Volume 6 October 2008 WITSReview
The magazine for ALUMNI and friends of the University of the Witwatersrand
Volume 6 October 2008
Interview with Nobel laureate
IN THIS ISSUE: Tata Africa and Carnegie support Wits â&#x20AC;˘ West Campus heritage â&#x20AC;˘ Celebrating diversity
Investing in alumni relations
uccessful universities make a significant investment in building and maintaining relationships with their alumni as there is a correlation between the level of involvement and support of alumni and the relative success of their alma mater. Wits is very conscious of this and has been working hard at improving its relationship with alumni. As a result, the past year has been a busy and exciting one for the alumni office. Our pre-alumni progamme, aimed at familiarising all students with the alumni office and the concept of alumni relations, has been one of our priorities and the introduction of a Wits mascot has helped identify and brand alumni relations amongst students. A benefit programme for alumni has been another priority as incentives play a critical role in motivating alumni to stay in regular contact with the University. We're therefore very pleased to announce the launch of a Wits Alumni Lifestyle Benefit Programme that offers significant benefits and services to alumni (see alongside). This is in addition to our existing alumni ICAM card which gives alumni access to the campus and its facilities, including all libraries. Providing opportunities for alumni to socialise and network, whether on campus or across the globe, has also been priority. The holding of networking breakfasts, tours of places of interest, reunions, and the launching of alumni chapters have been very successful this year and will continue to be an important part of the alumni programme.
Lastly, regular communication is essential in maintaining our relationship with alumni. Apart from electronic communication and a soon to be launched annual newsletter, the WITSReview is a flagship publication for alumni that has been very popular and successful. I'm proud to say that WITSReview took second place in the annual South African Publication Forum competition held in August this year in the Best External Magazine category and also received merit certificates for excellence in communication and writing. This is a significant achievement for a new publication as the competition - which is open to all organisations, business and industry - attracts the best publications corporate South Africa has to offer. Thank you again for your support. As this is the last issue for the year, I wish you all the best over the holidays and I look forward to engaging with you in the year to come. Peter Maher
Director: Alumni Relations
Kudos for WITSReview, which took second place in the Best External Magazine category for lower budget publications at the annual SA Publication Forum competition.
Nadine Gordimer: A flood of curiosity
Photo essay: Pubs and clubs at Wits
At Wits End: Traditions
Tata Africa takes the long view with scholarships Carnegie gives researchers a space to share ideas Diversity: It takes all kinds to tear off a label Disability: Ramping up access to education Heritage: West Campus WITSReview
Editorial Team Editor and Director: Alumni Relations Peter Maher Shirona Patel Head: Communications Deborah Minors Alumni Communications Officer Design and layout Nicole Sterling Printing Ultra Litho (Pty) Limited Published by the Office of Alumni Relations, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
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Comments from our readers News of his death was greatly exaggerated Dear Editor Alan Swerdlow was registered as a student in the history of drama at Wits in the period preceding my three decades of lecturing there in the history of drama, so I can't be held responsible for his historiographical mistakes. His little history of the Wits Theatre (WITSReview 5, 2008) states that “Sadly, David Horner died before the Theatre was opened”. David, having invited me to direct the opening production of The Comedy of Errors, was very much alive when he sat next to me on the opening night. He was also very much alive when he presided over his own delightfully
conceived opening ceremony for the Theatre with both the current and the elected ViceChancellors on stage (commencing his address with the words “My Lords...”). And he was very much alive when, more than a year after the opening night, he was Master of Ceremonies at my wedding. Ian Steadman (MBA, 2001; PhD, 1985) Oxford, UK A comedy of errors A grovelling apology is owed to Alan Swerdlow who was given the huge disservice of having his original copy which referred to “Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London” incorrectly edited to “Stratford” and then in the printed version to “Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon” - Editor
Acknowledge role of support staff Dear Editor I really enjoy reading the WITSReview, however, nowhere in the article about the recent protest action on Xenophobia or in the editorial does it include mention that support staff also joined the march and supported this important event. It only makes reference to academics and students. I really want us to always remember to include the support staff when we talk or write about the University in general, a lot of good people work behind the scenes because they have a true passion for the University and believe in doing their bit to create a better society in the long run. If we include the support staff when we talk or write about the University I am sure that with time we could address this silly divide between the academic and support community. Emannuel N Prinsloo, Director: Property and Infrastructure Management Division University of the Witwatersrand. The fourth paragraph of the article referred to “academics and staff...”, but point taken - Editor
Comments from our readers Theatre story brings back happy memories Dear Editor I was delighted to receive the Volume 5 July 2008 WITSReview and all the more so as the cover picture was of someone I had taught in my speech and drama studio years ago. In the late 1950s, when I was a student at Wits, there were no courses in the performing arts. Those, like me, who were passionate about the theatre, joined the University Players and performed on the stage of the Great Hall. I took part in the production of Love's Labour's Lost, sharing the lead with Janet Suzman on alternate performances, and in Julius Caesar presented on the steps of the Great Hall. Both plays were directed by the late John Boulter. I still have my programmes and various pieces of memorabilia from those productions. In the early 1980s, my daughter was a student in the Drama Department where she performed in as well as directed plays. Most of the presentations were staged at the Nunnery Theatre. I was invited by the late Professor David Horner to take the post of part-time lecturer in the department and I juggled my duties with teaching in the Business Communication Department as well as running my own private speech and drama studio. It was an exciting and demanding time. It was obvious that Wits needed a theatre and when the Wits Theatre was finally built it brought fresh and innovative productions to the city.
Your excellent article on the history of the Drama Department brought back great nostalgia and happy memories of my years at Wits. Congratulations to Wits Theatre on its 25th birthday. May you continue to grow and succeed in all your future endeavours. Doreen Feitelberg (nee Bichunsky) (BA, 1959) Chicago, U.S.A.
Honouring famous Witsies Dear Editor, Having just received your WITSReview I was very interested in your article on Professor Tobias who lectured me way back in 1950 when I was studying Occupational Therapy. He is an extraordinary man and I have followed his career ever since my medical school days. He deserves all the honour and glory bestowed on him. Long may he live! I also had the privilege of knowing Professor Sydney Brenner. What an amazing man..! He should have been honoured more in your journal... after all how many graduates from Wits have been awarded the Nobel prize? Perhaps you could do more about him in your next journal? Joan Elias (BSc (OT), 1977) Plettenberg Bay (Letters have been shortened â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Editor)
ÂŠ Images 24/Beeld/Johann Hattingh
A flood of curiosity Nadine Gordimer, recipient of an honorary Doctor of Literature degree from Wits and a Nobel Prize in Literature, spoke to Tara Turkington about writing, education and the legacy of South Africa's past.
Tara Turkington (TT): I've been looking at what the internet has to say about you and the first thing that struck me is that you've been writing for nearly 60 years. Nadine Gordimer (NG): I've been writing since I was nine years old. TT: What staying power. NG: I don't think so; if you have it inside you, it's an impulse and it's a necessity. TT: You've never struggled for motivation? NG: No, I don't understand that. If you have to struggle for motivation then you're not a writer. If you have to struggle for motivation to act or dance, you're not an actor or a dancer.
NG: I think so, yes: when I was a little girl I wanted to be a dancer and I was rather a good dancer until the age of 10 or something and that was my idea of a future for myself, but then that changed. What a good thing, because as a dancer I would long ago have been washed up. TT: What did your parents think? NG: Luckily nobody took any notice of that, it was just Nadine scribbling away the way some other child might be doing something else, you know, playing hop scotch or drawing or doing whatever. And I think that's good; it's terrible being made a prodigy, which I could easily have been made. By the time I was 15 I'd published my first adult story.
TT: You were at Wits for a year and then you left. Why? NG: I was an occasional student. I took occasional courses. TT: What did you study?
If you have to struggle for motivation then you're not a writer.
TT: Could you ever have been anything else?
TT: Where was that?
NG: That was in a rather good journal, one of the early stirrings of liberal discontent with what was beginning to happen here â&#x20AC;Ś I think it was called The Forum and I think the editor was Jan Hofmeyr.
NG: English literature and English language. TT: So you never considered doing a full degree there?
NG: No, I don't know why I did that really, because at 20 I had read much more than was on the reading list. I'd already educated myself. But there were one or two good people there and I think it stimulated my critical sense, which is good because if you're going to be a writer at all you have to develop a critical sense of your own work. TT: I wanted to ask you about the role of education and writing. NG: I think I would be the last person in the world to decry education, and as I get older I realise there are whole huge abysses of knowledge where my very wide reading could not lead me... In science, for instance, you become more and more interested because the connections between scientific subjects and daily living and indeed the circumstances, ecological and otherwise, in which we live are so close, so that if you're concerned as I am now about climate October 2008
change, a scientific background would be a great help. So if I look back on my life, it was silly - the little bit of formal study that I did should not have been literature, where I was already selfeducated. I should have gone into some other subject and also languages, because to have read some of the world's greatest writers only in translation seems to me a deprivation. TT: There are a lot of South African universities now teaching creative writing, including Wits. What do you think about that? Can you teach someone to write? NG: You cannot teach people to write. To my shame now, because I have once in my life done a course in creative writing, and that was the final proof to me that it is no use. This was as a guest professor at Columbia University in New York and I had 12 graduate students who were handpicked. Eleven of them would have made competent journalists perhaps; one had something of the natural drive and ability to be a writer. You can train an intelligent person to be a good journalist because there are certain rules and traditions to be followed, but not to write. TT: Because it's a state of being? NG: Of course. I happen for certain reasons to be re-reading the works of Carlos Fuentes and Salman Rushdie and others, and the flood of curiosity and ideas and reaching out into this eternal mystery of life - this is something you can't teach anybody. I always use the same comparison: if you're going to be an opera singer, you're going to have certain vocal chords. Without them, we can go October 2008
to all the singing classes but we never will be ready for La Scala, you know? It's got to be there, and I think that writers have some equivalent of these special vocal chords, which make it possible for them to develop themselves as writers. TT: Do you ever have trouble choosing what to write about or is it something that you know? NG: If you have trouble choosing, then again you're not a writer because you are chosen, not by some great inspiration but by something that captures your eye, your ear, your perceptions, that intrigues or troubles you.
writers are all exceptionally observant, ears wide open, always eavesdropping by nature, eyes wide open, very much aware of people's body language as well as what they say and do. So you see this couple near you and they're having an argument perhaps; you hear a few snippets, or you're standing in a queue and you see a child obviously impatient with the mother. You invent, you become intrigued, you invent, Graham Greene said, an alternative life for the person you see, and I think that's true. Of course the experiences of your own life get fed into this as well.
...you are chosen, not by some great inspiration but by something that captures your eye, your ear, your perceptions, that intrigues or troubles you.
TT: What else do you read? What are your reading habits?
Graham Greene put it marvellously, and I've never forgotten it, in one of his autobiographical essays. People kept asking him, where do you get your characters from? Are they based on real people? My answer to that would be, you never know anybody well enough to base your character on them. You could live with someone all your life and you know that certain aspect of your relationship with them and someone else who's had a different relationship knows a different person.
NG: There are two public addresses I have to give, so I'm doing some reading for those. My night reading has always been my main reading. I don't watch TV there's no time if you want to read. I'm either rereading, especially as I get older, books that I desperately want to read again before I die, or reading contemporary fiction and non-fiction by writers who mean a great deal to me and new writers as well.
