The many faces of tourism in Kliptown

Kliptown, established in 1903, is the oldest residential area in Soweto. The town holds a rich history, attracting several tourists to the area where the South African freedom charter was adopted, but a contrast between the business district and the residential area means different things for Kliptown business owners who rely on tourism.

The sleek white Mercedes minibus reaches a halt in the middle of Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown, south of Johannesburg. The American occupants step off and walk into the sunlight wearing hats, sunglasses and holding cameras.

They are on a Soweto tour and will see the Regina Mundi church, Hector Pieterson museum, former president Nelson Mandela’s house, the homes of Nobel Peace prize winner Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Dube as well as the Apartheid Museum and Gold Reef City. The tourists walk directly towards a short but plump man standing outside a tower which is a monument marking the square where the Freedom Charter was drawn up in 1955.

Enock Ngwambe is the short plump man welcoming the tourists in preparation to show them around the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication. The square was opened on June 26, 2005, in commemoration of 50 years of freedom in collaboration with development agency, Blue IQ and Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA).

The square is divided into three parts. On the eastern wing is a structure built for businesses, hosting an art center, clothing stores, internet cafés, a dance studio and restaurant among other ventures. On the west wing is a closed off marketplace set up for informal traders selling fresh produce, clothing and CD’s among other things.

Enock Ngwambe is the short plump man welcoming the tourists in preparation to show them around the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication. The square was opened on June 26, 2005, in commemoration of 50 years of freedom in collaboration with development agency, Blue IQ and Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA).

The square is divided into three parts. On the eastern wing is a structure built for businesses, hosting an art center, clothing stores, internet cafés, a dance studio and restaurant among other ventures. On the west wing is a closed off marketplace set up for informal traders selling fresh produce, clothing and CD’s among other things.

Ngwambe walks the group to a small museum where the tour begins with The People Shall Govern Exhibition. Ngwambe has been working as a museum guide for the City of Johannesburg for the past ten years, providing visitors with knowledge on the South African Freedom Charter and its significance in Kliptown.

He starts the exhibition tour, showing tourists examples of  Dompas books, original documents that citizens submitted as proposals for the freedom charter, the large metal pots women cooked in, the history of the Jada family who allowed delegates to use their property and explains who the metal figures representing apartheid struggle veterans are.

He starts the exhibition tour, showing tourists examples of  Dompas books, original documents that citizens submitted as proposals for the freedom charter, the large metal pots women cooked in, the history of the Jada family who allowed delegates to use their property and explains who the metal figures representing apartheid struggle veterans are.

Hereafter, he leads the group back out into the sunlight to the tall tower, The Freedom Charter Monument. The monument has four diagonal entrances forming the ‘x’sign used to vote during elections, this ‘x’ sign also shines through from the top of the tower.

The group walk around the granite circle reading the engraved ten clauses of the freedom charter. Hereafter, Ngwambe introduces the tourists to a site-guide, Vusi Ngcobo, who takes the group into the community over the railway line that divides the residential and business district along with other Swiss and Swedish visitors.

OVER THE RAILWAY: Kliptown’s residential area AS SEEN from the bridge over the railway line.

The tour of the residential part of Kliptown allows tourists to get a sense of the lived experience of the majority of those who live in Kliptown as 85% of all housing units in Kliptown are informal makeshift shacks according to a study by Himlin, Engel and Matoho (2008).

Following slowly behind the group Ngwambe says to me, “Life’s not good on this side, people are suffering.”

By now, we’re standing on the bridge across the road from the open-air museum. There is a sharp contrast between the business district and the residential area as we overlook several zinc makeshift homes which are divided by sand paths.

“It’s actually an embarrassment that tourists come to the square and then see the way people live,” he says. “See?” he signals, pointing towards a large yard with five mkhuku’s (shacks). “You can see the toilets are outside of the yard and people have to leave their homes to fetch water from communal taps.”

The Johannesburg Development Agency’s 2004 business plan to enhance heritage, education, and tourism outlines Kliptown’s development. It states that the reason the town lacks infrastructure and resources is because it fell outside of the boundaries of the Johannesburg municipality until 1970. As a result, Kliptown, unlike the greater Soweto did not gain the development resources such as transport networks, electricity, water and sanitation.

