Sharing the pain of “adulting”

I remember my mother sending me a text message late last year in December nonchalantly saying: “By the way you’re on your own for medical aid beginning next year…”

She was speaking of 2017.

The amount of sad and crying face emojis I sent her immediately tossed her into a laughing frenzy. This was her way of telling me, “Welcome to the world of adults.”

Shock! Horror! “Adulting” soon became a reality. One that still has me #shook.

I felt like I was being kicked while I was down and out. Ok, maybe not down and out. But in my eyes, having just moved back home as a graduate, after years of being away at varsity and being broke counted towards my struggle argument.

Do you remember your first day in first grade, high school and the dreaded first day of university? Well, none of these phases could have prepared you for the “adulting” world that social media has turned into a trend.

If you haven’t noticed, Twitter and Instagram have become abuzz with the #Adulting craze lately. These are mostly young adults who have taken to these platforms to share their daily struggles and victories of being an adult. Most, who are not of our generation, think of “adulting” as a vain manner in which we self-congratulate.

Writer Danielle Tullo in Cosmopolitan insists that the word “adulting” implies that being an adult is not a necessary part of growing up but rather a life choice you’re hesitant to fully buy into.

I beg to differ. The thing is,we are already in this “adulting” thing whether we like it or not. We are fully aware of it but we choose to share these “adulting” moments with friends, acquaintances and loved ones because of a simple need to feel like we are not alone in the struggle. Yeah sure, we get a couple of giggles and likes along the way. But it is the mere fact of knowing that I am not the only twenty-something-year-old stressed about bills, savings and responsibilities with my barely-enough-to-go-around salary – we’re in this together.

“Adulting” is having to deal with the fact that for the first time in your life you are expected to have it all together: career, finances and relationships, amongst other things. It is finding yourself sitting behind your work desk even when it is raining cats and dogs outside and you would honestly rather be at home in your pyjamas watching series. But you understand being here pays your salary and that will ultimately afford you that first car you’ve been dreaming of.

Now that I have my newfound freedom – including no curfews – you’d think I’d have more time to hangout and party with friends but hardly any of that is coming my way. See, with “adulting”, spontaneity is almost always a myth because now you resort to planning engagements with friends since everyone is always busy. Delayed gratification becomes the norm.

The reality of taking on adult responsibilities is no easy task. There are days when I’m able to get through the ups and downs. There are other mornings when the dread and constant feeling of being thrown into the deep end can be overwhelming, making me want to crawl into bed next to my mother and have her comfort me through it all.

The reality of “adulting” is having to make things work even when you don’t have it all figured out.

So, excuse me and the other young adults who want to self-celebrate and give ourselves a pat on the back every now and then for even the smallest achievements of this “adulting” life.

Wits rolls out learnership for staff

Wits will be rolling out a basic education and training programme for staff members who have not reached the matric qualification level.

The programme is a National Certificate in Business Administration for National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Level 2 (Grade 10) and Level 3 (Grade 11).

The roll-out will be funded by the Education, Training and Development Practices Sector Education and Training Authority (ETDP Seta) as the focus of the Discretionary Grant Funding allocation for 2016 and 2017.

Head of the Human Resources Development Unit (HRDU), Chantelle Murray, said the programme has space for approximately 73 individuals and, to date, they have received 55 applications.

”We have a lot of initiatives at other levels but the lower levels often get forgotten.”

When HRDU started talking with the university’s staff about the bursary scheme they realised that they had assumed that everyone had a matric qualification but that was not the case. Even more so, with the incoming insourced staff.

“We realised a lot of the workers being insourced barely have a NQF level 2 and 3 qualification, never mind a NQF level 4 or matric qualification. They can’t access all the cool benefits, such as bursaries, unless they have an NQF level 4 qualification,” said Murray.

The difference between this training programme and what was previously known as the Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) programme is that the ABET classes were to a large extent based on the school type of grounding that one needs. That includes literacy, numeracy and computer literacy. The criticism about this model is that it did not prepare the adults for the world of work.

“You do need to have numeracy in place in order to do calculations and look after your own budget at home, but if it’s not housed in a context, then it’s just numbers and words,” said Murray.
With the National Certificate in Business Administration offered at Wits, the idea is to teach numeracy, literacy and computer literacy within a context, such as putting together an agenda for a meeting and event management. These are things that they would come across while working at Wits.

Staff will be expected to complete a portfolio of work in order to receive a certificate of competence, said HRDU consultant, Megan Thulukanam.

