EDITORIAL: A little closer to home

Last week, Wits was a hot bed of student action during Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW). Scores of students took to the library lawns and media platforms to fight for their cause. This fight was, for many, a fight for human rights.

One cannot deny the legitimacy of this cause. No matter what side people are on, we understand the contestation and the need to bring issues of human rights to light.

The principle of human rights activism, as we interpret it, is to stand against the violation of human rights in any and all situations. But why is it that human rights violations on our doorstep fade in the shadow of international causes?
Last week, Wits Vuvuzela published a story about the torture of homeless people by police outside the Methodist church in Braamfontein. This without a doubt is a gross violation of human rights, but the reaction was muted. No questions were asked and no support was shown for the victims.

[pullquote]Activism should not be something that happens in shifts, there should be no “off” days for activists. [/pullquote]

Yet some Witsies were quick to take to the Twitter streets to complain about “misleading” IAW coverage in Wits Vuvuzela.

Activism should not be something that happens in shifts, there should be no “off” days for activists. While it is inevitable that people will feel closer to certain causes, it is problematic to ignore or hold in a lesser regard other issues of human rights violations, particularly those that are happening on our doorstep.

Where were our human rights activists when the Marikana miners were gunned down? Better yet, where were our human rights activists when our students were being sexually harassed?

Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “Our lives begin to end the day we keep quiet about things that matter”. When the people who should say something say nothing, humanity slowly whittles away and before we know it, it’s “okay” to disregard certain rights and certain people as being less important.

[pullquote align=”right”]When we can, we must make some noise, raise our voices above oppression and ultimately be the change that we want to see in the world.[/pullquote]

If all human rights are fundamentally equal and important, then the homeless people brutalised by the police in Braamfontein should garner the same support and raise the same level of passion between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian activists on campus.

Wits has always been a site of activism. The likes of Nelson Mandela and Ruth First paved the road to democracy on this very ground. They fought for us all, none more important than the other. If it had not been for them, we would not be here today.

We owe it to them, ourselves and future generations to ensure that human rights are afforded to everyone. When we can, we must make some noise, raise our voices above oppression and ultimately be the change that we want to see in the world.

Education campus caterer stays put

The catering company for Wits Education campus is set to stay put, at least for another year, along with its costly menu.

Students on the campus were hoping that a change in caterer would provide more cost-effective options but the company, Olives & Plates has just received a one year extension from Wits University.

The contract

Deputy director of Wits Services Nicholas Matthes, in response to questions about the extension, said, “The tender committee selected Olives & Plates as the preferred operator,” said Matthes. Although the contract has been secured for 2014, an agreement for the duration of 2015 has not been reached yet.

Last week Wits Vuvuzela reported that students on education campus were unhappy about the cost of food at Olives & Plates. Many students said they wanted more variety in food retailers on campus, and specifically, more affordable options.

Njabulo Mkhize, former Education School Council (ESC) vice-president said he was aware that Olives & Plates was a retailer which provided quality food.“It goes through testing and all that, but the issue is whether or not this service they are providing is financially viable for students”

The tender proccess

Olives & Plates currently complies with the tender criteria from the Wits services department which includes nutritional value, attention to current trends as well as cost for various types of menu items.

Matthes said 2013 had been “a year of significance” for the food industry as economic pressures saw food prices soar. Alongside these economic pressures, a global horsemeat scandal rocked consumers all over the world.  In light of this, Wits services invested time and effort into building strong relationships with credible suppliers adding the ingredient of “trust”.

Possibility of a new retailer?

It is unlikely that education campus will get another food retailer on the campus.  According to Matthes, feasibility, sustainability and space allocation play a role in the selection of a suitable operator. “It is not feasible to have more than one operator on campus,” he said.

The Wits services department told Wits Vuvuzela they were in talks with Olives & Plates in order to determine the best way of engaging with students to get specific feedback in relation to the service delivery.

