PROFILE: Self-made shoemaker’s ‘furry’ signature

Having no formal fashion training hasn’t stopped the shoemaker behind “Khechakat” from bringing her creations to life. 

Fuelled by the inability to access and afford a pair of R2 000 European designer boots made by Buffalo, Katlego Khethokuhle Chamane, opted to make her own pair and went on to launch them as a part of her brand and business. 

Khechakat – a combination of the first three letters of Chamane’s name and surname – is a shoe brand established in 2022 that makes boots with a fuzzy and warm feel that are covered in faux fur – called the “Dawgs”. The shoemaker is now expanding the range with a pair of heels with fur on the sides of the sole, on sale from Monday, May 29.  

Katlego Khethokuhle Chamane holding a packaged pair of the heels with fur on the sides of the soles. Photo: Supplied

She believes that naming the business after herself has made it very personal to her. “I think when something is associated with your name, there is a level of respect and there is a level of care that you put in that [would not have been] had it been an abstract name.” 

The 20-year-old shoemaker and third-year economic science student at Wits University believes her brand is the answer for people who like fashion but cannot afford luxury brands. 

“Usually, you would find that the best things are always the expensive things,” which is why her prices range from R650 to R1 500. 

According to Chamane, “ [Khechakat is] where streetstyle meets high-end fashion,” but within budget.  

Moshe Kgame (21), a Johannesburg-based all-round artist and Chamane’s creative assistant, said his employer’s vision is inspiring. “I know her vision [is also something] some people won’t get now but I believe in her,” Kgame told Wits Vuvuzela.   

Born in 2003 and raised in Dobsonville, Soweto, Chamane’s township background inspired her to make the most of what she had. Khechakat might have started as a pair of DIY boots, but it is slowly becoming a household name among shoe lovers with the likes of South African-based amapiano DJ – Uncle Waffles – already owning a pair. 

She sources everything locally in South Africa to help create much needed jobs. At present the venture is self-funded by Chamane.  

Her creative process includes deconstructing a garment just to analyse and understand how it was made, before reconstructing it with her unique twist.  

Childhood friend and third-year property studies Witsie, Kamogelo Letsoalo (21) described the establishment of Khechakat as a bittersweet journey. “I have watched [Chamane] fight for her brand, I have watched her find suppliers from far places, catch taxis, I have watched every single moment of it,” Letsoalo said. 

Letsoalo added that while she isn’t “really into fashion” herself, she admires how Chamane’s free spirit and raw talent translate through her designs.  

Chamane said that her greatest challenge is trying to apply herself fully in both school and business. Part of the reason she is yet to launch a website or dedicated social media account, Chamane said she still finding her feet. Without a mentor, “I am learning all these things for the first time and on my own,” she added. 

She currently sells from her personal Instagram account – @Khetho – and it is rare to find a pair ready for you to buy immediately after directly messaging her. “I usually take seven days to make a shoe, sometimes a single weekend if it is a [priority] order,” she said.  

Her expansion plans for Khechakat include going in the direction of heels of different types and bags, so she can achieve longevity and reach greater markets. 

FEATURED IMAGE: A pair of the highly anticipated heels with fur on the side of the soles, that are being launched on Monday, May 29. Photo: Otsile Swaratlhe

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PROFILE: Diana Ferrus, the people’s poet  

In celebration of Africa Day, Wits invited internationally renowned South African poet to perform and teach students. 

At age 73, famous poet, writer and activist, Diana Ferrus continues to dazzle audiences with her spoken word.  

Born in 1953 in Worcester, in the Western Cape, Ferrus started writing poetry at the age of 14. She went on to study psychology and sociology at the University of the Western Cape in 1988. She then did a Master’s degree with a focus on Black Afrikaans women writers.  

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, the mixed heritage writer of Irish and Khoisan explained how her hometown had an influence in her writing — specially to placate her, when hardships arose. 

“The winters were so cold that there was ice on the top of the mountains. That has been etched into my mind”, she said, in addition to this, she grew up in a household where there was domestic violence and child abuse.   

Furthermore, people in Worcester worked in the surrounding vineyards which paid them with alcohol — leading to the area having the highest foetal alcohol abuse in the world.  

She recalls how the street that separated the coloured area from the white area was nicknamed “Kanteen Straat” (Canteen Street) and those who wanted to shop for groceries on the other side of the street would have to pass this road, “many people never got there” because they stopped to drink in the bars instead.  

