Mosiah Moshe Tau serves as the current Miss Limpopo Province. This third-year Civil Engineering student is one of the few black South African women to have won a major pageant with their natural hair. Wits Vuvuzela sat down with her to pick her brain on African beauty and beauty pageants.
What is the role of beauty pageants in African societies in 2015?
The aim of pageants in general is to empower women and create role models, most especially for our young people. We encourage being happy in our own skin. But nowadays, we are steering in a direction where the title holder is an ambassador, rather than a beauty queen. It’s not just a beauty contest, it’s ‘beauty with a purpose’. So it is more about what the woman can do with the title to better the society than her own physical beauty.
Are beauty pageants in S.A a reflection of South African beauty?
No. I think they tend to be a bit superficial and most of them still miss the point. I wasn’t aware of how many pageants there are out there until I was crowned. I get invitations to come judge local pageants and sometimes when I ask the organisers what the pageant is about I realise that they don’t really have a real intention, but to make money but they hide behind “we just want to motivate the young girls”.
Following the cancellation of swimsuit wear in the Miss World pageant, do you think that South African pageants should adopt the same principle?
Yes, definitely. Like I said it’s not just a beauty contest, it’s ‘beauty with a purpose’. The beauty we are promoting is the beauty that is within the heart and mind, and I think with swimsuits it is more focused on the outside, on who is more physically appealing than the other, so I don’t think we need to have a swimsuit section. As for the outside beauty, we are saying let’s love ourselves and be comfortable and happy in our own skins.
I think it is commendable what the Miss World board did, because it is a step closer to sending the message of what pageants in these modern days stand for. Beauty with brains.
As a beauty pageant ‘queen’, in an African community, how do you celebrate African traditional values without conflicting the ‘beauty standard of the pageant world’?
By being myself I think I have already conflicted those standards *jokes*, for instance, I was the first person to be crowned Miss Limpopo with short, natural hair as opposed to popular belief that a beauty queen has to have long [sexy] hair, because that is what is more appealing apparently.
I am an African and I am beautiful. I see myself as an agent of societal change than just a ‘beauty queen’. I have come to learn that there are really no rules of being a beauty queen, but just perceptions and a mentality that people have developed over the years and I am rebellious to those ‘standards’.
Eighteen-year-old Francis Salman, who was recently crowned Mr Wits Residence, does not consider himself a “beauty pageant guy”, and does not see himself going further than Mr Wits Res.
Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, Salman said: “This was my first and although I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, it probably was my last.”
Photo by Anelisa Tuswa
How would you describe yourself?
I’m a calm person, outgoing and I love meeting new people.
How did you get into the All Residence Pageant and why?
A friend of mine suggested it and I thought it would be fun. So I took the opportunity to get myself out there and meet new people and I’ve made a whole lot of friends in the process.
Holding the title, Mr. Wits Res, what does it mean to you?
I’m yet to find out hey, but honestly speaking at the moment I’m still trying to get used to the idea. I am hoping to figure it out soon, though.
Are you hoping to continue with the “beauty pageant” life, and if so, what’s next?
No, I feel like I should focus on my studies for the next few years.
So in the future, will we be seeing you competing for Mr. South Africa?
Definitely not, this was my first and although I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, it probably was my last.
Besides being handsome and a Witsie, what are your actual talents?
I wouldn’t call myself an artist or a poet but I love writing. I write more socio-economic related poetry and about the way I view the world.
The Wits All Residence Council (ARC) only started with the Mr. Element (the inclusion of male contestants) in the Wits Res beauty pageant this year. Do you think all beauty pageants should have the Mr. Element and Why?
I think they should, I mean recently there’s been a trend in beauty pageants of celebrating and including different women. So including men in such competitions might be part of the transition, but also celebration of men in society is important.
Following rumors of “eviction” for Parktown Village Residents to expand parking space for Wits Business School, Wits University has responded.
