Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers hosts Soweto camp fest 2015

The fifth annual Soweto camp festival kicked off yesterday at Lebo’s Backpackers in Soweto and will run right through the Easter Weekend until Monday, April 6.

Situated in the heart of Orlando West at the corner Pooe & Ramushu streets, the festival offers young and old people the chance to camp outdoors for the weekend. People can bring their own tent to the festival or opt to pay for the special package which gets you and a friend access and a free tent that you get to keep for life.

“We want to awaken a camping consciousness, particularly because it is something that is unusual among the Soweto community,” said organiser Lebo Malepa.

Live music bands and local dj’s will provide a variety of entertainment for day visitors and campers.  While early morning bicycle tours around Soweto are being offered for free to campers to the nearby Hector Peterson museum and famous Vilikazi street. Board games are available for all to indulge while hammocks provided will be ideal for those who just love to laze around.

Stoves and camp fires are set up at the venue and people are encouraged to bring food that they can cook in the spirit of camping. A gear list for the event includes; linen, utensils, a camp chair, a torch and a cooler bag according to camp maestro Malepa.

Through this event the organisers want to not only school people on camping, but to also to encourage local tourism as well as entrepreneurship among young people.

“The festival is an open space for networking and dialogue with campers from near and far,” said Malepa.

The festival has been organised in conjunction with Ghetto Mentality Entertainmen, the Gauteng Tourism Authority and Johannesburg Tourism.

“We are calling entrepreneurs to come and use the space to meet potential clients and partners and to have open dialogue on how we can move forward as a country as the number of people attending is growing every year,” Malepa said.

Organisers have employed young men and women from the community to do various things like helping to set up tents, and provide security and car guarding.

Let’s talk about sex, baby!

The Seventh annual Sex Actually festival produced by Drama for Life (DFL) is here, with the theme “Love, Intimacy and Human Connection”.

A plethora of theatre performances, workshops, sex talk series and community dialogues are taking place at the Wits Theatre. The festival started this week and runs till the end of the month.

It will offer a platform for audiences to critique social change interventions in sex-related issues such as HIV/AIDS, sexual violence and abuse.

In the opening address for the festival, DFL director Warren Nebe, said the festival was launched as an initiative to raise awareness about the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa.

He said the aim of the festival is to explore human connections in all its shapes and forms. DFL wanted to create a festival thats transcends race, class, gender and sexualities.

Tarryn Lee, Sex Actually festival director, said this year the festival is a public intervention looking to use exciting mediums to talk about sex, relationships and HIV/AIDS since it is often viewed as a heavy subject. They use dialogue to break the silence around the stigmas attached to taboo issues.

“In South Africa specifically, sex is often a very heavy subject in our society … It’s not always a celebrated subject and is also filled with many myths and taboos,” she said.

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TALK SEX: Drama For Life students perform Ships by Night by Megan Godsell in the opening of Sex Actually festival at Wits Theatre. Photo: Anazi Zote


Lee said the myths and taboos around sex need to be de-mystified and brought to light so that sex-related issues “are challenged in our community, our families and work space”.

South African National AIDS Council (SANCA) Deputy Chairperson, Mmapaseka Steve Letsike, appeared at the official opening of the Sex Actually festival. Her opening address started by praising women for their fight for human rights.

“By talking we facilitate dialogue and conversation about the certain taboos that encircle our society,” Letsike said.

Although she highlighted the triumphs of women who fought political struggles she said the current fight over HIV/AIDS is prevalent in young women aged 15-24. According to the Mail & Guardian, the rate of HIV amongst females is four times higher than that of males in the same age group.

“We have committed to really focus on young women,” said Letsike, adding that SANCA had also  launched the Zazi campaign, which is about knowing yourself, embracing yourself and knowing your status, ” Letsike said.

Zazi is a Zulu word meaning “know yourself”. It reminds women to know their inner strength, value and what it means to be themselves so they can overcome adversity. The programme was launched at the University of Johannesburg  on Soweto campus in partnership with the Department of Social Development.

In the meanwhile, Wits students at DFL take pride in this year’s festival performances because it raises awareness on issues which continually face youth. Damilola Apotieri, Masters student at DFL, thinks the festival is a good opportunity for students to lend themselves to different conversations around sex and relationships in hopes to generate more knowledge on these issues.

