Young, black, female curators re-imagine WAM



ART APPRECIATION: A boozy young crowd wowed by the artwork on display.                                                                                                                                                                                       Photo: Lwandile Fikeni




An unlikely crowd of art-goers filled the foyer of the Wits Art Museum (WAM) during the opening of Overtime: representations, values and imagined futures of classical African art on Tuesday, February 21.

They were young, black, hip and carried themselves around the space with absolute abandon as they clinked glasses of wine and shared a cigarette or two outside the venue.

This was not by accident, said the exhibition’s curators, Tetanda Magaisa and Katlego Shoro. In fact, it was the intention of the curators when they invited young artists, thinkers and intellectuals to engage with the African art collection held by the museum.

“The majority of the material in the collection belongs to various language groups across the continent, but what happens is that only a particular kind of people tend to handle that material,” said Magaisa.

This fact led the duo to consider new ways of re-imagining how the collection is seen, talked about and interpreted. Central to their curatorial considerations was the question of access.

“People regard this African art as something that young people do not appreciate,” said Magaisa.

“It’s like ‘oh, ja, they are millennials; they’ve completely and actively removed themselves from these cultures’, which is entirely untrue,” she added.

The exhibition was inspired by the responses and conversations that arose from the From The Heart: Personal Perspectives of the WAM Collection exhibition that took place last June.

“You have these conversations that have happened about accessibility and the kind of voices that can curatorially participate in exhibiting something like classical art,” said Shoro.

“And then you have young black people, young artists and young intellectuals who work at the museum. What are their experiences with the museum besides the job that they do?” she asked.

The answer lay in giving space to people who have different experiences within the museum, with the cultural material, with art, and with imagining how exhibitions can be curated and how a museum can be engaged, Shoro said.

The multiple contributors hold the exhibition together through highlighting the humanness invested in each piece on display.

“The contributors highlight not only their experiences with the museum, with the collection and with art but they also highlight that there’s humanness that should be considered when one looks at art and when one engages with the museum space,” said Shoro.

“How these objects are presented is very important,” she added.

Speaking of the novelty of having young black people at a WAM opening, Magaisa said, “What happened, inevitably, is that having young people participate in the show brought in a young audience and increased the engagement with the exhibition.”

Overtime: representations, values and imagined futures of classical African art will run until April 23.





Dance Umbrella takes off


DeApartHate_photo Oscar oRyan_

ON STAGE: Mamela Nyamza presents her latest piece De-Apart-Hate at this year’s Dance Umbrella photo: Supplied

The 29th edition of the annual Dance Umbrella festival has launched at the Wits Theatre Complex and will run until Sunday, March 5.

The festival is showcasing over 50 new works, 13 commissioned works, six Johannesburg South African premieres and a Master Class programme conducted by prominent choreographers.

“It’s hard to say which shows visitors should see,” said Artistic Director Georgina Thomson about the shows to be presented during the 10 day festival.

“I think people should just have an adventure and see what they fancy,” she said. And there is quite a lot to fancy in this year’s festival.

On Friday, February 24 and Saturday 25 at 19:00, Moeketsi Koena and Gaby Saranouffi present Corps at the Wits Downstairs Theatre. Corps explores the transporting links that connect the real and the unreal through photography and dance and creates a link between today’s world and the past through the ancestral history of South Africa, Madagascar and France.

At the Wits Amphitheatre, on the same days, but at 21:00, Cape Town-born director, choreographer and activist, Mamela Nyamza, presents her acclaimed De-Apart-Hate The work deals with the struggles of post-apartheid South Africa as a nation, but doesn’t dwell on race.

Also worth looking out for is choreographer Rudi van der Merwe’s installation work, Trophée, on Saturday and Sunday, February 25 and 26 at 15:00 at the National School of the Arts (NSA) in Braamfontein. This show is an outdoor performance with emphasis on visual and land art. The title alludes to references about the submission of women – as trophy wives – and the submission of nature –hunting trophies – as part of tools of war throughout history.

On Tuesday, February 28 and Wednesday, March 1 the Wits Theatre will showcase a triple bill featuring the work of Oscar Buthelezi, Sonny Boy Motau and Lulu Mlangeni. Buthelezi’s Stuck Souls reflects on the world today being lost in waste and it asks the question: “How do we stop this?” Motau’s I am Not speaks to self-discovery and venturing into new and unknown spaces within ourselves: both body and mind. Vuyani Dance Theatre’s Lulu Mlangeni will premiere her new work, Shift.

