seeing my theories come to life are some of the best memories I have. “The course itself was very demanding but instilled a culture of hard work and dedication that prepared me for the fast-paced and demanding world of Formula One. My lecturers were passionate about different subjects. I particularly enjoyed fluid dynamics and had a knack for relating every lecture back to Formula One aerodynamics. This of course drove Prof Craig Law (BSc Eng 1994, PhD 2002) insane sometimes. But he was always happy to help me understand things better.”
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Scatterlings of Africa
WITSIES AROUND THE WORLD
H E ATHER DUGMOR E F O L LO WS FOUR A L U MNI ON TH E I R D I V ERS E C A REER JO U RNEYS
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WITSIES AROUND THE WORLD VIEW FROM TOM LEWIS’S T YROLEAN COTTAGE B A L C O N Y, OVERLOOKING THE ALPS
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50 years of an international MBA Tom Lewis (MBA 1972) reflects on the amazing cards he’s been dealt from “a little mountain cottage” in Tyrol in Austria.
hen Tom Lewis was approached to be interviewed for WITSReview, he agreed but said it was “with some trepidation – I never enjoy talking about myself ”. He doesn’t need to; others do it for him, such as HansPaul Bürkner, chairperson of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), one of the world’s largest consulting firms. In an article in the Harvard Business Review, Bürkner said the best approach to managing people he ever got was from Tom, who headed several of their offices in different parts of the world. Bürkner described Tom as a natural diplomat with the ability to get to the heart of what team members are good at and what they are not. “On one of our earliest projects together, Tom was responsible for a remarkably mixed team: we had one person who was strong on organisational issues but incredibly weak with numbers, another who was a computer on legs – superb with analytics, much less so with anything else – and so on. At the time, I assumed it was better (or certainly easier) to build a team of people with similar strengths. “Tom had a different approach,” Bürkner continued. “He turned that 76 W I T S R E V I E W
diverse set of individuals into a high-performing team, letting each person use their strengths to their best advantage. As a result, team members developed a deep appreciation of each individual’s skills, and that increased our investment in the group effort.” Tom joined BCG in 1975 at the age of 27 and recently retired, but continues in an advisory role from the Munich office. Apart from his first three years with BCG in Boston and a short stint in London, his life took shape in Munich. He moved there in 1978, met and married his Bavarian wife Helga, had two sons and set up home in the town of Grünwald, just south of Munich, where they still live. Grünwald is
L E F T: M A D E I T TO T H E TO P O F AU S T R I A’ S K L E I N E R G A M S S T E I N (1924M), THE C ARNAC STONES IN B R I T TA N Y, T H E H O T E L AT T H E C A S T L E , THE KONDITOREI (PAS TRY SHOP), T YROLEAN COTTAGE IN WINTER, TOM WITH HIS BAVARIAN WIFE HELGA, IN FRONT OF THE GRÜNWALD TRAM BOTTOM: THE FAMILY HOME IN AUTUMN
situated between the beautiful Isar River and a large forested area. “I never stop reflecting on the amazing cards I’ve been dealt in life,” says Tom. “I grew up in Zimbabwe, where my Welsh grandparents had settled in the early 1900s. After leaving school I studied agriculture at the University of Natal with the intention of joining our family farm. But in the early 1970s, with the independence war consuming Zimbabwe, it became clear that I needed something else to fall back on. The Wits Business School, which opened in 1968, was beginning to make a name for itself. I gained admission in 1971 and graduated with my MBA in 1972. It’s incredible to think it was 50 years ago. “I remember, very vividly, the elegant building and tiny campus at 2 St David’s Place, Parktown, where our small class of perhaps 15 spent endless and extremely intensive hours in class and group work. The course work was so rich and demanding that there was very little time for anything else. But the purpose of those two years was to get a world class education in business, finance and management and this was achieved. It was my MBA from Wits that qualified me for a position in Rhodesian Breweries which would normally not have been available
to me at the age of 25.” During his time there, the parent company, South African Breweries, commissioned BCG to do a study of its portfolio. Tom participated in this work, and BCG offered him a position. BCG’s policy back then was only to hire MBA graduates from the Harvard and Stanford business schools, but once again his Wits MBA paid off. “It was a huge wrench for me to leave Africa and I was politically active in Zimbabwe in favour of democracy but I was of the view that it was not going to end well. It wasn’t until settling in Munich that I started to feel this was where I could make a new home. Bavaria and nearby Austria have a beautiful countryside, picturesque towns and farming villages, many lakes and, of course, the Alps. Helga and I were fortunate enough in the mid-1980s to be able to buy a little mountain cottage in Tyrol, Austria, which is less than two hours’ drive from our home. Hiking the countryside and the mountains is probably our single most frequent leisure activity.” Tom’s career with BCG allowed him to experience the world “in all its richness”, as he puts it, through postings from Munich to the Nordic countries, Hong Kong, Seoul, Milan, Rome and Dubai. He enjoyed working with and learning from clients who were open to new ways of doing things. “I initially served clients both in Germany and in the Nordic countries and would commute from our home in Grünwald on a weekly basis.” Consulting for Nordic companies was a pleasure and a great learning experience, he says: “They’re very open to new ways of doing things and weren’t at Apr il 2022 77
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T O P L E F T: ANNUAL VISIT TO THE O K T O B E R F E S T, HIKING WITH SON THOMAS BOTTOM: WADING IN THE SHALLOWS, CRETE
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all defensive about how things were done in the past. It was pleasurable working with sophisticated senior executives who were almost always focused on moving the company forward and not on internal politics.” In 1996 he moved to Hong Kong to look after BCG’s expanding Asia Pacific region, including greater China, Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asia, India, Australia and New Zealand. “It was a fascinating six-year period for me and my family as we were exposed to this huge expanse of the world with very different economies, industrial structures and cultures,” says Tom. “China and India were just opening to more liberal economic policies. At the time, the Chinese stateowned companies were extremely bureaucratic and resistant to change. Indian companies were more sophisticated, but also very bureaucratic and inwardly focused. In Southeast Asia and Korea – the Asian Tigers – companies were receptive to outside management advice.” Between postings, Tom and Helga returned to Grünwald. “Germany works very well because it has structure, rules and a strong work ethic, but at the same time, the society today is open and cosmopolitan, and one of the most liberal and environmentally focused democracies.” Tom explains that Germany was able to achieve this in the post-World War II era as a result of the carefully-designed institutions put in place to prevent a breakdown in democracy happening again. “Politics in Germany today are
generally sensible, respectful, middle of the road and stable − not something one can say about too many countries around the world,” he says. The economic model seeks to reconcile free market capitalism with adequate social policies. “Large corporations are subject to laws which ensure adequate worker representation and the corporate sector in general subscribes to a stakeholder approach rather than focusing only on shareholder value. This is particularly true of the medium-size family-owned companies which are the real driver of Germany’s strong economy.” Tom didn’t return to Africa until a few years ago. The last trip he made before being grounded by the pandemic was to Zimbabwe, where one of his brothers still lives. He remains deeply attached to southern Africa. “I have very many happy memories, especially of life on our farm and of the bush and its wildlife. I keep in close touch with the people with whom I was politically involved. The country has, tragically, pursued a disastrous political and economic path; infrastructure and institutions have been eroded, and the agriculture sector demolished, yet it remains a beautiful country and the vast majority of people are wonderful.” Which leaves the final question: does Tom consider himself African or German? “Inevitably and pragmatically in most respects I’m now German. It’s the language I speak most of the day and the country has given me so much. But the first 27 years of my life in Africa were profoundly formative for me and remain an important part of my makeup.”
WITSIES AROUND THE WORLD
Sharing a taste of home Dr Simonne Horwitz’s first opportunity to see the world came while she was at Wits. Based in Canada since 2006, she, in turn, offers her students the opportunity to experience South Africa. RHODES HOUSE
’m a real nerd, so debating is my team sport. I love the ability to think on your feet and create different arguments, including putting yourself in the shoes of someone whose thoughts and ways go against your own,” says Dr Simonne Horwitz (BA 2000; BA Hons 2001), a history professor at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. “While at Wits I was a member of the Wits Debating Union. It shaped so much of who I am. I experienced what it’s like to be part of a global network as I travelled internationally for the first time to attend the World Universities debating championship in the Philippines and Australia. “There is still a strong Debating Union at Wits and a lot of the debating students have gone on to do amazing things.” Two examples she cites are Trudi Makhaya (BCom 2000, BCom Hons 2001, MCom 2003) the economic advisor to President Cyril Ramaphosa, and Apr il 2022 79
WITSIES AROUND THE WORLD SINCE 2010 SIMONNE HAS BROUGHT A GROUP OF HER STUDENTS TO SOUTH AFRICA FOR SIX WEEKS EVERY SECOND YEAR TO DO A COURSE ON THE HISTORY OF SOUTH AFRICA
Steven Budlender SC (BA 2000, LLB 2002), renowned for his constitutional law cases. She says her Wits education set her up well to win a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University in 2001 to do her master’s, followed by her doctorate. “Emeritus Professor Peter Delius was my mentor in the History Department at Wits and he encouraged me to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship. I pledged that if I received it and became an academic, I would dedicate my career to making a difference to the lives of my students.” As a first generation university student, she was terrified about going to Oxford, especially when she found herself in a class full of Ivy League peers. “But thanks to the grounding I got at Wits, I discovered I could hold my own academically.” It was the first time she had lived away from her family home in Parkview and she found it difficult initially. “But once I settled in, I loved every moment of it. I love meeting people from all over the world and I loved college life at St Antony’s. I met my two best friends on my first day at Oxford; one from the US who had lived in Russia and the other from Holland. I built such strong networks there and I regularly call on those networks for advice and partnerships; they are like family.” She completed her DPhil at Oxford in 2006, writing her dissertation on the history of what is now Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. The dissertation became her first book, Baragwanath Hospital, Soweto: A History of Medical Care 1941-1990 (WUP, 2013). In 2007 she headed for Canada, where she had been offered a two 80 W I T S R E V I E W
year postdoctoral research post at the University of Saskatchewan (USask). “My research was a comparison between indigenous policy in Canada and apartheid South Africa.” Simonne found her feet as an academic at USask and she’s been there ever since. “I love the university and the opportunities here, and my dollar income helps to support people in South Africa, but I do miss it every day; it’s my home. I have kept my South African citizenship as it means everything to me and I cannot wait to return for my sabbatical in 2022 and be part of Wits’ centenary celebrations.” Saskatchewan is a province of just over one million people and the university is based in Saskatoon, a city with a population of about 300,000 people, of whom 26,000 are students. “I love the students, I find them fascinating, they don’t realise how talented and brilliant they are because they come from a modest culture – many come from small towns and rural farming areas – and they don’t see themselves as intellectual. They work hard and they want to learn about the rest of the world.” One of the ways in which Simonne has lived up to her promise of making a difference to the lives of her students is through her ‘Taught Abroad’ trips to South Africa. “Just as I had never travelled internationally before I went to Wits, many of my students have never travelled outside Canada. In my classes they want to know about Africa and that’s how I started organising the ‘Taught Abroad’ trips to South Africa.” Since 2010 she has brought a group of her students to South Africa for six weeks
BUILDING BRIDGES Simonne worked with her synagogue and the mosque in Saskatoon to sponsor a Syrian family to immigrate to the city in 2016. “We all contributed to their settlement financially and we worked closely with them to help them feel welcome, for example I often helped the kids with their homework,” she explains. “It was a wonderful experience for the Moslem and Jewish community, pulling together for the same cause, and we have all become good friends and built important bridges.”