But Graham Greene said, in answer, well, you're sitting in a bus or standing in a queue or you're eating in a restaurant or anything like this, you're in some remote relationship with somebody, you're in their company. And now we come back to what makes you a writer, what your vocal chords are, and that is: from childhood,
NG: It changes all the time but if I look back at the last 10 years or so, for instance a discovery for me was JosĂŠ Saramago. I had never read anything of his until he got the Nobel Prize a few years ago, because very little was translated. Then the translations came, that's one of the
TT: Who are your favourites?
good things about the Nobel, and of course he is a great writer so that would be one. Salman Rushdie I think is a wonderful writer, the socalled Latin Americans, [Gabriel Garcia] Marquez, and I mentioned Fuentes and, among the poets, Octavio Paz, a great favourite, Günter Grass, unfortunately I can't read German, I read it in translation, a really marvellous writer, and so on … and of course I read our own, not only South African but African writers. Great admirer of Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka … TT: Am I allowed to ask you what you are working on at the moment? NG: I never talk about what I'm working on. TT: Your whole life you have been someone who has had very strong political convictions, a very strong sense of justice and what was right. I wanted to ask October 2008
you about South Africa now and what you think the challenges are for our leadership and also for education. NG: If you had come to me two months ago, you would have got a very different answer from the one now, because I always call myself a realist-optimist. I've always felt that we have tremendous problems and the world thinks the problems began at the end of the 1940s when we invented apartheid, but the problems that we inherited go back centuries, of oppression, of totally unfair education and other kinds of training for black people as compared with white. When I think that when my children, who are now in their 50s, were kids, the government spent 10 times as much on each white child as on each black, 10 times … Now by the time we get around to when the
liberation movements were unbanned in the 1990s and when we finally voted in 1994, that was reduced but even today, where it's completely equal for whatever colour you are, you've still got kids in the bush who are sitting on the floor, not in a classroom, never mind not having a laboratory, or sports field, or a library for heaven's sake, not even a proper lavatory. So this backlog from the past, I always kept in mind, that with our wonderful new constitution that we're so blessed with, you can't possibly refuse to face the problems that we have. But I've still always felt that we were tackling them and that having overcome apartheid we had now gained the possibility of changing and we're applying ourselves. And it's amazing the number of houses we have built and we've installed sanitation and electricity and so on, but it's never enough.
So I'm extremely worried. I'm a member of the African National Congress, I have been ever since it was a legal organisation and when it wasn't a legal organisation I worked with it all the time. But I'm very worried to see in the party that I believe in, such signs But I'm very worried of dissension and the split to see in the party and I'm very worried about Mr Zuma. that I believe in,
such signs of dissension and the split and I'm very worried about Mr Zuma.
And now of course with a huge complication - and here of course my realism must come into it - but I didn't realise and none of us realised that we were going to have this influx of many thousands of others to be provided for from the conflicts around us. Of course we also didn't realise the problem of HIV and AIDS. Now, as I said, two months ago I still would have kept my balance of optimism and concern, but what's been happening since May has been so terrible and now in the last two weeks, the incredible violence, school kids killing one
another, and the increasing desperation of people who are not paid enough to live on and who are every day, I don't blame them, in the streets protesting. But mainly it's the violence and of course violence arises out of desperation and is exploited by real criminals, not only our own but some coming in from outside and making a profitable business of employing others.
TT: With all you've just said, what do you think about education in this country and where we're going with that?
NG: That's another big worry. I think that the universities have done a pretty good job of struggling for transformation, but what can they do about people just scraping in to university from their matric, coming to university but really ill-equipped for university subjects? I think this makes it very difficult for the University and I think they are struggling with that. How can you bridge what your education has failed to do from the age of six until the age of reaching your matric? So I'm very, very concerned about our education system and the fact that we have lost teachers, that they have gone to other countries where they are
better paid. And now of course it's even more discouraging for those who stay here that they are in schools where you have to have the children examined, not only for guns but for scissors and knives, and the classroom and the school recreation facilities are a battleground. TT: But it's a global phenomenon, it's not only South Africa. NG: I know, but every country has to deal with it. TT: What would you like people to learn from your writing or to take from it? NG: I'm not teaching anybody anything. The best that I could say and hope for is (as I find when I read other writers) that they should question their own set ideas. Think again about your certainties. TT: You've achieved so many things in your life, Booker Prize, Commonwealth Prize, Nobel Prize. Which are the ones that you are the proudest of, or that mean the most for you? NG: If you're talking about the prizes, the Nobel is the top one, first of all because it's a world prize. I'm always moved to get any of them and I've never accepted a prize that I didn't believe in. TT: Have you turned down prizes? NG: A couple, yes. But what I do feel particularly gratified with are some other honours that I've been given, one from Cuba, one from Chile, and from France. And last year I got the LĂŠgion d'Honneur, but I was surprised because I thought military men get this, it's not a literary one. But it did recognise perhaps the other side of my life. October 2008
TT: What do you still want to achieve, not in terms of prizes, but what is it you still want to do? NG: I suppose in terms of my life as a responsible human being, I would indeed like to contribute whatever little I have to bringing about change to make my own country and the world a little more human, but that is of course a minuscule thing that one does. And obviously, to continue to do, for as long as it's possible, with a proper recognition that it must come to an end, the work that I've done all my life. WITSReview 13
“The company has become integral to society. Of the 100 largest economies in the world, 51, from a gross revenue point of view, are companies and only 49 are governments. That gives one a taste of the huge influence which these multinational companies have over communities. It also becomes clear why companies are greater agents for change today than governments. Directors of companies can no longer make only shortterm decisions for short-term gains. They have to make decisions for the long term, so that those who come after us are not compromised by the decisions we make today. Boards can no longer separate the three aspects of people, planet and profit.” Mervyn King, 2008
or the third year, Tata Africa has awarded full scholarships for postgraduate study across all fields at Wits. These prestigious awards - 39 to date - are made to financially needy students who have a proven academic track record. “In our view, postgraduate studies are one of the most strategic interventions that we can make to uplift the human capital of our country,” said Vice-Chancellor and Principal Prof. Loyiso Nongxa.
Tata Africa takes the long view The Tata Africa Scholarships 2008 represent a new trend in corporate social investment, where industry works to benefit the broader society. According to Prof. Rob Moore, Deputy ViceChancellor: Advancement and Partnerships at Wits University, the partnership between Tata Africa and Wits University incorporates triple bottom line reporting, which considers society, the environment and profit. “The take-up of this approach in South Africa has been relatively slow,” he said. WITSReview 15
“In contrast, the Tata Africa understands that we contribute Tata Africa Scholarships 2008 awards to the fundamental quality of understands that we celebrate an innovative society and together with their contribute to the approach to corporate social investment we will usher in both investment in South Africa and fundamental quality immediate and long-term visible on the continent. Wits takes returns.” of society and great satisfaction from its role together with their Raman Dhawan, Managing as a partner with and a channel Director of Tata Africa, expanded for Tata Africa's investment in investment we will on his company's values: “The Tata broader society. The fact that Group has always believed in usher in both Tata Africa has chosen as a returning wealth to the society it partner one of the premier immediate and longserves. Tata believes that no success universities on the continent term visible returns. or achievement in material terms demonstrates the corporation's is worthwhile unless it serves the commitment to high-quality initiatives that needs or interests of the country and its people benefit the society in which it operates.” and is achieved by fair and honest means. Prof. Nongxa added: “Our relationship with We are committed to skills development in Tata Africa has a particular character because South Africa and are proud to support Wits of Tata's values and the long-term view that Tata University by providing scholarships to these adopts to invest in society. Tata Africa deserving students.”
Raman Dhawan, Managing Director of Tata Africa, and Prof. Loyiso Nongxa with Tata Africa Scholarship 2008 recipients .
Announcing the awards in August 2008, Dhawan called on students to conduct their business on the basis of values like integrity, honesty, transparency, excellence, unity and social responsibility. “Your education gives you power and tomorrow you become the new leaders of society. I leave you with two messages - avoid any form of corruption, and give back to society.” Nongxa added that t h e s ch o l a r s h i p s should be seen as an acknowledgement of achievement. “It is the responsibility of each recipient of this award to emulate this achievement,” he said. “When visiting India recently, I made two distinctive observations which speak directly to the establishment of these prestigious awards the investment by corporations and the private sector into higher education and knowledge institutions, and the emphasis on producing quality teaching, learning and research (academic excellence) despite socio-economic disparities.”
'It is the responsibility of each recipient of this award to emulate this achievement'
Oluwatoyin Kolawole, an award recipient and pharmacy PhD student, said: “These awards have led to the furtherance of academic knowledge, the creation of new ideas and the development of scarce and critical skills much needed by Africans living in a globalised economy in the 21st century.” Completing her PhD in demography studies (a scarce skill) under Prof. Clifford Odimegwo, Head of Population and Demography Studies October 2008
at Wits, bursary recipient Nicole de Wet expressed her sincere gratitude to Wits, Tata and her mentors for their contribution to her future. Evans Netshivhambe, a student reading for his PhD in music, emphasised the obligation of students to use financial support fruitfully. “We are fortunate to have been given the key that can open several doors. However, we must use our knowledge to search for and open the right doors to achieve success. In this way we can create new ideas and new knowledge and information to further develop our society.” “Wits University is proud to partner with Tata on a number of initiatives,” said Prof. Moore. “In addition to the Tata Africa scholarships, the group has donated a top-of-the-range offroad vehicle for use in the Ndlela Research and Clinical Trials Unit, a rural community health project driven by Wits’ School of Public Health. It was established in 2006 to conduct clinical trials for the prevention and treatment of HIV and related diseases like tuberculosis in rural South Africa.” Wits University also enjoys a strong relationship with Tata Consulting Services (an IT-focused subsidiary) and negotiations are underway for Tata and Wits to partner in a programme to provide access to technology for marginalised communities. Prof. Yunus Ballim, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic and Vice-Principal, paid tribute to the students for challenging the assumptions made in society. “This is the mark of a good graduate - it is more than just passing high-level examinations,” he said. WITSReview 17
Alumni go to war in Finland! Two Wits alumni and a Wits PhD student participated in the War Games World Championships in Helsinki, Finland, in June 2008. The competition pits the most adept and skilful strategists against each other in simulated board-game battles from various eras. As part of the South African Mind Sports team, Matthew Strachan (BEconSc, 2005), Colin Webster (BA, 1995) and PhD student and vice-chair of the Wits War games Club, David Vannucci, 'waged war' against some of the best players on the globe. The objective is to defeat the enemy with guile and shrewd army and weaponry choices. All three men played two games of about three hours each a day against opponents from France, Finland, Ireland and Britain. Strachan competed in the pike and shot renaissance game, historically situated in the period 1494AD-1700AD, using weaponry such as cannons and muskets. Webster and Vannucci faced off against rivals in the game of the ancients, which pits armies in the period 3000BC-1500AD. This year's championships were played using ancient rules which allow games to include battles between armies from different historical eras.
Street traders graduate with business skills Wits Enterprise, in cooperation with the City of Joburg, hosted a graduation ceremony for 550 street traders who successfully completed a business improvement training course in July. Since 2004, some 2000 traders have benefited from training provided through the Wits/Joburg City partnership. The six-month programme, developed by a Wits academic and packaged to ensure accessibility, covers fundamentals of small business management including business plan development, budgeting and financial management, pricing, marketing, sustaining and growing a business, legislative and metro legislative requirements, sourcing finance, and networking. A literacy component was recently added. Three Wits academics continuously monitor progress for quality assurance.
