“TIME heals all wounds”, surely you’ve heard that one? The problem is no one ever includes the “how” of this miracle-repair job. I’m here to help!
It is, simply, by bending time. You’ve heard that too, right? That time bends. I sense another “how”. On this score, I can only offer well-reasoned speculation and personal testimony. Yes, it may smell like late-night infomercial kind of advice. It isn’t. I found it all in a book so you can trust me. [pullquote]She is looking directly into the camera with a posed smile frozen on her face.[/pullquote]
You bend time by means of “landscape suicide”. Let me explain.
Landscape suicide (LS) is the attempt to erase your past or yourself from that past by packing it all up and going. Erasure through displacement. Even if it is circumstance forcing you to move on.
Inside the frame of curling corners, where the Prestik has been repeatedly attached and peeled off, my 12-year-old sister appears with freshly tonged hair, both arms held out in my direction. But not her eyes.
She is looking directly into the camera with a posed smile frozen on her face. The entire photo was staged. And, on closer inspection, perhaps a study of how the command to “say cheese” functions as a kind of Pavlov’s bell, quickly assembling inanimate objects into the most ludicrous stage setting.
In that picture, my sister is holding a gold, plastic statue moulded into the figure of a sprinter in full flight. With her other hand she is shaking mine in
[pullquote align=”right”]That sweaty face of a wall, via the back-door, slithered into the magic moment. Into our carefully manufactured dream of time, bending it the wrong way.[/pullquote]The problem is that I am in full soccer kit. And I was truly up for the performance. Bleach-white shorts and pepper-red golfer. I remember carefully strapping on my shin-guards, pulling thick woollen socks to my knees and lacing my first pair of Puma Winger’s tightly around my ankles. I had been called up for duty and I wasn’t going to disappoint. I too, with frozen smile and a neatly combed pre-afro looked into the camera, and beyond it into the future. It was all fake but so real at the same time.
The two of us are standing on an island of dazzling green grass, a good distance from the putrid front wall of a ground-floor balcony. Not healthy enough though, because that grease and smoke-stained wall managed to sneak into the frame and into the cleansing light-bubble of the camera flash.
That sweaty face of a wall, via the back-door, slithered into the magic moment. Into our carefully manufactured dream of time, bending it the wrong way.
The picture, the ugly- wall part of it, represented the “landscape” that needed getting away from.
That entire block of flats, on a busy street in Booysens, was a crumbling wreck inside and out. Most of the people living there, like us, judging by suitcases stacked on the roofs of wardrobes and the ease with which a stranger was treated like family, wanted or had some other place to be.
My memory of how long we lived there is faded and grainy, like the picture itself. The school soccer season begins in early autumn. By mid-winter, on the day of my sister’s birthday, we were listening to the Springboks over the radio win their first World Cup trophy.
By then we had moved, the ugly landscape of the photograph erased.
When the picture was taken, we were desperate to be some place else and “wipe out” our history. Looking at the photograph now, those were happy times.
First soccer boots, first Rugby World Cup, first experience of city – even my first pie.
So, you want to bend time? Take a picture.
FRESH INPUT: Jackie Dugard plans to bring change to Wits in her new position as director of the sexual harassment office. Photo: Nqobile Dludla
Upright, tall and tough Jackie Dugard, the new director of the Wits’ sexual harassment office, intends to “fight fights” against sexual abuse on campus.
The academic and activist, who formerly worked as director of the Socio Economic Rights Institute (SERI) has her dark hair in a tight bun, indicative of her no-nonsense approach. [pullquote align=”right”]“Myself and quite a few of my female friends encountered highly inappropriate actions from male staff members and lecturers.”[/pullquote]
Law and order
“I bring an understanding of social change,” said the academic and activist. “One of my strengths is that I am strong and like to fight”. Dugard, a former researcher at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, was hired in November to lead the division dedicated to issues of sexual harassment and abuse on all other levels. Her appointment follows widespread revelations of sexual harassment on campus last year, which led to a full inquiry by the vice chancellor’s office and the dismissal of three lecturers for improper conduct and the resignation of a fourth.
Enter Dugard. An understanding of how class, gender and race intersect and influence abuses of power is not all she can offer.
Dugard herself has been a victim of harassment. She told Wits Vuvuzela that as a PhD student during her fellowship at University of Cambridge she suffered sexual harassment and abuse.