However, Ferrus is proud of her upbring: “The town formed me. Those were my formative years”, she said. 

She won a fellowship to study at Utrecht University in the Netherlands in 1998. It is here that she wrote her most famous poem for Sarah Baartman, I’ve Come to Take you Home. Ferrus said she was homesick at the time and learnt about Sarah Baartman again in a course entitled, “Sexuality in the Colonies.” 

Baartman was a Khoikhoi woman who was taken by French travelers in the 19th century to be displayed in Paris as a freak show where she died, and her remains were kept and displayed. 

Ferrus said when she stared out of her window in Utrecht, “the stars were so far away. If I was in my own country, I’d be able to touch them.” It was then that she heard a voice in her say “take me home” and, she thought, “that must be Sarah. In fact, it might have just been me,” she said jokingly.    

Poet Diana Ferrus teaches the Wits community to write their own poetry in a workshop on May 24 at the Wits Writing Centre. Photo: Kimberley Kersten

Ferrus has written many other poems since then about South Africa. One such poem, My Mother Was a Storm, was inspired by the murder of the University of Cape Town’s student Uyenene Mrwetyana in 2019. “I was angry about that, ” she explained.   

“I’m disappointed in the patriarchy and the corruption and the violence.” She continued, “It is too far gone now, I do not know how it will change. Unless we put women in charge.” 

Philippa De Villiers, Diana’s friend of 15 years and creative writing lecturer at Wits said, “I love her poetry. She is an example of a tradition that has been overlooked by academy, that of the community poet. She carries the dreams of a community. It is the raw animal of poetry.” 

Nosipho Mngomezulu, lecturer at the Anthropology department at Wits ,who uses Ferrus’ poetry in her teaching said that her work is important for social science students. 

“I use her work to humanize Sarah Baartman and make her a three-dimensional person.” Ferrus humanizes history through storytelling, she explained.

FEATURED IMAGE: Diana Ferrus performs one of her poems in celebration of Africa Day on May 24 at the Wits writing centre. Photo: Kimberley Kersten

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‘Welcome to Kwa Mai Mai’: A hub of unforgotten culture

 

Joburg’s oldest market showcases how migrant workers weaved their cultural practices into what is now known as CBD’s popular trade zone.  

Anthropologist and music guru, Dr Sipho Sithole and Bridge Books, a bookstore focusing on African literature in Marshalltown hosted a tour of Kwa Mai Mai – Johannesburg’s oldest traditional market — early this week.  

Kwa Mai-Mai, located in the CBD is an economic centre, where you can find traditional healers, clothes and medicine. The place is also popular for its food: phuthu which is a staple, traditional South African dish that is made from Mielie-Meal served with braai meat of your choice. Overall, Kwa Mai Mai is a place welcoming for everyone looking for relaxation, healing and traditional items for any purpose.  

The market was first established after 1929, as a camp for migrant workers coming to work in the mines. It has now become a home to many people, a community and an entry way to African spirituality.  

The tour was part of the marketing of Sithole’s book about Kwa Mai Mai, titled Maye  Maye! The history and heritage of the Kwa Mai Mai market. The book gives readers a historical view of market and the people who reside, sell and work in it.  

The tour began at Bridge Books in Commissioner Street where Sithole spoke about the inspiration behind the book followed by a trek on the busy roads down to Berea Road, where Kwa Mai Mai is located.  

Dr Sithole, who was leading the tour, first introduced the audience to the popular Shisanyama spot and then the Nazareth Baptist “Shembe” church and next to it, a compound where cultural goods are sold.  Dr Sithole said, many of those who visit the compound are surprised that the shops, which typically measure 3m x 6m, double up as living quarters for the traders. 

Sithole said the market consists of 218 stalls, including shelters, catering to more than 400 individuals and has more than 100 kids living in it with their parents. 

Walking into the traditional market. Photo: Mbalenhle Dlamini

Sithole, who holds a PhD in Anthropology from Wits University explained that “this book records my collective observations and interpretations from the ethnographic work that I conducted over a period of four years among Kwa Mai Mai traders and residents”. 

The market’s committee chairperson, Malibongwe Sithole said that: “Kwa Mai is an informal trading zone, but we want to formalise it so that it can be recognised and respected worldwide”. 

Street photographer Nonzuzo Gxekwa who attended the walkabout said: “[I am] fascinated by the fact that there are a lot of women that run this space, but I have never known the story behind it and going through the city with someone else’s insights is always refreshing, it gives me something to think about”. 

