Cool kid on campus: Thando Gumede

Thando Sibongiseni Gumede, a final year Law student at Wits, is not only an Allan Gray Scholarship recipient and a Brightest Young Minds (BYM) awardee, but is also an advocate for the education of black girl children and substantive equality. A self-proclaimed feminist, she remains highly competitive in a male dominated industry.

COOL KID: Thando Gumede, a final year law student is not only interested in Law but in the advancement of black girl children through education. Photo: Katleho Sekhotho

COOL KID: Thando Gumede, a final year law student is not only interested in Law but in the advancement of black girl children through education. Photo: Katleho Sekhotho

You are studying Law but also have a keen interest in entrepreneurial activities, why?

Where the world is going is something I like to call cross-educational pollination. It means that gone are the days where law students go to law school to become a lawyer. So now, faculties will be teaching skills, skills that can go anywhere and in any way they want to.

Entrepreneurship is a mind-set where you identify inefficiencies and then solve those problems. So when you have cross-educational pollination, then someone who’s an engineer has got the hopes of becoming the president, not just a politics student.

You were chosen as one of the ‘Brightest Young Minds’. What exactly does that mean and how do you feel to be chosen as one?

It’s about collecting the brightest young minds on the African continent, 100 people all over Africa came together through a selection process. It wasn’t about marks, it was really just about people who presented ideas and presented themselves in a genuine way. All I can say is wow! The event was a great networking opportunity.

What are you currently working on?

There are basically two things I’m working on, it’s a new technology for sanitary pads and the other is a tech company. I’ve written a research paper on that [the former], it was about the right to basic education for black girl children in rural South Africa; one of the hindrances of going to school is [a girls] menstruation, so their biological disposition.

The postulation I make is that I say to the state, it has a constitutional obligation to balance the scales for both boys and girls.

You say you are an advocate for education and particularly substantive education, what does that mean?

Government needs to provide proper sanitation in schools, pads and panties to girls, particularly to girls in that community, either through social grants or making those things freely available to them.

That is called substantive equality. It’s better than formal equality, substantive equality asks why? At the starting line you need to remove all the rocks and boulders that are on the race track for girls to be able to manoeuvre themselves freely and equally.

Gauteng Premier worries about the people of his province

Reinventing Pan-Africanism in the Age of Xenophobia, a international symposium, was hosted by the WISER Institute last week.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura says he worries about the people of his province as “many of those [people] come from the rest of the continent”. Makhura was speaking at the discusson on pan-Africanism in the age of xenophobia, hosted at Wits University by Wiser, (the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research) and the Ahmad Kathrada Foundation.

Makhura said the the dangers of xenophobia lie not only in the “absence of opportunities” but also in narrow “national interests”. Makhura said that if we want to build a great Africa we can no longer make “catching up” with Western civilization our intention; we must offer something new and unique to the rest of the world.

“If there is something Western capitalism teaches us, is that in fact you can even become more less of a human being as your material needs are met,” said Makhura.

The two-day symposium aimed to fostering dialogue on a number of issues affecting the African continent including xenophobia, racism, tribalism, nationalism and colonial boundaries.

Other speakers on the day included academics Neocosmos and Associate Professor Suren Pillay.

Michael Neocosmos, an academic, stressed that it remains problematic to associate xenophobia with poverty and that research shows that some 65% of South Africans feel that the country’s borders should be secured through electric fencing which is a good indication that xenophobic attitudes are prevalent throughout society.

He also mentioned that people live in subhuman conditions and the assumption is that poor people can’t think, this means that we exclude them from what we think humanity is.

“If we want to expand pan-Africanism it means we must expand knowledge,” Neocosmos said.

Reach for the African sky

BOOK SMART: Second-year student Bhaso Ndzendze reads a verse of his newly published book Africa: The Continent We Construct. Photo: Ilanit Chernick

BOOK SMART: Second-year student Bhaso Ndzendze reads a verse of his newly
published book Africa: The Continent We Construct. Photo: Ilanit Chernick

Bhaso Ndzendze is not your average 19-year-old.

The second year BA student already has a book professionally published. His book Africa: The Continent We Construct looks at how Africa attempts to define herself too much by comparing herself with the rest of the world.

Ndzendze wrote this book for the same reason “silkworms make silks” meaning that it is his “responsibility as an individual” to understand and make sense of the environment “in which we function” and be productive in it.

“As Africans we are still finding our feet,” he said.

The youngest of four brothers, Ndzendze grew up in both parts of KwaZulu-Natal and parts of the Eastern Cape and finally settled in Johannesburg when he was 16.

“My parents moved around a lot for work related reasons so when they moved we moved with them.”

“As Africans we are still finding our feet,” he said.

He describes his upbringing to be one of “pious Catholicism”.

Ndzendze who is currently studying psychology, politics and international relations at Wits hopes to be a journalist one day.

“If that doesn’t work out than I hope to be involved in public service. I want to get involved with charity organisations like UNICEF and the World Health Organisation to help make life easier for Africans.”