To improve development, the marketing vision for Kliptown, according to JDA was “to position the area as a living symbol for change in South Africa.” Additionally, their mission was to “attract and harness the power of tourism to help turn the community of Kliptown into a massive economic generator.”

Ngwambe says that although tourists visit Kliptown on their tour of Soweto, there’s not much that they can do for the people who are struggling.

“Sometimes they make donations, it’s small amounts from individuals like R50 so families can buy food for one day,” he says, “but after that one meal? What happens tomorrow when tourists don’t come?” he asks. His question hangs in the air like the Izinyoka cables [illegally connected electricity lines].

As the group walks through the shacks greeting the young children who are cheering the tourists on, one of the Swiss females, becomes emotional. “Amalungu! Amalungu!” the children shout, which to them is simply any foreign person in Kliptown though Amalungu actually means white person in Zulu.

IZINYOKA: Illegal electricity cables connected to a main cable, hang in the air.

Her face [the tourist] has pulled red and she continuously wipes her tears. Her Swiss translator, Mary says in a deep accent that it’s their first time outside of Europe. As they enter the last stop of the tour, a one-bedroom shack which is home to a family of nine, Mary says, “where we come from there is a lot of money, it’s not easy to see the way people live here, I don’t know how to describe it, but we’ve left some clothing donations at the hotel.” she says.

Ngwambe says that the reason tourism works economically in places such as Vilakazi street in Orlando West, Soweto pay to gain entry to those sites. “Here it’s free to enter the museum, view the tower and move through the community, so it’s hard to say Kliptown makes money through tourism.”

He suggests that if tourism were to contribute to the upliftment of the community it would be in the form of long-term jobs so that “people can work for their own money and feed themselves instead of that R50 from someone else which only lasts one day.”

Tourism establishments giving back

The Soweto Hotel and Conference centre, which is in the same location as the small museum where Ngwambe works, is one of the tourism establishments that aims to assist the community by employing residents from Kliptown and surrounding Soweto areas.

It is a quiet afternoon at the swanky, Soweto Hotel and Conference Centre, back at the Walter Sisulu Square.

The hotel is the only four-star hotel in Soweto. It is also the first black-owned and black female managed hotel, with businesswoman and hotelier ,Lindiwe Sangweni-Siddo as the owner.

Welcomed with stairs imitating a red carpet, brown, orange and gold hues give the hotel its African feel.

This is along with the black and white photographs of musicians such as Miriam Makheba and Alf Khumalo performing in the 80s which go hand in hand with Soweto’s jazz history and Rusty’s jazz bar situated after the foyer.

The hotel opened its doors in November 2007 to offer accommodation at an international standard to over 200 000 tourists who visit the township. Busisiwe Mashobane who is part of the hotel’s sales support, says that the hotel offers a new experience to both local and international guests.

“The Sandton experience is overrated as it mirrors what you can find overseas, but our hotel offers a unique African experience as it is the only hotel in the township,” she says.

The hotel also aims to do more for the community , creating job opportunities by employing all their staff from Kliptown and surrounding Soweto areas. Additionally, Mashobane adds that, the hotel also contributes to the community by sourcing their fruit and vegetables from members of the Kliptown and Soweto community.

Alternatively the hotel engages with organisations in the community to which the hotel provides left-overs or merchandise that the hotel no longer needs. “Whatever we can give, we do,” she says.

Nomsa Mthelezulu has some similarities with Soweto Hotel and Conference Centre, establishing the first and only Backpacker accomodation in Kliptown but says the lack of amenities in the residential area hinders her from being as successful as the Soweto hotel.

Lack of service delivery frustrates tourism sector 

Mthelezulu is the founder and owner of Kliptown Backpackers, her backpacker’s is on the other side of the railway and is situated two houses away from struggle veteran Charlotte Maxeke’s which is waiting to be renovated into a heritage site.

Charlotte Maxeke, born 7 April 1984, became the first black South African woman to receive a bachelors degree.

She graduated with a Bachelor of science from the Wilberforce University in Ohio, United States of America. Maxeke also founded the Bantu Women’s League, which fought against the proposition to extend pass laws to women during apartheid.

According to Blue Plaques, which marks and commemorates significant historical sites with blue mosaic plaques, Maxeke lived in the Kliptown home towards the end of her life and is buried in Kliptown.