A meeting of minds at COMET 2008 The Conference on Communication, Medicine and Ethics (COMET) took place in Africa for the first time in July 2008, providing a platform to highlight South Africa's unique cultural and linguistic diversity. Hosted by the Wits Health Communication Project, COMET brings together scholars from different disciplines including medicine, the humanities and the social sciences, to share research in the relatively new field of health communication practices. COMET emphasises the dissemination of quality communication research, which examines the challenges patients experience in the healthcare industry and which informs communication and practical ethics directly relevant to healthcare practitioners. First held in Cardiff, UK, in 2003, COMET is now an annual interdisciplinary, international event grounded in a problem-oriented approach.
Carnegie gives Wits a space to share ideas
Photo by Dimitri Selibas
By Shirona Patel â&#x20AC;&#x153;Only in popular education can man erect the structure of an enduring civilisationâ&#x20AC;? Andrew Carnegie
pace, time and distance is now irrelevant - only knowledge and literacy is relevant.” These were the words of Dr Vartan Gregorian, President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, when he visited Wits University in July 2008. “It is now possible,” he said, “for every single book that is published to be accessed via the web.” Representatives of Carnegie's board of directors were at Wits to open a facility funded by the Corporation: the new Postgraduate Research Commons, located on the north side of the Ground Floor Reading Room of the William Cullen Library. Carnegie's involvement with Wits, one of the educational institutions it supports in fulfilling the legacy of Andrew Carnegie, dates back as far as 1931, when the Corporation bought books to the value of US$25 000 after a fire destroyed much of the original library in Central Block. “As a University, we have much to be grateful for to Carnegie for its continuous support over the years,” said Vice-Chancellor and Principal Prof. Loyiso Nongxa. “Carnegie support addresses several of Wits' strategic goals and ambitions. The contribution of the Corporation has specifically made an impact on developing infrastructure through the funding of various library projects like the Postgraduate Research Commons, which provides better access to teaching, learning and research at Wits. Carnegie has supported the research agenda of the University and has provided a platform to enhance postgraduate studies at Wits. The funding of several transformation projects has provided an opportunity for meaningful transformation to occur.
Dr Vartan Gregorian and Prof. Loyiso Nongxa at the unveiling of the plaque commemorating the opening of the new Postgraduate Research Commons.
“Young scholars now have the opportunity to realise their true potential.” “For example,” Prof. Nongxa continued, “through the Carnegie-funded scholarship programme, young black women are encouraged to pursue careers in which they have been previously under-represented. The funding received by Carnegie has also contributed to the financial strength of this institution and has provided opportunities for collaboration in various areas within the University community and beyond.” Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Prof. Belinda Bozzoli thanked Carnegie for its contribution to upgrading various projects within Wits' libraries, including its support in developing web-based library reference works, the Equity Research Centre, the librar y academy programme, numerous publications through Wits Press and service areas like the Postgraduate Research Commons area. “Libraries are the lifeblood of any university,” she said. October 2008
publications; research exhibitions; and general administrative services.
He described libraries as ‘the DNA of our culture’
Beneficiaries of the Carnegie-funded South African Academy who visited the United States as part of an internship programme shared their views at the opening of the Research Commons.
Dr Gregorian concurred with Prof. Bozzoli and emphasised the importance of making full use of the web in teaching, learning and research. He described libraries as “the DNA of our culture” and as “invaluable to those who are engaged in lifelong learning and who could not imagine an existence without something new to learn about every day.”
Paiki Muswazi said that the internship provided invaluable exposure to the latest research technology and current thinking on academic research support available through knowledge and information commons. “Libraries in the United States are focusing on creating spaces for intellectual interaction,” he said. “Similarly, we will promote the use of the Research Commons as a space for the exchange of ideas both formally and informally, and virtually as well as in person.”
According to Claire Walker, Wits University's Deputy Librarian, the new Research Commons will serve the needs of postgraduate students and researchers in the digital environment. “We envisage the Research Commons as a place for engagement in interdisciplinary discussion and the cross-fertilisation of ideas. We see it as an inspiring workspace for contemplation, teaching, research and for preparing and rehearsing presentations.” Wits University Librarian Felix Ubogu concurred: “The Research Commons provides quality services, expert assistance and seamless access to research information. The target groups are Masters and Doctoral students and academic staff and researchers.” Walker expanded on the services on offer: oneon-one consultations with knowledgeable and highly skilled research librarians; citation searching, bibliographic management software support; seminars to promote the crossfertilisation of ideas; advice on research
Maryna van den Heever, a senior Wits librarian, agreed that there was a strong emphasis on communication technologies in the United States. “The Research Commons offers the opportunity for a more personal focus and the emphasis will be on one-on-one consultation and research support. It not only serves as a computer laboratory but allows the researcher to build a support relationship with research librarians.” The importance of these endeavours is summed up in a quote by US journalist, author and researcher Norman Cousins: “The library is not a shrine for the worship of books. It is not a temple where literary incense must be burned or where one's devotion to the bound book is expressed in ritual. A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas - a place where history comes to life.” WITSReview 21
We do not tolerate diversity at Wits - we celebrate diversity.
It takes all kinds to tear off a label In May this year, the South African media were replete with images of dazed people, dust-covered and dripping blood; a burning man in a chaotic cloud of fire extinguisher powder; people collecting rags from the paper ash of what had been a home - all of them victims of a label: 'foreigner'.
By Professor Yunus Ballim, Vice-Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic Photos by Peter Maher
ust as they did under apartheid, labels allow people who hurt and kill in the name of identity to live with themselves - to say their prayers, be charming socialites or bring adorable puppies home to their children on birthdays. It is only natural that staff and students, comprising over 80 international nationalities and reflecting our own country's diversity, would arrive at Wits carrying with them much of the dust of their social context and experiences. This is exactly what we want: to be exposed to a world of rich variety that we can learn from. Some of these people may harbour prejudices about race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality and the like, acquired in different ways and places and ingrained to different degrees. However, I believe it is the role of a university to provide an environment that allows staff and students to consider their prejudices in a different light, particularly in the light shone by the people they are prejudiced about. A university is a place where ideas are openly contested. This takes many forms on campus: lecture and discussion events open to the public, the formal and informal debates from the classroom to the canteen and sometimes through protest action by our staff and students against sections of the university community itself. Whatever form it takes, this continual challenge to our thinking helps to form graduates who are able to contribute to the world in new and exciting ways.
However, I believe it is the role of a university to provide an environment that allows staff and students to consider their prejudices in a different light, particularly in the light shone by the people they are prejudiced about. A university is a place where ideas are openly contested.
We cherish and celebrate diversity because it helps us to understand the world we live in... We do not tolerate diversity at Wits - we celebrate diversity. The apartheid Group Areas Act and bantustan policy were about tolerance, essentially saying: “We don't like you but you can stay because we need you. However, keep your otherness to yourself.” Such an attitude of tolerance does not fit with us as a University. We cherish and celebrate diversity because it helps us to understand the world we live in and, in the words of Peter Scott, Kingston University's Vice-Chancellor, to contribute to “a political world more sensitive to reason and more civilised in its search for truth”.
I understand a university to be a place that invites scrutiny and criticism, of learning and teaching, generating new knowledge and research. We do it for the good of society. It's a university's job to develop intellectual resources in defence of citizenship and good governance, in the same way that we rely on civil society structures such as a free press and the Constitutional Court to be guardians of society. We need academics and graduates who are sufficiently and independently critical to make society think differently about the way in which it goes about its business. Our students learn that the Wits notion of 'graduate' is more than the ability to pass an exam - difficult as that may be.
The way we relate to each other in the higher education community is more than simply economic. One would have difficulty putting a 'fair value' price on what we actually do - nor should we try to. I firmly believe that South Africa needs and deserves universities that graduate a disproportionately large number of public intellectuals who are strong-willed, independently minded and critically engaged with important matters of the human condition - across all disciplines - because this is a social good, not because it makes economic sense. And Wits should always be up to this task. Such young graduates are the custodians of the idea of a University going into the future. To 'advance national transformation' - which is what we aim to do through our graduates - we must prepare them to engage with the world in all its wonderful variety. October 2008
Wits ranked amongst top 500 universities worldwide
Women of the Year making lifetime contributions
Wits is again one of just three African institutions to be ranked in the top 500 globally, according to the Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Institute of Higher Education, which compiles the highly regarded annual ranking.
Professors Lorna Jacklin (MMed, 1998) and Claire Penn (BA Sp&H Therapy, 1973, PhD, 1983) were named winners in the health and science and technology categories respectively in the 2008 Shoprite Checkers/SABC2 Woman of the Year Awards event held in Cape Town in July.
American universities Harvard, Stanford and California (Berkeley) took the top three spots, followed by England's Cambridge University in fourth place. Wits followed the University of Cape Town, ranked in the top 200, but preceded the University of KwaZulu-Natal which was ranked in the top 400. Some 2 000 universities worldwide are reviewed and scored against criteria relating to academic or research performance. Criteria include the number of alumni who are Nobel Laureates or field medal winners, highly-cited researchers, papers published in nature or science journals, articles indexed in major citation indices and the per capita academic performance of each institution. Wits is working towards being ranked as a top 100 university by its centenary year in 2022.
Entrepreneurs worldwide seek solutions at Wits Business School The Wits Business School through its Centre for Entrepreneurship has won the bid to host the 12th MIT Global Start-Up Workshop in March 2009. This is the first time that this conference will be held in Africa. The Centre for Entrepreneurship will work closely with students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to host the event which is geared towards finding solutions to global entrepreneurship challenges. October 2008
Alumnae Dr Janet Poole (MBBCh, 1978) and Dr Lindsay Linzer (BSc Hons, 1994, PhD, 2002) were finalists in these respective categories. The awards pay tribute to women who are nominated by the public as having succeeded in their respective fields, made a difference in the broader South African community and inspired others. As Principal Consultant Paediatrician in the Faculty of Health Sciences, Jacklin improves the lives of children with mental health problems caused by physical disabilities or abuse. Penn's contribution to the field of speech and language pathology, linguistics, sign language, child language and aphasia won her the Order of Mapungubwe (silver) from President Thabo Mbeki. A leading specialist in the field of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology, Poole has achieved an exceptional success rate in the treatment of young patients with cancer/malignancy and blood disorders. Linzer is a seismologist who undertakes applied research for the mining industry in order to improve safety underground. She is only the second woman to have won the Rocha Medal from the International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM) for the best doctoral thesis in the field.
access to education By Kate Thompson Photos by Peter Maher
urprise Khoza has limited movement in his arms, and his hands twist at the wrist, reducing his fine motor control. Some may see this as an obstacle to an art career, but those hands are also the instruments he uses to create his striking sculptures; work that is quickly gaining him recognition as an artist. The arts and business postgraduate student first joined the Wits University Disability Unit in 2003. The Unit has helped him with his request for extra time in exams and supplied him with his first motorised wheelchair.
We like to think that we are creating a userfriendly environment,” says Lawton-Misra. The issue of access to education encompasses more than the obvious needs for access to buildings and interpreters for deaf students, for example. The Disability Unit takes an holistic view, preferring not to define ‘disability’ rigidly, but allowing individuals to guide its interventions.
