Q&A with Sindile Bongela

Triple threat, Sindile Bongela is an academic, magazine producer and conversation maker. Bongela is currently pursuing an MA in African Literature doing research on the visibility of black gay men and black women in literature and the similarities/differences between them. He is also the co-founder of Big Gay Debate and associate editor of Grandeur Magazine, an online magazine for black gay men.


What are you currently researching?
My research is a work in progress. As a gay man, I spend a lot of time with women and effeminate gay men. I noticed a lot of similarities between the way in which we interact with each other and the patriarchal society. So that’s what I’m doing my research on.

How did you come about your research?
I read a lot of women’s literature and I kept finding myself in the way in which women navigate their spaces. Once again, I’ve always been around women so it’s heavily influenced my research.

What impact do you want your research to have on the LGBTQ+ community?
I want my research to continue to open and broaden the honest conversations about the relationship that effeminate gay men and women have, and about the relationship they foster in a culturally patriarchal environment that is not conducive for our existence. I also want my research to explore and strengthen the relationships we can build.

What is The Big Gay Debate?
It’s a conversational space for gay men that seeks to deepen and broaden knowledge about being gay in Africa. The conversations at the debates have been insightful. The gays are finding the space to be safe enough to express themselves fully. They’ve found the space to be validating and educational.

How did Big Gay Debate come about?
I noticed that gay identities in South Africa were heavily influenced by African-American gay culture. Big Gay Debate is trying to remedy that by merging the influence of African-American gay culture with African gay culture. It is about ensuring that the African context is the dominant one in gay culture, but also creating an intellectual hub trying to create writing on African gayness from an African perspective.

What’s your contribution to Grandeur Magazine?
As an associate editor, I’m looking at producing content about black gayness, and showing that we’re a multidimensional people. I’m all about producing content about gay people travelling, starting businesses and creating partnerships. Basically building black intelligencia. The magazine is also focused on the LGBTQ+ community and writing about our experiences.

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Q&A with Farai Mubaiwa

Farai Mubaiwa is a leader, activist and African feminist. She is currently pursuing an MSc in the Political Economy of Emerging Markets at King’s College London. Farai has also co-founded the NGO Africa Matters which aims at changing the narrative of Africa in the eyes of the youth. In 2017, Farai was a recipient of the Queens Young Leader Award. 

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Q&A with Nazia Wadee

Miss Earth semi-finalist, Nazia Wadee.                                                                                    Photo: Londell Phumi Ramalepe

Nazia Wadee is a born and bred Johannesburger who is doing honours in Media Studies. The 21-year-old Miss Teen Commonwealth South Africa 2015/2016 is a semi-finalist in the Miss Earth competition.

What does Miss Earth mean to you?
Miss Earth South Africa is a women’s leadership programme that aims to empower and educate South African women through the lens of environmental sustainability. It aims to create awareness about issues concerning conservation, sustainability and development. Being a semi – finalist for Miss Earth SA has been an educational and enlightening experience. This platform has allowed me to live out my true potential, break my barriers and to live out what I believe is my life purpose, which is to give back and make a difference.

What inspired you to enter the competition?

Given that I am a responsible active citizen who is passionate about positive change, the core values and duties of a Miss Earth title winner are that which I would like to continue to associate myself with. As former Ms Teen Commonwealth South Africa, I fell in love with the important duties that a titleholder has and the massive platform available to create a better life for all. My journey as a philanthropist had begun with the understanding of human suffering through exploitation or social prejudice at grass roots levels.

What do you do to effect change?
I have been afforded the honour of being the ambassador for the Youth Managers Foundation South Africa. The organisation aims to develop and discover leaders in underprivileged schools, and provides them with the necessary tools, leadership skills and resources to make positive changes in their schools and their community. I am involved in various welfare, cultural and goodwill initiatives, leading me to be a recipient of a Women of Wonder award as well as a second place award for the Nelson Mandela Youth Leadership award hosted by East Wave radio station. My love of goodwill initiatives has recently awarded me with the position of Head of Student Affairs on a university governing body.

