Students encouraged to network at universities

BUSINESSWOMAN: Dr Mzikazi Nduna was the guest speaker for pop-up talk hosted by BWASC. Photo: Provided

“WE NEED to break the cycle of women lacking in the business sphere because the only way, as women, that we can take a stage and participate in business is if we intervene and break that.”

These are the words of 2017 Businesswoman of the Year Award in Education and Wits Head of the School of Human and Community Development, Dr Mzikazi Nduna, at Wits Education campus on Tuesday evening. She was a guest speaker for a pop-up talk by the Wits Businesswomen’s Association Student Chapter (BWASC) as part of a financial literacy seminar organised by the Medhurst Hall residence house committee.
Nduna was speaking to female residence students about the lack of women in the business and the importance of association.

According to the BWASC chairperson and postgraduate LLB student, Boikhutso Mokoto, the pop-up talk is part of a series that will continue for the rest of the year. “It’s a good marketing tool but these ones are specifically for a recruitment drive and we’re just trying to rally up the numbers and get people signed up and introduce them to the BWA,” she said.

Nduna spoke about the importance for students to make connections at university and to remember them for the future.
“One of things that helps men and women succeed in their chosen careers or in business is the power of association. It is very important for you to think that the people that you meet in this university during your time here are going to be important to you in the next 10, 15 or 20 years,” said Nduna.

“If you had started to connect with these people when you were in varsity, then you can be available to leverage something called social capital, which is the ability for us to come together and do things together. Social capital enables us to participate in platforms where we share information, knowledge, skills and advice and where we are able to start up associations and companies,” she added.

The BWASC has been operational for a year and for 2018, plans to conduct initiatives that will be focusing on leadership, skills development and entrepreneurship for female students. It is also starting a mentorship circle.

“What we want to do with the mentorship circles that we’re launching is to insure that as a third-year or fourth-year student, you can give someone the advice that you didn’t have and as a first or second year student, you can get through the system with less humps and bumps,” said Mokoto.

The BWASC will be hosting a welcome evening on Thursday, March 1.

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Q&A with Didintle Khunou

Former Witsie Didintle Khunou’s (25) career has hit a high note with one of her biggest performance gigs in the musical, The Color Purple. The BA Dramatic Arts graduate plays the lead role, Celie, which was played by Whoopi Goldberg in the film adaptation. She also has a role on the popular SABC 2 Sesotho drama series, Mamello. Wits Vuvuzela caught up with Khunou to find out about her experience and journey in The Color Purple. The production opened on January 31 and runs until March 4 at the Joburg Theatre.

Khunou in The Color Purple. Photo: Provided

 

How do you achieve such vocal strength?

The vocal strength comes with a lot of sleep (she laughs) and training. Before I started with The Color Purple I ensured that I went to practice with a vocal coach and with Rowan Bakker who was also the musical director of The Color Purple. I honestly think that without that training, I wouldn’t have been able to hit the notes that I can. Both the high notes and the low notes.

How did you receive the news that you had made it into The Color Purple?

I was very shocked because I am  a newcomer to the theatre industry. I mean I have done more television  and film work than I have theatre. I am not necessarily a professional singer, and I remember having watched Cynthia Erivo who played Celie in the Broadway revival and thinking “Okay, well, if this is the level that I have to sort of match up to, maybe I might not make the cut,” but I did and when I got the news I was ecstatic, I called my mum first and told her and then I called my acting coach Steven who has played an important role in helping me prepare for the auditions.

Were you hoping to get the role of Celie when you auditioned?

No! In fact, I was thinking of auditioning way in advance. I think it was 2016 when they were having their open call auditions in Pretoria, but I was shooting for a TV series called Mamello, a Sotho drama and the shooting schedule just clashed with mine. I realised that there was no way that I could leave set and I just let go of the idea of auditioning. Then I get a WhatsApp from my best friend  who sends me this brief, much quicker than my agent could (she laughs).  She’s like “Oh my God! They’re still looking for people for The Color Purple. You need to go; this is a sign!” The intention was just to go to be a part of the production. I didn’t care if I was going to get Celie or if I was going to get any other character.

How has the process been?

It’s been a very challenging one. Challenging in understanding the character, and embodying the character in a way that is true to me. And because there are so many similarities in terms of Celie’s belief system and one that I used to inhabit as a younger girl growing up and also in varsity. I realised that having to embody Celie meant having to dig up some of my own personal wounds. So, emotionally it was quite challenging because I had to do a lot of confrontation. At the end of the day after having to confront all of those aspects of myself that I could bring to the table in inhabiting Celie, I ended up feeling very healed and still to this day every time I get on stage and I perform I feel a lot of healing taking place.

What have been some responses from audience members that have inspired you?

We’ve been so lucky to have really good reviews and only good comments and remarks from people who have come to watch the show. People also keep saying that they want to come back again. That is really humbling to hear because it makes me feel as though we are successfully carrying the intention of Alice Walker through the story. My biggest goal was to make sure that her core messages are being read through the show and it seems as though we are doing it well. A lot of people have questioned that I’d be able to do it because I’m quite young,ut people believe in how I manage to age Celie throughout the show. Night after night we get standing ovations and it’s because the story is incredibly powerful and that’s why people walk away so inspired. It really shows a powerful and positive representation of black women and right now, South African audiences seriously need to see that.