“We try to support students with all types of disabilities, whereas initially the focus was more on the visible disabilities - hearing, sight and physical. Now there is a great deal of focus on “I can walk, but with only 15 minutes between other disabilities, such as lectures, the lecturers learning disabilities and would have already started psychological disabilities,” when I got there. The "Essentially we are here explains Lawton-Misra. wheelchair made my life to support any student who “Essentially we are here much easier. It was a huge to support any student achievement,” says Khoza. has a special need, who has a special need, making sure that they have The Unit, previously the making sure that they Disabled Students' access to education." have access to education.” Programme, has evolved Staff and students with since its student-led disabilities are encouraged to register with the inception in the mid-1980s. Now the focus has Unit. Registration and assistance is provided at shifted to addressing all areas of accessibility for no extra cost, but some of the gains are felt by students, staff and visitors to Wits University. a far wider group than the 120 registered users. Disability Unit Director Nita Lawton-Misra, a The addition of chair lifts, ramps, and a beeping Wits graduate herself, joined the Unit in 1999. traffic light crossing in Yale Road to assist blind The staff complement has grown to 11 full-time staff and students are just a few of the members, and a number of casual workers as adjustments already made. needed. “We don't see only wheelchair users needing a ramp to get into a building. It may be a person with a delivery trolley or an elderly person who struggles to climb stairs. Any user of the University, whether it is a guest, a staff member or a student, may need a modification. October 2008
“We have tried to address the issue of access. It can't be fixed in just a week, a month or a year. The University is so huge and we are dealing with old buildings, some that cannot be made user-friendly because their design makes those adjustments impossible,” Lawton-Misra explains. WITSReview 27
The Disability Unit has also overseen the opening of three special computer centres for disabled members of the university community, which are always open and equipped with special hardware and software. The Unit has a full-time information technology (IT) specialist, Andrew Sam, who provides computer training to staff and students and conducts research on IT accessibility. Sam also maintains the high-tech assets of the labs, of which, thanks to support from companies such as IBM and Microsoft, there are many. Yusuf Talia
Some computers are connected to Braille-output devices that automatically convert lines of visible text to a touch pad near the keyboard. Others have magnifying software installed, allowing users who have limited sight greater control of the monitors' visual output. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Screen-reader software and speakers are also configured for use in these labs, as well as a Braille printer,â&#x20AC;? says Sam, pointing out the notice board with both printed and Braille notices.
Cuthbert Ramatlo, who is partially sighted, is a user of the magnifying software. A former student and current employee of the Unit, he demonstrated the capabilities of the computer programme, which can zoom in on text up to 36 times. Graduates of the programme are employed far and wide, and are still breaking through perceived barriers. Elash Mistry, who is soon to qualify, will be South Africa's first blind actuary, for example. Lawton-Misra says governmental organisations are the biggest employers of graduates who were registered with the Unit.
Nyeleti Nkwinika, a second-year student, is deaf and uses the services of a sign language interpreter to assist her in classes. Accompanied by Pearl Mbolekwa, the Unit's permanent interpreter, she took the opportunity to appeal to Lawton-Misra for additional time with interpreters, asking for them to attend tutorials with her three times a week. Interpreters are a scarce and expensive resource in the Disability Unit. “We do have a full-time sign language interpreter, but of course she can only assist one student at a time. We have two more whom we employ on an hourly basis, which means that only three deaf students can be accommodated. Unfortunately when it comes to deaf students we have to cap the number of students we accept,” explains Lawton-Misra.
For the past three years the Unit has organised a Disability Awareness Week as part of its contribution to spreading awareness of and sensitivity to disability at the University. “They make sure they get the senior executives involved for the week, such as getting the ViceChancellor in a wheelchair, or blindfolding the Deputy VC and asking him to conduct a meeting. It has been so successful in that it changes perceptions immediately through experience,” says Lawton-Misra. Khoza has seen his share of media attention recently, because of the dramatic sculpture he has been creating and in particular, his collection of ‘clothing’: shoes and trousers that are elongated, distorted even, and decorated with bright paint or disturbingly dark. In 2007 he was awarded Wits University's prestigious
Surprise Khoza (Photo by Kate Thompson)
Martienssen Prize for art (jointly with Gabrielle Goliath). The Disability Unit's programme has been so successful that for Khoza his biggest challenge at Wits is the art of sculpture, rather than his disability. “I like sculpture,” he says, “because it really challenges my ability.”
The West Campus at Wits By Professor Katherine Munro Photos by Peter Maher
I have worked on the Wits West Campus for some 15 years and the pleasure I feel each day when I take that right-hand turn from Yale Road through the tunnel is rooted in the feeling of excitement generated by one the greatest childhood treats Johannesburg could offer: a visit to the old Rand Easter Show.
oday, the charm of the West Campus lies in its mix of a sports stadium, a modernist tower, academic buildings at the top of the hill, water features, spreading lawns, the Cape Dutch-style cluster of buildings (home of the Wits Club and Alumni Relations), sports fields and residences towards the lower reaches of the slope. Old exhibition buildings have been gutted and redesigned to serve new purposes but unusual architectural features have been retained, and the old trees, bricked walkways, landscaped gardens and outdoor sculptures turn the West Campus into a harmonious whole. Cars and delivery vehicles have been kept out of the core. Love it or hate it, the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Union Castleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; grey paint adds to the artificial unity of the composition. The West Campus, with its 29 buildings, is worth exploring, including a few heritage features that ought to be preserved to add to the experience.
Proudly Wits from Tower of Light to symbol of diversity
As with the East Campus, the West Campus has a north-south orientation on the steeply sloping ridge. Its layout reflects that it was a prestigious, vast exhibition site extending over 38 hectares. The buildings are an eclectic mix of adapted permanent exhibition halls and buildings constructed during the exhibition era October 2008
(1907 to 1984) and the more modern buildings at the lower end of the site were always adaptations and additions of purpose-built a drawcard with their incongruous faux Cape university residences and academic office and Dutch houses and barns, where one could teaching spaces. Wits acquired the land and its marvel at the enthusiasm of real housewives in infrastructure in the early 1980s, when the producing the ultimate sponge cake, bottled Witwatersrand Agricultural Kakamas peaches or delicate ...I daily recapture that embroidery. Society (WAS) relocated to the showground site at Nasrec, childish anticipated thrill If it rained (and it often did south of Johannesburg. of a ride on the cable car at Easter), the Rand Show was Still, I daily recapture that a bedraggled and miserable that ran down the hill childish anticipated thrill of place. The crowds evaporated a ride on the cable car that along with the glamour and ran down the hill from the it suddenly became a place Tower of Light to Empire where desperate salespeople Road and the garish pleasure urged you to buy tawdry of funfair roundabouts. An gadgets. The Star reported on indulgent spinster aunt had record attendance figures or given me an entire day of when it rained anxiously frivolous purchases, from worried about break-even candy floss and toffee apples visitor numbers. It did not on sticks to a yo-yo that occur to me as a child to glittered in the dark. We reflect on the strongly colonial wandered through acres of and then apartheid feel of the thrilling displays, from the place, for this was a segregated Flower Hall, with that heady show in its attendance, or that aroma of exotic orchids, prize I was a privileged white child. roses and colourful dahlias, I simply loved it through rain to checking out the best and shine and through good from the Tower of Light leghorn hens, to conducting times and bad. Later, I did to Empire Road... our own inspection of the begin to question why quality Afrikander cattle, to segregation was necessary and 1936 modernism - architect’s vision the displays of intricate why the showground was also industrial machinery, the the place where the South newest in swimming pool design and all that African Defence Force gathered its annual intake one could import from faraway countries. We of white conscripts. The showground was the gathered pamphlets and dinky samples of starting point for ‘the boys’ (all white teenagers household products and took a rest to swallow in those days) to begin their military training an indigestible pie and gravy in one of the and then later to be sent to ‘the border’ as part cavernous canteens. The Home Industries of their national military service. 32 WITSReview
The Sharpeville massacre took place on The Rand Show's official title was the 21 March 1960 and less than a month later, on Witwatersrand Agricultural Society Annual 9 April, Hendrik Verwoerd was shot in the face Exhibition. With the support of the City of by David Pratt, a member of the WAS, when Johannesburg, the WAS held its first show on the Prime Minister opened the Rand Easter the Milner Park site in 1907. The history is Show. The scene of the crime recorded in Thelma Gutsche's You can still walk or was the President's box and A Very Smart Medal, published the occasion was Verwoerd's in 1970. The book is worth sprint around the speech to mark the launch of reading to capture the athletics track and the Union Exposition and the nostalgia of a bygone era. The visualise the day 49th Rand Easter Show, WAS had been established in celebrating the 50th jubilee 1894 and held its first (mainly of the Union of South Africa. agricultural) show in that year, You can still walk or sprint but the location was closer to around the athletics track and the old Fort. That first show visualise the day. Verwoerd was opened by President Paul miraculously survived that first Kruger. The 1896 Plan of attempt on his life, but not Johannesburg positions the the Tsafendas knife attack in â&#x20AC;&#x153;Agricultural Show Ground Parliament in 1966. between Braamfontein and Parktown, to the north and By the 1960s, in postoutside the Sanitary Board's Sharpeville times, we could Jurisdiction Boundaryâ&#x20AC;?. The see the might and muscle of WAS survived many financial the apartheid state in military and political vicissitudes and displays in the State Pavilion. never had enough money to In 1976, after the Soweto cover its expansionary plans, children's revolution, a group the weather playing havoc of us as concerned academics with attendance numbers at Verwoerd miraculously under the leadership of Irene its shows. survived that first Menell ran classes in some of the exhibition halls for angry Shows did not take place attempt on his life... and now school-abandoned during the Second World children from Soweto. In the War, between 1941 and 1945 Old Grandstand August chill the showground while the showgrounds at did not look so inviting but we attempted to Milner Park were taken over by the Union engage with the group of students who became Defence Force. The WAS finally folded in 2001 the "lost generation", in an effort to prepare when its assets were liquidated by West Trust them for university. and the third exhibition area, the Nasrec Expo
Centre, passed into the ownership of Kagiso Exhibitions.
Home of PIMD - new uses for an industrial exhibition building
Cape Dutch fantasy, now home to the Office of Alumni Relations
Ernest Ullmanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s family group outside the FNB building
The Milner Park site has an interesting history. Sir John Maud, in City Government: The Johannesburg Experiment (1938), comments that Johannesburg owned hardly any public land during its first 17 years as it was thought that the town had the impermanence of a mining camp. In 1903 the Transvaal government gifted the large open space to the north-west of the town centre to Johannesburg, as a result of the initiative of Lord Alfred Milner, who at this date was the Governor of the Transvaal and Orange River Colony. He instigated the reconstruction of the then Transvaal Colony after the Anglo-Boer War. The area donated had been an old town brickfield and the first investment had to be in clearing the land of trees and bushes and levelling large excavation holes. Thirty-two acres were ready for the 1907 show. The site was subsequently named Milner Park. The popularity and coverage of the annual show of the Witwatersrand Agricultural Society expanded and the focus shifted from agricultural to industrial and consumer products reflecting the development of the South African economy, with Johannesburg as its mining and commercial hub. It was at the Rand Show that soccer was first played by floodlight in the main arena. In 1937 Sir Malcolm Campbell's famous landspeed racing car Bluebird could be viewed in the Hall of Transport. By the 1950s the WAS was the host of a number of prestige international pavilions in addition to the extant arena being used for cattle judging and equestrian events. It was an odd situation, for the show was a twoweek event and during those two weeks the
Show was an impossible neighbour for the University on the other side of Yale Road. Both institutions had grown through the years and both served thousands of clients. Numbers swelled and increasing wealth led to more people arriving in more private vehicles. ‘Park and Ride’ services did not solve the problem. The Agricultural Society had the right of possession and by 1967, when the University offered its Frankenwald Estate of 1 000 acres in exchange for the Society's 97 acres, 44 years of lease were still to run and the Society dug in. Even as the motorway sliced through the eastern edge of the showground in the late 1960s, the future physical co-existence of both institutions had to be questioned. If ever there was a story of muddled thinking, lack of foresight and poor town planning, the unsatisfactory relationship of Wits University and the WAS, national road-building authorities and the City of Johannesburg said it all. The tunnel route and the small overhead foot bridge were the only two points of direct north and south access from the University campus, across Yale Road, over the motorway and onto the Milner Park show grounds. Parking was always at a premium and there were many years when the University almanac had to schedule the Easter break between teaching blocks to close for teaching and enable the reopening of the campus as a giant extra parking lot.
