by | Sep 19, 2014 | Lifestyle
Jazz vocalist Sean Jacobs.
Photo: Percy Matshoba
FOURTH year BMus Wits student Sean Jacobs is a jazz vocalist who performs regularly at local jazz venues. His greatest achievement was being chosen to perform at the Nelson Mandela Memorial last year alongside well-known jazz vocalist Lira. He is also a pianist and flautist.
Did you always know you wanted to sing?
I started singing from a young age. Then I stopped in grade ten and took up the flute. It was after a year’s course in theatre that I realised that singing is my passion. I realised I had the desire to use my voice to translate meaning. I believe that music can be used for the social betterment of others and I enjoy doing that.
What has been the highlight of your music career?
It was when I performed at Nelson Mandela’s memorial last year. I got to meet Lira, who was also performing. The great thing about my career path is that I also get to travel and, last year, I got to perform for an Investec corporate event in Mauritius.
Do you think the South African music industry has room for jazz artists?
I think our industry is small but diverse. There is space to be different. Talent needs to be balanced with hard work. Some artists depend on talent and that attitude is what fails them in the end. Musicians of all genres also need to network, a lot, and get as many contacts as possible and make themselves known.
Who inspires you?
I like listening to people who set the trends – music pioneers. I draw inspiration from different people who infuse genres cleverly like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, The Carpenters, Pharrell Williams, Marcus Wyatt and sometimes I listen to rock music.
If you were not doing music what would you be doing?
I would be acting. I’m very involved in the music industry and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
What do you think about the notion that a music degree is not like any other Wits degree?
People often look down on music and drama students because they don’t know that, in order to do well, it takes hard work and dedication like any other degree at Wits.
Do you practise your vocals at res?
No, if I had to practise at res it would be disruptive to other students. I sometimes sing in my room but not too loud as I would when I’m practising or performing.
by | Sep 19, 2014 | Sport
KICKER: The General, Sibusiso Vilakazi is not so relaxed about making it to the top.
Photo: Luca Kotton
Sibusiso Vilakazi started playing soccer at the age of 11. At 24, the captain of Bidvest Wits is the newest member of Bafana Bafana and has dreams of playing internationally in the near future.
Vilakazi started his career playing street soccer in Meadowlands, Soweto and was later signed by local team, Meadowlands Chelsea, as a goalkeeper.
The current midfielder of both the national team and the Clever Boys made his (PSL) Premier Soccer League debut in 2009 when he joined Bidvest Wits juniors and Bidboys. He says it has always been his dream to play for an overseas professional team.
Vilakazi tried out several times for Danish club Brondby FC in the past two years with a deal falling through at the last minute each time.
“I have experienced setbacks but everything happens for a reason. I have faith that it will happen someday,” he said.
The soccer star is however making strides locally having been tirelessly pursued by the Glamour Boys, Kaizer Chiefs, this past transfer window.
Nicknamed “General” by his fans, Vilakazi was called up to the national team in October 2013 and nearly a year later says he still gets excited to represent his country. “Every time I go play for the team I get very excited,” he says.
Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela in his number 10 Wits jersey, Vilakazi says he prefers to spend his spare time with his family in Meadowlands.
“I am a family man,” he says but adds that he occasionally has a few drinks with his friends.
‘Vila’, as most of his Wits teammates call him, says he makes it his priority to build solid friendships with the players. “We need to have that relationship as a team,” says Vilakazi.
As for his pre-match routines, Vilakazi takes a relaxed approach. “I sit on my bed for hours, with the TV on and think about the game,” he says.
And for the question his female fans most want the answer to: Vilakazi says he currently doesn’t have a girlfriend but appreciates the adoration he has been getting from his devoted supporters.
by | Aug 29, 2014 | Lifestyle
BOILING HOT: Braamfontein’s Boiler Room showcases work by students and up and coming designers and architects.
A small, dark room in a Braamfontein alley is opening spaces and places for lovers of architecture and design.
The Boiler Room is part of the Alive Architecture initiative, located down an alley just off Melle Street, opposite the Neighbourgoods Market. It serves as a space for architecture students and upcoming architects to showcase their work at no cost.
In the first six weeks of its opening, the room had over 1200 visitors, and is becoming known as a space for innovation according to the owners.
Alive Architecture as an architectural gallery was developed in September 2011 and it now has a home in Braamfontein in as of December 2013. The studio that now houses this innovative space is about 25 square metres is a small dark room. The space has a boiler for the building, which is above it in one corner, hence its name The Boiler Room.
The owner Pieter-Ernst Maré – along with Simon Cretney – says that the room caters specifically for students, upcoming architects and designers because this group does not get the chance to showcase as much as developed designers and architects.