every second year to do a course on the history of South Africa. “It’s a highlight for me to bring students who would never have the opportunity to travel and experience life in a country with a totally different culture, history and social makeup to Canada.” The trip is costly and many of the students cannot afford it, so to fund it they apply for grants, and Simonne puts in money from awards and grants she receives. She had a trip organised for 2020 but with COVID-19 it had to be cancelled. Last year she received an award for her commitment to internationalisation at USask. “Simonne’s trips to South Africa have been so meticulously organised that they have helped change the way all Arts and Science Study Abroad courses are now developed,” said Dr Gordon DesBrisay, Vice-Dean Academic in the College of Arts and Science at the time. “In fact, if a faculty member steps forward with a new idea for student study travel, they are handed a copy of the pre-departure trip handbook Simonne authored, outlining everything a student who has never travelled needs to know.” The Taught Abroad trip to South Africa is credit bearing and academically rigorous. Students effectively do a year’s worth of work in six weeks, visiting more than 30 historical sites where Simonne arranges guides, guest lectures and seminars from some of the top academics in the country, several from Wits. The students are given academic texts, novels and autobiographies exposing them to South African perspectives, and they take part in numerous religious, activist,
sporting and education events. The group is based at a backpackers’ in Emmarentia, and spend most of their time in Joburg, Soweto and Pretoria. “I love the vibrancy of Joburg, I love driving among the taxis. I love that people are loud and fun. I know Joburg has a dangerous side but there is a life and vibrancy that you don’t get anywhere else in the world. When I get off the plane I love it as I’m home.” The group also visits the Pilanesberg Game Reserve to experience being on safari and at the same time look at how land was taken away from people to create the park. “The idea is to give the students a real sense of the complex history of South Africa. I try to introduce them to as wide a range of people as possible. Wits campus is an important part of the trip and they meet the academics whose books they have read, including Emeritus Professor David Coplan (PhD 1980) from social anthropology, retired mathematics education lecturer Jessica Sherman (MED 2012) and Professor Noor Nieftagodien (BA Hons 1994, MA 1995, PhD 2000) from the Wits History Workshop. “Running a course and trip like this requires me to be available all the time,” says Simonne. “I am the instructor, guide, organiser, problem solver, social worker, provider and intercultural interpreter. But it is so worth it. Many of the students who attended the course have stated that their experiences in South Africa changed how they see the world and what they want to do with their lives.”
QUEER HOUSING On USask campus Simonne has made her mark academically and as an activist. She led a group that was recently able to establish queer housing for self-identified LGBTQIA+ students on campus. “I’m openly queer and I felt it was important that these students should be able to live safely together in campus housing, as it is a fairly homophobic society, although it is changing. Many of the queer students start exploring who they are for the first time at university; a lot of them have to hide their identity at home and the university is a safe space where they can be themselves. It took three years of negotiation with the university to achieve this.”
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Nondo Shikazuwe is the Japanese name for Wits architecture graduate Nondo Sikazwe (BArch 2012; BArch Hons 2014; MA 2016), who has been living and working in Tokyo for the past three years.
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love being here because there are not many people like me, from southern Africa, and it’s really stimulating to be in tech design in Tokyo,” says Nondo. He’s a user experience (UX) designer with the international design consultancy ACO. “As an international professional, you are seen as someone with a different perspective, and if you have fresh, innovative ideas, and are able to present them with confidence, people will listen to you and push creative concepts forward.” He has learnt to communicate and write in Japanese and says he is slowly learning the intricacies of Japanese language and culture. “In Japan you say whether you can or can’t do something or if you like or don’t like the situation at the end of a discussion. In American and Western society, it’s the opposite, there is a stating of your position up front, which is considered aggressive in Japanese culture.
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“I’m also learning all about the nuances in the greeting bow. At a formal business meeting, the degree at which you bow is all important. When I meet a client for a formal meeting, I bow at about 15 degrees, and when they are leaving the building, I bow at about 45 degrees and wait until the elevator closes. Do this incorrectly and you might put off the client.” In the digital space, he says, the Japanese terms used in the industry are very different from the English equivalent, and it’s an ongoing challenge to adapt to them. It’s not his first time in Japan; he completed an internship with an architectural firm called Kengo Kuma, and was fascinated by what it was doing with technology. He was then awarded a Japanese government scholarship to do his second Master’s in engineering at Chiba University, focusing on UX design, which he furthered with studies at Stanford University. He loved Japan and after working for a while in South Africa, he returned and joined ACO – a division of the global technology company Monstarlab. 84 W I T S R E V I E W
“In Japan, my skills are well recognised as there aren’t that many people who are both an architect and capable of designing digital city services. I mainly do digital service development applications and websites and research into smart cities and new technologies such as augmented reality.” In South Africa, he worked in Cape Town with local government on a “digital twin city” – a digital replica of the city. This can be used to understand and manage aspects of city functioning like the electricity load of a building or neighbourhood. He used this skill to develop an app for the informal economy in his home country, Zambia. “I love working with communities and the idea was to link the informal economy to digital services designed to help them grow their customer network and trade with each other. But it was tricky because people in this sector are seen as a nuisance by the government and they are afraid it will lead to being taxed.” ACO Tokyo’s team is predominantly Japanese and has a high percentage of women in senior positions. “It’s still not that common in Japan and people often
NONDO HAS EMBRACED THE SNOW AND THE COLD
“In Japan, my skills are well recognised as there aren’t that many people who are both an architect and capable of designing digital city services.” NONDO SIKAZWE
comment on it. I really enjoy working with women. I have three sisters and I’ve seen them struggling to achieve their rightful place in their careers. I listen to what women go through and it helps me to behave better as a man, son and brother in society.” Another departure from corporate tradition, he explains, is that ACO Tokyo doesn’t have the obligatory Friday night drinks session, which is still company culture in some of the large corporates. “Anyone who is in their fifties and sixties in Japan accepts this as a norm, just as it used to be the norm for women to wear high heels in big multinational companies. Gender discrimination in traditional Japanese companies is still an issue.” Nondo says everyone works long hours in Japan: “Most people work from 10am to 8pm and then your commute home adds to this. It takes me 1.5 hours on the train to get to and from my office, and that’s considered a short commute as most people spend two hours travelling to work every day. Many also work on Saturdays.” His office in downtown Tokyo is in an area called Ebisu – a trendy business and social precinct. His apartment is in Chiba City on the outskirts of Tokyo. “One of the most fascinating things I’ve done here is to explore the architecture of the city with my older Japanese friends. I’ve met incredible people here in their seventies and eighties. One is an architect in his seventies, Susumu Suzuki, with whom I hang out. We talk about buildings and life.” During his time in Japan, Nondo has travelled to South Korea, which shares Japan’s vibrant tech culture, and to Thailand and Myanmar – parts of which felt familiar as you see people doing all sorts of jobs in the streets, and the atmosphere is loud and energetic like downtown Johannesburg, whereas Tokyo is dead silent; there is no noise, no street hawkers and no little shops on the pavements.” About Japan, he says people tend to base their perception of it from the media portrayal of its pop culture. “Pop culture is only one aspect of the society
in the same way that the Big Five is only one aspect of Africa. To gain an in-depth understanding of Japanese aesthetics from a Japanese person’s perspective, I recommend a book called In Praise of Shadows by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki.” Nondo’s long-term plan is to remain in Tokyo. “It offers a great international platform, the Japanese people with whom I work are very dynamic, and outside work I am part of Safecast here. It’s an international, volunteer-centred organisation focused on open citizen science for environmental monitoring, including air quality but notably to help detect radiation. It was established after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. It’s such an amazing group of international thinkers and it pushes me further as we combine forces to develop incredible technologies.” One of his goals is to bring more Japanese people to southern Africa and to build a network in architecture, urban design and technology between colleagues in Japan and South Africa. “This year I’ll be visiting my department at Wits to discuss this. Wits has very talented students who can tap into Japan and vice versa. I also want Japanese people to think beyond the Big Five and poverty in Africa, and start experiencing the talent and great things happening on the continent.”
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TOP: NONDO’S OFFICE IS IN DOWNTOWN TOYKO IN AN AREA C ALLED EBISU, WHICH IS A TRENDY BUSINESS A N D S O C I A L P R E C I N C T, BOTTOM: EBISU PRIME SQUARE
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IT’S BEEN AN
ow he became the chair of a UK football club is “a long story”, says Clive. “When I was a kid living in Johannesburg I fell in love with the game. If you were a crazy football fan, in addition to South African football you chose an English football club and mine was Everton. I followed all the leagues and in 2002 Everton had an alliance with Lincoln City, so I carried on following Lincoln. The worse they did, the more I supported them, as I like to support the underdog. I landed up becoming director and ultimately chair of the club.” He also played football from a young age. “But I didn’t have the ability to play at any decent level; I played for a social team and with friends every weekend until the age of 35, when l needed to focus on my work and family.” 86 W I T S R E V I E W
Witsie chartered accountant Clive Nates (BCom and BAcc 1982) lives between South Africa and the UK, where he is chairperson of Lincoln City Football Club. Clive grew up in Yeoville, where his parents managed the Courtleigh Hotel. “It was an exciting time in Yeoville with all the clubs and restaurants, and we would spend free time in Rockey Street and Hillbrow.” There wasn’t much free time as he did his BAcc at Wits part-time. To fund his studies he worked as an articled clerk at Hersowitz, Poplak and Josset, a small firm that did the audit for the hotel. “I always enjoyed numbers and I enjoyed working. I discovered I was good at auditing and after graduating I joined another firm of accountants in Parktown North, Myers, Tennier & Co.” He also took to the stock market and decided to get into the investment industry, moving to Liberty Asset Management in 1988. On his overseas travels he met his wife, Tali, in Israel. “When I returned to South
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INCREDIBLE Africa, she took a chance and came out to join me, and we got married in 1985. Today she is the director of the South African Holocaust & Genocide Centre.” At the end of 1985, South Africa was going through a period of extreme turmoil and they considered leaving “but there was nowhere else we wanted to go”. So they decided to stay. “We’ve got our political issues and uncertainties but it’s a wonderful country; it’s my home. We enjoy the good and bear with the not so good. It’s also great that both our children, despite studying overseas, returned to pursue their careers in South Africa.” After ten years with Liberty Asset
Management, in 1998 Clive helped start the first hedge fund business in South Africa – Peregrine Capital – together with his Wits friend David Fraser (BCom 1989, BAcc 1990). “It was highly stimulating, but it is a 24/7 job. It takes over everything you think about and you have to be incredibly disciplined and mentally robust as you are playing with money and there is always the possibility of winning and losing. It’s a constant balance between risk and reward; if you take too much risk, you put the business at risk, and if you don’t take risk you don’t get the rewards.” Clive retired from Peregrine Capital at
T O P L E F T: C L I V E N AT E S , CHAIRMAN OF LINCOLN CIT Y FOOTBALL CLUB, WITH WIFE TALI, T O P R I G H T: W E M B L E Y, LINCOLN V EXETER
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WITSIES AROUND THE WORLD “IT’S HARD WORK. THE REWARD HAS BEEN WONDERFUL CELEBRATIONS WITH THE FANS WHEN WE WIN A T R O P H Y, ” S AY S C L I V E
the end of 2011, followed by a period of trading on global equity markets. After a few years of working on his own, he considered either going back into hedge fund management or ticking off the number one item on his bucket list: getting involved in a football club in England. “Lincoln City was really battling and had been in the non-league for five years when I first got involved. I had no intention of getting as deeply involved as I did, but I discovered areas where I could help improve the club.” This meant making several trips a year to the UK. “Lincoln is a pretty city with lots of restaurants and I’m a member of the Castle Hill Club, just outside Lincoln Castle, which has been around for hundreds of years as a fort and later a prison. It has a wonderful view of the city and the club is a great place to hang out, meet friends, and have a drink and pub meal.” Back to Lincoln City FC, he says: “All clubs, like all businesses, need investment to progress, and I managed to bring more investment into Lincoln City. A couple of friends who are also football mad heard what I was doing and came in as investors. Most are South Africans, some living in the UK and one in the US. Together we have invested in excess of four million pounds in the club.” One of the club’s South African investors is Witsie Sean Melnick (BCom 1990; BCom Hons 1991), Chairman of Peregrine Holdings. “None of us are in this to make money. It’s for the enjoyment and excitement as we are competing against huge clubs; we all love football and we want to take the club as far as we can.” It required making considerable improvements to the way the club was being managed on and off the field, including appointing a new CEO and injecting discipline throughout. “It’s hard work. The reward has been wonderful celebrations with the fans when we win a trophy.” At the outset there were no trophies 88 W I T S R E V I E W
in sight, only the threat of extinction. In January 2015 things were so bad that their bankers were looking to withdraw their facilities as they thought there was too much risk in a club in the fifth tier of English football. But under new managers the club started a run of success. It became the first non-league team to reach the quarter finals of the FA Cup in more than 100 years. “We played Arsenal in the quarter final in front of 60 000 fans and made significant gate and broadcasting money – some two million pounds. We held Arsenal off until just before half time but they went on to win five nil.” Undaunted, the team kept building and were promoted to League 1 – the third tier of English football. The first tier is the Premier League, the second tier is the Championship League. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the season was curtailed in March 2020. This led to financial difficulties for football all round. “There were no crowds in the stadium for the 2020/21 season and we survived on a much lower budget, mainly relying on contributions from the directors and a bit of a rescue package from the Premier League. “The players had to adjust to not playing in front of fans, which removes all the atmosphere that makes football so enjoyable,” says Clive, who watched the games from South Africa through a live streaming service. The team continued to perform and reached the League 1 play-off final in May 2021, losing 2-1 to Blackpool. He is now able to travel to the UK again and the hope is to remain in League 1 and aim for the Championship division – which they last played in 60 years ago. The dream, of course, would be to get into the Premier League, but realistically, says Clive, “it is way beyond possibility” as it would require massive backing. “Having said that, we are deeply proud of where we have got in five years. It’s been an incredible ride.”