“Myself and quite a few of my female friends encountered highly inappropriate actions from male staff members and lecturers. There I was a tiny little student feeling like I don’t wanna rock the boat,” Dugard recalled.
She said the experience made her realise just how pervasive sexual harassment was, even at institutions that “people looked up to”. [pullquote]“We have to be realistic. This is not Moses parting the waves. It will take time,” [/pullquote]
“As with most institutions, it wasn’t immune [to sexual harassment]. And as with many institutions it was largely swept under the rug and tolerated,” Dugard said.
She said the experience taught her to have empathy and understanding for people who don’t report sexual harassment out of fear.
“I didn’t [report the harassment]. I regret it. I feel I really should have. It gave me a sense of why people do not report it,” she said.
Dugard explained that her office would empower students to deal with sexual harassment in whatever way they needed, ranging from counselling, medical treatment and legal assistance to fact sheets, educational drives and even “holding students hands” through the daunting prospect of tackling the institution and systemic issues. The sexual harassment office and its approach to harassment, however, remain a work in progress.
Dugard explained that the office was still in its formative stages, having recently moved into premises on the sixth floor of University Corner, dealing with a backlog of on-going cases, as well as trying to bring together all of university’s existing policies and networks.
“We have to be realistic. This is not Moses parting the waves. It will take time,” Dugard said.
With only Maria Wanyane, sexual harassment advisor at the CCDU, as part of the team, Dugard explained that the office still had to hire a lawyer and an administrator before it gets down to real work.
She described this as an important period of thinking through and understanding what had been done previously in order to map out the future.
“We don’t wanna rush it. But also, we don’t want to be in limbo. We have to make sure we have analysed everything. We are asking ourselves ‘how can we do better?’”
Dugard said confusion around what constituted sexual harassment made this period of analysis necessary, but in broad terms she described it as an insidious form of prejudice akin to racism.
Dugard’s activist background, her academic qualifications especially in law, and her own experience of harassment, place her in a good position to clear up the confusion.
TOP GUN: Motivational speaker Braimoh Bello says African children must take control of their futures. Photo: Mfuneko Toyana
YOU can become a top academic achiever, a Bill Gates even, in four easy steps. “Four Ws”, according to motivational expert Braimoh Bello, will help you determine who you are, and set you on the path to transcending your circumstances and becoming somebody extraordinary.
Where am I from? Why do I do what I do? Why am I here? Where am I going? These are the four questions Bello said he asked himself on his way to gaining three degrees, founding human development consultancy Beyond Tomorrow, and writing a book of the same name.
All of this despite losing his mother at age 11 and being raised by his unemployed father.
Wits Vuvuzela caught up with this honorary lecturer in medical microbiology in the Wits School of Public Health, to find out more about him and his work.
“The reason I speak to young people is because I got those degrees under very difficult circumstances. And that is my message. You should not allow your circumstances to define you. I know what those circumstances were… I know what those circumstances became, going from hardship to comfort.”
Answering the Four Ws helps you understand “why you do what you do”, clarify your purpose and understand the steps needed to achieve it, Bello said.
“It’s a simple message. You need first of all to think of your future. We need Africans to sit down and calmly resolve in their spirits that they can create their futures.
“It cannot be a subconscious thing, it has to be deliberate. It has to be conscious.
“In the way you talk. In the way you walk, and in the way you think.”
Bello said it was especially important for African children to work on the “you factor”, because too often “they did not have the pleasure of nurture, and thus had to rely on nature”.
Bello, who was born in Nigeria recalled that his mother’s death shocked his father into resigning from his job, leaving him and his five siblings to face financial hardship, struggling to fund their education.
From age 15, Bello worked part-time to fund his studies, eventually achieving honours and master’s degrees in medical microbiology from the University of Benin, before winning a scholarship to study at Wits for his PhD.
The 39-year-old Bello dismissed the idea of motivational speaking as a gimmick offering quick fixes.
“The motivation we do at Beyond Tomorrow is not pie-in-the-sky kind of motivation. Motivation should also tell you how to do it.”
LESS than a week after being arrested by police, the suspected “cocaine conman” is back on the streets.
The man, whose name may not be used since he has not been officially charged, appeared in the Hillbrow Magistrate’s Court on Monday and was released pending further investigation.
