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The magazine for ALUMNI and friends of the University of the Witwatersrand October edition 2021, Volume 46

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VISIONS OF THE FUTURE Sumayya Vally (BAS Hons 2013, MArch Prof 2014), principal architect of the Counterspace studio in Johannesburg, became the youngest architect commissioned to design the prestigious Serpentine Pavilion in Kensington Gardens in London. “This really fills me with hope… This is a wonderful gesture from the Serpentine to commission someone from my background, as young as I am to suggest what the future can be and look like.” Gallo/Getty Images


CONTENTS

I N T H I S I S SU E REGULARS EDITOR’S NOTE ...........................05 LETTERS/ NEWS .......................... 08 RESEARCH ................................ 10 WITSIES WITH THE EDGE ................ 20 FEATURES ................................ 34 INTERNATIONAL WITSIES ............... 48 B O O K S . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6 6 IN MEMORIAM ............................ 78 95 WITS END ..........................

F E AT U R E

34

Mosilo Mothepu WHY WHISTLEBLOWER CHOSE THE CHALLENGING MORAL PATH

WITS END

95

Academics

ON T H E C OV E R

TV MOMENT FOR ENGLISH DEPARTMENTS

YIMBASA YELIZWE BUHLEBEZWE SIWANI MADE CASTS OF HER BODY COVERED IN SUNLIGHT S O A P. S H E A S S O C I A T E S I T WITH HOUSEHOLD CHORES AND EXTREME PHYSICAL LABOUR. THE WORK IS FROM THE “LIVING, FORGIVING, REMEMBERING” EXHIBITION IN 2020 AT MUSEUM ARNHEM, NETHERL ANDS. PAGES 22-23 Photo: Eva Broekema

I N M E M OR IA M

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Robert Scholes WE BID FAREWELL TO AN EXCEPTIONAL SCIENTIST AND ECO WARRIOR

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SP ORT

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Panashe Chiranga

THE 2021 TELKOM NETBALL LEAGUE S TAR


H I S TOR IC A L SN I P P E T S

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Sister Aidan HUMANITARIAN FROM THE 1940S REMEMBERED

M A G A Z I N E Editor Peter Maher (peter.maher@wits.ac.za) Contributors Heather Dugmore (heather@icon.co.za) Jacqueline Steeneveldt (jacqueline.steeneveldt@wits.ac.za)

Graphic design Jignasa Diar (jignasa.diar@wits.ac.za) Printing Remata

W I T SI E S W I T H THE EDGE

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R E SE A RC H

10

Tshepiso NEXT GENERATION METAL SMITH

R E SE A RC H

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Clinging to survival

Massospondylus carinatus

CHAPMAN’S PYGMY CHAMELEON, ONE OF THE WORLD’S RAREST CHAMELEONS, FOUND

A GROWTH STORY HIDDEN IN BONES

Published by the Office of Alumni Relations, University of the Witwatersrand,Johannesburg. Address: Private Bag 3, Wits, 2050, South Africa / T +27 (0)11 717 1090 Email: alumni@wits.ac.za, www.wits.ac.za/alumni www.facebook.com/witsalumni/ www.twitter.com/witsalumni www.linkedin.com/groups/76204 www.flickr.com/groups/witsie/ Update contact details: www.wits.ac.za/alumni/ updateyourdetails Subscriptions per copy: South Africa R25 (incl. VAT & postage) International R50 (incl. postage) Payment options: Online payment using a Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Diners Club credit card at: www.wits.ac.za/alumni/payment or by electronic transfer or bank deposit to: First National Bank, Account No. 62077141580, Branch Code 255-005, Ref. No. 29613 (+ your name) or by cash or credit card payment at the Alumni Office. WITSReview is published twice a year. The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the editor, the Office of Alumni Relations or of the University of the Witwatersrand. ©Copyright of all material in this publication is vested in the authors thereof. Requests to reproduce any of the material should be directed to the editor. WITS REVIEW Magazine, Volume 46, October edition 2021

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In 2022 we celebrate 100 years of a great institution Your support is key to Wits remaining a national treasure For more information visit https://wits100.wits.ac.za/

To donate go to: https://www.wits.ac.za/annualfund/ centenary-endowment-fund/

Wit s. For Good


EDITOR’S NOTE

WITS. FOR GOOD

I LOVE LOOKING at early photos of Wits. Majestic buildings arranged in a formal configuration that arose out of barren ground. The stature and gravitas of these structures in a setting of mine dumps and a fledgling city is breathtaking and one has to admire the ambitious vision of the University’s founders. To this day, the Wits Great Hall is the iconic image of an institution of higher learning, used by the media whenever there is a generic story about universities. With a hundred years of history, Wits University and all those who have worked and studied here have many fascinating stories to tell. These stories are intertwined with the tragedies of apartheid, a world war and a deeply unequal society. They are stories of struggle and sorrow, of courage and bravery, of awakening and discovery. One consequence of our complex history is a depth of character that binds us together through the generations and provides an enduring impulse to do good. One could not only write a book, but build a library of books, about Witsies who have contributed to the betterment of their community, country, and indeed the world. Throughout its history, Wits has stayed true to the intent of its founders who aspired that it be a university that not only prepares students for a career, but also for a life of service to society. It is therefore apt that the University’s new positioning statement and Centenary Campaign theme is Wits. For Good a tagline that reflects a defining attribute of Wits and Witsies as a force for good. Wits. For Good is about progress and moving forward; creating new knowledge to advance humanity. It is about nurturing researchers, scientists, artists, business leaders, sports persons, innovators, teachers and critical thinkers who contribute to growth in our country,

continent and the world. It is about celebrating all that has been achieved through Witsies’ positive impact; it is about aspiring to leave things better than we found them and a brighter future. While Wits will always give students the edge, the Centenary tagline invites all Witsies, wherever they may be in the world, to celebrate the good that Wits has done over the past century and contribute to ensuring that Wits remains a powerful force for good in its next century. Peter Maher, Director, Alumni Relations

For the public good. For the good of all people. For the good of future generations. For the good of our country. For the good of our economy. For the good of an inclusive community. For the advancement of our society. For you and for me. For yesterday, today and tomorrow. For our collective futures.

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Sport Briefs O LY M P I C S At the Tokyo Olympics Rusten Abrahams (BHSc 2019, BHSc Hons 2020) represented South Africa in the men’s hockey team, while Nomnikelo Veto (BA 2020) and Robyn Johnson (BA Ed 2014) made the cut for the SA women’s hockey team. Gareth Ewing (BA 1995, BA Hons 1996) was the men’s head coach and Christy Meulender (BA 1995, BA Hons 1996) joined as the team’s hockey video analyst.

RUSTEN ABRAHAMS

ROBYN JOHNSON

Image: Yan Huckendubler

Image: Netball South Africa

NETBALL

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The 2021 Telkom Netball League, which kicked off in September, is bursting with Witsies: Tinita van Dyk, Kelly Gouws, Panashe Chiranga and Zanne-Marie Pienaar were selected for the Gauteng Golden Fireballs team, while Simone van Reenen was selected for the Gauteng Jaguars team. Samantha Holder was chosen for the Limpopo Baobabs and Alicia Oosthuizen represented the KZN Kingdom Stars.

PANASHE CHIRANGA


Image: Supplied

WANDISILE SIMELANE

CRICKET Final year public management postgraduate Juan Landsberg bagged the Enza Premier League Bowler of the Season, Batsman of the Season, and Cricketer of the Season at the Central Gauteng Lions Cricket Awards held on 27 May 2021. CHARIT Y KWETE

RUGBY Wits student Wandisile Simelane playing in the Springbok showdown Green vs. Gold. Simelane also played for the South Africa-A team in the 2021 British and Irish Lions Series at the end of May and June this year.

JUAN LANDSBERG

Wits student Tadiwanashe Charity Kwete was included in Zimbabwe Women’s National XV’s rugby team, known as the Sables. She competed in the Women’s Rugby Africa Cup.

SAILING Wits Yacht Club sailing member Michaela Robinson competed in the 2021 Hempel Mixed Two Person Offshore World Championship in Italy. She teamed up with Siyanda Vato. They were the youngest team at the event and finished in fourth place.

MICHAELA ROBINSON

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Letters YOU’VE JUMBLED THE PROFESSORS I read the article about Patrick SoonShiong (p  31-32) with nostalgic interest. I well remember Patrick as a vibrant and entertaining intern in Professor Tom Bothwell’s unit at the old Joburg Gen in 1975 when I was his registrar. He was indeed the first doctor of colour to be employed at a “white” hospital and he was paid less than his white contemporaries. During the webinar he paid tribute to the professors he trained under including one “Michael Boswell” – I think this is surely a combination of Professors Michael Kew and Tom Bothwell. Probably too late to put this right.  rofessor Andrew MacPhail P (BSc 1967, MBBCh 1971, PhD 1982)

Ed’s note: So right, Dr Patrick SoonShiong (MBBCh 1975) was referring to Professor Michael Kew (MBBCh 1961, DMed 1968, PhD 1974, DSc Med 1982) and Professor Thomas Bothwell (MBBCh 1948, DSc honoris causa 1994) RURAL BOY TRAVELLING ON A TRAM I recall quite vividly my enrolment at Wits in 1948 as a 16-year-old from a largely rural background. It was such an exciting time and Wits had such an excellent reputation. What a privilege to study there I thought! Living in Boksburg (we could not afford residence for myself and my brother), it took a bicycle ride to the station, a fast train to JHB and a double-decker tram to get to Wits. Some nostalgia for those times still lingers with me across the gulf of many years. Our Chem Eng Class of 1952 had a memorable reunion at our house here in Durban in 2002, with some classmates even coming from Canada. I was inspired by our professors 8 WITS REVIEW

Stay in touch: Please share your news and remember to update your contact details. Please email letters to peter.maher@wits.ac.za

like this that one realises just how many lovely, supportive people there are in the world. Jenty Young, daughter of 100-year-old alumnus Dr John Michael Welchman (MBBCh 1950)

Image: theheritageportal

in chemistry Professor H Stevens, who received an OBE for his work on mustard gas in the Great War, and Dr Otto Backeberg (MSc 1926, PhD 1934, LLD honoris causa 1972) admired and inspirational teacher of organic chemistry. I also revered Professor Arthur Bleksley (DSc 1937) in applied mathematics. Famed researchers Philip Tobias and Sydney Brenner were contemporaries, vying for presidency of the SRC. I think it was the early interest kindled in chemistry and in the power of mathematics that later propelled me to further studies in Canada and to research in those so exciting areas – and to my desire to inspire interest and enthusiasm in young minds.

As ever, the arrival of the online edition of the WITSReview, causes me to think about my alma mater. And, also as ever, I head to the obituary pages first for no morbid reason but simply because there are usually names there to which I can relate in various ways. I also read your opening remarks and must agree wholeheartedly with what you said. This has been a year like none other – and it looks like carrying on well beyond its calendar-based termination. I hope you and yours have managed to steer clear of the virus. Thankfully, my family and I here in England have done, so far. Brian Austin (BSc Eng 1970, PhD 1986)

David Raal (BSc Eng 1952)

VOL 44 As always this is an outstanding journal that you have delivered and makes us all very proud of Wits. In a very challenging time, you continue to describe a full palette of activities and contributions that Wits has made and continues to make to furthering and spreading knowledge. This publication deserves wide distribution and recognition. Congratulations. John Teeger (BCom 1969), New York

Thank you for the commemoration of dad’s 100th birthday in the WITSReview. In fact, a couple of people who had lost contact with our family got in touch as a result. Thank you for getting in touch. It’s at times

VOL 45 Fabulous April edition of WITSReview, just finished reading it. Made me think I should write to congratulate y’all, then remembered former editors should not write letters-to-the-editor in their dotage, then thought stuff that thought too. Praise is always welcome, it’s just the knowing better attitude we must avoid. So well done, you and your staff. No criticism. A suggestion: perhaps you should consider a letters section. Peter Sullivan, friend of Wits


New additions

Image: Snippet Video

AS THE UNIVERSIT Y APPROACHES ITS CENTENARY IN 2022, THE DEPAR TMENT OF DIGITAL AR T S HAS BEEN REFURNISHED AND THE NEW WITS CHRIS SEABROOKE MUSIC HALL (ABOVE) HAS BEEN COMPLETED THANK S TO A SUBS TANTIAL DONATION MADE BY PHIL ANTHROPIS T AND AR TS ENTHUSIAST CHRIS SEABROOKE (MBA 1985)

Images: Supplied

SOUTH POINT’S L ATES T NEW-GENERATION S TUDENT RESIDENCE, 56 JORISSEN, WAS L AUNCHED IN BRAAMFONTEIN, JOHANNESBURG. THE NEW BUILDING, LOC ATED ON THE CORNER OF BERTHA AND JORISSEN S TREETS, IS DIRECTLY OPPOSITE WITS UNIVERSIT Y’S WITS ART MUSEUM A N D C A N H O U S E 1  1 9 5 S T U D E N T S

S E E L AT E S T A L U M N I E V E N T S AT: HTTPS://WWW.WIT S.AC.ZA/ALUMNI/ ALUMNI-EVENT S/PAS T-EVENT-REVIEWS/

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Research WALKING A TIGHTROPE OF SURVIVAL Chapman’s pygmy chameleon (Rhampholeon chapmanorum), long feared to be extinct in the wild, has been found surviving in patches of rainforest in Malawi according to a study published in Oryx, the International Journal of Conservation, in August 2021. It is a tiny, rare chameleon with adults growing to only six centimetres in length. These diminutive reptiles live on the forest floor where they blend in with dried leaves. Wits honorary researcher Professor Krystal Tolley led a team to find out if the chameleons still survive in the wild. To their surprise, they found the pygmy chameleons at all of the three surveyed locations. Genetic analyses suggested that these populations are unable to move between forest patches to breed because of the fragmented habitat. “The loss of forest habitat requires urgent conservation action,” says Professor Tolley. “Without action, the species may reach a point from which it cannot return.”

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RESEARCH: GCRO

CHAPMAN’S PYGMY CHAMELEON IS ONE OF THE WORLD’S RAREST CHAMELEONS, AND NOW CLINGS TO SURVIVAL IN SMALL PATCHES OF FORES T IN A HIGHLY DISTURBED ECOSYSTEM Image: Krystal Tolley

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RESEARCH

MADE FOR THE NIGHTLIFE

Image: Viktor Radermaker

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SCIENTISTS HAVE LONG wondered whether theropod dinosaurs – the group that gave rise to modern birds – had similar sensory adaptations to nocturnal birds enabling them to hunt prey in the dark. A new study led by scientist, Professor Jonah Choiniere, who is professor of comparative palaeobiology at the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Wits, sought to investigate how vision and hearing abilities of dinosaurs and birds compared. The international team of researchers used CT scanning and detailed measurements to collect information on the relative size of the eyes and inner ears of nearly 100 living bird and extinct dinosaur species. To measure hearing, the team measured the length of the lagena, the organ that processes incoming sound information (called the cochlea in mammals). The barn owl, which can hunt in complete darkness using hearing alone, has the proportionally longest lagena of any bird. To assess vision, the team looked at the scleral ring, a series of bones surrounding the pupil, of each species. Like a camera lens, the larger the pupil can open, the more light can get in, enabling better vision at night. By measuring the diameter of the ring, the scientists could tell how much light the eye can gather. The team found that many carnivorous theropods such as Tyrannosaurus and Dromaeosaurus had vision optimised for the daytime, and better-than-average hearing presumably to help them hunt. However, a diminutive theropod named Shuvuuia deserti, part of a group known as alvarezsaurs, had both extraordinary hearing and night vision. The extremely large lagena of this species is almost identical in relative size to today’s barn owl, suggesting that Shuvuuia deserti could have hunted in complete darkness. Shuvuuia deserti was a small dinosaur, about the size of a chicken, and it lived in the deserts of what is now Mongolia. Shuvuuia deserti’s skeleton is among the most bizarre of all dinosaurs – it has a fragile, bird-like skull, brawny, weightlifter arms with a single claw on each hand, and long, roadrunner-like legs. Shuvuuia deserti would have foraged at night, using its hearing and vision to find prey like small mammals and insects, using its long legs to rapidly run that prey down, and using its strong forelimbs to pry the prey out of burrows or shrubby vegetation. “Nocturnal activity, digging ability, and long hind limbs are all features of animals that live in deserts today,” said Choiniere, “but it’s surprising to see them all combined in a single dinosaur species that lived more than 65 million years ago.”

FA R L E F T: AN ARTIST’S RECONSTRUCTION OF SHUVUUIA DESERTI, ABOVE CLOCKWISE: FOSSILISED SHUVUUIA DESERTI SKELETON, PROFESSOR JONAH CHOINIERE HOLDS A 3D PRINTED MODEL OF THE LAGENA OF SHUVUUIA DESERTI, BARN OWL SKULL CT SCAN SHOWING LAGENA, CT SCAN SHOWING THE SIZE OF THE SHUVUUIA DESERTI’S LAGENA

Images: Jonah Choiniere, Mick Ellison-AMNH (fossilised Shuvuuia)

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RESEARCH

D G R A

INOSAUR’S ROWTH ESEMBLES TREE

A NEW STUDY by Dr Kimberley Chapelle (BSc 2013, BSc Hons 2014, MSc 2016, PhD 2019) of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and honorary research fellow at Wits, suggests that a famous South African dinosaur species had irregular growth patterns. The study examined specimens of Massospondylus carinatus, a medium-sized sauropodomorph dinosaur that lived in the Early Jurassic Period, almost 200 million years ago. This dinosaur grew to around four metres in length and fed on plants such as ferns. By looking at the fossil thigh bones under a microscope, researchers can count growth lines, like those of a tree. This allows them to study how much the individuals grew each year. By looking at growth rings in the bones of Massospondylus carinatus, Dr Chapelle was able to show that its growth varied season-to-season, more like a tree than a puppy or a baby human. “These things were just all over the show,” says Dr Chapelle, “one year they might gain 100kg of body weight and the next year they’d only grow by 10kg!” The study suggests that Massospondylus’s growth directly responded to its environmental conditions. In a good year with lots of rain and food, the species might race ahead, almost doubling their size. In a bad year when nutrients were scarce, it might hardly grow at all. Dr Chapelle and her colleagues suggest that such a growth strategy might have helped Massospondylus cope with the harsh environmental conditions following the end-Triassic Mass Extinction 200 million years ago, when more than 50% of species were wiped out. “Massospondylus was one of the first Southern African dinosaurs named back in 1854 and we are still learning so much from it. It teaches us so much about our past environments and what southern Africa was like 200 million years ago.” 14 W I T S R E V I E W

MASSOSPONDYLUS C ARINATUS


RESEARCH

BREATHING LIFE INTO OLD BONES

LIFE RECONSTRUCTION OF HETERODONTOSAURUS VOCALIZING ON A COOL JURASSIC MORNING Image: Viktor Radermacher

FOR YEARS PALAEONTOLOGISTS had little, if any, insight into how the Ornithischians — herbivorous dinosaurs like Triceratops and Stegosaurus — breathed. But, thanks to a well-preserved skeleton of a Heterodontosaurus tucki dinosaur, which was discovered in a dry riverbed on an Eastern Cape farm in 2009 and which has been nicknamed Tucky, and a particle accelerator at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France, all of that has now changed. An international team, led by alumnus Viktor Radermacher (BSc 2017, BSc Hons 2018, MSc 2020) was able to virtually reconstruct a new skeleton of the relatively small dinosaur in detail. Radermacher is a doctoral student in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Minnesota in the US. After years of research, which involved flying Tucky’s remains to France in 2016, the team’s findings were

published in a peer review journal eLife. Not all animals breathe the same. Mammals breathe using a diaphragm, lizards use rib movements and birds rely on “rocking” of their breastbone. Birds have air sacs outside their lungs that pump oxygen in, and their lungs don’t actually move. For a long time, palaeontologists assumed that all dinosaurs breathed like birds, since they had similar breathing anatomy. This study, however, found that Heterodontosaurus did not – it instead had paddle-shaped ribs and small, toothpick-like bones, and expanded both its chest and belly to breathe. This type of breathing resembles the respiration of certain reptiles, like crocodiles. Radermacher says the discovery is vital to join dozens of research dots throughout the palaeontological world. “This represents a turning point in understanding how dinosaurs evolved. This will help for future discoveries. I feel like Peter Pan with this amazing discovery.” O c tober 2021 15


R E S E A R C H : A N T E O S AU RU S

BLOOMING WARNING

Gallo/Getty Images

THE JACARANDAS (Jacaranda mimosifolia), which were primarily planted during the 19th century as a source of timber for the Gold Rush, are in full bloom during spring time in the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria. For Witsies the blossoms signal final exams are not far away. A study by Dr Jennifer Fitchett (BSc Hons 2012, MSc 2013, PhD 2015) and Andile Fani (BSc 2017, BSc Hons 2018, MSc 2021) has found that gradually over the decades, the date of bloom has advanced through October to the early weeks of September. This is referred

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to as a phenological shift and is being observed across a range of species because of climate change. The strongest climatic driver of the phenological advance of the jacarandas was found to be increased daily maximum temperatures during the month of June – the dormant period of the trees. Phenological shifts represent an adaptation strategy for the trees, but this cannot happen indefinitely. As temperatures continue to increase, the risk of heat stress to the trees is heightened. This could mean that the years of purple spring seasons in Gauteng are limited.


DAZED BY THE LIGHT

RESEARCH

PROFESSOR MARCUS BYRNE

Image: Shivan Parusnath

HIGH CO2 LEVELS STUNT BEETLES A new study led by Wits University post-doctoral researcher, Dr Claudia Tocco, provides evidence that elevated CO2 levels directly affect the development and survival of tunnelling dung beetles (Euoniticellus intermedius). The study, published in the international journal, Global Change Biology, found beetles grown under heightened levels of atmospheric CO2 experienced lower survival rates, and were smaller in size. The team suspects that the negative effects experienced by dung beetles under scenarios of heightened CO2 in this study may be a result of increased competition between the beetles and bacteria in the soil. Further studies will tease out whether it is the CO2 levels in the dung ball, the brood balls, or the soil in general that is affecting dung beetle development.

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Image: Yassine Khalfalli/Unsplash

IN 2014, WITS Professor of Entomology, Professor Marcus Byrne (PhD 1998) in the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, was part of an international team that discovered dung beetles use the stars to orientate themselves. This year, Professor Byrne and his team, involving scientists from the University of Würzburg in Germany, and Lund University in Sweden, found that South African dung beetles (Scarabaeus satyrus) are unable to use their star compass under a light-polluted sky. The findings of this research were published in the journal Current Biology. To test how light pollution affects dung beetles’ ability to orientate themselves, Professor Byrne and team conducted experiments in which they measured how two sets of dung beetles chose to orientate themselves on the same night, under different conditions. One under the bright city lights of central Johannesburg, and one in a rural part of Limpopo province under a much more natural sky where the stars are not obscured by skyglow. The team found that under light-polluted skies, dung beetles move towards bright artificial light sources such as streetlights or lights from buildings, rather than a destination they might otherwise choose when guided by the stars. In addition, beetles that viewed direct light pollution behaved unnaturally, but were still oriented. But those that viewed light-polluted skies without brightly lit buildings were completely disoriented. “We just need to switch off the lights. We need to be thoughtful about how we use this wonderful invention of ours, and we can reduce the effects that light pollution has on the world around us,” says Professor Byrne.