A series of master classes will take place from Saturday, February 25 until March 4 at the Dance Space in Newtown.

The festival closes on March 5 at 14:30 at the Wits Theatre, with Cape Town choreographer Kirvan Fortuin’s When they Leave, a technical and high-pitched show that explores the narrative of race between white and coloured people.

Tickets range from R20 to R120 and are available at For the full Dance Umbrella 2017 programme, updates on the Master Classes and Face to Face interviews please visit

NSFAS clears confusion over “withdrawn” funding

A twitter storm brewed last weekend after a number of Wits students alleged that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) had withdrawn funding offers with scant explanation for its actions.

They addressed their heated allegations to Wits SRC Treasurer General Thando Mntambo, who immediately took up their grievances and included @myNSFAS in the twitter conversation.

“We have so far received numerous emails from students confirming that this is indeed happening,” said Mntambo when contacted by Wits Vuvuzela.

“We first have to understand the issue before tackling it, so the first thing being done is the collection of the database to scope the immensity of the problem while in the interim we are pursuing the channels available to us to try and get answers to this question, after which we will do what is necessary to solve the problem,” Mntambo said.

Sharon Ndlovu, a second year BA Law student, was one of the students who approached the SRC via twitter.

“I applied last year through Wits and in January I got a notification that my application was received,” Ndlovu wrote.

Ndlovu said that her application status was changed to “financial eligibility evaluated” but then last Friday, February 17, she got an SMS informing her that her application was unsuccessful due to the institution she chose. The correspondence, which has been seen by Wits Vuvuzela, advised her to apply to a TVET college and “your application may be reconsidered”.

When Ndlovu called NSFAS to query this they sang a different tune.

“They said they are short of funds,” Ndlovu said.

NSFAS Spokesperson, Kagisho Mamabolo, clarified the confusion to Wits Vuvuzela: “All returning students who received NSFAS in 2016 were advised not to apply online because they were going to be funded automatically should they pass 50% of their modules.”

He said that those who didn’t follow the guidelines and applied online had created duplication of their details on the system as NSFAS had made advanced arrangements with universities to enrol them without having to apply.

“Therefore the system automatically rejected their application because they are already funded and are in class,” said Mamabolo.

“They shouldn’t panic and should proceed to study as normal,” he said.

However, all returning students who did not have NSFAS in the previous years (including 2016) and had applied for 2017, and were unsuccessful, are advised to appeal, not enrol in a TVET College, he said.

Sharon Ndlovu is a new applicant, and since the clarification by NSFAS, has appealed the rejection of her application.

Students have until February 28 to appeal their declined applications for funding.

Drama for life needs your books

Drama For Life (DFL), the independent academic, research and community engagement programme based at the Wits School of Arts, is looking for book donations for its resources centre.

DFL’s work is rooted in human rights and social justice and its staff and practitioners need access to information and knowledge, said Zanele Madiba, DFL’s media, communications and events officer.

“We are looking for books in the fields of Applied Drama, Drama Therapy and Arts Education and related disciplines including psychology, social work, public health, anthropology, cultural and diversity studies, etc.,” she said.


The need for books arose because Applied Drama and Drama Therapy are fairly new fields of study in the South African and African context, said Madiba.


“Emerging from this reality was the need to establish a collection of published and unpublished resources for the purpose of driving scholarship in the disciplines.”


Owing to the emergence of these fields, the majority of the literature available is located and published within international contexts, making access to this knowledge expensive and unfeasible for many scholars, Madiba said.


DFL doesn’t have a set target nor a cut-off date for the donation drive.


“We would love to get as many books as possible,” said Madiba.

All book donations should be brought to Drama For Life on the 17th fl oor of University Corner between 9am and 5pm.



Sex education still relevant to young people



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SEX SPORTS: Wits students trying to fit condoms into the wooden condom demonstrators on the library lawns during International Condom Day                                              Photo: Lwandile Fikeni

Wits University students got to grips with dildos and condoms yesterday as part of the first Sex Sports on the library lawns. The event was held in commemoration of World Condom Day celebrated annually on February 13.

Wits Drama For Life (DFL) in partnership with AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) hosted the

event which saw participants engage in some rather risqué, amusing  but educational tasks. Drunk Goggles required participants to put on glasses which blurred their vision while they attempted to put a condom onto a makeshift penis. In another game students were asked if they knew what a condom was made of or if they knew where to find the expiry date on a condom packet.