MOTHER OF FREEDOM: Charlotte Maxeke’s house which is to be renovated located two houses from Kliptown backpackers. Photo: Kayleen Morgan

While giving her keynote address at the International Women’s Day commemoration at the Walter Sisulu Square in March 2015 Infrastructure Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza commited to converting the Kliptown home of Maxeke. Maxeke’s home would be turned into a museum and interpretation centre to commemorate the stalwart and boost tourism and job opportunities for the community of Kliptown.

During this address, the MEC also committed to bettering the lives of those who live in Kliptown,  however two years have passed and Mthelezulu says the only change, is the board that has been placed in Maxeke’s yard stating that the house will be renovated.

Mtheluzulu, who turned her home into tourist accommodation says that her backpackers is ideal for international students who are doing research in the area, or anyone who may be visiting for a long duration and wants a real experience living in Kliptown.

She made some upgrades inside and outside the home she’s been living in since 1971.

When you walk in, you’re greeted with natural light shining through the windows in the living room and bouncing off the white tiles and walls in the home.

The room has a light fragrance courtesy of the washed linen. Guests have the option of staying in a dormitory room with two single beds, or a single room with a double bed. Each bed sports fresh white bedding, accompanied by toiletries and blue throws. “I also make African food if that’s what my guests want,” she says.

Mthelezulu says that after she hosted 4 American teenagers in 2007, she saw a business opportunity and decided to register for an accommodation permit to start up Kliptown backpackers.

Since then, she has hosted guests, mainly researchers, from Japan, United Kingdom and China among other countries, but admits that it has been difficult operating her business.

Walking from the city center towards her backpacker’s sewerage water runs through the informal settlements.

The strong smell which, Mthelezulu describes as “so bad you don’t want to eat”, is a combination of human waste and refuse dumped at the railway lines. She attributes the lack of amenities in the community as one of the main reasons her business isn’t doing well.

“It was hard and still is a struggle to get people to stay here,” she says. She adds that she envisions a better life in Kliptown but says that this will only be possible if government steps in because without roads where she is situated, potential customers cannot get to her which prevents her from improving her business.

“I wish they’d help us because if business booms here, I can employ more people from the community, and maybe life will be better for a lot of people,” she says.

Mthelezulu goes out to assist her neighbour who helps her clean the backpackers. When she returns she is visibly angry and shifts in her seat. Referring to the government she says, “I think we’ve been forgotten we’re living in hell and they’re playing with our minds, a lot of empty promises.”

FEATURED IMAGE: A community service project takes course in Kliptown, Soweto. Photo: Kayleen Morgan.


A child should see a bookstore before they see a tavern

ALL LOCAL: African Flavour houses local literature from African Authors                                                                                                                                                                               Photo: Kayleen Morgan 

African Flavour , a new bookstore which recently opened  its doors on De Korte Street, Braamfontein, gives students an opportunity to make money. by selling their published books.
The bookstore offers 100% local content with African books written by African authors.

Fortiscue Helepi, who co-owns the shop with his wife Nokuthula, said the only criteria they have for the books and authors that are sold is that they should be a local writer from Africa.
“We are not gatekeepers of stories, only marketers of them,” he said. This allows students who have published books to sell them at African Flavour and make an income from their literature.
Helepi said that the store sells books according to the price recommended by the author or publisher with the store keeping 30% of the sale amount and the author gaining 70%.

Masters student in geography and environmental studies, Mafule Moswane’s books, A Learners Guide to Academic Success and Katrina and Other Untold Stories, are currently on sale at African
Flavour. Moswane said that he “strongly encourages” students who are writers and have a story to tell, to sell their work through African Flavour.

“The store assists African authors who do not have a platform and we need more places which fit the vision to sell African books written by African authors.”

The bookstore greets you with warmth and smooth jazz music playing in the background upon arrival. Helepi said the store is their second establishment with the first one being in Vanderbijlpark. He added that the Braamfontein establishment was opened because they realised that people were travelling from Johannesburg to Vanderbijlpark to buy books.

“The vision for African Flavour is to create a market for more people to read books they can relate to,” he said. Helepi said that it was unfortunate that in our current society people invest more in alcohol than they do in reading.
He added that the challenge for him is to expand so far across the country that “a child should see a bookstore before they see a tavern.”

First-time customer, Amigo Makhubele, who works in Braamfontein said he was happy to see an array of books in African languages, but was especially pleased to find Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom in Xitsonga.
“This is good. I’ll definitely come back to get more books for my collection at home,” he said.