“Personally, I will recommend that all Wits students attend as there can never be any better platform to engage with such issues,” Apotieri said.

INFOGRAPHIC: Sudden deaths in young people are related to cardiovascular disease

FINAL_Sudden deaths in young people related to heart diseaseA public lecture addressing the sharp increase in the number of sudden deaths among young people was held at the Wits Medical School last week.

Presented by Professor Dimitri Constantinou, Director of the Fifa Medical Centre Of Excellence, the lecture focused on sudden death among athletes and argued that most of these deaths were caused by  cardiovascular disease.

Constantinou said the media has a significant role to play in educating people about cardiovascular disease especially when it involves prominent footballers.

Instead of informing people, he said, the media tends to sensationalise these deaths and misses the opportunity to raise awareness about the risks of cardiovascular disease in young people.

According to Constantinou, anyone at risk of cardiovascular disease is at a high risk of having a heart attack if they exercise.

In these cases, high-risk persons, especially professional athletes, need to be closely and regularly monitored.

Constantinou recommends that anyone who is engaging in any form of exercise should go for regular heart wellness screenings.






Young people ambivalent about the vote

SERIOUS TALK: Andrew Gasnolar (Agang), Dali Mpofu (EFF), Mmusi Maimane (DA) and Fikile Mbalula (ANC) (from left to right) answer questions at a youth debate that focused on the theme, "Why do you deserve my vote?". Photo: Tracey Ruff

SERIOUS TALK: Political party representatives Andrew Gasnolar (Agang), Dali Mpofu (EFF), Mmusi Maimane (DA) and Mawethu Rune (ANC) (from left to right) answer questions at a youth debate that focused on the theme, “Why do you deserve my vote?” Photo: Tracey Ruff

 by Ilanit Chernick and Tracey Ruff

Young voters had a chance to question political heavy-hitters at a debate on Tuesday but many of the youth still expressed ambivalence about who they would vote for.

The debate, called “Why, do you deserve my vote?”, was held at Jozi Hub at 44 Stanley on Tuesday afternoon and gave young people the chance to ask questions to candidates from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), ANC, Democratic Alliance (DA) and Agang.

Musician Simon Tshukudu voiced the opinion of many of the young people present when he said he was uncertain about who to vote for because “none of the political parties running keep their promises” and he was concerned about “corruption within the parties.”

[pullquote]“No one has been that impressive or awe-inspiring,”[/pullquote]

However, despite his ambivalence, Tshukudu said he attended the debate because he wanted to “voice his opinion about issues in the country”.

Tuesday’s debate focused on addressing the youth’s lack of participation in the upcoming election and the great amount of voter apathy among the youth. In addition to being held at Jozi Hub, six students from across the country were chosen to participate in the debate via Google Hangout.

DA Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane said was encouraging the youth to vote because “it’s a South African’s right” to do so.

“We would like to build a country that is inclusive of all, including young people, especially the 1.6 million youth [in Gauteng] who can’t find work.”

The EFF’s Dali Mpofu said there was a “problem with the youth” and he hoped to “interest young people who are undecided to get involved and participate”.

 POLITICS OF FUN: The EFF's Dali Mpofu and the DA's Mmusi Maimane share a lighthearted moment at a youth debate held on Tuesday afternoon. Photo: Tracey Ruff

POLITICS OF FUN: The EFF’s Dali Mpofu and the DA’s Mmusi Maimane share a lighthearted moment at a youth debate held on Tuesday afternoon. Photo: Tracey Ruff

ANC representative Mawethu Rune said he did not agree that the youth were apathetic because ANC Youth League members were winning SRC elections in universities. “[This] shows more young people are getting involved in mainstream politics”.

Following the debate, many students were still ambivalent about the election. Student entrepreneur Tebogo Photoane told Wits Vuzuzela that he was still unsure who to vote for.

“No one has been that impressive or awe-inspiring,” Photoane said.

Former Wits student Mashokane Mahlo, however, said she had done a lot of thinking about her vote and had decided on what party to support.

“I know who I’m voting for, but my decision was changed recently because of new information I received,” said Mahlo. “It took a long time for me to decide.”


Witsies ready for the general elections

REGISTERED: Drama students Kelly Heckstein and Ashleigh Kelly talk politics during lunch hour at the Theatre. Photo: Caro Malherbe

REGISTERED: Drama students Kelly Heckstein and Ashleigh Kelly talk politics during lunch hour at the Wits Theatre. Photo: Caro Malherbe 


South Africans have until 5pm tonight to register to vote for the 2014 national general elections. It is still unclear though whether the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) will see the number of registered voters they were aiming for.