The department would ensure “that a broad variety of products and price range is available to the variety of clientele,” said Matthes.

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The “Yellow bone Factory” hits Wits

By Pheladi Sethusa and Nomatter Ndebele

Skin lightening treatments, reviled as part of an apartheid mindset pre-1994, have come back into fashion on campus .

YELLOW FEVER: Wits Vuvuzela journalist, Nomatter Ndebele, took one for the team to explore new frontiers of yellow-boneness in this photo illustration.      Image: Luca Kotton

YELLOW FEVER: Wits Vuvuzela journalist, Nomatter Ndebele, took one for the team to explore new frontiers of yellow-boneness in this photo illustration. Image: Luca Kotton

“Yellow-bone”, the hip-hop term for light-skinned black people, has become the latest unattainable beauty standard to meet – along with size 32 hips, a DD cup size and a bulbous bum.

Posters for a company, “The Yellow-bone Factory”, have recently appeared on campus offering skin-lightening treatments to students.

Wits Vuvuzela called the number on the poster. Company founder Neo Mobita said the reason for the demand was simple: “Students want to be yellow-bones.”

How does it work?

Mobita said three treatment options were available: “Skin renew” body and face creams, pills and injections.

These treatments range in cost but even the cheapest and mildest of the pills – vitamin C prep – comes in at between R150 for the smallest bottle, and R1300.

Kojic acid was “more responsive”, said Mobita, because it “stops melanin from making skin darker”. These pills range from R1000 to R2000, depending on the size of the bottle.

Be warned

General practitioner at the Execumed clinic in Killarney, Dr Safeera Kholvadia, warned against making use of any injectibles for “skin brightening” as they were “not regulated in South Africa”. People should be wary of products sold on posters and even online. Using unregulated dosages of any skin brightening treatment “could be deadly”.

“There is no cure for pigmentation, no matter what you use,” said Kholvadia. She explained that pigment cells dictated people’s colour. As soon as they stopped using the treatment, those pigment cells would override its effects. “Everyone is trying to tap into the market at the moment. Consumers should be very wary.”

Aside from being extremely expensive, skin lightening products – through making unnatural adjustments – were harmful not just to the skin but also to the mind and emotional states of users, Kholvadia said: “Usually there are deeper underlying issues for people who do this.”

What do Witsies say?

Although “The Yellow-bone Factory” targets students, the general sentiment among Witsies approached by Wits Vuvuzela was that skin lightening is unnecessary.  Students were bold in their criticisms. David Manabile, 2nd year Education, said skin lightening was a ridiculous concept.

“When women do it, it means that they aren’t proud of their skin colour and their roots. I would never do it, because I’m proud of who I am and where I come from. I was born this way, I don’t feel the need to change who I am, to be something or someone else.”

Liveni Ndlovu, 1st year BA, said because “yellow-bones are seen as hot”, darker people are left being very self-conscious and not very confident about their looks.

Engineering PhD student Ntando James said: “I understand why women want to do it, because of the misconception they have that light skin is what all men are attracted to… If someone I was dating, or knew, wanted to do it, I would discourage them. There are serious repercussions and side-effects.

“You can get skin cancer and have bad reactions to all those chemical treatments and lightening cream(s). People just don’t think about it, but they do it because of an identity crisis, to fit into a ‘fake’ society.”

[pullquote]“All women are or have the potential to be yellow-bones.”[/pullquote]

Amanda Dyandyi, 1st year Fine Arts, said skin lightening “puts people in a box. It’s like racism all over again but between black people.”

The official website of Mobita’s company contains a post that says: “All women are or have the potential to be yellow-bones.”

But the demand goes beyond gender and race, apparently. She said there were people who wanted to get darker too.  “The Yellow-bone Factory” was currently experimenting with “crossing racial lines,” she said. “We can make you whatever you want to be, white, coloured, whatever.”