Wits Vuvuzela, September 2017, Jozi Book Fair focuses on women and literature

Wits Vuvuzela,  February 20170 ,Drama for life needs your books 

On your marks, get set, vote

TO VOTE OR NOT TO VOTE: Students will be updated about online voting processes on October6.                                                                                                                   Photo: Kayleen Morgan

A TOTAL of 71 candidates have been announced for the upcomingStudent Representative Council (SRC) elections which will take place in over a week’s time. This is the longest list of contesting
students to date, according to the Student Governance Office.

Witsies from different political parties and student organisations are excited about these coming elections scheduled for October 17 and 18.
Jabu Mashinini, a senior programme adviser for student governance, said she is verypleased with the number of candidates running because it means that “students are contesting and are interested in the politics and student governance of the university”.

Wits Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO) candidate Hayley Davison said that in the following year she would like to see students from other campuses included in the focus points of the next SRC.
Davison also said she would like to see a more productive approach with regards to challenging issues such as fees and accommodation on campus. She added that student politics and national politics should be separated. “The next SRC should continue to fight for students even if students are not supporters of the mother body,” she said.

While Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania (PASMA) has the least number of candidates running with only three entries, candidate Phetani Madzivhandila said the number of entries is a
good opportunity “to have diverse perspectives in student politics which will allow us to depart from the sole narrative of the Project Youth Alliance (PYA)”.
Though PASMA is pleased with the candidate numbers, Madzivhandila said he had hoped for more time to campaign as candidates only have one week to engage with students.

Independent runner Morerwa Ngwato said that student political groups did not accommodate his personal drive to encourage community projects and entrepreneurship.
“Political parties tend to reiterate the same issues such as free education policies but I want to bring business innovation and a community entrepreneurship component into student governance,” he said.

Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are gunning to win the majority of the seats in the upcoming election according to candidate Sivuyile Mhato. “The reason PYA has governed with a majority for so long is because there hasn’t been progressive contestation,” he said.

For this reason, he said it is good there are many candidates running this year because it means that students are taking themselves seriously and taking governance into their own hands. Mhato encouraged students to vote based on what they see in the manifesto and values of the organisation instead of friends and popular individuals because “populism is what’s killing us”.

An international law student who preferred to remain anonymous said she is not voting because the “SRC uses international students as a campaign strategy but do not cater to their issues once they are elected. I’m tired and so I’m not voting,” she said. [LISTEN] : Wits Vuvuzela asked students if they would be voting in the upcoming elections

Candidates from PYA were unavailable to speak to the media on its prospects for the upcoming elections. Voting for the SRC general elections will be carried
out electronically this year. Mashinini said students will be updated on the processes on Friday afternoon after the candidates have been briefed.

Wits Vuvuzela ran a poll on twitter to find out whether students would be voting in this year’s general SRC elections.  SEE BELOW


KPMG relationship with Wits students remains unaffected

STATE CAPTURE: KPMG is under investigation by South Africa’s Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors. Photo: Kayleen Morgan

WITS ACCOUNTING students should not worry about the relationship the firm has with the accounting faculty as sponsorships, internships and employment opportunities will still be available to them.

This is according to KPMG spokesperson, Nqubeko Sibiya, who told Wits Vuvuzela that, “We are looking forward to welcoming them to a strong team of 3 400 skilled professionals committed to take KPMG forward.” He also said that although Wits, along with other entities, has decided not to extend its contract with KPMG, the firm is working “tirelessly to enhance the business”and to repair its reputation.

This follows the announcement by Wits Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib that the university would not renew its contract with the auditing firm at the end of the 2017 financial year.
Habib said in a statement released on Wednesday, October 4, that, “The company should have embarked on programmes to correct the wrongs that have been done to individuals and institutions and an independent investigation should have been initiated at the outset.”

The auditing firm has been on the ropes ever since revelations from leaked emails
that work it had done for companies owned by the politically-connected Gupta family facilitated state capture.

KMPG also withdrew a report it had prepared for the South African Revenue Service (SARS) on a so-called rogue unit, that had pitted SARS
Commissioner Tom Moyane against then minister of finance, Pravin Gordhan.