PARKTOWN UNITED: All Res Council (ARC) Treasurer Tebogo Mothivhi singing along with the workers last week Thursday during their protest. Singing “uHabib kasoze ayithole le” the workers, were mainly concern with their jobs if the residence closes. Photo: Anelisa Tuswa
WITS Business School (WBS) has responded that a plan to turn a student residence into a parking lot it still just a “draft” though student leaders say the university has confirmed to them privately that the plan is to go ahead.
Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, Jane Balnaves, spokesperson for WBS, said the plan to close Parktown Village (PKV) residence is still a “drafted potential expansion plan.”
However, deputy chair of the All Residence Council (ARC), William Mokone, says the university has sent an official response to the SRC which confirms that the university is planning on closing Parktown village for WBS’ facilities, including a parking lot.
“The university has made it clear that, they will not stop the expansion on WBS into the village,” added Mokone. “But we have agreed, that they will not move any student before the end of the year.”
Students have raised concerns that the removal of Parktown Village Residence, a series of small houses that accommodates 150 students, will leave postgraduate students without affordable accommodation. PKV costs only R33 785 a year, which makes it the cheapest postgraduate residence. In comparison, West Campus Village costs R67 160 and Wits Junction costs R45 753 for shared rooms and R54 540 for singles.
The residence is also popular with medical students because of its longer, more flexible time tables accommodates the Wits Medical Schools’ schedule.
Gloria Phasha, a 5th year medical student and PKV resident, told Wits Vuvuzela that she has no idea where she would stay if not for PKV.
“Where are we supposed to go to next year? Junction is too expensive,” she said.
Last week Thursday residents of PKV staged a protest against the closure of the residence. They were joined by some cleaning staff and students from neighbouring residences. The group chanted “uHabib akasoze ayithole le” (Habib will never get this one), as they protested outside the WBS.
Makone says the concerns raised during the protest have been sent to the university and the university has promised “alternative accommodation of equal standard and pricing.”
However, Makone believes “that the university is either being naive or they are trying to just pacify us.”
The issue came to the ARC’s attention a month ago in a meeting with university management, which indicated that “at first they wanted only three houses.”
However, Makone said that two weeks ago the ARC was called to a meeting by Rob Sharman, the director of Campus Housing & Residence Life. According to Makone, he told the committee that “PKV is only going to have eight houses remaining … and the rest is going to be turned into a parking lot” Mokone said. The eight remaining houses will be turned into facilities for WBS.
Wits Vuvuzela contacted Sharman for comment but he is currently out of the country.
Pandelani Nekhumbe, chair of the PKV house committee, said the proposed closure was causing stress on residents.
“We cannot have villagers stressing and worrying at a time when exams are just a doorstep away.”
Dr Pamela Dube, the Dean of students has assured the students that the University will not further any plans without the interests of the students.
“The University is mindful of our responsibility around the accommodation needs of students, and have given an undertaking that we will not reduce, but rather increase beds” said Dube.
The topic about Transformation in South African Universities emerged early this year when UCT students called for the removal of Cecil John Rhodes statue. However, it has spread through various issues such as transforming the curriculum and lack of black academics.
Panel discussion that was held last month by the Transformation Office. The discussion was centered around the Diversification process of Wits Academic Staff.
Photo: Anelisa Tuswa
ONLY one in every seven academic staff members at Wits University is a black African from South Africa according to information provided by the Wits Transformation Office last month.
By contrast, almost half, about 47%, of South African academic staff are white.
Prof Tawana Kupe, the Wits deputy vice chancellor overseeing transformation, said the university’s transformation problems were not obvious ones such as an incident where white students at the University of Free State made a video that depicted the humiliation of black cleaning staff .
Rather, the race and transformation issues facing Wits and other universities was “a reflection of a structural problem,” Kupe said during a recent talk hosted by the Wits Transformation Office.