Education students gatvol over food

Education  campus students still don’t have enough choice for food options, despite having raised the issue with Vice Chancellor Adam Habib at the Town Hall meeting in June last year.

During last year’s Town Hall meetings on Main campus and Education campus, students were able to raise their concerns with Habib in a public forum

Lack of food outlets

At the Education campus Town Hall, former ECS (Education School Council) vice president Njabulo Mkhize raised his concerns about the inadequate food options on the campus. Olives and Plates is the only food outlet available on Education campus. The students find the restaurant expensive.

Mkize told the VC that students could not afford to purchase food at the café because the prices were very high. His concern was that the students had absolutely no other option to get food other than Olives and Plates.

.[pullquote align=”right”]“He even said that having seen the quotes for Olives and Plates, he had decided to cut down on food expenses for staff functions,” [/pullquote]

At the Town Hall meeting Habib was said to have acknowledged this was a legitimate concern.“He even said that having seen the quotes for Olives and Plates, he had decided to cut down on food expenses for staff functions,”said Mkize

What the students have to say

Students on education canpus opt to bring packed lunches to campus as they feel the food from Olives and plates is too expensive.

Students on education canpus opt to bring packed lunches to campus as they feel the food from Olives and plates is too expensive.

Having served on the ESC for two years, Mkize said he was aware that there are students who could not afford to buy food from Olives and Plates.During lunch break, students grouped together at various spots at campus, most eating their packed lunches. Many also had polystyrene boxes of slap chips, the most affordable item on offer from Olives and Plates.

[pullquote]“You get a burger here for R22 and it doesn’t have chips, but on Main campus a meal is R25,” [/pullquote]

Two fourth year students, Zama Khumalo and Anna Lekata, sat outside Olives and Plates eating their lunch – a Butcher’s Grill meal that they had got from Main campus. “You get a burger here for R22 and it doesn’t have chips, but on Main campus a meal is R25,” said Khumalo.

Khumalo and Lekata had left at 11am to come to Main campus because they had no classes to attend. The two said they would have been late for classes in the afternoon had they not been able to leave early.

Ami Sonnenburg, 2nd year BEd, said she always brought lunch from home because she was Jewish, only ate kosher food and Olives and Plates did not provide that option. She added that she disliked buying food from Main campus,“The food at the matrix is disgusting and the matrix is filthy”.

A group of students studying a PGCE said that they had noticed a big difference in a availability of food variety since they left Main campus.“We don’t actually buy food, we just buy snacks,” said Daniella Regal. Mutshutshudzi Tshikule, secretary of the ESC, told Wits Vuvuzela that nothing had been done about most of the issues that were raised at the Town Hall forum.

Alongside the food issue, students had raised concerns about the high international upfront payment fees.

SLICE OF LIFE: Still in the dark about beauty

Nomatter Ndebele

Nomatter Ndebele. Photo: TJ Lemon

WHO is this Lupita Nyong’o? Telling the world that it’s okay to be a dark-skinned girl?

How dare she stand there courageously, in her bold colours, night shade, firm in her conviction that dark-skinned girls are, in fact, beautiful?

Seriously Lupita, this is not the time for a colour revolution. The world has not accepted me yet. Until you came along, with your “revolution” glowing brightly from your dark skin, my life was going on as it should have. I’ve finally finished my degree, soon I will have a job and I will be able to afford all my planned bleaching treatments.

The dream was within reach, but no. Thanks to you and your bold blackness the world has supposedly decided that I belong here, at every turn people are holding mirrors up to me and saying “we see you, you are something to look at now”.

Now I’ll never be able to bleach myself because the whole world is watching and my simple explanation of “I just want to be lighter” will never be an acceptable reason for ridding myself of my burdensome, melanin-induced shade.You meant well, I know you did. None of this is your fault but look what you’ve done. What your personal victory has inadvertently done to me.

