Vladislavić launches latest book at Wits

Acclaimed South African author and Wits English professor, Ivan Vladislavić, launched his new book at Wits University last week.

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DETECTIVE: Acclaimed South African author, Ivan Vladislavić launched his new book 101 Detectives at Wits on Thursday,  as part of Africa Week. Photo: Samantha Camara

101 Detectives  is a collection of fictional short stories that follow the adventures of different detectives across Johannesburg, Mauritius, the American West and Germany. The book is the latest offering from Wits English professor and celebrated author Ivan Vladislavić, and was launched at Wits University last Thursday.

Speaking at the launch hosted by the Wits School of Language, Literature and Media (SLLM), Vladislavić said the collection is an extension of his previous work The Loss Library.

Kirby Mania, who completed her doctorate on Vladislavićs’ works,  described the collection as an “act of detection” as the reader is invited to not only journey with the characters but also decipher clues and patterns which are hidden in the stories themselves.

Mania suggested that the collection is an “anti-detective” story which follows “no grand system that can be relied on to restore order”.

The book was published by Umuzi, a local branch of Penguin Random House and is on sale at leading bookstores.

Listen to Vladislavić read from the title story of the collection (click below):

No visa required!

Securing a visa to visit an international country can be an exhausting, time-consuming and expensive exercise. Here are ten countries that South Africans don’t need a visa to visit. 

Graphic: Samantha Camara

Graphic: Samantha Camara

Most young people dream of adventuring across the world but getting a visa can often be a frustrating, time-consuming and expensive process.

Luckily, South African citizens are able to travel to over 40 countries without a visa. (This list excludes countries that offer a visa on arrival).

With a valid South African passport, these are some of the countries that you don’t need a visa to visit.


1. Namibia

As one of our neighbouring countries, Namibia is a short two-hour flight away. It is home to one of the largest coastal deserts, the Namib and part of the Kalahari, the fifth largest desert in the world. Namibia is also known for its incredible wildlife.

2. Seychelles

La Digue Island, Seychelles. Photo: Dider Baertschiger

La Digue Island, Seychelles. Photo: Dider Baertschiger

The archipelago of 115 islands called the Seychelles sits off the east coast of Africa. Scuba-diving, snorkeling, sunshine and lazy beach days on an island paradise – no visa required.

3. Tanzania

Tanzania is best known for Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. Countless hikers and mountaineers visit Tanzania every year to climb the mountain’s peak and explore the natural beauty this country has to offer. The annual migration of animals through the Serengeti National Park, the area where Disney’s The Lion King is based, is also popular.

4. Zanzibar

Bwejuu Beach, Zanzibar. Photo: Chris Huh

Bwejuu Beach, Zanzibar. Photo: Chris Huh

Off the coast of Tanzania is the island of Zanzibar. Like the Seychelles, the archipelago is a perfect destination for scuba-diving, snorkeling and water sports. A trip to another continent is not needed when we have paradise so close to home.


5. Brazil

Copacabana Beach (Praia de Copacabana), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo: Bisonlux

Copacabana Beach (Praia de Copacabana), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo: Bisonlux

Vibrant and beautiful, Brazil is host to one of the biggest annual parties in the world, The Rio Carnival. The stretches of beaches and the Amazon Rain forest are also popular tourist attraction for those wishing to escape the city. The best part is that Brazil, and most of South America, do not require a visa.

6. Costa Rica

The small, rain forested country of Costa Rica is a perfect place to experience the best of tropical life. Beaches on the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea are a perfect place to surf and the rain forests provide an adventure of their own.

7. Caribbean Islands

Jerusalem, Westmoreland Parish, Jamaica. Photo: Greg Walters.

Jerusalem, Westmoreland Parish, Jamaica. Photo: Greg Walters.

Jamaica, Barabados, Bahamas, Haiti and Dominica are Caribbean Islands that welcome South Africans without visas. Whether you want to envelope yourself in the laid back island culture of Jamaica or provide humanitarian aid to those in Haiti, the Caribbean Islands are a paradise waiting to be explored.


8. Thailand

Tropical beaches, ancient ruins, magnificent temples and a modern cities. Thailand is a world of it’s own and a mecca for the adventurous spirit who enjoys learning about different cultures.

Bangkok, Thailand. Photo: Mike Behnken.

Bangkok, Thailand. Photo: Mike Behnken.


9. Republic of Ireland

The Republic of Ireland is one of the only places in Europe that you do not need a visa to visit. Lush green hills, old castles and “real” guinness are on offer as you navigate the country side.