RESEARCH

ANTI-POACHING EFFORT GOES NUCLEAR TWO RHINOS NAMED Igor and Denver in the Buffalo Kloof Private Game Reserve had their horns injected with radioactive isotopes in May as part of the anti-poaching Rhisotope Project. Researchers from Wits, and its partners hope a pioneering research project using radioactive isotopes injected in a rhino’s horn will deliver a big blow to poaching and associated organised crime. Headed by Professor James Larkin (MSc 2013), director at the Radiation and Health Physics Unit at Wits, the project aims to significantly reduce demand for rhino horns through the safe application of radioisotopes and radiation research. Larkin says small quantities of radioactive material are inserted into the rhino horn to make it more detectable. “Over the years some 11 000 monitors that can detect radiation and radioactive material have been installed globally at airports, ports, harbours and border crossings to help prevent terrorists from acquiring radioactive nuclear material. “If we put the radioactive material into the horn of a rhino which is then taken by a poacher, an ‘army of experts’ who have been employed to protect and monitor these borders can be utilised to help prevent the illicit movement of the poached rhino horn. This devalues the horn in the eye of the end user. It also introduces along the entire supply chain from poacher to end user, a number of different points where it might be possible to intercept the rhino horn and perhaps other illicit goods being smuggled,” Larkin says. In the coming months scientists will monitor the rhinos and analyse various samples to understand how the isotope interacts within the horn and the animal. Computer and phantom modelling will also be used to confirm if isotopes cause harm as well as identify the appropriate radioactive isotope and quantity to be used. Image: Geran de Klerk/Unsplash

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Witsies with the edge AWA R D S

[BA FT 2017]

GABRIELLA BLUMBERG Producer of I Am Here: Best South African Documentary at Durban International Film Festival, 2021; Audience Choice at the Durban International Film Festival, 2021; Audience Choice at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival 2021

GABRIELLA BLUMBERG

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I Am Here is a moving documentary, which tells the story of Ella Blumenthal, a Holocaust survivor, who turned 100 in July this year. The film’s producer, Gabriella Blumberg (BA FT 2017) says the idea for the film came about when director, Jordy Sank, shared a Friday night Sabbath dinner at a friend’s house as a teenager. “Completely unannounced an elderly woman energetically stood up and started speaking. The whole table went silent as they listened to her recount haunting tales of her survival during the Holocaust. Then something

peculiar happened. Her attitude completely changed and she was dancing, singing and joking around. She lit up the room.” Blumberg says she was approached by Sank in 2019 because they knew “Ella’s story needed to be shared with the world, and most importantly it is her positive personality, despite all odds that we can all learn from.” The film is described as the highlight of the Durban Film Festival, and its Audience Choice Award qualifies it for an Oscar consideration. I Am Here innovatively weaves Ella’s


“Ella becomes the master of her own memories highlighting her boundless energy, unlimited zest for life and her message of love of all humanity.”

L E F T: I A M HERE IS A TOUCHING PORTRAIT OF ELLA BLUMENTHAL BELOW: SCENES FROM THE WAR ARE DEPICTED THROUGH ANIMATION

story with an animation technique, instead of stock images from World War II. “We wanted this film to share Ella’s story in a new and dynamic way. Animation allows the audience to walk alongside Ella in both her lowest moments and her highest points of inspiration,” explains Blumberg. “It has been able to break out of the canon of historical Holocaust documentary. Ella becomes the master of her own memories highlighting her boundless energy, unlimited zest for life and her message of love of all humanity. “‘Never again’ is a phrase used

all too often. Yet we see xenophobia, racism, anti-semitism and othering happening on a daily basis. This has to change. Our aim is that audiences can connect with Ella through her story and that this will be the catalyst for conversation about the dangers of othering.” After Wits, Blumberg obtained her master’s in directing at the MET Film School in London. Her short film “I, Coolie” (2018) won best student film at the San Francisco Black Film Festival and won the judge’s choice at the Best Global Shorts Festival. I Am Here is her first feature

documentary. Blumberg has always been passionate about filmmaking that has impact, something she attributes to her Wits education: “The Wits film department makes one interrogate one’s role and responsibility as a filmmaker. I have always been interested in sharing stories that have impact in people’s lives. Wits gave me the tools to bring this to life. I truly found that I had a solid base of critical thinking and a strong theoretical background from Wits. This gave me the confidence to master the more technical skills that I learned in my MA.” O c tober 2021 21


WITSIES WITH THE EDGE

AWA R D S

BUHLEBEZWE SIWANI 2021 Standard Bank Young Artist: Visual Art “Objects perform, paper performs ... As an artist, it’s my job to blur the line, to see a piece of paper becoming something else – a carpet, a chair – and to make this believable, to allow the object to transcend the initial physical limitations that we place on it,” says Buhlebezwe Siwani (BA FA 2012), the 2021 recipient of the 2021 Standard Bank Young Artist Award in the Visual Art category. The annual award programme, which was established in 1981, is considered a prestigious acknowledgment for artists who demonstrated “exceptional ability in their chosen field”. She will receive a cash prize as well as financial backing for an exhibition at the National Arts Festival. “Honestly, being recognised by the people who map out the arts in our country is wonderful, everyone wants to be seen and so I am honoured to be seen in this category specifically,” she says via email. Siwani works in a variety of media – performance, installation, photography and video but also explores the creative possibilities of 22 W I T S R E V I E W

paper and sculpture. The National Arts Festival Artistic Committee says she has “a versatility which is especially notable in COVID-19 times”. At Wits, she was awarded the Heather Martienssen Prize (now Wits Young Artist Award) in 2010 and describes her experience at the university as “pretty intense”. “It changed the way I think. I went from regurgitating to actually formulating my own thoughts,” she says. Siwani went on to complete her postgraduate degree at the Michaelis School of Fine Arts with distinction in 2015 and was awarded the Katrine Harries postgraduate prize for “an outstanding body of work” for her master’s graduate show, titled Imfihlo (the secret). This was later published as a book.

YIMBASA YELIZWE

“My journey is my work, and my work is my journey... History informs me and history informs my decisions.”

Image: Eva Broekema

[BA FA 2012]


WITSIES WITH THE EDGE

Images: Desiré van den Berg

A BOV E : M NG U N I , L E F T: N Z U N Z A PERFORMANCE & BELOW: THE POWER OF MY HANDS

Image: ANA Silva O Fardo LoRez

Following residencies in Switzerland, the Netherlands and France, her work has been exhibited globally. “I am currently in Paris. I have been lucky enough to travel throughout the pandemic, although not during the lockdowns when I have been stuck at home in Amsterdam.” Siwani is a sangoma and her work is deeply rooted in spirituality, a journey that began as an undergrad at Wits. “I’m not first a sangoma and I’m not first an artist. Those things happen harmoniously and they happen together. In my art I speak about iSangoma and I speak about my journey to become a sangoma. My journey is my work, and my work is my journey. Ubungoma [being a sangoma] manifests itself in my work, so there are no conflicts. The only conflict and conflict resolution I have in negotiating this [art] space is concealing and revealing. How much of what I’ve been taught [as a sangoma] do I not show other people? Do I keep it hidden or do I let people into it so they can decide by themselves? History informs me and history informs my decisions. So, I’m in harmony with my spirits and my work,” she told Lwandile Fikeni during an interview in 2016. She’s cryptic about what we can expect from her work in anticipation of the 2022 National Arts Festival: “You will have to come and see it. All I can say is there will be a bit of everything.”

O c tober 2021 23


WITSIES WITH THE EDGE

[BSc 1969, BSc Hons 1970]

SAUL TEUKOLSKY

Image: Caltech

AWA R D S

2021 Dirac Medal and Prize Professor Saul Teukolsky (BSc 1969, BSc Hons 1970) was awarded the 2021 Dirac Medal and Prize by the International Centre for Theoretical Physics for his contributions in predicting the properties of gravitational waves that emerge from the collisions of black holes. He received the prize jointly with Alessandra Buonanno of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Germany; Thibault Damour of the Institute of Advanced Scientific Studies in France; and Frans Pretorius of Princeton University in New Jersey. The Dirac Medal, which was first awarded in 1985, is given in honour of the Nobel laureate Paul Dirac, who made fundamental contributions to quantum physics. Professor Teukolsky matriculated from Selborne College in East London and completed his undergraduate and postgraduate science degrees in mathematics and physics at Wits. “I have very warm memories of Wits,” Professor Teukolsky says via email. “I had caring lecturers like Eddie Price (BSc Eng 1936) and Prof Frank Nabarro (DSc honoris causa 1987), the head of the Physics Department. I made many friends, especially living in the Men’s Residence. One particular memory is of afternoon tea in the Res right before exams. One of the medical students rushed in and yelled to a group of fellow students: ‘Have you studied the liver? I haven’t looked at that part yet, and I don’t have any time left!’ I always wondered what happened to his patients.” He shares that he met his wife, Roselyn, née Siew, (BSc 1969) at Wits: “My wife was from Port Elizabeth and so staying in Women’s Res, and we met through the various social events organised for the first years. Her maiden name began with S and in first-year chemistry we were arranged alphabetically at the lab benches. Since I was with the Ts, I could look across at her often. Things just seemed to follow from there.” The couple 24 W I T S R E V I E W

recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Roselyn graduated from Cornell University with a master’s in mathematical education and was an accomplished mathematics and computer science teacher. In her retirement, she’s pursuing her talent as a fiction writer. Professor Teukolsky is the Robinson Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics at the California Institute of Technology as well as a professor at Cornell University. In the early 2000s, he created a group for simulating the collisions of black holes using Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, and he has led it ever since. He is a co-author of the widely used textbooks Numerical Recipes: The Art of Scientific Computing and Black Holes, White Dwarfs and Neutron Stars: The Physics of Compact Objects. His list of honours also includes membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. He said he couldn’t pinpoint the factors that sparked his interest in science. “It’s always been really satisfying to me that we have a way of understanding the world around us that doesn’t involve supernatural things. It can also be very beautiful when things fit together in an unexpected way.” This year he also received the American Physical Society’s Einstein Prize, but wishes it could have somehow improved his golf: “I’m a keen golfer, though not very good. You’d think that knowing physics would be helpful for golf. But I’ve found that if I think about physics while swinging a golf club I play much worse.”

PROFESSOR SAUL TEUKOLSKY


WITSIES WITH THE EDGE

RECENT HONORARY DEGREE CONFERRED ON:

Gallo/G

etty Imag es

South Africa’s first lady of song, Dr Sibongile Khumalo (BA Hons 1983, HDipPM 1984), was posthumously awarded a Doctorate of Music degree honoris causa for “her continued commitment to the advancement of arts education”. Ayanda Khumalo, daughter of the late jazz singer and cultural activist, accepted the award and said the family was “humbled and filled with gratitude and pride”. Her speech reflected on Dr Khumalo’s childhood in Soweto and the music room that operated from “Room 2” at Orlando High School. “Room 2 was a small space where dreams were born, nurtured, given wind and allowed to soar,” despite apartheid. She argued that every child deserved a “Room 2”. https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=G_Hr3fXU4CY&t=5s

Apr il 2021 25


WITSIES WITH THE EDGE

I N N O VAT O R S

[BA FA 2017]

TSHEPISO Next Generation metalsmith

“My brand aims to push the boundaries by creating designs that are gender fluid, contemporary and unconventional.” TSHEPISO

26 W I T S R E V I E W


WITSIES WITH THE EDGE

YONGAMA MGQIBELA MODELS TSHEPISO’S DEBUT COLLECTION

Tshepiso (BA FA 2017), the founder and mysterious metalsmith alumna who recently released her eponymous debut jewellery collection, has been described as “fashion-forward” and challenges the conventional approach to jewellery. Tshepiso’s interest in metal work developed during her degree, but its significance was propelled by time spent at Alchimia Contemporary Jewellery School in Firenze in Italy. “’After I graduated from Wits I was a little disenchanted with South Africa as a whole and decided not only to leave but to do something else in the creative field. I came across Alchimia while searching for courses online,” she says via email. “The decision to go was rash but I had a gut feeling that it was right. I moved to Florence not knowing anyone and had only a semester’s knowledge of Italian under my belt so it was daunting but exciting. I spent two years in Italy and in my first year I stayed with a roommate who had already been living in Italy studying jewellery; she spoke fluent Italian and knew Florence pretty well so she was able to ease me into Italian living.” She says her intention is to create pieces that are bold and play with the way the body moves and looks. Her work has opened an entirely new category in the market and breaks the rules of a traditional binary approach to jewellery design. The promotional images for the collection feature model Yongama Mgqibela landing in a dreamy desert. Tshepiso teamed up with photographer Armand Dicker and creative director Anthony Hinrichsen to create an other-worldly shoot. “The South African industry is quite traditional in terms of design or leans toward gender specific designs. It makes sense to create gendered designs in a society that is still quite patriarchal and rife in toxic masculinity. Times are changing though, and I want my brand to reflect that. My brand aims to push the boundaries by creating designs that are gender fluid, contemporary and unconventional.” She says that her Wits education has had a huge impact on her career: “Wits has played a massive part in my journey, I have an incredibly solid foundation in conceptualising and creating because of every lecturer in the department. Professor David Andrew (PDipEd 1986, PhD 2011) who was my tutor in my third year of Fine Art was very no nonsense (he probably still is) and pushed me to push myself, which I’m eternally grateful for. Coming from an art background has allowed me to approach jewellery differently. [Considerations such as] wearability, weight and size sometimes go out of the window because of this.” Now she’s “experimenting with stones and patinas, drawing inspiration from different objects, textures and shapes for pieces to come”. Images: Supplied

O c tober 2021 27


WITSIES WITH THE EDGE

AWA R D S H O R T S

2021 BRIG ADIER S T OKES MEMORIAL AWARD • Wits alumnus and mining leader Neal Froneman (BSc Eng 1981) has been honoured with the 2021 Brigadier Stokes Memorial Award by the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. Considered the highest distinction to be bestowed by the South African mining and metallurgical sector, the award was presented during an online annual general meeting of the institute on 12 August 2021. A mechanical engineer by training, Froneman’s career spans more than 37 years in the South African mining sector and he has carved a reputation as an astute dealmaker. He is also a loyal Wits supporter and is on the Board of Governors appointed by the University Council to manage the Wits Foundation. Earlier this year Wits received a donation of R16.5 million from Sibanye-Stillwater, which he heads, to support the development of scarce skills and research in mining.

2021 BES T IT MAN AGER • Wits alumnus and global chief information officer (CIO) at ABB, Alec Joannou (BSc 1990), has been named Best IT Manager for 2021 at the Swiss CIO Awards. The awards honour the best Swiss IT managers of the year and are presented annually by EY Switzerland. ABB is a Swedish-Swiss multinational corporation headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, operating mainly in robotics, power, heavy electrical equipment and automation technology areas. Joannou joined the company in 2018. In 2017, as global CIO of Sasol, Joannou scooped the Visionary CIO of the Year Award, which acknowledged his “visionary leadership in applying technology to grow and transform business”. Joannou matriculated at SAHETI in 1985, completing his BSc in archaeology and computer science at Wits. He joined Price Waterhouse’s consulting division, rising up the ranks to be appointed as partner in 2002, at the age of 33. He headed up the SAP practice for PwC across Africa, Middle East and Turkey. In 2012 he joined Sasol as their global CIO and was instrumental in transforming the company’s digital presence. Over the years Joannou played an advisory role to several boards including Unilever, Sappi, Anglo American and Sasol and has worked and consulted in over 40 countries.

28 W I T S R E V I E W

2021 ORDER OF AUS TRALIA MEDAL •G  eoffrey Jochelson (BCom 1950) was awarded the Queen’s Birthday Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) earlier this year for introducing The Security of Payment Act – legislation that allows contractors to recover disputed payments without going to court. The 90-year-old alumnus, who is based in Kensington, Sydney, said: “I was involved with the problem in South Africa from the time I graduated and joined the family-owned electrical contracting company Penman and Jochelson (Pty) started by my father in 1922.” As a boy, Jochelson witnessed his father, an electrical contractor in Johannesburg, being told that he wouldn’t get paid for his work many times. At one point, his father took out an overdraft to make sure he could pay his subcontractors. This injustice stayed with him even though he enjoyed a successful career as an electrical contractor and emigrated to Australia in 1984. He lobbied the New South Wales (NSW) government for nine years through the 1990s, and persisted under three different premiers. Then in his 70s, he worked tirelessly to bring into existence entirely new law, which paid off in 2000. The NSW government made the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act into law. It is now a statutory process where payment disputes get decided by an adjudicator in a rapid compulsory adjudication scheme. • Professor Karen Zwi (MBBCh 1988, MMed 1989) was also honoured for her service to paediatric medicine. She is a consultant community paediatrician at Sydney Children’s Hospital, conjoint professor at the University of New South Wales, head of the department of community child health, and the clinical director for priority populations at Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network. She is a passionate advocate for children’s health, refugees and asylum seekers and was honoured with the Michelle Beets Memorial Award by the Humpty Dumpty Foundation in 2019 as well as the Child Protection Champion by the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network in 2020. “It is, more importantly, recognition of the people I have worked with in helping Aboriginal and refugee families and children over the last 20 years in Australia,” she said in a statement.


WITSIES WITH THE EDGE

I N N O VAT O R S

PHARMACY INNOVATORS •R  aees Carim (BSc Con 2020) created a new home-grown app PharmaGo, which facilitates deliveries for essential over-the-counter medication. This alumnus, who has also completed his honours in quantity surveying, came up with the idea when an immune-compromised relative needed medication. He said the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns allowed him more time on PharmaGo as university classes were being conducted online. At launch, PharmaGo had a nationwide footprint, with 73 pharmacies on board, and claims to be the only service that delivers medical essentials free of charge within a 20km-50km radius, depending on location. It uses existing distribution networks for deliveries, along with pharmacies that employ drivers to deliver.

•M  buso Thwala (BPharm 2020) and Mpho Maake (BPharm 2020) secured R100 000 seed funding for their automated anitmicrobal-surface coated pill-dispensing innovation Ra-Pill. The invention was part of the Prospector@WITS course, run by Wits Enterprise. Ra-Pill assists in the rapid and accurate counting of tablets or capsules dispensed to patients and reduces the risk of human error and potential contamination in the dispensing process. The Ra-Pill’s development builds on the success of the initial conceptualisation and prototype development of Ra-Pill, from their BPharm 3 project for the PharmApprentice programme. The PharmApprentice programme, in partnership with Aspen Pharmacare, facilitates pharmaceutical business leadership development and a growth mind-set for entrepreneurship and innovation in pharmacy.

SEE MORE WITSIE HONOURS HTTPS://WWW.WIT S.AC.ZA/NEWS/ SOURCES/ALUMNI-NEWS/ Image: halacious/ Unsplash

O c tober 2021 29


WITSIES WITH THE EDGE

R I S I N G S TA R S

2021 FUTURE 50 HONOREE Innocentia Mahlangu (BSc Eng 2011, MSc Eng 2018), a senior engineer and project manager at Hatch, has been honoured by her inclusion in the Project Management Institute’s 2021 Future 50 list. The list includes other dynamic leaders such as British footballer Marcus Rashford who has made strides in the fight to end child food poverty in Britain. Mahlangu was acknowledged for “tackling tough infrastructure projects with an eye toward social and economic change”. She was recognised by the Mail & Guardian as one of the Top 200 Young South Africans in 2018. She received the Young Engineer of the Year Award for 2019 in the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) Regional Awards and was nominated for the SAICE National Awards, while in 2020 she was announced as the winner in Accenture’s Rising Star Awards in the Construction and Industrial category.

INNOCENTIA MAHLANGU

M&G YOUNG SOUTH AFRICANS Every year, Witsies are among those recognised for their extraordinary work. Over 40 eminent Witsies were featured in the 2021 Mail & Guardian Top 200 list of young South Africans. The Top 200 List is in its 15th year of showcasing South Africa’s outstanding and accomplished young people in various fields including education, entertainment, film and media, business and entrepreneurship, justice and law, health, mining and manufacturing, science and technology, tourism and hospitality, rural development projects, civil society, and politics and government. This year, the list also featured a special category, COVID-19 frontliners. https://www.wits.ac.za/news/latest-news/general-news/2021/2021-06/wits-young-movers-andshakers.html

30 W I T S R E V I E W


WITSIES WITH THE EDGE

YOUNG TRAILBL AZERS LEAD THE WAY •Archaeologist and biological anthropologist, Dr Keneiloe Molopyane, who completed her PhD in biological anthropology in 2020, was recognised as a trailblazer by the prestigious National Geographic Society. She is part of the select 15 “global changemakers” in the 2021 class of Emerging Explorers. Dr Molopyane, also know as “Bones” has an MSc in bioarchaeology from the University of York and is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Exploration of the Deep Human Journey at Wits. In 2018 she accepted the challenge as second genDR KENEILOE MOLOPYANE eration “underground astronaut”. Following a successful expedition into the Dinaledi and Lesedi chambers of the Rising Star Cave system in 2019 – she was named the curator of the Maropeng and Sterkfontein Caves Visitor Centre at the Cradle of Humankind. She leads a team exploring a new cave known as UW 105. Dr Molopyane is featured in the SuperScientist cards series – developed to inspire a younger generation to see themselves in the faces of working scientists. It is a project of the South African non-profit CodeMakers. Other Witsies featured in the SuperScientist card  series are Kimberleigh Tommy (BSc 2015, BSc Hons 2016, MSc 2018) and Professor Penny Moore (BSc 1996, BSc Hons 1997, MSc 2000). • Prinavan Pillay (BEngSc, BME 2014, BSc Eng 2015) was selected as one of the 30 2021 Global Future Leaders under 30 by Corinium Global Intelligence. He is an entrepreneur, tech enthusiast and proponent of digital transformation. He has a master’s degree in machine learning, a bachelor’s in electrical engineering and a bachelor’s in biomedical engineering and is co-founder and chief technology officer at Teraflow.ai, an artificial intelligence consultancy focused on machine learning and data-driven solutions for global enterprises. His diverse technical background, coupled with firm startup experience in the data sphere, helps empower other startups, businesses and academia with the tools and expertise to scale their products and ideas.

