VoWFM bids Mike bye

VOICE OF WITS (VoWFM) campus radio station is bidding goodbye to long-time station manager Michael “Mike” Smurthwaite at the end of the month.

BIDDING FAREWELL: Mike Smurthwaite is ready to enter a new chapter Photo: Nokuthula Zwane

BIDDING FAREWELL: Mike Smurthwaite is ready to enter a new chapter
                                                                                                                                                  Photo: Nokuthula Zwane


Wits Boytjies back in business

VICTORY: FNB Wits gave FNB CUT a run for thier money during the varisty Cup gme by 43-3 at the Wits Rugby Stadium. Photo: Nokuthula Zwane

VICTORY: FNB Wits gave FNB CUT a run for thier money during the varisty Cup gme by 43-3 at the Wits Rugby Stadium.                                                                                                Photo: Nokuthula Zwane


Movie Review: “Hidden Figures’: See what she becomes.



Starring: Taraji P. Henson , Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner

Vuvu Rating: 8/10

A fresh take on the history of African American female professionals who were geniuses in their respective fields of mathematics and engineering, ‘Hidden figures’ does justice to telling the story as happened.

Based on the true story of three African American women who broke barriers at the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA), “Hidden Figures” unearths a history that has not formed part of mainstream science history.  Set in Virginia, North America, 1961, the movie tells the tales of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson played by the award winning Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe respectively. The women, all mathematicians, were part of the segregated West Computing Group at NASA. They all worked together; until Johnson and Jackson were promoted to positions that often reminded them of the realities of being black and a woman in 1960s America.

Facing racial and gender prejudice from the beginning of the film to the end, the three refused to give up their struggle to prove their worth to all who doubted them.  Despite the focus on the lives of these women at NASA, the film is not short of the typical romantic and emotional twists and turns. In a romantic scene between Johnson and her then boyfriend, Mr Johnson, the latter finds himself in a puts his foot in his mouth, when he asks what Katherine does for a living. Explaining her role as a NASA mathematician, Johnson questions condescendingly, “They let women handle that kind of stuff?” Katherine retorts sharply, “Mr Johnson, if I were you, I would quit talking right now … I will have you know, I was the first Negro female student at the West Virginia University Graduate School. On any given day, I analyze the phenomena levels for air, displacement, friction and velocity and compute over ten thousands calculation by cosine, square root √ and lately analytics geometry, by hand. So, yes, they let women do something at NASA, Mr Johnson, and it’s not because we wear skirts but because we wear glasses.”

The minimalistic visuals corresponds with the narrative of the story, there is not much that is technically innovative in terms of the camera angles or lighting changes. However, the actors’ performances are effortless, including that of Kevin Coster, Kirstin Dunst and Kimberly Quinn. This is not unexpected because the film has been nominated for the annual Golden Globes and Academy Awards. It recently won the Outstanding Performance by cast members in motion picture at the Screen Actors Guild awards (SAGs). While receiving the award lead actress Henson said, “This story is of unity and this story is about what happens when we put our differences aside … Love wins.”

‘Hidden Figures’ is definitely a film that will inspire young girls to reach for the stars and beyond.  If you happen to have the time to watch the film, one can say that you will be in for an emotional rollercoaster ride.

Graffiti not officially PYA

The Progressive Youth Alliance has recently been the target of a sudden occurrence of graffiti on campus.

The graffiti in front of the Nunnery and next to the Wits Arts Museum has anti-PYA connotations. The artwork is painted in red with a drawing of an AK-47 and the letters PYA. It is next to graffiti saying “Steve Biko lives” and other graffiti says “F*** police”. Some near Solomon Mahlangu House was painted over.

When asked by Wits Vuvuzela about the graffiti, PYA chairperson Mpendulo Mfeka was shocked: “We did not know of any graffiti and it’s the first time I am seeing it.”