Come celebrate with us!
WITS 100TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS Celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime milestone, uniting generations of Witsies throughout the world. Get the latest centenary event updates at
https://www.wits.ac.za/centenary-events/ SCHOOL OF CONSTRUCTION ECONOMICS & MANAGEMENT ALUMNI REUNION
SEPTEMBER CHICAGO, WASHINGTON DC, BOSTON, NEW YORK, TORONTO
4 MAY Enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
NOVEMBER PERTH, MELBOURNE, SYDNEY, BRISBANE
CENTENARY GOLF DAY 19 MAY at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Club Enquiries: email@example.com
INTERNATIONAL REUNIONS Enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org CALIFORNIA, USA SAN DIEGO IRVINE LOS ANGELES SAN FRANCISCO
8 MAY 9 MAY 10 MAY 12 MAY
ENGLAND LONDON OXFORD CAMBRIDGE
20 JUNE 22 JUNE 23 JUNE
ALUMNI HOMECOMING WEEKEND 2 – 4 SEPTEMBER Enquiries: email@example.com School, Class, Residence & Sports Reunions, Sports Games, Exhibitions, Film Screenings, Music and Theatre Performances, Campus Tours, Arts & Craft Market, Spectacular Light Show. Highlights RAG PARADE 2 SEPTEMBER FREE PEOPLE’S CONCERT 3 SEPTEMBER FOUNDERS' TEA 4 SEPTEMBER
FACULTY OF HEALTH SCIENCES ALUMNI WEEK 5 – 9 SEPTEMBER Enquires: firstname.lastname@example.org Apr il 2022 89
Books Gems that stood the test of time Wits University Press published its first book The National Resources of South Africa by RA Lehfeldt, in conjunction with Longmans Green of London in 1922. It became the first university press in South Africa. Wits’ historian Bruce Murray writes that it also published the highly successful “Bantu Treasury Series”, launched in 1935 as a “series of literary gems in the Bantu languages” edited by Professor Clement Doke (DLitt 1925, LLD honoris causa 1975) and later by Professor Desmond Cole (BA 1949, BA Hons 1950, MA 1952, DLitt honoris causa 1988). The first dictionary, which Dr Vilakazi and Professor Doke collaborated on and first published in the 1940s, is still considered the most important dictionary of English and isiZulu today. Wits Press is re-issuing these foundational texts as the African Treasury Series to highlight the importance of indigenous languages and celebrate the early giants of African literature.
INKONDLO KAZULU BY BW VILAKAZI WITS UNIVERSIT Y PRESS, 2022
Inkondlo kaZulu (Zulu Poems) is the first volume of poetry by alumnus Dr Benedict Vilakazi (MA 1938, DLitt 1946), which was first published in 1935. Professor Mpume Zondi, from the University of Pretoria, writes it was the first book of poems ever published in isiZulu and “contains superb nature poems and also reflects Vilakazi’s contact with Western modernity. As both a traditional imbongi (bard) and a forward-looking poet who could fuse Western poetic forms with Zulu izibongo (praise poetry), he used his writings to express his resistance to the realities of capitalist exploitation of African labour and the appalling injustices of the migrant labour system.” 90 W I T S R E V I E W
A M A L’ E Z U L U BY BW VILAKAZI WITS UNIVERSIT Y PRESS, 2021
Amal’ezulu (Zulu Horizons), first published in 1945, was written during the 10 years Dr Vilakazi spent living in Johannesburg, in “exile” from his birthplace, KwaZulu-Natal. The poems in this collection represent a turning point in his life; they express yearnings for the beloved land, animals and ancestral spirits of his rural home, as well as expressions of deep disillusionment with the urban life he encountered in the “City of Gold”. In these poems he assumes the role of the voice of the voiceless and gives poignant expression to the stoic endurance experienced by labourers.
DES & DAWN: EVER Y DAY IS AN OPENING NIGHT BY DES AND DAWN LINDBERG BURNET MEDIA, 2021
This personal memoir about two Witsies Desmond (BA 1963) and Dawn (BA DA FA 1967) Lindberg, is a captivating glance at South African theatre, music and the related politics over the decades. The original manuscript was completed before Dawn passed away in December 2020. Its format offers different narratives from both about key events in their lives. “It was fun to do it. It became a dialogue telling our life story,” Des said during a radio interview before the official book launch. “We were fortunate to spend a year working on it together in Plettenberg Bay.” There are differing versions of how they met, but both versions occur on the Wits campus. The first
involves a haze of teargas at a protest march on 15 February 1962, in which Des emerges to protect Dawn from an aggressor with a sjambok. In the other story, they are both in the back row of the chorus of the Choral Society production of The Vagabond King, cast as courtier lady and knight. “I gave Dawn a plastic rose every night,” writes Des. Des writes in the coda: “If this book achieves nothing else, I am determined that it will help me to sign off on our story in a way that does justice to the extraordinary leader, wife, mother, partner and lover Dawn was. Our story is a joyful one, and we tell it together as a celebration of life.”
COLLEGE OF THE LITTLE FLOWER: BROTHERS OF CHARIT Y COLLEGE – PIETERSBURG (POLOKWANE) BY BRUNO VERRIEST WRITE-ON PUBLISHING, 2019
Dr Bruno Verriest (BDS 1976) writes that he considered himself fortunate to have been accepted to study dentistry at Wits, “after residing in South Africa for only 28 months, having arrived from Belgium in 1966 at the age of almost 17, previously not speaking a word of English”. Although he spent a relatively short time at the College of The Little Flower in the late 1960s and completed his matric there, the school so imprinted itself into his psyche that he felt compelled to undertake the huge task of writing its “memoirs”. After 40 years as a general dental practitioner, he set aside his dental probes, mirrors and tweezers, choosing to trace back the history of the Pietersburg (Polokwane) Brothers of
Charity College – previously known as The College of The Little Flower – from 1928 till 1976. For the best of two years he unearthed the well-hidden secrets among the archives of the Brothers of Charity, situated mainly in Ghent and Rome. This well-researched historical book is a tribute to the early missionary-teachers and sketches the early history of the Catholic Church in South Africa, spinning a wide web involving different religious congregations (Benedictines, Dominican Sisters of Newcastle, King’s Sisters, Sisters of Charity of Heule). The preface of the book was written by Brother René Stockman, Superior-General of the Brothers of
Charity worldwide and, gives a small insight into life at College. It also throws some light on the sudden and unexpected closure of the College in 1976. Apr il 2022 91
SEEN, HEARD AND VALUED: WAM CELEBRATES 40 YEARS OF THE S TANDARD BANK AFRICAN ART COLLECTION, BY J CHARLTON, L COHEN, L LEYDE, K MOKGOJWA, A NETTLETON AND F RANKINSMITH (EDS) WITS ART MUSEUM, 2021
This publication commemorates and celebrates an extraordinary 40-year partnership. Since 1979 Standard Bank has provided Wits University with annual financial support to build an acclaimed collection of African art at the Wits Art Museum. The resulting Standard Bank African Art Collection consists of over 5 000 items and is integrated into the research and education programmes at the museum. It is a diverse and rich resource that is archived in book form, following the successful exhibition with the same title in 2021 and earlier in 2022. The volume opens with forewords by Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Wits University, and Thulani Sibeko, Chief Marketing Officer, Standard Bank Group. The body of the publication includes 42 essays and three appendices. It is a wonderful keepsake. INS TALL ATION IMAGE OF “SEEN, HEARD AND VALUED: WAM CELEBRATES 40 YEARS OF THE S TANDARD BANK AFRIC AN AR T COLLECTION” AT WAM, 2021
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Image: Mark Lewis
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BONES AND BODIES: HOW SOUTH AFRICAN SCIENTISTS STUDIED RACE BY ALAN G MORRIS WITS UNIVERSIT Y PRESS, 2022
Professor Emeritus Alan G Morris (PhD 1984) is based in the Department of Human Biology at the University of Cape Town and has published widely on the origin of anatomically modern humans, and the Later Stone Age, Iron Age and historical populations of Kenya, Malawi, Namibia and South Africa, as well as forensic anthropology. He was born in Canada, obtaining his undergraduate degree in biology from Wilfrid Laurie University in Waterloo Ontario. In Bones and Bodies Professor Morris critically examines the history of evolutionary anthropology in South Africa. He uncovers the stories of individual scientists and how they contributed to knowledge of the peoples of southern Africa, both ancient and modern. Using old correspondences, interviews as well as published resources, he argues that much of the earlier anthropological studies have been tainted with the tarred brush of race science. Modern methods in physical anthropology rely on sophisticated mathematics and molecular genetics but are difficult to translate and sometimes fail to challenge preconceived assumptions. It is described by one reviewer as “an excellent read. In the contemporary moment of decolonial and Black Lives Matter thinking, it has particular resonance”.
ONE VIRUS, T WO COUNTRIES: WHAT COVID-19 TELL S US ABOUT SOUTH AFRIC A BY STEVEN FRIEDMAN WITS UNIVERSIT Y PRESS, 2022
Professor Steven Friedman (BA 1974, BA Hons 1975) offers a searing analysis of South Africa’s COVID-19 response. The former trade unionist, political scientist and public commentator writes that South Africa is two societies in one – a “First World” which resembles Western Europe and North America, and a “Third World” which looks much like the rest of Africa or South Asia. The South African state, the media and the scientific community have, however, largely tried to deal with the virus through a “First World” lens in which much of the country was either 94 W I T S R E V I E W
invisible or a problem – not a partner. Senior economist at Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies, Neva Makgetla, says: “Friedman provides an important case study of the damage caused when we develop policies by copying ‘best practice’ from Europe and the US, without testing them consistently against South African realities.” Professor Friedman is also author of Power in Action: Democracy, citizenship and social justice (Wits Press, 2018) and Prisoners of the Past: South African democracy and the legacy of minority rule (Wits Press, 2021).