Newly-appointed CEO of KPMG, Nhlamulo Dlomu, has committed the firm to donate R40 million to education and anticorruption, not-for-profi t organisations.
The figure is based on the total fees earned from Gupta related entities to which KPMGSouth Africa provided services from 2002.Dlomu also said that, “These events do
not represent KPMG, our people or the values we have adhered to over decades of committed client service. My pledge and promise to the country is that we can  will regain the public’s confidence.”

Fourth-year accounting science studentShivant, who preferred not to have his surname published, said that if KPMG offered him a position he would not accept it because of personal reasons but felt that other students may accept an offer from them because KPMG is not a growing risk. However, he added that student graduates would not be able to make a huge change at the firm because, “The culture of the firm comes from the board and as a graduate you’d start at a junior position with very little influence.”

Shivant said that he believes the only way to bring change in South Africa’s auditing field is for young auditors to start their own firms and challenge the monopoly of the “big four” – Deloitte, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and KPMG.

The Accountancy Head of School could not be reached for comment regarding the relationship between KPMG and the faculty by the time of going to print.

*The quote by Shivant has been altered in the above article from “Fourth-year accounting science studentShivant, who preferred not to have his surname published, said that if KPMG offered him a position he would not accept it because independence is key in the auditing fraternity.”


Wits Vuvuzela, October 2017,Wits drops KPMG as internal auditors

Wits Vuvuzela, September 2017Wits council to review its relationship with KPMG

Wits drops KPMG as internal auditors

The university has made a decision not to renew its contract with auditing firm KPMG  at the end of the 2017 financial year.

The decision was made at a meeting with the university’s council on Friday, September 29.

Members of the council audit and council risk audit committees met with the current CEO of KPMG South Africa, Nhlamulo Dlomu and international representatives from the firm a few weeks ago and deliberated on presentations which were made by KPMG.

The university has acknowledged that KPMG has taken steps to ease the reputational damage it suffered because of its relationship with companies connected to the Gupta family. However, it says, these steps are not enough.

In a statement released this morning, Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib says, “It is hard to reconcile KPMG’s conclusion that no one did anything illegal, when senior individuals have been dismissed and the South African Revenue Services (SARS) report has been retracted. In these circumstances, the council believes that it would have been prudent to acknowledge the ethical and legal lapses of KPMG’s senior management team.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers will remain the external auditors of the University.

[LISTEN]: Wits Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib says KPMG did not do enough for Wits to renew their contract.

Witsies dirty their hands for a cleaner Johannesburg

Wits DASO along with Witsies and community members came together to partake in the first clean-up in Braamfontein

Witsies, members of Wits Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO), the City of Johannesburg and community members got down and dirty to clean up the streets of Braamfontein for the #AReSebesteng clean-up campaign on Saturday, September 30. 

 Volunteers and members of Johannesburg Metro Police cleaned outside Noswall Hall and around Bertha Street, picking up even the smallest items, like cigarette butts, and pulling out weeds.

First-year BA general student, Neo Makobo, who passed by during the clean-up said, “Braam is dirty and we want cleanliness, I think this concept should be encouraged broadly.” She was not aware that the clean-up was taking place around Braamfontein on Saturday, but seeing the volunteers encouraged her to join next time.

Chahracan Amod, Councillor of Ward 60 in Johannesburg, said that the volunteer campaign “strives to encourage residents to take care of the environment by promoting a culture of reducing, re-using and recycling of waste to ensure that Johannesburg becomes one of the cleanest cities in Africa”.

He added that by taking part in this initiative, Johannesburg residents can connect with one another while creating a space that they can be proud of. “Cleanliness is not next to godliness, cleanliness is godliness, and we need to encourage especially young people to take back the city collectively,” he said.

The monthly campaign was launched by Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba last month. A Re Sebetseng, which means “let’s work”, is based on the African Clean Cities initiative established in Maputo, Mozambique, in April 2017.

Economic growth and increasing populations mean African cities are facing growing waste issues, one of the initiative’s partner organisations, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, said in a press statement. The African Clean Cities initiative aims to provide support in solving waste issues so that cities are able to achieve healthy living conditions and grow in an environmentally sustainable way, it added.

South Africa is not part of the 24 African signatories to the initiative.

Mashaba noted that he was also inspired by how clean Rwanda is and he said that country’s initiatives had influenced the A Re Sebetseng campaign. “I am a strong supporter of a model that promotes the city’s residents as the agents of change,” he wrote in the Daily Maverick.

