Wits University’s oldest residence, Men’s Hall of Residence, will be slaughtering a cow to celebrate their 95th birthday on September 29.

In an interview with Wits Vuvuzela, Men’s Res House committee chairman ,Sizwe Bhengu said, “I cannot deny nor confirm that we will be slaughtering a cow but there will be a braai”, he said laughing. At the time of going to press, Bhengu stated that they were waiting for disaster management to approve their request to slaughter a cow on campus.

Some of the planned events for the celebration include a formal dinner that will be held on Friday at the main dining hall. On Saturday, September 30, there will be various sports played at the Diggz field between alumni, seniors and freshmen which will be followed by a braai, back at the residence.

The residence has housed many celebrated figures of society during their time as students. The list includes Adv Dali Mpofu, former Wits SRC president and Thusanani Foundation founder Morris Masutha, EFF National spokesperson, Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi as well as former chair of ABSA and CEO of Murray and Roberts, David Brink to name a few.

Former residence hall coordinator and acting cluster manager, Bongani Gumede said the birthday celebration marks the years the residence has existed and the culture and traditions that were established.

Gumede, who used to stay at the residence during his time as a student added that, “Things are not as they seem, there is always something bigger than what meets the eye. Some of the challenges are that some of the traditions need to change as they do not reflect the ethos of the University and the residence”.

Over the years Men’s Res traditions have changed, but the residence has remained a vibrant community of students, past and present. It is known for its spirited, prank-playing, hard playing games and most often involved in activities condoned by the University.

Bhengu added that, “The brotherhood, unity and social responsibility and shared culture among the residents is what makes it great. Men’s Res has not always had the greatest reputation when it comes to issues of patriarchy but we have decided to take a progressive stance with initiatives such as #NotInMyName.”  During this initiative the raiders, as they’re known on campus, started walking  female students who stay off campus to their residences during the heightened time of abductions and crime in Braamfontein.

Some of the traditions and crests date back to the 1950s which include being introduced to Phineas [see pictures], a ceremony carried out with great solemnity in a partially darkened room. Other traditions include early morning activities where freshmen trot around campus wearing white lab coats and little else, from time to time serenading the Dean and Assistant Deans.

“It has become tradition to sing at the graduations of fellow raiders as well as female residences during O-Week and also throughout the year”, Bhengu added.

Director of the Wits, Development and Fundraising Office (DFO) and former raider Peter Bezuidenhoudt said, “This is the first of a number of events that will be organized in the run up to 2022, when Mens Res, together with the Wits University, will celebrate their centenary”.

Bezuidenhoudt said that they have received responses from alumni who span the last 60 years of the residence history.  “Including five gentlemen from the late 1950s, all of whom are going to speak, most notably David Brink the who graduated in 1960, as well as alumni including, 2002 chairman of Men’s Res Elvis Ukpaka, Chief Economist of Investment Solutions Lesiba Mothata”.

The celebrations this weekend are not open to non-raiders. Bhengu  said, “Because of budget constraints we were unable to make the event open to the public. The sponsorship from res life wasn’t sufficient”.

Long sitting security guard of nine years and member of the raider’s community Bab’ Dlamini said Men’s Res is a home away from home. “Kukhona iUnity kuma raider, futhi siyabafundisa imbeko(translation). When they have done wrong I sit them down and we talk, I am one person they listen to”.

Dlamini says he is a father figure for the raiders, “They even gave me a name, uncle raider”. For Dlamini the birthday celebration is a long overdue celebration of the brotherhood renowned in the residence.