[pullquote] at every turn people are holding mirrors up to me and saying “we see you, you are something to look at now”.[/pullquote]

I wanted to be noticed. I wanted my beauty to be acknowledged, not fetishised. I didn’t want to be put on a global pedestal that I will never actually be on.  Now  the world not only sees me, it has me under a microscope and God forbid I find myself even half a shade lighter before that bleaching appointment.

While I admire your bold blackness, I don’t appreciate it.Because you have unwittingly drawn me into “the struggle”. You’ve made me one with all the other dark-skinned girls. Now I will never be able to represent myself without representing a whole.When I mention skin lightening the world will look at me and ask “Have you seen Lupita Nyong’o?”

Yes, I have but let’s face facts, I am NOT Lupita Nyong’o.

Where was Lupita Nyong’o when the makeup artist religiously caked my face with a foundation three shades lighter than I was because she “didn’t have make up for dark people”? Where was Lupita when the production assistant at work would whisk me away into the bathroom before we went live to try and “fix me” since the makeup artist was too busy perfecting the lighter skinned presenters’ makeup.

Lupita Nyong’o’s win is not a win for all of us. We haven’t won, we are not simply beautiful yet. We are exoticised, we are sold to the world as “black beauties”, we are fetishised. We are the boxes that need to be ticked, our compliments are an over compensation for the years of disregard.

[pullquote align=”right”]Yes, I have but let’s face facts, I am NOT Lupita Nyong’o.[/pullquote]

I went from hearing “I have no makeup for dark people” to “I love doing make up on your flawless skin, your almond eyes are great to work on”.When will dark girls be more than “pretty for a dark skinned girl”?

What happens if I never make it to the big Hollywood lights, cameras flashing and ebony skin reflecting the afterglow of success. I may never make it. Lupita did, I haven’t.

We “made it” and, until then, I’m not ready to liquidate my “bleaching fund” just yet.

‘Cocaine’ conman back on campus

WITS’ cocaine conman has struck again, this time swindling a student out of his Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

On Tuesday morning John Kelm* was approached by a man near the Planetarium at about 10:30am. Kelm said the man had a Nigerian accent and asked if he could use Kelm’s phone to call a friend to pick him up. The man made the phone call and told Kelm that his friend would call him back on Kelm’s phone.

After this, the man produced two small bags of “cocaine” and said that he was going to sell it to the man he had spoken to on the phone. The man then said he needed to take Kelm’s phone with him to go and meet his buyer, and that Kelm should hold onto the second bag of cocaine as proof that his phone would be returned.

Kelm refused the offer and the man responded by threatening him with a knife and then left with Kelm’s phone. He opened the packet to find that the “cocaine” was white flour. Kelm tried to run after the man, but he had fled.

The Conman

Kelm described the man as being 1.75 metres tall and very well built. He also had a tattoo on his right shoulder. Kelm reported the theft to Campus Control and was told a similar incident had happened on east campus two days prior.

“They described the man to me, and it was the exact description,” Kelm said. The clearly frustrated student said he did not understand how the man was able to get onto campus. “Why aren’t they (Campus Control) doing anything about it?” asked Kelm.

Campus Control head of investigations Michael Mahada told Wits Vuvuzela that the matter had been handed over to Hillbrow police and the white substance would be chemically analysed.

The con

Campus Control investigations officer Luvuyo Zitwana told Wits Vuvuzela that the cocaine con was increasingly common on campus with at least seven thefts of cellphones in the past year.

He said many more thefts likely go unreported by students. Wits Vuvuzela was shown security footage of the conman and of the actual cocaine con going down.

In the video, the conman is seen asking a student to borrow his phone. He then makes a phone call and waits for his ‘friend’ to call him back. In actual fact, the conman has called his own phone, set to silent and sitting in his own pocket.

He then slips his own phone out of his pocket and, with his hand hidden, calls back the victims phone. This makes it appear that entire phone conversation is legitimate. In the security footage Wits Vuvuzela viewed, the man is seen operating at John Moffat and Chamber of Mines.

