Leap of Faith

Dancers perform in the show Faith on Tuesday night at the Market theatre. This show formed part of the contemporary dance festival, Dance Umbrella which runs from February 17 to March 4. Faith was choreographed by Melody Putu, a Sowetan-born dancer who is now based in Sweden. The show follows the story of a young woman, performed by Akhona Maqhina, through her struggles in her family and her community. The production consists of dancers from South Africa, Denmark and Australia. Dance Umbrella began in 1989 with just eight choreographers. The festival now includes local and international dancers, choreographers and directors.

 

Late try scores Wits top spot

THE WITS rugby team won their fourth game in a row on Monday night, despite trailing for most of the match.

The win means Wits goes back to the top of the Varsity Shield log, as the University of Fort Hare (UFH) beat previous leaders, University of the Western Cape (UWC), on the same night.

This result came as a surprise as UFH had won just a single game before Monday night, against the bottom team, the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN).

The first half of the game for Wits was characterised by missed opportunities for tries, mostly through forced handling errors.

“We made it quite hard for ourselves [in the first half]; it was really error ridden,” said Devin Montgomery, Wits captain.

Wits’ opponents on the night, the Central University of Technology (CUT) from the Free State, could not convert an early penalty kick in front of poles.

Wits could almost smell the white powder of the try line on their attack but CUT defended ferociously and pushed the home side back. A few minutes later, Wits did not have the same strength in defence when the Bloemfontein number 7 crashed over.

Bronson Lange, Wits’ in-form centre thrilled the crowd when he chipped the ball over the top of the CUT defence and chased it down. However, CUT displayed more calm cover at the back and beat Lange to the ball to prevent the try.

Wits were awarded a penalty on CUT’s 10m line and flyhalf Kyle Peyper landed it, despite the CUT fans’ attempt at putting him off.

Before the referee blew for the end of the first half, Wits had another chance to score a try when the Wits scrumhalf dodged several CUT tacklers but was stopped inches from the try line.

Wits trailed by 8-2 as the first half ended, despite plenty of opportunities to turn possession into points.

“It was frustrating, we spent most of the half in their 22,” said Montgomery.

“[In the first half] we panicked and some of our calls were rushed, so at half time we calmed down,” said Montgomery.

The home side looked stronger in the second half and finally scored a try through Brent Crossley, the scrumhalf who was stopped short in the first half. This pushed Wits into a 10-8 lead, but this would not last long as CUT scored their second try of the night through prop, Petri Coetzee.

Chances of pulling off a victory looked slim for Wits as the game neared its conclusion, but loosehead prop, Katlego Kgame, touched down the ball to edge the home side to their fourth win in a row.

“[CUT] pushed me back, but I pumped my legs and went over,” said Kgame describing his first competitive try.

The final score was 20-16, with Peyper scoring half of Wits’ points through two penalties and two conversions.

It seems Wits’ success can be attributed to their strong defence, as they have conceded the least points in the Varsity Shield so far.

Wits will face UFH on March 5 in Alicedale, Eastern Cape.

Wits change things up for CUT clash

Wits will be making several changes for their match tonight against their Free State rivals.

Midway through the Varsity Shield competition, Wits find themselves in second place while tonight’s opponents, Central University of Technology (CUT) trail them by one point in third position.

Bronson Lange and Ryan Odendaal will take over the centre pairing from Rudolf Prinsloo and Heinke Hartdegan, when they kick off at 7pm at the Wits Rugby Stadium.

Mandla Dube will have a chance to impress on the wing, which sees Zunaid Kock dropped to the bench, while Petrus van Biljon replaces Thato Mavundla at flank.

Tonight’s encounter is most likely to be a close match, as Wits and CUT have the best defences in the league, conceding 71 and 78 points respectively.

Meanwhile Wits will be hoping University of Forth Hare (UFH) can pull off a surprise win over current log leaders, University of the Western Cape (UWC). This result would see Wits regain the top spot, providing they beat CUT tonight.

Whiter shade of pale

ST PATRICK’S day is less than a month away: just enough time to dust off a green shirt, ready yourself for drinking dyed-green beer and pretend Irish-themed bars are cool.

Every March 17 the Irish celebrate their patron saint by inexplicably drinking copious amounts of Guinness.

However, their folklore also says St Patrick chased snakes across the sea into Britain, so apparently anything goes.

Last week, my friend and colleague wrote a great article about how her Indian family perceive and treat her differently she is unmarried.

This got me thinking about my own cultural identity and the way I define myself. I’m a bit of a buffet of nationalities, my mother is Irish, my father is English but I was born and raised here in South Africa.

My immediate family are the only Roanes in the country, you can look it up on the phonebook, if you can find one. My brother and I are an island of pasty gingerness in a country where I get sunburned at night.

At last count I had approximately 5000 cousins on my mother’s side, the result of six Catholic aunts and uncles and the Pope’s view on birth control.

However, they all live on the emerald isle and as a result I visit them about as often as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela visits parliament. But each time I see them, I am warmly welcomed and it is as though no time has passed between us meeting.