THE DISCOVERY OF LOVE BY NTHIKENG MOHLELE JACANA MEDIA, 2021
Nthikeng Mohlele (BADA 2002) is a writer and brand marketing professional who works and lives in Johannesburg. During his time at Wits he majored in dramatic art, publishing studies and African literature. The Discovery of Love is his first collection of short stories and is a format he found quite challenging: “The runway from which a short story must take off is quite short. The process is difficult because there so little room for error. If you have one line wrong, it can collapse your story. It’s like walking on the 100th floor of a skyscraper,” he said during the virtual launch of the book. The overarching theme of the collection is love, but not in the traditional sense. For example one character contemplates finding love among widows, arguing that love emerges from absences and silences; other characters such as assassins, butchers and private investigators expose the distortion of love through crimes of passion. The stories have no formal beginnings, plots or endings, but rather are inner dialogues of the different characters. Mohlele’s prose has been described as “liquid gold” and it has drawn many loyal fans and accolades. He is the author of six critically acclaimed novels: The Scent of Bliss (Kwela, 2008), Small Things (Picador 2013), Rusty Bell (Jacana, 2014), Pleasure (Picador Africa 2016), Michael K (Picador Africa, 2018), and Illumination (Picador Africa, 2019). Pleasure won the 2016 University of Johannesburg Main Prize for South African Writing in English as well as the 2017 K Sello Duiker Memorial Prize at the South African Literary Awards. It was also longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. One of the stories in the collection, “I Am A Woman”, is being converted into a play that will be staged at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg in June. Apr il 2022 95
A remarkable 100 years! BY JACQUELINE STEENEVELDT
his year marks the 100th birthday of a very special alumnus and activist, Dr Michael Hathorn (MSc Eng 1943, MBBCh 1950), who celebrates his birthday on 8 April 2022. Dr Hathorn was born in KwaZulu-Natal and matriculated from Hilton College. He’s lived a remarkable life in three countries, including: serving in the South African Air Force (SAAF) during World War II; earning two degrees from Wits; being imprisoned without trial under the State of Emergency for more than 90 days; and pursuing a respected career as a paediatric pulmonologist. The spritely Dr Hathorn corresponded via email and shared highlights from his life with WITSReview: “I had decided to do mining engineering at Wits on the recommendation of my uncle, who had qualified at the old School of Mining in Eloff Street,” he writes. “One of the best lecturers I remember was Professor Gordon B Lauf, who taught us mine surveying.” One of the requirements of mining students was to spend time over the holidays working in a gold mine. “It also made me realise the vast difference in the way that white and black miners were treated. The white miners were covered by legislation whereby they received free treatment and financial compensation if they developed silicosis or tuberculosis, due to working underground. Black miners were on yearly contracts, which were renewed if they were healthy; if not, they were left with no treatment or compensation. It was this which decided me not to continue with mining after the war.” A week after qualifying as an engineer he joined the airforce as a fitter, and serviced the SAAF airplanes until he was demobilised in January 1946. While in the SAAF, he married Dr Margaret Cormack (BSc 1946, MBBCh 1949), a second-year medical student at Wits. “It was
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at this time that I met Zena Stein (MBBCh 1950, DSc honoris causa 1993) and her husband Mervyn Susser (MBBCh 1950, DSc honoris causa 1993). We travelled together by train to attend the evening classes.” The Wits Medical School required medical students to spend three weeks during their second clinical year at the Alexandra Health Centre and University Clinic. “This exposure to the health problems of African patients was an important part of their medical education.” In December 1951, Dr Hathorn and colleagues Dr Stein and Dr Susser applied for posts at the clinic. “Mervyn was appointed as a full-time medical officer, and Zena and I as part-time. When Zena became pregnant and then nursed her child, I became temporarily full-time,” Dr Hathorn writes. Dr Hathorn and his wife left the clinic in April 1955 to take up posts at the newly formed University of Natal Medical School in Durban, “Margaret in social medicine, and me in physiology under Professor Theodore Gillman (MBBCh 1941, MSc 1948, DSc 1958).” “In 1960, I was detained in prison for three months.” Dr Hathorn kept a diary of his time at Durban Central Prison during his detention under the State of Emergency. After his release he was employed as a senior lecturer in physiology at the Wits Medical School and left South Africa in 1961 with Professor Joseph Gillman (BSc 1929, BSc Hon 1930, MBBCh 1933, PhD 1940), as head of a new research institute in Ghana.” In 1964 Dr Hathorn left Ghana for the UK to become a senior lecturer and, later, reader in physiology at the London Hospital Medical College. He officially retired in 1987 but received a post-retirement post for three years from The Wellcome Trust and his last paper was published in 2000!
DR EDITH WALDMANN (TM&H 1952), DR MICHAEL HATHORN AND PROFESSOR ZENA S TEIN ALL WORKED TOGETHER AT THE ALEXANDRA HEALTH CENTRE AND UNIVERSIT Y CLINIC DURING THE EARLY 1950S. THIS PHOTO WAS TAKEN IN F E B RUA R Y 2 016 I N D R H AT H O R N ’ S L O N D O N F L AT.
This is an excerpt from Dr Hathorn's prison diary in 1960 – on the day of his 38th birthday:
FRIDAY 8 APRIL
Today was my 38th birthday. In the afternoon, I was given a parcel which had been handed in at the gate by Margaret – a medium blue short-sleeved shirt, and a pair of khaki shorts, stockings and a pair of sandals. It was a marvellous present, as for the past week I had been wearing only the clothes I had brought in with me – I had been allowed to bring in only one change of clothing. There was also some soap and toilet paper which made life a lot easier. Another surprise was the arrival of three books from the prison library which had been selected by the trustee prisoner Brown who was in charge of the library. One of these books was Boswell's London Diary.
“It was also illegal to photograph prisons in South Africa. In May 1961, when Margaret and I were driving in Durban on the day before we sold our car, a few days before we escaped to Ghana, I decided I must have a photograph of the Durban Central Prison. Margaret took the wheel, and I quickly set the focus and aperture on the camera, raised it and took a snapshot as we drove past. The unprocessed film went with us to Ghana and I had it developed and printed there.” DR MICHAEL HATHORN
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A lasting legacy
In Memoriam WE F ONDLY R EM E M BE R T HOSE WHO HAVE G ONE BE FORE US
Image: Paul Weinberg
[MBBCh 1950, DSc honoris causa 1993]
EMERITUS PROFESSOR ZENA STEIN WITH HER HUSBAND PROFESSOR MERVYN SUSSER
Their pioneering research drew attention to the relationships between health, disease and social injustice.
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Influential and beloved epidemiologist Emeritus Professor Zena Stein died on 7 November 2021 at her home in Coatesville in the United States at the age of 99. Much of her work was conducted with her husband Professor Mervyn Susser (MBBCh 1950, DSc honoris causa 1993), who died in 2014. Their pioneering research drew attention to the relationships between health, disease and social injustice. Professor Stein was born on 7 July 1922 in Durban, to a family of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants. Her mother, Lily (Rolnick) Stein, was a homemaker. Her
father, Philip Stein, was a mathematics professor at Natal Technical College, which became the Durban University of Technology. She attended the University of Cape Town for her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history, receiving two Gold Medals for her work before embarking on her medical degree at Wits. She married Professor Susser in 1949 and it’s documented that the couple organised a protest over the treatment of black medical students, who were barred from observing autopsies of white cadavers at Wits. Immediately after their internships, they joined with another radical couple, Dr Michael Hathorn (BSc Eng 1943, MBBCh 1950) and Dr Margaret Cormack (BSc 1946, MBBCh 1949), to direct and staff the Alexandra Health Centre and University Clinic in Johannesburg. These medics were influenced by Witsie couple Dr Sidney Kark (MBBCh 1937, MMed 1954, DSc honoris causa 1982) and Dr Emily Kark née Jaspan (MBBCh 1938), who ran Pholela, the landmark health centre in the 1940s in rural KwaZulu-Natal. Dr Sidney Kark “was the one who explained to us how work as a doctor could in fact do something to society,” Professor Stein said in an interview in 2003 to the journal Epidemiology. “We had preventive medicine and curative medicine; he had a new word for us, ‘promotive’ medicine, which means you actually helped communities to make a difference to their health.” Their “Pholela model” led them to
carry out one of the first studies of comand eventually to a recommunity health, published in the Lancet mendation that all pregnant in 1955 as “Medical Care in an African women consume folic acid Township”. They worked as a team and daily. In 1977 Professor conducted hundreds of studies, many of Stein was one of the foundwhich shaped the field of epidemiology ers of Columbia’s Gertrude and community healthcare. During this Sergievsky Centre, which period they developed ties with many originally studied disorders leaders in the anti-apartheid movement of the nervous system. such as Ahmed Kathrada (LLD honoIn the 1980s, she turned ris causa 2012), Walter Sisulu (LLD her focus to HIV and honoris causa 1999), Joe Slovo (BA co-founded the HIV Centre 1948, LLB 1951) and Nelson Mandela for Clinical and Behavioural (LLD honoris causa 1991). Professors Studies, which highlighted Susser and Stein helped write guidelines the needs of women living for healthcare in South Africa’s Freedom with AIDS. It is now one Charter in 1955. of the largest centres of its kind in the Professors Stein and Susser, along world, employing about 100 investigators with their three children, emigrated to and staff members in the study of HIV Britain in 1956 after the arrests of many across different disciplines, including colleagues. Initially they lived in boardpsychology, psychiatry, public health, ing houses and worried about money. anthropology, sociology and social work. Professor Stein worked nights in a menShe remained close to her South African tal hospital and after a year, Professor roots, playing a mentoring role to her Susser found work at the University of Columbia colleagues Professors Salim Manchester and Professor Stein followed, Abdool Karim and Quarraisha Abdool working as a researcher. (BSc 1984) based at the Centre for the In 1965 the family moved to the AIDS Programme of Research in South United States, and they both found their Africa (CAPRISA). They told of her academic home at Columbia University. fondness for South African treats such Professor Stein began teaching first as an as rooibos tea, and Peppermint Crisp associate professor of epidemiology, then chocolates as well as the annual visits to earning a full professorship and assuming the country post-democracy. “We will administrative positions in what is now always remember Stein for her warmth the Mailman School of Public Health in as this gentle, caring, highly energetic, 1966. In 1968, she became director of the and friendly person who always had time Epidemiology Research for all with whom she met,” Unit in the New York they said in a CAPRISA Professors Susser State Psychiatric Institute, statement. and Stein helped a position she held for 30 In 2017 Professor Stein write guidelines for years. During this time received the South African healthcare in South their seminal work, the Medical Research Council’s Africa’s Freedom Dutch Famine study, was President’s Award. In her Charter in 1955. published. It examined acceptance speech she a nine-month period of urged the audience to malnutrition during World “forcefully protect the inWar II. They argued that babies exposed tegrity of the mind and nurture carefully to famine prenatally were more likely the humanity of the heart.” to have cognitive deficits and elevated She is survived by her three chilcongenital nervous system anomalies dren, and numerous grandchildren and including neural tube defects. These great-grandchildren. Sources: The Lancet, Epidemiology, CAPRISA, results helped lead to clinical trials to Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, Wits archives investigate the role of folate in pregnancy,
DR SIDNEY AND DR EMILY KARK AT PHOLELA
“We had preventive medicine and curative medicine; Dr Kark had a new word for us, ‘promotive’ medicine, which means you actually helped communities to make a difference to their health.” PROFESSOR STEIN
Apr il 2022 99
Aura Herzog née Ambache, the mother of Israel’s President Isaac Herzog and widow of Israel’s sixth president, Chaim Herzog, died on 10 January 2022 at the age of 97. Herzog was born in Egypt after her parents were expelled from Jaffa by the Turks during World War I. She completed a degree in mathematics and physics at Wits before immigrating to Israel in 1946 and joining the Hagana, the defence organisation that was the precursor to the Israel Defense Forces. She then joined a diplomatic course and met Chaim Herzog; the two married in 1947. During the War of Independence she served as a soldier in Military Intelligence and later in the Science Corps. She was seriously wounded in a bombing attack in 1948. Herzog served in various public
positions over the years. She helped found the International Bible Contest, which is still held annually, and she founded and led the Council for a Beautiful Israel, a non-profit environmental group that remains active. After her husband’s death in 1997, Herzog led efforts to commemorate his life and work. The couple had four children. Their son Michael is Israel’s ambassador to the United States. She was buried in Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl national cemetery.