Bridge Books founder, Griffin Shea added that the book and the walkabout are a way of thinking about the CBD as “a massive trading space that is super valuable” that can receive the same level of support as places like Sandton get for small businesses to run effectively.  

When asked what he hopes the book will achieve, Sithole told Wits Vuzuzela that he hopes it will “redress the past, formalise that place and bring traffic of people to buy there because those people do nothing but sell their goods.” He also added that he wants it to bring awareness to young people so that they talk and write about the place.

FEATURED IMAGE: Dr Sipho Sithole speaking about the office at Kwa Mai Mai. Photo: Mbalenhle Dlamini

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PROFILE: Ditebogo Ledwaba a class act

The award-winning actress has recently ventured into being a voice-over artist and singer.  

Wits alumna, Ditebogo Ledwaba, an award-winning actress on Generations: The Legacy conquered “the edge” while working and studying full time. 

Born on May 5, 2001, in Limpopo and raised in Pretoria, Ledwaba moved to Johannesburg in 2019 to pursue her studies in BA film and television at Wits University. She completed her studies in record time graduating with honours. 

She told Wits Vuvuzela that, “My acting career began in high school when I was doing music and one day an agent came to our school for casting. I auditioned and got the role and went to be on the commercial. I got to be on set and working there was un-explainable; being with the directors and actors was amazing and that’s how I fell in love with it and decided I want to do it for the rest of my life.” 

The 22-year-old started working in 2015 when she played 10-year-old Umuhoza in Beautifully Broken. She played another little girl in a Netflix movie, Red Sea Diving Resort, and, in 2019 when she was in first year, she played Alheri, a Nigerian character in the series, Commandos: The Mission. She also played Malu in Professionals.

In 2021 she started presenting on YoTV, a youth show on SABC 1 and played Lesedi in Lioness, a drama serieson M-Net whose second season was released this past January. In Generations: The Legacy, she plays a schoolgirl, Mbali.  

Ledwaba says she and Mbali are similar, the only difference being that the character tries too hard to find different things to validate herself whereas the actress has no need to. “I don’t need family, boys, … social media or popularity to make me feel like I’m enough,” she says. 

Balancing work and education was a challenge for the talented actress. “It was really overwhelming to a point where sometimes during covid I had to take online classes at work. Sometimes I had to make the decision to catch up with my schoolwork to be able to give my heart at work. What really helped me is prayer and taking it one step at a time,” Ledwaba says. 

Ditebogo Ledwaba regularly comes to Wits University to hold Bible discussions with other Witsies. Photo: Sinazo Mondo

From TV she has ventured into being a voice-over artist. She also sings and has released four singles on Spotify, Apple music and other music platforms, under the name Didigaly.  

Chrisna van Rhyn (20), Ledwaba’s friend from Wits, describes her as kind and compassionate. “She is always willing to help people and she will call you out if you did something wrong and correct you. You can always lean on her.”   

Ntandazo Peter who plays Lefa on Generations says Ledwaba is passionate about acting and easy to work with. “If I would put her into any movie, it would be The Woman King, which she’s part of anyway, but she’s a woman who is a king in her own world and it’s something that other women admire. She’s a young woman who is carried by God, who believes in God and loves people,” says Peter. 

Ledwaba describes herself as a disciple, whose favourite Bible scripture is John 4, verse 24: “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”   Her ultimate goal is to have her own production company in five years’ time. 

Featured image: Ditebogo Ledwaba gets her make up done before going on set. Photo: Supplied

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PROFILE: Out with the new, in with the old 

This thrift maven is not only drastically growing her own local, inclusive, sustainable business, but she also empowers others to do the same. 

Wits graduate Gabrielle Onay has redefined much of the second-hand scene in Johannesburg through their thrift store “Crybaby Thrift”  and popular sustainable flea market “Picnic and Thrift”. 

Born in 1999 in Johannesburg, Onay describes herself as a “seichel” – a Yiddish term which is associated with someone who uses ingenuity, creativity, subtlety and nuance in their work and life. 

Sustainable businesswoman Gabrielle Onay posing in her office in front of many of the things she is proud of, one being her BA degree from Wits. Photo: Seth Thorne

While doing her undergraduate BA degree in sociology and Portuguese – she would later achieve an honours in sociology – Onay wanted to find a way to make money as a university student to not only feed her cigarette addiction but to pay for fees.  