He added that the problem of transformation was also “an indication of subliminal racism”. “Nobody tells you to go away,” Kupe said, “but you do not feel comfortable being in that space.” The issue of the lack of transformation at tertiary institutions is back in the spotlight and at Wits University with many students calling for change and worrying about their careers as black academics.
“Lack of black academics in higher education speaks to some of the structural challenges that face black people within academia”
Thato Masiangoako, of Transform Wits, told Wits Vuvuzela that the lack of black academics in higher education “speaks to some of the structural challenges that face black people within academia”. “It reflects the wider structural challenges faced by black students who often don’t even have the luxury of choosing academia as a career path.”
Masiangoako believes this was “because the demands of having to provide (for family needs) makes the workplace far more attractive”.
Bandile Ngidi, MComm student, self-identifi es as a potential future academic but is wary of the challenges he faces. Ngidi believes an academic career cannot compare to a job in the private sector. “Considering the issues of black tax and the chances of a slighter, quicker career progression in the private sector.”
Ngidi adds that “mentorship and supervision”, is another stumbling block to potential black academics. “Sometimes I feel like we not being mentored by supervisors who are interested, or experienced enough to explore some topics,” he said, adding as an example race issues.
“Transforming an institution cannot be reduced to running a one man show”
In the discussion hosted by the Wits Transformation Office, Nontsikelelo Sondzaba, a lecturer in the Faculty of Health Sciences, told the audience about her first day as a black lecturer at Wits. “I was mistaken to be somebody’s secretary,” she said.
Sondzaba told Wits Vuvuzela that “transforming an institution cannot be reduced to running a one man show,” and that “each and every one of us has a role to play.”
“Student experiences must be constructive such that, as graduates, they consider Wits as one of the preferred employers,” Sondzaba said. Kupe told Wits Vuvuzela that the university has various programmes to try and address issues of transformation and this includes the Vice-Chancellor’s Employment Equity Fund.
“We used that (fund) to hire people [from designated groups] who are highly qualifi ed,” he said. Another measure involves ensuring that when people retire, half of those spaces is reserved for the appointment of black academics. Athi-
Nangamso Nkopo, a Wits Masters’ graduate did not find the lack of black academics shocking but rather “unacceptable”. “Transformation isn’t slow at this rate, as we are so often told,” she said “It is deliberately hindered.”
Wits University has responded to requests from the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), and the former Student Representative Council (SRC) president, Mcebo Dlamini, to speed up the process of review of Dlamini’s case.
Wits University has distanced itself from the review of the guilty verdict on charges of misconduct against former Student Representative Council (SRC) president, Mcebo Dlamini. This is according to a letter sent to the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) from the office of the Wits vice chancellor Professor Adam Habib, which Wits Vuvuzela has seen.
Habib was responding to calls made by the PYA during a march on main campus on Monday, May 11. One of the demands made by the group was that the review of Dlamini’s case be moved to this Friday, May 15.
Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, Wits University spokesperson Shirona Patel said the review is being handled by an “independent panel” and the university will distance itself from the actual process.
Patel told Wits Vuvuzela that “it is not up to the Legal Office to make such a decision,” but the review committee. Patel could not say who constituted the review committee.
In the letter sent from Habib’s office, the university says it supports the request to speed up the process of the review and adds that “a request to this effect has already been made to the Chair of the Review Committee”. It further states that “if the Review Committee finds in favour of Mr Dlamini, he will be reinstated as SRC President”.
Dlamini was recalled as President on May 4, following an announcement from the vice chancellor’s office. Earlier this year, the former SRC president was found guilty of misconduct but allowed to remain in his position by the vice chancellor pending a review of the case.
Last week, though, the vice chancellor announced that he was reversing this decision as it appeared to Habib, that Dlamini was intentionally delaying the review process.
Dlamini has said that his legal team has contacted the Wits Legal Office to demand that the review of his case be held by this Friday.