When Ndzendze is not writing books, he enjoys reading, writing poetry computer programming, listening to music and visiting museums and art galleries.

His vision for Africa is one that does not aim to settle its predecessors “score” but rather focuses on fighting for its’ children and its future.

“We should not be focusing on what we want and what was done to us, we should focus on what needs to be done,” he said.

Ndzendze has a strong message for Witsies and hopes they will “embrace equality and contribute for the betterment of our society”.

“Whatever you are doing, you should always act in a way where no harm will come from it.”

 

 

Tweets a power tool for journos

Social media in journalism is increasingly becoming a useful tool for investigative journalism said Raymond Joseph, social media expert and freelance journalist, at this year’s Power

Reporting journalism conference. Twitter, if used properly, can be used as a tool to probe sources for investigative stories. According to Joseph, Twitter can be creepy because you can monitor what

people say and do without their being aware of it.

“There are conversations that are going on there [Twitter] about things that you want to know. You can actually monitor someone without them actually knowing that you are watching them. There

are useful tools which allow you to get to the heart of a subject or source.”

Garaki Fadzi, a delegate from Zimbabwe, said he was not active on Twitter until he attended a talk on its use for investigative journalism. He says he now realises how helpful Twitter is when it comes to crowd-sourcing stories.

“I’ll be able to get leads from people without following them directly and I will be able to get more depth than I was doing now.

It also keeps me secure when I’m confronting people … So I think I will benefit a lot,” he said.

A journalist from China says there is a Chinese twitter called Weibo. It works the same as

Twitter and people interact in the same way as they would here in South Africa.

You can actually monitor someone without them actually knowing that you are watching them.

Liam Lee, a delegate from Hong Kong, said he noticed South Africa and China have similar ways of using social media as an investigative tool to write stories. He used Weibo to find out what happened to people after an earthquake struck a small town in China.

“I try use my Chinese version of Twitter to find people who were living in a small town where there was an earthquake.” He thinks social media is fast and efficient because ordinary people are always posting breaking news and are at the scene when a story breaks. When the story broke about the earthquake, people using Weibo who were at the scene were very descriptive in how it all happened.

“A young, kind father replied to my request and gave me leads to phone numbers and an email so

I could contact people to tell me what happened and they described every detail for me so I appreciate it,” Lee said.

Adeonke Ogunleye, from Nigeria, thinks Twitter can have positive and negative effects on journalism. She said she has been bullied on Twitter for exposing corruption in Nigeria. Ogunleye complained about the bullying to Twitter and the harasser was suspended, only to return to social media two weeks later.

“I’m a victim of Twitter bullying because of all of my stories from the past, stories I’ve done or investigative stories I have been able to carry out and so many people have come after me on Twitter, they bully me, even fellow reporters and journalists.”

However, according to Joseph, Twitter, if used correctly, can help journalists uncover stories in a way they have never been covered before. He said in all his experience as a journalist he has never seen such a powerful tool.

“If you use Twitter properly you should never have to look for stories … If you’re doing it properly. The tools do the heavy lifting.”

He admits that Twitter on its own is not enough and conversations on Twitter need to be written and read in context so that the story is not skewed or clouded by rumours. He said using lists is also a way for users to sift through tweets.

“Twitter on its own is not enough. There is a variety of tools that you are using that you use around it. The secret source is lists where you can distil right down to subjects so what you really want is an controlled stream,” Joseph said.

Wits young leaders on the rise

BRIGHT STAR:  Arthur Motolla, from AIESEC Wits explains that Wits University won the Rising Star Award at the AIESEC June Leadership Summit.  Photo: Lameez Omarjee

BRIGHT STAR: Arthur Motolla from AIESEC Wits with the Rising Star trophy. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

A global student leadership organisation has recognised its Wits chapter through an award that also acknowledges the work of its members.

AIESEC Wits (an acronym in French for the International Association of Students in Economic and Commercial Sciences) received the Rising Star Award during the June leadership summit (JLS) held at Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMU).

The award recognised the efforts of Witsies from the society were involved in travel and leadership conferences, during the winter break, which allowed the chapter to fulfill the required number of exchanges and projects within a twelve month period.

AIESEC brings together student leaders from across the world towards the betterment of society as a whole.

Leadership summit

Ten students from Wits attended the five-day JLS which brought together chapters from a number of  different universities.

The summit focused on the relevance of African talent and explored leadership in South Africa within AIESEC, according to Onthatile Nataboge, 4th year BEd and president of AIESEC Wits.

Arthur Motolla, 1st year BA student, attended the JLS for the first time.  He said speakers stressed the importance of embracing Africa’s mosaic of cultures instead of striving for a unique African identity.

“Opportunity lies with the disadvantaged.  That is where opportunities lie for entrepreneurs.  That is where you can expect the most amount of growth,” he said as he reflected on the things he learned at the summit.

“I am still overwhelmed by JLS,” exclaimed Duduetsang Mmeti, 2nd year LLB.  She explained that students were encouraged to contribute African solutions to African problems.

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