The Man on the Mountain

Pic: www.africaimagery.com

 

In her first feature for Wits Vuvuzela, Lisa Golden profiles Salvatore Serio, a healer in the town of Magaliesberg for over 40 years.

In north-west Gauteng lies the sleepy town of Magaliesburg.  The only visitors are tourists moving through to the various B’nB’s that lie in prettier parts in the mountain and truck drivers going towards Botswana.

And then there are the people who come from all over the country, and the world, to seek advice from Salvatore Serio.

Driving down a potholed road just past the city center, there are weather-battered petrol stations with glaring attendants, resentful to be standing outside on the rare occasion of snow in the province. After a cluster of shops advertising fairy ornaments and hot coffee, the winding road to Serio’s Healing Sanctuary begins. The trees running up the drive way look abnormally green compared to the dry cold surroundings.

This morning, Serio sits outside his consulting room, hot air rising from his mouth into the cold air as he pats the collection of dogs surrounding him.


His physicality is father-like

At the age of 75, Serio’s energy is that of a much younger man. His physicality is father-like, a large strong presence that fills the small rooms and offices that lead to his consultation room.

Although he has been in South Africa for more than six decades, his strong Italian accent and expressive hand gestures belie his heritage.

Serio holds intense eye-contact while he speaks and punctuates his speech with “You understand, hm?” and light jabs on your shoulder. He’s comfortable with placing his hand over your heart when talking about love, or running a finger across your head when explaining your thoughts.

 

Touch between strangers has been made taboo

His physicality is unusual in world where touch between strangers has been made taboo, however it is not invasive or uncomfortable in any way. His frequent repetition of that overused phrase “I love you” seems so genuinely heart-felt that it is difficult not smile and squeeze his hand back.

But the work Serio does in this quiet, peaceful place appears to be a lot more powerful than hugs and smiles. Serio’s reputation as a healer and psychic of sorts had kept him busy for the last 42 years, and he has consequently built a hospice in neighbouring Krugersdorp, and old age home and this healing sanctuary to advance his work.

He rejects attempts to define what he does as psychic, clairvoyant or fortune-telling.

“To me, its nature, you understand? I want to feel you, you have an aura. So I must enter your aura, your energy. When I have your energy, I know everything. Not psychic, or you feel vibrations, because we are one people, we remove the body and we love each other so much, you understand?”

How this bubbly Italian man ended up in Africa, let alone the small town of Magaliesburg is a tale in itself.

 

“When I was ten, I told my mother, my wife, she is in Africa”

“When I was ten, I told my mother, my wife, she is in Africa. I did come to Africa, I did meet my wife. I had never had a girl before. At the same age, hm, my wife told her friends at school that her husband was coming over from Italy.”

“We are like this, joo!” He brings his hands together and links his fingers. “You go to the right place, you meet the right person. We are 52 years married, and we are still like this,” he says, holding up his interlocked fingers.

Salvatore Serio grew up in war-torn Italy. As the only boy in his family Serio was unable to finish his schooling as he began to work to help support his family.

 

“He had a growth here, on his neck, and I cut it off with a blade”

“It was the best time of my life, because I remember how good it is to get some food, and now I get joy in giving other poor people food because I remember how good it is. I needed that to know.”

A turning point came when a hobo came in to his town, in need of assistance. Serio, his sister and his cousins helped wash the man with hot water. Whilst doing this, Serio saw a growth on the man’s neck.

“He had a growth here, on his neck, and I cut it off with a blade. All the rubbish came out, but then it started bleeding and the skin was hanging”

His sister and cousin told him that the old man would die and Serio would go to jail for killing the man. Serio spent the night praying that the man would be okay, and discovered in the morning that the man’s wound had completely healed.

 

“You have the devil inside you”

“When I showed my mother she said ‘you have the devil inside you’. From there I knew I had to do something, but I didn’t know why when people were sick I wanted to help them, and I could help them.”

It was soon after this incident that Serio was given an opportunity to come to South Africa to work on the mines. Serio proved a successful builder, a skill he had never studied formally.

Marisa Serio, his daughter, grew up with her Catholic father and Afrikaans orthodox mother. She remembers stories from when her dad ran a construction business, where he could pick up faults and problems before the quantity surveyors could work out what was wrong.