He told Wits Vuvuzela that it was now the university who was delaying the date of his review and with exams in less than a month, he would like to “exonerate” himself and prepare for his exams.
A group of student organisations marched against the management of Wits University following the removal of SRC president Mcebo Dlamini.
A group of student organisations marched on campus earlier today with a clear message to Wits Vice Chancellor Adam Habib and his management team.
Wits students and Progressive Youth Alliance members, carrying banners, sing their way to Senate House earlier today.
Photo: Reuven Blignault
“Run!” was the messaged delivered by provincial deputy secretary of the South African Students Congress (SASCO) Joy Phiri.
“No vice chancellor can tell us who our president is,” Phiri said. “Reinstate our President,” she said in reference to dismissed Student Representative Council (SRC) president, Mcebo Dlamini.
Dlamini later addressed the gathering and started by introducing himself as “Wits SRC president”.
He told the students that the problems the march was addressing were not about him.
“It has nothing to do with me as a person but everything this institution stands for,” Dlamini said.
“If I was a white president, I wouldn’t be charged today,” he added.
“It’s like the rules aren’t even applied across the board to everyone,” she said.
Nthabiseng Molefe, one of the students who helped to organise the event, the purpose of the march was to “challenge management”.
The challenges included the immediate review of Dlamini’s case, reinstatement to the position as Wits SRC President and a look at the situtation of the MJL Electrical workers.
MJL Electrical Workers
Speaking on behalf of the MJL Electrical workers, Richard Ndebele told the crowd that they wrote a letter to the vice chancellor expressing their feelings about how the University handled “their situation”.
Ndebele told Wits Vuvuzela that the response to this email was “contents noted.” MJL Electrical was a contractor of Wits University which made its employees “outsourced” workers. The workers have been unemployed since the University terminated its contract with the company.
“We are starving,” said Ndebele, during his address at the march. “These people cannot support their families.”
A 2nd year BCom Law student, Lebo (who did not want to give her surname), said, “a lot of students are frustrated with the way the University is dealing with certain situations”.
Handing over the memorandum to the Dean of Students Dr Pamela Dube, Molefe said Dube was not “allowed to speak” but she must “act”.
The former Wits SRC president is demanding a public review and is hoping to be reinstated.
Dismissed SRC president Mcebo Dlamini is calling for an immediate public hearing of the review on the misconduct charge that led to him being removed from his position.
Dlamini told Wits Vuvuzela that his legal team has contacted the Wits Legal Office to demand that the review of his charge be held by this Friday.
He is also demanding that his hearing be public and the media be allowed to attend and report on its proceedings for “transparency and public interest.”
“[Vice Chancellor Adam] Habib made my case to be of public interest,” said Dlamini. “He wanted me to be found guilty by public opinion.”
Dlamini had been found guilty of misconduct in February this year. He was allowed to remain as SRC president pending a review. However, last week this decision was reversed with Habib arguing that Dlamini was intentionally delaying the process.
But Dlamini told Wits Vuvuzela that it was now the university who was delaying the date of his review and with exams in less than a month, he would like to “exonerate” himself.
“I want to concentrate on my exams now,” he said.
According to university’s spokesperson, Shirona Patel, the University will allow the legal process to take its course in line with its processes and procedures.
“It is not up to the Legal Office to make such a decision as they cannot act on behalf of the Student Disciplinary Committee that is hearing the matter.” she said.
DEEP DIVISION: Witsies remain divided over the reasons for the axing of SRC President Mcebo Dlamini. Photo: Wits Vuvuzela.
There have been mixed reactions at Wits University the removal of the SRC (Student Representative Council) president Mcebo Dlamini by the vice chancellor, Adam Habib last week.
Wits University found itself at the centre of the nation’s attention last week as a result of the comments made by Wits SRC president, Mcebo Dlamini. But on campus, student reactions were divided over the reasons for the subsequent axing of Dlamini.