Sources: Anna H Smith: Johannesburg Street Names 1971. Henry Paine, Barry Gould and Johan Bruwer: The Rembrandt Gallery, Wits University Report on the Condition of the Building April 2008. Thelma Gutsche: A Very Smart Medal: The Story of the Witwatersrand Agricultural Society 1970. John Maud: City Government: The Johannesburg Experiment Oxford. John Lang: Bullion Johannesburg: Men, Mines and the Challenge of Conflict 1986. Ernest Ullmann: Designs on Life Howard Timmins 1970. Bruce K Murray: Wits: The Early Years 1982. Clive M Chipkin: Johannesburg Style, Architecture and Society 1880s - 1960s. The Exhibition Visitors' Social and Business Guide to Johannesburg and the Reef Golden Jubilee Souvenir 1936. Felix Stark (editor & publisher): Seventy Golden Years 1886 - 1956. William Martinson: Tower of Light, University of the Witwatersrand, West Campus Architectural Description. City of Johannesburg, Arts Culture and Heritage Services, Immovable Heritage Inventory Form, Tower of Light; recorded by Flo Bird. The University of the Witwatersrand The Reporter CUP Extra 25 July 1983
Ernest Ullmann’s The Cross Bearers the original Diaz Cross is housed in the Cullen Library
To be continued... A chapter in the planned book on Wits buildings will be on the West Campus and its history. Should any Wits alumni have any early photographs of the Rand Easter Show or its reincarnation as the Wits West Campus, please contact the author on email@example.com.
In his first assembly address in January of every year, my high school principal used to say: 'Unyaka uphelile bantu benkosi' - 'the year has ended, good people'. What he meant was that on the first day of the year you don't realise that a day wasted is gone forever - that knowledge comes only at the end of the year.
By Miliswa Sitshwele Cartoonist: Ernie Joseph
few years later, when I was at university, I finally understood that as a student, to avoid stress you must finish things on time. And this applies throughout life. For new students, everything happens very fast. The new environment, the freedom, living alone, the non-stop parties … studies tend to come last in the list of priorities. As a result, some find it difficult to cope and succumb to stress. Perhaps they fail a major subject, perhaps peer pressure leads them down the wrong path, or they just can't adapt. These pressures are one of the biggest learning opportunities at university. Dr Sumaya Laher, a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Wits, says students have two ways of dealing with stress: the avoidance strategy and the positive strategy. “The avoidance strategy is when students find ways of avoiding studying for exams. As the exams approach they party more or try to find a job so that they don't think about exams. Other students use a positive approach - they start developing a time management strategy, draw up study timetables,
form study groups and so on, and this enables them to cope with stress,” she says. Laher describes stress management as learning to cope. “Coping means you learn to master, reduce or tolerate the demand created by stress. Coping with stress can be positive or negative. The positive way to manage stress is doing it constructively,” she says. “This strategy is very common among African people: they seek social help from family and friends. With white people it's different: most of them become self-reliant - they tend to find rational ways of dealing with stress. Some people turn to religion to help them cope. They believe that there is a greater power like God, so they rely on God to help them rationalise things,” says Laher. Describing the avoidance strategy, she says: “Here people give up immediately and are in denial. Some over-indulge in things like partying and food; they lash out at people and fight with others for no apparent reason. It's what gets them through.” WITSReview 37
Stress Management Laher has these suggestions for managing stress:
• Identify your stress: know what's bothering you so that you can understand the problem. • Ask yourself how you normally deal with stress, and see if your coping methods are good or bad. • Accept the problem and try to do things differently. Industrial Psychology Professor Karen Milner says people experience stress when they cannot meet demands imposed on them. “There are two primary ways of dealing with stress: to increase the capacity to meet the demand or to decrease the demand.” According to Milner, people get stressed when they see the demand imposed on them as having great consequences and when they are afraid of not meeting this demand. “We need to realise that we are capable of meeting those demands and also reduce the negative self-talk and look at things more realistically,” she says. Milner has these suggestions:
• • • •
Manage time effectively. Reduce the roles that you play. Get clarity on what's expected from you. Feel a sense of control over your environment and circumstances. • Exercise - walk or do relaxation techniques, or join a gym. • Eat a healthy diet. Itumeleng Makgobathe, who studies part-time after a full day at work, says she has learnt to rely on a diary and having a plan. “This helps you to avoid running around like a headless chicken, because everything is set out for you. 38 WITSReview
When I am stressed, I take a break and try to figure out the next step. There has to be another option. It is also useful to sleep and have moments of doing nothing. You can't always be busy or stressing, you'll eventually lose your mind.” Here are 10 tips to help you deal with stress:
1. Don't leave whatever has to be done until the last minute: there's a Xhosa saying that goes: “Ayifidwa xa izoxhelwa ngoba ayizotyeba izohlutha” - if you feed it when you are about to slaughter it, it won't be fat, it will be full. Prioritise, have a plan of action and get things done on time. 2. Strike a balance: there's a time and place for everything. Know when it's time to work and when it's time to relax. 3. Treat yourself: when you are feeling down, don't wait for other people to take you out, do something nice for yourself. 4. Get some exercise and fresh air. 5. Get in touch with nature. 6. Eat well: avoid junk food, get enough fruit and vegetables, drink water. 7. Let go: what's the point of fretting over something you can't change? 8. Be true to yourself: know what you are there to do and don't bow to peer pressure. 9. Laugh it off: it takes 43 muscles to frown and 17 to smile. So if someone works on your nerves, smile and walk away - it doesn't cost a thing. 10. See a mentor: if you feel that you are unable to cope with the load, get help. So, don't waste time - just get it done and then enjoy that feeling of accomplishment.
Pubs & Clubs @Wits Wits is renowned for its demanding academic programme and so most of our students have their heads in their books 24/7. It’s probably fair to say however that some might occasionally find a stolen moment to wet their lips at a local establishment. We’re certainly not implying that alcohol can be found at all these locations…but the members of the “Snowski” Club didn’t look like they were in a position to do slalom racing anytime soon when I paid a visit...
Photos: Peter Maher
Knockando Residence fundraising event at the “Duck and Bull”.
Knockando residents take a study break at the “Duck and Bull”.
Mining engineering students celebrate ‘Skiffyskofbaas’ Day at “Ore House” on West Campus.
TOP & BOTTOM: The members-only Blind PiG (postgraduate doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have an eye) Club.
TOP & BOTTOM: ‘Snowski Club’ members ‘chill’ in between Joburg snowstorms.
‘Yacht Club’ members high and dry.
Waterpolo Club members actually do get to wet more than their lips!
AlumniAchievers rofessor Pamela Jane 'PJ' Schwikkard (BA, 1982), who earned her undergraduate degree at Wits, is the first woman to have been appointed Dean in the Faculty of Law at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Currently Deputy Dean and Head of the Department of Public Law, Schwikkard will take up her new position in January 2009.
As an undergraduate, Schwikkard found law boring. She switched to a BCom, which she found even more boring, and finally settled on a humanities degree. She graduated from Wits with a BA in Psychology in 1982 and then went travelling in Europe and North America. Seeking a professional qualification on her return, she obtained her LLB and LLM at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in the mid-1980s and then lectured at UKZN for several years before being admitted as an attorney of the Supreme Court of South Africa in 1990. Appointed Professor of Law at Rhodes University in 1998, she obtained her LLD from the University of Stellenbosch the following year. In 2001 Schwikkard joined UCT's Faculty of Law as Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice. She was appointed head of this department in 2006, with the dual role of Deputy Dean of the Law Faculty in 2007. Despite being a self-confessed 'absent-minded rebel' who is 'not very good at protocol' and sometimes 'overlooks the rules of social etiquette', Schwikkard is a widely published and accomplished scholar with extensive experience October 2008
in both academia and the legal profession. She wrote the book Presumption of Innocence (1999), co-authored Principles of Evidence and co-edited Women and the Law (1994). She was an editor of the South African Journal of Criminal Justice until 2008 and she sits on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Evidence and Proof. She is a member of the South African Law Reform Commission. Some 20 years on from her undergraduate days, Schwikkard loves the law. She has taught courses in gender law, criminal law, criminal procedure, evidence, youth justice, conflict resolution, civil procedure, legal interpretation, legal skills and special contracts. She has commented that she enjoys academia and universities because they are full of intelligent and quirky people with whom to interact on a daily basis.
reg Kuhnert (BAcc, 1995) has been named Citywire's 2007 European Fund Manager of the Year. The portfolio manager of the Investec Asia ex Japan Fund achieved this honour by gaining the best risk/return ratio of any fund manager across the continent. This means he made more money for every 1% of risk taken than any other fund manager in Europe.
Citywire, a leading specialist publishing house and database provider, searches across Europe for every fund manager with a three-year track record. Over the three years to the end of 2007 - the period over which the top 100 list was calculated - Kuhnert achieved a return of 170% in dollar terms before charges, while the average manager in his sector delivered 109%.
more cyclical stocks like steel, mining and construction which were driven by China, which is in turn driving growth around the world. More recently the approach has changed and we have been buying a lot of companies with stable visible growth. This is because the slowdown in the UK has obviously made things more difficult.” After graduating from Wits, Kuhnert joined Ernst & Young in South Africa, where he audited and consulted to mining and financial companies and achieved his chartered accountant status in 1997. He joined Investec Asset Management in 1999 and moved to the London office the following year to work as an analyst on Asian and global equities. Commenting on Kuhnert's achievement, the CEO of Investec Asset Management, Hendrik du Toit, said: “Greg embodies the ideals we have for Investec Asset Management as a business; to build a world-class international investment firm, proud of its South African roots. We are about giving talented people the freedom to create their own success.” Kuhnert has been the portfolio manager on the Investec Asia ex Japan portfolios since 2003. He is an AAA-rated financial sector specialist with 13 years' experience on the Global Equity team, and earned the right to use the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 2004.
Kuhnert told Citywire: “We invested in the
eading South African media and entertainment company, Avusa Limited (formerly Johnnic Communications) appointed Wits alumnus Lazarus Serobe (BA, 1998, LLB, 1991) Managing Director and CEO of the Gallo Music Group in June 2008.
Serobe's legal background and his experience in executive positions in the music and entertainment industry, notably as former MD of Sony Music and CEO of Heita! Records, secured his appointment. Serobe also worked for Vodacom as executive head of mobile entertainment and Lion King South Africa. In a way, Serobe's career actually began at Gallo. While he was practising entertainment law, Gallo's legal services division offered him a position after a meeting at which he was representing an artist. He never looked back. One of the key challenges Serobe faces in his new post is the increasing prevalence of piracy, facilitated by invasive technology and the globally shrinking music industry. Serobe claims to be tone deaf and doesn't play a musical instrument (his mentor while growing up in Soweto, Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse, reportedly ‘fired’ him after a disastrous attempt at drumming). However, he listens to music constantly to de-stress and cites Sir Richard Branson, a consummate communicator, as his inspiration.