Electrical engineer and historian Max Percival Clarke passed away on 18 November 2021. Clarke was passionate about municipal electrical engineering and ran numerous successful projects. He was born on 15 February 1926 in Butterworth, in the Eastern Cape, where [BSc Eng 1948] he spent his formative years. After his graduation at Wits, Clarke completed his pupillage in the East London area. In January 1951, he was appointed as a graduate apprentice with British ThomsonHouston, Rugby in England. While in the UK he met a young Australian nurse, Eileen, whom he later married and with whom he had three daughters. They returned to South Africa and Clarke was appointed as the town electrical engineer in Somerset East in 1954. Here he ran the electricity department, which included a coal-fired power station, for 16 years. In 1970 He led by example they moved to Newcastle in Natal, with passion, energy where Clarke took on the challenge and knowledge. of reconstructing the electrical infrastructure of the little town that was
to become a boomtown due to the giant steelworks, lscor, opening a second plant there. Clarke later moved to the Randburg Municipality, which was then a rural town with agricultural smallholdings. There were plans to establish the area as another economic hub along with modern housing and large commercial undertakings. He built an electricity department from the ground up, managing the design and construction of buildings and infrastructure, and appointing staff. He retired in 1990, but continued to work for the Association of Municipal Electricity. Clarke was also an active member of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE) and chaired its historical interest group. He led by example with passion, energy and knowledge. In 2013, he was awarded the Engineer of the Year in recognition of his contribution to establishing SAIEE's museum and library.
MAX PERCIVAL CLARKE
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Sources: Wits archive, Times of Israel
She served as a soldier in Military Intelligence and later in the Science Corps. She was seriously wounded in a bombing attack in 1948.
Source: wattnow magazine
MAX COLEMAN [BSc Eng 1949]
Dr Coleman, along with his wife, received the Order of Luthuli in Silver in 2021 for his contribution to the struggle for democracy, human rights, nationbuilding, justice and peace and conflict resolution.
He never turned anyone away or refused to give help. He paid attention to the details in all areas of his life.
Former human rights commissioner and anti-apartheid activist Dr Max Coleman passed away on 16 January 2022, at the age of 95. A chemical engineering graduate from Wits, Dr Coleman was born in South Africa in 1926 to a Lithuanianborn father and Irish-Catholic mother. He completed his doctorate at Imperial College London but returned to his home country and married Audrey Goldman in 1953. The couple had four sons, Brian (BSc 1980), Keith (BA 1981, BA Hons 1983, MBA 1991), Neil (BA 1980) and Colin (BArch 1988). The Colemans’ lives of activism started with a policeman’s knock on the door at 5am on 24 October 1981, as documented in The Knock on The Door: The Story of The Detainees’ Parents Support Committee (Picador Africa, 2018). They learned that their son, Keith, who was not at home at the time, was on a security branch list of activists. The following morning Dr Coleman accompanied Keith to John Vorster Square police station and thus began his recording of his son’s – and soon others’ – detention by the security police. Dr Coleman stepped away from his role as businessman with a successful chemical and photographic company to become a founding member of the Detainees’ Parents Support Committee (DPSC), which provided food, clothing and legal assistance to detainees. The DPSC united people of all backgrounds and the first meetings were held at Wits. The organisation shared information about legal rights, generated publicity and helped families link up with the Black Sash, medical professionals, psychologists, business people, academics and human rights lawyers. By the time Keith was released from detention in April 1982, the DPSC had grown into a national movement. Dr Coleman was a meticulous record-keeper, and his records are vital evidence of this violent period of South Africa’s history. These are currently lodged with the Historical Papers Archive at Wits. In 1985, Dr Coleman co-founded the
poverty-fighting agency Kagiso Trust, with the likes of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu (honoris causa LLD 1993), Eric Molobi (LLD honoris causa 2000) and Dr Beyers Naudé. At the turn of the decade he was also appointed as a commissioner of the broad-based Human Rights Committee that was set up following the banning of the DPSC, which continued to help to raise awareness about state violence in the build-up to the first democratic Max was a humanist: elections solid, trustworthy, in 1994. he was consistent Coleman and, in his deepest would go on self, unchanging to serve as – regardless of his one of the audience. first commissioners of the South African Human Rights Commission and as an MP in Nelson Mandela’s government of national unity. Dr Coleman, along with his wife, received the Order of Luthuli in Silver conferred by President Cyril Ramaphosa in November 2021 for his contribution to the struggle for democracy, human rights, nation-building, justice and peace and conflict resolution. At his memorial service speakers paid tribute to Dr Coleman as a man of few words, who had the ability to listen intently. His actions reflected kindness: he never turned anyone away or refused to give help. He paid attention to the details in all areas of his life. A nature lover, he made careful notes on shells, birds and music and marvelled at the mechanics of how things worked. Keith said: “We see in Max things that we all value, but seldom see in the world. Max was a humanist: solid, trustworthy, he was consistent and, in his deepest self, unchanging – regardless of his audience. We can draw a straight line connecting his values to his words and his actions.” He is survived by Audrey, his four sons and eight grandchildren. Sources: SA History Online, Wits archives, New Frame, Daily Maverick
Apr il 2022 101
SAMUEL ROY CAPLAN
[BSc Eng 1950, PhD 1953]
In addition to being a superb and very clever scientist, he was described as “a decent, humane and modest person”.
Professor Emeritus Roy Caplan died at the age of 94 on 10 November 2021. He was a renowned biophysicist in the field of bioenergetics, expert in mathematical modelling of molecular machines and biological oscillations. Professor Caplan was born in 1927 in London, but grew up in South Africa and was educated at Wits, receiving his bachelor of science in chemical engineering degree (cum laude) in 1950 and his PhD in 1953 focusing on the physical chemistry of macromolecules in solution. Over the course of his career he worked at the National Chemical Laboratory and the Weizmann Institute in Israel and the Harvard Medical School. His studies at the Weizmann Institute were first focused on energy conversion processes and systems, with an emphasis
on membrane transport. He, together with Ora Kedem and Aharon Katzir, developed a new approach to such systems — non-equilibrium thermodynamics. In the mid-1970s, his group also started to study the properties, kinetics, and proton-pump activity of bacteriorhodopsin in the purple membrane of archaea (wrongly considered then as halobacteria). When Professor Caplan approached retirement, he mainly focused on mathematical modelling of molecular machines. He was loved by his acquaintances because, in addition to being a superb and very clever scientist, he was described as “a decent and modest person, humane and a knowledgeable conversation man”.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu died on 26 December 2022 in a Cape Town care home with his wife and three of his four children by his side, following a more than two-decade-long fight with cancer. He was 90 years old. Born in Klerksdorp on 7 October 1931, Archbishop Tutu was raised by his teacher father, Zachariah, and domestic worker mother, Aletta. When he was 12, his middle-class family moved to Ventersdorp. At the age of 14 he contracted tuberculosis and over the course of 20 months in hospital he developed a lifelong friendship with Father Trevor Huddleston, who became his religious inspiration and mentor. After matriculating at Madibane High with flying colours he was offered a place to study medicine at Wits, but the family couldn’t afford it. He became a teacher instead after graduating from the University of South Africa. A year later, he married Nomalizo Leah Shenxane. He resigned from his missionary school teaching post, opting instead for a
career in the church. In 1960 he received his licentiate in theology and was ordained as a priest in 1961. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees through a scholarship at King’s College at the University of London. In 1967 he returned to South Africa and joined the staff of the Federal Theological Seminary in Alice and became Chaplain at the University of Fort Hare. He moved frequently: from the University of Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and another spell in England as associate director of the Theological Education Fund of the World Council of Churches. Upon his return to South Africa in 1975, Archbishop Tutu was appointed the Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral. He wrote to the South African prime minister John Vorster in May 1976: “The people can only take so much and no more.” Two weeks later, the Soweto protests erupted. He was persuaded to take up the post of general secretary of the South Council of Churches between 1978 and 1985 and through this role, Archbishop Tutu
Sources: Department of Biomolecular Science, Weizmann Institute
DESMOND MPILO TUTU [honoris causa LLD 1993]
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In 1984, Archbishop Tutu was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize and in 1994 he headed South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He embraced both abusers and the abused. He spoke on causes including corrupt governance, global warming and autocratic rulers. His selfdeprecating humour and authenticity endeared him to many.
[BCom 1952, LLB 1954]
became a national and international figure. In 1984, Archbishop Tutu was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize and in 1994 he headed South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a first-ofits-kind judicial committee that called on apartheid-era perpetrators to publicly apologise for their crimes to victims, who in turn shared their stories. He embraced both abusers and the abused. Archbishop Tutu had a close link with Wits. He was a member of the Board of Control of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies since its inception in 1978 and played a leading role in the centre’s direction. He also participated in the general life of the University through advice and addressing innumerable meetings. In 1982 when Archbishop Tutu was prevented from visiting the United States to receive an honorary degree from Columbia University, Wits acted as host to the conferment of the degree by the President of Columbia University.
In 2011 he included Wits in his 80th birthday celebrations with a lecture series to celebrate youth, interfaith dialogue, and non-violent methods of protest, despite his close friend the Dalai Lama being denied a visa to attend the celebrations. Short in stature, Archbishop Tutu, affectionately known as “Arch”, was a towering figure. He spoke on causes including corrupt governance, global warming and autocratic rulers. In 2016, he supported his daughter Mpho’s marriage to a woman, despite the South African Anglican Church’s teaching that marriage was a union between a man and a woman. “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven,” he said. He communicated freely with tears and shrieks of delight. His self-deprecating humour and authenticity endeared him to many. Archbishop Tutu is survived by his wife, Leah, four children Trevor, Theresa, Naomi and Mpho, and his sister Gloria.
Unsung hero of the legal fraternity Advocate Denis Kuny died in Johannesburg at the age of 89 on 25 October 2021. Kuny shied away from the spotlight, but was pivotal in defending many anti-apartheid activists alongside the likes of Advocate George Bizos (BA 1951, LLB 1954, LLD honoris causa 1999), Lord Joel Joffe (BCom 1952, LLB 1955, honoris causa 2001) and former Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson (BCom 1952, LLB 1955, honoris causa 1990). He was born in Kroonstad on 8 March 1932, and moved to Johannesburg with his family at the age of four. He went to school in Springs, on the East Rand, and considered being a medical doctor like his father, Benjamin. But after matriculating
in 1948, he enrolled for a BCom at Wits and as a result of an uninspiring job shadowing experience with his accountant uncle, he decided to pursue a career in law instead. Advocate Kuny was largely apolitical, unlike his Wits classmates and peers. He knew Lord Joffe since childhood and recalled to the Wits LRC Oral History Project in 2008: “One day we were in a lecture and a question of general interest came up for discussion (I can’t recall what it was), and it became clear that I had no idea what was going on. And Joel turned to me and said: ‘Don’t you ever read newspapers?’ I suddenly became aware of the fact that I actually didn’t read much and was quite ignorant about what was happening in the ‘real world’.” In 1957 he married Hillary Hamburger (BA 1959, MA 1984). They lived in London for a year and on their return he was admitted to the bar in February 1960. A month later came the Sharpeville massacre and his involvement in political cases began.
Kuny was pivotal in defending many anti-apartheid activists alongside the likes of Advocate George Bizos, Lord Joel Joffe and former Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson.