Last Friday, the man was arrested after a Witsie pretended to be taken in by his alleged con. Before he could make a getaway, undercover Campus Control officers moved in and nabbed him. [pullquote align=”right”]the man offered R5 000 in return for allowing him to use his cellphone to call the person he was selling the “cocaine” to.[/pullquote]
The man was handed over to Hillbrow police and spent the weekend behind bars.
Investigating officer in charge of the case, Constable Nyiko Mbiza, said the case was taken off the court roll for further investigation. “We have his passport in our possession and we know where to find him.”
The arrest and subsequent release of the alleged conman was confirmed by Hillbrow police spokesperson Mbuso Zondo.
Zondo said police needed to conduct further investigations before the man could be rearrested.
“The case was thrown out for further investigation. He was charged on one account [of theft]. It does not mean that it cannot go back to court. We are waiting on the forensic report [of the white substance] which will take a week or two.”
The ‘cocaine conman’ has wreaked havoc on campus for over a year, using a cocaine-like substance to con Witsies out of their cellphones.
Wits Vuvuzela reported previously about how the ‘cocaine conman’ operated. The man would ask unsuspecting students to use their cellphones.
He would then tell the students he was a drug dealer and needed to borrow their cellphones for a drug transaction. The cocaine conman would then offer a bag of ‘cocaine’ as security.
[pullquote]The white powder would turn out not to be cocaine but ordinary flour[/pullquote].
The man suspected of being the fraudster was caught last Friday after allegedly targeting a law student. The student had read about the conman in the Wits Vuvuzela.
Witsie strikes back
Solaneh Sibande said he had a “James Bond moment” after recognising the man’s physical description and modus operandi from articles published in this paper.
He said the man offered R5 000 in return for allowing him to use his cellphone to call the person he was selling the “cocaine” to.
“I wanted to make the guy think that he was killing it, so I told him I was from the rural areas and that I herded cows. He was testing my knowledge of Joburg.” Sibande actually hails from Benmore.
All the while Sibande was trying to signal passing students to call Campus Control, unaware that officers in plain clothes were watching and closing in.
Campus Control security and liaison manager Lucky Khumela told the Wits Vuvuzela that University of Johannesburg officials had reported a man fitting the conman’s description operating on their campuses.
JUJU JIVE: EFF supporters, as always, were in high spirits when they marched into Mehlareng Stadium on Saturday. Buoyed by the manifesto launch and the party’s release of a music CD, they danced and danced. Photo: Luke Matthews
THIS past weekend’s festival of political rallies, manifesto launches and street bashes in the name of democracy was proof of a well-known fact, that South African politics at its best is a study in ear-busting raucousness. The lengths political parties went to, to create a carnival atmosphere through song while talking serious politics at the same time, revealed once again just how central music is to our political DNA. [pullquote]Even those groups who contested SRC elections last year pin-pointed music as a route into the hearts of voters.[/pullquote]
On Saturday, Julius Malema’s red berets rode into Tembisa on a colossal wave of volume. Motorcycles with screaming engines, cars packing sound systems powerful enough to raise the dead, and an army of foot soldiers chanting non-stop the irreverent refrains that have become the Economic Freedom Fighter’s (EFF) trademark, raised the roof off Mehlareng stadium.
A few kilometres away, a version of the ruling party’s youth league refused to be outdone by the new kids and plotted a guerrilla offensive of groove by hosting what they called an “election festival”.
But without the gymnastic gyrations of Chomee and her team of dancers, the ANC’s get-together was a downer, drowned out by the EFF’s jamboree.
A day later, many kilometres north of Johannesburg in Polokwane the DA, blessed with less vocal supporters if Loyiso Gola’s Late Night News is to be believed, called on rapper AKA and pop-indie band Freshly Ground to add vibe to its campaign soiree. [pullquote align=”right”]“If you’re going to sing about political things what will you sing about? That you’re disappointed in what government is doing or that there is an alternative party you like better?”[/pullquote]
Even those groups who contested SRC elections last year pin-pointed music as a route into the hearts of voters. Project W promised Witsies an international act for O-week. They went on to win seven seats in their first attempt. DASO sang little and sank. While the PYA-led SRC has for years prided itself on being able to belt out rousing war cries, whether in celebration or defiance, at the drop of a hat.
Add to this landscape significant moments in our history that married politics and dancefloors in pursuit of liberation – the exile-based Amandla Cultural Ensemble of Oliver Tambo and trombonist Jonas Gwanga, Brenda Fassie’s iconic “My Black President”, and the National Party’s banning of Prophets of the City’s The Age of Truth album in 1993 – and music’s role in our political destiny becomes an undeniable fact.