Previous incidents

Last year, Wits Vuvuzela reported that “I’ve lost my phone” stories similar to the cocaine con were one of the popular methods of theft on campus.

The conmen target students with the latest cellphones, such as Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones. In one case, the white powdered substance a conman used was found to be mealie-meal.

At the time, it was estimated that 50% of those arrested for theft were Wits students. Theft at laundry facilities in residences was particularly common.

Campus Control also stressed that non-students who gained illegal entry were responsible for many of the crimes on campus.

Lost or stolen student cards should be reported and blocked, and students should refrain from swiping in non-students. *not his real name

Related articles: Campus control put brakes on thieves.

Ex-Witsie sentencecd to 15 years.

 

Wits sports gets its groove back

SIGN HERE: A student signs up for Wits Vibe and gets a complimentary t-shirt

SIGN HERE: A student signs up for Wits Vibe and gets a complimentary t-shirt Photo: Nomatter Ndebele

The Old Mutual Sports Hall was abuzz this week with students signing up for various sports clubs and teams. This year Wits Sports Administration boasts 37 clubs for students to choose from.

The new kid on the block is Wits vibe.  A team dedicated to breathing life into Wits’ sporting community. Wits Vibe is a community  based organisation that offers students a fuller sporting experience for every season.The group will be revealing a new sports mascot for Wits and allowing students With Wits Vibe cards free entry at Monday’s Varsity Cup rugby match.

The match will also showcase the first cheer of the year from the Wits’ cheerleading squad. The squad, who are sponsored by Samsung, only started last year and are still recruiting more cheerleaders.  Those who get through the auditions could be in line to receive a bursary to the value of R6 000.

Several students crowded around the table tennis club

, taking turns to have a go. Students who join the table tennis team will be joining the 2012/2013 university sport champions.  The team consist of five national players, offering students an opportunity to learn from the best.

The group also offers an opportunity to go on an international tour. Team member Hlumelo Rubushe described the sport as being similar to Play Station “You have to apply yourself because table tennis is easy to learn but difficult to perfect,” said Rubushe.

On Tuesday the team had already registered 30 students, with many more queuing up to join the club.

When one hears the word ‘frisbee’, you may think of a group of people leisurely throwing a plastic disk at each other. But the Wits Ultimate Frisbee team takes the sport to a whole new level. “It’s all about running your legs off and diving very hard”, said club chair Sally Crompton. Ultimate Frisbee games are refereed by the team players. “It’s a very honest game, if there’s a problem we stop play and figure it out altogether,” she said.

Relates stories: Ready okay, Wits cheerleading comes to wits

SRC election battle escalates to legal war

By Thuletho Zwane and Nomatter Ndebele

The SRC elections could soon become a legal battle as the PYA (Progressive Youth Alliance) and Project W take legal action against each other. Tokelo Nhlapo, SRC vice president internal, has laid an official complaint with the Wits Legal Office following a confrontation with Jamie Mighti, Project W candidate and former debating union chairperson.

The incident that led to the complaint.

[pullquote align=”right”]“He said I must be careful and I am skating on thin ice.”[/pullquote]

Nhlapo alleges that Mighti told him to be careful and watch his ways.“He said I must be careful and I am skating on thin ice.This happened when Nhlapo and Mighti had a political debate about an article Mighti had written about “blacks being lazy”. “My contestation with him is that he can’t say blacks are lazy because of our history,” Nhlapo said.

Nhlapo said he was also uncomfortable with the sexist remarks Mighti made a few months ago on the Wits Debating Union facebook page. Nhlapo told Wits Vuvuzela that he had lodged the complaint in fear of his life. “What I want from him is that he must stay away from me… he’s violent.”

Project W responds.

Accused: Project W member Jamie Mighti pictured here with Henry Masuku  may have legal action taken against him.

Accused: Project W member Jamie Mighti pictured here with Henry Masuku may have legal action taken against him.