Who is your favourite character in The Color Purple?

I love them all because they all serve such an interesting purpose to the story. There’s Harpo. His role helps men challenge their own masculinity. His character makes us look at how men because of patriarchy are forced to perform masculinity and how it hurts them as well as women. Then there’s Mister, who lives his entire life being a replica of his father who we realise also abused Mister. Then  there’s Sofia who is this hard rock character. She puts herself in a position where she lets her voice be heard. Her biggest number is ‘Hell No’ in the musical and that is just a song that speaks back to how you cannot allow yourself to continue playing the victim. You have to be a victor of your situations.

How do you make the transition from TV performance to theatre?

I’m trained in theatre performance, so I understand that theatre is different from TV in terms of the energy that you embody. You have to make sure that all of you is reaching out and touching all of the audience in the theatre. With theatre you want to create an experience for people.

 

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SLICE OF LIFE: Giving myself time ‘to adult’

The year 2018 has not only ushered in a new year for me but a new chapter in my life’s story. I turned the worn and tattered last page of the chapter called “Varsity Years” and dived head first into “Adulthood”. My first step into adulthood started with getting a tax number and finally moving out of the student-ridden Braamfontein after four years, and into an apartment in the Johannesburg CBD.

The idea of moving out of Braamfontein had always been exciting to me. However, nothing prepared me for how I felt when the last bag was put into the moving van. My roommate and I were almost buzzing in the front seat of the van, optimistic about what the future would bring in our brand new “adult” apartment.

Upon arrival at the building, all of our stuff was dumped in the living room. We moved our beds and bedroom furniture into our respective rooms and slowly the living room became emptier and emptier. Once the last box had been unpacked, it dawned upon us that we had absolutely no furniture to fill up the very big living room. Our brand new adult apartment did not necessarily look like one because we didn’t have “adult” furniture.

The idea of myself as an adult had always looked glamorous to me. I always imagine myself with financial prosperity and a booming career; complete freedom and independence from my parents and going out to brunches with my friends. All of this would be wrapped up in a nice bow that is a chic apartment with modern decorative pieces. These were all finish line thoughts. I never sat and thought of the realities of how my life would look like at the beginning of the marathon that is adulthood.

When I look at it now, I realise that the reality looks rather similar to my living room. The reality is that, like all things in life, my living room requires patience. I need to be patient enough to save up for furniture and the kind of life that I want to live. I need to not rush myself into making detrimental financial mistakes. I cannot make the same mistake as our parents, who were so quick to want success, that they dug themselves into a hole of debt. I need to think smarter and do better.

Just like my living room, becoming an adult requires time and patience. It requires constantly working and late nights. There will be many nights where all I want to do is unsubscribe to adulthood. There will be mornings when I’ll want to revert back to my student days without the worry of money or work. There will be a lot of falling down, getting back up and falling down again. But these challenges are all part of being an adult. There is a lot more dragging my body through the trenches than cute brunches with my friends. It won’t be easy and I’m not sure if I’m 100 percent ready for it, but I have no choice but to pull myself up and get on with it.

In the meantime, I will not be deterred. I will get creative, learn as much as a I can and take my time. As for my living room, it currently still doesn’t have furniture. However, my roommate and I got a little creative. We gathered all our throw and picnic blankets and cushions and made a pillow fort in front of our very small media stand and television. When we are not at work, you’ll catch us lying on the floor of our living room, cups of tea with lemon slices not far away and watching reruns of Archer until we fall asleep.

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Q&A with Zongezile Qeba

Zongezile Qeba, was born and raised in a fairly small village called Verdwaal in the North West, about 30 minutes from Mafikeng. He is currently completing his final year BSc in Chemical Engineering. Qeba has made it to the top six of the popular educational youth show One Day Leader. The show airs from February 8 at 21:00.

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SLICE OF LIFE: The right path is my path

 

The past two weeks have been filled with very early morning and late afternoon commutes where I find myself squashed between two other people, passing rand notes and coins to the passengers seated behind me and in front of me.

Every day during the commute, recurring thoughts run through my mind as I observe the traffic from the window of the taxi. “If only I could afford to buy a car so that I don’t have to sit in a taxi and listen to the driver complain about people paying with R200 notes in the morning,” or even better, “If only I could teleport myself to work and skip the traffic.”

The reality is that I cannot afford a car at the moment and, secondly, technology has not advanced to the point where humans can move from one location to another in a split second. Much like many other young adults, I have a great deal of anxiety about being unable to take care of myself financially.

I also, from time to time, fall into the trap of “success fomo” where people in your circle and on social media are achieving, “winning”, travelling, graduating and buying houses which inevitably leaves you feeling as though your life is at a standstill or moving at a snail pace.

I may not have accumulated much on a materialistic level yet, however, I am grateful and confident about the path that I am on. The morning commutes are awful and trying to build your adult life from scratch is exhausting. Knowing that I am on the right path to becoming the person that I am destined to become is what keeps me going.