Floyd Nyalungu, campaign manager for Daso Wits, encouraged more students to join the campaign to ensure a cleaner Johanneburg. “It’s an open invitation and everybody, not only Daso members should join,” he said.

The next clean-up will take place on Saturday, October 28, and the last Saturday of every month after that.


Wits Vuvuzela,  April 2016, Who’s going to Pikitup?

Wits Vuvuzela, August 2017, Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba heckled at DASO business indaba

Wits council to review its relationship with KPMG

THE WITS management council is reviewing its relationship with audit company KPMG.

An online campaign started last week calling on the chairpersons of the internal audit committee and the council to honour its commitment to social justice and sever ties with KPMG as the university’s auditor.

According to Koketso Moeti, the founder of, where the petition is hosted, the initiators of the campaign preferred to remain anonymous.

A researcher at the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (a partner of Wits), who signed the petition, said that it is important that people sign. “At this time all organisations should decide what they stand for and who they stand with in society, and Wits needs to do the same,” he said.

In the petition, Wits is asked to join organisations such as investment management company Sygnia, energy investment company Hulisani, and financial services firm Sasfin, among others, in letting go of the services of KPMG and to introduce a policy of ethical procurement.

According to Deputy Vice-Chancellor Tawana Kupe, the university’s official external auditors are PriceWaterhouse-Coopers, but Wits secures its internal audit functions from KPMG.

University officials have been engaging with KPMG, and an announcement will be made next week [this week],”said Kupe, in a note sent out late last Friday.

Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba said in a statement last week that the events surrounding KPMG have weakened the reputation of good governance and audit independence in a major division in our economy.

He also said, “As a measure to restore confidence in audits, all of government and its entities must consider reviewing their work programmes with KPMG.

KPMG has recently come under fire following a report, based on emails posted by investigative journalism non-profit amaBhungane, for failing to oppose the irregular treatment of the Gupta wedding expenses in 2014.

The emails showed that KPMG was aware that Gupta owned companies were classifying wedding costs as business expenses, which could be deducted for tax purposes, but did not raise concerns.

Eight senior executives, including CEO Trevor Hoole, resigned and KPMG

has announced that a full, independent investigation into its South African branch’s dealings with the Gupta family, and its involvement with a controversial South African Revenue Service report will be conducted by a “senior South African legal figure, who is completely independent of both KPMG South Africa and KPMG International”.

The petition demanding that Wits withdraws from any dealings with KPMG had reached 84 out of 100signatures at the time of going to press on Thursday.


Wits Vuvuzela, September 2017, Four-year LLB limbo

Wits Vuvuzela, March 2015, Incoming Accounting School Council hopes to prioritise the well-being of accounting students

One is the lucky number for Wits debating team

Gauteng open debating winners, Ntsikelelo Barnabas (left) and Siyanda Baduza want to be the next African debating champions.

A Wits First-year duo competing in their first tournament as partners won the Gauteng open debating tournament which took place in Pretoria on Sunday, September 3.

Siyanda Baduza, who is studying electrical engineering, and Ntsikelelo Barnabas, a BA student, were the only first year team who participated in the interprovincial Gauteng Open debating tournament.

Barnabas said that he is excited because this was the first tournament that the pair havewon as university speakers.

The duo are originally from the Eastern Cape and Barnabas explained that debating in the province is not prestigious. “We wanted to break the glass ceiling so that people change the perception where debaters from other provinces are looked down upon,” he said.

Barnabas said that debating against people with a good reputation and experience in debating is not easy when you’re unknown as it can affect yourself-esteem and “jeopardise your performance”.

Baduza said that winning the Gauteng Open helped the duo establish a name for themselves and has encouraged them to work harder. Barnabas  said “when you win once, you want to maintain that winning spree”.

Though it is good to win, Baduza explained, “you need to learn how to take a loss and recover from it quickly because you lose and have to speak against someone 10 minutes later.”

Barnabas added that it means that you can’t let previous debating achievements go to your head.

Wits Debating Union chairperson Donavan Masawi said that he is pleased with the performance of the duo. He also added that “the hunger of first years is inspiring to the union as a whole” and brings certainty that the future of the union is in good hands.

The two are working towards taking part in continental and even international tournaments. Baduza said that winning the Gauteng Open was the first step to making that possible.