[pullquote align=”left”]“He [Mighti]] is being crucified. They bring out his history and they try to score cheap political points,” [/pullquote]

During an interview with the Project W campaign manager, Cebo Gila, a female student approached him and said, “Guys, please control Jamie… he can’t go around picking fights”. Gila said Project W needed to “protect” rather than control Mighti. “He [Mighti] is being crucified. They bring out his history and they try to score cheap political points,”

Gila said the opposition was preoccupied with personal attacks against Mighti for allegedly being violent and sexist , using his “history” to undermine Project W instead of engaging with the manifesto of the student action group.

“When he is being provoked on a daily basis to the point that he is being crucified, he is going to react,” Gila said. Gila said that members of Project W were being intimidated to the point where “I feel uncomfortable wearing this T-shirt”.“Do you understand that we have been bullied, we have been forced to change strategy, we have been victimized, our volunteers are told we are puppets,” he said.Gila also raised concern that Project W posters were being torn down.

Project W allegedly receives financial assistance from management.

[pullquote] “completely false

accusations” [/pullquote]made against it.

SRC treasurer, Justice Nkomo, claimed that Project W had received R500 000 from Wits management. He said Project W misled the students because it presented itself as humanitarian.“They ran it [Project W] as a charity campaign but it has a political agenda,” Nkomo said. “They are collecting cans [of food] now; were people not starving in March and April?”

Project W is considering seeking legal avenues to deal with the“completely false accusations” made against it. Gila said that Project W never misrepresented itself. “The misconception is an incompletion of how they [the PYA] understand Project W,” Gila said.

Mighti declined to comment on the incident with Nhlapo and referred Wits Vuvuzela to Gila. Gila said the incident was “regrettable, from both parties”. Wits Vuvuzela was not able to reach the Wits Legal Office for comment.

Related articles : Top debater gets banned

How do you like your coffee?

It all began with two encounters – a fictional encounter, complicated by a peculiarly South African issue. And an encounter on a real-life level, which brought about a “mingling of different colours”.Two students,  who were no more than acquaintances before, had to work intimately together this month to create a piece of physical theatre about a relationship between two characters. But not just any two people.  56 Mocha Street follows the tensions between an interracial couple.

The Actors

5,6,7,8: Oupa Sibeko and Emma Tollman rehearse their physical theatre piece 56 Mocha Street.

5,6,7,8: Oupa Sibeko and Emma Tollman rehearse their physical theatre piece 56 Mocha Street.

Emma Tollman and Oupa Lesne Sibeko, 3rd year Drama, choreographed the piece based on their own experiences.

The two characters encounter one another in 56 Mocha Street, their home and space. Here they delve into the tensions between how society perceives interracial relationships and how they perceive themselves after being affected by society, said Sibeko.

Apart from the obvious racial tensions – between their characters and, potentially, the two of them –  the actors described what it was like to have to work together for the first time.  “I remember doing a back-to-back improvisation and Oupa’s body felt so foreign to me,” said Tollman.

How the piece was created

In creating the piece, the two took inspiration from their physical theatre class. It was about discovering “who we are in the class, personally and in the relationship”, said Sibeko. The name 56 Mocha Street uses the metaphor of coffee to describe “the mingling of different colours”, with Emma as a white female and Oupa a black male. The piece explores the intricacies of gender fights, and facing one another head-on.The two use the idea of play and using their bodies to take on the spaces in which they find themselves. Through this, they explore the idea of encounters further.

What is the piece about?

[pullquote]“It’s a vicious cycle of disconnection, finding each other and losing each other,”[/pullquote]

The piece depicts an intensely tragic relationship, “Its a vicious cycle of disconnection,finding each other and losing each other” ,said Tollman. She described the journey through Mocha Street as different from that of a more conventional theater. In this piece, “there is a disillusion of time, a flood of happenings. We are always just happening, we can’t control keeping on.”