Murray said Siyanqoba, which is part of the EOH Group would be the service provider for the programme’s first roll out, as it was nationally accredited and had corporate experience.

“It’s important to have a provider that understands the kinds of challenges the staff experience every day in terms of going home to environments where they can’t always do homework maybe because they don’t have electricity and so on.”

Part of the HRDU approach is communicating with the managers of the individuals on the final list so that they are on board and understand how best to support their staff and mentor them.

Insourcing high turns sour

The insourcing of about 1530 workers has meant improved salaries and benefits for the new Wits employees but two women say they have been left high and dry, and are yet to enjoy these benefits.

The insourcing celebrations remain on hold for Memory Mabizela, 47, and Elizabeth Labase, 49, who work as hygiene operators for Wits contractor, Ukweza, and who have been excluded from the insourcing process. The two women have worked at Wits for the last 17 years.


Taking a stand: Ukweza staff, Elizabeth Labase and Memory Mabizela are sad that they are not part of Wits’ insourcing plan.                                                                                                           Photo: Olwethu Boso

Last year the Wits human resources (HR) office held a meeting with all Ukweza staff to notify them that they would all be insourced. At the beginning of this year when a number of former outsourced workers went to sign their contracts with the university, the two women say they were not given contracts.

Mabizela and Labase approached their Ukweza boss, Corné van Rooyen, about the matter.

Speaking in seSotho, they told Wits Vuvuzela they had asked what was going to happen to them. They were told the university did not have the necessary hygiene certificate registered in order to bring them on board.

Mabizela said that this was strange because the university was able to use Ukweza services even though Ukweza apparently does not have a registered hygiene certificate themselves, but, has been rendering the service to Wits nonetheless.

Van Rooyen told Wits Vuvuzela that he did not wish to comment about the matter and instead referred us to the university’s HR department.

The two women then approached Wits HR director Dr Kgomotso Kasankola. They say Kasankola told them that HR was under the impression that they used machinery and chemicals to do their work and therefore they could not be insourced because their company could not provide the appropriate machines and chemicals to Wits.

According to Labase, the university has insourced the cleaning staff from Ukweza who work with chemicals to clean toilets and office spaces on a daily basis, yet as hygiene operators, they only use deo-block (air fresheners) and plastics to collect sanitary garbage.

The women say they returned to Van Rooyen to clarify the issues raised in their meeting with Wits HR. He apparently told them they were not going to be insourced but he would see if their pay could stay the same while they worked for Ukweza until he leaves and finishes his term next year.

“We are clearly not important at Wits. The work we do doesn’t seem to be important to them,” said Labase.

Wits spokesperson Buhle Zuma said, “Based on the specialised function of the work rendered, an independent legal opinion has been sought on this matter. A decision will be made once the legal opinion is received.”

Former Wits manager arrested in US

A former senior manager from the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (WRHI) was arrested last week in the United States on allegations of money laundering.

The university would not reveal the identity of the manager but according to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) statement he has been identified as Dr. Eugene Sickle.

The Dr. was arrested in Washington DC in connection with misappropriation of funds of HIV/AIDS programmes in South Africa being supported and funded by USAID. Approximately USD 230 000, about three million in South African rands was misused.

Wits University released a statement saying the bulk of the funds would be covered by insurance and that the “project will not suffer any reduction in funding and there will be no direct loss to USAID.”

Dr. Sickle resigned last year from his position as Deputy Executive Director for the WRHI program following discovery of his potential involvement in the submission of fraudulent documents to WRHI by a third party. When he was questioned about this, he immediately resigned from his position.

According to Wits University spokesperson, Shirona Patel, as a precautionary measure, the WRHI have undertaken to review all grants and activities and no other irregularities have been found.

A criminal case has also been opened against him with the South African Police Services.

Cool kid on campus


Being bold: Dancer, Xola Phakane shows his fierceness for the camera.                                   Photo: Olwethu Boso

Lights! Camera! Action! This is the life Wits first year student Xola Phakane has become accustomed to as a professional dancer and make-up artist.

The twenty year old studying towards a BA (Music) degree, hails from Meadowlands Zone 6, Soweto, exudes sass and has an energetic aura to him.

Growing up his mother didn’t want him to pursuit dancing but his persistance saw him grow as a professional dancer to working with the likes of one of South Africa’s most talented choreographers and entertainers, Somizi Mhlongo.