ABOVE: KIMBERLEIGH TOMMY’S SUPERSCIENTIST CARD, L E F T: PRINAVAN PILL AY

O c tober 2021 31


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O c tober 2021 33


Features

34 W I T S R E V I E W


F E AT U R E : W H I S T L E B L O W E R S

ERA OF THE BRAVE

THREE ALUMNI DOCUMENT THEIR STORIES AS WHISTLEBLOWERS. IT’S NOT ONLY TES TAMENT TO THEIR INDIVIDUAL COURAGE, BUT A CALL FOR A MORE E T H I C A L S O C I E T Y. BY JACQUELINE STEENEVELDT

I

n the popular podcast series “Cautionary Tales”, economist and author Tim Harford shares a study of university students in Amsterdam. Researchers present a hypothetical moral dilemma: would you contact the university’s ethics committee to report a professor who offers to pay students money for fake testimonials in support of his project, which involves sensory deprivation of human subjects? Nearly two-thirds of the students said they would absolutely blow the whistle on the professor. But with a different set of students, the researchers staged the experiment for real. How many blew the whistle? Half? Two-thirds? Not even close – it wasn’t even one in ten. What the research roughly demonstrated was that many talk a big game about moral standards but fall short in practice. When the Zondo Commission wrapped up its investigation of allegations of state capture at the end of August 2021, at least three Wits alumni were among the whistleblowers who had testified. At the commission they detailed corruption within corporations and in government in their line of work as professionals. Their testimonies are a spotlight on what Lawson Naidoo, executive secretary of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, described as “institutional vandalism on a massive scale”. James Themba Maseko (BA 1988, LLB 1993) testified that the Gupta brothers had attempted to strong arm him, as CEO of the Government Communication and Information System, into diverting R600 million, the entire government media budget, to The New Age

newspaper. Mosilo Mothepu (BCom Hons 2002), as CEO of Trillian Financial Advisory, told then public protector Thuli Madonsela (LLB 1991, LLD honoris causa 2017) that Trillian’s owners had prior knowledge of then finance minister Nhlanhla Nene’s firing in 2015 and the company planned to profit from the information. Athol Williams (BSc Eng 1992) warned that consulting firm Bain was concealing its larger role in the restructure at the South African Revenue Service (SARS). How were these alumni able to match their action with their intentions and choose the challenging moral path? **** For Themba, who also has an MBA from De Montfort University in Leicester, it began with a conversation in 2010 in Zulu: “My brother,” former president Jacob Zuma said over the phone, “There are these Gupta brothers, I want you to meet with them and help them.” The call lasted 90 seconds. At the Gupta residence in Saxonwold he was met with the following demand by Ajay Gupta: “I am aware that the government spends R600 million on advertising across media platforms and I want that expenditure to be transferred to my company,” Maseko writes in For My Country: Why I Blew the Whistle on Zuma and the Guptas (Jonathan Ball, 2021). He was astonished and refused. But he says the demand was followed up initially in a call from Tony Gupta demanding a meeting to discuss the then soon-to-be launched New Age newspaper. When Themba declined the meeting demand, which was at short notice, he received another call O c tober 2021 35


F E AT U R E : W H I S T L E B L O W E R S

from Ajay Gupta for a meeting with a threat that he would be replaced by someone who would comply with what the family demanded. His career was never the same again. Towards the end of January 2011, he was notified that a TV news channel was running a story that he had been fired as government spokesperson and CEO. He was “redeployed” to the position of director general in the Department of Public Service and Administration, but he never quite fitted in. In July 2011 he resigned from the public service. “I defied that instruction to assist the Guptas,” he said in an interview with eNCA in May. “It was something that was contrary to my beliefs and reasons why I joined the struggle.” Themba is bookish, with large, black-rimmed glasses. He spoke slowly as if weighing up every sentence. “I must confess that I did not fully realise the impact that speaking out about state capture would have on me and my family. It came at a great cost.” Themba was born in Dube, Soweto, the sixth of seven children. His formative experiences were shaped by the Soweto uprising in 1976. He remembers sheltering, aged 12, in the “I defied that Methodist church building: “I instruction saw several students lying outside the church building and to assist the in the street in positions that Guptas. It was suggested they were dead. I will something that never forget the image of a girl was contrary to with a huge wound in her neck, her mouth and eyes wide open my beliefs and and her arms spread out on the reasons why ground.” I joined the Despite this, he matriculatstruggle.” ed well enough to study law at THEMBA MASEKO university. In 1983 he tried to apply in person at Wits, only to be told: “The only way you can be admitted is if you get permission from the minister of education to study at a white university.” His request was declined by the then minister of education, FW de Klerk, who advised he go to the University of Zululand. He spent a year there and reapplied to Wits once the entry requirements for black students were relaxed, following violence between students and supporters of Inkatha which left four students and an Inkatha “impi”(warlord) dead. “My political activism grew by leaps and bounds after I enrolled at Wits, and 36 W I T S R E V I E W

for the first time I formally joined a student organisation, becoming a member of Azaso.” He was elected to numerous leadership positions: chair of Glyn Thomas House Committee, two-time president of the Black Students’ Society, general secretary to the South African National Students Congress. He later joined and represented the student movement in the executive committee of the National Education Coordinating Committee. “My activism at Wits opened many doors for me and I got noticed by the struggle leadership. The highlight was when I was recruited to join the underground structure of the South African Communist Party and later the ANC.” The stakes for being an activist at the time were high. He never slept in the same place for two nights and endured constant raids by security police at the residence. His close friend Bheki Mlangeni (BA 1989, LLB 1999) was killed at the age of 35 after being sent an explosive package in 1991. Themba was one of the first people on the scene in Mlangeni’s bedroom in Jabulani. In 1994 he was elected to the first democratic parliament. A year later he returned to Gauteng and was appointed as the first head of the Gauteng Department of Education. He was later appointed as director general in the Department of Public Works before taking on the role as CEO of government communications. **** Athol is a polymath. In addition to his Wits qualification, he’s earned degrees from Harvard, Oxford, the London School of Economics, MIT and London Business School. “It’s a unique combination in five different areas: engineering, moral philosophy, public administration and finance. We’re trained in one narrow area at university. As an engineer, I received no training in management, no training in ethics. It seems bizarre. I think we need more rounded people, who understand multiple areas of expertise because the world’s like that,” he says on a cold morning from Cape Town in August 2021 via a Zoom interview. He has a full salt-and-pepper beard and sits in what seems to be a small, enclosed space. He says his career trajectory was not engineered, rather it’s been guided by living by his passions and it has led to a rather “chaotic life”. Athol was born in Lansdowne but grew up in Mitchells Plain in the Western Cape. “I see it as travelling along a path – a path of possibility. Along this path sometimes you must run, sometimes you must walk, sometimes you must stop. I have taken many tributaries off the traditional path.” His autobiography Pushing Boulders (Theart Press, 2016) documents how he taught himself the science subjects he needed to get into Wits in the mid-1980s.


F E AT U R E : W H I S T L E B L O W E R S

Through a scholarship he completed his first degree. “I didn’t know anyone who had studied engineering or anyone who had been to university. When I started at Wits, the local paper wrote an article about it because it was such a rare occurrence. I loved studying engineering but didn’t enjoy working as an engineer.” As a way out, he pursued business. “MIT seemed the best place. I applied and by some miracle I was admitted.” He had money to pay for his plane ticket, nothing else. “I arrived in Boston at the age of 24, with only a letter saying I have placement at MIT. I didn’t know a single soul or have a place to stay. I lived homeless, while doing an MBA. I took food at events and filled my bag with sandwiches.” By his late 20s he was a successful engineer and business consultant, working internationally. Yet, at the age of 40, after the death of his father, he returned to South Africa to start a non-profit literacy organisation, Read to Rise, which has given books to thousands of South African children. In 2019 Athol was awarded the Cultural Affairs Award “By the end, I for his contribution to concluded that the literary arts by the Western Cape provincial Bain was not government. sincere. I was To date he has authored scathing about 17 books, which include the company the children’s picture book series Oaky, which withholding won the South African information.” Independent Publishers ATHOL WILLIAMS Award in 2019. He is a two-time winner of the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award and published widely in academic journals. His range of skills was precisely why he was approached by Bain & Company, a global management consulting firm headquartered in Boston in the US. “I got involved with training the new consultants. I advised them on projects over the years.” In 2018, while he was lecturing in values-based leadership at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, Bain approached him as an independent consultant to oversee the firm’s investigation into its own role at the Revenue Service and ultimately to write a report for

the Nugent Commission’s inquiry into tax administration and management. “By the end, I concluded that Bain was not sincere. I was scathing about the company withholding information.” He handed his report over to Justice Robert Nugent (BCom 1970, LLB 1974). The Nugent Commission completed its final report in December 2018, accusing Bain & Company of colluding to damage SARS. Bain refunded the tax agency. “In 2019 the global CEO apologised to me about what happened in 2018 and asked for help with implementing the recommendations. Perhaps I was foolish to believe them a second time. “For me this was exciting because we were going to do it right.” After six months as senior partner he resigned, citing an “explicit cover-up” and accusing the company of not being transparent. Athol drafted his 700-page affidavit to the Zondo Commission on his own. He testified that the company was part of masterminding state capture. “It was the pinnacle of my career, I was senior partner, with a prestigious firm, earning huge money and I knew if I blew the whistle, it would destroy my career. That’s exactly what’s happened.” **** Mosilo was raised by a deeply religious single mother who valued education. She spent her childhood between South Africa, Lesotho and Belgium. After completing her bachelor’s degree in commerce at the National University of Lesotho she set her sights on Johannesburg’s “bright lights” and Wits. She was accepted for an honours degree in corporate finance and investment. “I am a colourful character. I hated auditing; the auditors are always given the worst office – in the dungeon, without sunlight,” she jokes. Today, she has 16 years’ experience in the financial services industry and has worked on key infrastructure projects, including raising capital for the Airports Company of South Africa in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. She recently accepted a position as a special financial and economic advisor to a cabinet minister. Her tumultuous journey to this point is detailed in Uncaptured: The True Account of the Nenegate/Trillian Whistleblower (Penguin Random House, 2021). It’s not hard to see her commandeering a board meeting and she immediately takes charge of the conversation in our virtual meeting. Her introduction to Wits wasn’t what she anticipated: “At Wits in 2001, for the first time in my life, I was treated as black – no integration, just segregation.” She was O c tober 2021 37


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surprised to find most students in her class socialising along racial lines. “I was not like that. I would sit with anyone I got along with. I judge you by your character, irrespective of where you’re from.” In Uncaptured she shares the patronising and racist experiences she endured as a black woman in the corporate world after graduation. Despite her qualifications she had to fight for meaningful work. Joining Regiments Capital initially in 2007, and later in 2015, under Eric Wood, she finally felt her skills and hard work were being acknowledged. Retrospectively she admits being politically naïve. Although she felt exhilarated to be offered the post as CEO of Trillian Financial Advisory, a subsidiary of Gupta-linked Trillian Capital Partners, in March 2016, she had been given a poisoned chalice. In one instance she was asked to draft an “unsolicited bid” for Transnet’s fleet renewal and send an R11,4 million invoice for the proposal. She refused. It was sent anyway. Through the investigative stories in the media at the time, she began to piece together Trillian’s association with parastatals and the “What is more Guptas. She was CEO dignified – for in name only and in my mother to lay June 2016 she resigned from what seemed like a wreath on my a dream job after only casket knowing three months – with no I did the right other job lined up. thing, or for her to “When Thuli Madonsela was finalising visit me in prison her State of Capture rebearing tampons port, I was in Egypt. I call and contraband?” it my Damascus moment. MOSILO MOTHEPU I asked myself: am I a good woman?’’ In Uncaptured, with her wry humour, she writes that the question that finally resolved it was: “What is more dignified – for my mother to lay a wreath on my casket knowing I did the right thing, or for her to visit me in prison bearing tampons and contraband? A wreath or tampons? For me, it was the wreath.” Despite fearing legal consequences, in September 2016 38 W I T S R E V I E W

she met Madonsela, handing over her written statement. Her disclosures, among others, resulted in the freezing of Trillian-associated company Regiments Capital’s assets and a High Court order for Trillian to pay back almost R600-million to Eskom. The Asset Forfeiture Unit froze assets worth R1.6 billion of Regiments Capital’s directors, their spouses and their family trusts. Mosilo looks back at the experience as a test of her faith and obedience to God. “I lost a R2.3 million-a-year job and a R500 000 sign-on bonus. I lost my title as CEO. My physical and mental health were destroyed. My bond was maxed out and I had no savings. I lost my peace and security. I had nothing.” **** Professor Kate Kenny, an international expert on whistleblowing research from the National University of Ireland in Galway, details in Whistleblowing: Toward a New Theory (Harvard Press, 2019) that the act of whistleblowing comes at great personal cost. It destroys careers and damages health and relationships. Athol has published his sixth poetry collection, Whistleblowing (Geko Publishing 2021). It opens with the poem “Whistleblower’s wife”, which hints at the impact of his actions on his wife: ‘Hello sniper,’ she says, opening curtains to another bunker day… She has shrunken as their world tightened around them, a chokehold, where they expected an embrace. Every creak gets her full attention, every door rattle a defensive drill. The TV is silent, her laughter muted, heartbeat low. There are profound psychological effects: whistleblowers are ostracised by co-workers, fired, referred to psychiatrists and sometimes disowned. They sometimes take on this experience of exclusion in their own psyches. This was exactly Themba’s experience: “I became a professional, political and social leper, shunned by friends and enemies alike. After leaving public service, I thought the best way forward financially was to set myself up as an entrepreneur, but I had become a politically exposed person, a marked man … soon the haunting calls of creditors started ringing and the banks started calling in loans and overdrafts. “Despite my 17 years of experience in the public service and my many qualifications, which included senior executive certificates from Wits and Harvard, the private sector refused to employ me. There were days when courage and hope seemed to fail me.” Mosilo’s psychological scars linger. She says she’s spent hundreds of thousands on medical bills. Whistleblowers are targeted by their former


F E AT U R E : W H I S T L E B L O W E R S

PHILOSOPHICAL TOOLS TO GUIDE ETHICS DR ASHLEY COATES (PHD 2017)*

We all hold a variety of moral beliefs. Some of these beliefs, such as the belief that torturing people for fun is wrong, are very widely shared. On other topics, though, like the morality of abortion or euthanasia, people often hold conflicting views. In addition to moral disagreement between people, we often find moral conflict within ourselves. It can be hard to see how to make progress on figuring out what we ought to think about moral questions. When we reflect on our moral beliefs, then, things can seem perplexing. It seems that some answers to moral questions are better than others. Philosophical ethics is a field of enquiry that takes up the challenge of trying to identify both better and worse answers to moral questions and better and worse ways of thinking about these questions. Since 2002, the Wits Philosophy Department has offered a master’s degree in Applied Ethics for Professionals that aims to make the resources of philosophical ethics available to working professionals. A required course in the programme introduces participants to the methods of philosophical ethics.

employers. “It seems so stereotypical it’s like a textbook that the bad guys follow,” says Athol. “Immediately the day I went public Bain shut down my cellphone and my laptop remotely from the US. They gave me three days’ notice that they would shut down my medical aid. I am on chronic medication. “Psychologically they questioned why I was acting so unethically claiming to be an ethical person. The most explicit thing was they offered me money and offers to relocate my wife and I outside South Africa.” There are hefty legal bills. In October 2016, the statement Mosilo handed to the public protector detailing Trillian’s involvement in state capture was leaked to the media. Trillian filed criminal complaints against Mosilo for theft, fraud, corruption and cybercrimes for sharing company information with outsiders. After a 16-month investigation, in 2018 the National Prosecuting Authority confirmed it would not be prosecuting her, but her legal bills amounted to over R1,3 million. In 2017 William Bourdon, the French lawyer and founder of Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa, offered to pay Mosilo’s

In various electives, these methods are then applied to moral issues in areas such as the law, the marketplace and the environment. In each case, the goal is to use the tools of philosophical ethics to help participants think more critically and reflectively about ethical issues in the relevant domain. As part of the programme, participants also write a research report of 15 000-20 000 words on a topic of their choosing. Topics of past research reports have included ’Ethics and Sustainable Advantage: Is it Rational for Businesses to be Moral?’, ’Reconciling “Best Medical Practice” with Scarce Resources’ and ’Ubuntu, Zimbabwe and the Ethics of Intervention’. This training often focuses on the content and application of various ethical guidelines and codes. For more information on the Applied Ethics for Professionals programme, you can write to AEP.Philosophy@wits.ac.za *Dr Coates is director of the Applied Ethics for Professionals Programme at Wits

and later Athol’s legal costs. In 2018, a R3 million job offer from Rob Schuter, MTN’s CEO at the time, helped to restore some faith in humanity for Mosilo. **** “All the people who harmed me acted rationally,” says Athol. “It’s like seeing a guy with a gun mugging an old lady. The rational thing to do would be to walk past and maybe do something later. Is it ethical? This is the dilemma we face. Many old ladies are being mugged all the time and we as good citizens need to respond with ethical behaviour. “We need to move from this era of the bully to the era of the brave. It means I place myself in harm’s way. No great things happened to people who only act rationally.” It is a sentiment echoed by Mosilo: “We all need to do so much more. We all have a part to build our democracy. Whether it’s as academics, the man on the street, the NGO, this country is worth fighting for. I have done my bit. I challenge you in your little circle, can you also do the same?” O c tober 2021 39


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OUR BREAKOUT S TA R T H U S O M B E D U B Y

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H E A T H E R

D U G M O R E


“The depth and complexity of emotional life, her authentic beauty, and regalness are potent.”

Ga ty

et

/G

llo s ge

a Im

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“People say slavery happened a long time ago but that is not true. Being a black woman, being a black body, the struggles still happen today.”

WITS DRAMA GRADUATE THUSO MBEDU IS ONE OF HOLLYWOOD’S BREAKOUT S TARS OF 2021.

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he years of dedication that Thuso Mbedu (BADA 2014) has invested in her career are paying off. She is the first South African actress to lead an American television series (The Underground Railroad). And she is now in production for her first Hollywood feature film, The Woman King, starring alongside the award-winning US actress Viola Davis. It all started happening for Thuso after she was nominated for an International Emmy Award in 2017 for her role as Winnie in the 2016 South African teen drama television series Is’Thunzi. While in New York for the Emmy ceremony she went for an interview for The Underground Railroad, a television adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prizewinning novel of the same name. The director, Academy Award winner Barry Jenkins, called her back and said “You are Cora”, referring to the lead role. The series is an unfiltered, highly disturbing view of slavery in the US in the 1800s, portraying the journey of a group of slaves, including Cora, to freedom. Oprah Winfrey showered praise on Thuso, calling her

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performance the most consistent she had ever seen, psychologically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. “Great things are coming for her and everyone will be saying her name.” And so it is. The Hollywood machine has kicked in and securing an interview with her now is like tracking an avatar. You speak to her PR person and manager in South Africa who speaks to the PR team in the US... “For me, getting these roles is a nod that I’m going in the right direction, because for a long time it was about me keeping my head down, keeping my focus, doing what I need to do to pay the bills and to live out a passion that I have worked very hard for,” says Thuso. “I am thankful to be able to do what I love. It’s not an easy journey but uNkulunkulu blessed me with the kind of spirit that I have, to be able to wake up every day and still fight for what I believe in. I believe I was created for a purpose; to do what I am doing right now.” She went against her family to pursue acting. “So I have to succeed in this.” Born and raised in Pelham, Pietermaritzburg,


into your life and then they just Thuso lost her mother, Sibongile go, and there’s no warning. So, Mchunu, to a brain tumour when what made sense for me was she was four and she did not have just to shut people out altogetha relationship with her father, er, just as Cora did. She builds a world in her own head as she who passed away when she was 21. Thuso and her sister Noma is safest there,” Thuso explains. THUSO MBEDU IN THE were raised by their gogo (grandBy confronting things UNDERGROUND RAILROAD mother) Thokozile Zulu, a school through Cora, Thuso confrontImages: Amazon Prime principal. Thuso says she was very ed them too. “That’s where the loving and very strict – and not in healing began.” favour of the acting career. Gogo passed away in 2015 at What helped her in the role, she says, is that she did the age of 82, shortly before Thuso’s TV debut. voice movement therapy as part of her degree. “It tracks Gogo conferred a sense of the importance of a good your own vocal journey and how you store away traumas education and faith in God. “I took biology, science and and experiences through your voice. All the pain, hurt, maths to matric at Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School resentment that one inherits over generations, not much as I thought I wanted to be a dermatologist,” Thuso says. has changed. So I prepared Cora’s emotional, mental, “I also took dramatic arts as one of my more ‘relaxing’ physical and vocal journey this way. subjects and I fell in love with it and decided I wanted to “People say slavery happened a long time ago but that be an actress. is not true. Being a black woman, being a black body, the “I knew Johannesburg would be the stepping stone to struggles still happen today.” the rest of the world, so I applied to Wits and secured a She became so immersed in Cora that she says: “I had scholarship to study drama, enrolling in 2010.” to be extra aware of who I am and where I am at every She excelled and earned numerous academic hon- step because those are very heavy states of being to carry.” ours, including the Golden Key International Honours During a break from filming she met Viola Davis and Society Membership (2012), University Council Merit her husband Julius Tennon of JuVee Productions. They Scholarship (2012) and New York University Summer told her about the movie they were going to make, The Programme Scholarship (2012). She took part in a Woman King. It’s based on events that took place in the number of productions at the Wits Theatre not only as a Kingdom of Dahomey, one of the most powerful states performer but also as stage crew member, stage manager, of Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries, in present-day assistant director and choreographer. Benin. It tells the story of Nanisca (played by Davis), gen“After varsity it was a case of ‘go and get a real job’ and eral of the all-female military unit known as the Amazons so I left home with about R500 and a suitcase and I squat- who fought the French and neighbouring tribes who had ted from friend to friend.” She also had a severe period of violated their honour and enslaved their people. depression in 2016. The Hollywood news site Deadline reports that after Even after receiving her first Emmy nomination in meeting Thuso, Davis and Tennon said: “The depth and 2017, she faced a bleak period of joblessness. In an in- complexity of emotional life, her authentic beauty, and terview for TimesLIVE she said: “The glitz and glamour regalness are potent. We were mesmerised by Thuso of the Emmys disappeared and one was left dispensable. Mbedu.” She was chosen to play Nawi, Nanisca’s daughter. People think that getting the next job is really easy, but it The film is being shot in South Africa. Thuso says is tricky.” the action-packed role has forced her out of her physical But, as the saying goes, “history is made by those who comfort zone as it requires her to commit to a serious dare to try”. She dared to try and Jenkins saw in her what workout and weapons training regime. he was looking for. Thuso told Winfrey she didn’t com“I’m excited to be a part of the story because we’re tellpletely understand what the director meant when he told ing stories about Africa with a South African in a major her she was Cora, until they started filming. “Rejection, role. It’s not about me, it’s about drawing on African talent abandonment, a huge sense of loss, running from self, this as we have so many talented actors and actresses in South is what Cora experienced as the only person she would Africa.” have opened her heart to was her mother.” Her mother, a Charlize Theron told Vogue she was proud. Her adslave, had abandoned her when she, too, escaped. vice: “Make sure that you’re prepared when the opportuTo protect herself Cora shut her heart. “That’s how I nity arises. You don’t want to only prepare for it when the was for most of my life. It was that thing of people coming opportunity is there.” O c tober 2021 43


F E AT U R E : K A B E L O M A L AT S I E

DECODING THE W RLD WE INHABIT CURATOR KABELO MAL AT SIE (MA 2018) HAS BEEN SELECTED AS THE NEW DIRECTOR OF THE KUNSTHALLE BERN IN SWITZERLAND, AN ART INS TITUTION RENOWNED FOR ITS EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH. SHE WILL BE LEAVING HER HOME IN C APE TOWN FOR THE S WISS C APITAL OF BERN TO BEGIN HER SEVEN-YEAR TERM IN APRIL 2022. BY HEATHER DUGMORE

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FF EE A M TARL EA TF SOIRE D E A F S T U D I E S AT TU UR R EE :: K WAI B T ES LCOE N

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ne of 130 applicants, she was selected for her professional experience and knowledge of the international art scene, and her manner of working in close collaboration with artists. “I think that inspiration works both ways and so much of my work requires slow deliberations with artists,” Kabelo explains. “I speak a lot with a wide range of artists, sometimes over several years, and during this time a cross-pollination occurs. Something shifts in the artists and the same happens with me. When you work on a public project it is testament to the long, often sporadic conversations that have happened between you and the artist.” Florian Dombois, chair of Kunsthalle Bern’s hiring committee, says Kabelo understands the role of the institution “as an instigator and supporter for the redesign and reinterpretation of the world we inhabit.” She will be the first person from outside Europe to lead Kunsthalle Bern, succeeding Valérie Knoll, its first woman director. Kabelo did research for her master’s degree in the facility’s archive. “It’s a very exciting space to work in, as it offers me the opportunity to experiment even more with exhibitions, and to have the infrastructure that supports it,” she says. As a curator, Kabelo brings together the artistry of the everyday and inspiration from realms beyond. She prompts a re-reading of the environments we inhabit, urban and rural to reveal the artistry of life in plain sight but that is often out of sight.