The piece was created through a process of “play”, during which the two noticed that material “kept happening”. Through this material and their movements, they have found a story.

56 Mocha Street will be on show at the Wits Downstairs theater on August 26 and 29.

VIDEO: Marikana First Anniversary

AUGUST 16 marks the first anniversary of the fateful killing of Lonmin platinum mine workers in North West province. The event has been dubbed the “Marikana massacre” because police opened fire at over 30 protesting mine workers. A year later questions still need to be answered by the Marikana commission of inquiry regarding the police’s conduct and events leading to the disputes. Wits Vuvuzela took to the streets to ask Witsies whether they remember the event, its significance and how the day should be commemorated.

Camera operator

Mfuneko Toyana

Interviewer

Ray Mahlaka

Editor

Ray Mahlaka and Nomatter Ndebele

Ladies night: Unleashing the Superwomen within

By Nomatter Ndebele and Emelia Motsai

Golden Key had a women’s day celebration at the Wits Art Museum on Wednesday. It was a black tie event and the speakers included Nondumiso Mzizana and Tryphosa Ramano. Sara Chitambo from Zazi, a national women’s campaign also spoke to the students.

Ramadan: A time to reflect and fast

By Nomatter Ndebele and Pheladi Sethusa 

For Muslims all over the world Ramadan is a time of sacrifice and reflection.

What is Ramadan?

Anwar Jhetam from the   Muslim Students Association said Ramadan marks the ninth month in the Islamic calendar.

This is the month in which it is believed  the holy Qu’ran was revealed, said Jhetam.

“It is a month of fasting and increased worship to develop a closer relationship with God.   Ramadan is a month of reflection and self development,” he said.

During this month Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and abstain from “food, drink and sex with one’s spouse”, said Jhetam.  The fast is broken after dusk at which point people are allowed to indulge in the above.

Students and fasting 

While the rest of the students go about their day, munching this and that, Muslim students have to wake up before sunrise to have breakfast and fast throughout the day until about 5.30pm.

Romy Dasoo, 1st year Engineering, said she is finding fasting while attending university very difficult.

Allahu Akbar: Muslim students  pictured at the University of Johannesburg, reciting a sunset prayer before breaking fast on Tuesday evening. The Wits and UJ Muslim student associations broke their fast together at a Ramadan Iftar dinner.            Photo: Caro Malherbe

Allahu Akbar: Muslim students pictured at the University of Johannesburg, reciting a sunset prayer before breaking fast on Tuesday evening. The Wits and UJ Muslim student associations broke their fast together at a Ramadan Iftar dinner. Photo: Caro Malherbe

She has class from 8am to 5pm. “I end up breaking fast later, due to traffic,” she said.

Third year physiology student, Imraan Ballim, said: “Apart from the weird gastric sounds, it’s quite cool.”

Ballim believes the month of Ramadan is a very spiritual experience. “You engage more with religion and what it means,” said Ballim.

He also believes the introspection aspect of the fast makes it worthwhile. [pullquote align=”right”]”It becomes easier with time as you aren’t distracted by having to eat or drink”[/pullquote]

Dasoo wishes she was more spiritual because the month would mean more to her and added that she admires students who are very spiritual.

Many students are quite aware of the difficulty of having to concentrate on an empty stomach.

Ballim agreed the first few days are difficult but said it becomes easier with time as you aren’t distracted by having to eat or drink.

Shared experience

Many Muslim students also get together to pray in the afternoon.

Ballim said this is a “nice experience because everyone gets together” and shares in the religion. Breaking fast is another good experience, as people gather with their families to feast on food they have been wilfully avoiding all day.

Special concessions are made for pregnant women, children, the sick and people who will be travelling at the time.

“They are permitted to abstain from the fast and can fast at a later date,” said Jhetam.

“At the heart of the fast is drawing closer to God during this special time,” he added, saying that students should use this time to develop character traits and habits that they will carry with them long after this religious period is over.