DFL Project manager Leonie Ogle said the event went beyond sex sports and included HIV Aids testing, high blood sugar, sexual health awareness and education.

Statistics on the AHF website claim that South Africa has an HIV/AIDS rate lingering near 18% of the population, with public knowledge of HIV transmission and prevention factors dropping to 26.8% in 2012 from 30.30% four years earlier.

Nthabiseng*, a 31-year-old Applied Drama student who took part in the Sex Sports admitted to being unaware of some of the questions posed during the games.

“I didn’t know anything,” Nthabiseng said. “It was my first time playing this game. We were asked questions about HIV and AIDS and how does the disease transmit. Questions like, ‘how do you get HIV? Through blood, through saliva or what?’.”

Nthabiseng tests for HIV regularly. Asked if she was the experience of going for a HIV test on campus she said, “I wasn’t scared because I normally do tests but sex education is still relevant, especially for young people growing up”.




Book review: Cheating – the ultimate guide for players

Author: Mduduzi Manyandi
Publisher: Self-published
Price: R75.00

MDUDUZI MANYANDI’S selfpublished  is loaded with the kind of f***-boy humour that will make you either hate it or find it extremely entertaining – for all the
wrong reasons I might add. It is in 10 short chapters about “one night stands” (Chapter 3), “hiding cheating evidence” (Chapter 2), “How women speak” (Chapter 7), “Why you should stay hygienically clean” (Chapter 8), and “Revenge” (Chapter 11).

The book off ers tired insights and clichés about “what women want” and “good guys vs bad guys”. Tired, yet dangerous. That said, however, Manyandi has a skill for gutter humour, if not simply by exposing his ignorance. So, instead of attempting to review this book, let me share some of the writer’s wisdoms:

Chapter 1: One night stands “Let’s get to how quickly you can spot that girl you want to pick and take home. This should be an easy task … for example, bet on someone whose behaviour gives off ‘slutty’ vibes … look for girls who seem as if they are saying ‘come get it’.”

Chapter 4: How to end a relationship without being rude to your partner “Some people do dangerous things when they are hurt. Imagine telling someone you have been with for more than five years that you don’t love them anymore. Bang! Just like that. That person can have you bewitched thinking they wasted their time on you for nothing. You must dump your partner is such a way that she must think you are a loser in the whole thing” – the author goes on to suggest some of his strategies – “The last strategy I have for you is what I call Victim- Victor Rule … You will have to cry pretending you are hurt now that she is leaving you, yet deep down you are in celebratory mode.”

Chapter 8: The power of money “Don’t be fooled by the saying that money cannot buy love. Money is power and it plays a crucial role in relationships. I wonder if there are still guys out there who are obsessed with enlarging their penises so they can pleasure women. If such guys still exist, I have this to tell you: you guys are living in [the] dark ages. Large penises do not swipe at News Café. And they certainly do not buy you a German sports car.”

So what happens when a “wife” or “partner” cheats? Manyandi suggests revenge. In Chapter 11, a chapter that the author treats as an aha! moment, we are told that if the unforgivable were to happen the player should “leave her [the cheating spouse] and give her a lifetime of punishment. “It is not easy but this will eat her like a cankerworm,” the author writes. “When you are ready to date again, go for someone half her age, slender and extremely beautiful and watch your ex die a slow death.”

Cheating: The ultimate guide for players reads more like the ultimate guide for wankers but Manyandi must be commended for writing and self-publishing what comes across like a wank-fest at Men’s Res.

Existing outside social media

I recently deactivated and deleted all my social media accounts. The idea struck me on my drive home to the Eastern Cape for December holidays late last year. I drove down the Smithfield/Rouxville/Aliwal North route. Those who’ve gone down that part of the world will agree that there exists an abundance of land and sky and clean air, a welcome reprieve from the corrosive claustrophobia of the city.

A closer look at those large swathes of land along the N6 reveals barbed fences behind which spacious pastoral homesteads, concealed by clumps of trees, form the core building units from which the fulcrum of small towns like Aliwal North spreads out like a spider’s web.

Mud and corrugated iron townships dart the rims of this web, supplying farms and farm owners with black bodies to command and possess. Wikipedia says Aliwal North was named in tribute to Sir Harry Smith who was the governor of the Cape Colony when he established the town in 1849. According to the same Wiki entry he named the town “Aliwal” in memory of his victory over the Sikhs at the Battle of Aliwal during the First Sikh War in India in 1846. The entry doesn’t mention whether there were people already living in the area when Smith made it his own. Our so-called South African history is a compendium of subtractions and erasures. Our own collective amnesia further compounded by urgency of the politics of now.