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ABOVE: THE PICTURESQUE CIT Y OF BERN IN SWITZERLAND BELOW: KUNTSHALLE BERN

Growing up in Limpopo, she saw how art was part of life, she says: it was how people made sense of the world, it was part of the everyday. But when she came to study, she found that academics distinguished between everyday art and what is considered fine art. She offers the example of the Tuscan village of Chiusure, where she was meant to do a year’s residency in 2020/21. It’s a very small village where monks make wine and people have vegetable gardens, seek out truffles and cook wonderful meals. “I wanted to consider these moments of domesticated artistry as part of how people make sense of and be in the world.” She is also interested in “autodidacts where worlds or disciplines collide, such as spirituality and technological innovations”. An example is a Zimbabwean, Sangulani Maxwell Chikumbutso, who without formal engineering training is said to have received visions from God enabling him to design inventions, including a free energy device, helicopter, electric car and drone. She says the lives of people called “artists” or “creatives” are rich with various motivations. Referring to the writer Bessie Head’s words that “I am at home in a situation where there is nothing and I force something to happen”, Kabelo says: “I didn’t decide to be a curator,


F E AT U R E : W I T S C E N T R E F O R D E A F S T U D I E S

I just knew I wanted to work in the art world but not as an artist. I don’t have the talent, and I don’t have hang ups about this. The path to becoming a curator was a process of emergence. It started around 2008 when I met Khwezi Gule, who was a young curator at the Johannesburg Art Gallery at the time (he is now its chief curator). He said I should hang around the gallery and see what he does. I learnt a lot from him, and that’s how I knew this was for me.” Her commitment earned her an associate directorship from 2011 to 2016 at South Africa’s Stevenson Gallery. While working in the commercial gallery environment she realised how many artists there are who would never have the opportunity to exhibit in these spaces. “What happens to them?” This inspired her master’s degree on the history of independent art institutions in South Africa and alternative funding and institutional models within the country. “We need decentralised models that give artists who are not in Johannesburg or Cape Town access to far more funding

P U N YA OT S W E B U L A D U I S A N O N G O I N G C U R AT O R I A L RESEARCH PROJECT THAT INCLUDES AR T WORK S, PL ANTS, TEXTS AND MUSIC TO INS TIGATE A BREAK WITH INHERITED EMPIRICAL LOGIC SYSTEMS

and grants but also facilities, infrastructure and networks between the artists so that they sustain their practices.” To contribute to this, after completing her master’s she became the director of Visual Art Network of South Africa, a development agency including 6 000 artists and organisations focused on contemporary art and alternative exhibition models. In 2018 she was also part of an exhibition, In the Open or in Stealth, at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona, working with a group of New Delhi-based artists called Raqs Media Collective. The exhibition explored “the concept of a future in which multiple histories and geographies are placed in dialogue”. “It was an explorative research project that tries to

break away from empirical logic. You cannot do a systematic reading of it – there is no logical relationship between the parts as I was trying to get my mind outside of binary thinking.” The parts included Japanese animation, music by cellist and musicologist Thokozani Mhlambi and vocalist NoBuntu Mqulwana-Mhlambi, and the artwork of Tito Zungu. As an independent curator, she worked with curator and archivist Michelle Wong and artist Lantian Xie on “Deliberation on Discursive Justice” for the Yokohama Triennale 2020. “We included a story about a heron fishing in a pond. In the water it makes an umbrella with its wings to lure fish into the shade and that’s when it attacks,” Kabelo says. “We used it to explore the protocols that define ’the victim’ and ‘the perpetrator’ and how justice is not only a point in relation to persecution but includes the entire social system and its ability to recognise and hear all voices.” Kabelo’s voice will soon be added to all those at Kunsthalle Bern. Asked how she feels about relocating, she is characteristically enigmatic: “I guess it’s Europe…” she says, and laughs. O c tober 2021 47


Witsies around the world

WE FOLLOW FOUR ALUMNI ON THEIR DIVERSE CAREER JOURNEYS...

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WITSIES AROUND THE WORLD

SHIRLEY TALERMAN LIVES IN A PRETT Y COTTAGE IN THE HAMPSTEAD GARDEN SUBURB OF LONDON

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PAINTING BY SUBJECT

MEDICAL SUBJECT ARTWORKS DELIGHT THROUGH THE DECADES.

enerations of medical students and staff have admired and been amused by a series of beautiful framed watercolours with humorous narratives hanging in the administrative office corridor in the medical library. Very few are probably aware they were originally painted six decades ago by a librarian to visually identify subject fields such as ear, nose and throat, physiology, psychiatry, surgery, ophthalmology, cancer, radiology, cardiology, dermatology, nutrition, and anaesthesia, in the medical school

library bookshelves. A recent medical class of 1960 newsletter reminded readers of these paintings, revealing the art to be the work of Shirley Talerman (née Silkiner) (BA 1956), who was a librarian at Wits Medical School from 1956 to 1961. WITSReview reached out to Shirley, who has lived in London since 1977, when she emigrated with her late husband Harold Talerman (MBBCh 1959) and their four children. She has strong memories of her time at Wits and recounts a typical day back then, starting with a walk to work from her family home in Hillbrow.


WITSIES AROUND THE WORLD

“Early mornings were a rush to climb up Hospital Hill to get to the Wits Medical School Library by 8.30am. Before I even got to the door of the building, I was besieged by students calling: ‘Shirley, please take my overnight books!’ These had to be returned by 9am so as to avoid a fine, and most were very heavy – Davidson’s Medicine and Guyton’s Medical Physiology, in particular. “Everyone at Medical School, including us librarians, had to wear a white coat back then,” she recalls. “The library would soon fill with students, and we were immediately busy issuing books, answering queries, or doing research for articles in the Index Medicus (precursor of computerised reference material). “It was often a relief just to sit and research information in the Index Medicus for medico-legal cases. Sometimes, a surgeon would rush in five minutes before closing, hoping to find some urgent information for an imminent operation. And so at 5pm, or at 6pm twice a week, the day would end – fun, rewarding and tiring, but never boring.” She also spoke of the convivial atmosphere: “Professor Jock Gear (BSc 1928, BSc Hons 1929, MBBCh 1938), Professor Francois Daubenton (MBBCh 1942), Professor Phillip Tobias (DSc honoris causa 1994), Professor Raymond Dart (DSc honoris causa 1964) and many others would drop in every day for a cup of tea and a chat. Professor Guy Elliott (DSc honoris causa 1968), in fact, was renowned for the great parties he held in the library when my sister, Hilda, worked there a few years before. There were still corks stuck on the ceiling when I was there.” During her time at the library, Shirley met her husband to be, Harold. The head librarian, Elizabeth Hartman, banned him from the library, not because he kept coming to see Shirley, but because he didn’t return a certain book – which Shirley still has on her shelf at home: Gray’s Anatomy! He went on to specialise as an ophthalmologist. “When Harold first became a doctor, we went to live at Baragwanath Hospital and I travelled in to work on the hospital bus each day,” says Shirley. “Some evenings, I donned a gown and cap to watch an operation, just to be with my husband. At the end of 1961 we moved to Welkom, where my husband joined a very busy GP country practice. Three of my children were born there. I used to go on calls with him so that we could spend some time together.” In 1965 they moved to Durban, where Harold worked at the King Edward Hospital. “While living in Durban I drew all the furniture in the Killie Campbell Library, where I worked. It specialised in Africana and my drawings are still in the museum there.” From Durban they moved to Port Elizabeth (now called Gqeberha), where, in addition to Harold’s practice,

R AY M O N D D A R T O P E N E D T H E LIBRARY The Wits Medical Library, with a collection of 600 books, was formally opened on 12 July 1926 by Raymond Dart, Professor of Anatomy at Wits from 1923 to 1958. Dart acted as the first librarian until 1928. The library rapidly grew and ultimately found its way to Parktown. The name WML was changed in 1995 to Wits Health Sciences Library when the University’s Dental Library was incorporated, reflecting the formal amalgamation of the Faculties of Dentistry and Medicine. The advent of digitisation and electronic resources has enabled WHSL to downsize its main library plus four physical branch libraries at various academic hospitals. The main physical library and print-based collections are in Parktown, with only one small physical branch remaining at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. Although WHSL closely resembles a traditional library, it began offering its decentralised clients access to e-journals as early as 2000.

they opened an art gallery for South African artists. Eight years later, they emigrated to the UK. Harold enhanced his specialisation while Shirley started an antiquarian and second-hand book business. She set aside drawing and painting until 2000, when Harold was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia and he had to stay at home. She started painting flowers and fruit, including South African flowers like proteas, and has exhibited at the Botanical Society of the United Kingdom. “It was a very difficult time to see the deterioration of this dynamic man who was ever resourceful and busy and curious; life with him was never dull. He passed away in 2008 and I miss him so. I also miss South Africa; I miss my friends, and the smell of the earth after the rain. At the same time I love living in London now, and will love it even more once everything opens up again. “I enjoy the galleries, particularly the Royal Academy and the National Gallery, and attending lectures hosted by the University of The Third Age – a platform for adult education. I also attend talks at the local historical society. London has been kind to our family. I live in a pretty cottage in Hampstead Garden Suburb, with pear and apple trees in the back garden. As I sit here now, I reflect on how lucky I have been to enjoy a very full and interesting life.” O c tober 2021 51


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THE MIND IS STLL A MYSTERY P S Y CH IAT RIS T CHA I M RO SENB ERG SAY S THE U NIQU E CH A RACT ERIS TI C S OF AN I N DI VI DUAL M A KE S T U DY ING T H E BRAI N MORE DI FFI C ULT T H A N A NY OTHER ORG AN. BY HEATHER DUGMORE

WITS MEDICAL SCHOOL CLASS OF 1960


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EVEN THOUGH THINGS HAVE OPENED UP SINCE THE S TAR T OF THE PANDEMIC, DOWNTOWN CHIC AGO IS S TILL QUIET

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t the start of the Covid pandemic, the idea popped into my head to find out what happened to the members of my 1960 Wits medical school graduation class,” says Chaim Rosenberg (MBBCh 1960, MD 1966) who lives in Chicago, Illinois, USA. He teamed up with classmates from the era, notably ear, nose and throat surgeon Ronald Auerbach (MBBCh 1960) and his wife Geraldine Auerbach MBE (née Kretzmar, BA Wits 1960) “and, with the phenomenal assistance of Avroy Fanaroff (MBBCh 1960, MD honoris causa 2004), Gary Katz (MBBCh 1960, MD 1971), US Wits representative Nooshin Erfani-Ghadimi and the Wits Alumni Relations Office, we located most of the members of the class and created a fantastic website to store all the information. “As a group we also decided to raise money for the Phillip V Tobias Bursary Fund to help current Wits medical students,” says Chaim, adding that all these decades later it remains “a thrill to be part of the Wits family”. It was truly an extraordinary class, with many brilliant minds. Chaim explains how he sees it: “I think some people are born highly intelligent, but a large part of brilliance is a drive to succeed. I have also always been interested in the drive of immigrants to do better than their parents, and many of my peers in our Class of 1960 were the children of East European parents. They had an extremely strong drive to succeed and to do good in the world, and they have never lost it.” The mid-1950s when they started medical school were troubled times. “Repression and racial segregation increased,” says Chaim. “The Treason Trial started in 1956, and in 1959 the apartheid government instituted the

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Extension of University Education Act forbidding black, Indian and Chinese students from attending ‘white’ universities. Our classmates Essop Jassat (BSc 1955, MBBCh 1960) and Costa Gazidis (MBBCh 1960) took heroic stands against the injustices and were subjected to banning and imprisonment.” About 20% of the Class of 1960 left South Africa after graduation. Chaim explains that most did not leave for political reasons: “Having a Wits MBBCh was a passport to heaven; you could go anywhere in the world and practise medicine.” Chaim and his wife Dawn were among them. They had met in the Johannesburg General Hospital where Dawn was a nurse. “It’s the classic story of a final year medical student meeting a lovely nurse, and 61 years later here we are!” Psychiatry was only a small part of medical school training at Wits at the time. Chaim vividly recalls a distressing visit to Sterkfontein Hospital to observe institutionalised patients with schizophrenia. People with mental disorders were regarded as “lunatics”, and the first half of the 20th CHAIM ROSENBERG


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century witnessed the building of gigantic “asylums” (later called psychiatric hospitals). Weskoppies served Pretoria and Sterkfontein served Johannesburg. He explains that change came in 1949, when Wits initiated the first South African postgraduate training in psychological medicine. Five years later, Dr Lewis A Hurst was appointed part-time lecturer in psychiatry at Wits Medical School. In 1959, Hurst became a full-time professor of psychiatry, with the aim of integrating psychiatry into the teaching of general medicine and to pave the way for similar departments at other South African medical schools. Chaim started his psychiatric training in 1962 in England at the 2 000 bed Napsbury Hospital (formerly known as the Middlesex County Asylum). He lived and worked as a physician and then as a psychiatrist in England and Australia before moving to the US in 1969. In the US he has lived in Boston, Massachusetts; Jupiter, Florida; and now Chicago, Illinois, where he is retired from psychiatry but writes history books. This year he also penned a publication called Medicine Then and Now: Mind Over Matter – Advances in Psychiatry 1960–2020. Today, he says, “most psychiatric illnesses can be managed in mainstream society rather than confining people

to institutions. Disability programmes in the US provide cash payments, health benefits and housing grants, allowing the mentally disabled to remain in the community.” However, he adds, “studying the brain and the mind has proved more difficult than researching the liver, lungs, kidneys or heart. “The human mind is still such a mystery. If you look at TV and novels, everyone is interested in the human condition and how we find balance and meaning in our lives. Each person is unique. Emotions like anxiety, sadness, stress, alienation, dissatisfaction, disappointment, difficulties in getting along with others, bearing grudges, jealousy, differ widely from person to person. They are not akin to blood pressure levels, pulse rate, blood sugar, sodium or potassium levels that can be measured and treated with medication. “I do not believe that psychiatry is served with only a brief evaluation aimed at prescribing medication. The too-free prescribing of oxycodone, benzodiazepines, barbiturates and sleep aids can lead to addiction. The relief of suffering and helping in the pursuit of emotional balance and happiness are better served by carefully combining medicines with listening and understanding. A caring psychiatrist should help patients to know themselves.”

C H I C A G O E M E R G I N G F R O M C O V I D - 19 Chaim was happy to report that two-thirds of the adult population in the United States had been vaccinated by July 2021. “The restaurants and shops are all open again, but habits have definitely changed with Amazon deliveries, food deliveries to your home, and movies available via Amazon Prime and Netflix,” says Chaim. After many months of confinement, he and Dawn recently took a vacation in Florida where they had dinner with Avroy Fanaroff, Jeffrey Maisels and Arthur Rubenstein, distinguished members of the Wits Medical School Class of 1960. He is also able, once again, to visit a favourite haunt, “the incomparable Art Institute of Chicago”. It’s one of the world’s great art museums, housing the US’s second largest art collection. Four of his favourite works are: Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte; Gustave Caillebotte’s Paris Street, Rainy Day; Grant Wood’s American Gothic; and Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. The Hopper and Wood paintings (pictured) are hung close to each other and suggest different views of the American experience: pessimism vs optimism;

solitude vs engagement – appropriate for this era of political upheaval and pandemic. Even though things have opened up, downtown Chicago is still quiet. “Downtown has remarkable architecture with iconic buildings like the 100-storey John Hancock Centre, or 875 North Michigan Avenue as it’s now called. I don’t know what is going to happen to all these huge buildings now that so many people have switched to working from home.” You can view the Wits Medical School Class of 1960 website here: https://wits_medical_alumni_1960.mailchimpsites.com/ whos-who--the-class-of-1960

ABOVE: TWO OF CHAIM’S FAVOURITE ART WORKS HOUSED IN THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO & BELOW: ONE OF HIS BOOKS

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Image: Brayden Law / Unsplash

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THE SHIFTING SELF I A M A LI V I NG EX A MP LE O F A MULT I P LI CI T Y O F I D ENT I T Y, S AY S BO NNY NO R TO N BY HEATHER DUGMORE

VANCOUVER, O c tober 2021 C A57N A D A


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t six in the morning, summer and winter, you’ll find Professor Bonny Norton (BA 1978, BA Hons 1983, PGDip Ed 1978) doing 40 lengths in the indoor pool at Lord Byng – the local school near her home in Vancouver, Canada. “Most of the schools here are publicly funded and they share their facilities with the community. It’s a wonderful way to start the day,” says Bonny, who specialises in literacy, language, sociolinguistics and identity in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia (UBC). She and her Wits alumnus husband Anthony Peirce (MSc 1984), professor of mathematics at UBC, diligently book their swims in advance as part of social distancing during the pandemic. They have lived in Canada since 1987, initially in Ontario. In 1996 they both took up positions at UBC, a leading Canadian institution with 50 000 students at its Vancouver campus. “It’s never easy relocating but we became part of the community through UBC and our children’s schools. Canada is a multicultural, multilingual country and welcoming of diversity, so I felt comfortable here,” she explains. “We have put down roots here, our children were schooled here and we have lived in the same 100-year-old house for 25 years.” She says their neighbourhood, West Point Grey, is like Parktown North in Johannesburg. “It’s a leafy suburb with old homes and it’s close to the university, so a lot of academics live here. A significant difference is we don’t have 58 W I T S R E V I E W

high walls and we say hello to everyone as we walk down the street. It’s also close to two beautiful beaches – Jericho Beach and Spanish Banks.” Bonny says that when they first moved to Canada her father said “you’re going to need to decide whether you are South African or Canadian”. “I’ve never had to decide because I’m neither, and one of my main research interests is the multiplicity of identity. I am a living example of this: my roots are in South Africa, and my life and work is in Canada, South Africa, and other parts of Africa and the global community.” Her work explores ideas about identity and how it is “multiple, changing, and a site of struggle across time and space.” Bonny is a world leader in her academic field and was voted a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the American Educational Research Association. This year she was made a University Killam Professor, the highest honour UBC bestows on faculty. The award is made to academics who have received national and international recognition for their work. In addition to identity, Bonny has done remarkable work on children’s open access storybooks, available for free on the internet. She is a research advisor for Saide (originally the South African Institute for Distance Education), which developed the African Storybook initiative, an online collection in Africa’s many different languages: https://africanstorybook.org/. This was the precursor to the Global Storybooks project that Bonny leads at UBC. She and her team chose 40 stories from the African Storybook and translated them into over 50


Image: Unsplash

ABOVE CLOCKWISE: NORTON WITH COLLEAGUES IN UGANDA, WITS SRC, 1978: M A X P R I C E I S AT T H E C E N T R E A S P R E S I D E N T, A N D T O N Y L E O N I S I N T H E T O P LEFT CORNER. BONNY AND DEAN BLYE FRANK AT UBC AND LORD BYNG POOL WHERE BONNY SWIMS L E F T: BO N N Y T E ACH I NG AT U B C

HOME LANGUAGE IS BEST ONE OF THE UNITED NATIONS’ SUS TAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS IS TO ACHIEVE QUALIT Y EDUC ATION GLOBALLY BY THE YEAR 2030. RESEARCH HAS SHOWN THAT CHILDREN LEARN TO READ BES T IN THEIR FAMILY’S HOME L ANGUAGE, WHICH AL SO ES TABLISHES A S TRONG FOUNDATION FOR LEARNING ANY ADDITIONAL LANGUAGES. HTTPS://AFRICANSTORYBOOK.ORG/ HTTPS://GLOBALSTORYBOOKS.NET/

languages for countries across five continents. The team’s ongoing digital innovations, in print and audio, take you on a multilingual adventure around the world: https:// globalstorybooks.net/ “Through my position at UBC I have access to wonderful networks and resources to continue my work in Africa, including bringing students from African countries to study in Canada. I also helped develop the Africa Research Network in Applied Linguistics and Literacy, together with the late Dr Pippa Stein (BA 1976, PGDip Ed 1977, BA Hons 1987) from Wits and Professor Sinfree Makoni, who grew up in southern Africa and is now at Penn State University,” says Bonny. “One of the many things I love about South Africa is the initiative; people get on with things. When I first came to Canada I never expected to get money from anyone because in South Africa we always just make a plan even if we don’t have funding.” Prior to the pandemic Bonny visited Wits and Johannesburg regularly; she has friends and a sister Dawn (BA 1986, PGDip Ed 1986, BA Hons 1991, LLM 2010) and brother Jeff (BA 1977, LLB 1978) and she publishes with Professor Leketi Makalela at Wits. “I was fortunate to get a good education in South Africa. I started at Wits in 1974 and it confirmed my concerns that something was very wrong and unjust in our society,” says Bonny. “I immediately got politically involved at Wits but I was only there for the first six months in my first year as I was an AFS (international exchange programme) student. I went to the US for the second half

of the year. “In the US, I also realised that South Africa was not alone in its racism and sexism. The history of insidious, systemic racism in the US is shocking. Canada, too, has a history of destroying indigenous communities. The government is now working to address the injustices.” Bonny returned to Wits before the 1976 Soweto uprising. She was voted onto the SRC, wrote for Wits Student, and participated in many protests. She focused on helping black Wits students at the Baragwanath residences who needed academic support. “I would drive out there on a Tuesday night and as much as they were keen on the academic support, they insisted on stopping to watch the soap opera, Dallas, which we did religiously.” Academically, Bonny says, she had the privilege of learning from people like the late Professor Phil Bonner from the History Department. “Wits taught me how to write and to do thoughtful, careful research. I was very proud to get a first class in history as well as applied linguistics as the standards were very high.” Home for her at the time was a progressive community in the village of Crown Mines, dating back to early 1900s Johannesburg. This is where she met Anthony, also a Crown Mines resident. The couple love to walk. “We walk and talk, and a lot of our decisions are made this way,” Bonny says. “Our first walk was in Crown Mines – Anthony asked if I wanted to go for a walk on the mine dumps. The walks improved from there but in all these years, we have never stopped walking and talking, and, of course, swimming.” O c tober 2021 59


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MICHAEL SKAPINKER


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Working on Wits Student led to Michael Skapinker’s 34 years with the Financial Times in London. “The mid-1970s at Wits was a fascinating time to be a student; there was a high level of political foment with a lot of protests and activism on campus. My activism was very much on the journalistic side, writing for Wits Student. It was a great training ground, and it is pretty much thanks to Wits that I have been in journalism for 40 years.” For 34 of these years, Michael (BA 1977) has held various positions at the Financial Times (FT) in London, including contributing editor and columnist, and leadership and management development educator for the FT’s education arm, Headspring. This has taken him around the world, leading and chairing programmes for global companies and banks. Revisiting his Wits days, Michael recalls the excitement of the Wits Student newsroom, with Dr Irwin Manoim (BA 1976, BA Hons 1977, MA 1986, PhD 2013) as the editor. “He is one of the great South African journalists. Even as a student he understood journalism and was a real newspaperman who taught me how to 62 W I T S R E V I E W

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BY HEATHER DUGMORE

ABOVE: BRACKEN HOUSE, THE NEW HEADQUARTERS OF THE FINANCIAL TIMES IN LONDON. THE PAPER HAS BEEN HOME TO MICHAEL SKAPINKER FOR 34 YEARS. BELOW: THE HEADLINE THAT MADE AN IMPRESSION ON HIM AS A CHILD

write and edit. “I loved journalism; even as a child I was a newspaper nut and would read The Star and Rand Daily Mail from cover to cover – it had a huge influence on my life. The headline that made the biggest impression on me as a child was about JF Kennedy’s assassination. It said ‘Kennedy Shot Dead’ and I could not believe the sheer size of the headline.” Growing up in apartheid South Africa and

studying at Wits, he says, two things especially were instilled in him: a devotion to the rule of law and telling the truth in journalism. From Wits he went to Cambridge University to study law: “It was a very privileged education but it lacked the intellectual and political excitement

of being at Wits,” says Michael. “What it did have was a wonderful internationalism and I gained insights from people from


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all over the world, which was very formative.” After Cambridge, it was time to travel wand his wife-to-be Gillian Lazar (BA 1979; BA Hons 1980), whom he met at Wits, came over to the UK to travel with him. They are still married and Gillian, who has a PhD in applied linguistics, is a senior lecturer at Middlesex University. They landed up in Athens, working as English teachers. After the first year there Michael went to every foreign press association in the city looking for work as a journalist. His luck turned when he knocked on the door of Paul Anastasiades, who was the correspondent for the New York Times and the London Daily Telegraph. “He said ‘is that a South African accent?’, and told me he needed a stringer for the Argus group of newspapers in South Africa. His terms were that I could have a desk in his office and that I would be paid 11 pounds per article, of which I could keep seven. The job grew from there and I started freelancing for the Financial Mail in South Africa, and became a broadcast journalist for CBS in the US and Independent Radio News in London, reporting from Greece, Turkey and Cyprus.” In 1984 Michael and Gillian returned to the UK and he did a stint in trade journalism. “My

dream was to work on the FT. There was something deeply truthful about its culture and journalism that appealed to me, so I applied. They turned me down twice but on my third attempt in 1986 I was offered a job to write about management. I walked through the FT’s doors and I said to myself: ‘I never want to be anywhere else’. “The wonderful thing about the newspaper is they expect you to change jobs every four years to reinvent yourself. Over the past 35 years I’ve been the editor of different sections of the paper and written about everything from management to the aircraft industry, as well as writing columns.” In all of the 35 countries he has visited he has taken long walks, which he also does in London, walking an average of 10km a day. Three places that particularly fascinate him are Brazil – in particular São Paulo – Singapore and Hong Kong. “São Paulo is Johannesburg’s sister city. I have never seen two cities that are so alike, from the excitement and vibrancy to the jacaranda trees,” he explains. “Brazil, in general, has a lot in common with South Africa, including the huge differences in wealth, and the traumatic past. “Singapore fascinates me because it transformed itself from a very poor country to one of the richest in the world with a very

high standard of living, excellent education and the best food I’ve ever eaten. It has all the trappings of democracy but not much freedom. Criticism of the government is not easily tolerated. The press is very strictly controlled and toes the government line. The population is majority Chinese but also Indian and Malay and there are quotas for the number of ethnic groups living together to enforce social cohesion.” To take him back to Singapore’s cuisine, he frequents a restaurant in London called Singapore Garden. “It has white tablecloths and wonderfully rude Singaporean waiters.” Hong Kong was an annual destination for Michael to chair a conference on innovation in the law. He loved being there and is deeply concerned by how its rule of law and freedoms are being suppressed. What encourages him about South Africa is that the judiciary has remained resolutely independent. Michael’s business travel came to an abrupt end at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. “Days of business travel to do a one hour speech in Frankfurt or Amsterdam are not going to happen anymore,” he says. “Some think it should never restart; we can talk on Zoom,” he wrote in a column earlier this year. “There is also an upside in that we can reach far wider audiences.