10. New Zealand

Glaciers, snow capped mountains and incredibly blue lakes make New Zealand an awe inspiring place to visit. Fans of The Lord of the Rings can take a tour through Middle Earth, as most of the franchise was filmed in New Zealand and special tours to the sets are available.

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, New Zealand. Photo: Alan Iam.

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, New Zealand. Photo: Alan Lam.


Who’s behind the shady ‘Wits’ hoodies?

A Facebook page selling hoodies to Wits University graduates gained over 2000 likes in just five days recently. It is not known who is behind the sales campaign but Wits Marketing has confirmed it has not authorised the sale of the merchandise. A similar design is being used on hoodies and t-shirts globally.

A Facebook page called the “University of Witwatersrand Graduates“, attracted a high number of likes in just a few days recently after it began promoting the sale of Wits merchandise using the university’s distinctive crest on its merchandise.

The university’s logo is used as the profile picture of the page and an image of the Wits Science Stadium building serves as the cover photo which makes the page appear as if it is closely aligned with the university and therefore a legitimate supplier of Wits University merchandise. 

“Interest grew from 131 likes on Saturday April 18 to 2289 likes by Tuesday April 21”

The page though has no information about any individual or company that could be contacted for more information. It is linked though to an international site called teechip.com which makes it possible for any individual to start a small merchandise business.

The page appears to have started on April 17 this year and interest grew from 131 likes on Saturday April 18 to 2289 likes on Tuesday April 21.

Wits University responds

Wits marketing manager Ferna Clarkson said the university received assistance from its legal office and the third party had agreed to not sell the T-shirts after being contacted by the university’s attorneys.

THE GEAR: A screengrab of a hoodie taken from the 'University of the Witwatersrand Graduates' Facebook page. The hoodie is being sold with a fake Wits emblem in the middle of the design.

THE GEAR: A screengrab of a hoodie taken from the ‘University of the Witwatersrand Graduates’ Facebook page. Graphic: Wits Vuvuzela.

According to Adams and Adams Attorneys, representatives for the university, the t-shirts were removed from the Facebook page on April 20. Clarkson said it had come to their attention the merchandise had been posted on another Facebook page and she is the process of getting the legal office to look into it.

On Tuesday, the university posted a statement on the page saying it does not approve or authorise the use of the Wits logo on the page.

Although no new posts have been made by the page since April 17, the campaign continues to run and the page had reached over 3,000 likes by this morning.

Delivery of merchandise still uncertain

The limited offer, closes later today but it is still unknown if those who have bought the merchandise will receive it.

Almost identical pages have been created for a number of South African universities including the universities of Cape Town, Pretoria, Rhodes and Stellenbosch.

Campaigns that use a similar design but do not use institutional logos are being sold for universities across the world. These include Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, University of New South Wales and University of Southern Queensland amongst others.


OPINION: I am white and I am an African

Samantha Camara. Photo: TJ Lemon

Samantha Camara Photo: TJ Lemon

One of my guilty pleasures is the movie Mean Girls.  In the movie, a character named Karen asks the lead character Cady: “So if you’re from Africa, why are you white?” Although the question is asked in a funny way, the idea that there are no white people in “scary, dark Africa” is a stereotype that has often annoyed me.

Does the unavoidable pigment of my skin really exclude me from being a member of the continent I call home?

I have been extremely privileged to represent South Africa overseas in international competitions. Every trip has come with countless stares, mumbles and tactless questions from strangers about my obvious lack of expected blackness.

I can remember two accounts in particular, the first round of questioning came from a young Texan man who was fascinated with the strange mixed group of South Africans, to which I belonged. To his absolute amazement, not only were some of us white South Africans but we were all dressed in “real clothes”, were well-groomed and could speak fluent English.

He then launched into a list of questions about what it was like to live in huts, how we felt about being fully dressed instead of wearing animal skins, the difficulties of driving elephants to school and what we feed our pet lions.

In his defence, we all wove elaborate stories of what life in wild Africa was like. After a few minutes, the stories became too elaborate and we felt bad so we told him the truth about life in Johannesburg and that most of the wild animals were kept safely in zoos and game parks.

“Often I feel like I am not allowed to be proud of being African because my skin is too light.”

The second incident happened in Malaysia a few years later, while I was walking in the city to get food with friends. A local woman, seeing the South African flag on my backpack as I walked passed, stopped me and with genuine confusion asked me why I was white if I came from South Africa.