Prof David Coplan, chair of Wits’ anthropology department and author of the remarkable book In the Township Tonight, chronicling the intersection of South African music and political cultures, said the political usefulness of music has changed and pop-struggle songs were not as popular as they once were.
“If you’re going to sing about political things what will you sing about? That you’re disappointed in what government is doing or that there is an alternative party you like better?” Coplan said.
The five songs currently topping VoW’s charts, as well as the charts of Rhodes, UCT, Tuks and UJ’s campus radio stations, are testimony to the decline in popularity of the pop-struggle genre, or at least its changing nature. Our politicians though, wittingly or not, seem aware of the powerful chemistry between music and politics.
Coplan’s take is that there exists a musical politics other than “saying down with this and up with that”.“There is a politics which gives people heart and doesn’t even have to have words. One of the big struggle songs was a jazz tune called Yakhal’ Inkomo by Winston Mankunku Ngozi.
“It had no words but people took it as an anthem of the township, about the desire to be free,” Coplan said. Our official anthem, Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrica, was conspicuous by its absence at all three of this weekend’s vote-baiting bonanzas, as it is at most political events.
[pullquote]“It had no words but people took it as an anthem of the township, about the desire to be free,” [/pullquote]
The national anthem, on the evidence, does not seem to be the rousing hymn-come-pop-struggle jingle to get a democracy fresh out of adolescence on its feet and dancing to the ballot box.
A SMELL of raw sewage tackles you the moment you step off the bus into Esselen street. On windy days, the sewage becomes airborne and sprays you with a misty combination of human urine and faeces . [pullquote align=”right”]“Last year someone from Florence building threw a plastic bag full of shit out their window and it landed in our laundry area”[/pullquote]
Complaints from students about the bad smell, stagnant sewage and uncollected waste piling up at Florence building next door to Esselen residence, spilled over this week as some Witsies living there vented their frustration on twitter.
Dion Mkhonza ran a hand across his face as he relived his experience of the strange rains.
“You come off the bus and this water hits your face. You think it’s rain first but then you see that pipe and it’s spraying sewage from that building,” Mkhonza said pointing at the dilapidated Florence building separated from Esselen residence only by a filthy alleyway swimming with rubbish and ankle deep with sewage.
Not only does human excrement rain from the skies, it also flies in through windows.
“Last year someone from Florence building threw a plastic bag full of shit out their window and it landed in our laundry area. “Ne nkare ho shweli motho (It was like somebody had died),” said a resident, who asked not to be named.
The student also said that on Monday, a man was staring at her through the window as she came out of the shower.
Another student, Manda-Lee Debathe, 4th year B.Ed, said the same thing had happened to her. [pullquote]“In that building anyone arrives and says they are boss,”[/pullquote]
“When we are dressing in the morning there are guys standing at their balconies with their coffee watching,” Debathe said.
Accommodation officer in charge of Esselen, Elsie Mooke, confirmed that residents of the adjoining Florence building, formerly a private hospital before being converted into residential apartments, often threw out rubbish, bath water and excrement from their windows and into Esselen.
“It’s really dirty and it’s really affecting the area. Wits has sent the environment people here but it didn’t help…Students can’t open their windows because of the terrible smell and the mosquitoes, and they can only get fresh air from the passage,” Mooke said.
Owner gone AWOL
Mooke said attempts to deal with the problem had hit a wall because no one knows who the owner of the building is.
Together with another Esselen resident and house committee member, Kelobogile Sebopelo, Mooke described the fears they had in dealing with anyone from the Florence building.
“Last year they came looking for me and I acted like I didn’t know anything.” he reported.
“In that building anyone arrives and says they are boss,” Mooke said, warning this Wits Vuvuzela journalist to be careful and not to attempt to enter the Florence building.
Sebopelo told a more troubling story.
“There was a guy. Wits was trying to buy the building but then the guy was stabbed over there,” Sebopelo said, pointing beyond her 2nd floor window to the intersection adjacent to Constitutional Hill.
Accommodation officer Mooke was reluctant to speak about the stabbing incident, preferring to point out the good things about Esselen rather than the bad.
“There is warmth inside here,” she said.
Mkhonza, in his third year as an Esselen resident and a member of the house committee, said they had been promised many times that Esselen would be closed down and moved to Parktown but the promise had not materialised.