“My dad has developed a wonderful mind, where he can tap into the resources of the universe. He knows what he needs to know and applies it to what he does.”

It was this intuitive understanding of the world around it, and his ability to heal that led to him opening up the sanctuary.

Like any skill, Serio explains that what he does has taken year of practice and hard work.

 

Reiki healing

His consulting room is the definition of cosy, with warm arm chairs lining the sides of the room, and a seat not unlike a doctor’s chair to lie down on when he performs Reiki. While Reiki traditionally is the manipulation of energy without touching the body, Serio moves his hands up and down your body, pushing and squeezing different parts as he goes. Like his affectionate jabs while he talks, it does not feel like an invasion of personal space. When he placed his large, soft hands over my forehead and eyes, it felt incredibly peaceful.

While describing the many portraits of spirit guides on his walls, Serio tells of an experiences that shows the very powerful work he does at the sanctuary.

A desperate mother brought her eight-year-old son Antonio Gras to Serio. He had cancer of the stomach

 

When he lifted his hand the mark had transferred onto it

“He was green. The doctors had told the mother, maybe one month, but they can’t help him.” He placed his hand over a scar from the treatment, and when he lifted his hand the mark had transferred onto it. He asked them to come back the next week to try do more healing.

Serio points to a dark portrait of a pale, sombre man with dark eyes. His name is Peter Angelou, a spirit guide of Serio’s.

When the mother returned, her son walked into the room. “The mother tells me, that one, he came. He came in the night and said ‘I want to take the goggo out of your stomach.” Serio’s smile as he tells of Antonio’s four grown children shows the extreme pleasure and joy he takes in explaining this phenomenon.

While extreme illness and depression are some of the more serious reasons people seek out Serio’s guidance, the everyday burdens of love, loss and hope for the future is the more common guidance people are seeking. Such personal and emotional information is shared with ease as Serio pick up issues.

 

Dominated spiritually by the Afrikaans Orthodox church

Serio is against giving negative messages to people about their past or future, but prefers to tell the people to “pull yourself together” and “think right, be positive.”

“I must see the good in you, I must see the love. I mustn’t tell you bad things, because it gets more power,” says Serio sternly.

Serio’s work natural draw criticism , especially in a town so long dominated spiritually by the Afrikaans Orthodox church, the NGK. Marissa describes growing up in such a small town where her family’s spirituality was not accepted by some parts.


“They were afraid of what my dad was doing”

“People are better now, and are more open-minded. In the beginning years, it was tough. Especially the Christian churches, and very rigid philosophies, they were very afraid of what my dad was doing. And judged it a lot without really exploring it properly. We were often rejected and judged.”

Marisa helped run the family hospice, where she came against resistance to people who were scared of her “different connection to God.”

“Our family philosophy was that this is not something we fight about, or try convince someone about. This is a way of life you find for yourself. We’d rather try to see the divinity in every body, and try to speak to that divine part.”

 

Christianity mixed with unconventional spirituality

Up the road from the sanctuary, I meet a woman named Tracey McMahone, whose own life has been changed by Serio and the healing sanctuary.

McMahone described her harsh divorce and loss of self that drew her to Serio in search of healing. Her eyes are bright and energised, and between them lies a Hindu bindi that covers a permanent bindi that McMahone tattoed on herself.

“He taught me that Tracey needs to be fed, Tracey needs to be clothed, Tracey needs to walk around with tattoos and shaved head if she wants to, and as long as she’s happy, she’s happy.”

Tracey embodies the mixed spirituality of many of the residents of this town who have come to Serio; Christianity mixed with unconventional spirituality.

Marisa explained the phenomenon as changing time in history where people were changing their conventional understandings of what it means too have a relationship with a higher power.

“There’s an awakening in humanity to realise, hey, wait a minute, this box is too small to fit God in.”

 

“You have the right to enjoy life”

Back in Serio’s warm, cosy room, it seems that in all his stories and conversations, he always comes back to one point; love.