This sudden realisation – sudden for I’d been preoccupied with Donald Trump and whatever else passes for a punchline on my social media timeliness – made me think, seriously, about what I choose to subtract from my everyday experience of the world. At that moment I was either going to instagram Umtali Inn (where I spent the evening) or I was going to google it and discover that it was more than 60 years old.

That in its colourful history people of my skin colour weren’t allowed to shack up in its tastelessly decorated rooms that still reeked of 80s apartheid aesthetic. My companion and I went for a swim in the unlit pool that evening and watched the stars stare back at our scantily privileged black bodies enjoying the exclusive decadence of apartheid in this small town where white men still call a black man ‘boy’.

In my bag I’d packed Paul Beatty’s The Sellout. It was sheer coincidence. In the book the narrator, Bonbon, re-instates segregation in a fictional Los Angeles town of Dickens. And here we were in this softly segregated town, no more segregated than the suburbs from the townships in the city. I wondered if there is much difference between class segregation and other institutional segregations. My thoughts recalled that old Orwellian metaphor about some animals being more equal than others.

I imagined there are books that make sense of post-colonies in current global capitalism and culture. I began to suspect that in these books I’d probably make sense of my place in the current form of the world. A world I have helped create whether by choice, by force, or by necessity. Later, I deactivated Instagram and its carefully curated scenes of happy, interesting lives. I thought of Aliwal North and relics like Rouxville and pondered how they performed non-racial, non-sexist post-apartheid democracy. And so, instead of looking for another world calamity or gossip on Twitter during the holidays I spent time at home reading Mahmood Mamdani’s Citizen and Subject and argued politics with my uncle over beers. The internet is bloated with free e-books and essays and lectures and good journalism. I’ve been downloading, borrowing from the library and jacking free music online. At times when I’m in the library reading a novel or a short story or a play (Parentheses of Blood by Sony Labou Tansi is worth a look) I wonder what I have been doing with my life these past 3 years.



Debt woes burden students in spite of fee waiver


FEE HEADACHES: Parents and students queue outside Fees Office for fee waiver agreements.                                                                                                                                                               Photo: Lwandile Fikeni

The Wits University’s new fee waiver policy has been set up to help students with debt to register, however, some students are finding even this concession does not go far enough.

According to the policy, “all students who owe R10 000 or less will have their debt automatically rolled into their 2017 fees and will be allowed to register. Students who have debt higher than R10 000 will be requested to pay half the outstanding balance and enter into a payment plan for the remainder of the funds, before being allowed to register”.

Lauren Theys, a third year architectural studies student, says the provision is not so helpful to her. She owed the university R 30 000 and had difficulty raising the R15 000 she needed to pay in order to be allowed to register.

Her circumstances are typical for the so-called “missing middle”. Her mother, Hazel Theys, 61, is a retired teacher who supports Lauren and her brother who’s studying at university in the Northern Cape.

“Her [Lauren] father passed away two years ago, I am the one responsible for her fees now and I’m retired. I have her at varsity and my other son in varsity in Kimberly at Sol Plaatje, plus I’m paying off my bond, which takes half of my pension. So it’s very difficult to keep both children at university at this stage.

“I had to get a loan and luckily it was approved,” said Hazel.

The other issue the Theys family raises is what they say is the lack of assistance from the university after Lauren fell ill last July. She was advised by her doctor to stay at home for the rest of the second semester. Despite this, the university still held her liable for the entire second semester fees.

“When I was still sick I contacted and emailed the relevant people, telling them this is my situation in terms of fees,” she said.

“Instead of being told, ‘come to this office, speak to this person, do this or do that,’ I was told that ‘well, you didn’t fill out this form’ and that was the end of the email instead of being given proper guidance.”

Lauren has three courses outstanding on her degree and she will apply for a fee waiver after paying the 50% required although she doesn’t know how she will pay back the remainder of last year’s fees and this year’s tuition.

Wits Vuvuzela contacted the university to ask whether there are other options available to students who, like Lauren, owe more that R 10 000 but cannot afford to pay the 50% to qualify for a ‘fee waiver’, but there was no response to our emails.

We also asked what steps the university will take in the case of a student who fails to pay off the debt after signing the fee waiver agreement, but the fees office had not responded to this question either by the time of going to press.