When professionals are promoted One of the programmes Michael leads and moderates is for professional specialists entering management roles for the first time. “When I was appointed as editor of the weekend FT and of the specialist supplements I initially found it very difficult suddenly being a manager. I became interested in the transition of professionals to managers. “Suddenly you have no friends in the office because you are in charge of their promotions, prospects and salaries. I talk about what an enormous transition this is, and the kind of things you deal with, the loneliness and the importance of finding mentors to support you and of strictly enforcing family and leisure time as you are no good to either if you burn yourself out.” He pursues the topic in a column he wrote titled How to deal with your team members’ personal crises: “I always get a smile of recognition when I ask: before you became a manager, did you realise that so many things happened to people? “Employees not only have their own problems; they have their extended families’ problems, too. … The problems are often serious and usually confidential. Give them time off, or suggest they work from home or get someone to step in for them. If you treat people well, they will treat you well in return; you get their loyalty back one hundred fold.”

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Images: Unsplash

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ABOVE: “SÃO PAULO IS J O H A N N E S B U R G ’ S S I S T E R C I T Y. I H AV E NEVER SEEN T WO CITIES THAT ARE SO ALIKE, FROM THE EXCITEMENT AND VIBRANCY TO THE JACARANDA TREES” R I G H T: M I CH A E L S E E K S S O L AC E I N LONDON’S TREES

“Most agree that when it does restart, there will be less of it. Companies will want to save money; flying damages the environment. I don’t contest either. But if we stop visiting each other, we will, in important ways, be diminished. Travel not only broadens the mind, it deepens understanding – business travel most of all. Interactions on a work trip, unlike those on holiday, are not just with those serving you. You deal with people as equals. You go into their workplaces, you talk about what they are making and doing, you enter their lives.” For well over a year during the pandemic Michael worked from his home office in North London. The FT is a 24hour operation in London, Hong Kong and New York 64 W I T S R E V I E W

and there were days when the newspaper and website were produced without one person in any of these offices. The first people who wanted to return to the office were the younger staff – “living in shared accommodation, with four flatmates working at the kitchen table.” Michael loves London, his home of 40 years: “One of the things I like most about this city is it has managed to combine a huge sprawling metropolis with vast amounts of free green space to explore. I love Highgate Wood and Hampstead Heath where I swim in the open ponds with seagulls, herons and ducks. “I also love London for how international it is. It has always been a

“You will continue the same; unconscious of the pleasure or the regret you occasion, and insensible of any change in those who walk under your shade.” JANE AUSTEN, SENSE AND SENSIBILIT Y

city of immigration; it’s what makes it a great global trading nation and world city, and I find this endlessly stimulating, which is part of why I was very strongly opposed to Brexit.” And while the world tries to sort itself out, Michael seeks solace in London’s trees. In a column he wrote recently he says: “However bad things are, the trees have towered over worse. Their gnarled trunks, their knobbly longevity, are proof that whatever is troubling us will one day be a memory, that this

too will pass. In the meantime, whether shading us with summer greenery, carpeting our way with cast-off autumn leaves or standing bare and bleak as we drudge through winter mud, they just don’t care. As Marianne Dashwood in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility says to the trees around Norland, the family home, just before she is forced to depart from it: ‘You will continue the same; unconscious of the pleasure or the regret you occasion, and insensible of any change in those who walk under your shade.’”


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Books BOOKS

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BOOKS

“Palaces of Stone is an extraordinary tale of impressive feats of architecture, long-distance travel, global trade and complex political and administrative forms of organisation.” GREAT ZIMBABWE RUINS

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Image: Reddit

BOOKS

MAPUNGUBWE NATIONAL PARK

PAL ACES OF S TONE: UNCOVERING ANCIENT SOUTHERN AFRICAN KINGDOMS BY MIKE MAIN AND THOMAS HUFFMAN PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE, 2021

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cross southern Africa there are more than 566 remarkable stone palaces – some small, others rambling, but many are astonishing. In Palaces of Stone, Professor Thomas Huffman, Professor Emeritus of Archaeology at Wits, teamed up with lay archaeologist and management consultant Mike Main, to bring the legacy of past kingdoms to life. Although some are famous world heritage sites, the majority are unsung and unappreciated. The history of various early African societies, from AD 900 to approximately 1850, are highlighted in an accessible manner, covering regions such as the Great Zimbabwe, Khami in Botswana and Mapungubwe in South Africa. The authors explore not only how these settlements originated, but the reasons behind the specific patterns as well as why they might have been abandoned. They explain that there

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were a succession of sophisticated trading city-states with connections to Arab scholarship, and trade ports of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Orient: “It is an extraordinary tale of impressive feats of architecture, long-distance travel, global trade and complex political and administrative forms of organisation. But above all, it offers another perspective on what we once assumed were the vast empty spaces of Africa past, revealing instead a hinterland that hummed with activity – mining, commerce, transportation, farming and hunting”. Mapungubwe was first visited by academics in the 1930s and made a World Heritage Site in 2003. It has proven to be the “Rosetta Stone” to unlocking the secrets of a fabulous past. Mapungubwe is significantly earlier than Great Zimbabwe. Flourishing in the early 1200s, it was located at the confluence of two

rivers, the Shashe and the Limpopo. The district was welcoming and home to vast herds of both plains game and elephant. The work at Mapungubwe revealed it to be the earliest – “type specimen” – in a succession of entirely new, highly organised communities ruled over by hierarchical kingly figures operating efficient, labour-divided societies. Collectively known as “Zimbabwe Culture” city-states, these complex societies were eventually destabilised by internal strife, the advent of the colonial presence, and climate change. Palaces of Stone offers a practical guide to historical method and uses researched evidence to explore architecture, pre-colonial governance and the links of these amazing African kingdoms that held sway across southern Africa with Europe. It is a must for those interested in Africa’s ancient history and its earliest civilisations.


BOOKS AYABONG A C AWE

THE ECONOMY ON YOUR DOORSTEP B Y AYABONG A C AWE TRACEY MCDONALD PUBLISHERS, 2021

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uring a TEDx Johannesburg talk in 2016, Ayabonga Cawe (BCom 2012, BCom Hons 2013, MCom 2014) shared why he was drawn to economics: “It helped me to understand how public policy and collective decisions influenced three things that framed my curiosity: how we understand authority; how we understand identity and race; and how we understand power.” He shared his discomfort at being a speaker, knowing that a ticket to the event was equivalent to the average wage of a domestic worker. His grandmother was a domestic worker in Orange Grove in Johannesburg for three decades until she “retired in the early 2000s with a brown bag which had R10 000 in it and a few handme-downs”. Cawe is interested in the unacknowledged “invisible work” and the many people who have shouldered the costs of expansions in a specific economy. His book is dedicated to the “African workers – ‘the handlers of machines, drillers of rock, the mantshing’ilane of conveyor belts, merchants of life, restoration and death’ ”.

Cawe is a respected Johannesburgbased development economist, columnist and broadcaster. He is the managing director of Xesibe Holdings (Pty) Ltd, a platform involved in advisory, facilitation and content development across a wide range of fields. His experience in economic research, policy and supply chain analysis, labour markets, advocacy and development programme design has earned him membership of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council, chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Cawe writes that if we are serious about confronting inequality, then we have to understand that “inequality is a structural, endemic and baked-in feature of economic and social life in South Africa. And growth will never be sustainable until the policies aimed at boosting it overcome the reasons for continued low reservation wages and the cheap labour habits of industry.” In The Economy on Your Doorstep, he draws on the places he grew up in the Eastern Cape, using this “native reserve” as an entry point

for a systemic enquiry into how we promote the economic evolution of these places. It’s a picture of an untapped economy, with the potential to evolve with a different future. He says that “economic history reminds us in multiple episodes that development is closely linked to such shifts to higher value-added activities in the global matrix of production”. He gives an example of how realising value-added potential in, for instance, the Eastern Cape, could change it from a dominant raw milk producer to a dominant processed cheese and powdered milk producer for export, unlocking capital investment, employment and productivity improvements. He is at pains to stress that this does not happen automatically but through incentives that encourage investment in productive and value-adding activities. This book has been praised for the articulate explanation of why the South African economy misfires and it offers possible remedies, but more importantly it provides a new understanding of the economy right where you are. O c tober 2021 69


BOOKS

THE GREAT PRETENDERS: RACE AND CL ASS UNDER ANC RULE BY EBRAHIM HARVEY JACANA MEDIA, 2021

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r Ebrahim Harvey (MM 2004, PhD 2008), well-known political analyst, says the title of his new book alludes to the gulf between the Constitutional promise and the realities confronting many South Africans today. He delivers a stinging critique of the ANC and its inability to address the race and class divide. He says a walk down any street in any township in South Africa proves the party’s dismal record in office. “A serious combination of problems has prevailed – illiteracy, lack of political and formal education, tribalism, cultural backwardness and, related to those matters, a conspicuous lack of class consciousness, in the revolutionary Marxist sense.” As a former

Cosatu trade unionist, he published a biography of former president and deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe in 2012 and completed his master’s and doctoral degrees on water and sanitation in Soweto. Dr Harvey argues that a series of events – including HIV/AIDS denialism, the Marikana shootings, the Nkandla funding scandal, mass student protests, the Esidimeni tragedy, systemic corruption and state capture – are rooted in policy choices made by the ANC during negotiations and in power. “It is full of uncomfortable insights on race and racism. It raises tough questions that need to be urgently addressed if we are to create

P R I S O N E R S O F T H E PA S T: S O U T H A F R I C A N D E M O C R AC Y AND THE LEGACY OF MINORIT Y RULE BY STEVEN FRIEDMAN WITS UNIVERSIT Y PRESS, 2021

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outh Africa’s democracy is often seen as a story of bright beginnings gone astray. In Prisoners of the Past Professor Steven Friedman (BA 1974, BA Hons 1975), who is a political scientist, public commentator, and former trade unionist, argues that this is a misreading of the nature of contemporary South Africa. He shows that the difficulties of South Africa’s democracy are legacies of the pre-1994 past. The settlement which ushered in majority rule left core features of the apartheid economy and society intact. Although South Africa’s democracy supports free elections, civil liberties and the rule of law, it also continues past patterns of exclusion and domination. 70 W I T S R E V I E W

Professor Friedman, a research professor attached to the Department of Politics at the University of Johannesburg, says that this “path

the shared society that we proclaim. An essential read on a neglected perspective,” writes Edward Webster, Professor Emeritus at Wits and Distinguished Research Professor at the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies.

dependence” is not the result of constitutional compromises in 1994. This bargain was flawed because it brought too little compromise. Compromises extended political citizenship to all but there were no similar bargains on economic and cultural change. Using the work of the radical sociologist Harold Wolpe, Friedman shows that only negotiations on a new economy and society can free South Africans from the past. He calls for new thinking: “Change needs, firstly, new thinking – an approach which seeks a society which works for all its people. This is unlikely to come from elites, who are wedded to the present, but could be the product of campaigning by citizens. It is this path, not the constant search for the perfect political leader who will solve all problems, which could enable South Africa to bury its past and create a better future.”


BOOKS

ALGORITHMS AND THE END OF POLITICS: HOW TECHNOLOGY SHAPES 21ST-CENTURY AMERICAN LIFE BY SCOTT TIMCKE BRISTOL UNIVERSIT Y PRESS, 2021

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omputer code is ubiquitous in everyday life, oftentimes shaping political-economic questions of “who gets what and why” well below the threshold of awareness. With a new book aiming to analyse the politics of digital capitalism, Dr Scott Timcke (BA Hons 2005, MA 2008) applies many of the skills he learnt at Wits to outline the economic sociology of digital media, social networks and technology giants such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft. While their activities have made them among the most valuable

firms in the world, Timcke looks at the impact of these platforms and technologies on social life. Although there is much to celebrate in these networking achievements, more caution should be exercised on how these digital technology companies are not only shaping everyday perception and designing the future of work without substantive democratic oversight, but also cooperating with state security forces and turning into weapons system manufacturers themselves. These quick developments are upending decades of established democratic norms.

THE LOST LANGUAGE OF THE SOUL BY MANDLA LANGA PICADOR AFRICA, 2021

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he Lost Language of the Soul (Picador Africa, 2021) is the personal journey of a 15-yearold Zambian boy called Joseph Mabaso. It originated as part of Dr Mandla Langa’s (DLitt honoris causa 2019, MA 2020) Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Wits, with Ivan Vladislavic (BA 1978, BA Hons 1979) as his supervisor. Joseph is familiar with his father’s long absences from the family home, but when his mother disappears Joseph sets out on a perilous journey to find her and meets unlikely guides along the way. In a radio interview Dr Langa said: “The title derives from the fact that all of us on the African continent are all somehow connected. You find linguistic patterns of South Africans in varied places... Our souls are caught up in some of these

unexpressed things that are carried in our language.” Joseph’s quest is essentially a search for what makes us human and what many strive to find – “a place in his soul that feels like home”. “I had to do a lot of research,” says Dr Langa. “I had to understand the idiomatic expression of his mother tongue (chi-Nyanja) and find expressive elements of the language that connect him to the language of his father. As with all young people, Joseph was able to straddle both

Effectively, algorithms of oppression are poised to automate inequality. This trajectory is of utmost concern because it leaves the US ripe for plutocracy. And because of the central place of the US in the international political economy, this dynamic has spillover effects for places like South Africa and other societies regardless of the aspirations of their local regulatory environments.

worlds.” Dr Langa was born in Durban. He won the Drum story contest for “The Dead Men Who Lost Their Bones” and in 1991 was awarded the Arts Council of Great Britain Bursary for creative writing, the first for a South African. Dr Langa’s published works include Tenderness of Blood (1987), A Rainbow on a Paper Sky (1989), The Naked Song and Other Stories (1997), The Memory of Stones (2000), the award-winning The Lost Colours of the Chameleon (2008) and the bestselling The Texture of Shadows (2014). In 2007 he was awarded South Africa’s National Order of Ikhamanga (Silver) for his literary, journalistic and cultural achievements. In 2019 Wits awarded Dr Langa an honorary doctorate in literature for “presenting us with textured narratives that act as catalysts for readers to embark on journeys of self-introspection, self-knowledge and renewed commitment to continue with the tasks of imagining a better life and world.” O c tober 2021 71


BOOKS

The Sunday Times CNA Literary Awards recognise the finest contemporary writers in South Africa and two Wits alumni were among the shortlisted candidates. Safari Nation: A Social History of the Kruger National Park (Jacana, 2021) by Jacob Dlamini (BA 2002, BA Hons 2003) was shortlisted in the non-fiction category, while Breaking Milk (Karavan Press, 2019), the novel by Dr Dawn Garisch (DOH 1986), was shortlisted for the Fiction Award. Breaking Milk is Dr Garisch’s seventh novel, and she is no stranger to awards. Her poem Blood Delta was awarded the DALRO prize in 2007; Trespass was shortlisted for the Commonwealth prize for fiction in Africa in 2010, and in 2011 her poem Miracle won the EU Sol Plaatje Poetry Award. In 2013 her short story “What To Do About Ricky” won the Short.Sharp.Story competition. Set on a farm in the Eastern Cape, and taking place over one day, Breaking Milk is described as “a meditation on motherhood”. Dr Garisch says she job shadowed a cheesemaker to write the novel and discovered the painstaking process of transporting milk along a rutted gravel farm road. “He explained that if the fresh milk is shaken up too much, it will start turning into butter by the time he reaches home and will be useless for cheesemaking. This is called breaking the milk. I realised this is a great metaphor for the themes of the novel, which explores the ties that bind and those that break, particularly between parents and their children, but also in other relationships, in our attitude to the natural world and in our creative lives.” As a practising general practitioner and founding member of the non-profit Life Righting Collective (LRC), Dr Garisch says she started writing in primary school. “It felt like a calling. Once I qualified as a

72 W I T S R E V I E W

Image: AJ Wattamaniuk

GO WITH THE SLOW

DR DAWN GARISCH

doctor, writing became a way to debrief from trauma, increase my capacity for pleasure, and explore aspects of the world and myself.” The LRC courses assist participants to grow confidence, and to experiment and play through writing. “Through writing different characters, and through hearing and reading diverse participants’ lived experience during courses, I have become more curious and compassionate, which are valuable attributes when working with people as patients or as writing students,” she says. “We are all born creative – it is a resource to assist us explore and process difficulties. Too often the story we tell ourselves about our lives is too small. We can feel like victims of our situation. Even the act of picking up a pen confers some agency, and the creative mind can lead us away from hopes and fears that trap us, into an attitude of curiosity and possibility.” This work is part of a growing international medical humanities movement where the arts and social sciences are having conversations about wellbeing. The significance of this is profound in a country such as South Africa. Dr Garisch says a qualitative research paper, which will verify the anecdotal experience of “the healing power of writing” is almost complete and the preliminary results “are very encouraging”. To find out more visit www.liferighting.com


BOOKS

SC ATTERLING OF AFRIC A: MY EARLY YEARS BY JOHNNY CLEGG PAN MACMILL AN SOUTH AFRIC A, 2021

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s South Africa moved from legislated oppression to democratic freedom, the music of Johnny Clegg (BA 1976, BA Hons 1977, DMus honoris causa 2007) formed the backdrop to the lives of many Witsies growing up during the late 70s and tumultuous 1980s. It was music that crossed borders, boundaries and generations. Scatterling of Africa (Pan Macmillan South Africa, 2021) is a posthumous memoir “as he wrote it and wanted it told”. It traces the less known story of his birth in England in 1953 – the son of an unconventional mother and grandson of Jewish immigrants – growing up in Zimbabwe and South Africa, and a formative year in Zambia. The

14-year-old Clegg, recalls hearing Zulu street music as plucked on the strings of a guitar by Charlie Mzila one evening outside a corner café in Bellevue, Johannesburg: “There are moments in life that are pure, and which seem to hang in the air, unhitched from the everyday world as we know it. Suspended for a few seconds, they float in their own space and time with their own hidden prospects. For want of a better term, we call these moments ‘magical’ and when we remember them, they are cloaked in a halo of special meaning.” The memoir is filled with anecdotes and extraordinary stories from a legendary life. Music remains central: “For me the magic of music

SHUDU FINDS HER MAGIC BY SHUDUFHADZO MUSIDA JACANA MEDIA, 2021

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uly 2021 was a busy month for Miss South Africa 2020 Shudufhadzo Musida (BA Hons 2021). In the same week she celebrated her 25th birthday, she was awarded an honours degree in international relations and released her first children’s book, Shudu Finds Her Magic (Jacana, 2021). The book features illustrations by Chantelle and Burgen Thorne and is available in six languages: Afrikaans, English, Sesotho, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu. Musida, who is known to be outspoken on issues related to mental health and gender-based harm, says the book is inspired by her childhood and the bullying she experienced when she moved to a new province and a new school. “The book is aimed

at children aged between four and 12 years of age and deals with bullying and the power of friendship. I hope that youngsters will be able to see themselves reflected in the storyline and be able to take something positive away from it. Remember that being bullied is not your fault. There is nothing wrong with you. Nobody should have to go through what I

is that it can amplify hope. Like all art. It is something that offers a new way of seeing and experiencing the moment you are in,” Clegg writes. At the age of 17 he and Sipho Mchunu formed the band Juluka, which toured the length and breadth of South Africa, performing in township halls and at music festivals, including the first Free People’s Concert at Wits in 1971. The song Scatterlings of Africa became a hit in 1979 and launched the band’s international career. He writes fondly about his time at Wits, even though he failed his first year. “I found a community of discourse, of critical reflection and a new alternative worldview. It was a heady and inspiring time.” went through,” she says. Musida was born in the village of Ha-Masia, Limpopo, South Africa and she obtained a bachelor of social science degree in philosophy, politics and economics from the University of Pretoria. She will represent South Africa at the 70th edition of the Miss World pageant on 16 December 2021 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. O c tober 2021 73


Historical snippets

HUMANITARIANS FROM THE 1940S ˝TWO PROUD PRODUCTS OF WITS˝ SR AIDAN AND D  R JAMES NJONGWE ARE PARALLEL PROTAGONISTS IN A STORY OF A FORGOTTEN SOUTH AFRICAN MASSACRE

Image: Adler Bulletin 2009

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FINAL YEAR MEDICAL CLASS OF 1945: SR AIDAN IS FIRST ON THE L E F T, 2 N D R O W F R O M T H E F R O N T; DR JAMES NGONGWE IS T WO ROWS BEHIND HER, SECOND

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Time magazine article dated 24 November 1952 documents the story of two Wits alumni at a significant historical moment in South Africa: “Sister Aidan, an … Irish Dominican nun, and a physician …. found herself in the midst of a bloody pitched battle between East London’s white cops and a mob of tribesmen,” the article begins. “James Njongwe, the handsome Negro physician who runs the Cape Province chapter of the African National Congress, sat, head in hands, lamenting the murder of Sister Aidan, who had been his classmate at Witwatersrand University,” it continues. Sister Mary Aidan, also known as Dr Elsie Quinlan (MBBCh 1946), who lived and worked in Duncan Village in East London, was killed on 9 November 1952 in the community she served. Meanwhile, at that time, the height of the Defiance Campaign, Dr James “Jimmy” Lowell Zwelinzima Njongwe (MBBCh 1946) was a respected ANC leader and served as president of the provincial ANC in the Cape. A meeting, called by the ANC, had been disrupted by police and the violence that ensued resulted in the church, school and clinic at the Catholic Mission being burned to the ground. Sister Aidan and Dr Njongwe are parallel protagonists in a recently published book Bloody Sunday: The Nun, The Defiance Campaign and South Africa’s Secret Massacre (Tafelberg, 2021) by Mignonne Breier. Breier spent seven years piecing together the story of perhaps the deadliest, and seemingly forgotten, massacre of South Africa’s apartheid era. (The official statistics record 10 people killed and 27 injured, but Breier suggests the death toll was more than 200.) Her book also sheds light on Wits Medical School in the 1940s and draws on historical gems from the Adler Museum about these remarkable “two doctors and humanitarians, proud products of Wits”.