Place to call home
The education student was adamant, however, that all was not flying faeces at Esselen.
“When I moved here in first year I thought it would be bad until you see other people.
“It is the people who live here that keep you here, not the building,” Mkhonza said.
PEACE,LOVE : RAS member Terrance Nzuza prefering to smoke a beedi (Indian-style tobacco wrapped in a leaf) rather than marijuana. He said Rastari culture was not all “pot-smoking and reggae. “ Photo: Mfuneko Toyana
AFTER a three year hiatus, the Rastafarian community is back on campus with a new name and a fresh vision that will kick-off this Friday when the society hosts the 2014 National Rastafari Summit. [pullquote align=”right”]“Ganga doesn’t make the Rasta…there is a time and space for praying, same as ganga,”[/pullquote]
The two-day summit is part of the Rastafari Association for Students (RAS) (formerly the Rastafarian Appreciation Society) celebration of Black History Month as well as an attempt by the Rastafarian community on campus to reposition itself as a human rights group.
“The [previous] society became about reggae and pot-smoking. These things didn’t inform students about the culture,” said Terrance Nzuza, an art student and one of the leaders of the society.
“RAS is opening its heart and doors to other societies and cultures. It is not a platform for conflict.
The vision is to follow the teachings of Haile Selassie, especially his vision of forming the OAU (Organisation for African Unity) and celebrating humanity,” Nzuza said.
[pullquote]The summit starts on Friday at lunch time in Senate House basement five with talks by Ras Dr Midas Chawane and Ras Mandlenkosi Matiko followed by a panel discussion open to the floor.[/pullquote]On the issue of marijuana, which is often inseparable from Rastafarian culture in the public mind, Nzuza said they viewed smoking of the herb as sacramental.
“Ganga doesn’t make the Rasta…there is a time and space for praying, same as ganga,” said Nzuza, who has been a Rastafari for over a decade.
Nzuza explained the summit beginning on Friday would be chiefly about Rastas learning to exercise self-criticism and taking ownership of their identity.
The self-funded summit was borne out of 44 challenges identified by research conducted by the CRL (Cultural, Religious and Linguistic) Commission.
It will draw representatives from Rastafarian houses and mansions around the country and further afield to discuss issues and find solutions to problems such as “police brutality and petty justice” directed at the Rasta community.
The summit is open to all those wishing to learn more about Rastafari or have an interest in the culture.
Nzuza said while it was good that many had learnt the principles of “peace, love and happiness” from Bob Marley, it was essential for people to go beyond this and deeper into the teachings of Rastafari.
The infamous “cocaine conman” finally met his match today, in the form of a Wits law student, who managed to flip the script on the fraudster and “con a con”.
The scam-artist was nabbed by undercover officers on West Campus after a Witsie too smart to fall for the ruse alerted Campus Control.
[pullquote align=”right”]”He said that he was selling the guy cocaine worth R19 500, and that if I helped him he would give me R5000,”[/pullquote]
Solaneh Sibande was rushing over the Amic Deck bridge to a law lecture when a man fitting the muscular and tattooed description of the “cocaine conman” approached him, asking to use his cellphone.
Sibande said he immediately became suspicious when he noticed the man was looking intently at his cellphone, rather than his face, as he approached.
“I need a huge favour,” Sibande recalls the man saying. “I need to use your phone to call someone.”
Sibande said the man then ushered him to foyer outside the chamber of mines building.
“He told me not to panic. He was doing a deal with somebody inside the building. He said that he was selling the guy cocaine worth R19 500, and that if I helped him he would give me R5000,” Sibande said.
Who is fooling whom?
Sibande agreed and handed the man his phone. As the conman went through the motions of his well-rehearsed scam, pulling out a bag white powder as proof of the merchandise, Sibande twice tried to covertly alert students passing by of the situation without showing the conman that he was on to him.
“I had the Vuvuzela articles about this guy running through my head that time, but I didn’t want him to see that I knew what he was up to,” Sibande said.
Not Napping: Witsie Solaneh Sibande fears the “cocaine conman’s” accomplice might recognise his face. Photo: Mfuneko Toyana
Sibande said he kept the conman interested long enough for Campus Control to apprehend him by lying, saying he was rural boy from the homelands in Pietermaritzburg.