Lucien van der Walt
he Labor History Journal has awarded Wits sociology alumnus Lucien van der Walt (PhD, 2007) its prestigious international prize for the best PhD dissertation of 2007.
Van der Walt's thesis, Anarchism and Syndicalism in South Africa, 1904-1921: Rethinking the History of Labour and the Left won the prize for the best PhD on a labour topic - historical or contemporary - regardless of discipline. The journal is widely considered the pre-eminent publication for historical scholarship in its field in the world.
The award is made on the basis of the significance, originality and quality of research, the sophistication of methodology, the clarity of presentation, the cogency of arguments and the contribution to the field of labour studies. Van der Walt's thesis looked at the influence of anarchism and syndicalism on left, labour and nationalist movements in southern Africa from the 1890s through the 1920s. Internationally, this was a period of widespread anarchist and syndicalist influence. Van der Walt showed that, contrary to conventional wisdom and partisan accounts, these currents had a pervasive influence locally as well. This radical tradition worked across the colour line and across borders. It pioneered socialism and labour unionism amongst people of colour who were sceptical of both African and Afrikaner nationalism and it aimed at a universal human community based on internationalism, selfmanagement and libertarian socialism. Van der Walt was supervised by Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) Professor Jonathan Hyslop (PhD, 1991), who comments: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Van der Walt's thesis is a remarkable feat of scholarship which effectively challenges much of the received wisdom in South African labour history. The award of this prize is richly deserved international recognition for truly original work.â&#x20AC;?
n art exhibition focusing on the highlights of Nelson Mandela's life was curated at the Constitutional Court in July 2008 by alumna Natalie Knight (BA, 1975, LDip, 1958). The art of two Witsies was included in the exhibition, which used different media to represent the life of the former president.
The art/jewellery of Beverley Price (BA Sp&H Therapy, 1975, AdDipFa, 2002), entitled Contemporary Replica of the Xhosa Neckpiece that Nelson Mandela Wore to his Sentencing on June 12, 1964 is made of concentric circles of tiny foiled images of Mandela's life, chain-mailed into the form of a neck/shoulder adornment piece. In her art, Price aims to promote jewellery expression that carries a distinctly South African feel and to convey value without using precious minerals. She developed the idea of using tinfoil to frame images from, for example, Drum magazine and local product labels, combining the foiled unit to make jewellery. The intention with the Mandela neckpiece was “to make a story around the neck - like a silent movie whose movement is governed by the body”. A combined anthropology and art PhD student, Susan Woolf, exhibited two resin artworks entitled Towards Mandela. The artworks were motivated by the civic unrest and violence that made headlines in 1989. Woolf's carved wooden macquette entitled Witness: Shadow of Ubuntu is a composite model of 11 outdoor sculptures which will span more than 30x30 metres high and across when fully erected. October 2008
Natalie Knight and Beverly Price
The ‘witnesses’ cast shadows which collectively read ‘ubuntu’ throughout the year, every day, at a specific time, in a profound and living example of the true meaning of ‘ubuntu’ that Mandela embodies. Knight is an attorney, art consultant and curator, playwright, lecturer and researcher specialising in Ndebele and Shangaan-Tsonga beadwork. She founded the Natalie Knight Galleries in the 1980s and has curated numerous local and international exhibitions in a career spanning some 40 years. A founding member of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Knight was nominated for the Woman of the Year Award (cultural category) in 2007.
rtist Susan Woolf, who commences her cross-disciplinary PhD in art and anthropology at Wits in 2009, has compiled South Africa's first taxi hand-sign book, 26 Taxi Hand Signs for Sighted and Blind People (2007).
Woolf personally painted the quirky depictions of the hand signals used daily by millions of taxi commuters to indicate their destination. Her hand-signs art will appear on the national stamp that the South African Post Office is producing for the 2010 World Cup. “As I was driving around Johannesburg I began to notice this complex alphabet, so I decided to put it in bookform as part of my PhD at Wits,” explains Woolf. “I see the taxi hand signs, which were invented by taxi drivers and commuters, as part of a South African commuter culture practised by millions of people every day. It is truly unique - by the people and for the people.”
Woolf's PhD, Taxi Hand Signs in Social Spaces, will explore the theoretical anthropology of the hand signs. The thesis assumes that the signs are communicated within - and not across - communities. The gestures as a means of communication and the interaction between various audiences will be analysed, and the thesis will question how each audience understands, associates and locates the signs socially. Woolf's thesis and project will culminate in an art exhibition in 2010. Although she doesn't fit into the traditional taxi-commuter demographic - she is a white woman in her 50s from affluent Sandton, with limited experience of travelling in taxis - she spent two years researching and documenting the signs and routes. She met taxi associations and travelled to taxi ranks to speak at length with drivers about the routes and signals used. Woolf reports that “the taxi drivers were all very friendly and welcoming”. The artistic application of Woolf's PhD is reflected in her use of cartoons in the hand signs she painted. She was intent on “fashioning something entertaining for something functional” and on injecting optimism and enthusiasm into the complicated and controversial taxi industry. Woolf's 67-page directory has been catalogued for use in metropolitan libraries, along with the unique set of symbols in raised dots (Braille) she created for the visually impaired. The taxi hand-signs project will be expanded to include street sculptures depicting the gestures which may become a permanent fixture around and after 2010.
witssocial A quarter century of drama at the Wits Theatre
The Wits Theatre celebrated its 25th birthday with an event for alumni, staff and friends of Wits and the Theatre on 31 August.
Rachel Tambo was a poised and elegant MC while Alan Glass and Ed Jordan had everyone in stitches as they recalled the past; lampooning both students and lecturers of yesteryear. Lesedi Job brought the house down with her voice, causing Dali Tambo to invite her to sing at his forthcoming birthday. The duet of Ilse Fourie and Fortunato Mazzone provided double the pleasure and Gina Shmukler's rendition of Maybe this Time reminded the audience why she's always in demand for casting in musicals. The Wits Choir gave a perfect performance and Ed Jordan was a consummate auctioneer of theatre memorabilia. The Theatre was awarded a cheque for R25 000 from alumnus and Director-General of the Department of Arts and Culture, Themba Wakashe, before the cake was cut and some serious partying ensued!
Alumni networking breakfasts Empowerdex Executive Chairman, Mr Vuyo Jack (BComHons, 1998) and Director and chief economist at Econometrix, Dr Azar Jammine (BScHons 1973, BA 1974) were recent guest speakers at Alumni Networking Breakfasts held at the Wits Club. Speaking on Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment on 7 August, Jack said BBBEE comprised a variety of elements that were aimed at lifting the disenfranchised from â&#x20AC;&#x153;the well of economic oblivionâ&#x20AC;?. Although all BBBEE targets are unlikely to be reached by 2014, he reminded guests that BBBEE was a process, not an event. October 2008
He warned that there could be no political stability in the absence of economic transformation. Jammine captivated an audience of 85 alumni on 13 June with a riveting presentation on South Africa's economic prospects within the context of global financial turmoil, the boom in commodity prices, the electricity crisis and domestic political developments.
Lesotho alumni chapter launched
Perth get-together The Perth alumni chapter held a function at the Kalamunda Club on 6 July where they unveiled a giant Wits logo they developed to clearly identify themselves as Proud Witsies. Their next get-together is planned for early November at a wine estate.
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Loyiso Nongxa hosted an alumni reunion at the Maseru Sun Hotel in Lesotho on 22 August. The reunion dinner, which was attended by about 100 guests, was also used as an opportunity to launch a Lesotho alumni chapter. The Deputy ViceChancellor: Advancement and Partnerships, Professor Rob Moore and the Director of Alumni Relations, Peter Maher also addressed the gathering.
Standing (L/R): Nick Lindsay, Andre Stasikowski, Helen Kalivitis, George Kalivitis, Michelle Sonnendecker, Harry Backes, Marita Backes, Roger and Joyce Sutherland, Ula Hagerman, Libby McGill, Frank Hagerman, William McGill, Michael Haynes and Sean McCoy Seated(L/R): Silvana Lindsay, Hein Sonnendecker, Dominique McCoy, Helen Dodge, Patsy Stasikowski, Paula Conway and Zvi Yom-Tov and children of alumni.
Alumni return to their roots Seventy alumni attended a talk and tour of the Origins Centre on 28 June. Archaeology lecturer, Dr Amanda Esterhuysen (BA Hons 1992, MA 1996, PhD 2006) delivered an informative and entertaining presentation entitled, From the Cradle of Humankind to the Origins Centre. Three guides took guests on a tour of the Centre, followed by refreshments and an opportunity to socialise. 52 WITSReview
Kudus athletes tackle Comrades 2008 The largest number to date of athletes from Varsity Kudus, the running club for Wits alumni and staff, successfully crossed the finish line at the 2008 Comrades Marathon from Durban to P i et e r m a r i t z b u r g . Of the thirty Kudus competing, the first alumnus home was G r e g Wo o d w a r d (BDS, 1991) who won his fourteenth Comrades silver medal in a time of 07:29:16. Alumnus
A pregnant pause for Jerusalem alumni Wits alumni who are also members of the Jerusalem South African Alumni Association convened for their annual meeting at the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem in July. Alumnus Professor Irving M. Spitz (MBBCH, 1963, PhD, 1971, DSc Med, 1999) addressed the 40 alumni on the topic Images of Pregnancy in Western Art: An Odyssey over 30 000 Years. Illustrating his talk with striking audiovisual images, Spitz revealed that the first depiction of a pregnant woman in recorded history was found in Israel, circa 4500 BCE. The talk explored depictions of pregnancy in art through the ages, culminating in a 1990s photograph of a pregnant, nude film star, Demi Moore, on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine.
Frank Kienhofer (BSc Eng, 1996, MSc Eng, 2002) followed in a time of 07:42:59. Varsity Kudus members Tracy Malakou, Hendrick Wageng and Grant Bernsden also completed the 89km (56 miles) ultra-marathon. Lawrence Mallen, a long-standing member of the club, completed his 25th Comrades the day before his 61st birthday and is the third of only two other Kudus - John Shillington (BSc Eng, 1967) and Rob Steer - to have achieved this.
Wits Business School engages alumni in New York Director of the Wits Business School (WBS), Professor Mthuli Ncube, addressed WBS alumni at a breakfast meeting in New York in August. Ncube told guests that although the recent high oil price had benefited oil-producing countries such as Nigeria and Angola, current global economic conditions had negatively affected Africa, particularly the poor who were vulnerable to food price inflation. He said the WBS had to respond to challenges created by this global economic environment, especially with regard to the shortage of managerial skills. To address this shortage, the capacity of WBS had been expanded dramatically to offer a wide range of executive education programmes, he said.