Sources: Sunday Times, Wits archives
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He was involved in many high-profile political trials during the struggle era. He used his skill on cases that he believed mattered, shunning a lucrative commercial career.
DAVID BLUMSOHN [MBBCh 1954, DMed 1959]
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He started by defending a host of black South Africans involved in pass burning, demonstrations, breaching banning orders and membership of banned organisations. Hamburger was the secretary of the Defence and Aid Fund, and she roped him into defending PAC youngsters who had nobody to defend them. Most of his cases were fought in small towns in front of aggressive judges and prosecutors. In time Kuny’s cases escalated to defending those accused of terrorism and high treason. He used his skill on cases that he believed mattered, shunning a lucrative commercial career. In 1961 he helped Nelson Mandela pose as a chauffeur to evade the security police. Kuny dressed as a wealthy businessman and was driven by Mandela to Ladysmith using Chaskalson’s car. Kuny was involved in many high-profile political trials during the struggle era, defending Bram Fischer and Steve Biko among others. He defended students in the Nusas trial in 1975, among them
Professor David Blumsohn was known as the “heart, soul, and pulse” of Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, where he worked for 50 years. He passed away at the age of 89 on 20 October 2021. He devoted his life to the practice of medicine almost exclusively in the public sector, serving the poorest of the poor in Soweto during and after apartheid. His father, Aaron Blumsohn, emigrated to South Africa in 1924 from Lithuania at the age of 18 and married Leiba Tannenbaum. Aaron ran religious services in Belfast and Nigel and later became a shochet (qualified to slaughter meat according to Jewish law). They settled in Roodepoort and had three children, Maurice, Tzilla and David. Blumsohn attended Krugersdorp High School and completed his medical degree at Wits. He gave unswerving and loyal service to the Department of Medicine at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital for more than five
Eddie Webster, who said, “He managed to sanitise our radical ideas in a way that made them sound reasonable and perfectly sensible.” In 1982 he defended Barbara Hogan (BA 1977, BA Hons 1979) and represented the family of Neil Aggett in the inquest after his torture and death in police custody. In 1986 he took over the defence of the MK operative Andrew Zondo. Advocate Kuny shunned the limelight. He was a talented jazz pianist. One anecdote goes that when he became senior counsel in 1983, he took his family to a steakhouse in Johannesburg to celebrate. There was a piano there which he started playing. He looked slightly down and out. As somebody left the steakhouse he put down a R5 note saying: “I think you need it.” He is survived by three sons: Neil, Steven (BA Hons 1982, LLB 1985) and Jonathan, and his second wife Alison Scarr. Source: Wits LRC Oral History Project, Sunday Independent and Sunday Times
He possessed all the qualities of a great physician. He had an outstanding intellect, an encyclopedic knowledge of medicine, and an ability to inspire students. But above all, he was a humanitarian.
decades: initially as registrar, then as physician, senior physician, principal physician and head of one of the large medical units. After his retirement in 1997, he continued to work in the department as Honorary Professor, sharing his extensive knowledge, experience and wisdom with students, doctors and patients. He possessed all the qualities of a great physician. He had an outstanding intellect, an encyclopedic knowledge of medicine, and an ability to inspire students. But above all, he was a humanitarian. He wrote a moving article for the
Professor Emeritus in Psychology at the University of British CoIumbia Stanley “Jack” Rachman passed away on 2 September 2021 at the age of 87. He was internationally renowned for his work on behavioural (and later cognitive-behavioural) theories and interventions for [BA 1954, BA Hons 1955, anxiety-based disorders. MA 1957] Professor Rachman was born in Johannesburg and completed his undergraduate degree at Wits. He completed his PhD at the Institute of Psychiatry at London University under the supervision of Professor Hans J Eysenck in 1961. He continued at the Institute and was involved in the pioneering studies of exposure and response prevention for obsessive compulsive disorder. He was involved in the pioneering In 1982 he moved to studies of exposure and response the University of British prevention for obsessive compulsive Columbia, where he was disorder. He received a lifetime tasked with building the achievement award from the British clinical programme. He Psychological Society. retired in 1999 and was also Emeritus Professor
at the Institute of Psychiatry, London University. As a prolific researcher, Rachman’s areas of focus over the years were in the anxiety disorders, fear and courage, and broadly cognitive behaviour therapy. He was best known for his work in obsessive-compulsive disorder. In addition to his many contributions in the science and practice of cognitive-behaviour therapy, he worked with and trained many of the world’s leading CBT researchers and practitioners. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and received a lifetime achievement award from the British Psychological Society. Rachman enjoyed a broad range of interests including music, politics and world history. He was a well-known oenophile and enjoyed good practical jokes. His lectures were reportedly filled with humour and scholarship. He was married to Clare Philips for more than 50 years and a dedicated father to four children and seven grandchildren.
medical students’ journal, The Leech, entitled “The Pathology of Poverty” which had a major influence on the thinking of many students. He was at the forefront of a campaign at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in 1987 in which doctors protested at the deplorable conditions patients had to endure. Blumsohn published widely in the medical literature and was invited to leading medical institutions as visiting professor or researcher. Students regularly thanked him for showing them the importance of patient-centered medicine. He received the PV Tobias and Convocation Award for distinguished teaching in 1996. He was one of the students’ heroes and was guest speaker at the final year medical students’ ball for many years. Professor Blumsohn also held a doctorate in Semitic languages and was extremely widely read. In recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the University, its students and the
community of Soweto, he was awarded a Gold Medal in 2008. He married, June, one of Chris Hani Baragwanath’s first radiologists, who passed away when she was young. He lived in the couple’s home in Kew, Johannesburg, for about 40 years before moving to a care home. At his funeral, Rabbi Dr Dean Gersun described Blumsohn as “the ultimate mensch”. “You only had to meet him for five minutes to be spellbound by his genuine love, care, kindness, and compassion,” he said, adding that he had “genuine care for his patients, for how they were, and who they were”. Associate Professor Elise Schapkaitz (MBBCh 2002, MMed 2009) said: “He wasn’t just my mentor on how to be a good doctor, but my role model on how to be a good person.”
STANLEY JACK RACHMAN
He was known as the “heart, soul, and pulse” of Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, where he worked for 50 years. “You only had to meet him for five minutes to be spellbound by his genuine love, care, kindness, and compassion”
Source: University of British Columbia
Sources: South African Jewish Report and Wits University archive
Apr il 2022 105
Musician Bruce Gardiner died peacefully at home a month short of his 89th birthday on 9 November 2021. His legacy is encapsulated in the piano classics and keyboard melodies he performed in many auditoriums, churches [BMus 1954] and school halls. Gardiner was brought up in an era when swing, big bands and jazz were popular and he was influenced by pianists such as Carmen Cavallaro and Dave Brubeck. Gardiner was born in Queenstown, now Komani, to Dr Ivor and Bernadine Gardiner and was schooled at Queen’s College, to which he returned regularly throughout his life to give fundraising concerts. A severe illness at an early age prevented any meaningful participation in robust sport so his mother, a pianist, encouraged Gardiner to learn His legacy is encapsulated to play the piano. As a schoolboy he in the piano classics put his talent to good use by playing and keyboard melodies at assemblies and at raucous inhe performed in many ter-schools rugby matches where he auditoriums, churches and could be found at the keyboard of a school halls. His elegant honkytonk piano to the great delight style in shows enchanted of the crowd. listeners all over the At Wits he obtained his music country. degree and proceeded to London where he spent a year acquiring his
performer’s licentiate. Back in South Africa, he headed the music department at the East London Technical College. He spent many happy years in East London with his wife Nell and his three growing children until Nell fell ill in the early 1970s and the family moved to Cape Town for specialised treatment. Shortly before the Gardiner family left East London, his friend Donald Woods, editor of the Daily Dispatch at the time, unobtrusively solicited donations from the city’s business community to purchase a grand piano in recognition of his services to music and education. On the piano he had inscribed: “To Bruce from the citizens of East London.” Nell succumbed to her illness and in 1976 Bruce took up the position as head of the music department of the University of the Western Cape, where he became a revered member of staff until he retired in 1992. His elegant style and delicate touch in shows enchanted listeners all over the country. He is survived by his son, Ivor, daughters Debra and Julia, eight grandchildren, seven great grandchildren and many devoted fans.
One of the pioneers of Australian merchant banking, David Block died aged 85 in Sydney on 14 August 2021 after a short illness. The Wits-trained lawyer was a trusted adviser to business and government and [BProc 1957] described as a “goliath of business”. After emigrating from South Africa in 1964, Block worked at Darling & Co before setting up David Block and Associates in 1972 and becoming a director of Lloyds when it acquired the firm in 1981. Block also served in promDescribed as a “goliath inent roles as a company diof business”, he was rector – he was on the board of acknowledged for his Corporate Social Responsibility remarkable network and for a decade – government ad“generosity with his time, viser and with the Sydney Opera his hospitality and his House Trust, National Gallery, intelligence”. Darling Harbour Authority and
Australian Film Commission. In 1975, he was involved in the review of the taxation system in Australia and was the Robert Hawke government’s “efficiency expert”. In 1987, Hawke said: “I wanted to get the toughest, leanest, meanest, most efficient bloke in the private sector and bring him into the Australian public service to undertake a series of efficiency scrutiny surveys and already David has done a brilliant job.” He played an ambassadorial role for South Africans in Sydney and was acknowledged for his “remarkable network” and “generosity with his time, his hospitality and his intelligence”. He is survived by his wife Naomi, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
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Source: Charles Beningfield
Sources: Michael Pelly, Financial Review
ELLIOT WOLF [BA 1957]
Good teaching is not only about imparting relevant subject matter, but also about providing a moral compass and the values and attitudes that will serve our students well in their future lives.
CLIVE NOBLE [MBBCh 1961]
He was one of the first doctors to focus on a treatment for different sports injuries.
Respected educator and much-loved former headmaster of King David School, Elliot Wolf, died suddenly on 2 November 2021 at the age of 85. Wolf made an extraordinary contribution to Jewish education in South Africa for over 50 years. He was born in Johannesburg as a twin with Jeffrey (BA 1957) and brought up in Yeoville. Although their parents were opposed to their teaching careers, both excelled in the field after completing bachelor’s degrees at Wits, majoring in English, Latin and Hebrew. Elliot taught at Parktown Boys’ High School for 10 years and joined King David High School (KDHS) Linksfield in 1968 as a head of department, teaching Latin and English. He became deputy head in 1969 and in 1974 headmaster – a position he held for 34 years. Jeffrey became the headmaster of King David in Victory Park. After retiring, Elliot led the King David Schools’ Foundation. Past students paid homage to his
ability to deal with children’s problems empathetically. He could remember everyone, down to the minute details of their school career and family lives. He was described as “the quintessential mensch who brought out the best in everyone and encouraged students to seize every opportunity.” At his 80th birthday he said: “My belief is that nothing can replace a good teacher who interacts with his/her students and shares a learning experience with them. Good teaching is not only about imparting relevant subject matter, but also about providing a moral compass and the values and attitudes that will serve our students well in their future lives.” Wolf enjoyed reading, travelling, gardening and tackling crossword puzzles. Although he never married or had children of his own, he said: “I’ve been blessed with thousands who, in return, provide me with so much pleasure and pride that I could wish for nothing better.”