How do you balance your studies and modelling?
I have always been active in terms of running charitable projects or initiatives or involved in sports or other extracurricular activities. The most important thing that I have learnt is have good time, management skills and learning to find balance. Passion is a powerful thing, and can drive you do to amazing and sometimes unexpected things, only because we are capable of so much more than we believe.

What do you hope to achieve with the Miss Earth competition?
My goal is to expand my knowledge, grow, empower myself in order to address critical social and environmental issues within my communities. My aim is to create awareness with regard to the various environmental issues that we face, and possibly provide solutions to them; to beautify my environment and make my community a beacon of hope for what is possible, for the betterment of all. I hope to inspire young people to get involved in our community and follow their passions. I hope to touch lives through my projects and initiatives. I hope to build lifelong friendships and bonds with the new people I have had the opportunity of meeting or the people that I will meet in the future. Furthermore, my aim is to empower those I meet along the way as well as those around me. Irrespective of the competition’s outcome, if I achieve this I believe that that will be my success.

What words would you share with young girls who look up to you?
Being from a small town, if I win this title it will raise the hope of others, to believe that nothing is impossible. The human spirit is amazing. In the direst circumstances the instinct to survive triumphs everything – so me winning this title will allow others to follow in my path and escalate humanity and our humanness to a level I know we can achieve.

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Q&A with Busisiwe Mkhumbuzi

Activist Busisiwe Mkhumbuzi has been thrust into the international spotlight once again after hosting the 16th Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture held last Tuesday, July 17. Mkhumbuzi started the South African chapter of the international feminist organization, V-Girls, hosted a TEDxWomen talk at the age of 16, played an active role in the UCT Rhodes Must Fall and Fess Must Fall protests, and founded the social enterprise initiative, Tshimong.

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Wits students initiate two day health fair

 

Health fair: Wits students visit health stations in numbers. Photo:           Londell Phumi Ramalepe

Wits health science students hosted a two day health fair on July 20 and 21 at Solomon Mahlangu House Concourse to raise awareness about health issues faced by students.

The students offered a number of healthcare checks including dentistry, dermatology, eye testing and physiotherapy.

The event which was hosted by Jesus Christ To All Languages (JTL) society together with the Wits Campus Health and Wellness Centre (CHWC) also provided services related to specific men’s and women’s health issues along with dietary and chronic conditions.

Participants were also able to donate blood and make use of aerobic and resistance training stalls.

Final year Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery student, and leader of the JTL society, Hennah Mungure, said that convenience plays a major role in people checking up on their well-being. The 24-year-old told Wits Vuvuzela, “Students have many questions about health issues but do not necessarily go to the doctor to find out or get answers.”

The acting head nurse of CHWC, Sister Maggie Moloi, told Wits Vuvuzela that male healthcare was one of the priorities at the fair. The CHWC have partnered with Wise Up, an operation which focuses on Voluntary Male Medical Circumcision (VMMC).

Dr Lubwana J. Kigozi from the VMMC project, who was also present at the fair, said that the aim of his organisation is to ensure that males are given knowledge about their medical healthcare so that they can voluntarily go for circumcision which is shown to reduce the “risks of acquiring HIV by 60%,” in males.

The high cost of health is one of the factors preventing students from getting regular health checks. “The only option left for students is to go to the public sector which can be a tedious process because you cannot wait an entire day when suffering from sinusitis,” said Mungure.

“Some of us do not have enough money to go to campus health, so this fair makes it easier,” said Dimakatso Hlahlu, a Wits second year geology student.

“I wouldn’t necessarily go to the doctor to check up on my health because the medical aid does not pay the full amount and I would have to top up,” said Yenzokuhle Hleta, a second year Wits mechanical engineering student.

Moloi added that ignorance also prevents students from thinking about their health. “Students tell themselves that they are only here to study and don’t have to look after their health. In the long run they end up with high blood pressure with the stress they get from studies,” Moloi said.

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