Book Reviews My Brother’s Book By Jo-Anne Richards
Jo-Anne Richards, Wits Journalism lecturer and author of three previous novels, among them The Innocence of Roast Chicken, has come up with an intricately patterned novel about love, race and betrayal called My Brother's Book. From a writer's point of view, the novel is elegantly framed. The opening line reads: “I was born on page 23 of my brother's book. On page 52, before the whole world, I betrayed him.” As I said to a group of writing students recently, with that kind of angle established, the novel almost writes itself. Almost. But the author still has the burden of making good on such an alluring opening gambit. She has to fill in the interplay between what her protagonist thinks she knows about herself and her life, and what the fictional brother's (fictional) book supposedly says about her and their life together. The brother also has his own section of the novel, in which he narrates from a first-person point of view, and his business is also to debunk his sibling's 'wrong' view of things. Behind all of this is Jo-Anne Richards, the ultimate author, whose difficult task it is to make her primary fiction convincing, consisting 54 WITSReview
as it does of contending perspectives that she must manipulate into shape. The novel's first part works excellently. It recalls a childhood in Eastern Cape towns such as Bedford and Cathcart with a peripatetic, unreliable father. The mother has mysteriously disappeared. Richards aptly captures the language of a ‘white’ childhood with words like broeks, smaaked (as in ‘preferred’ or ‘liked’), ‘doing a leg-shiverer’ (sex), ‘blimming’, and so on. The childhood evocations of yearning, intensity and betrayal are superbly rendered, making the novel read flawlessly and engagingly. The second part is more complex and difficult to handle, and although it is delicately carried off, the structure of narration, interleaved with correspondence, shows some strain at times. There is a deft twist in the tale, better left to the reader to discover, making this novel a worthy contribution to serious South African writing about identity, becoming, and the complex (not to mention unexpected) processes of selfdiscovery. Leon de Kock, Professor and Head of the School of Literature and Language Studies at Wits. My Brother's Book is published by Picador Africa, 2008.
We Write What We Like Edited by Chris van Wyk (Wits University Press)
Having heard and read so much about Stephen Bantu Biko, one approaches anything written about him with a bit of reluctance. I approached the book, We Write What We Like, with a heavy dose of scepticism. However, the book is refreshing for a number of reasons. First, commemorating Biko's death and celebrating his life is a direct critique of those who had sought to deny Biko and the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) their place in history. The revisionist cannot fathom a movement that has not been influenced by the ANC. President Mbeki's contribution in this book dispenses with such attempts. Mbeki's contribution and reference to Rolihlahla Mandela and Oliver Tambo are probably the most authoritative commentaries that give Biko and BCM its place in history. The second refreshing aspect of the book is that contributors have sought to reflect on how Biko and BCM have had an impact in their lives. For the likes of Mandla Seleoane, Biko and BCM provided an explanatory lens through which he could understand black people's seeming collusion in their own oppression. October 2008
Seleoane's somewhat funny and somewhat personal story sharply drives this point home. Minister of Science and Technology Mosibudi Mangena relates fascinating experiences with Biko and why we need a heavy dose of BCM today. The role of black people in defining and directing their struggles is a continuing struggle. The context may be different, but the challenges of mental liberation remain. The third aspect relates to restoring Biko the person. Biko was a towering figure. Bokwe Mafuna describes him as follows. “Steve shone in any gathering because of his interest in people, his sharp intellect and his eloquence. He was a gifted speaker and could spellbound any audience - black or white, intellectuals, working class or rural folk, young and old…he could talk about economics, literature, jazz or Marabi music. He was knowledgeable about African traditions and the history of our people. I was amazed at the range of his abilities. But like many of us, he was not bereft of weaknesses. He drank and liked to party. He was successful with the ladies.” Professor Sipho Seepe, Independent Political Analyst, Business Day Columnist and President of the South African Institute of Race Relations.
Wits University fondly remembers those who have passed away.
WESSEL BARNARD (1921 - 2008) Wessel 'Barney' Barnard (BSc Eng, 1948, PGDA, 1980) passed away on 13 May 2008. He was 87 years old. Born in Villiersdorp, Barnard received the first scholarship for apprentice electricians awarded by the Johannesburg City Council. He studied further in England after receiving his undergraduate degree - and later, a diploma in township development - from Wits. Barnard went on to become City Electrical Engineer of Johannesburg, retiring from the City Council in 1986 after more than 41 years of service. He chaired the Association of Municipal Electrical Undertakings from 1983 to 1985 and was the first electrical engineer to serve on the Electrical Control Board, from 1986 to 1994. Barnard travelled the world as part of his service on national and international electricity advisory boards. His other accomplishments include scoring two holes-in-one in golf and qualifying as a bowls umpire in 1990. SIMON BEHR (1933 - 2008) Simon Hyman Behr (BSc Eng, 1955) died at his home in Johannesburg on 12 July 2008, aged 75. Behr commenced his studies at Wits in 1952 and was elected cheerleader by popular acclaim in 1954. He graduated from Wits with a BSc Eng (Mining Geology) degree and worked briefly with the Geographical Survey, after which he went into private practice. Behr was a respected consultant involved in exploration work throughout South Africa, Botswana and Namibia until the time of his death. He also held an MSc (Applied Mineral Exploration) degree from McGill University, Montreal.
CHARLES LOCKWOOD (1970 - 2008) Dr Charles Abram Lockwood (PhD, 1997), appointed first director of the Wits Institute for Human Evolution (IHE), died tragically in a motorcycle accident in London in July 2008. He was 38 years old. Due to take up his appointment at IHE in September, Lockwood was working for University College, London at the time of his death. Lockwood will be remembered as a young academic with a brilliant record, a deep understanding of the South African research landscape and an ability to inspire young people.
JOOSUB EBRAHIM (1919 - 2008) Dr Joosub Hajee Suliman Ebrahim - Wits benefactor, funder of numerous academic prizes and awards in the Faculties of Health Sciences and Humanities, and recipient of the University Gold Medal - passed away in January 2008 while on a cruise with his wife.
Erratum: In the July 2008 obituaries of WITSReview, it was incorrectly stated that the late Radford Jordan lived from 1918 to 2007. Jordan was in fact born in 1917.
WITSReview relies on the Wits community to keep us informed of alumni deaths. To notify us about the recent death of a Wits alumnus, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
MICHAEL BRAUDO (1928 - 2008) Dr Michael Braudo (MBBCh, 1950) passed away on 7 April 2008 at the age of 79 after a long illness. Born and raised in Johannesburg and, briefly, in Palestine, Braudo matriculated from King Edward VII High School for Boys and then graduated from Wits with a medical degree and the David Lurie Prize in surgery, having scored top marks in internal medicine and overall in the final Wits Medical School exams. After working at the Johannesburg General Hospital, the Fever Hospital and the Transvaal Memorial Hospital for Children, Braudo went to Scotland in 1953 to pursue postgraduate studies. He trained for five years at the Sick Children's Hospital in Scotland, after which he moved to the USA to take up the post of Chief Resident in Medicine at the Children's Medical Centre in Boston. He also taught at Harvard Medical School during this time. Braudo subsequently moved to Toronto, beginning a long association with the Hospital for Sick Children. The University of Toronto
endowed him Emeritus Associate Professor of Paediatrics. He was also an Honorary Chief Paediatrician at Wellesley Hospital. Braudo then practised privately, specialising in paediatrics and clinical paediatric cardiology in 1960 and continuing in this field for some 40 years. An art connoisseur, Braudo acquired an extensive collection of modern paintings comprising South African, American and Canadian works and one of the largest collections of indigenous Eskimo art. He travelled extensively, visiting remote places such as Antarctica, eastern Turkey, Ethiopia and Libya, and frequently visited his native South Africa. Acutely aware of the importance of his initial training and education at Wits, Braudo was a generous benefactor to the Faculty of Medicine. His legacy both at Wits and in Toronto is entrenched and he inspired many in their careers as doctors, healers and caregivers. Braudo never married but left a multinational network of colleagues, friends and family members who remember him with great fondness as a remarkable individual.
WALLY GRANT (1922 - 2008) Dr Walter Lawrence Grant (BSc Eng Mech, 1948, DSc Eng, 1957) passed away in April 2008 after a short illness, aged 85. After Grant completed Standard 8, he joined the South African Air Force as a fitter and turner, simultaneously pursuing further study and obtaining his matric, a technikon qualification and Wits engineering and applied mathematics degrees by 1951. One of the oldest members of the South African Institute of Mechanical Engineering, Grant led the research in 1966 at the Atomic Energy Corporation (AEC) that made it possible for South Africa to create its own nuclear industry. Grant was the founder member and subsequently an honorary member of the engineering section of the Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns (Academy for Science and Arts) and was involved in the establishment of the South African Council for Professional Engineers, serving as a member on the first Council. He was awarded the State President's Southern Cross (Gold) in 1989, the highest order that could be bestowed upon a South African citizen at that time. Grant retired to his farm in Mpumalanga in the early 1990s but re-emerged in 2001 to work on the vortex separation theory, which he developed over five years to suit the separation of silicon isotopes for the electronics industry.
ROBERT HARRISON (1967 - 2008) Dr Robert Sidney Harrison (MBBCh, 1990, DTM&G, 1993, DOH, 1995, DHSM, 1998, DPH, 1999) and his younger son, Michael, were tragically killed in a car accident on 7 April 2008. Harrison, 41, completed his internship at Tygerberg Hospital in 1991, after which he worked as a mine medical officer for JCI for five years, followed by five years as a GP in Letsitele. Professionally, Harrison was an astute clinician, always up to date with the latest literature and extremely well read. He was a lifelong student, having obtained in the 1990s no fewer than four Wits diplomas in tropical medicine and hygiene, occupational health, health service management and public health respectively. Following his passion, Harrison re-entered the field of occupational medicine in 2003, working first as an occupational health consultant for Anglo Platinum and then for Lonmin. He also held a diploma in infectious diseases from the University of London. At the time of his death Harrison was pursuing his Masters degree in occupational health through the University of Manchester. PIPPA STEIN (1955 - 2008) Prof. Phillipa 'Pippa' Harriet Stein (PDE, 1977, BA Hons, 1987) passed away on 7 August, aged 53, after losing the battle against cancer. Pippa Stein Purkey was born in Johannesburg, the first of Phillip and Shirley Stein's five children. Educated at Roedean School for Girls, where she was Head Day Girl, Stein graduated from Wits with a BA in Languages (English, French and Ancient Greek) followed by an Honours degree in Applied Linguistics. While studying at Wits in the 1970s, Stein was a member of the radical Junction Avenue Theatre Company along with her future husband, Malcolm Purkey. Always drawn to pedagogy, Stein taught at Waverley Girls' High School after graduating and moved to Wits in the 1980s to lecture in the Department of Applied English Language Studies. Her passion for social change led to her initiating the Soweto English Language Project, out of which grew her highly regarded series of textbooks for the teaching of English. In 2003, she completed her PhD at the University of London and was promoted to Associate Professor at Wits in 2005. She won the prestigious Wits Academic Citizenship Award in 2007. Stein was responsible for the annual Nadine Gordimer lecture series, which provided an opportunity to bring Wits University closer to a wider audience. Stein's many publications spanned the fields of educational and semiotic theory and practice, as well as art and culture generally. She wrote Sophiatown Speaks, which accompanied the Junction Avenue Theatre Production of Sophiatown in the 1980s and, more recently, a book on the artist Deborah Bell. Stein's doctorate on multi-modal pedagogies was the basis for her critically acclaimed book, Multimodal Pedagogies in Diverse Classrooms: Rights, Representations and Resources (Routledge, 2008). One reviewer commented that "the book breathed life into theory". Stein was a great collaborator - her recent 2006 guest editorship with Denise Newfield of English Studies in Africa is testimony to this. She was joint leader of the Wits Multi-literacies Research Project and an organiser of the highly successful 14th International Conference of Learning, held at the Wits School of Education in June 2007. A brilliant teacher, Stein was admired and loved by students and colleagues alike. 58 WITSReview
JOHN LOWNIE (1943 - 2008) Prof. John Forsyth Lownie (BDS, 1967, MSc Dent, 1978, PhD, 1994) died on 2 June 2008 at the age of 65 after a courageous two-year battle against cancer. A Wits alumnus and member of staff since his graduation, Lownie also obtained a Higher Diploma in Dentistry and a Diploma in Maxillo-Facial and Oral Surgery in 1975. In 1994 he was the first graduate with a PhD in Maxillo-Facial and Oral Surgery and in 1997 was the first Head of the School of Oral Health Sciences. He held the post of Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences from 1997 to 1999 and then served as Dean before being appointed to the Chair of the new Maxillo-Facial and Oral Surgery Division in the Department of General Surgery in January 1982. He retired from this post in January 2008. Trained in Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) at the American College of Surgeons in South Africa, Lownie became an instructor in 1996 and then served as Regional Director of the Witwatersrand ATLS in 1999 and as its National Chairman from 2003 to 2006. He served as President of the SA Society of Maxillo-
Facial and Oral Surgeons for two terms and was President of the College of Maxillo-Facial Surgeons of South Africa for three terms. He served as a Senator of the College of Medicine of South Africa for more than 15 years and as its Honorary Registrar for three years. He chaired the College's Examinations and Credentials Committee at the time of his death. A pioneer in the field of osseointegrated implants, Prof. Lownie contributed significantly to the profession. He trained a generation of maxillo-facial and oral surgeons, initiating transformation through training black students in this field before it became an official requirement. He was an ideal academic, combining clinical practice with research to produce evidence on which to base patient care - an activity that produced a steady output of publications, including one in 2008 when he was very ill. He was a longstanding Honorary Research Fellow in the now-defunct Dental Research Institute, jointly supervising 16 Masters degrees and publishing 12 scientific papers with colleagues. His booming voice and infectious laugh will be missed.