Out of options
Sibande said he realised that he run out of options when the conman asked for his cellphone again, and told him to fetch the bags of white powder that he had he hidden in a nearby flower bed, while the conman waited for the supposed customer with money.
“I balanced the equation right then,” Sibande said. Sibande asked to have his cellphone back for short while. When the conman handed it to him Sibande went to reception and put a call through to Campus Control.
Three undercover officers who had been monitoring the situation and had understood Sibande’s signal, swooped in and arrested the man.
Campus Control security liaison manager Lucky Khumela confirmed the arrest of the cocaine conman in an email, calling it the capture of a “big fish”.
A confrontation outside the Station street entrance of Wits University almost turned violent this evening after a man driving a private car collided with a minibus taxi.
A heated argument ensued when the taxi driver demanded the man pay him R600 for the damages to his vehicle.
[pullquote align=”right”]One driver sarcastically asked one of the female passengers why “she chose this dirty dog as a boyfriend when there were men like him around”. [/pullquote]
When the driver of the private vehicle seemed to resist, he was quickly surrounded by a group of other taxi drivers who jeered him, hurling insults at the man and the two female passengers with him, calling the man a “foreigner’ who “thought he was tough guy”.
This journalist was also accosted by the taxi drivers for taking photographs of the argument, and subsequently forced to delete the photographs, the taxi drivers saying “you haven’t asked us to take pictures. You want to go there to your newspaper and write lies”.
One driver sarcastically asked one of the female passengers why “she chose this dirty dog as a boyfriend when there were men like him around”. She replied that he wasn’t her boyfriend, that they were colleagues from varsity. The woman then tried to explain, in isiZulu on behalf of the driver, that he was willing to pay the money and only had to go withdrawn it from an ATM.
The taxi driver in front of her then grabbed her by the shoulders and told her that she must stay in the car and not try to run away. Visibly shaken, the woman went to the car and returned with six crisp R100 notes, which she handed over to the driver of the taxi.
Refusing to give his name, the driver of the taxi told Wits Vuvuzela that he was exiting the petrol station opposite the Station street boom gates when his front bumper was hit by a blue hatchback.
He said the R600 would cover the cost of damages without having to involve the police.
Wits Vuvuzela journalist Mfuneko Toyana was one of two students who were trapped inside a lift in University Corner Building for nearly three hours on Monday night. He recounts his experience here:
UNDER CONTROL: Service supervisor, Dylan Gibson was on duty today sorting out the “teething problem” that saw, Wits Vuvuzela journalist Mfuneko Toyana stuck in the lift for close to three hours yesterday. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
University Corner’s notoriously unreliable elevators struck again on Monday.
This time the newest lift, installed in a building that was almost condemned to demolition a few years ago, trapped two students inside for close to 3 hours.
The unexpected malfunction of the ultra-modern lift, a far cry compared to the two other battered lifts that service building, was compounded by a human malfunction.
[pullquote align=”right”]The emergency phone button and emergency bell inside the lift yielded no results[/pullquote]
The lift technician called in to perform the straight-forward rescue told Wits Vuvuzela that he was twice given the wrong address, arriving at Braamfontein Centre two times before eventually finding his way to University Corner after 7pm.
Campus Control officers who were on the scene blamed Property Infrastructure and Management (PIMD) for the mix-up resulting in almost a 2 hour delay in reaching the lift.
Mkhacani Maluleke of Campus Control said that after the students had phoned Campus Control the matter was handed over to PIMD, who interacted with lift company Schindler from there on.
Maluleke and two other Campus Control officers arrived at the scene about 40 minutes after Wits Vuvuzela journalist Mfuneko Toyana and Drama for Life student Thoriso Moseneke used a cell phone to report the lift had become stuck on the 20th floor.
The emergency phone button and emergency bell inside the lift yielded no results, and the students resorted to calling from a cellphone as well tweeting about their plight, spawning the hashtag #freefuni in support of the two marooned Witsies.
It was nearly three hours later at 7. 10pm when Toyana and Moseneke where finally freed and thankfully driven home by Campus Control.
LOCK,LOAD: Wits’ Badminton Society welcomed new recruits to the world of shuttlecocks and long-handle racquets . Photo: Mfuneko Toyana
“BADMINTON” is not the easiest word to wrap your tongue around, not quickly and not in front of a group of people looking at you as if you should know – and say – better.
Often it comes out as “Bang-dim-tin”, the appeal of the onomatopoeia too much to resist.