With a lifelong interest in fashion, “thrifting” (the reselling of second-hand items) and passion for sustainability, culminated in her online business. Onay hates everything about fast fashion due to its harmful effects on both labour and the environment. “[Big companies] have proven themselves as bad for this earth,” she said.  

In 2018, she began marketing her second-hand clothing on Instagram using the name “Crybaby Thrift,” which gained a substantial following and quickly expanded into selling merchandise made with upcycled clothes. In the process of upcycling, Onay uses businesses run by other Wits students to print and embryoid designs.  

In an interview with Wits Vuvuzela, Onay said that she believes that a new future of exchange is dawning – with thrift being its new currency. “Sustainability is our generation’s way forward,” said Onay.  

In 2019 Onay, alongside sustainable gift shop owner and close friend Ruby Prager created a market, Picnic and Thrift,  comprised of young business owners from the university community. Onay described them as “the thrifters of Wits”.  

Underestimating their pull, Onay and Prager needed to find a bigger space after attracting several hundred visitors to their own backyard in Houghton. The monthly market attracts around 2 000 visitors, with around 40 thrift and sustainable product stalls. 

The market also prides itself on being a “queer-friendly space” – one which allows members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community to not only grow and support their businesses but allow for free, unfiltered self-expression for attendees. Truthfully so, the event has become very much synonymous with the Johannesburg queer scene. 

Rewoven, a company that sells materials and products made from textile waste, came across Onay’s work, and wrote the following: 

“Crybaby Thrift sits in the heart of queer eccentric culture – it is a curated and unique brand that is centred around sustainability, high fashion, and ethical consumption and development. Crybaby Thrift is also a community and small business development hub.

Onay describes this as intentional to change a narrative around the Joburg queer community as “not just being associated with hard nightlife.” She describes the space as “lovely, gentle and welcoming.” 

Prager described their pure happiness at witnessing Onay’s business and personal growth. “Watching Gabi [alongside other student businesses] grow in the space that they have, has been incredible. I cannot wait to see what they do next. I cannot wait to see what we do next.” 

As much as Onay has achieved in this sustainable business adventure, she says that she is just getting started. So, watch out fashion industry – Gabrielle is coming for you one pre-loved item at a time.  

FEATURED: Thrifter and businesswoman Gabrielle Onay sorting through her upcycled Crybaby Thrift clothing products. Photo: Seth Thorne

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Uphethen’ Esandleni? – an infusion of poetry, music and inspiration 

Audience members were lost in translation from time to time but the appreciation for art trumped any temporary confusion. 

A rallying call to hold onto what you can be proud of, and a celebration of South African indigenous languages were central at the inaugural poetry concert – Uphethen’ Esandleni? 

The Wits SRC in collaboration with 2019/2020 former SRC member Samantha Mungwe hosted the concert at the Chris Seabrooke Music Hall at Wits University on the evening of Thursday, May 18. 

Samantha Mungwe is a two-time Wits Alumni, poet and actress. The concert was inspired by the reaction she received from a recital she posted on YouTube in 2021. Uphethen’ Esandleni? – meaning ‘what do you have in your hand?’ – was the question she was asked in her poem, as she held up a degree scroll in her hand.  

A duo of energetic MCs in SRC Legal Officer, Lesego Makinita and Wits student Simon waBatho kept the mood in the room jovial.  The first round of individual performances saw rapper Cashflow (stage name) and the singer Mercy illicit much head bobbing and foot tapping from the audience. 

Members of uThingo Lwamakhosazana aseWits doing their isiZulu reed dance onstage at the Chris Seabrooke Music Hall at Wits University on the evening of Thursday, May 18, 2023. Photo: Otsile Swaratlhe

Cultural clubs and societies took centre stage after those performances. Khomanani Vatsonga Student Society kicked things off with their traditional Xibelani dance, then followed by uThingo Lwamakhosazana aseWits with their isiZulu reed dance before the Wits Zulu Society closed the group performances with a combination of isiZulu reed dances.  

The group rounded off their performance with a rendition of Gqom producer, Dladla Mshunqisi’s hit Upheten’ Esandleni. This was met with much screaming and clapping from the visibly impressed crowd. 

The latter part of the programme ushered in the poets, the main act of the night. They walked onto stage in an orderly fashion and sat next to one another. After each recitation, poets ended off with the line “upheten’ esandleni?’ before passing the microphone to the next poet, a symbolic passing of the baton.  