Wits Vuvuzela, September 2017,Witsies host high school debating tournament

Wits Vuvuzela, August 2014, Girls victorious in a guys debating world

Parktown Head girl leads at SRC luncheon

Parktown Head Girl Neha Prag recieved two rounds of applause after her speech.

Parktown Girls High School head girl Neha Prag stole the show with her speech which received two rounds of applause at Wits’ Student Representative Council’s (SRC’s) women’s luncheon on Saturday, August 26.

Prag encouraged sisterhood and explained that young people’s quest for transformation should not always be viewed in a negative way.

Her speech set the tone for a panel discussion that included singer and former Witsie, Simphiwe Dana, actress and former Wits lecturer Kgomotso Christopher, leadership and organisational development consultant Dr Zukiswa Mthimunye and director of the Wits Transformation Office, Lindiwe Manyika.

Prag also said that the interest of the youth lies in transformation and questioning the system. “Just because the youth are interrogating the system, does not mean that youth and the system cannot coexist. And just because the methods of interrogation differ, does not mean that neither party does not want a better society,” she said.

She further added that the gradient of “wokeness”- which refers to being aware of oppression in society and challenging the status quo – should be less commodified and less exclusive. “We should be calling people into these conversations instead of calling them out.”

Panelists from left to right Simphiwe Dana, Kgomotso Christopher, Dr Zukiswa Mthimunye and director of the Wits Transformation Office, Lindiwe Manyika.

Panellist Mthimunye emphasized this point during the discussion. She said that it is important to invite men and boys into the conversation because, though it alerts them to their wrongdoing, calling them out is not a solution.

Christopher said it is good to have such dialogues but, “There needs to be a point where we move beyond talking. It’s time that conversations become actions in domestic spaces, at work and even in the jokes that we laugh at.”

Prag used two Indian feminist movements to show that women can lead in different ways: one gentle and lady-like as depicted in the movie Lipstick or aggressive and confrontational like the Gulabi Gang. (See video)

Prag said that women can lead as they please, whether aggressive or gentle. Dana agreed, saying that while women are fighting patriarchy, they need to invest in self-care as well. “Be strict about the ideas that you allow to populate your space, practise self-care, know that you are enough, your dreams are valid and don’t become confrontational. It’s okay to pursue your dreams quietly,” she said.

Prag encouraged women to build and maintain a sisterhood that is courageous and stands up for one another regardless of what leadership style they choose to condemn patriarchy with.


Wits Vuvuzela, April 2017, Witsie is a woman of stature

Wits Vuvuzela, April 2017, Wits Woman of the Year in Healthcare

Wits SDASM choir want people to know their name

Wits Mighty SDASM choir celebrated their seventh birthday with a fundraising concert.

MEMBERS OF the Wits Seventh Day Adventist Student Movement (SDASM) choir, also known as “Mighty SDASM”, are this year celebrating their seventh birthday and in so doing wish for people to know their name.

It’s been seven years since the Wits gospel choir was established. Choir master Gilbert Matlhoko says he is proud of how far the choir has come but would like to expand its reach and have people become familiar with the choir.

“People know we’re from Wits, but they don’t know who we are,” he said.

According to alto singer Hazel Moyo people sometimes confuse them with the official Wits choir because of the uncertainty. There are many things, however, that set the Mighty SDASM apart.

Choir member Londiwe Ngema explained that the purpose, as well as the song style, of the choir makes them different because their goal is to spread the word of God and inspire hope through song.

Mighty SDASM includes 60 committed members. Moyo added that the choir’s membership is open to anybody and is not based on talent because the choir does not compete.

“Even if at first you can’t sing, with time you learn,” she said.

The choir is known for their video, singing the original version of Nkosi sikelel’iAfrika. The recording currently sits on 58 791 views on YouTube. Matlhoko said that the choir sang the song in May 2016 at Wits where the video recorded.

“The intention was not to decolonise the anthem, the song rendition was a tribute to the seven ZCC students who lost their lives in a fatal crash last year,” he said. The song then resonated with the #FeesMustFall movement later in the same year.

According to bass singer McMinn Segalo, singing the original version of the national anthem was a stepping stone for the choir and opened doors for them.

The choir sang at former SRC President Sibulele Mgudlwa’s memorial service. “This extended our reach because previously we only sang in the vicinity of the church,” said bass singer Richard Links.