CECIL LUCK (1917 - 2008) Prof. Cecil Percy Luck (BSc, 1943, BSc Hons, 1944, MBBCh, 1946) passed away on 18 July 2008, aged 91. Born in Sweden, Luck relocated with his family to Kenya in 1921. He returned to Sweden at the age of 12 to be an apprentice to a blacksmith and carpenter, received a Swedish matriculation and then came to Wits to study medicine, thereafter specialising in physiology. Luck married in 1945 and took up the Chair in Physiology in the new pre-medical course for students at Fort Hare University. In 1953 Luck gained a scholarship to the Department of Physiology at University College London. Three years later he took up the chair of physiology at Makerere University Medical School in Uganda. Here he became increasingly involved in animal physiology as big game parks in western Uganda were being established and the efficient tranquillising of game was required. Luck established a research team that undertook drug-darting experiments that culminated in the use of M99 and its antidote, a breakthrough in large animal tranquillisation. In the 1950s, Luck developed his vision for a mobile field laboratory, the first of its kind in East Africa, October 2008
drawing researchers from the USA, Scandinavia, Germany and Britain. In the late 1960s, Luck took up the chair of physiology at Wits Medical School. He moved later to the Wits Dental School, where there was more scope for the animal research he sorely missed. Here he pursued studies of fruit bats, keeping a roomful of them in his department! So enthusiastic was he that five PhDs on the unique metabolism of these creatures were produced by his department. Luck maintained his interest in carpentry and wrought-iron work throughout his life. He retired at 60 and set up a forge and carpentry shed from which he produced doors, balustrades and gates. He established a carpentry school and took on apprentices in wrought-iron work. Active in his forge until the age of 80, he was still working in copper at the age of 85. SHALDEEN MCLAREN (1973 - 2008) Alumna and former teacher at the Wits Aletta Sutton EduCentre, Shaldeen McLaren (BEd, 1996) passed away in East London, South Africa, on 20 June 2008 after a courageous yearlong battle against cancer. She was 35 years old. Born in Klerksdorp, she was the second of three children and the only daughter of Sally and Michael McLaren. She grew up in gold mining communities in Deelkraal and Aggenys and was educated at Potchefstroom High School for Girls, where she was a gifted academic and an Honours Roll student. After matriculating in 1991, McLaren pursued a degree in her first love, junior primary teaching, at Wits in 1993. Her teaching career took her to council estate schools in England as well as to corporate crĂ¨ches and private educentres in South Africa. She retired temporarily from teaching to focus on parenting after the birth of her son in 2003. During this time she established African Mother, a charity organisation that aimed to raise funds to secure the future of children born to HIVpositive women. During her treatment, she fulfilled the dream of a fellow young terminal patient by arranging for him to meet his heroes, several Springbok rugby players. McLaren returned to teaching in 2008, just months prior to her untimely death, and wrote a teacher's guide to developing children's self-confidence. A natural and brilliant teacher, a devoted mother and a spirited, intelligent, creative and compassionate individual, she was loved and respected by children and colleagues and made a significant impact on the lives of those she knew. LYALL WATSON (1939 - 2008) Dr Malcolm Lyall-Watson (BSc, 1959) died on 25 June 2008 of a stroke. He was 69 years old and lived in Ireland. Watson was a botanist, zoologist, biologist, anthropologist, ethologist and author of many new-age books. He was intent on making sense of natural and supernatural phenomena in biological terms. Born in South Africa as Malcolm Lyall-Watson, he had an early fascination for nature in the surrounding bush. After attending Rondebosch Boys' High School in Cape Town, he enrolled at the age of 15 at Wits, where he earned his undergraduate degree. Watson also held an MSc (1959) from the University of Natal and a PhD (1963) from the University of London. An apparent polymath, Watson was director of the Johannesburg Zoo at 23 and subsequently became a producer of documentaries on sumo wrestling and paranormal phenomena at the BBC (the 60 WITSReview
period during which he adopted Lyall as his first name), an expedition leader and researcher in Antarctica, the Amazon River, Seychelles and Indonesia, the Seychelles commissioner for the International Whaling Commission, and founder of the life science consultancy, Biologic of London. Describing himself as a 'scientific nomad', Watson considered conventional science simply inadequate to explain much of human experience. In the 1970s he wrote books on a wide variety of topics, of which Supernature (1973), a worldwide bestseller exploring phenomena such as ESP, psychokinesis and telepathy in nature, Gifts of Unknown Things (1976) and Lifetide (1979) are among the best known. Watson was married three times. His first two marriages ended in divorce and his third wife died in 2003. His niece, Katherine Lyall-Watson, recalled a quote that summed up his attitude to work and life: "I live and work alone and travel light, relying largely on my memory and making a point of letting intuition guide my way."
LINDO WEBB (1913 - 2008) Vosdick Lindo Webb (BSc, 1941), former lecturer in the School of Electrical and Information Engineering from 1945 to 1978 and assistant in the laboratories until 1992, passed away on 23 June 2008, aged 95. Born in Witbank, Webb matriculated with distinction and then made his way to ‘the Big City’ in search of a job during the Depression years. He was initially apprenticed as a plumber and tinsmith, but Webb's employer arranged a laboratory assistant position in the Wits Electrical Engineering Department after noticing his passion for all things electrical. His interest in electrical machines together with his exemplary academic record won him a Chamber of Mines scholarship for electrical engineering in 1935. Working parttime as a power station attendant and studying in the evenings, Webb graduated as an electrical engineer in 1941. Having been unsuccessful in joining active service in the war owing to poor eyesight, he entered the war supplies structure until he was recalled by the University to join Prof. Goldsmith's ‘secret war projects’ team. Although Webb never revealed what ‘they’ were busy with, he regaled his family with tales of October 2008
how they would stand guard with knobkerries as there were no spare rifles available! With the cessation of hostilities Webb married a Canadian nurse in 1947 and then joined Wits as a lecturer in heavy current engineering and machines. Webb was responsible for establishing the Electrical Engineering Department's laboratory facilities to meet the demand for training created by returning ex-servicemen. These laboratories were his ‘baby’ and he remained a central figure in their development and operation until his first nominal retirement in 1978. After a short sabbatical, the University recalled Webb to assist with laboratory supervision and external examiner duties. He continued until his failing eyesight finally forced him, after 50 years, to bid farewell to his beloved machines in 1992. His empathetic style, dry humour and passion for his subject left lasting impressions on most of his students, together with the memory of his hallmark phrase, “Now then gentlemen, let's gather round and talk about this...” when something had gone haywire. Webb was an accomplished yet humble man devoted to teaching and the service of others and has left an enduring legacy. WITSReview 61
At Wits End
Naked and running: don't knock tradition Ask any university student around the world what makes his or her university special and many of
By Nikolai Viedge
them will point to time-honoured student traditions.
egarded by many as the 'ties that bind', there are a number of traditions specific to tertiary institutions around the world - and Wits University is no exception. From picnics to pillow fights, Wits' traditions cover the spectrum from gastronomic celebrations to bludgeoning technique. In addition to the stress-relieving pillow fight, held every year just before exams, there is the all-res picnic, the Engineering Spring Breakfast on the AMIC deck, the Mining Engineers dressing up in their underground mining kit for â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Skiffyskofbaasâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Day, the rites of Wits' various clubs and of course the Knockando Streak.
This (in)famously flagrant display traditionally occurs on the evening that the Knockando Residence's house committee chairman is elected. Stark naked, Knockando residents tear across the bridge to the Education Campus and back. In contrast, the worship of Penelope the Duck, the house mascot, mostly requires some form of apparel. Scoff as you might about chatting to a duck called Penelope about your innermost fears, you might be tempted once the jacarandas bloom. Wits tradition and superstition has it that if you haven't started studying by the time the jacarandas flower, you will fail. October 2008
But do these traditions serve any beneficial purpose? Not according to sociology lecturer Professor Jan Coetzee from Rhodes University. “Traditions are normally connected with historical heritage,” says Coetzee. “In our modern times people don't often think of traditions in their historical context. It's very often a day-to-day experience, an attitude of ‘what can I get out it?’ As a result, quite a number of university ‘traditions’ are connected to risktaking behaviour: drinking, sex-related practices and so on.” But while the sillier escapades may not have the weight of history behind them, Jerry Smith, a religion professor and unofficial college historian at the University of the South in Tennessee, argues that these traditions and superstitions are often the very things that create a common identity among university students. Quoted in marketing coach Larry R Humes' article, The More Things Change... (Currents September 2007), Smith says: “In one way or another, they serve to initiate people into an appreciation for values of civility, of community, and of common discourse - a shared life.” This unifying influence is evident in the engineering students' spring celebrations at Wits. On September 5 every year the engineering students gather on the AMIC Deck wearing pyjamas to celebrate the onset of spring. According to Wits alumnus Grant Sissons, an organisational psychologist, the more time people spend together the better the chances are of a positive relationship-forming experience.
“The more time that people spend around one another, the greater the affect-based trust: trust that is felt rather than rationalised,” says Sissons. “As soon as that relationship is set up, that person will be more willing to share experiences, or his or her perception of his or her experience. This starts to build more concrete relationships, creating trust relationships.” And traditions play a vital role in building positive impressions of an institution. According to Sissons, when a favourable impression is created at the outset, people perceive that the organisation will continue to treat them in a favourable manner in the future, thereby drawing the individuals and the institution closer together. “Effectively a relationship between any organisation and its employees or students is much like a romantic relationship,” says Sissons. “The first thing that needs to happen, in order to build a flourishing relationship, is to create a good first impression. A good Orientation Week experience can act as some sort of predictor of the perceived organisational support - a feeling that the university will be there for the person in the future. “Moreover, the traditions serve the same function as anniversaries or dates: they reaffirm the link between the individual and the institution.” On top of creating and reaffirming a feeling of unity, traditions also serve to set the boundaries of the group, according to Sissons. Traditions give the participants an idea of what can be expected from the institution and in turn show the students what's expected of them.
At Wits End
Engineering Spring Breakfast
Ready to do battle in the Pillow Fight.
Study before the Jacarandas flower!
Knockando mascot, Penelope
Engineering Spring Breakfast on the AMIC deck.