“My sweetheart, the reality is I have a feeling. I work for this gift. I want to touch you, I want to know what you need. But not always for a cure. You have the right to enjoy life, you have the right be happy, you have the right to cry, you have the right to be poor, you have the right to be sick.”

“But you can change everything you want, by, you see,” he pulls my ribcage up with one hand on the back and one on the front, “you understand, hm”, he smiles, “Breath life.”

As he waves me goodbye I notice that his middle finger on his right hand is missing from the second knuckle down.

It seems such a strangely human disfigurement on such a spiritually complete person.

 

 

New Law for Lawyers

Students feel that the poor should not be used as “guinea pigs” for law graduates.

Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ) held a debate between UJ and Wits students about the pro bono clause of the Legal Services Bill. The clause says graduates must do pro bono work for a year after graduating with law degrees.

Sbu Mdluli, a UJ student, said the issue of poor communities not being able to access legal services has been a thorny one and is a result of South Africa’s history. Mdluli said he was against poor people’s legal woes being used as a way for law students to practise their skills.

“We want proper justice for all from qualified lawyers who will not use the poor as guinea pigs.”

He also argued that being made to work without being paid would make law graduates less passionate about their work.

Erica Emdon from ProBono.Org said community service should be voluntary but the Bill made it compulsory. She, however, felt voluntary work would benefit the student and the organisation being served.

“Community service would expose the student to a side of life they have never experienced before. It also provides extra capacity that does not have to be paid for by the organisation.”

Emdon said supervision and mentorship would be essential during community service to alleviate fears of unqualified lawyers being “let loose” on poor people.

Wits final year law student, Anastasia Okai-Brown, was upbeat about the possibility of community service.

“Community service would be a foot in the door. I would meet people who know other people, and network,” she said.

According to News24, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Jeff Radebe said the Bill is a landmark towards improving access to justice among the country’s poor communities.

The Wits Law Clinic, one of the biggest in the country, offers a compulsory practical course for the university’s final-year law students. It also provides opportunities for graduates to do their articles.

The two other universities with law clinics, University of Cape Town (UCT) and the Mandela Metropolitan University (MMU), also have compulsory practical courses as part of their law degrees.

If the Bill is enacted it would add more pro bono work for law graduates from these schools.

SLJS public relations officer Tinyiko Mbentse said they were not in support of the Legal Services Bill as a whole, but do support certain concepts within the Bill such as community work.  “We see community service as a way to train students and diffuse legal knowledge into society,” Mbentse said.

One problem with the Bill is the possibility of students not being paid for that year. Mbentse said SLJS is researching medical and engineering paid community work and could suggest it be used as a possible framework for legal community work and stipends.

charlotte@witsvuvuzela.com

nandi@witsvuvuzela.com

Published in Wits Vuvuzela 25th edition

Wits Pride Week 2012 starts Monday

The annual Wits Pride Week kicks off at Wits University on Monday 1 October. 

PRESS RELEASE:

For the past 18 years South Africa has been making great strides to erase the legacy of apartheid… but what about sexual apartheid?

People from all sexual orientations experience this every day, but not many verbalise their stories.

“Stop Sexual Apartheid”

This is about to change, as the University of the Witwatersrand revs up once again to hosts Wits Pride 2012, the week-long dedication to merge the diverse personalities, sexualities and sexual preferences at Wits.

This year’s offering will also be a testimony to the transformation over the years at Wits as the University celebrates Wits90, the year-long celebration of Wits’ 90th birthday.

The 2012 Wits Pride Week kicks off on Monday, 01 October 2012, portraying the theme “Stop Sexual Apartheid” in various vibrant and creative ways. The main aim is to educate about the injustices of past discrimination, and what we now discriminate against, emulating such oppression.

Hosted by the Wits Transformation Office, Activate, the Gay and Lesbian Archive (GALA), Wits Student Affairs and Wits International Office, Pride Week 2012 hopes to involve all people whether they identify as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans, intersexual and asexual (LGBTIA) or not.

Wits Pride 2011. Pic: Wits Vuvuzela

 

Anti-homophobia campaign

Wits Pride 2011. Pic: Wits Vuvuzela

In a program bigger and better than any of its predecessors, the Wits Pride anti-homophobia campaign Week will join hands between students and those supportive of LGBTIA issues to show their pride and also to remember the struggle the LGBTIA community has faced in obtaining their rights.