The announcement, signed by the vice chancellor (VC) regarding Dlamini’s removal was sent through the Wits email system to all members of the Wits community, earlier this week. According to the statement though, Dlamini’s “I Love Hitler” post on Facebook, was not the reason for Dlamini’s removal. Instead, the email said, the decision was based on the fact that “Mr Dlamini was found guilty of misconduct”.
Despite the vice chancellor’s clarification about the reasons for the dismissal, many students remain sceptical.
Mzwanele Ntswanti, 3rd year Actuarial Science, does not believe that the sacking of Dlamini is a “coincidence” as it followed after the Hitler statement.
A 3rd year BSc student, who did not want to be named, told Wits Vuvuzela that he is aware of the reasons behind Dlamini’s sacking.
But added, “I highly disapprove of the vice chancellors decision to depose our democratically elected student representative.”
“Wits University is not an autocracy nor is it a high school where student representatives are appointed and sacked by one person,” he said.
Tom Dodson, 3rd year Bachelor of Arts, agrees with the VC’s decision to remove Dlamini. “A lot of the statements that he (Dlamini) made, made a lot of sense.”
However, Dodson said, “if you going represent the entire student community … You’ve really gotta think a lot harder about what you say and how you say it”.
Thembelihle Mbalu, told Wits Vuvuzela that she “supports the Habib’s decision without reservation” because Dlamini is “very defiant”.
“Mcebo was long overdue as our President.” She added, “he has been irrelevant in his addresses to students, talking about bias issues and narrow-minded opinions.”
Nivek Ranjith, a 2nd year Computer Science student, thinks the way that the VC announced Dlamini’s removal was “rude”.
“The way he did it, they gave so much detail … you can’t expose him like that,” Ranjith said.
WE ARE ALL AFRICANS: Wits students, united outside the Wits Great Hall steps against xenophobia. The message was very clear, according to Vice Chancellor Adam Habib “everyone at Wits on Wednesday was an Africa.” Photo: Anelisa Tuswa
By Anelisa Tuswa and Sinikiwe Mqadi
“NOT IN OUR NAME! NOT IN OUR NAME!”
That was the message from more than a 1 000 Witsies on Wednesday, a huge show of support by Wits staff and students for an anti-xenophobia march that was called on short notice.
The Witsies marched from International House to the steps of the Great Hall, carrying flags from African countries and placards with the words “Nkosi sikelela iAfrika”, “Africa unite”, and “No one is illegal”
The students, some wearing green t-shirts reading “I AM Africa”, marched singing liberation songs “Siyaya noma kubi.” and “Azania”.
“From Cape to Cairo
Morocco to Madagascar
iAzania izwe lethu
The message was clear “No to xenophobia!”.
Afikile Qobo, 4th year Medicine, said South Africa have come so far as the country and should share with people who have helped the country in the past.
“I am here because I want action to the words that have been going on social media,” she said.
“Wits intellectuals have made a broad statement today that there is one Africa and it belongs to all of us”
SRC president Mcebo Dlamini said the massive turnout from students showed Witsies stood in solidarity with their fellow Africans.
“The bright minds have spoken, not in our name, Wits intellectuals have made a broad statement today that there is one Africa and it belongs to all of us,” Dlamini said.
For Mildred Airo, the chairperson of the East African Student Society, the message that Witsies needed to take home after the march was that “violence is not the answer”.
“Tell your brother and sister to stop violence,” said Airo.
At the rally at the Great Hall, Witsies listened to the story of Elvis Munatswa, a Wits student who was physically attacked recently inside the taxi on his way home from Wits by four men including the driver.
“I stand here well, attending a few session for physiotherapy just to get my leg on track,” he said. “But I am sceptical of using a taxi.”
Munutshawa said the march “reflected a positive side” of South Africa “I haven’t seen in recent weeks.”
Ayofunde Awosusi, the president of West African Student Society at Wits, agreed that the march showed South Africa’s good side.