I also can’t understand a word any of them say. I hate to stereotype – it’s such an Italian trait – but they are probably talking about potatoes or leprechauns or something. I just smile, nod profusely and say “yes” to whatever they ask me until they think I’ve suffered a head injury and leave me alone.

While I love going back, and may live and work there in the future, I will ultimately return to South Africa because it is a large part of who I am.

If you subscribe to arguably antiquated notions of what being an African is: skin colour, ancestry or culture, then I should not call myself African, but in my heart, I am.

Despite being a first generation South African and white enough to reflect sunlight.

South Africa is my past, my home and my future. So come St Paddy’s day I will be celebrating my Irish heritage with a Guinness, but I’ll be celebrating it here, at home, in South Africa.

Music man’s instruments are his hand-made babies

Joe Makhanza’s storage room is 6000 kilometres from Mali, where he learned how to build his instruments, but they sound just as sweet when he plays them.

Makhanza builds several different instruments that he sells, including the kamalen ngoni and the kora, which are stringed, wooden instruments of West African origin.

He stores some of them in a room on the 8th floor of University Corner.

“I make my own instruments, they are my babies,” says Makhanza.

Makhanza completed his bachelor of music at Wits in 2007. As well as building instruments and working as a musician, he now also teaches music at four schools.

He says he was approached by the City of Ekurhuleni to run the programme.

Working with the City, Makhanza teaches a variety of “indigenous” instruments to primary school pupils from grade R to grade six.

He wants to create an orchestra and hold a festival to allow them to perform this year.

“I had to make them believe in me,” says Makhanza, who had to go through “serious interviews” before the City of Ekurhuleni chose him for the job.

“When somebody else looks at a tree, they just see a tree.When I look at a tree I see an instrument,” says Makhanza.

He says he gets inspiration for new instruments in strange places such as buildings, pipes and in his dreams.

He concludes by saying:

“I have learned whatever instrument you play you must master it”.

Put your guard up for parking space

You had better pray to the car gods and find the car guards if you want to find a parking spot on the roads outside Wits.

“Welcome to Godfrey’s garage,” says Godfrey Nkosi as he directs you onto the pavement, where Jorissen Street runs from west to east campus.

Nkosi says he has been working as an informal car guard outside Wits for 19 years.

Godfrey’s “garage” lies outside Senate House, in front of a gate with a sign which states: “Emergency entrance and exit. No parking in front of this gate at all times.”

There are four cars parked in front of the gate.

Two car guards operate along Jorissen Street, from Enoch Santonga Avenue to Bertha Street. From about 8am on weekday mornings, the street is full of cars parked next to the pavement and motorists struggle to find a space.

Last year some of Nkosi’s counterparts stopped working in Braamfontein as a system of official parking bays controlled by marshals moved in.

Ace Parking Services began operating a pay-before-you-park system, with official marshals charging customers for parking roadside in Braamfontein and in the CBD.

On the same road, just past one set of robots, official marshals monitor the length of time that cars park in the designated bays and fine motorists who exceed their allocated time.

“I own this street,” says Patrick Gemu, another informal car guard outside Wits. Nkosi and Gemu are not worried about Ace Parking taking over their territory.

“Students have no money; they can’t afford to pay R8 an hour to park,” says Gemu, referring to the rate

Ace Parking charges customers for an hour of roadside parking. Gemu’s area includes Jorissen Street between Station and Bertha Streets.

“We are more than willing to [provide] a service there [outside of Wits], unfortunately it is not in our control,” says Juliet Paulsen, managing director of Ace Parking Services.

Paulsen says her company cannot operate on this section of Jorissen Street as the Johannesburg Metro Police (JMPD) has said it lacks allocated parking bays and parking notice boards.

Wits rugby goes for pole position

 

Wits will battle to regain the top spot of the Varsity Shield log tonight, but only if the result of another league game goes their way.

Hoping to achieve three consecutive wins, Wits face University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) at 7pm tonight.

At the same time tonight, UWC play first-placed Central University of Technology (CUT).

The perfect scenarios for Wits would either be a draw between these two sides, or for UWC to beat CUT with neither picking up a bonus point. Should either of these happen, Wits would regain the top spot with a bonus point win over UKZN.

UKZN, the league’s current wooden-spooners, will be hoping to salvage their dismal start to their season against Wits. However, after suffering a 61-10 defeat to UWC last Monday, morale may be low in the Natal squad.

Wits are equal on points with the University of the Western Cape (UWC), but take the second place log position thanks to a slightly better points difference.

The fight for peaceful protest

Lectures were suspended at the Westville Campus of the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) this week, highlighting a conflict between students and university management.

Police were called in after demonstrations turned violent, allegedly over a failure between the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) and management to agree terms of financial aid.

Wits is no stranger to conflict between these two groups.

This week, a formal hearing was held regarding three students who emptied rubbish bins in Senate House last year.

These students say they were protesting the poor treatment of the cleaning staff, while management claim they broke the university’s code of conduct.

This raises the question of whether protests need to take a forceful approach in order to get a message across.

Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. are amongst historical figures that were able to communicate their messages through non-violent resistance. Locally, the African National Congress (ANC) initially used non-violent resistance to oppose apartheid.