A jam-packed programme which will exhilarate your senses, give you an opportunity to live out your fantasies and make your voice heard against sexual apartheid, will take place until Friday, 5 October 2012, and promises a wealth of sun, fun, education and celebration.


“Internal homophobia, biphobia and transphobia”

“This year’s Pride campaign sees a larger engagement with both the student and staff populace and this is a clear indication that Wits Pride is for all people at the University. The theme of this year’s Pride speaks to the need to address the phenomenon of internal homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

These issues do not often come to light, and this is a golden opportunity to address them whilst educating around them,” says Anzio Jacobs, Project Manager for Wits Pride 2012.

“Most outrageous and daring outfits”

The colourful celebrations kick off on Monday, 1 October 2012 with the traditional Wits Pride march where everyone is encouraged to come in their most outrageous and daring outfits possible and join in.

This is coupled with the wrapping of the iconic giant bluegum tree on the Gavin Relly green on West Campus in the colours of the LGBTIA flag.

The rest of the week will see the unveiling of art installations on different campuses, teamed with exhibitions, film screenings and lectures and the opening night of the third edition of the thought-provoking and controversial theatre performance FMQ.

Seen at Wits Pride 2011. Pic: Wits Vuvuzela

The pièce de résistance will be the Pride-Wits90 celebrations for all staff members on the Library Lawns, where the celebrations will come to its pinnacle after a week of making merry while having fun and an educational experience.

For more information visit the Wits Pride homepage or join us on Facebook or follow @witspride on Twitter.

 

 

Ntando gets her crown after all

NTANDO GETS HER CROWN: Wits beauty Ntando Kunene took
home the Miss Mamelodi Sundowns crown and R70 000 last weekend.
This after she lost out in the Miss Earth South Africa finals in August.
Photo: Ntando Kunene

Wits’ own Ntandoyenkosi Kunene may have missed out on a placing in the Miss Earth South Africa last month, but she has achieved success in a pageant closer to home.

Kunene was crowned Miss Mamelodi Sundowns Gauteng on Saturday, and walked away with R70 000. The third year education student went for her first audition last Thursday, which took place at the Southern Sun Pretoria.

“It was a long day but also very exciting,” said Kunene. “We were told that the ladies that make it through will be contacted between 7 and 8pm on Friday. 7pm passed and 8pm passed … I only got the call at 9.30pm, which I was ecstatic about.”

“What they were looking for, exactly, on the day, I’m not sure. But whatever it is I’m honoured to say they found that in me.”

Kunene will now participate in the national competition, in which judges will choose the overall winner. The national Miss Mamelodi Sundowns will receive R200 000 and a Honda CRZ.

Kunene, however, is happy with her R70 000. “Wow what do I do with R70 000? That is a lot of money for me. I will firstly spoil my parents and siblings just to thank them for the endless support they have been showing me, [I will be] saving some and giving some money to a charity in my home town. And not forget myself!”

Of her Miss Earth experience, Kunene said she was disappointed not to have been placed. “With things like this, I believe that it is written in the stars who wins and on that day. My name was not amongst those stars.”

Related articles: Witsie in the running for Miss Earth SA

 

Muggers in transit

For Phindile Msomi* using the taxi system from Melville to main campus is efficient and routine. Her mind is occupied with what lies ahead or what’s on her phone.

But last week the Wits Student was mugged inside the mode of transport she trusted and used on a daily basis.

MUGGERS ON BOARD: One of the points where student commuters get taxis to Auckland Park and Melville, on De Korte Street in Braamfontein.

 

Msomi, a second year BA Law student, was leaving campus last Wednesday evening and boarded a taxi on De Korte Street, a route used by taxis departing from the Bree rank and moving people to Auckland Park, Melville and Cresta.

“I got inside the taxi with another girl I didn’t know from Wits,” said Msomi.

Msomi said the ride seemed normal until they reached the University of Johannesburg, Bunting Road campus.

“The four men sitting at the back seat told us to take out our purses, cell phones and give them our bank card pins,” she said.