Attendee, Njabulo Nxumalo (21) said that she found the concert spectacular.  “I think the diversity of it all: the different cultures, the different [use of] language and the mixture of poetry with music [lyrics]…I have to give it a ten out of ten,” Nxumalo said.  

Poet of the night and AFDA student, Tiisetso Maeane (21) told Wits Vuvuzela, “[In poetry] the main thing is to be relatable,” and apart from doing the poem in Sesotho, he achieved this by making his poem about abortion. He titled the poem, Pray after death and according to Maeane, “This poem is a resurrection of a baby that was aborted. I am the voice of the baby that was aborted.” This is where he called on to the youth to practise safe sex.  

Event organiser and main act, Samantha Mungwe (24) said that she just wanted to create something that would inspire other people and create a platform like this at Wits. “[My aims for this concert were] for students to be inspired, for concerts like these to continue happening and for people to love art.” 

FEATURED IMAGE: Members of the Wits Zulu Society dance on stage during their performance. Photo: Otsile Swaratlhe

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PROFILE: Kgomotso Monyai finds her rhythm on radio

Six months in, Wits University alumni says riding the airwaves at talk-radio 702 is part of her destiny. 

From volunteering at a campus radio station to producing Afternoons with Relebogile Mabotja, airing on weekdays from 13h00 to 15h00, one former Witsie is living out her wildest dreams. 

Born and raised in Soweto, Dobsonville, twenty-six-year-old Kgomotso Monyai is a writer, performer, poet, broadcaster, and a Wits Theatre and Performance graduate.  

Kgomotso Monyai at Radio 702 station. Photo: Mongezi Ntsebezo/Supplied.

Monyai joined Radio 702 in November 2022 after finishing her Radio Certificate course through the Wits Centre for Journalism radio course during her final year. When she enrolled, her primary goal was to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes and improve her skills. 

Her friend Nomusa Khoza says it all began with some manifestation at community radio station, Voice of Wits FM (VoW FM).  
“I remember when she invited me to a year-end function and took me on tour at the Vow FM studio, and I told her she would sit in those chairs, and she did,” and now she finds herself in a studio producing for a national radio show Khoza says.  

Monyai said the certification was necessary to break through some barriers to entry.  “As a young broadcaster, you are met with a lot of talks, such as ‘being a broadcaster alone will not sustain you,’ so I needed to refine my craft,” Monyai explains. 

Despite having prior knowledge of radio operations from student-run and focused Vow FM, she struggled during her first days at Radio 702.  

“[Radio] 702 is full of older people who are mature, and the radio station is more serious and political, it’s different, I felt so lonely at first,” says Monyai. 

Thabo Mosima, a former colleague of Monyai, attests to her hard work. “A lot of people don’t know how much work you need to do before doing a radio show and that time she was doing a breakfast show, she was always on time, an hour early before her show all the time,” he says.  

He adds, “The love and passion she has for radio got her a radio award for Breakfast Show.”  Monyai hopes this is one of many wins as she begins to make a name for herself in the industry.  

FEATURED IMAGE: Kgomotso Monyai at the radio station. Photo: Mongezi Ntsebezo/Supplied 

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COOL KID: Lebogang Rampedi 

Wits TikTok star shares his beliefs on the power of content creation; and the responsibility that comes with it

BCom Economics Honours student at Wits University, Lebogang Rampedi has garnered success on the social media platform TikTok, with his lifestyle content, since posting his first video in November 2022.  

The 24-year-old rising star has only been creating content on social media for a year and four months, but has 83 600 followers on TikTok, with four million likes; and 52 600 subscribers on YouTube. 

Rampedi told Wits Vuvuzela that he chose to focus on lifestyle content — that tackles real life issues — because he is a human being that faces some of those challenges himself.  

He started producing his content on YouTube, but as TikTok became more popular, Rampedi shifted some of his content there.  

News24 reported in October 2022 that an estimation of around six million South Africans use TikTok daily and that the diversity and content creation was grabbing global attention. 

Seeing this, he explained that on the business side of things, TikTok was the next move and he worked to transform his content to be applicable to the platform. 

Lebo Rampedi shooting a video for his YouTube channel featuring Kudzai Mhlanga and Pabalo Maota. Photo: Aphelele Mbokotho

Rampedi understands that his peers spend a lot of their time on social media, and he wants his content to be relatable and have an impact on people’s lives.  