In 2016, I was extremely uncertain about the trajectory that my career would take. I was also confronted with the reality of possibly being unemployed after completing my first honours degree.

Financially, I knew that I could not delay job hunting. I also knew that I would most probably end up doing a job that I had zero enthusiasm for.

While giving a talk at the Stanford Business School, Oprah Winfrey said something that helped me to re-visit my vision board and to question my path. “Knowing what you DON’T want to do is the best possible place to be in if you don’t know what do,” she said. I knew then that I did not want to sit in a cubicle  all day, juggling numbers and compiling reports.

I cannot measure my success or path by comparing myself to those around me. There is a greater purpose that I need to fulfil and a contribution that I need to make. I have learnt that I will never fully become the person that I am destined to be if I try to walk on a path that is not created for me.

It may be too early to tell where my career will take me. I might not be the most outstanding individual and I might be a bit naive about the profession. But my decision to enter the world of journalism has come with so much validation and purpose.

With every story told, I can feel the contribution that I am making towards informing and enlightening people. Journalism has forced me to exit a shell that I had been hiding in for years. In a space of a year I have grown and learnt lessons that will aid my journey in both professional and personal spaces.

I am definitely not where I want to be in life but I find peace in knowing that I am on the right path and that every day and every experience is a stepping stone leading me to something bigger, better and even more fulfilling.

 

A child should see a bookstore before they see a tavern

ALL LOCAL: African Flavour houses local literature from African Authors                                                                                                                                                                               Photo: Kayleen Morgan 

African Flavour , a new bookstore which recently opened  its doors on De Korte Street, Braamfontein, gives students an opportunity to make money. by selling their published books.
The bookstore offers 100% local content with African books written by African authors.

Fortiscue Helepi, who co-owns the shop with his wife Nokuthula, said the only criteria they have for the books and authors that are sold is that they should be a local writer from Africa.
“We are not gatekeepers of stories, only marketers of them,” he said. This allows students who have published books to sell them at African Flavour and make an income from their literature.
Helepi said that the store sells books according to the price recommended by the author or publisher with the store keeping 30% of the sale amount and the author gaining 70%.

Masters student in geography and environmental studies, Mafule Moswane’s books, A Learners Guide to Academic Success and Katrina and Other Untold Stories, are currently on sale at African
Flavour. Moswane said that he “strongly encourages” students who are writers and have a story to tell, to sell their work through African Flavour.

“The store assists African authors who do not have a platform and we need more places which fit the vision to sell African books written by African authors.”

The bookstore greets you with warmth and smooth jazz music playing in the background upon arrival. Helepi said the store is their second establishment with the first one being in Vanderbijlpark. He added that the Braamfontein establishment was opened because they realised that people were travelling from Johannesburg to Vanderbijlpark to buy books.

“The vision for African Flavour is to create a market for more people to read books they can relate to,” he said. Helepi said that it was unfortunate that in our current society people invest more in alcohol than they do in reading.
He added that the challenge for him is to expand so far across the country that “a child should see a bookstore before they see a tavern.”

First-time customer, Amigo Makhubele, who works in Braamfontein said he was happy to see an array of books in African languages, but was especially pleased to find Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom in Xitsonga.
“This is good. I’ll definitely come back to get more books for my collection at home,” he said.

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Witsie’s shine at global summit

TWO WITS students represented South Africa at the annual One Young World Summit hosted in Bogotá, Colombia last week.

The annual summit brings together young talented leaders from 196 countries from global and national companies, NGOs and universities to debate, share and formulate innovative solutions to global issues.

photo: Provided

THE WITS EDGE: Tefo Mokhine and Nkululeko Tselane at the One Young World Summit.                                                       Photo: Provided

Third year mining engineering student, Tefo Mokhine, and fourth year law student, Nkululeko Tselane, were selected based on their leadership qualities, entrepreneurship skills, civic engagement and the work they have done in their communities.

Mokhine told Wits Vuvuzela that he was the only one who represented a student business club from South Africa called the Young African Global Entrepreneurs Club (YAGEC). The business club was created last year by a Wits student, Diketso Phokungwane. “Representing YAGEC was an honour for me, our aim is to expand our network of entrepreneurs from across Africa and the world,” Mokhine said.

Mokhine was a delegate speaker and shared the stage with former Public Protector Advocate Thuli Mandonsela and the CEO of Emergent Telecom Ventures, Mahommed Amersi. “It was a really humbling and great learning curve, having to address 1 300 people is not a small feat at all. I learned a lot about the experience and happenings of many other countries. I feel empowered and more learned now,” said Mokhine.

Tselane told Wits vuvuzela that the experience was eye opening. “I did not know the problems that people in Tunisia and Tanzania face. Engaging with African’s experiencing different problems was eye opening,” he said

Phokungwane said that Mokhine representing the club internationally is a first major step. “Having that world stage and being the only business club to do so from South Africa presents a huge stepping stone form us,” Phokungwane said.

 

RELATED ARTICLES: One Young leader at a time, September, 2016.