She said that this was done at gunpoint.

The girls were warned not to give incorrect pins because their trip included a stop at an ATM nearby.

They complied but Msomi said the other girl was beaten up because “they did not believe how she could not have a phone but have headphones in her possession”.

The muggers took the girls to the ATM and withdrew cash up to Msomi’s limit.

Msomi said the driver seemed to be with the robbers as he did not need any directions to where the machine was located.

The students were then returned to Braamfontein where they were dropped off near Damelin College on De Korte Street again.

“They told us to just walk off and not run or look back otherwise they would shoot us,” Msomi said.

Thembani Shelenge, a taxi queue marshal working on De Korte Street, said this was not the first incident to happen.

He told Wits Vuvuzela that such cases occurred when unknown taxis from outside the zone and an association other than Faraday Taxi Association worked in that area.

“Taxis allowed to rank here are ones with a green and white sticker written Faraday Taxi Association,” Shelenge said.

He explained that people do not pay attention to this because they just assume that if it is on that street it is ranking legally.

Shelenge said the association’s patrol car found a trend in the kind of taxi model used in cases reported.

“Most of the time the taxi is not a Quantum but a Hi Ace,” he said.

Msomi said she reported the case to the police at Park Station but was referred to Johannesburg Central. But she became dispirited and did not go there.

Published in Wits Vuvuzela 25th edition, 21 September 2012

(*names have been changed)

Wits Junction building under investigation

Authorities at Wits are investigating the circumstances that allowed water to pour through the ceilings in some rooms at Wits Junction last weekend.

One of the tenants at the Shosholoza building said his ceiling collapsed on Sunday after turbulent weather conditions affected parts of Johannesburg on Saturday night.

Two other students from the Kum Saan building had a similar problem, where water was reported to be coming through their lights in the ceiling.

Tshidiso Mogale said he had been experiencing problems with a leaking ceiling earlier in the year. The second-year law student said he reported this to Wits Junction maintenance.

WHEN IT FALLS APART: The collapsed roof in the room of a Witsie at the student residence Wits Junction. The ceiling fell down last Sunday, while the student was in the room, due to the turbulent wetaher conditions and started to leak water. Photo: Lebogang Mdlankomo

 

“The problem started in May and Martha, the housekeeper, came and assessed the situation and they patched it,” Mogale said, indicating an area in the ceiling that had been plastered by maintenance.

Mogale said that last week Thursday however another leak happened in a different part of the ceiling. After it was inspected by maintenance he was promised it would be taken care of the following day but it wasn’t.

When it started raining on Saturday night Mogale said he waited to see if there was going to be a leak. At first there was nothing.

Then, “After 10 minutes, I started hearing a sound as if a tap was left open,” he said.

To prevent damage to his belongings he used a dustbin and towels to catch the leaking water.Mogale then moved to a room in another block for the night.

When he went back to his room the following morning Mogale said he heard a creaking sound from the ceiling while taking shoes from under his bed.

“I moved away from the bed and in a split second the ceiling just caved in.” 

Clifford Chauke, the warden on duty that night, said he had called the manager and told him the matter needed to be attended to.

“While I was busy assisting Tshidiso, two students came from Kum Saan [another Junction building] with the same problem,” Chauke said.

He said their situation was “far worse” than Mogale’s because water “was coming from all over, even through the lights”.

Junction’s manager, Nazime Randera said the matter had been dealt with and Wits’ capital development project office was carrying out an investigation.

“They are calling for reports from Tri-Star,” which was the main contractor of the project, said Randera.

He said the weekend’s incident could have been caused by the build up of hail which prevented the flow of water to the gutters which resulted in the water moving through the slabs.

He added that “the problems occurred in some of the isolated rooms on the top floors”, however the investigation will look at defects to see if there were any “corners cut”.

The Wits Junction project was part of a plan to address the shortfall in student accommodation and increase capacity by housing 30 000 students in all residences in 2012.

Published in Wits Vuvuzela 25th edition, 21 September 2012

Engineers Breakfast – Photo Essay

By Jay Caboz

Clowning Around: Brennan Robinson grabs a quick break during the festivities at the Wits Engineers Breakfast on September 14. He is completing his Masters degree in the field. The breakfast is considered to be the last party of the year before the engineer faculty begins their end-of-year tests.