Fighting back the urge to give an offensively sarcastic and dramatic answer of “Oh my gosh! I’m white? I never noticed! All my life is a lie!” I opted for the more polite response that there is actually a reasonable amount of white people in South Africa (Surprise! We are not a bunch of unseen yeti-like creatures of legend who have all immigrated to Australia).

Despite my often humorous or sarcastic responses to questions about race, I find that these questions, which often come from a place of sincere misunderstanding, cause me to question my identity as an African. From a young age, I saw myself as member of a diverse and abundantly beautiful country.

I have jumped at the chance to make friends with people from other African countries and dreamed of exploring this beautiful continent I am lucky enough to call home.  I was born in South Africa and have lived here my entire life, does that not classify me as South African? According to my I.D book it does, but I feel that society has a different opinion.

Often I feel like I am not allowed to be proud of being African because my skin is too light, like I should be ashamed to be a white African because it does not fit the common global idea of what being an African means.

I am fully aware that I am not black and that my South African family tree does not span the ages of history. But, I am an African. I am an African because this is where the roots of my identity lie, this is the land I love and this is where I will always return when home is needed.

10 things South Africans abroad miss most

South Africa is an undeniably beautiful and unique country. Those who have left the country can’t help but miss the many small things that make South Africa home.

1. Being able to watch live South African sports games at a reasonable time, not 2am.


When you are too tired to watch the game because it is on at 2am your time. Image: Disney / Via thebestgifsforme.blogspot.com


2. Cosmos blooming at the end of summer to show that winter is coming.

Cosmos Jack Holloway

Cosmos grows along most roads to signal the start of lowered tempretures. Photo: Jack Holloway


3. South African Sunsets and Sunrises.


Sunset silhouette of Johannesburg. Photo: Samantha Camara


4. Buying fresh biltong hanging in the butchery.

Cape Town, South Africa

Biltong selection. Photo: fabulousfab


5. Supporting South African Sports teams with other South Africans instead of being the only South African fan in the room.

Peter baker

A lonely South African Supporter. Photo: Peter Baker


6. The diversity of the South African nation.

chrisna herbst

A small representation of South African cultural diversity. Photo: Chrisna Herbst


7. Simple South African foods.

vaiz Ha pap

Simple South African food menu offered at the Kruger National Park. Photo: Vaiz Ha pap


8. Having people understand your South African accent and slang.

9. The Abundance of natural beauty.

Blyde River Canyon - 019

The beautiful Blyde River Canyon. Photo: Fiver Locker


10. Finding South African sweets easily.

Yumminess 101: South African Goodies

An illustration of favourite sweets that many South Africans abroad miss. Image: Dimitra Tzanos


Art or Vandalism: Graffiti and street art in Braamfontein

Perceptions of graffiti in Johannesburg range from it being beautiful artworks to malicious damage of property. Removal of graffiti is a difficult process and where to draw the line between vandalism and art is often difficult to find.

STREET ART: Graffiti on the corner of Henry and De Korte street, Braamfontein done by  graffiti artist Rasty and  crew. Photo: Samantha Camara

STREET ART: Graffiti on the corner of Henry and De Korte street, Braamfontein done by graffiti artist Rasty and crew. Photo: Samantha Camara

Hanre Heunis spends his time removing graffiti from other people’s property. The managing director of a local graffiti removal service, Heunis believes there is an artistic side to the practice of street art. He says many property owners think that graffiti is vandalism because they did not choose to have their walls defaced or tagged (when a new graffiti artist spray-paints their name on a wall to practice and develop their own style).

Property owners who have been the victims of repeated tagging often remove the tags because it makes their business premises look unprofessional or decreases the value of the property. “There is a fine line between being artistic and repeat tagging,” said Heunis.

There is a high concentration of graffiti in the inner city and removing it is a highly-skilled, specialised and expensive process, says Heunis. It involves chemical testing, high pressure water tanks and newly developed products that often need to be imported from the United Kingdom due to a lack of local manufacturing. Removal is also extremely labour intensive as more porous surfaces require more applications.

But perceptions are shifting especially when artists ask for permission, according to Vorster, an ex-Witsie who did his honours in Fine Arts. “If you wake up in the morning and someone’s tagged your window it sucks … get permission and do your art … you’ll be surprised how many people say yes.”

Graffiti artists find it exciting to work illicitly at night but it often means that the quality of the work decreases because there is less time and more pressure to get the work done in a short amount of time, according to Vorster.