“From the foreign student perspective it gives us hope,” he said. “Even though it doesn’t make us feel safe or better but it has the general vibe of what South Africa is about.”
But Awosusi believes a lot needs to be done, and one of them is “constructive measures to make sure that foreign students are safe on and off campus.”
Mark Heywood, director of Section 27, apologised on behalf of all South Africans for the brutality of the xenophobic violence and urged Witsies to continue fighting against the injustices.
“Today we do not stand the heart of South Africa and the African continent.”
Wits students were led by Vice Chancellor Prof Adam Habib and the SRC, who organised the march. Giving his speech, Habib chanted “Mayibuye iAfrika” and “Amandla awethu” (Power to the people).
“I want you to say it louder so that the whole South Africa can hear,” he shouted.
Habib described the past two weeks for South Africa as “shameful” but on Wednesday he expressed his pride because Wits stood together and said “not in our name”.
Habib thanked students for speaking against xenophobia, “Thank you for coming, you have lifted my heart and I think you lift the heart of everyone in the world.”
“Today we do not stand here in front of this Great Hall as Wits University but we stand here as the heart of South Africa and the African continent.”
WE ARE ALL AFRICANS: All Wits students, united outside the Wits Great Hall stairs to send a message against xenophobia. Photo: Sinikiwe Mqadi
Today, Wits students led by vice chancellor, Prof Adam Habib, and the Student Representative Council marched around campus, singing songs of liberation in solidarity with those affected by the recent xenophobic attacks.
Over a 1 000 Wits students walked from Wits International House to the Great Hall, some in green t-shirts that read “I AM Africa” and placards that with anti-xenophobic messages.
In welcoming the crowd general secretary of the SRC, Senzekahle Mbokazi, described the presence of the Wits students as “overwhelming”.
“Today, I lift up my head when I look at the Wits community”
Habib described the past two weeks for South Africa as “shameful” but today he stood proud to be part of the Wits community.
“Today, I lift up my head when I look at this community,” he said. “Because Wits has stood together and said not in our name”.
“It is fundamental that this university serves Africa,” said Habib.
Elvis Munatswa, a Wits student who was physically attacked recently inside the taxi on his way home from Wits by four men including the driver, also addressed the crowd while standing on crutches.
“I stand here well, attending a few session for physiotherapy just to get my leg on track,” he said. “But I am skeptical of using a taxi.”
Munatswa told the crowd his attack not occurred only because he is a Zimbabwean.
“If they didn’t like me for any other reasons other than my nationality, they would’ve kicked me out of the taxi,” said Munatswa. His attackers took his belongings, including a laptop and wallet, before throwing him out of his taxi. .
“The march has reflected a positive side of South Africa that he hasn’t seen in recent weeks”
Ayofunde Awosusi, the president of West African Student Society at Wits, said the march has reflected a positive side of South Africa that he hasn’t seen in recent week.
“From the foreign student perspective [the march] gives us hope,” he said. “Even though it doesn’t make us feel safe or better but it has the general vibe of what South Africa is about.”
But Awosusi believes a lot needs to be done, and one of them is “constructive measures to make sure that foreign students are safe on and off campus.”
For Midred Airo, the chairperson of the East African student society, the message that Witsies needed to take home after the march was that “violence is not the answer”.
“Tell your brother and sister to stop violence” said Airo.
Wits students are expected to join the Peoples’ March against xenophobia tomorrow, at 1pm. Over 30 000 people are expected to march from Pieter Roos Park in Hillbrow and end at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, Johannesburg.
Habib said in an email to the Wits community that staff and students could be excused from university work to attend the march. Buses would also be provided from Wits campus to Pieter Roos Park for marchers. Four buses would depart at noon and another four at 12.30 PM from the Amic Deck.
Buses would also be provided for students returning from Newtown at 4pm and again at 4.30pm.