Wits Vuvuzela was on main campus today asking students if they had registered to vote for the upcoming elections. 

Are you registered? 

Ashleigh Kelly is a BA Drama student who strongly believes that it is important to vote but said she identified with people who opted not to vote.

“Not wanting to vote comes from the fact that we don’t know who to vote for. Democratic parties haven’t, especially with the born-frees, given us enough reason to trust their party,” she said.

Sitting next to her on the brick wall outside the Wits Theatre, Kelly Heckstein, a BA Performance and Visual Arts student, said she is registered to vote and plans on voting.

“If we want a say in how the country is run then we should vote and to make sure the majority rule is not an overriding rule and there are certain voices in parliament that can help.”

[pullquote]“As the youth, we are smarter than people in power right now so we know how to think about things and implement them, so if we are not going to vote we are not going to remove these people with authority.”[/pullquote]

The “born-free” vote

Born-frees (the term used to describe people born in democratic South Africa), make up 25% of all registered voters. Voting holds a certain responsibility and this figure could make a substantial difference to electoral outcomes. But it is unclear if those of the 25% who  have registered will actually cast their vote.

BA student, Kenny said he was registered to vote but does not plan on voting as he has no interest in politics.

Vutu Mapodi, 2nd year BA, said “It’s a nice activity to do, you feel part of something and not left out.”

Ayanda Mgete, 2nd year BA, said that the problem, with South African politics lies in leadership. “As the youth, we are smarter than people in power right now so we know how to think about things and implement them, so if we are not going to vote we are not going to remove these people with authority,” said Magete

On 7 May South Africans will line up at the voting polls to make their mark. Born-frees will cast their votes for the first time making this election a momentous one in the history of the country.


The youth get keen on doing it for Madiba

THE YEAR 2013 is proving to be the year of the youth.

Philanthropy and politics are making their way to the top of young people’s priority lists. And Mandela Day is a perfect way of engaging in both.

A recent survey by consumer research company, Pondering Panda, showed that nine out ten youngsters had plans of taking part in the Mandela Day initiative this year.

The number of youth giving 67 minutes of their time on former president Nelson Mandela’s birthday has increased threefold, with 33% of those surveyed saying they would be participating for the first time.

The Wits community has also done its bit to celebrate Mzansi’s favourite statesman.

Wits Business School (WBS) went to the Nazareth House in Yeoville. The house is home to abandoned HIV positive babies and children.

The Yeoville home also looks after the aged, mentally challenged and terminally ill.

WBS staff members decided to create a fun-filled day of cake and play for the 30 children of Nazareth House.

Face painting, jumping castles and games were the order of the day as the children enjoyed hot dogs, party packs and a large Nelson Mandela birthday cake.

“We decided to do something more personal and fun for the kids,” said WBS events officer Vuyolwethu Mntonintshi.

The WBS team also bought groceries, clothes and nappies for the home.

“We thought we’d also do some painting and gardening, but the place is actually pretty well-maintained,” Mntonintshi said.

She said they still had plans to buy books and toys for Nazareth House but had to wait for the procurement process at Wits to pass.

The spotlight on Nelson Mandela’s health appears to have brought greater attention to the icon and his legacy.

Some prominent young people decided to have an early Mandela Day.

In the second week of July, Lehasa Moloi of ETV’s Sony Mgongo fame took to Alexandra township with a team of celebrities.

The stars gave residents of the Itlhokomeleng Home for the Elderly manicures and haircuts in the sun. They also enjoyed chats over tea and cake in paying respect to Mandela.

Moloi was raised by his grandparents and is no stranger to frail care as he looked after his grandparents when they were ill.

He said he wished the plight of senior citizens could be “in people’s faces all the time” as they tend to be the “forgotten generation”.

While his condition is said to have improved, the former president’s health continues to be a matter of concern to South Africans everywhere.


Urban politics: thrifting in Jozi

Mpumelelo Mfula organises Babatunde gear at his RHTC stall at The Grove Market in Braamfontein

Mpumelelo Mfula organises Babatunde gear at his RHTC stall at The Grove Market in Braamfontein

On Sunday mornings, while most people go to church, inner-city Jozi becomes a refuge for urban youth looking for spaces to express themselves.