Tale of two medics

Sister Aidan was born in Ireland in 1914. She went to school in Cork and completed her BSc at the University College Cork

Image: Bloody Sunday

The life stories of Sr Aidan and Dr James Njongwe reveal much about South Africa‘s history

IR E L A N D U N IT ED KING DO M

Dr James “Jimmy” Lowell Zwelinzima Njongwe

Cork

Black students attending the Wits Medical School stayed at the Wolhuter Native Hostel in Sophiatown

Sister Aidan

Sophiatown

Image: Bloody Sunday

NOR T H WE S T

Sr Aidan attending a sick child at Glen Grey NOR T HE R N C A PE

Dr Njongwe was elected president of the ANC in the Cape in 1954

MP UMAL ANG A G AUTENG Johannesburg University of the Witwatersrand Springs

FREE S TATE

K WAZULUN ATAL

Dr Njongwe qualified in 1946 and went to McCord Hospital in Durban for his internship

Matatiele Qumbu Queenstown

E A S TERN C AP E King Williams Town (Qonce) Fort Hare East London Duncan Village

Fort Beaufort

In 1948 Dr Njongwe established a practice in New Brighton in Port Elizabeth

Sister Aidan also worked at the Far East Rand Hospital in Springs

Durban

After graduating Sister Aidan worked at Glen Grey Clinic in Lady Frere near Queenstown

Dr Njongwe went to school in Fort Beaufort and graduated in 1941 with a BSc from the University of Fort Hare WE S T E R N C A PE

Both Dr Njongwe and Sister Aidan studied at Wits in the 1940s

Port Elizabeth (Gqeberha)

Duncan Village in East London, where Sister Aidan lived, worked and was killed

Dr Njongwe was born in Kalankomo in the Qumbu district of Transkei in 1919

In the Matatiele district in the former Transkei Dr Njongwe established a successful medical practice

In 1938 Sister Aidan travelled to King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape, to join the Congregation of Dominican Sisters

Duncan Village massacre

Image: Adler Bulletin

Official statistics:

Nelson Mandela on a visit to the Cape ANC chatting to some of the ANC members and leaders at the Njongwe home

10 killed 27 injured

...but the death toll was more than

200

O c tober 2021 75


HISTORICAL SNIPPETS

ORIGINS

Sister Aidan was born on 3 December 1914 in Ballydesmond, Ireland. She went to school in Blarney and Cork and after completing her BSc at the University College Cork, she surprised her family with the decision to become a nun in South Africa. In 1938 she travelled to King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape, as a postulant to join the Congregation of Dominican Sisters of St Catherine of Siena, commonly known as the “King Dominicans”. The congregation originated in Germany and was founded in 1877 to serve German settlers in the Eastern Cape. In 1940, she was sent to Wits to study medicine, along with a German Sister Amanda Fröhlich (MBBCh 1946). Dr Njongwe, meanwhile, was born in Kalankomo in the Qumbu district of Transkei on 12 January 1919. He attended Chulunca Primary School where both his parents taught. He was sent to Healdtown College secondary school in Fort Beaufort whereafter he graduated in 1941 from the University of Fort Hare with a BSc in Hygiene. During the summer following his graduation he was awarded a scholarship to study medicine at Wits. His brother Mncedisi relayed that “two white men rode into the homestead on horseback bearing a letter which instructed him to present himself at Wits within two days.”

WIT S YEARS

Sister Aidan lived at St Vincent’s Convent for the Deaf in Melrose. In letters home she described “Joburg is more modern that New York you know” and compared the façade of Wits Central Block with St Mary’s Cathedral in Cork. “She said the queue of students going in and out to lectures was ‘rather like going to the pictures’ and the lecture theatres were ‘rather like cinemas too’. ” She excelled in her studies. The archives show that in her fourth year, she received a prize for a first-class pass in pathology, and in her fifth year she obtained two first class passes and received a prize for top student in forensic medicine. Towards the end of her degree she took her final vows and was ordained “Sister Aidan”. Dr Njongwe’s experience of Johannesburg was markedly different. Prior to World War II, Wits Medical School was closed to black students and those wishing to study medicine had to obtain a degree overseas. The war made this option impractical and the growing demand for medical services for black people in Johannesburg saw Wits adopt a policy in 1939 of “academic non-segregation and social segregation”. Black medical trainees were offered access to academic facilities at the university, but beyond that formal social contact with white students was largely curtailed. Black students attending the Wits

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Medical School stayed at the Wolhuter Native Hostel in Sophiatown, west of Johannesburg. Dr Njongwe’s living conditions were such that he “starved and suffered”. But he befriended other young activists such as Nelson Mandela (LLD honoris causa 1991 – with whom he maintained a life-long friendship). He was a founder member of the ANC Youth League in 1944, and five years later he became a member of the ANC national executive committee. His experience at Wits opened up a “world of ideas and political beliefs and debates”.

WORK AS DOCT ORS

After graduating, Sister Aidan worked at Glen Grey Clinic in Lady Frere near Queenstown and the Far East Rand Hospital in Springs before being sent to St Peter Claver mission in Duncan Village in 1949 to open a clinic. At the time East London had the second-highest rate of tuberculosis infection in the world and every second child born died within the first year of life. There was only one municipal clinic to serve the entire location and the “Non-European” wing of Frere Hospital was notoriously overcrowded. Sister Aidan had one nursing assistant, Sister Gratia Khumalo, and according to King Wits adopted a Dominican records policy in 1939 of in 1949, the two nuns “academic nonattended to 5 299 patients; in 1950 the total was segregation and social segregation”. 20 006; and in 1951 it was 17 240. On the Black medical Friday before she died, trainees were 170 patients visited the clinic. She used her own offered access to academic facilities ambulance and always did her own driving. She at the university, had a keen interest in but beyond that motor cars and apparently formal social often discussed the latest contact with white models. Dr Njongwe qualified students was in 1946 and went to largely curtailed McCord Hospital in Durban for his internship. In 1948 he established a practice in New Brighton in Port Elizabeth where he became more politically active in the passive resistance campaign and was appointed acting Cape president of the ANC between 1951 and 1952. Such was his charisma that former President Thabo Mbeki’s biographer, Mark Gevisser, recalls that in 1952, at the age of 10, Mbeki was initiated into political activism when “Dr Njongwe, Cape ANC leader, came riding down Scanlan Street, Queenstown, with loudspeakers in the


Image: David Goldblatt

COMMUNION PENNY SIOPIS 2 011 DIGITAL VIDEO, COLOUR, SOUND DURATION 5 MIN 30 SEC

SISTER AIDAN MARBLE MEMORIAL

I M PAC T O N W I T S I E S •In 2009 Dr Patiswa Njongwe (DTM&H 1988, DOH 1989), Dr Njongwe's daughter, wrote an article in The Adler Museum Bulletin of her father’s despair following Sister Aidan’s death. •In 2011 Penny Siopis, former lecturer in the Wits Faculty of Art, exhibited Who’s Afraid of the Crowd?” https://issuu.com/stevensonctandjhb/docs/penny_siopis_who_s_afraid_issuu. She also produced a film Communion in which she situates Sister Aidan’s “voice”.

car, advertising the Defiance Campaign”. Dr Njongwe was a strong contender to succeed James Moroka as president general in December 1952, but lost out to Albert Luthuli. He was elected president of the ANC in the Cape in 1954, but resigned after he was banned and unable to attend meetings for two years. Dr Njongwe moved to the Matatiele district in the former Transkei and he established a successful medical practice. He managed to purchase a piece of land in the town just

•In 2012 scholar and writer Njabulo Ndebele (DLitt honoris causa 2010) wrote an essay titled Love and Politics: Sister Quinlan and the Future We Have Desired. https://www.njabulondebele. co.za/2012/12/love-and-politics-sister-quinlan-and-the-future-we-have-desired/#_ftn3 • In 2013 David Goldblatt (BSc Eng 1969) photographed the marble memorial to Sister Aidan that stands at St Peter Claver Catholic Church in Duncan Village. https://www. goodman-gallery.com/store/ shop?ref_id=27249

before the Group Areas Act was passed and became more interested in farming, growing maize and establishing a dairy herd and a piggery. He died in 1976 at the age of 57 after he fell asleep behind the wheel on the way home after seeing a patient shortly after midnight. Sources: Adler Museum Bulletin 35, 2009, Bloody Sunday: The Nun, The Defiance Campaign and South Africa’s Secret Massacre by Mignonne Breier (Tafelberg, 2021)

O c tober 2021 77


In Memoriam WITS UNIVERSIT Y FONDLY REMEMBERS THOSE WHO HAVE PASSED AWAY

1932-2021

James Mzilikazi Khumalo [PhD 1989, honoris causa 2015]

Professor James Stephen Mzilikazi Khumalo — a colossal figure in South Africa’s academic, cultural and public landscape — passed away two days after his 89th birthday. Throughout his life he remained intellectually curious and moved effortlessly across disciplines as linguist, educator, composer and humanist. He was born on a farm owned by the Salvation Army to a deeply religious family in the Vryheid district of KwaZulu-Natal on 20 June 1932. His parents nurtured his spirituality and love for western vocal music as well as traditional African music. He was the eldest in the family of seven children, surrounded by siblings who all learned to play musical instruments. He studied music through the Royal School graded lessons and examinations. Professor Khumalo was schooled in Durban and Soweto and in 1950, matriculated from the Salvation Army High School in Nancefield. His journalist sister Nomavenda Mathiane said: “Cramped in this tiny two-bedroomed township house life seemed a perpetual struggle. We watched our parents battle to make ends meet on a meagre church salary. However, in hindsight, those were the best times of our lives as a family. We enjoyed many evenings of song, laughter and breaking bread.” Given the realities of apartheid South Africa, Professor Khumalo directed his ambitions towards becoming a teacher. In 1956 he graduated with a BA degree majoring in English and Zulu, and in 1972 with a BA Hons from the University of South Africa. In 1987 he attained his PhD from Wits, with his postgraduate research and writing concerned with tonology, an aspect of linguistics that focuses on the interplay between intonation and meaning in spoken language. He joined the Department of African Languages at Wits as a tutor in 1969, serving 78 W I T S R E V I E W

a long stint as professor and head of the department. In these positions he made major contributions to the development and academic standing of the study of African languages. He retired from the University in 1998 but remained Emeritus Professor as an acknowledged authority in African Languages literature. Professor Khumalo was particularly revered for his achievements in South African music as an awardwinning composer, conductor and mentor of generations of singers and musicians in the field of choral music. 1958 marked the completion of his first composition, Ma Ngificwa Ukufa, followed by the composition of more than 50 epic choral works including the internationally acclaimed uShaka kaSenzangakhona, an epic in music and poetry on Shaka, son of Senzangakhona. Other works for voice and choir such as Five African Songs included a setting of the traditional melody, Bawo Thixo Somandla, arranged for orchestra by Peter Louis van Dijk. In 2002 he wrote Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu, a work about the Zulu princess, musician and poet Princess Constance Magogo kaDinuzulu. It was the first Zulu-language opera. The national respect that Professor Khumalo commanded is attested to in the numerous national positions and honours that he held (including a “Lifetime Achievement Award” bestowed at the 2007 M-Net Literary Awards), the countless competitions and awards that he and his choirs won, the many times he was commissioned to compose music for major occasions, being asked to join the Anthem Committee that developed the new national anthem of South Africa, and having a piano concerto composed in his honour, Mzilikazi Emhlabeni, composed by Bongani Ndodana-Green. He received honorary doctorates from the University of South Africa, University of Zululand, University of Fort Hare and Stellenbosch University. His wife of 63 years, Rose, died two days after him. They are survived by their four children and grandchildren. Sources: Daily Maverick, Wits University archives, The Conversation


IN MEMORIAM

Robert Scholes

1957-2021

[BSc 1978, BSc Hons 1979, PhD 1988]

World renowned systems ecologist, Professor Robert Scholes, who was distinguished professor of systems ecology and director of the Global Change and Sustainability Research Institute at Wits, died in Namibia while hiking with friends on 28 April 2021. Professor Scholes was named one of the most highly cited scientists in 2020 - he was among the top 1% of environmental scientists in the world based on citation frequency, having published widely in the fields of savannah ecology, global change, and earth observation. He specialised in botany, zoology and ecology at Wits and completed a diploma in datametrics at the University of South Africa. After four years at Ntoma Wildlife as a research ecologist, Professor Scholes spent a year as a post-doctoral fellow at North Carolina State University before taking up the post of research officer at Wits. He held an A-rating from the National Research Foundation and served on the Technical Steering Committee of the South African Environmental Observatory Network. As a systems ecologist, he adopted a holistic approach to the study of ecological systems, which he loved for their complexity. “Don’t throw out complexity because it reveals things about how the system has to put all the pieces together to allow it to function,” he would say. Professor Scholes’s research provided a new measure called the Biodiversity Intactness Index. This has been adopted as one of the metrics used globally. Sorting out the complex energy and water balances that sustain one of the world’s biggest and most important ecosystems, the savannahs that dominate Africa, engaged him for 30 years. He was a lead author on numerous assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which provided a clear scientific view about climate

change, as well as the likely environmental and socioeconomic impacts to policymakers. His work on the IPCC assessment processes led to his appointment in 2004 as co-chair of a working group which produced the groundbreaking Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Professor Scholes’s work provided the evidence which underpinned the new global concept of natural, as opposed to financial, capital. He said natural capital showed that the economic benefits which people derived from ecosystems amounted to trillions of dollars worldwide, arguably equal to or greater than the financial capital usually considered as a metric of wellbeing. His work in the field of ecology, particularly in the areas of climate change, global biodiversity loss and land degradation, garnered considerable international recognition including the NASA Group Achievement Award. Over the course of his career, he authored and co-authored numerous books and book chapters and his articles appeared in various prestigious journals including Nature and Bioscience. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, a Fellow of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and, in 2014, was elected an International Member of the US National Academy of Science. He was interested in and very well-informed on a wide variety of topics. He was handy with tools and installed solar panels on his Johannesburg home and took it off the power grid. He was an excellent cook and for 22 years between Christmas and New Year he was chef at the Olive Branch restaurant in Prince Albert. His wife, Professor Mary Scholes (BSc 1978, BSc Hons 1980, PhD 1988), whom he met at Wits in a botany class, said: “Our life was full of fun and glory”, adding that her husband died as he would have wished “with his boots on, peacefully under the shade of a Mopani tree”. He is survived by his wife and son Stirling (BSc 2018, BSc Hons 2019, MSc 2020), who is doing a PhD in physics at the University of Edinburgh. Sources: Wits University, Sunday Times and IPCC

O c tober 2021 79


IN MEMORIAM

1939-2021

Michael Kew

[MBBCh 1961, DMed 1968, PhD 1974, DSc Med 1982]

On the retirement of Professor Michael Kew from Wits in 2016, Emeritus Professor of Medicine and former dean at the Faculty of Medicine, Professor Thomas Bothwell, wrote: “When Mike was an intern, the senior ward sister, Stella Welsh, a great admirer of his, called him Peter Pan, and over forty years later, the title remains appropriate. Watching him hurry down a corridor, all energy and youthful drive.” Over the years, many esteemed colleagues paid tribute to Professor Kew’s rigorous work ethic (up at 3.30am and retiring to bed at 7.00pm), which produced a formidable body of world-class research, and he became an international leader in the field of hepatology and viral hepatitis research. He belonged to a rare breed of physician-scientists who had a lasting impact on clinical practice, medical education, academic discourse, the lives of students and patients and medical leadership. He died of a perforated ulcer during the last week of May 2021. Professor Kew was born in 1939 in Johannesburg, to Max and Dorothy Kew. At an early age, he was recognised as a brilliant student. He graduated with first class honours from Jeppe High School at the age of 15 in 1955. He enrolled at Wits in 1956 and began a more-than-50-year career at the university. Over time he obtained all the degrees available in his branch of the medical field. His studies at undergraduate level were distinguished by many awards, culminating in winning the Bronze Medal of the Southern Transvaal Branch of the Medical Association of South Africa for the most distinguished graduate in Medicine. After obtaining the FCP(SA) from the College of Medicine of South Africa in 1965 he was appointed to the staff of Wits’ Department of Medicine and the Johannesburg teaching hospitals. He began work as a physician, later becoming a principal physician and senior lecturer (1971), a consultant hepatologist (1972), professor of medicine (1978) and senior physician and physician in charge of the Liver Unit (1972), as well as a member of the SA Medical Research Council (1997). He was inducted as a member of the Royal College of Physicians of London (MRCP) in 1971, followed by his election as a fellow of the Royal College (FRCP) in 1979. Professor Kew’s initial academic and research studies were on a broad spectrum of liver diseases including viral hepatitis, drug-induced liver disease, portal hypertension, haemosiderosis, heatstroke and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In a series of studies, Professor Kew mapped out the close association of HCC with chronic 80 W I T S R E V I E W

hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, the integration of HBV DNA into the tumour cells, the contributing factors of age, sex, iron status and environmental factors in the progression of HCC, thereby establishing himself as the foremost authority on this significant tumour. Colleagues attest that he was an outstanding epidemiologist, pathologist, cell biologist and clinician on HCC. “He brought a freshness and excitement to the topic.” MIKE KEW ON WARD ROUNDS

“When Mike was an intern, the senior ward sister, Stella Walsh, a great admirer of his, called him Peter Pan...” PROFESSOR THOMAS BOTHWELL

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KEW WITH NELSON MANDELA

He participated in a WHO expert committee and was given the task of recommending the final steps needed for the total eradication of the smallpox virus. Among the group of physicians who took care of former president Nelson Mandela, he was the first clinical scientist in South Africa to achieve a National Research Foundation A1 rating. Outside of medicine, he had a black belt in karate and taught at Joe Robinson’s studio to pay for his undergraduate training. He was an accomplished cyclist and played squash at provincial level. He was an avid reader with a special interest in grammar and also single-handedly constructed an extra bathroom in his home. After retiring from Wits, Professor Kew took up a research post at the University of Cape Town. Both the South African Medical Journal and the Gasteroenerology Foundation published festschrifts in his honour in 2018 as “physician-scientist, teacher and role model extraordinaire”. Sources: SAMJ and Wits University archive


IN MEMORIAM

Christof Heyns

1959-2021

[PhD 1992]

On 28 March 2021 respected director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa, at the University of Pretoria, Professor Christof Heyns died of a heart attack while walking in the mountains near Stellenbosch. Professor Heyns also previously directed the Centre for Human Rights and was the dean of the Faculty of Law for a four-year period. He engaged in wide-reaching initiatives on human rights in Africa and internationally. In a tribute to him, the centre said his “enthusiasm for life, his dedication as a University of Pretoria Law academic, his national and international contributions, influence and work are unequalled”. As an expert in human rights law, Professor Heyns was the rapporteur (main drafter) of the General Comment 37 (2020) of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which offers global guidance on peaceful assembly. He worked with colleagues and students involved in the Freedom from Violence project. Professor Heyns made a presentation alongside Secretary-General of the UN, António Guterres, at the UN General Assembly event about peaceful assembly. He also drafted another document with the Office of the High Commission on Human Rights, called the UN Human Rights Guidance on Less Lethal Weapons, which was released in July 2020. These two documents restated the international law standards

1943-2021

Anthony Keith Hedley [MBBCh 1968]

Dr Anthony Keith Hedley was born on 2 October 1943 in Durban, South Africa and passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his wife and children on 19 April 2021. Dr Hedley was an orthopaedic surgeon, author, researcher, and educator specialising in joint reconstruction and replacement. He received his medical degree from Wits in 1968. In 1977 he received his registration as specialist orthopedic surgeon from the South African Medical and Dental Council. He was a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. He completed his fellowship in orthopaedic surgery at St Thomas Hospital, London, and his postdoctoral studies in Orthopedic Surgery and Bio-Engineering

and UN standards on peaceful and not-so-peaceful assembly. Professor Heyns advised a number of international, regional and national entities on human rights issues. In August 2010 he was appointed as UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and in 2017 he was the South African candidate for election to the UN Human Rights Committee, the treaty monitoring body of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Professor Heyns was also one of three experts appointed to conduct the UN Independent Investigation on Burundi and served as its chair. He held a Humboldt Fellowship at the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg, Germany, and a Fulbright Fellowship at the Human Rights Programme at Harvard Law School. He served on the editorial boards of academic journals in South Africa, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Brazil, Uganda, Turkey and Costa Rica. Professor Heyns held the degrees BLC, LLB, BA (Hons) and MA (Philosophy) cum laude from the University of Pretoria, a master’s of Law from Yale Law School (where he was a Fulbright Scholar); and a PhD degree on the history and legal aspects of the non-violent part of the struggle against racial domination in South Africa from Wits. He is survived by his wife Fearika, son Adam, two daughters Willemien and Renée, mother Renée and grandson Isak Rust. Sources: University of Pretoria and Daily Maverick

at the University of California in Los Angeles. In 1982 he moved to Phoenix, Arizona and joined the Institute for Bone and Joint Disorders, later developing the Hedley Orthopaedic Institute. He performed thousands of hip and knee replacements until his retirement in 2020. He was known as the “doctor’s doctor” and listed among the “Best Doctors in America” since its inception in 1992. He was a master technician and loved by his patients for his kindness and compassion. Dr Hedley was an avid fisherman, hunter, and bird watcher. He held three world record fish catches. He read widely and loved his daily crossword puzzles. He loved spending time with his family in Cabo San Lucas in Mexico and Soldotna in Alaska, where they fished together on the Kenai. He is survived by two adult children from a prior marriage, Damian and Lisa, his three grandchildren, his wife of 20 years, Jennifer, and their three children. Source: Journal of Orthopaedic Experience & Innovation

O c tober 2021 81


IN MEMORIAM

Chris Mann

1948-2021

[BA 1971]

Distinguished poet, playwright and musician Professor Chris “Zithulele” Mann died peacefully at his home in Makhanda in the Eastern Cape on 10 March 2021. He was diagnosed with cancer a year before. “Poetry has been my vocation since my teenage years; an inconsolable yearning, a craft, a moment of vision, a protest, a solace, a prayer and respite throughout the turbulence of our times,” he wrote. His poems were prayerful and joyous. They reflected deeply about apartheid, nature, God and death. The son of Norman “Tufty” Mann, the Springbok and Eastern Province cricketer, and Daphne Greenwood, an actress educated at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Professor Mann was born in Port Elizabeth (now Gqeberha) on 6 April 1948. He matriculated from Diocesan College (Bishops) in Cape Town and he obtained a BA degree at Wits, an MA in English language and literature at the University of Oxford, and an MA in African oral literature at the School for Oriental and African Studies in London. Following the publication of his debut poetry collection, First Poems (1979), he won several awards, including the Newdigate Prize for Poetry from Oxford, the Olive Schreiner Prize and the Thomas

Michael Lewis

1947-2021

[MBBCh 1968, DOH 1983, DPH 1980, DHSM 1986]

Michael Lewis missed his first Wits graduation because he was backpacking in Madagascar. For him the journey was always more important than the destination. He chose to practise medicine in the public health sector in South Africa and Dr Lewis’s journey led him to work at hospitals such as Themba near White River, Letaba near Tzaneen, Western Deep Levels near Carletonville, and Tonga near Malelane. From clinician to researcher, administrator to programme manager, he fulfilled many roles aimed at improving health services for the most disadvantaged people in South Africa. Friend and human rights lawyer, Richard Spoor, describes his contribution in these words: “Mike was an exceptional public health doctor. The work he did for former mineworkers is legend. He kept 82 W I T S R E V I E W

Pringle Award. His poems appeared in a wide range of journals, textbooks and anthologies in South Africa and abroad. After a few years as a teacher in Swaziland, he taught at Rhodes University in the late 1970s. From 1980 to 1992 he worked in KwaZulu-Natal at The Valley Trust medical and agricultural project. It was at this time that he married his wife Julia Skeen. In 1999, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of DurbanWestville in recognition of his literary accomplishments and many years of community-based work in the Valley of a Thousand Hills. Owing to his quiet personality, workers at The Valley Trust nicknamed him Zithulele, the quiet one. In 2007, he was appointed Honorary Professor of Poetry at Rhodes University, primarily in recognition of his poetry but also for his founding, inspirational work in Wordfest, a national multilingual festival of South African languages and literatures. Based at the Institute for the Study of English in Africa at Rhodes University, Professor Mann was able to converse in Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhosa fluently. In his poem Epiphanies from his latest publication (Palimpsests, Dryad Press, 2021) he writes: “Whoever grew wise without sorrow? Whoever loved until they’d trusted enough to bleed? And who understood until they’d shivered in terror at their ignorance?” He leaves his wife and two children, Luke and Amy. Sources: City Press, Wikipedia and Rhodes University

the system of medical benefit examinations for former mineworkers going in the Lowveld for many, many years in the face of managerial indifference. Securing benefits for disabled mine workers and their widows that materially improved their and their families’ lives.” At Wits he met his wife and soulmate who matched and supported his ideals. Marieta Stumke (BSc 1967) and Mike got married in 1969 and raised three children: Sharon (BSc 1994), Christopher (MBBCh 1997) and Trevor (BSc Eng 1997). Dr Lewis’s life was one of enquiry and learning. He loved intellectual debate, reading and challenging recreational pursuits like bridge, Scrabble and solving crosswords. After returning to White River in 1997 — to settle ahead of retirement - he had a series of health setbacks. He died peacefully at home with Marieta by his side on 7 July 2021. He will be missed for his warmth, wry sense of humour, curiosity and caring nature. Source: Lewis family