A Wits Vuvuzela reporter was attacked on campus earlier today as she attempted to take photographs at a march against xenophobia.
Anlerie de Wet was taking photographs at an anti-xenophobia march organised by Wits EFF outside the Matrix building on the east campus of Wits University earlier today when she was confronted by a group of Wits EFF supporters.
The Journalism Honours students says a female supporter grabbed her around her wrist “trying to grab the camera out of my hand camera”, as other supporters rushed towards her. “A male student reached from behind, and smacked my head,” she added.
“They said I’m not allowed to take photos,” De Wet said.
When she questioned why not, she says she was told that she did not ask for permission to take pictures of the march and “because I am white”.
ALSO READ: “You fucking whities”
Mbe Mbhele, secretary of Wits EFF confirmed that a confrontation with De Wet took place but said “there was no physical attack on her”. He said, “the journalist just took a picture of us without asking for permission”.
“When we asked her who she is, why she did not ask for permission, she said this is a public space and that is when the confrontation started,” Mbhele said.
ON CAMERA: This is the last photograph Anlerie De Wet managed to take at the march outside the Matrix before EFF supporters tried take her camera from her. Photo: Anlerie De Wet.
Another Wits student, Ayanda Kunene, witnessed the Wits EFF supporters trying to take the camera from De Wet.
“She (Wits EFF supporter) grabbed the camera, wanting to take it away,” Kunene said.
Quintus Dirks, who also witnessed the incident, said, “I saw three EFF members, one grabbed the journalist’s camera … threatening to smack it”.
In a series of tweets this evening, the Wits EFF account tweeted: “We will not allow any media 2 (sic) take pictures of us without our permission … its against the law. No amount of reports you use will change that”.
“This is poor journalism and misrepresentation of the truth. You can do better really!”, another tweet read.
De Wet has reported the incident to Wits Campus Control.
Wits hosted two solidarity marches this week. The march on Monday was dedicated to Kenya and Tuesday was for Nigeria. Even though the idea was to march in solidarity, the turn out differed for each event.
A solidarity March For Kenya
Wits staff and students, led by vice-chancellor Adam Habib, marched in silence across the campus on Monday in solidarity with those affected by the massacre of 147 Kenyan students at Garissa University College earlier this month.
About 700 people, mostly dressed in black and with candles in their hands, marched from the FNB Building on West Campus to the steps of the Great Hall around lunchtime. Violet Molefe, the chairperson of Amnesty International at Wits, one of the organisers of the event, said the purpose of the march was not only to express solidarity with Kenya but also to introduce a new struggle for African youth.
Solidarity March for Kenya, with V.C Adam Habib .
Photo by: Reuven Blignault
“As we march, we stand in solidarity with the students from Kenya,” she said. “All of the time you see students being angry, this is time to rise up as young leadership, not let the past generations to fix our problems,” Molefe said.
A solidarity March For Nigeria
In the same spirit of solidarity on Tuesday the School of Language, Literature and Media also marched. This was to remember the Chibok girls from Nigeria who were abducted in April 2014. Led by the head of the Media Studies department, Mehita Iqani, to the Great Hall, no more than 20 students attended. They had a moment of silence to remember and remind themselves that it has already been a year.
According to Dr Ufuoma Akpojivi, who organised the march, the main reason the turnout was low was because students think the Nigerian girls are forgotten. He also said the march was planned at the last minute.
“I met a student who said, please just forget about the bring back our girls,” he said. “I told her, let’s forget about whether the girls are coming back or not, let’s create awareness,” said Akpojivi.
Akpojivi told Wits Vuvuzela the objective of the march was to create awareness and this was achieved.
“I am happy with the small turnout, because we managed to create awareness amongst our students,” said Akpojivi.
For Amnesty International organisers, despite having less than a week to plan their Garissa solidarity march, the turnout was bigger. They had a week to organise the event.
“We didn’t expect that much support,” Molefe said.