The other side of the (street art) coin 
ADDING COLOUR: Comic style graffiti done by American graffiti artist, Pose in De Korte street, Braamfontein. Photo: Samantha Camara

ADDING COLOUR: Comic style graffiti done by American graffiti artist, Pose in De Korte street, Braamfontein. Photo: Samantha Camara

In Johannesburg there are a few designated walls for street art on Barry Hertzog Avenue and Empire Road but Brian* says these walls are mostly used for graffiti style advertising and the limited amount of wall space restricts the art.

One of Vorster’s first tags was a Vodacom telephone box, he saw it as a victory when the box was removed. Vorster now gets permission for his work and is often commissioned to do murals. One of his commissioned pieces was removed for safety reasons because people were constantly taking photos at the wall, which made the owner feel unsafe.

Brian* says he doesn’t mind his art being removed: “It [the art] has its lifespan. It doesn’t faze me, I just need to do more. For every one that is taken down, I need to put up another one.”

*Names have been changed.


President Zuma gets the vote

President Jacob Zuma managed to survive an opposition-led vote of no confidence when The National Assembly voted against the motion on Tuesday March, 17.


CONFIDENT: President Jacob Zuma received the majority of votes against a motion of no confidence in him brought forward by opposition parties at The National Assembly on Tuesday. File Photo: Amanda Lucidon.

The final result of the vote was 113 in favour, 221 against and eight members abstaining.

Voting was delayed by about 10 minutes when the electronic ballot system froze and technicians had to be called in to fix the problem.

This is the second motion of no confidence against the president this year. The first motion was brought forward by political party Agang SA in February but was withdrawn when a secret ballot was denied. The DA filed for a motion of no confidence on Tuesday March, 03 following Agang’s withdrawal.

During the no confidence debate, DA Parliamentary Leader Mmusi Maimane commented that those opposed to the motion would “…vote against their conscience…”and “vote for a thief…”. ANC chief whip Stone Sizani objected to Maimane’s comment that the president is a thief. Maimane reluctantly withdrew the comment but said it was allowed by the constitutional court.

Watch some of Maimane’s speech below:

A member of the Economic Freedom Fighters Nokolunga Sonti made similar comments to Maimane, providing an ultimatum that the vote was either for President Zuma or South African citizens. The Freedom Front Plus’s Pieter Groenewald said that “The president runs away from his responsibilities”.

The debate included numerous insults made by assembly members such as Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu saying Maimane is “a desperate man trying to prop up a desperate party [the DA].” Opposition members responded by saying speaker Baleka Mbete was acting impartially.

The president was not present during The National Assembly as he was attending the inauguration of new Lesotho Prime Minister-elect Pakalitha Mosisili according to a statement by the office of the President.

South African rapper “Flabba” dies

South African rapper Nonkululeko "Flabba" Habedi has died at the age of 38 years old after being stabbed  on Monday March, 9. Photo: Taken from Nkuli Keflabba Habedi facebook page.

South African rapper Nonkululeko “Flabba” Habedi has died after being stabbed at his home in Alexandra on Monday March, 9.
Photo:Taken from Nkuli Keflabba Habedi facebook page.

Popular Hip-Hop artist Nkululeko “Flabba” Nabedi (38) died after allegedly being stabbed by his girlfriend, 26-year-old Sindisiwe Manqele at his Alexandra home on Monday, March 9 according to reports.

The death was confirmed by South African Police Services (SAPS) on Monday morning via Twitter.

South African celebrities such as Skwatta Kamp member Shugasmakx, 5FM DJ Fresh and hip-hop artist/presenter ProVerb expressed their grief on social networks.

Suspect, Sindisiwe Manqele revealed unexplained bruises and other injuries to her wrists and stomach when she appeared in Alexandra Magistrate Court on Tuesday March, 10. The case has been postponed until Monday March, 16 so that the accused can see a private doctor for her injuries.

Crowds surrounded a woman identified as Manqele’s sister when she left the court and made her way to the car. Many in the crowd were shouting “No bail, no bail!”

Flabba’s younger brother, Tshepang Habedi claims that Manqele’s wounds were self-inflicted. Earlier reports said that Manqele tried to commit suicide.

Flabba was set to make a comeback to the music scene with the release of his new song “Nay’Inkinga” featuring JR on December, 8 and his feature with Kwesta on DJ Sliqe’s song #DolikeIdo.

A public memorial will be held at Bassline in Newtown, Johannesburg on Wednesday March 11 at 12pm.