Cool kid on Campus: Karabo Mokoena

Karabo Mokoena is a 21 year Environmental Science student at Wits who is trying to change perceptions about black women’s natural hair and empower Africa at the same time. She is the CEO of a company called Nalane ea Afrika (African heritage) which produces natural hair care products for anyone who wants to manage their hair better.

EMPOWERING AFRICA: Karabo Mokoena is a Wits student making waves with her hair product Nalane ea Afrika. Photo: Lwazi Mazibuko

EMPOWERING AFRICA: Karabo Mokoena is a Wits student making waves with her hair product Nalane ea Afrika. Photo: Lwazi Mazibuko

Why did you start Nalane ea Afrika?

“It was that thing of, I’ve never seen MY hair. Having my hair natural means that, it’s my hair in its natural state, in its unique state… When we were little we would be forced to relax our hair and in those days, it was so painful. You would always burn from the relaxer and we want to prevent a lot of parents from having doing that to their kids because now we have the resources to change that.”

What is different about your product?

“One of the things that we strive for in the company is to only use African products. Everything that we use must be African. Even if we buy our oils, all our raw materials must be African. We even want the people who are giving us the raw materials to process them in Africa. So we want to empower Africa as a whole.”

How do you juggle the management of Nalane ea Afrika with your studies?

“My role right now is basically running the company, it’s still very small. The company I dedicate to during weekends. When I’m at school, I’m at school. I have my school time and then in between, even in between lectures, I’ll look at my e-mails to see what we need to do. I haven’t neglected my studies, I’m doing very well.”

How has your degree help you create the product?

“It helped in the sense that I did chemistry first year level, so that helped me understand when I was doing the research behind which products to use, which raw materials to use and if they would mix. I had a bit of background in that, so does my sister.”

Do you think that black girls at Wits are becoming more comfortable with their hair?

“I think so, I don’t think I could say yes or no. I only come on campus to do school and then I leave. So the people that I see – I see a lot of people with natural hair.”

What is the most important thing you want to achieve with your product?

“We’re going through a time where people are so conscious especially black women and I think the thing about having natural hair is seeing your true self. So I would like to achieve changing the mentality that – you being your natural self – is not right. That you can’t manage your hair because it looks unruly or it looks untidy. There’s so many hair styles you can do with your natural hair and I just want people to love themselves the way that they are.”

Students accuse South Point of false advertising

Students accuse South Point of false advertising

One of the South Point buildings in Braamfontein. Photo: Sinikiwe Mqadi

One of the South Point buildings in Braamfontein. Photo: Sinikiwe Mqadi

Students are complaining about dirty accommodation in a South Point buildings despite advertisements promising daily cleaning services.

According to the advertisements, all student accommodation common areas are supposed to be cleaned daily, but Clifton Heights is cleaned only once a week due to a lack of staff.“It is not possible to clean all communes every day at Clifton because we do not have enough cleaners.” said South Point facilities, manager Jan Botha.

Second-year social work student, Thabo Mokoena and other students have complained that their commune houses are not cleaned but said there was no response.

“I ended up writing in their maintenance book that they should not come to my room at all, because I can do better,” said Mokoena.

Students also said that they chose to stay at South Point because they saw on the advertisements that it is a convenient place for students and would be clean.

“I came to this place because I thought they clean for us every day. We are students—we do not have time,” said microbiology honours student, Keneilwe Ranakabae.

Clifton Heights has five cleaners to service 126 communes. Cleaning services are outsourced to the Tsepo Cleaning Company.  Common areas include kitchens, bathrooms, television room and verandas.

According to the Consumer Protection Act: “Consumers have a right to fair and responsible marketing. Suppliers are not permitted to mislead consumers in respect of pricing, the nature, properties, advantages or uses of goods or services advertised, if such goods are not actually available for purchase or procurement in accordance with these standards.”