“I wanted people to understand that not everyone is okay, we have this perspective that people online are living it big, but I wanted to be one of the first people with a large social presence expressing how sometimes I don’t know how tomorrow is going to go, but still within the effects of making people smile,” said Rampedi on some of his content, which shows some of the harsh realities people are faced with in South Africa. 

“TikTok is a relatability app…The impact I was trying to make on TikTok is to have someone watch my video and be like ‘oh why do we all do this?’ And also, everything is bad news these days, so it felt good to make people happy,” he added. 

Rampedi started creating content in high school, where he was heavily involved in the writing of plays, directing, and acting. However, putting the content on social media was difficult for him because of the scrutiny that comes with it.  

His brother and fellow content creator, Thato Rampedi told to Wits Vuvuzela: “He is someone that is very creative, he is in touch with what makes audiences and viewers react, outside of his comedy, he is aware of what makes someone click on something, respond and engage; and I think he’s talented and unique in that.”  

Content creator and friend  Gontse Mohlatloe, mostly known as Justdaddyg said that Rampedi is a consistent TikToker, and that he loved his videos because they were relatable – and that outside of him being a content creator, Rampedi is an amazing person overall. 

Although his numbers are growing, and people can claim that he is successful, Rampedi feels he still has a long way to go. 

 “ TikTok is a great platform because anyone can be huge based on their views, but in terms of following and the community that you can build is what I define success…if you can build a community so great that they also push the same narrative into their own lives of making other people laugh , that is what I see as success,” he explained.  

In the future, he plans to go into the creation of dramas and short stories.

FEATURED IMAGE: Lifestyle content creator Lebo Rampedi posing for a picture. Photo: Aphelele Mbokotho

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Artists bring colour, light, joy of life to old jail

Young women artists and entrepreneurs, some still at university, gathered to display their work and celebrate their creativity. 

Constitution Hill’s old Women’s Jail held Ode to the Woman, an exhibition and pop-up market on Sunday, May 7 to showcase women artists and business owners. 

The event was organised by the community called Among the Lillies, who are frequent hosts to creative happenings in Johannesburg. On the choice of location for the exhibition, Sandile Pooe the technical manager, said that the old women’s jail was “culturally, historically and artistically” appropriate for an event which brings together a creative community of African women. 

One such exhibiting artist was Wits’ own Zukhanye Ndlaleni, a fourth-year fine arts student, chosen by curator Penina Chalumbira for her collection of paintings of a character she calls “Blue”.

Ndlaleni told Wits Vuvuzela that her art is inspired by her own personal experiences of mental illness. This collection in particular deals with “derealisation and depersonalisation.She uses the colour blue “to situate different spaces” and for the Constitution Hill display, she chose “dreamscape”.

She evokes the idea of healing through symbols of tea and pillows featured alongside the character. Writing on the event’s social media page, Ndlaleni said, “When individuals encounter my work, I want them to get a sense that they are not alone, that we are all navigating this space together … We all have a little Blue in us, but to different degrees.”

Being a part of this event was an honour for Ndlaleni who said she was thrilled to be exhibiting alongside artists she had followed on social media for a long time, “It’s flattering to be considered on par with them.”

One of Kaebetswe Seema’s collages hangs on the walls of the Women’s Jail at Constitution Hill on Sunday, May 7, 2023 while visitors to the exhibition admire the art. Photo: Kimberley Kersten

Also featured at the exhibition were Tshegofatso Tlatsi, a recent graduate of the University of Johannesburg, for large-scaldrawings and paintings exploring her “personal experiences as a black female existing”, and Kaebetswe Seema, a University of Pretoria fourth-year fine arts student for her work using collage and mixed media to explore identity.

Pooe emphasised the value of collaboration in organising the affair. Collaboration was definitely the word of the day in an exhibition combining market stalls, visual artwork as well as musical performances by women DJs. The market stalls surrounding the art featured young women entrepreneurs and their products, such as Refilwe Modise, co-owner of the Enjoyment Co. Her small business is based in Linden, Johannesburg and produces environmentally friendly scented candles. Modise said she was happy to be involved in Ode to the Woman. “I’m hoping people will see us and know what we do [by the end of the day].”