The Grove Market in Braamfontein turns into a platform where urban cool kids like Mpumelelo Mfula and Andile Jila meet to further their cause.  Vintage print jackets and tweed pencil skirts constitute their voice of protest – affordability and exclusivity providing them with a weapon against urban consumerism.

Thrift shopping or “thrifting”, as it is commonly called, is the art of finding one-of-a-kind items of clothing at markets and buying them for next to nothing.

A stall owner, who would give her name only as S’ponono, sees thrifting as her way of sharing her sense of style with the world. While doing her regular price negotiations she said: “I just feel like, if I’ve seen a piece for too long, I have to give it away.”

This is at the centre of thrifting culture – the sharing of exclusive items with people who share your passion for being different.

While profit is not the main goal, thrifters benefit from the income they make. Andile Jila, 1st year BA, uses the money he makes from thrifting to pay his fees.

“I’m paying the NSFAS interest, I buy my own books and I have to live. I’m surviving, though. Girls love clothes.”

Thrift stores have evolved from selling women’s clothing only, to becoming mini-department stores in their own right.

Bright African wax print bow ties and colourful clutch bags are some signature Babatunde brand items sold by Mfula, who started wearing the bright hats and matching ‘90s style sweaters when he was a Witsie years ago.

“It all started from varsity culture and wanting to be unique. I started wearing certain things before they were popular and that became my form of expression.”

Mfula, who has an honours degree in Politics, admits that thrifting is an unusual career choice for a graduate.

“People always say: ‘You have two degrees, you could do so much with that’, and I could be, but I’d be dying on the inside. I believe I’m part of a movement of urban politics.

“About five years ago we would take our money and spend it at the malls. Now our money stays in these circles and we benefit from our culture by developing an economy. It’s quite progressive.”

Asked if he felt the money from thrifting could sustain him long-term, Mfula admitted the average person would not think so but that it was good enough for the lifestyle he preferred – a “humble” one.

Mfula plans to grow his online store and one day develop pop-up stores around the country. “I want to promote the street culture that comes with thrifting and have stores for a few months in different spaces.”

He said it was important to remember that living with purpose wasn’t easy. “I’m building from the ground up and taking a stand in what I feel is an urban politics.”



Do the youth need another index?

Shaun Vorster, Business Development partner for the Youth Employment Index. Photo: Palesa Radebe

Shaun Vorster, Business Development partner for the Youth Employment Index. Photo: Palesa Radebe

In an attempt to combat youth unemployment, three companies have combined resources and created an online index where corporate businesses can “register and actively contribute to the employment of young South African talent.”

Uwin Iwin, Mazars and Pleiades Media have collectively established a Youth Employment Index (YEI) which is meant to help companies track youth (individuals aged between 16-35) employment.

“The YEI is a platform where corporates can see how they are faring against each other” in terms on youth employment, said Nazreen Pandor, chairperson of the YEI and associate director at Mazars.

She said the YEI will help create healthy competition, with corporates spurring each other to employ young people, or at least provide opportunities for them to contribute to South Africa.

The YEI is a measurement index that tracks youth employed in corporates and measures development opportunities afforded to them.

According to StatsSA, the 2012 third quarter unemployment rate among the 15- to 24-year-old age group is estimated at 48.2%. The aim of YEI is to encourage businesses to prioritise youth employment and development

Kerry Botha, CEO of Pleiades Media in the YEI  said they have always believed in the value of public relations and the powerful role the media had to play in catalysing the necessary shifts in youth employment.

Sarah Botha, daughter of Kerry Botha and account executive of YEI said YEI was established to “make sure people my age and younger are offered the same opportunities.”

The limitations to the YEI are: the index will be a “self-assessment” index meaning companies rate themselves on how well they think they have done and their rating is limited to the “integrity” of the company; the index methodology hasn’t been properly defined and it doesn’t articulate if broad-based-black economic empowerment (government policy) will be considered; no definite corporates were said to have signed up.


A long way to go for Wits Rugby

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By Jay Caboz

FNB Wits have been left a mountain to climb after falling to bottom place with a 63-24 loss to FNB University of Johannesburg after squaring off in their first Varsity Cup match.

“The match obviously didn’t pan out the way we would have wanted but we have to take the positives out of it. We started the game too slow and after UJ got a few early tries we were playing catch up, which is never an easy thing to do,” said Wits Captain Devin Montgomery.