The guys and gals at Wits’ Badminton Society would almost certainly agree though that the sport is more “bad” than “bang”. “Badminton is the fastest racquet sport in the world,” Tashlin Hamid, 2nd year BCom, told Wits Vuvuzela with obvious glee as he flexed his racquet hand.
“Every year the top athletes in the sport test out new racquets… 421km/h was the fastest speed recorded,” Hamid said. The Wits Tennis Society were standing nearby and seemed within earshot as Hamid made his claim that badminton as the best racquet sport. [pullquote]“This year we are on a revival. We’re getting back and the sport is growing[/pullquote]
But the carriers of the bigger racquets offered nothing in their defence.
Maybe it all happened too quickly.
“It’s an all-weather sport, raining, hailing, anything. With tennis you need a big open space.
Badminton is much more sociable,” Hamid said, delivering a kill-shot aimed squarely at badminton’s tennis-playing adversaries.
Fellow badminton player and member of the society, Matthew Michel, 2nd year BSc QS, said badminton, despite its little racquets, could be a bloody sport abound with injuries.
“I’ve seen someone’s knee-cap popping out. There’s a lot of jumping and lunging, it puts a lot of pressure on your knees,” Michel said, reminiscing like a war veteran recalling his wonder years – in this case his years as a provincial badminton player in high school.
The two players however, after seven-plus years of high-speed rallies and knee-crunching lunges in pursuit of the flower-like shuttlecock, are not ready to hang it all up.
“This year we are on a revival. We’re getting back and the sport is growing … It’s a social for now but we will play a few games. “We’ll be cooking and getting people to be good,” Michel said.
The Wits Badminton Society holds practice sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 5pm at the Old Mutual Sports Hall.
Wits School of Arts (WSOA) began this year by clearing its closet of nasty skeletons.
The school organized new workshops on codes of conduct after the sexual harassment drama of 2013. But the schools efforts are baring little fruit.
After last year’s revelations of improper sexual conduct by senior lecturer Tsepo wa Mamatu, which lead to a commission of inquiry and ultimately the dismissal of wa Mamatu and other offenders, WSOA embarked on the process of drafting an “ethical practices in teaching and learning” handbook.
Catherine Duncan of WSOA told Wits Vuvuzela that the school needed to revisit a number of principles, values and responsibilities “from scratch” if the school was to be a “constructive and open environment for teaching, learning, and making art”. However, notices inviting arts students to participate in the workshops on one of three days, by signing their names up on a register provided under a description of the handbook, stood mostly empty.
They could be seen in and around the vicinity of the pale brown WSOA building- on the doors of classrooms and performance venues, as well as on notice boards and inside elevators. [pullquote align=”right”] “Doors? No one looks at doors. Why did they put them there?”[/pullquote]
Two weeks on, after the proposed dates of the workshop, those participation registers remain in position with a hardly a name on them.
Chairperson of WSOA’s school council Obett Motaung, 3rd year BADA, confirmed the poor attendance of the workshops.
“There were about 30-odd students who attended (workshops). You see we are facing an issue of student apathy,” Motaung said. Duncan admitted many had not engaged in the project. “That is also fine and their prerogative,” Duncan said.
Both Duncan and Motaung were eager to stress that the workshops were only one part of larger information gathering process that started in July last and would continue beyond this month’s workshops.
“We gathered all the relevant policy, codes of conduct, standing orders, findings of the investigation into sexual harassment at Wits last year, course guides and so on,” Duncan said.
She said key data from the research went into the student workshops for “development, consultation and feedback”.
CONFUSED: Hankysel Lee is one of the many students who did not know about the workshop. Photo: Mfuneko Toyana
It would also seem that there was poor publicity around the workshops. The majority of the WSOA students interviewed by Wits Vuvuzela were either unaware of the workshops or just did not care to be involved in the process.
Moshini Pillay, 2nd year Fine Arts, said putting the notices on doors was not a good idea and this was the main reason she had not attended. “Doors? No one looks at doors. Why did they put them there?” Hankysel Lee, 3rd year agreed that the visibility of the posters was ineffective.
She said she “just didn’t see the notices,” and that she might have attended if she had.
Shubham Mehta, 4th year film and TV, said he preferred not to participate in “extracurricular activity” outside of his studies and that he saw no benefit in participating in the workshops.
A draft of the handbook will be completed by end of term according to Duncan.