However, in the aftermath of the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, the party turned towards more aggressive means of protest.

More recently, images of protests from Bahrain and Syria   have shown the devastating effects of violent protests.

Despite a plea for peaceful protests from Sheikh Ali Salman, the leader of Bahrain’s largest Shi’ite Muslim opposition party, demonstrators clashed with police this week.

The country’s youth allegedly rejected this call as Ali Salman does not understand the situation they find themselves in.

This is arguably the root of the problem. A lack of understanding, or a perceived lack or disinterest in understanding, between two opposing groups.

It is easy to look at a protest from the outside and condemn physical or aggressive actions, saying that those involved should remain peaceful.

Those involved may argue that their frustrations lead them to have no choice but to use more aggressive measures to have their voices heard.

However, conflict should not be allowed to reach this point, at a university or any other level.

Thorough discussions and consultations between groups should be independently mediated in order to maintain civility in reaching an agreement.

Furthermore, a little empathy would go a long way in resolving issues more peacefully.

First steps to success

The first year experience is not just about partying, drinking and freedom from parents. A programme designed to help first year students adjust to university life has reported success and will extend its marketing to its target audience.

The programme, First Year Experience (FYE), includes mentoring, skill workshops and counselling.

“It should be compulsory,” says Tshidiso Ramogale, a 2nd year LLB student. He says the programme was successful in helping him in first year and he would “recommend it to anyone”. He has since become an ambassador for the programme.

A Higher Education SA (HESA) study released in 2009 reported up to 35 per cent of South African students dropped out in their first year.

Research indicates first years who participate in FYE find it helps them adjust to both the academic and social aspects of the university, says Scott.

“Noting the number of first year students who get academically excluded, the marketing strategy in terms of making students aware of the programme isn’t that effective,” says Godfrey Maja, a 3rd year LLB student.

“You always see posters in random places around campus, but mostly in CCDU,” says 3rd year media studies student, Sne Zungu.

Ramogale says some of the marketing problems they have had is due to the programme being relatively new and they are working on improving marketing this year.

“I left the programme early,” says Zungu. “Maybe it would have helped if I had gone regularly but I gave up on it because it personally didn’t help me,” she says.

Courses are offered in maths, chemistry and accounting, subjects first year students find difficult coping with at a university level, says Scott. Computer and general writing courses are also offered in order to help students cope with the difference between school and higher education.

Scott says there will be a FYE induction on February 18 in the Great Hall. Students can register any time of the year at the Student Development and Leadership Unit or Counselling and Careers Development Unit offices.

Catch a Big Break

Witsies can win a helicopter ride for two around Johannesburg just by buying a ticket for Wednesday’s Premier Soccer League game between Bidvest Wits and Maritzburg United.

The prize is offered by Team Orange, from the SABC 2 reality show Big Break Legacy.

In order to be eligible for the prize, tickets must be purchased through Team Orange, between 11am and 3pm at the Matrix. Tickets cost R30, which enters you into the draw for the helicopter ride.

Big Break Legacy is an Apprentice-style show which airs on SABC 2, Thursdays at 7:30pm.

Geek fun for society noobies

From anarchy and role playing to pretty much the entire earth, Wits’s lesser known societies cover a wide spectrum of interests.

The War gaming, Anime, Role play and Pc and card gaming (Warp) society offers its members “pure geekdom”, according to Kerry Clark, the new treasurer of the club.

“About 90% of sign ups we get are thanks to the couches, the kettle and the microwave we have in the clubroom,” jokes the previous treasurer, Jarred Harlow.

Clark says the club had about 120 members last year and has already received 110 registrations this year.

A few registration tables away from Warp, students can find an anarchy society. “A society for anarchists is not a contradiction,” says Warren McGregor of Inkululeko, the Wits anarchist collective.

“Over the last few decades, the definition of anarchism has been lost or confused in the English language,” says McGregor.

He says the club does not support chaos and disorder but rather strives for a “horizontal society”. Within the Wits context, this includes campaigning for better employment conditions for cleaners, gardeners and admin staff at the university.

“It’s not just about rocks,” says president of the geological society, Zandile Mjoli. She says the society caters mostly to the interests of geologists but anyone can join the club.

Mjoli says people think the society talk about rocks all the time, but geology is about all of Earth’s movements and changes as well as the atmosphere. She says they arrange braais and camping trips throughout the year for members to get to know each other.

Students can sign up for societies in front of the Great Hall during O-week

Amateur photographer captures sound through photography

A Wits student who has ‘never won anything’ saw his prize-winning photograph hung on the wall at the Voice of Wits (VoW FM) studio on Tuesday.

The competition called for submissions of pictures of sound, which presented the participants with the difficulty of representing audio through a silent medium.

“When I found out I had won, it was awesome, I never win anything,” said Potsiso Phasha, who has nearly completed his Masters in development planning.

“I felt like it was quite an achievement as I’m a self-taught photographer,” said Phasha.

Phasha said he enjoyed the contrast between the traditionally amplified musical equipment and the lack of electricity in the setting of his photograph.

The winning photographs have been framed and hung at the VoW FM office and Phasha said he will definitely return to visit his photograph in the future.