IN MEMORIAM

1961-2021

Bhekizizwe Peterson [BA Hons 1987, PhD 1997]

One of South Africa’s foremost humanities scholars and much loved member of staff at Wits, Professor Bhekizizwe Peterson died on 16 June 2021. A towering intellectual, Professor Peterson was born in 1961 in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg. He started his career at Wits as a junior lecturer in 1988, and progressed to full professor from 2012 to 2021. He served twice as the head of the Department of African Literature during his career at Wits. In addition to his Wits qualifications he held a BA in drama and African studies from UCT, and an MA in southern African studies from the University of York. Professor Peterson was an award-winning film writer and producer; a leading practitioner of working-class theatre; a literary critic and a public intellectual. He was also known for being a generous mentor to numerous young people in various spheres of the arts and academia. He easily crossed between academia and the creative arts, producing high-impact creative works such as feature films (Fools and Zulu Love Letter) and feature documentaries (Born into Struggle, Zwelidumile, The

Michael Cross

1952-2021

[MEd 1986, PhD 1994]

Professor Michael Cross, the founding director of the Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education Studies at the University of Johannesburg died in a Johannesburg hospital in the early hours of 6 June 2021, after becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus. Previously attached to Wits as a lecturer at the Faculty of Education from 1986 till 2012, he also served in several initiatives, such as the Governance Task Team of the National Commission on Higher Education, and the Technical Committee on Norms and Standards for Educators. He was involved in reviews across the continent, including the Tertiary Education Linkages Project and Finnish Aid to Developing Countries (Finland, South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique, Bosnia, Bolivia and Nepal). He assisted with the quality assurance of postgraduate programmes in Tanzania and Mozambique, and played an important role in programmes of the Association for African Universities, and in the development of the

Battle for Johannesburg and Miners Shot Down), many of which won local and international awards. A National Research Foundation B-rated scholar, he was acknowledged for attaining considerable international recognition for the high quality and impact of his research output. He was invited to serve as a John Cadbury Fellow in 1999 at Birmingham University, and as a Southern African Research Fellow at Yale University in 1993. He also participated in the Mellon Postgraduate Mentoring Scheme for several years. The recipient of a National Institute of the Humanities and Social Sciences Book Award, Professor Peterson also received a ViceChancellor’s Teaching Award, among others. A colleague for over 30 years, Professor Isabel Hofmeyr, described him as follows: “A systematic builder, he eschewed the limelight and would have no truck with careerism, academic vanity or posturing. For similar reasons, he was repelled by social media with its speed and superficiality, its dialogue of the deaf. He, by contrast, was an exceptional listener. For anyone who ever had a serious conversation with him, one will always remember the deep sense of being heard, seen and understood.” Professor Peterson is survived by his wife Pat, and two children Neo (a lecturer in the Television Studies Department at Wits) and Khanyi (BMus 2019). Sources: The Conversation, Wits University

Rwanda Higher Education Sector Strategic Plan. He was a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Stanford and Stockholm Universities, and the University of Picardy Jules Verne. He amassed an impressive publication record and he coordinated first-rate postgraduate programmes throughout his academic career. Professor Cross’s passion was mentoring young researchers and he received the first award from the Association for the Development of Education in Africa in 2012 as the most Outstanding Mentor of Educational Researchers in Africa. He was also a co-founder and co-editor of a book series on African Higher Education: Developments and Perspectives with Brill/Sense Publishers, and Higher Education Transformation with African Sun Media. Professor Cross played a key role in post-1994 education policy development in South Africa, which he regarded as his civic duty. Integrating his intellectual skills with programmatic interventions, he systematically worked towards the promotion of education. He is survived by his wife Albertina, daughter Eunice (BA 2001, BA Hons 2003, LLB 2003, LLM 2011) and son Michael. Sources: Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation

O c tober 2021 83


IN MEMORIAM

1951-2021

Ian Graham Shapiro [BCom 1973, LLB 1975]

Ian Shapiro was the third of the Shapiro brothers to graduate from Wits in the 1970s, the others being Harold (BCom 1967, CTA 1970) and David (BCom 1969, CTA 1971). Shapiro spent an idyllic childhood growing up in “baby-boomer” Greenside where neighbouring children would join the four Shapiro boys (Eric was the youngest brother) on their front lawn to play World Cup Soccer or Test Match Cricket depending on the season. Shapiro’s future wife, Anna Louise (Tatz), with whom he shared 38 years of marriage, lived only a few houses away in Mowbray Road. Unlike his three brothers who joined their legendary father, Archie, in stockbroking, Ian Shapiro chose to go into law. He joined I Mendelow and Browde in 1977, becoming a partner in 1981, and remained with the firm in its numerous guises until he joined Fluxmans in 2012. While Shapiro was recognised as an outstanding attorney with several of his litigation matters reported in South African Law Reports, his colleagues and clients remarked on his calm, soft spoken, and dignified manner in both his personal and business dealings. In 1991, he was instrumental in causing an amendment to the Divorce Act regarding religious and civil divorce proceedings and, in 2001, he won a major divorce case resulting in the ruling becoming law. The biggest litigation case of his career and one of the biggest wins for his firm was the

1968-2021

Moloantoa Geoff Makhubo [BCom 1992, PDM 2016, MM 2020]

The former mayor of Johannesburg, Moloantoa Geoff Makhubo died on 9 July 2021 at the age of 53 from COVID-19-related complications. He was described as “a gifted technocrat” who “garnered both respect and mistrust” during his political career. Makhubo was born in Soweto on February 1968 and became involved in politics as a teenager, joining the Congress of South African Students and serving as the chairperson of the African National Congress Youth League. At Wits he earned a BCom degree and before graduating in 1990 he joined the Black Students Association and the then Azanian Students Organisation, which changed its name to the South African Students 84 W I T S R E V I E W

November 2010, ground-breaking Constitutional Court matter, “Bengwenyama Minerals (Pty) Ltd and Others v Genorah Resources and Others”. He successfully represented the Bengwenyama community in the case which concerned administrative fairness in the allocation of prospecting rights. The case was widely reported both locally and internationally. Shapiro was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. Together with his beloved wife, Anna Louise, he loved nothing more than to be with his three sons, Ian Shapiro was Daniel, Joshua, and Ilan, instrumental two daughters-in-law and in causing an six grandchildren. amendment to He had an amazing organised mind and was the Divorce Act regarding religious extremely methodical in everything he did whethand civil divorce er it was his music, phoproceedings and tography, or stamp colleche won a major tions. His taste in music was eclectic ranging from divorce case classics and jazz, to the resulting in the Beatles and Bob Dylan. ruling becoming He was an outstanding law sportsman. His untimely passing in January as a result of complications from COVID-19 robbed him and his immediate family, and the broader world, of a caring soul who still had much to offer. Sources: Harold Shapiro and family

Congress. He later completed a management advancement programme at Wits Business School in 1997. He also earned a certificate for leadership in local governance from the University of Cape Town. At the time of his election to mayor, he was studying for a master’s degree at Wits. Makhubo was the co-president of the Metropolis Global Funds for Cities’ Development. He had held leadership roles in the ANC’s Greater Johannesburg Region. He was the regional treasurer before he became the regional leader in July 2018. Appointed as the caucus leader of the ANC in the city council after the resignation of Parks Tau in May 2019, he was nominated mayor following Herman Mashaba’s resignation. Makhubo leaves his wife Dikeledi and two daughters behind. Sources: Sunday Times and Wikipedia


IN MEMORIAM

Jabulane Mabuza

1958-2021

[DCom honoris causa 2017]

Entrepreneur and business leader Dr Jabulane “Jabu” Mabuza passed away from COVID-19 complications on 16 June 2021 at the age of 63. Mabuza was born on 4 February 1958 in Waterval Boven, Mpumalanga. His family was later forcibly resettled in White River and he lived with an aunt in Daveyton on the East Rand of Johannesburg. While in secondary school he was expelled for participating in the 1976 student uprising. He matriculated from Ohlange Missionary School in Inanda, KwaZulu-Natal and later worked as a court clerk. In 1980 he began driving taxis to raise funds for a law degree at University of the North, which he did not complete. Over the years, as Mabuza navigated through the worlds of business, advocacy and leadership, he distinguished himself as a man of conviction with a deep sense of commitment to South Africa. He started as a taxi driver and built a successful taxi business in Daveyton, championing recognition for township income generators and was a founding member of the Foundation for African

Ivor Sarakinsky

1961-2021

[BA 1986, BA Hons 1987, MA 1992, PhD 2001]

Respected public intellectual Ivor Sarakinsky, associate professor in the Wits School of Governance, and most recently director of the School, passed away on 17 September 2021. He was an integral part of Wits, serving in numerous committees, and as a political philosopher taught public governance and the green economy. He had a wealth of public sector experience and served as chief director for the Green Economy in the then Economic Development Department. He also engaged in numerous consulting projects ranging from helping develop the governance assessment methodology for NEPAD’s African Peer Review Mechanism, to working with

Business and Consumer Services in 1988, becoming CEO in 1990. Mabuza developed a close relationship with SA Breweries chair Meyer Kahn, who appointed him group advancement director. This culminated in the company backing black business leaders to obtain licences for casinos in South Africa. It is how he engineered the formation of Tsogo Sun, of which he became group CEO, as well as being deputy chair of Tsogo Sun Holdings. He was on the board of Sun International and chair when he died. He spent more than nine years on the board of South African Tourism, which he chaired for six years. At the height of the #FeesMustFall crisis in 2016, a group of business, academic and civil society leaders met for a weekend of talks on the higher education funding dilemma. The convener of the meeting, former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke (LLD honoris causa) asked Mabuza to provide the institutional and logistics support for the meeting. Mabuza’s high-profile leadership roles for the country were at Telkom and Eskom. He played a key role in the restructuring and turnaround of Telkom as its chair from 2012, serving two terms. President Cyril Ramaphosa turned to Mabuza in January 2018, appealing to him to intervene in the crisis at Eskom. He resigned from the board in January 2020, having served a year longer than he had committed to. In July 2017 Wits conferred on him an honorary doctorate of commerce for his “leadership in business in the cause of creating a successful economy that creates a better life for all”. Sources: Sunday Times, Wits University archive, Daily Maverick

municipalities on their green economy strategies and implementation processes. He was a prolific writer who published in local and international journals on different aspects of governance, public policy and ethics. He was often able to analyse a situation and make connections that few saw and was a sought-after media commentator. He was described by friends as a “generous spirit”, the “go-to guy”, despite being an intensely private person. His candour and wit were appreciated and he was often called upon to moderate academic and public events, volunteering his time and expertise to advance the public good. Friends loved his conversation at the dinner table because the conversation sparkled around him. He lived the agony and ecstasy of being an ardent Arsenal supporter. He leaves his wife Revil and daughter Hannah. Source: Wits, Sarakinsky family

O c tober 2021 85


IN MEMORIAM

Bernard Levinson

1926-2021

[MBBCh 1951, Dip Psych Med 1959, PhD 1970]

Dr Bernard Levinson, world-renowned psychiatrist and sex therapy pioneer, died at the age of 94 on 1 April 2021. He influenced a generation of clinical psychologists and psychiatrists who idolised him for his willingness to challenge mainstream assumptions. He was ahead of his time and was able to talk frankly about sexuality and embrace diversity. Dr Levinson was born on 5 May 1926 in Johannesburg to a land surveyor father from Argentina and a Russian mother. They emigrated to Chicago, United States after he was born and the family was rendered destitute by the Great Depression. The only job his father could get was tapping pipes to stop them freezing in the winter. They lived on peanut butter and Dr Levinson had to sleep on chairs. They returned to South Africa when he was 14 and he attended King Edward VII High School. His first medical experience came when he was 17 and serving as a medical orderly on the hospital ship in the Mediterranean in the last two years of World War II. After graduating from Wits in 1951, he was a GP in Battersea in London, and in False Bay in Cape Town, until 1958, when he returned to Johannesburg and joined Tara Psychiatric Hospital as a registrar. He qualified as a psychiatrist in 1960 and was a part-time lecturer in the department of psychiatry at Wits from 1960 to 1980, lecturing on various aspects of general psychiatry. From 1965 to 1975 he was the director of the Alpha House Family Centre, a 20-bed unit catering for adolescents who were drug-dependent. In this role he toured and lectured in adolescent rehabilitation centres in Canada, the US, England and Israel. In 1979, he was approached by a team of lawyers responsible for defending a man who had been condemned to death. The Hanging Machine (Premier Book Publishers, 1990) grew out of Dr Levinson’s meetings with the condemned man and his observation of the man’s increasing fear as the day of his execution drew closer. In 1980 he began practising exclusively as a sexologist and lectured the topic at Wits until 1995. He was one of the first psychiatrists to take seriously people who felt 86 W I T S R E V I E W

they were the wrong gender. He was the founding president of the South African Sexological Society, editor of the South African Sex Journal for 10 years and editor-in-chief of the Sexology Journal of Africa for 15 years. A well-travelled storyteller and poet with an insatiable curiosity, Dr Levinson was prepared to try everything. He started tai chi at the age of 50 and learned jazz saxophone when he was 85. Until his early 90s, when he was

diagnosed with colon cancer, he never missed a Saturday morning lesson if he could help it. He read audio books for the blind for 20 years and stopped practising as a psychiatrist when he was 90. Dr Levinson is survived by his second wife, painter Sheila Jarzin, and three daughters, who kindly submitted this poem he wrote in 2020: Obituary I keep looking for my obituary in the Wits Review. Curious. A paragraph? An entire page? Will anyone smile at my age? This for sure when life demands so be it – I’m not dying to see it… (from Collected Poems, Hands-On Books, 2020) https:// www.africanbookscollective.com/books/collected-poems Sources: Sunday Times and Wits archives


IN MEMORIAM

1956-2021

Graeme Bloch [MA 2011]

Democratic struggle stalwart, educationalist and activist Graeme Bloch died at Constantiaberg Hospital on the morning of 9 April 2021. He had an uncommon brain disorder affecting his movement and developed progressive palsy seven years after his diagnosis in 2015. Bloch was the second of seven children born to Rosalie and Cecil Bloch. His late father was a professor of plastic surgery at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and his mother was an attorney and member of the Black Sash, the Women’s Peace Movement and the Detainees Parents Support Committee in the 1970s and 1980s. Bloch matriculated from Westerford High School and continued further studies at UCT. He kept up the family tradition by fighting for a non-racial South Africa and he was among those who led the formation of the End Conscription Campaign. As a member of the United Democratic Front (UDF), he was detained and arrested numerous times for his involvement in the democratic movement. He was banned from 1976-81. In 1990 Bloch married fellow activist Cheryl Carolus and in 1998 Carolus was appointed by President Nelson Mandela to serve as high commissioner to the UK, and they lived in London until 2001. Bloch was a former visiting adjunct Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand School of Public and Development Management and a senior researcher

Clare Walker

1947-2021

[BA 1968]

Clare Walker, the former deputy university librarian at the Wartenweiler Library, passed away on 24 May 2021. Walker retired from Wits in April 2010. One of her lasting contributions to the university is the electronic classroom and the Library Education and Training Unit that currently plays a key role in the transition to digital teaching and learning. In her retirement she took up a role as an honorary research fellow, enabling her to write a history of the Wits libraries. She was the only child of medical doctors and grew up in Forest Town in Johannesburg. Kathy Munro (BA 1967, Honorary Associate Professor), who met Walker as a student at Wits, paid

at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection. He was a policy analyst at the Development Bank of Southern Africa. He taught in the education faculty at the University of the Western Cape, and was project manager for youth development at the Joint Education Trust. He also worked as head of Social Development in the Department of Welfare, and as director of Social Development in the Joburg Metro. In 2011 he attained his second master’s from Wits, in creative writing. He was a member of UCT Council, served as director on Lafarge Education Trust, was on the Board of Equal Education, the Advisory Board of Elma Philanthropies, the advisory council of PUKU Children’s Literature Foundation and a patron of Bitou10 in Plettenberg Bay. Bloch wrote and published widely, in particular on education, in both academic and more popular publications. The Western Cape Students Congress wrote in a tribute that he was “a soft-spoken and gentle soul who provided us with a kind of mentorship that was firm and decisive yet never demanding. He didn’t only care about us and our wellbeing, he consciously and patiently went on to shape our lives, not wavering from this commitment he made to us.” Bloch’s brother, Lance, described him as a man of courage and a true renaissance man. “They could break his bones, torture him in all kinds of ways, including making him stand for 48 hours at a time during interrogation, but they never broke his spirit.” He is survived by his wife Cheryl and siblings. Sources: Daily Maverick, Business Day and EWN

tribute to her saying: “She was the person who oiled the wheels of the library and solved problems, big and small. Clare was approachable and kind despite the exterior appearance of being somewhat formidable. She was a highly intelligent person who had a wonderful, broad grasp of what a University library should be. She aspired to make the Wits Library system the best possible.” The University statement read: “Across the profession and the country, she will be remembered for her professional advocacy role as attested to by the many professionals who went through her training programmes.” She leaves behind her family and companion Elizabeth Robertson who said: “She derived her support from her lively objection to the pompous or authoritarian. Her steady judgement made her not too impressed by the self-important. She tended to laugh at the over-serious people.” Sources: Wits University, Kathy Munro, LIASA

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IN MEMORIAM

Rob Legh

1962-2021

[BCom 1982, LLB 1984, MBA 1994]

Robert Legh, who died in Johannesburg at the age of 59 of COVID-19 complications on 1 July 2021, was the chair and senior partner of Bowmans, one of the country’s largest corporate law firms. Legh was born in Johannesburg and matriculated from St Stithians College in 1978. He enrolled at Wits on a De Beers scholarship and he was the manager of a punk rock band called Snappy Canaries. He joined Bowmans in 1986 and became a partner in 1992. He was a multi-faceted lawyer having initially practised in various fields: commercial property, labour, general litigation, and eventually competition and mining. He was considered one of the founding fathers of competition law in South Africa and the founding partner of Bowmans’ Competition Practice in 1999, the year the Competition Act was enacted, and headed it for many years before his appointment as chair in 2014. It is internationally recognised as one of the leading

Ebrahim Kharsany

1944-2021

[MBA 1971, MCom 1971]

Chief executive and founder of the Islamic Bank Limited Ebrahim Kharsany died on 6 March 2021. He was one of 14 to receive the first Master of Business Administration degrees awarded by the university in 1971. He was the only student of colour, and only Muslim, on the course. His classmates called him “Mickey,” and on occasional site visits to companies, he was asked to dine separately from other students, whereupon the entire class declined lunch in support of him. Known as an activist and astute businessman, he described how difficult it was finding any meaningful employment as the predominantly white corporate business sector would not employ people of colour in senior positions. After spending a few years in the life assurance industry he established his own company which over several years lobbied the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) for a banking licence. His application was approved in September 1988 and he established South Africa’s first Islamic Bank. Kharsany was appointed head of the Small Business Initiative, which advocated support for small 88 W I T S R E V I E W

competition practices on the African continent. He worked on a number of high-profile cases over the years in relation to hostile mergers, abuse of dominance and cartel cases. He contributed to the first South African book on competition law. Legh received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Competition Law at the South African Professional Services Awards. Most recently he will be remembered as having worked during the pandemic to ensure workers without wages received help during the lockdown. After 35 years at Bowmans his colleague Jonathan Schlosberg (BCom 1975, LLB 1976) paid tribute to him as “a fantastic and fun travelling companion and a wonderful colleague to have with you in important meetings with clients and with partners of major international law firms with whom we have very important relationships”. He writes Legh possessed “all the qualities of a leader decency, integrity, loyalty, dedication, trustworthiness, reliability, intelligence (both intellectual and ‘street smarts’), toughness when required and thoughtfulness”. He is survived by his wife Kathryn and children Tom and India. Sources: Sunday Times and Bowmans

business and the abolition of restrictive trade legislation as part of the Old Mutual/Nedbank scenarios between 1992 and 1993. In 1997 he made a submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, about the role the white business sector played in supporting apartheid and its being involved in sanctions-busting and arms procurement. He also criticised the SARB for advancing a controversial soft loan to Absa Bank Limited. In 1981 he was an executive committee member of the Stop the Highway Committee which successfully stopped the Johannesburg City Council from constructing a section of highway from Auckland Park through De La Rey Street in Pageview and Princess Street in Mayfair. The highway would have caused the demolition of mosques, churches, temples, schools and houses in Pageview and Mayfair. He was secretary of the Save Pageview Association and the organisation successfully prevented the forceful eviction of the Pageview families. Pageview was the only suburb in South Africa which, although declared a White Group Area in 1963, remained as South Africa’s first mixed-race suburb. He received a personal visit from then President Nelson Mandela in 1993. Sources: SA History, WBS archives


IN MEMORIAM

Keith Beavon

1937-2021

[BSc 1959, MSc 1967, PhD 1975]

Professor Emeritus Keith Beavon died on 16 April 2021 after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. His contribution to South African geography was especially significant in urban geography: on record, he produced numerous journal papers, conference papers and urban reports. His work is referenced in at least 15 books. Beyond these formal academic achievements, he generously responded to public requests for extra-mural lectures and public lectures. His teaching career included lectureships at the University of Swansea, Rhodes University, and the Universities of Cape Town, Witwatersrand and Pretoria. For six years after his retirement, he agreed to offer courses at all of the South African universities mentioned. Professor Beavon was elected Fellow of the Society of

1940-2021

Morris James Viljoen

[BSc 1961, BSc Hons 1962, MSc 1964, PhD 1970]

Celebrated Wits geoscientist Professor Morris Viljoen died of COVID-19 complications on 19 August 2021. Along with his twin brother Richard (BSc 1961, BSc Hons 1962, Msc 1964, PhD 1970) he famously mapped large parts of the Barberton Greenstone Belt, which lies within the Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mapping in the southern part of the Barberton Mountains revealed a remarkably well preserved succession of rocks which were unlike any other volcanic rock that had been described at that time. The rocks’ very high magnesium content and distinctive texture put them in a new class of their own, and they are now recognised as an important part of the story of the early earth. They are found in the oldest segments of all the continents. Known as komatiites, they were formed when lava crystallised at a much higher temperature than other lavas, and they are associated with nickel and gold deposits. The Viljoens jointly received the Lindgren Award of the Society of Economic Geologists in the US in 1979 for the discovery of komatiite. In 1970 Viljoen joined JCI and established the geological research unit with a mandate to find new mines for the company, which involved extensive travel. He made

South African Geographers. His awards included a Wits overseas fellowship (University of Sheffield), a British Council study award, a British Academy visiting professorship (University of Keele), and a New York University visiting scholarship. Between 1977 and 1998 he was the professor of Human Geography at Wits. When he retired from that post he became professor and head of geography at the University of Pretoria (UP) between 1999 and 2005. At the end of his teaching career, the titles of Professor Emeritus were conferred upon him by both Wits and UP. He demanded high standards, but he made provision for his students to have fun, too. One past student (of the 1970s), on hearing of Professor Beavon’s death, wrote of the department under his leadership as “the wonderful years spent watching and learning from you at Wits, and benefiting from your intellectual and social generosity. I know others who reflect on that golden period in our lives with such pleasure and gratitude”. Source: John Earle

similar contributions as a consultant for Rustenburg Platinum, the forerunner of Anglo American Platinum. In 1990, he was appointed professor in the School of Geosciences and introduced a course in mining and environment as well as the Centre for Applied Mining and Exploration Geology (CAMEG). Through CAMEG, he played an instrumental role in the generation of many exploration targets, several of which have developed into advanced prospects and operating mines. In 2010, Viljoen was one of the co-founders of VM Investment Company. It laid the foundation for the establishment of Bushveld Minerals and AfriTin as fully operational London Aim-listed mining companies. Viljoen was highly respected by his peers and was a fellow of the Geological Society of South Africa (GSSA) where he served as president in 1988, the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and the Royal Society of South Africa. He was also the recipient of a number of awards, including the Captain Scott Medal for the best MSc thesis, and the Draper Memorial Medal – the highest award of the GSSA. His passion for geoheritage and geotourism helped many to understand the influence of geology on nature and on human activity. He and his brother led walks in the Kruger Park, produced explanatory material about the Vredefort Dome for visitors to Parys and published a guidebook to the Barberton region. Sources: Wits University archive and Mining Weekly