“I interpret it in my own way, to me it’s an aggressive form of graffiti. Because whoever drew that thing is probably not a PYA member. ’Cause you can’t draw an AK and then next to it draw a PYA sign. So you are literally saying shoot down the PYA.  This is news to us,” said Mfeka.

“It’s an issue which has to be handled by not only political activists but by the Wits community at large,” he said.

“We take note that these walls are again cleaned by our very own parents, workers, who we try to fight for year in, year out, that they must be insourced, so on and so forth. At the same time we create chaotic work for them, so you painting a wall, is not only a problem to the PYA, it becomes a problem to society,” said Mfeka.

THE WALLS HAVE WORDS: Writing on the walls in Jorrisson street

THE WALLS HAVE WORDS: Writing on the walls in Jorrisson street       Photo: Nokuthula Zwane


Reports surfaced during last year’s #FeesMustFall student protests and the SRC Elections that the leadership of the PYA was on rocky ground.

“There was some misunderstanding from the public or the Wits community at large, to say that there were fights within the PYA about who must be this and who must be that.  If you remember at some point there was a rumour saying that SRC people have resigned,” said Mfeka.

However, Mfeka dismissed all reports and told Wits Vuvuzela that the “PYA is well organised”.

Early last year the university condemned offensive graffiti on campus, whether political or social.

“It has come to our attention that a small group of students are deliberately spraying offensive graffiti on walls on Wits’ campuses and on T-shirts,” a statement said.

According to the university, it is forced to clean the offensive graffiti which comes at a huge cost to the university and these are funds which could have been spent on financial aid.

The university said it would take action against anyone caught defacing university property or spraying graffiti on walls not designated for this purpose.

Wits Chief Operations Officer Fana Sibanyoni said “Wits has approved graffiti walls on the Braamfontein East and West campuses.”

“These are: the white wall outside the matrix, the tunnel linking the East and West Campus (near the traffic circle) and the white wall between PIMD and Chalsty Centre. Permission to use these designated spaces must be sought from Student Affairs,” said Sibanyoni.

WCCO endorse student tutorship programmes

The Wits Citizenship and Community Outreach programme (WCCO) is looking for Wits students to assist with extra tuition for learners in underprivileged areas. The WCCO is endorsing over 20 outreach projects including tutoring programmes ASSIST and Mihandzu so that Witsies can participate in community work.

“The WCCO facilitates support and training for volunteer leaders and tutors. It is amazing to see Witsies recognize their role as community builders, working in this case, to improve the educational outcomes of learners in communities,” said Karuna Singh, senior programme advisor at the WCCO.

Singh said, “Many student volunteers are interested in and have started-up community projects focusing on tutoring and career information for high school learners.” ASSIST is one of those projects, chaired by Wits student Sandile Mthembu, which focuses on the academic, professional and personal development of learners from disadvantaged backgrounds particularly from Alexandra township.

GIVING BACK: Wits students Sandile Mthembu and Khanya Memela are both making a difference in their communities by tutoring learners from Alexandra and Ivory Park respectively

GIVING BACK: Wits students Sandile Mthembu and Khanya Memela are both making a difference in their communities by tutoring learners from Alexandra and Ivory Park respectively

“In a nutshell, we ask students from Wits University to volunteer to teach English, maths and all other subjects to learners in Alexandra for free,” said Mthembu. ASSIST targets about 50 learners from Grades 8-12.

Mihandzu is a non-profit organisation which focuses on educational development within poverty stricken communities, especially at JB Matabane School in Ivory Park.

Member and co-founder of Mihandzu, Khanya Memela, postgraduate 4th year Accounting Science, said “Education is a mess … We focus on mathematics, given the dire state of mathematics in our country and the need for mathematical professions in our country.” This year the programme has about 300-400 learners to manage, with an estimated number of about 30 tutors.  to about 30 tutors.

“It is open to the entire school not just limited to the Grade 8s, this is to give them exposure about various opportunities available to them.”

“What we found over time was that learners don’t know what they can do, they don’t know what is possible. All they know is the next grade and the teacher in front of them,” said Memela.