Dr Clive Noble was born in Johannesburg in 1938. He readily admitted that he disliked school and matriculated with four Ds, an E and an FF for Latin. With his sights set on studying medicine, Dr Noble did an aptitude test through the Department of Labour and was told he stood little chance. His luck turned when, two weeks after the academic year started, he was called to study medicine at Wits. In his first year he achieved two firsts and in his final year, he came third in his class of 92 students. Dr Noble was a keen sportsman and decided to study sports medicine simultaneously with orthopaedics. He was one of the first doctors to focus on a treatment for different sports injuries. He served as a medical adviser for cricket, rugby, football and boxing in South Africa. In 1995 he was one of the founders of the first sports medicine clinic in South Africa. The model template to include an orthopaedist, a sports medicine physician,
radiologist, physiotherapist, biokineticist and dietician in the patient’s treatment became the template for similar centres countrywide. As part of his interest in protecting boxers from injury he studied the cushioning properties of boxing gloves and his findings influenced the way that boxing gloves are manufactured today. In his retirement in 2003 he moved to Plettenberg Bay and ran a historic country guest house in The Crags, with his wife Colleen of nearly 60 years. He is survived by his wife, three children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Sources: South African Jewish Report, Wits Archive
Sources: 1961 Wits alumni biography and Jon Patricios, South African Journal of Sports Medicine
His findings influenced the way that boxing gloves are manufactured today.
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KHALID ISMAIL [MBBCh 1963]
Dr Ismail travelled 60-120km daily to run satellite and primary healthcare clinics in outlying community areas. He was also honoured for his firm commitment to equal education for women in the community.
One of the first physicians to serve underprivileged communities in Polokwane, loyal Witsie Dr Khalid Ismail passed away on 12 August 2021. Dr Ismail was born in Pietersburg, as the town was known then, and when he finished high school, he was required to apply to the minister of education to study at Wits Medical School. He returned to his hometown after graduation at the height of the apartheid era and, in terms of the Group Areas Act, was not allowed to practise in town. A man known for his quiet manner, he admitted to Arena magazine in 2003 that he was disappointed and even angry about the legislation, but was also motivated to make a success of his career. He married Khadija Ismail and they had five children – all of them Wits medical graduates: Kabeer (MBBCh 1995), Khaleel (MBBCh 1994), Kuraysha (MBBCh 1997), Kaamila (MBBCh 1999) and Kareema (MBBCh 1999). He served the communities around Pietersburg as a medical practitioner for many years and obtained an additional Bachelor of Arts degree from Unisa in 1969, MCFP in 1976 and FCP in 1980. In 1994, he took a special interest in diabetes, joined the Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology’s programme and
went on to earn a diploma in diabetes through Cardiff University at the age of 70. His passion to serve others was acknowledged by the Health Professions Council of South Africa through a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019. Dr Ismail travelled 60-120km daily to run satellite and primary healthcare clinics in outlying community areas such as Potgietersus, Mateba’s Kraal (Mankweng area) and Houtbosdorp (Moeketse area), and assisted the Lutheran Clinic. He distributed blankets, infant milk powder and nutritional sachets as a service to combat marasmus and kwashiorkor. He was also honoured for his firm commitment to equal education for women in the community and advocated for women to be given equal opportunities to study at tertiary institutions. Dr Ismail was known for his refined manner and endearing personality. His family, colleagues and the communities he served remember him as a gentle and careful listener, who never lost his temper and was ever eager to learn from others. He is survived by his wife, five children, 20 grandchildren and friends in the Polokwane community.
Professor Roger Boden died in Johannesburg on 3 October 2021 after a short illness. He was 78. He served on the academic staff at Wits for nearly 30 years, retiring as an associate professor in 2003. He was born in Johannesburg on 27 November 1942 and matriculated from St John’s College. In 1973 he married Dr Edeltraud von Varendorff (MBBCh 1970). Professor Boden studied architecture, town and regional planning and urban design. In 1989, he completed his doctorate at the University of Washington in Seattle.
He began his career working as an architect before joining Rand Mines Properties, where he gained valuable experience in urban planning. In 1973, the joined the then fledgling Department of Town and Regional Planning at Wits and contributed centrally to its progress. He was also active on many university committees, including campus planning and library administration. Professor Boden was passionate about urban design and about teaching, inspiring many students to develop their creative and practical skills in the field,
Sources: Ismail family, Wits archive, Health Professions Council of South Africa
ROGER BODEN [BArch 1966, PGDipTP 1973, MUD 1980, PhD 1983]
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and heading the urban design programme. Boden advised the Johannesburg and Sandton town councils on matters relating to town planning and design and supported local resident associations. In his retirement,
he returned to architecture, designing churches, school extensions and private homes. He also had the opportunity to explore his interests in art, books, history and travel. He is survived by his wife, three children, and seven grandchildren.
Justice Ramarumo Monama passed away on 17 February 2022 following a short illness. He was an active judge in the Gauteng Division of the High Court since 2010. After completing matric, he obtained a Bachelor of Jurisprudence degree from the University of the North in Limpopo and was awarded a Bachelor of Laws degree from Wits in 1984. He was also a member of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at Wits and published a paper in 1983 on “pass” courts. He served his articles at Webber Wentzel attorneys and qualified as an attorney. He ran one of the biggest law firms in Mahikeng for many years. He was a director of Sun International and a board member of Bophuthatswana Legal Aid.
At his funeral service, he was described as a “brilliant jurist and lawyer”, a man who “kept his promises”, and “a strict, but good man” who “upheld the scale of justice with unflinching impartiality”. Former Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng wrote in a tribute: “He worked extraordinarily hard, was not sympathetic to mediocrity and was careful about who he employed and gave briefs to... He nurtured potential of young legal minds and gave opportunity to advocates hungry for success.” He “was a focused, principled, diligent, straight-talking and amazingly basic person”.
Conrad Viedge, who was an integral part of the MBA programme for almost 35 years at the Wits Business School (WBS), passed away on 4 February 2022 after battling cancer. Thousands of students [BA 1981, BA Hons 1982, were taught, mentored and guided by MA 1984] Viedge and were inspired by his passion for education. Viedge held various positions at the WBS, including MBA director, acting head of executive education, director of international programmes, and director of the international execHe was wholly committed utive development programme. He to business education and was wholly committed to business the positive role it can education and the positive role it play in shaping people’s can play in shaping people’s lives and lives and careers. careers. During his time at WBS, he was closely involved in the design
of several management and leadership development programmes and took a personal, deeply vested interest in the success of the students he taught. Viedge was raised in the Eastern Cape and was a registered industrial psychologist. He consulted in the areas of leadership, organisational effectiveness, performance management and self-management. He published articles and won numerous awards during his tenure at WBS. He was well known for his kindness and thoughtfulness – someone who always had the best interests of his students at heart. He is survived by his son Roland and daughter Alison, and their families.
He was passionate about urban design and about teaching, and inspiring many students to develop their creative skills.
RAMARUMO MONAMA [LLB 1984]
He was described as a “brilliant jurist and lawyer”, a man who “upheld the scale of justice with unflinching impartiality”.
Source: Professor Philip Harrison
Source: News24; Judge Ramarumo Emerson Monama - YouTube
Source: Wits University
Apr il 2022 109
GRAHAM PIRIE [BSc Eng 1972]
“Civil engineering enables you to make a visible difference to people’s lives, dealing directly with quality of life,” Pirie said in an interview in 2013.
LAWRENCE DISTILLER [BSc 1965, MBBCh 1968]
He was a preeminent voice on diabetes in South Africa and founder of the Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology (CDE).
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Respected civil engineer Graham Stephen Pirie, who played a pivotal role in the consulting engineering fraternity, passed away on 9 November 2021 following a heart attack. Born on 3 December 1947 in Johannesburg, he matriculated from King Edward VII High School in 1965 and started his tertiary education at Wits in 1967. In his first year, he registered for a mechanical engineering degree, but switched to civil engineering. “This was the best decision I ever made. I slotted into a career that has been a perfect fit. Civil engineering enables you to make a visible difference to people’s lives, dealing directly with quality of life,” he said in an interview in 2013. He was a bursar of the City of Johannesburg and remained in service to the City until 1995. His distinguished career eventually took him to the position of deputy city engineer roads, before becoming director of metropolitan planning. He worked with provincial and state departments and had a hand in realising projects such as the construction of the M1 and M2, and the development of
Newtown. After 1994 he played a meaningful role in the transformation process of the Johannesburg City Council. In 1995 Pirie joined the then South African Association of Consulting Engineers (now CESA) as executive director and during the next 18 years, until his retirement in 2013, was active in the local and international consulting engineering fraternity. He helped establish the School of Consulting Engineers and worked with others in negotiating the Construction Industry Charter, which became the legislated template guiding black economic empowerment in the sector. He was a valued Fellow of SAAE. Pirie married Patricia, née Lindsay (BCom 1978), in 1970. He had keen interests in reading, photography, swimming, birding and wildlife in general. He said he lived by his father-in-law’s philosophy: “Bite off more than you can chew and chew it.” He is survived by his wife, two daughters and four grandchildren.
A pre-eminent voice on diabetes in South Africa and founder of the Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology (CDE), Professor Lawrence Distiller died on 1 December 2021. Professor Distiller qualified as a physician, obtaining his FCP(SA) in 1972, and subsequently sub-specialised in endocrinology and diabetes. He worked as an associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado for a year before returning to South Africa in 1982 and entering private practice. He was elected a Fellow of American College of Endocrinology, a Fellow of Royal Society of Medicine and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. He was a member of numerous societies and organisations, authored over 80 scientific publications, presented at international diabetes conferences and was on the editorial board of four publications. He was a member of the International Diabetes Federation Guideline committee. At the CDE, he
understood that enabling patients to control their diabetes was the most efficacious method to treat the disease and he initiated the diabetes-team approach to diabetes. Every patient was assigned not only a physician but an educator, dietician, biokineticist, podiatrist, and sometimes even a psychologist. The results showed improved diabetes control in the community under his care. At his memorial service, award-winning fellow endocrinologist Professor Roy Shires (MBBCh 1971, PhD 1985, BSc 2005), spoke about the collegiality among Professor Distiller, Professor Harry Seftel (BSc 1949, MBBCh 1952, LLD 1995), and Professor Barry Joffe (MBBCh 1962, PhD 1965). “Larry was a great inspiration,” he said. Distiller was a wildlife enthusiast and a rugby and cricket fan. He is survived by his children, grandchildren and second wife Barbara.
Sources: Fellow Johann du Plessis, The South African Academy of Engineering (SAAE) and Engineering News
Sources: SA Jewish Report, Wits archive
BRIAN WATT [BSc Eng 1964]
He lived a life of learning, adventure and mentorship. His tenacity, intellect and generosity changed lives.
HUW PHILLIPS [PhD 2019]
A formidable administrator and leader, Phillips dedicated much of his life to making mines safer for thousands of miners.
Brian Watt passed away in North Richland Hills, Texas on 28 December 2021 with his children by his side. Born in South Africa, Watt always had an aptitude for maths and science. He was awarded the South African Gold Medal for Top Engineering Student. At Wits he played for the under 19A rugby team as well as taking on the lead role in the choral society’s production of “The Gondoliers”. A subsequent full scholarship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his PhD took him and his wife Clare Lighton to the United States. Watts returned to South Africa to work for Ove Arup, where he designed bridges and managed construction projects. This led to his selection as project manager for the revolutionary Centre Pompidou in Paris. He learned to speak, read and write French fluently in six months at the beginning of his tenure as project manager.
Later he worked in the Ove Arup London office before emigrating to Texas with his family in 1977. Following a rich and diverse professional career in engineering and business, he retired to a life of sailing. His adventures culminated in a five-year sailing trip around the world. During that time he remarried, visited remote islands, explored new cultures, survived a cyclone and visited over 40 countries. In 2003 a car accident left him permanently disabled and he had to give up sailing. He lived a life of learning, adventure and mentorship. His tenacity, intellect and generosity changed lives. He is survived by his sister Merle (Watt) Shirley, children Belinda Watt and her husband Mike O’Keefe, Caroline (Watt) Waggoner and her husband Mark, Trevor Watt and his wife Melanie and grandchildren Matt, Casey, Aidan and Sophie.
