Sex education still relevant to young people



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SEX SPORTS: Wits students trying to fit condoms into the wooden condom demonstrators on the library lawns during International Condom Day                                              Photo: Lwandile Fikeni

Wits University students got to grips with dildos and condoms yesterday as part of the first Sex Sports on the library lawns. The event was held in commemoration of World Condom Day celebrated annually on February 13.

Wits Drama For Life (DFL) in partnership with AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) hosted the

event which saw participants engage in some rather risqué, amusing  but educational tasks. Drunk Goggles required participants to put on glasses which blurred their vision while they attempted to put a condom onto a makeshift penis. In another game students were asked if they knew what a condom was made of or if they knew where to find the expiry date on a condom packet.

DFL Project manager Leonie Ogle said the event went beyond sex sports and included HIV Aids testing, high blood sugar, sexual health awareness and education.

Statistics on the AHF website claim that South Africa has an HIV/AIDS rate lingering near 18% of the population, with public knowledge of HIV transmission and prevention factors dropping to 26.8% in 2012 from 30.30% four years earlier.

Nthabiseng*, a 31-year-old Applied Drama student who took part in the Sex Sports admitted to being unaware of some of the questions posed during the games.

“I didn’t know anything,” Nthabiseng said. “It was my first time playing this game. We were asked questions about HIV and AIDS and how does the disease transmit. Questions like, ‘how do you get HIV? Through blood, through saliva or what?’.”

Nthabiseng tests for HIV regularly. Asked if she was the experience of going for a HIV test on campus she said, “I wasn’t scared because I normally do tests but sex education is still relevant, especially for young people growing up”.




Witsies pledge to good citizenship

Hundreds of students joined the national #BuildaPresident campaign at Wits University this week. They publicly signed a pledge to good citizenship and shared their views of what an ideal South African president should be.

Hundreds of Witsies gathered below the steps of the Great Hall at Wits University on Tuesday, where they publicly signed a pledge of good citizenship for the #BuildaPresident campaign.

The Drama for Life department hosted the event in honour of Mandela month. Anzio Jacobs, campaign coordinator, said the campaign was created to honour the legacy of  former president, Nelson Mandela.

The event displayed a collage of over 600 images of people who showcased their views on what an ideal South African president should be.

Acting SRC president, Shaeera Kalla and Dean of Students, Pamela Dube joined the campaign and also publicly signed the pledge.

“Sex pest” claims new play is not about sexual harassment

Tsepo wa Mamatu, a lecturer in Drama has also been fired from Wits for sexual harassment.  Photo: Provided

UNDER FIRE: Dismissed “sex pest” Tsepo wa Mamatu says his controversial new play is not about sexual harassment.
Photo: Provided

A controversial new play by former Wits University lecturer, Tsepo wa Mamatu,  was withdrawn from Cape Town Fringe (CTF) festival last week despite claims from the actor/director that the play does not deal with the issue of sexual harassment.

“People do not know what they are talking about. It would be incorrect to say it [the play] was about sexual harassment,” said wa  Mamatu.

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, wa Mamatu said the play is an autobiographical account of his journey that is based on his memoir called Even Still – Lessons Tsepo Learned.

He said the issue of sexual harassment does come up in the play because “it was one of the most disappointing chapters of my stay there (at Wits).”

Wa Mamatu, who previously taught in the Wits School of Arts (WSOA), was found guilty of sexual harassment at Wits through an internal disciplinary process last year and subsequently fired.

Following the removal of the play, By My Grave, from the (CTF) programme owing to protests by other participants, The African Arts Institute is hosting a panel discussion on the controversy tomorrow evening in Cape Town which includes wa Mamatu.

The debate itself has left the arts community divided.

Wits Drama for Life released a statement on its Facebook page opposing the public debate saying the organisation “does not support an initiative of this nature that implicitly validates the experience of the perpetrator and that reinforces the traumatic experience associated with sexual violence”.