No resolution for societies

Clubs and societies are still complaining about the “flawed process” surrounding club room re-allocation by the SRC last semester.

Several societies are complaining about the bad state of their club rooms in DJ du Plessis on West Campus while others do not have club rooms at all.

Chairperson of the Mail & Guardian (M&G) Society, Sharlotte Psotetsi, says they have nowhere to hold meetings since their club room in the Matrix was given to Generation Earth Wits. The SRC has not given them an alternative room.

Khomanani Student Society secretary, Themba Ntshenbo, says his society does not have a club room. As a result,  club belongings are kept in his residence rooms. Ntshenbo says they were told by the SRC earlier in the year that they would be moved to Richard Ward after renovations were done. “They said renovations are not complete … plus another society is occupying it,” he says.

Activate chairperson, Brendan Roche-Kelly, says the club room in DJ du Plessis is not in good condition. He says the location of the building is inconvenient for members because it is too far. “We only use the [club] room for storage, we’ve cut down the number of meetings we have per week because it’s just too much for people to walk all the way there weekly,” says Roche-Kelly. “For meetings we negotiate with other societies so we can use their rooms in the Matrix to have our meetings.”

Roche-Kelly says it is unfair that Warp’s old club room in the Matrix is being used as storage space for Silly Buggers society.

Also in DJ Du Plessis, War-gaming, Anime, Role-play and PC, and Card Gaming Society (Warp) member Stephen Sriedman says: “Our room isn’t in bad shape, but the whole building (DJ du Plessis) is in need of maintenance.

“My issue was the way [the process] was handled,” Sriedman says. “We were not given an opportunity to discuss or say anything about being moved.

According to Sriedman, “Tukelo Nhlapo, (SRC head of clubs and societies,)said ‘You are being moved, welcome to your new building’.”

Nhlapo, however, says the process was “flawed because we had to make sure everyone was happy”. He says the general repairs and maintenance of club rooms is the responsibility of the Property Infrastructure and Management Division (PIMD).

“The problem is that no one wants to move … they [Warp] were happy with their move,” says Nhlapo. “I think I was fair… if there is any complaint people must follow proper procedure by contacting the SRC.”

Nhlapo says the SRC does not have the money to renovate rooms. “We don’t have money, the dean of students knows this.”

Related Articles

Wits societies resisting removal

Homeless societies question removals

Editorial: #NewVuvu

Tanyaradzwa Nyamajiyah Photo: Jay Caboz

It has been an eventful year at our university and Wits Vuvuzela has been part of it every step of the way.  The story of the 17 dismissed chefs and the Wits academic strike were two of the major news events for us in a year that saw our team tackle the demands of digital journalism while continuing to expand our skills in the print environment.

The May 11 #newvuvu launched in celebration of Wits 90 ran a lead story on thousands of Wits res students who cancelled their dining hall meals in support of 17 unfairly dismissed chefs.

Wits Vuvuzela took the lead in covering the story, going beyond the labour dispute to the heart of the story revealing the personal circumstances of the people affected. We continue to cover this story in order to bring home the realities of unemployment in our country.

In August our online paper received 13 729 hits due to our coverage of the Wits academic strike.

Lecturers were striking after Wits failed to meet their demand of a 9% salary increase among other demands. Lectures were cancelled and Wits Vuvuzela production was postponed as its core readership, the students of Wits University, stood in solidarity with the lecturers. Given its proximity to the site of the strike Wits Vuvuzela was the first to break the news of the academic strike online.

Using social media to expand our reach has been a major achievement of the #newvuvu team of 2012.  Wits Vuvuzela continues to exploit Twitter and Facebook in addition to other digital tools like curation and blogging in an effort to reach readership beyond the university and the community of Braamfontein.

Shaka off! Shaka off those stereotypes!

I am Zulu. There, I said it.

I’m not quite sure why it’s such a socially awkward thing to talk about, being Zulu. But every so often, in a social situation, after I confess to being Zulu the almost expected comments that follow are:  “Zulus are so violent” or “Zulus are so rude”. On one occasion somebody said to me: “So, if you’re Zulu, where is your spear and shield?” That last one had my neck in a spasm for several seconds after jerking my head back sharply in utter bewilderment.