UJ ran in an overwhelming 9 tries to Wits’ three. Wits also fell short of a needed bonus point by a single try in their last two games. The points would have narrowed the broadening gap between Ikeys and Shimlas who are now four and six points ahead of Wits.

Luckily, Wits’ position in the Varsity Cup is secured for the 2013 season. Montgomery explained that there was no relegation zone this year guaranteeing that Wits will have two years in the competition.

“This is to ensure that we are given a fair chance to learn and adapt to this high level of rugby,” he said, “We know that every game in this competition is going to be tough and each week it’s never going to get any easier.”

“We have defended a lot this season and there has been a big gap between the number of tackles we have had to make compared to our opponents in every game.”

Wits are gaining a reputation of a never-say-die attitude on the field. During their match against UJ, Wits showed brief moments of brilliance when going forward. One of the key members to watch is Number 8 Carel Greeff who has proven to be an influential player in the squad having added another two tries to his five for the season in four matches.

“Carel is a great player and is playing great rugby at the moment. We have a couple of go-to ball carriers in the team, one of which is Carel,” said the captain.

The No. 8 has become well known for his crashing runs through opposing lines and he is a tenacious tackler that has made him an important element in the squad.

Montgomery said the “this Varsity Cup campaign is about learning and gaining experience playing at this top level of rugby for us.”

The team’s goals were to work hard in training and aim to perform for the full 80 minutes with making as little mistakes as possible.

“Wits will earn the reputation of being a difficult fixture I have no doubt about that. The team has a special bond and because we spend so much time together there is a family sense amongst the team,” he said.

For more Varsity Cup action follow the link


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Wits beat Crusaders

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by Jay Caboz

The influence of Witsies Demi du Toit and Jaime Martin proved too much for Crusaders B as the pair played a hand in every goal of a 6-4 win on Monday evening at the Fourways Indoor Stadium.

Crusaders made the first move of the game forcing Wits goalkeeper Zimisile Shanghe to make a save over the side line from a difficult angle. Crusaders continued to look dangerous going forward until Wits’ Urselar Lesar successfully snuffed out the threat.

In the 13th minute, du Toit was able to snatch the ball from a Crusader centre link to feed Wits’ Gabriela Garcia, who was left unmarked at top D. The striker calmly slotted the ball in the right of the net to put Wits 1-0 up.

Shanghe was forced into action a final time in the half when Crusaders took a quick free hit towards the goal. She was up for the challenge, ensuring Wits remained in the lead at halftime and kept Wits 1-0 up at the halftime break.

The game exploded in the second half when Martin stole a ball from the Crusaders defence within the first minute. She hit the right hand corner of the board, seconds after making a poor decision that could have won her a penalty corner. Her celebration was well deserved having made the goal from nothing and giving Wits a two goal cushion.

Martin, who was playing a high attacking role, was proving to be a handful for the Crusaders defenders. In the 26th minute, Martin added another to her tally after she deflected a wrong-side penalty corner drag- flick by du Toit.

In the 30th minute, Crusaders’ Yolanda Kruger converted to draw the score line back to 3-1.
Martin then neatly pocketed her hat trick by wrong siding the keeper with a delicately placed shot, rather than her usual powerful efforts from top D, that went into the keepers near side post.

Crusaders’ Kruger took advantage of an off-the-line clearance by du Toit which deflected, with force, off her stick to rebound over Shanghe and into the net. Kruger managed to find the back of the net again, scoring her own hat trick and putting the score at 4-3 to Wits.

Wits went with a decision to exploit the wrong side corner again when du Toit rammed home a drag flick into the top right hand corner.

With five minutes left on the clock Crusaders’ Deslie Lester managed to squeeze in a deflection from top D from a well crossed ball.

Wits kept possession of the ball in the last few minutes, frustrating the Crusaders bench. Martin’s dribbles found space once again at the top of the D and this time she opted to win a penalty corner with some neat stick skills. The wrong-side corner was once again utilised and du Toit obliged with her second goal of the match to put Wits 6-4 ahead and end the game.

How have the women done this season? Click to read more
Hockey Women vs St Andrews
Hockey Women vs Crusaders A
How have the men done this season? Click to read more
Hockey Men vs Jeppe A
Hockey Men vs Wanderers A

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