Though the choir has a good number of members, the choir still faces financial challenges. Ngema explained the choir travels to other provinces at least once a year to do mission work and perform free concerts. Links said members of the choir pay from their own pockets which is not always easy.

In order to raise funds and celebrate their seventh anniversary the choir will be performing at The Great Hall on Saturday evening. “The money will assist us with a CD we plan to record and will cover other expenses such as travel in the future,” said Links.

In the future, Matlhoko would also like the choir to alternate with the official Wits Choir and sing at ceremonies for the university.


Wits Vuvuzela, July 2017, Wits Choir wows European audiences

Wits Vuvuzela, September 2015, Movie Review: Boy Choir 

“It’s not over until we’re equal”

Allies and members of the LGBTIAQ+ community show their pride outside Great Hall in preparation for Wits Pride 2017.

WITS PRIDE is a week-long annual initiative which aims to raise awareness on LGBTIAQ+ identities while celebrating the diversity within the community and beyond. Wits Pride will take place across all four campuses from August 21 to 26.

The theme for this year’s pride is #OppressionDenied. According to Tish Lumos, programme coordinator for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Advocacy, #OppressionDenied is a deliberate call to those who are in support of the LGBTIAQ+ community. It calls people to take a stand and reclaim spaces which will play a role in ending generations of homophobia and transphobia.

Lumos said that ending homophobia and transphobia starts with individuals “coming out and saying I will not be part of a space that pretends that LGBTIAQ+ people don’t exist”. It is only people who are supportive that can change spaces, according to Lumos.

Sofia Kouridi, a third year student who is part of the LGBTIAQ+ community, said that Wits Pride is important because it is a safe space where one is able to connect with like-minded people.

According to Kouridi, Pride allows members of the LGBTIAQ+ community to reflect on a challenging past where they were once marginalised and reflect on the work that still needs to be done to allow equality.

“There are still laws around which make it hard for us to adopt children and prejudice in the work space which prevent us from equal job opportunities,” she said. Apart from this, being a woman in the LGBTIAQ+ also has its own challenges, according to Kouridi.

Queer women fall victim to harassment and are questioned about personal details in relationships, which heterosexual couples aren’t subjected to, according to Kouridi.

“It would be nice to be greeted with a smile instead of how do two women have sex,” she said.

Despite the challenges, Kouridi says she is proud to be a woman because everything that women represent is strength.

“We are not weak, we’re still managing oppression every day.” All women have come a long way according to Kouridi, “but it’s not over yet until we’re equal”.

Empathy “the key” to problem solving

Audience members have a discussion during the Leadership Roundtable which was based on human collaboration.


‘DESIGN THINKING’, which is centred on the human trait of empathy, was introduced as the future of problem solving at a leadership roundtable discussion at the Menell Media Exchange (MMX) on Friday, August 11.  The MMX conference is a Duke University initiative which aims to create an effective  media community through forums, workshops and fellowships. The discussion was hosted by Darryl Wright and Karen Roux from Duke Corporate Education.

According to Wright, when people are presented with a problem, their first instinct is to solve the problem quickly. This may include using technology to try and resolve problems. However, Wright said that, it is human characteristics such as empathy that cannot be digitised, that will become more valuable.

“Our existence as humans is framed by connectivity. Without a sense of belonging, we down spiral,” Wright explained. Because of this, he encouraged people to embrace technology, “but don’t become it”.

Future academics, journalists and business owners need to solve problems by placing themselves in the shoes of the target audience that any product is being produced for, according to Roux. “People need their interactions with a product to be simple,” she said.

‘Design thinking’, is an approach which assists in creating a healthy environment that will boost creativity and innovation. Wright said that empathy is the basis of ‘design thinking’ as it allows one to see the world through someone else’s eyes when producing a solution (product) to a problem.

Wright explained that the process of ‘design thinking’ involves “immersing, observing and engaging” with the target audience in order to explore all the details of a problem before solving it.

‘Design thinking’ is founded in neuroscience, he said, and neuroscience had been used


to shape culture and was therefore a relevant element of education, journalism and leadership roles, among others.

“You want to design something that will be useful to people, and so the user experience at every touch point with your product is the most important.”

Wright concluded that empathy includes human collaboration, which is vital, and “empathy is key to unlocking it.”