FEATURED IMAGE: Zukhanye Ndlaleni’s oil painting, The Green Teacup is displayed at the Women’s Jail on Constitution Hill on Sunday, May 7, 2023. Photo: Kimberley Kersten

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GALLERY: Wits Autumn graduation

Graduates are accompanied by family and friends to celebrate their academic achievements.

Wits University awarded hundreds of qualifications to students from various fields of study during its annual Autumn graduation, between April 17 and April 26, at the Wits Great Hall. Wits Vuvuzela journalists, Ayanda Mgwenya and Rethabile Mafisa were there to capture some of the special moments.

FEATURED IMAGE: Wits graduates leaving the Great Hall after the graduation ceremony Photo: Rethabile Mafisa

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Games night with Activate Wits 

The beginning might not have been convincing, but Activate Wits delivered on a fun night for all nonetheless. 

Attendants of the Games Night singing along to the song being played during Karaoke, as the lyrics came up on the computer screen. Photo: Otsile Swaratlhe

The Activate Wits society decorated the former SRC offices with rainbow flags, awaiting students’ arrival at their first event for 2023, a games night at the DJ Du Plessis building on West Campus.   

Activate Wits is a diverse all-inclusive student society dedicated to protecting the rights of LGBTQIA+ students at Wits University.  

Activate Wits chairperson, Justin Yawe (20) asked everyone to join them in a circle of trust – forming a circle while holding hands – for “a proper welcome to the Activate family,” and brief introductions by attendees. This proved a tall order for the 100 strong crowd, so not all got the opportunity.  

With the formalities out of the way, the music started pumping and games like chess, table soccer, and 30 seconds were played. Less competitive attendees took to dancing and singing along to those behind the microphone at the karaoke station.

Anouk Klijnstra (19), who is not a member of Activate Wits and was attending the event hosted by the student society for the first time told Wits Vuvuzela, “I am enjoying the community. I feel at home, happy and in a safe space.”  

Itumeleng Moalusi (21) an Activate Wits member said: “I like how everyone is just happy and [Games Night] is a vibe. Did you see the dance moves that  [other attendees] were doing!?” she exclaimed. 

Activate Wits events officer and organizer of the Games Night, a third-year student Noma Sibanda (20) called the night a success. “Our aim as this year’s committee is to grow and further our family and the relations we have. Tomorrow these people are going to be able to greet and talk to each other on campus because they met each other here tonight.”  

In the coming months, “More talks [around queerness], the pride march and regular smaller events like [Games night],” are in store for Activate Wits members.  

FEATURED IMAGE: A member of Activate Wits, Itumeleng Moalusi (21) at the Games Night posing in front of the LGBTQIA+ rainbow flag. Photo: Otsile Swaratlhe

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Old threads, new drip

It’s been just over one month since the first thrift store became a new tenant at The Matrix at Wits University’s main campus. 

Ali Monama poses in his shop during an interview with Wits Vuvuzela. Photo: Sbongile Molambo

On March 1, 2023 Zaza Clothing – located on the first floor of The Matrix, across Fade Barber and Salon – opened its doors, after a nearly two-year delay.  

Owner Ali Monama (31) says when he started out his business back in 2016, he used to ride around town on a bicycle, selling thrift items from a basket – and now he has his own brick-and-mortar store. 

According to Karen du Plessis, the Operations Manager for Commercial Services at Wits, “Zaza Clothing is the first of its kind at the Matrix.” 

Despite business being slow over the first month, Monama says it has been a fun experience meeting new people and interacting with different personalities. 

From afar and through the windows, it looks like a laundromat but when one gets closer, the vintage clothing and gothic accessories come into focus.   

All clothing items at Zaza Clothing are R100, while accessories range from R50 to R150 per item. Monama says this price range is tailored to his customers, who are mostly students on a tight budget.  

Monama initially wanted to open in 2021 but was held back by pandemic-related delays and long procurement procedures. “It felt great to finally be able to trade after going through so many trials and tribulations,” he says.  

Dan Kabongo (21), a fourth-year film and television student has already made a few purchases and considers himself a regular.  

He says thrifting in the Johannesburg CBD can be dangerous and out of reach, so this location is ideal. “The ideal places “that people usually thrift at are far away and are not really places I’m comfortable going [to],” says Kabongo.  

Thrifting is a shopping experience that allows buyers to find unique and interesting items at a discounted price, Zaza Clothing aims to do just that.  

FEATURED IMAGE: A customer browsing through the racks at Zaza Clothing. Photo: Sbongile Molambo

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