Professor Emeritus Huw Phillips, a Wits stalwart renowned for his teaching, research, and leadership in mining engineering the world over, passed away on 26 January 2022. Born in Wales, Professor Phillips studied electrical engineering at the University of Bristol and took his first job with the National Coal Board, the agency tasked with running the coal mines of the UK. His work focused on improving the productivity of the country’s collieries through mechanisation – at a time when some underground operations still used pit ponies to haul coal and equipment. But underlying much of his growing expertise was a preoccupation with health and safety. He had grown up in a village near Aberfan, where a coal-tip slide in 1966 killed 144 people – 116 of them schoolchildren. He had arrived home from university on the day of the disaster for a family function, and took part in the recovery operations. His interest in mining led him to complete an MSc and PhD in mining engineering at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. His work and
research continued in Australia. In 1985 he became the Chamber of Mines Professor of Mining Engineering at Wits. During his time as head of department and subsequently head of school, he dramatically increased undergraduate and postgraduate enrolments, and secured industry funding for research. Professor Phillips served for over 27 years as a full professor in the School of Mining Engineering. His research efforts at Wits covered five main areas: mechanised mining systems; spontaneous combustion; mine ventilation in deep-level gold mines – including software tools for designing cooling strategies; monitoring and controlling respirable dust in coal mines; and preventing methane ignitions and coal dust explosions. A formidable administrator and leader, he was appointed as an Emeritus Professor in 2013 and continued to supervise postgraduate students and to serve the University in various roles. He received the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy’s prestigious Brigadier Stokes Memorial Award, lauded by the mining industry,
Source: Houston Chronicle
Apr il 2022 111
JOAN GEAR [BA 1981, BA Hons 1995, DHSM 1990]
A passionate advocate for the disenfranchised, Joan, with her husband John, conceived the idea of establishing the Wits Rural Facility (WRF) near Acornhoek.
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professional bodies and international academics. As a leading researcher in mine safety and health, with a formidable career of achievements, Professor Phillips earned a Doctor of Engineering degree from Wits in 2019. His work was described as
a record of engineering development of major technological, economic and social significance. He was much loved by family, friends, colleagues, students and industry partners who knew him.
Passionate advocate for the disenfranchised and public health administrator Joan Gear died in her beloved Lowveld in the town of Hoedspruit after a long illness on 20 January 2022. She was born on the East Rand in 1947 to Aina (née Lauer, BCom 1932) and Jack Street. Prior to her studies at Wits as a mature social sciences student in 1979, she was a legal secretary with Edward Nathan in Johannesburg. After graduating in 1981, she started in the Wits Medical School Faculty Office in charge of medical student admissions and was later promoted to faculty secretary in Commerce and assistant registrar in charge of the Academic Information Systems Unit. This unit was responsible for converting the paper-based academic information system into a much-needed computerised data base. In 1998, she was lured by Dr Eric Buch (MBBCh 1981, MSc 1985, DTM&H 1986, DOH 1986) and Cedric de Beer (BA 1974) to help start the Centre for Health Policy, a unit that continues its health policy work in the School of Public Health today. She blossomed in this role, enjoying the close collaboration in “the cauldron” of the Department of Community Health. In 1986, with her husband John (MBBCh 1967, DPH 1972, DTM&H 1979, DSc honoris causa 2017), she conceived the idea of establishing the Wits Rural Facility (WRF) near Acornhoek. After negotiating many hurdles, they made the leap of faith and committed to the founding of WRF, supported by a donation from the then Anglo American Chairman’s Fund in 1989, resigning from their Wits posts. She added further Wits qualifications, being awarded her postgraduate research with distinction.
Gear’s ideas and efforts were rewarded with rapid expansion of WRF’s focus into new areas and partnerships. By 1994, all but one of Wits’ faculties were sending students and staff to the centre to contribute to the then shallow understanding of the needs of marginalised rural people of South Africa. The facility had 23 fulltime donor-funded academic staff from the disciplines of ecology, law, education, engineering, commerce, architecture and social anthropology alongside the health sciences. Unfortunately, the WRF was viewed with suspicion by more traditional forces, who considered a Wits presence in a remote rural area a departure from its core function as an urban university. In 1996, her post as administrative director was made redundant and the WRF was downgraded to a “Wits residence” for rural activities. Some funders remained and a trickle of students was sustained. The Agincourt Demographic Surveillance Unit flourished, gaining Medical Research Council Unit status. Then, in about 2010, a vice-chancellor’s review threw WRF a lifeline, recognising its huge potential. On leaving Wits, Gear was free to focus on gardening, watercolour painting, farming, quilting, birding, horse riding and exploring many Southern and East African destinations with her adult children. She was a wordsmith of note, read voraciously and eclectically and won 90% of the nightly Scrabble games. She is survived by her husband John, her son Peter, stepchildren Sasha (BA Wits 1996) and Fraser, as well as his wife Sandra, her grandson, Luka Jo, her brother Barry and his family.
Sources: Wits University and Journal of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Source: Professor John Gear (MBBCh 1967, DPH 1972, DTM&H 1979, DSc honoris causa 2017)
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ANDRE PIEHL [BCom 1993]
He was warm, honest and worked very hard to reach his goals.
JANICE ANGOVE [BSc 1995, PDipEd 1996, BA Hons 1996, BEconSc 2003, BEconSc 2004]
She was deeply committed to her students and took special care to be accessible, supportive and nurturing.
Top triathlete and businessman Andre Piehl died in a cycling crash near the Cradle of Mankind on 1 February 2022. Piehl was an operations executive with JSE-listed Famous Brands. Tributes shared on social media described him as a devoted father, husband and enthusiastic triathlete who loved life and the outdoors. Paul Ingpen, Triathlon SBR, Mountain Bike and Road Bike magazine publisher, said: “Andre Piehl adored the sport of triathlon as much as he lived for his family. He had a big heart and smile. He was warm, honest and worked very hard to reach
his goals.” Piehl realised his dream of competing in the Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Kona, Hawaii a few years ago. In 2011, he finished 11th in the 40-44 division at the ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships in Nevada, and he went on to compete at the ultra-distance Ironman World Championships in Hawaii in 2017. He also finished sixth against younger opponents, in the elite age group, at the national championships in 2013. He is survived by his wife, Sharon, and teenage twins Tyler and Axel.
Janice Angove died on 8 January 2022. Angove served the Actuarial Society of South Africa as an examiner for many years. She was also deputy chair of the MicroInsurance Committee and a member of the Africa Committee. She initially studied psychology but discovered actuarial science, which become her true passion. She started her actuarial career working as a consulting actuary at Quindiem, and then combined her enthusiasm for teaching and actuarial science by taking on a major-time lectureship at Wits. She was deeply committed to her students and took special care to be accessible, supportive and nurturing. Her projects across Africa have been instrumental in developing risk protection. In 2011 she also took on a part-time role with the Financial Services Board (which became the Financial Sector Conduct Authority) and was involved in supporting the development of microinsurance regulation. She was a member of the Products Standards Working Group commissioned by National Treasury in 2012 and an observer member of the Micro-Insurance Network and a member of the associated working group. More
recently Angove was involved with the Access to Insurance Initiative (A2ii) set up by the International Association of Insurance Supervisors and the International Labour Organisation (among others) to ensure that the world’s excluded and underserved have access to insurance, allowing them to take control of their lives and reduce their vulnerability against risks. She coordinated the A2ii's regional implementation work in Sub-Saharan Africa, strengthening cooperation and supporting capacity building for supervisors in the region. She also supported various projects of the Finmark Trust over the years and most recently served as a member of the FSD Network, where she presented at seminars and moderated forums. She lived in Parkview with her cheerful household menagerie and was committed to the community as a member of the Rotary chapter. She leaves her mother Barbra, brother David and his family. Her Wits colleagues will miss her cheerful nature and unfailing willingness to lend a hand or offer support.
Source: Wits School of Statistics and Actuarial Science
SEE MORE AND FULL-LENGTH OBITUARIES ON THE ALUMNI WEBSITE: WWW.WITS.AC.ZA/ALUMNI/OBITUARIES/
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Loving the messy and contradictory BY PROFESSOR CHRIS THURMAN
he departmental printer/scanner/copier was malfunctioning. Perhaps two years of inactivity followed by a burst of return-to-campus activity had pushed it over the edge. It could no longer print large batches, no longer scan multiple sheets. Staff members had been seen tearing their hair out in frustration. Could it be repaired? Some were of the opinion that only replacement was a viable option. This is a universal office scenario. What makes it particular to a place like Wits – and, specifically, to a department in the Faculty of Humanities – is the way in which the dilemma was framed. The machine became a metonym for the institution, for teaching and learning at the tail end of a pandemic, for the academic project itself. One colleague observed in an email that, while the broken photocopier was causing all manner of frustration to the people who tried to use it, from a post-human perspective there are other feelings to take into account: isn’t the machine’s demise rather sad? Shouldn’t it be pitied rather than condemned?
It was hard to tell if my colleague had his tongue in his cheek while typing. I think he was being dead serious and somehow, simultaneously, gently mocking himself along with the rest of us. And that, really, is what I love about Wits. It’s a place that has many moods at the same time. It resists neat interpretation, summation or explanation. A productive mass – and sometimes a mess – of contradictions. (If I were writing a journal article, at this point I would probably invoke the concept of aporia ... but I’m not, so I won’t.) Wits has been undercutting assumptions and surpassing expectations for a century now. This is, after all, the former school of mining technology that became a hotbed of radical lefty Marxists, racial justice warriors, feminists and LGBTQI+ activists. Most of them – that is, most of us – are probably vegan too. At least, that’s the reputation that seems to precede Wits Humanities academics when we venture into the physical or virtual public domain, whether via a conference paper, a newspaper column or a social media Apr il 2022 115
comment. In the private sphere, too, the Wits cachet (cliché?) follows us around. If we go to a dinner party we can expect someone to turn to us, at some point, and ask “So how are things there on Wits campus, hey?” before telling us what our opinions should be regarding the Fallist movement, the challenges of remote teaching and learning, the history of higher education and the imminent end of the traditional university. Simmering under the surface of all this (or, if it’s Twitter, boiling over the top) is the assumption that we are merely a bunch of cosseted, virtue-signalling scholars, espousing our woke socialist ideals from the comfort of a capital-secured ivory tower. This could hardly be further from the truth. Anyone who has been paying attention since March 2020 will know that we have been espousing our woke socialist ideals from the comfort of our privately owned homes. In all seriousness, however, I do sometimes wonder about the disjunction between the actual day-to-day work of a university academic – not just the radical lefty Marxists in the Humanities, but someone in any faculty or field – and the perception of what it is that we do. Historically, many scholars did cultivate an air of mystery around their vocation. It’s too complicated, was the
implied message, you wouldn’t understand. Just trust me. I’m an expert. But, as Zygmunt Bauman so astutely observed almost forty years ago, the role of the public intellectual has shifted from that of “legislator” to “interpreter”. As university scholars in the postmodern world, we do not have the authority and self-importance of les philosophes in the so-called European Enlightenment or their twentieth-century inheritors. Instead, our job is to be communicators, explicators, meaning-makers; we convey our own expertise, we elucidate that of others, we try to make widely differing experiences of the world mutually comprehensible. Increasingly, our work – our publications, our lectures – circulates in the public sphere. If people want to know what we do, what we think, what we’ve discovered, what we teach, they can get quite far with an online search and some patient reading or viewing. We aren’t so mysterious after all. Still, we are ... complicated. We contradict one another. Quite often we contradict ourselves. And isn’t that the great thing about a university like Wits? It can’t be simple. It can’t be categorised. It reflects the messy business of what it means to be human. Or, soon enough I guess, post-human.
Chris Thurman is Professor in the English Department and Director of the Tsikinya-Chaka Centre (School of Literature, Language and Media) at Wits
116 W I T S R E V I E W
From the archive
1922 The Students’ Representative Council.
Colourisation: Brett Eloff
Apr il 2022 117
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