Xola, or rather Sasha as he prefers to be called on stage, had his first professional dancing gig at the 2010 Soccer World Cup opening ceremony stage, where, as a child from the streets of Meadowlands, he met the likes of R Kelly and other celebrities he’d only ever seen on television but never dreamt he could ever share a stage with. Last year, Phakane toured the country as a dancer with gospel group Joyous Celebration.

Phakane says he is inspired the most by his people, gay people, and the LGBTI community as a whole because “these are people who’ve struggled to find themselves in society and to be accepted. We all fight for acceptance.”


Parkour: the art of movement

ALL TIME HIGH: Dyllon Davidson leaps for the wall by Wartenweriller Library, Wits University

ALL TIME HIGH: Dyllon Davidson leaps for the wall by Wartenweriller Library, Wits University

He looks at the distance to the bottom and at the wall in front of him, visibly making mental calculations. He walks back to the low-standing wall behind him and prepares himself for the jump.

He leans forward on the balls of his feet, makes a run for the wall, every part of him poised for a leap. In the blink of an eye, Dyllon Davidson shoots into the air, and ends up clinging onto the wall by the Wartenweiller Library, no suction gloves in sight, just his calloused hands grasping at the rough-surfaced wall.

Students watch and gasp in awe at the Spiderman-like display.

Most of us walk around Wits university’s main campus only seeing the buildings for what they are, cold concrete, but there is a group of people who see these buildings and its surroundings as a playground, a concrete jungle-gym of sorts.

These people are Parkour practitioners. Parkour is a form of training that was developed in the 1980s in France. The sport involves flips, vaulting, jumping, swinging and other movements to get from one spot to another.

Angelique Reichel who started out training a year and a half ago says that the sport teaches you to distinguish between healthy fear and crippling fear. “You learn what your limits are and how far you can push yourself. If your gut feeling tells you not to take the jump or flip then you learn to work with that and understand where it’s coming from.”

Parkour is about training the human body to be able to overcome any obstacle that it comes across, a survival mentality and freerunning is about moving efficiently while doing it in an expressive way. “They are both examples of the two sides of the coin of movement, because we move to get from a to b or we move to express ourselves,” says Davidson, co-founder and trainer of Concrete Foundation Crew.

Even the stunts you see in movies are put together by parkour athletes such as Davidson, who has worked with a number of movies in the past couple of years, namely, Resident Evil, Mad Max and The Avengers, to name a few.

Davidson says Wits University has been one of, if not the only, university in South Africa to be supportive of the sport by allowing athletes onto its campus to train and “jam”.


Bid farewell to me

Let me say upfront, I’ve never been to a soccer match in my life! So there I was on Tuesday evening, sitting on a wet audience stand (I think that’s what they call it), at Bidvest Stadium, Wits University watching home side Wits hammering Ajax Cape Town. While the big bosses and co. sat in a fenced off area on cushioned seats shielded from the rain wearing their team’s regalia, I was not a happy camper at all.

My editor asked me to make this piece a “how to survive guide” but to be honest, I barely survived the game myself, so that option’s out the window.

As a first timer at a live soccer game I was accompanied by a colleague, who, like myself was a first timer, but, unlike me she seemed excited for what the evening had in store. I suspect that being able to document the moment on Snapchat, selfies and all, was what kept her sane throughout the game.

WALK-OVER:Wits hammered Ajax Cape Town by 5-0 on home ground

WALK-OVER:Wits hammered Ajax Cape Town by 5-0 on home ground

If you are not a fan of noise, I suggest you stay away from watching games at the stadium. You hear the same noise on the TV but there is nothing that compares to hearing it live and in person. The Bidvest brass band kept the tunes rolling in throughout the game despite the noise from the crowd but I am convinced that this kind of assault on the senses should come with a warning of sorts.

On the field, everyone was running up and down under the lights, and, every once in a while, a ball ‘accidentally’ goes in followed by a crowd going wild. I say ‘accidentally’ because have you ever noticed how surprised the players themselves are when that ball hits the back of the net? You mean to say you were not expecting it to go in when you kicked the ball? Talk about pure luck!

I couldn’t but notice the high numbers of couples at the game. I actually think I had missed the memo for date night. I watched a couple sit down with their snacks and the woman sat next to her boyfriend trying to converse here and there, while said boyfriend immersed himself in the game. And they say cell phones kill relationships?

In all honesty though, I found that as much as I was supposed to watch the goings on, on the pitch, I was more entertained by everything else around me but the game. I cannot even tell you who scored the first goal or the last of the match never mind the ones in between, all I know is that our side won. This is as much of a match report that I could file, maybe next time will be better.