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IN MEMORIAM

Ivor Powell

1955-2021

[BA Hons 1980]

Ivor Powell was a Kimberley-born art history and philosophy graduate who defied the restrictions of a single profession. Mercurial and described by journalist Jonathan Ancer “as one of journalism’s most charming, complicated, complex and colourful characters: dapper and dazzling Dadaist, brilliant art critic, super sleuth, sensitive Scorpion”, he died five days before his 66th birthday from emphysema on 18 August 2021. Powell’s father was an Anglican priest and his mother an assistant to Bishop Njongonkulu Ndungane in Kimberley. After completing matric in 1972, Powell moved to Cape Town and pursued a BA in English at the University of Cape Town. In 1980 he completed his BA honours and while tutoring at the university, he met artist and former lecturer in the Wits fine art department Robert Hodgins, who had a great influence on him. Between 1982 and 1987 he lectured at Unisa but also became involved in the underground art scene as a member of the neo-Dadaist collective, Possession Arts, an affiliation of artists and writers that included former arts editor of the Mail & Guardian Matthew Krouse (BA DA 1988), Joachim Schonfeldt (BA FA 1981) and Professor Mark Solms (BA Hons 1985, MA 1987, PhD 1992) who is now an accomplished neuropsychoanalyst. Their output was experimental anti-theatre. “Where it worked, it worked at the interface between meaning and anarchy, at a sometimes dangerous and visceral edge of control and loss of control, of making sense and not making sense,” Powell wrote. “At its best, you might think of Possession as a joyride in a stolen semantic vehicle.” In 1985, he started contributing art reviews for the

1957-2021

Thobile Patience Manana [BA Hons 1992, Cert Ed 2010]

Thobile Patience Manana, affectionately known as “Manox” or “Oprah”, died on 28 June 2021 at the Netcare Hospital in Krugersdorp. She grew up in Ekuvukeni in Wasbank, KwaZulu-Natal. She graduated from Sigweje Junior Secondary School and then did her PTC qualification at eMadadeni Training College. After high school she specialised in sociolinguistics, semantics, modern and traditional languages. In 2011, Manana was selected to take part in the “Leadership for Learning” at Harvard 90 W I T S R E V I E W

newly launched Weekly Mail and over the next two decades established a reputation as “one of the finest art critics in South Africa”. In 2004 he won a prestigious national journalism award for a piece of criticism published in Art South Africa. Increasingly he became more interested in political stories and morphed into a general investigative journalist. He helped the paper break important stories on the notorious Vlakplaas death squads. He moved to other publications such as The Star and the Vrye Weekblad. In 2001 when Thabo Mbeki launched the Directorate of Special Operations (the Scorpions), Powell joined as senior investigator. In 2005 he authored the now-infamous classified internal Browse-Mole memo report, which investigated possible sources of Jacob Zuma’s legal and political campaigns. A version of this was leaked and it made him a target of various forces in intelligence circles. In January 2008, he was arrested on charges of driving under the influence, but the charges were struck from the register of Cape Town Magistrate’s Court six months later, with the local directorate for public prosecutions undecided on whether to prosecute him. The experience changed him. He took up a post at Independent Newspapers, running the company’s cadet school until 2013, and lost his appetite for political investigations. In his remaining years he preferred the company of his family, cooking, and watching cricket and soccer. Former editor of the Mail & Guardian Nic Dawes said he was “perhaps the most brilliant critic of his generation, an investigative journalist of penetrating acumen, and a spook. Some people see a contradiction in those three careers. I think on the contrary that they were deeply linked.” He is survived by his six children and partner Chiara Carter. Sources: Daily Maverick, Mail & Guardian

University in Massachusetts in the US. She spent the majority of her teaching time in Johannesburg at Jabulani Technical High School where she was the principal, and in 2012 implemented a turnaround strategy to move the school from 16% achievement to 66% and 88.8% the next year. Manana married Bhekisizwe Daniel Manana in 1984. An avid Christian, she enjoyed travelling and public speaking. She is survived by her husband, her two sons Sicelo Nkosinathi and Sakhile Mthokozisi, and granddaughter Thandolwethu Heather Zamacusi Manana. She will be remembered for her verve for life, saying “I don’t need a billion rand to live my best life, I’m my own Oprah!” Source: Sowetan


IN MEMORIAM

1939-2021

Richard Hewish Hunt [MSc 1984, PhD 1989]

Renowned field entomologist Professor Richard Hewish Hunt passed away on 18 June 2021. He was born in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1939 and began his professional career as a technician at the Bilharzia and Malaria Research Laboratory, working on epidemiological field surveys of malaria and schistosomiasis (also known as bilharzia – a disease caused by parasitic worms). Professor Hunt was appointed as honorary professor at the Wits Research Institute for Malaria and the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences at Wits from 1998, and was a consultant to the Vector Control Reference Laboratory, National Institute for Communicable Diseases, a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, for the rest of his career. He was deeply committed to his work as a disease vector biologist, geneticist and public health professional, and dedicated more than 60 years of his life to research and policy-making in this field. This extraordinary contribution includes his pioneering work in mosquito taxonomy using cytogenetic and enzyme electrophoresis methods, and he was a major contributor to the body of work that unraveled the taxonomic conundrum of the Anopheles gambiae species complex and the An. funestus species group, both of which contain major malaria vectors (and non-vectors), of the sub-Saharan African

1961-2021

Robert Collins

[BCom 1985, HDip TaxLaw 1989, HDip CoLaw 1991]

Former chief operating officer of Sun International and managing director of Tsogo Sun Robert Collins died from complications as a result of COVID-19 on 30 June 2021. He was born and educated in Johannesburg and after graduating from Wits in 1985, he had a stint in the Navy, but was transferred to Johannesburg as the legal advisor for Inland Revenue for four years. Thereafter he joined Deloitte where he practised as a tax lawyer, and held the position of associate director. In 1991, Collins changed careers and moved into the entertainment, leisure and lifestyle sector as the group tax

region. This work provided the foundation for later PCRbased methods of species identification in these taxa, which now underpin malaria vector operational research and control interventions in Africa. As an extraordinary field entomologist, he spent countless hours collecting Anopheles mosquitoes from many of Africa’s most remote regions. During his career he visited most African countries at least once, and developed a particularly keen ability to find Anopheles mosquitoes using deep experience and insight. This enabled the gathering of critical surveillance information for many malaria vector control programmes, both governmental and commercial. Professor Hunt was also a pioneer in the establishment of Anopheles mosquito laboratory colonies from wild-collected material. This is a particularly refined and laborious process that involves tireless field work followed by long hours in the insectary, and requires deep insight into mosquito ecology and behaviour. Many of these studies have in turn provided critical information for malaria vector control, and have enabled the tabling of control policies based on sound evidence. An important feature of these studies has and continues to be the characterisation of insecticide resistance mechanisms in vector species, and he contributed to many of these. Professor Hunt will be fondly remembered for his deep insight, energy, enthusiasm, innovative ideas, attention to detail, dedication to his work and to his insistence on excellence. Sources: Prof Lizette Koekemoer, Wits Research Institute For Malaria

and legal advisor for Interleisure Pty Ltd. He then joined Ster Kinekor as chief executive officer in 1993 where he also served as Chairman of Walt Disney, 20th Century Fox and Columbia in Africa, sitting on their World Wide Strategic Committees. In 2000 he took up the challenge of joining MGM Grand SA, one of South Africa’s largest black empowerment companies, as chief executive officer, and was later managing director of Tsogo Sun Gaming. He spent 14 years with Tsogo Sun before moving to Sun International in 2014 and served as Group Chief Strategy and Operations Officer until his early retirement in July 2019. Collins also served as a trustee on the Apartheid Museum Board and was trustee on the South African Hall of Fame Board and a trustee on the Marketing Achievements Council. Source: Gaming for Africa

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IN MEMORIAM

John Crawford

1937-2021

[BSc 1959]

Well-known and respected physics lecturer John Crawford died in his home on 17 June 2021, just short of his 84th birthday. Described as “an institution” who dedicated himself to first year auxiliary physics, he taught generations of students from the Health Sciences Faculty: medics, dentists, physiotherapists, nurses, occupational therapists and pharmacists. Many benefited from his guidance, delivered in a calm, patient and influential manner even after his official retirement. He succumbed to the cancer which manifested almost 10 years ago. Crawford matriculated first in class in 1954 from St Andrew’s College in Grahamstown. His teaching career followed in the footsteps of his grandfather Professor Lawrence Crawford, born in Glasgow and educated there and at Cambridge, who came to South Africa as professor of mathematics. Crawford joined the Wits staff complement as a graduate assistant in March 1959 until 1965 and he was offered a temporary lecturer position until 1967. According to the Physics Department, Crawford had compiled over 6 000 first year tutorial and laboratory-based questions and solutions on a main frame computer which have since been converted to an editable version for usage by academics in the School of Physics.

Beorn Cloete Uys

1929-2021

[MBBCh 1952]

Dr Beorn Cloete Uys was born in Amersfoort at the start of the Great Depression. His father, Adriaan Uys, was a paediatrician who trained in Holland and his mother, Edna, was an educator. He matriculated with distinction in 1946 at Parktown Boys’ High, earned his medical degree in 1952 and was awarded the Abelheim Prize for obstetrics, as well as the Horace Wells Medal in anaesthetics. During the holidays, Dr Uys spent time learning nursing skills at Addington Hospital. This was an experience that shaped him to value nursing and nurses. He completed postgraduate training at Johannesburg General, Baragwanath, Queen Victoria and Edenvale hospitals. In 1955, Dr Uys left for England with his new bride Midge, a midwife. He spent three years at St Mary’s in Manchester, and in the Canterbury and Isle of Thanet 92 W I T S R E V I E W

During the 1970s there were a lack of suitable textbooks and Crawford adapted physics materials for health and biological science courses. His passion for teaching was evident as he was awarded a gold medal for his outstanding service to the Faculty of Health Sciences at their 75th Anniversary in 1997. He was also nominated for the Phillip V Tobias Distinguished Teaching Award in 1995. He also acted as a moderator for the Matriculation Examination Board for physical sciences. Early in his career, he enjoyed sabbatical leave at prestigious universities including the University of Virginia, where he worked with NASA technical monitors, the University of North Carolina in Charlotte and at Cologne University in Germany. During his time at Wits he served on undergraduate committees of the Faculty of Health Sciences and was a member of the Physics Faculty Board. Crawford lived in Parkwood and commuted to Wits by bus. He was a familiar sight on the route to Rosebank. He was a great book lover and a long-term member of the Friends of the Rosebank Library. He served on the committee from its formation until his death, regularly participating as volunteer, salesperson and customer. He was an avid birdwatcher and loved wildlife, spending many holidays camping in Mozambique, in the Kruger National Park, or walking in national parks around Cape Town. He played a huge role as a beloved uncle to the children and grandchildren of his sister, Ann Myles. Sources: Wits School of Physics, Wits Faculty of Health Sciences, colleagues and family

Group in Kent. He gained his MRCOG in 1958, and completed his training at King Edward VIII Hospital in Durban. He entered private practice in 1961 with Dela de la Hunt, and was joined later by Louis Coetzee. In 1968, while working at Marymount Maternity Home, Dr Uys was approached to build a new maternity home. This subsequently gave birth to the construction of the Sandton Clinic in 1975. After 25 years of practising in Johannesburg, he semiretired to East London, heading up the maternity unit at Frere Hospital, and was appointed honorary senior lecturer. He was a committed member of the South African Medical Association since 1959, serving as branch councillor in Border Coastal branch for 14 years, and branch president in 1993. He was described as “a humble man of science and history, a teacher, a philosopher and a dedicated husband and father”. He is survived by his wife and four children, Amanda, Chris, Gus and Sue, and five grandchildren. Source: SAMJ


IN MEMORIAM

1934-2021

Ernst Sonnendecker [MBBCh 1956]

Clinician, researcher and outstanding surgeon Professor Ernst Sonnendecker died on 17 January 2021. Born on 4 June 1934 in Piet Retief, he was the only child of German immigrants. He started his studies at Wits at the age of 16. Following his undergraduate years at Wits he enrolled for three years as a registrar in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Pretoria, obtained his specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist registration, wrote his MRCOG examination, and was awarded the MRCOG Part 2 Gold Medal for being the candidate with the highest marks irrespective of country of origin from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London. Following further training, including radical surgery for malignancy by Sir John Stallworthy at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, England, a bursary from the South African Atomic Energy Board took him to the Argon Cancer Research Hospital, University of Chicago, to study the use of radioisotopes. On his return he was appointed as a senior lecturer in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Pretoria at the then HF Verwoerd Hospital and went into private practice with Frans Neser for a number of years. In 1978 when the new Johannesburg Hospital in Parktown opened its doors, he returned to his alma mater as a senior lecturer and principal specialist. In 1979 he was admitted to

Brian Goodall

1944-2021

[BA 1966]

Brian Goodall, chair of the Lewis Foundation, and former leader of the opposition in the Gauteng legislature passed away at the age of 78 on 27 June 2021. Goodall was born on 27 March 1944. He matriculated from Jeppe High School for Boys with a first-class pass. His leadership skills were already apparent as head prefect, captain of the rowing, house athletics and cricket teams and recipient of a basket of leadership and academic prizes. He attended three universities, graduating with a BA from the University of Natal, a first-class Honours from Wits and an MA from the University of South Africa. Goodall joined Standard Bank in 1966, moved from

the Fellowship of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists [FRCOG] and in 1987, by election, to the International College of Surgeons [FICS] in Chicago. He was promoted to associate professor in 1983. He held the position of professor and academic head in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Wits at his statutory retirement in 1999. His “Herman Hermits” 60s hair-cut, his bow tie, his two-tone shoes and his pinstriped suits became his distinguishing feature. He had an amazing memory, outstanding knowledge, loved quoting, telling anecdotal stories and emphasizing the minutest detail whether pertaining to obstetrics or gynaecology. He made an immense contribution to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, to the literature pertaining to managing women with ovarian cancer as well as his contribution to its surgical strategies. His Germanic upbringing made him meticulous, pedantic, thorough and a stickler for detail. Professor Sonnendecker had numerous journal publications and chapters in textbooks to his credit. He established a South African Menopause Society steering committee and was elected as its founding president in 1988 and later admitted as an honorary life member. In 2014, he was awarded a “Fellow Ad Eundum” by the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa for the significant contribution he made during his career to women’s health. He leaves his wife Cynthia, son Hein, Brigitte, his daughter, his extended family and grandchildren. Sources: Franco Guidozzi and Trudy Smith, South African Menopause Society and CMSA

there to ESE Financial Services and in 1970, he and two colleagues formed their own economics and financial consultancy company. Five years later they sold out to join Syfrets Trust. His charm and people skills, combined with an intense aversion to the apartheid regime, resulted in him winning the Edenvale Parliamentary seat for the Progressive Federal Party in 1979. He resigned from Syfrets to pursue a full-time political career and held the seat till 1987. He retook the seat in 1989 and held it until he was elected to the provincial parliament of Gauteng as Leader of the DA Caucus and spokesperson on economic affairs. He loved wildlife and in 2002 he joined the Lewis Foundation as a Trustee and took the helm as chair in 2010. He is survived by his wife and their three children and grandchildren. Source: Lewis Foundation

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IN MEMORIAM

Baldwin Ngubane

1941-2021

[DPH 1982, DHSM 1983]

Dr Baldwin ”Ben“ Ngubane was born on 22 October 1941 at the Inchanga Roman Catholic Mission at Camperdown in KwaZulu-Natal. He matriculated at St Francis College mission school in Mariannhill, outside Durban, and taught Latin there for two years before graduating as a doctor at the University of Natal Medical School in Durban in 1971. He was active in student politics and became vice-president of the National Union of South African Students (Nusas), working with Steve Biko, who was active in Nusas at the time. He subsequently obtained diplomas in Public Health in 1982 and Public Health Services Management in 1983 from Wits. He furthermore received a master’s degree of Family Medicine (M Prax Med) from Natal Medical School in 1986 and received a postgraduate diploma in economics from the University of London in 2003. While practising as a doctor he joined the Inkatha National Cultural Liberation Movement and in 1977 became a member of its central committee. In 1978 he was

1950-2021

Louis Jeevanantham [BEd 1983, MEd 1986]

Star footballer turned university lecturer Louis Jeevanantham, affectionately known as “Lightning Lou”, died at the age of 71 on 28 June 2021. In the 1960s, when communities of colour were uprooted by apartheid’s 1950s Group Areas Act, the story of Bluebells United FC, of which Jeevanantham was a star player, was central to nonracial sports history. Jeevanantham’s talent was noticed by Maritzburg City owner-manager Moses Ally at the age of 18. As a goal-scoring midfielder, he is remembered for his swift and striking brand of football and played alongside legends such as Bomber Chamane, Baldwin “Groovin” Malope, Jerry Sadike, Johannes “Big Boy” Kholoane, Allen Moonsamy, Meschack Nkosi, and Goona Padiaychie.

elected to represent the Enseleni district in the KwaZuluNatal legislative assembly. He was active in the South African Red Cross from 1977 and represented it at international congresses in the 1980s. He was praised for his role during the devastating KwaZulu-Natal floods and received a citation from the Red Cross. He played a key role in helping to bring peace between warring factions of the IFP and ANC in the early 1990s. In 1991 Dr Ngubane was appointed Minister of Health in the KwaZulu government, a post he held until 1994. Between 1997 and 1999, he was elected as premier of KwaZulu-Natal, and from 1999 to 2004, the Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology of the KwaZulu-Natal government. In 2004 he was appointed ambassador to Japan until 2008. He resigned as nonexecutive director and chair of Eskom on 12 June 2017. In 2020 he was twice called to testify before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry in his capacities as former SABC board chairperson and as the former chairman of Eskom. Dr Ngubane died at the age of 79 on 12 July 2021 due to COVID-19 complications. He is survived by his wife Sheila and their children and grandchildren. Sources: Sunday Times and Wikipedia

He went on to make impressive strides from a local teacher to an education professor. Later, as a technical coach in South Africa, he worked alongside Ted Dumitru, former Bafana Bafana football manager, on research studies, technical development and designing specific football training and coaching content. “He was a skillful and intelligent player before going into academia and retiring as a professor at the University of South Africa. He believed that a coaching programme had to be devised, developed and implemented with the South African experience. He conceptualised and designed a prototype of coaching modern football,” said Greg Mashilo, president of SA Football Coaches Association. “He was a passionate believer in the natural attributes and strengths of African players, and in a possession based, positive entertaining style of play. He also advocated for the local South African specificity to be reflected at all levels of players’ development, in professional clubs and national teams as a unique trend in football.” Source: Rising Sun

S E E M O R E A N D F U L L- L E N G T H O B I T U A R I E S O N T H E A L U M N I W E B S I T E : WWW.WIT S.AC.ZA/ALUMNI/OBITUARIES/

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Image: Netflix

Wits End

TA K E T H AT, SUCKERS! ACADEMIA GETS NOD FROM NETFLIX BY PROFESSOR CHRIS THURMAN

A

cademics in English departments the world over have been lording it over their colleagues, friends and family members since the Netflix series The Chair became available for streaming in August. After watching endless variations on hospital soapie high jinks, moody detective whodunnits, doomsday documentaries and chess dramedies – chess, for crying out loud! – our TV moment has finally come. Sure, the English professor has been a staple of American coming-of-age movies or maudlin British films for decades. But in the contemporary imagination, you haven’t really made it until you’re the subject of a Netflix series. Now the gods of Netflix have ordained that a show (admittedly only one season, with six short episodes) should be dedicated to life in an English Department. Take that, suckers! Only ... it turns out that The Chair is not a particularly flattering portrait. The English Department at fictional “minor Ivy League” Massachusetts university O c tober 2021 95


Pembroke College – the series was actually filmed on a couple of picture-perfect campuses in Pennsylvania – is a collection of dinosaurs, misfits and broken souls. It is also lily-white, with the exception of new chair JiYoon Kim (played by Sandra Oh) and academic superstar in the making Yaz McKay (Nana Mensah). Given that the department’s only other much-loved and admired teacher Bill Dobson (Jay Duplass) is a grieving widJI-YOON KIM (SANDRA OH) AND BILL DOBSON (JAY DUPL ASS) ARE KEY PROTAGONIS TS ON A PICTURE-PERFECT C AMPUS IN THE CHAIR ower who drinks himself into a stupor every night, Of course, I’m using “we” as if every viewer will reand who very quickly becomes a liability – sparking a spond to a series like this in the same way. Those outside student protest – things are not looking good for English the academy are likely to be more invested in the human at Pembroke. story, and rightly so: when you get down to it, The Chair If you look beyond the caricatures and clichés (which is about parents and children, about love and grief, about are not, one has to admit, entirely inaccurate), this discilosing yourself and fighting to find yourself again. In pline-in-crisis does feel somewhat familiar. The perennial turn, those inside the academy will respond differently fretting over student numbers. The underlying insecurity depending on their experience of real departments in about how one’s subject can be justified. The inevitable real universities. generational conflict between the young bucks and the And, among we scholar-viewers, those of us in (to old guard. The eternal problem of how to allocate offices. put it crudely) the global South will engage with the On second thoughts, scratch that last one. COVID-19 world of well-resourced, generously funded, largely elite has at least relieved the pressure when it comes to office Pembroke College very differently to colleagues in the space. But this does raise the question: when is The Chair global North. The overwhelming response to the show set? It sure as heck isn’t set in 2021, because all of the among American academics seems to be, “My office US-based academics I know (all right, all right, the ones does not have wood-panelled walls and lead-windowed I follow on Twitter) have begun their fall semester amid bookcases!” (This is code for: not all institutions of highthe chaos of mask-mandates and anti-mask-mandates, er learning in the US have huge endowments from, as uncertainty over levels of vaccination among their stuProfessor McKay puts it, “benefactors who got rich in dents and with the possibility of COVID-19 resurgence sugar, cotton and from the railroads, from the backs of looming over them. blacks and yellow people”.) The Chair is stuck in its own curious time warp, As for those of us in South Africa ... well, maybe there playing on audiences’ nostalgia for a cinematographic is some envy. But mostly, watching The Chair, I kept past – seducing us with the lovely red-brown bricks, thinking: We are way ahead of them. Our students have spires and columns of a snowy New England campus, an long been wrestling with – living through – questions of aesthetic which we all somehow know and love even if systemic injustice, and how these manifest at universities we have never set foot in America – while it simultaneboth inside and outside the classroom. Our teaching and ously emphasises the ways in which “tradition” becomes our research are shaped by an awareness of this context. a barrier to progress and then warns against “progress” And happily our academic managers are not, in my exbeing commodified. And once we’ve seen inside this perience anyway, Machiavellian schemers; who has time English Department (like restaurant patrons who, after for that? observing the mess and frenzy of a disordered kitchen, find they’ve lost their appetite), we might not mind altogether if Professor Kim’s great fear came to pass and the Chris Thurman is Professor in the English Department and Director of the Tsikinya-Chaka Centre (School of Literature, Language and Media) at Wits department ceased to exist. 96 W I T S R E V I E W

Image: Netflix

WITS END


Join us in celebrating WITS’ CENTENARY through a

Bequest In 2022 Wits will celebrate 100 years since the establishment of this great institution. We will celebrate the many successes and achievements of our graduates and 100 years of changing lives for the better. As we embark on the next century of impact, please consider supporting the university by including Wits in your will. Options include gifts of money, property, life assurance policies and other valuable items. Your foresight will enable the University to maintain and enhance its position as a leading university in South Africa, in Africa, and the world by sustaining globally competitive standards of excellence in learning, teaching and research. Every gift, whether large or small WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE. If you would like to discuss how you can leave a legacy at Wits University through a bequest, please contact:

Justine Dangor on justine.dangor@wits.ac.za, 011 717 9713

O c tober 2021 97


s a v e t h e d at e in 2022 wits turns

Come celebrate with us!

100

2-4

september 2022

alumni

homecoming Family weekend

https://wits100.wits.ac.za/

Welcome home Witsies!

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WITSReview Magazine, October 2021, Vol. 46  

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