Yes, I’ve heard all the clichés about how uneducated and loud Zulu people are. How uncompromising and stubborn we are. Yes, I’ve also been asked why Zulu men feel the need to flood Jo’burg’s taxi ranks. Oh, how Jo’burg loathes obnoxious *Zulu taxi drivers.

I grew up in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal and didn’t really have any exposure to other ethnic groups until I moved to Jo’burg for my first year at Wits. I couldn’t really understand much Tswana/Sotho other than the little I had learned from the soapie Generations.

For the first time in my life I couldn’t just speak Zulu without someone saying how “Zulu” my accent was or, as they would say, “that deep Zulu”. At first I would say: “Well that’s a really stupid thing to say, seeing as how KZN is where the language originated from.” Since I was the original, how could I possibly have an “accent”. Preposterous.

In defending my position I would become agitated and defensive, slurring my words between swigs of alcohol (because this is when most of the conversations would occur). I’m Zulu and I speak the correct Zulu, Jozi Zulu is diluted. Jozi people have hacked our beloved language into something unrecognisable, I would say.

Ahh there she is. The stubborn and uncompromising Zulu in me finally reared its head.

Even my close friends giggle and mimic me when I talk in Zulu. “‘Hawema!’ ” they say, mimicking me. “You’re going all native on us now.”

There are more famous Zulu natives who are better known than I am. They also provoke reactions from people. Recently the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini made international news after he requested R12-million from the provincial legislature to build his sixth wife a palace.

President Jacob Zuma, possibly the most famous Zulu of all at the moment, is nothing short of controversial. His statements on gays, women and minorities feed the chatterers with regular fodder.

I’m not going to make sweeping statements about how Zulu people want to be represented but I will say I have a distaste for stereotypes, as I’m sure most people have. “English people are snooty”, “Christians are judgemental” and “redheads have no souls” are just a few stupid stereotypes that come to mind.

AmaZulu means “people of heaven”. Consider that the next time you expect to see me barefoot with a shield and spear singing the Shaka Zulu soundtrack and thank your lucky stars I’m no avenging angel.

Sport for all

Disabled athletes and students at Wits face an uphill battle if they want to compete in sport.

Soccer player Katleho Sera, 2nd year BA, and blind rower Sisanda Msekele, 3rd year BA, are two Wits students who train at UJ because Wits does not have a disabled sports programme or training staff.

Sera, who has cerebral palsy, said support from Wits was a big problem. “I play soccer at UJ and on the day of my national trials I had to walk to UJ because I had no transport.

“Quinton van Rooyen, whose one portfolio was disabled sports, used to help us but when rugby season started he got busy and when he left no one from Sports Administration informed me or the Disabled Awareness Movement (DAM).”

The DAM said Wits does not have trainers and proper equipment for students with disabilities to train or practise with.

UJ sports manager for students with disabilities, Henriette Vermaak, said Wits and UJ needed to pool resources.

She said Msekele was given a rowing machine by UJ to help with her training because Wits did not have rowing machines.

Vermaak also said that the development of other disabled sports such as blind tennis and swimming had been delayed because of a lack of facilities.

“UJ does not have a quiet venue to hold blind tennis tournaments but Wits does, but when approached, Wits said the venues were not available at the times we needed them.”

Wits Sports Administration said Wits offered a number of disabled sports and had a disabled sports club but students were not interested.

Jimmy Ramokgopa, 3rd year Civil Engineering and secretary of the DAM said: “How will Wits or Sports Administration get students with disabilities interested in sports if they don’t introduce a programme.”

Ramokgopa said DAM had no knowledge of there being a disabled sports club at Wits.

He reiterated the call for collaboration between Wits and UJ to further develop disabled sport in Gauteng.

“UJ has the athletes, we have the facilities, so we need to work together,” Ramokgopa said.

UJ has 34 disabled athletes, 11 of whom went to the 2012 Paralympics.

Published in Wits Vuvuzela, 25th Edition, 21 September 2012