According to the founder and director of Drama for Life Warren Nebe, allowing wa Mamatu to engage in a debate encourages a “normalisation” of his acts of sexual harrassment.

“He is being given a platform to validate his position in a way that we think he does not deserve”, said Nebe.

“For us this reopens wounds in many ways…trauma cannot speak back to denial”.

Brett Pyper, WSOA head, says he believes debates around the play will “advance the interest of the various parties who have a stake in the conversation”.

“As a school we believe profoundly in the capacity of art to advance dialogue, redress and restorative social relationships”, said Pyper.

Nebe confirms that the play was withdrawn due to the tensions around wa Mamatu’s history of sexual harrasment and was motivated by the withdrawal of The Mothertongue Project from the festival who were also performing a play on sexual violence called Walk: South Africa.

Artistic director of  The Mothertongue Project, Sara Matchett, says, “Even without knowing what Tsepo wa Mamatu’s work was about, we did not feel comfortable sharing a platform with someone who was found guilty of sexual harassment”.

Matchett says wa Mamatu is “unremorseful”, which is why she believes “there should not be any space on public platforms to be sharing this sentiment”.

“For us there is no debate”, said Matchett.

Nebe says the controversy over wa Mamatu’s new play “reopens wounds in many ways … trauma cannot speak back to denial”.




Let’s talk about sex, baby!

The Seventh annual Sex Actually festival produced by Drama for Life (DFL) is here, with the theme “Love, Intimacy and Human Connection”.

A plethora of theatre performances, workshops, sex talk series and community dialogues are taking place at the Wits Theatre. The festival started this week and runs till the end of the month.

It will offer a platform for audiences to critique social change interventions in sex-related issues such as HIV/AIDS, sexual violence and abuse.

In the opening address for the festival, DFL director Warren Nebe, said the festival was launched as an initiative to raise awareness about the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa.

He said the aim of the festival is to explore human connections in all its shapes and forms. DFL wanted to create a festival thats transcends race, class, gender and sexualities.

Tarryn Lee, Sex Actually festival director, said this year the festival is a public intervention looking to use exciting mediums to talk about sex, relationships and HIV/AIDS since it is often viewed as a heavy subject. They use dialogue to break the silence around the stigmas attached to taboo issues.

“In South Africa specifically, sex is often a very heavy subject in our society … It’s not always a celebrated subject and is also filled with many myths and taboos,” she said.

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TALK SEX: Drama For Life students perform Ships by Night by Megan Godsell in the opening of Sex Actually festival at Wits Theatre. Photo: Anazi Zote


Lee said the myths and taboos around sex need to be de-mystified and brought to light so that sex-related issues “are challenged in our community, our families and work space”.

South African National AIDS Council (SANCA) Deputy Chairperson, Mmapaseka Steve Letsike, appeared at the official opening of the Sex Actually festival. Her opening address started by praising women for their fight for human rights.

“By talking we facilitate dialogue and conversation about the certain taboos that encircle our society,” Letsike said.

Although she highlighted the triumphs of women who fought political struggles she said the current fight over HIV/AIDS is prevalent in young women aged 15-24. According to the Mail & Guardian, the rate of HIV amongst females is four times higher than that of males in the same age group.

“We have committed to really focus on young women,” said Letsike, adding that SANCA had also  launched the Zazi campaign, which is about knowing yourself, embracing yourself and knowing your status, ” Letsike said.

Zazi is a Zulu word meaning “know yourself”. It reminds women to know their inner strength, value and what it means to be themselves so they can overcome adversity. The programme was launched at the University of Johannesburg  on Soweto campus in partnership with the Department of Social Development.

In the meanwhile, Wits students at DFL take pride in this year’s festival performances because it raises awareness on issues which continually face youth. Damilola Apotieri, Masters student at DFL, thinks the festival is a good opportunity for students to lend themselves to different conversations around sex and relationships in hopes to generate more knowledge on these issues.

“Personally, I will recommend that all Wits students attend as there can never be any better platform to engage with such issues,” Apotieri said.