“We felt that the smaller designers don’t get enough exposure to the general public,” said Maré.
Maré says that when the concept was drawn up in 2011 there weren’t many showrooms that were available for these marginalised groups to showcase their work for free.
Maré, who is a blogger and architect, says they look at proposals for the use of the space and choose a variety of ideas so the public can get a range of skills, trades and art exhibited in the space.
“We really don’t mind what our tenants do with the space – as long as we get it back like we gave it to them, so that the next exhibitor can step in and showcase with the minimum of fuss and expense in setting themselves up,” said Maré.
He said that many people do not understand the architecture industry. The Alive Architecture initiatives through The Boiler Room aims to educate the public about the work that goes into designing homes and work spaces.
Maré says the initiative wants to show that “architecture isn’t just about keeping water out of a space, that landscape architecture is not about picking the right petunia colour and that interior architecture is not about scatter cushions and curtains”. It’s an exploration of materials, ideas and philosophies that translate into a space, he says.
Maré says they hope to expand and showcase South African talent in other parts of the country in the near future.
by | Aug 29, 2014 | News
One of the characters of Grand Theft Auto 5.
Photo: buzz wide
THE VIRTUAL rapist who has recently appeared in the popular Grand Theft Auto 5 game, could “perpetuate the ritual of rape”, a psychologist has said.
Judith Ancer was commenting on the fact that the action-adventure game was recently hacked in order to create a character called Deep in The Butt, who specialises solely in terrorising and raping other online players in the butt.
Ancer said the implications of this were complex. If this kind of behaviour was accessible to people who had been exposed to sexual violence or abuse, it could perpetuate the ritual of rape.
This kind of fantasy created a “reality that women are victims of rape”, and that could have its implications in society.
She said that this implication can be detrimental to both men and women. “More so with men because they are more secretive about such issues,” Ancer said.
Not that all fantasies led to reality, she said. “I don’t think we should ban all fantasies but there are risks … If exposure didn’t make a diff erence we wouldn’t have advertising.”
Witsies had mixed reactions to the issue. Boitumelo Mpakanyane, BA Politics, did not see it as a problem. “If you can’t separate right from wrong that’s your problem, it’s just a game,” he said.
On the other hand, Edward Chan, 3rd year Bio-Science, said virtual rape “is not ethical and it’s an issue that should be looked into”. And Blaise Koetsie, 3rd year Law, said she was horrifi ed. She added that the way “we women are portrayed in the media is disrespectful and sad”.
“How are men supposed to respect us … I don’t like what the media promotes these days, I think it’s disgusting.”
In the game, the GTA5 terrorist always has his pants down, ready to molest his next victim. Although they get countless attempts to fi ght the perpetrator off , his victims always fail to kill him. When the off ender is done, his victims are left doing a strip dance as a sign of his victory.
When the game was released in September, there was discussion about whether characters should be able to rape. The owners, Rockstars Games, did not approve this change.
It did not stop hackers from accomplishing their mission, however, in their modifi cation of the game, which can be downloaded unoffi cially, whether the owners approve or not.
Commenting on games that allow virtual rape, print editor of Exeposé’s Games and Technology section, Adam Smith, told Marie Claire Online that rape was worse than murder.
“To be murdered is to be killed. It ends. To be raped is to be abused and left vulnerable and most importantly, having to live with that knowledge for the rest of your life,” he said.
When Wits Vuvuzela contacted Rockstar Games for comment, they received an automated reply, which stated: “Your comment has been received, Thanks”.
by | Aug 15, 2014 | News
OCCUPIED: Wits toilets to be transformed for the safety of the transgendered. Photo: Percy Matshoba
THE university is proposing “gender neutral” toilets in future to accommodate transgender students and staff.
According to the Wits anti-discrimination draft policy, all new buildings should have “gender neutral toilets, change-rooms and bathrooms”.
In addition, the draft policy states where applicable “all disabled toilets, change-rooms and bathrooms should be considered neutral spaces available for use by non-gender conforming staff and students with disabilities”.
Second-year bio-med student Alaine Marsden said gender neutral toilets are a necessity at Wits. “For gender variant individuals, we don’t feel safe going into bathrooms.”
Marsden, who is transgender, said the university needed to put the plan of introducing these bathrooms into action. “We don’t want spaces of contention, abuse and harassment. It will make us feel more at ease on campus.”
Marsden expressed fears of going into male or female bathrooms in the university. “I have to be careful,” said Marsden.
Diversity, ethics and social justice manager Pura Mgolombane told Wits Vuvuzela once the policy is approved it will then be put into the 2016 budget. “Some toilets’ signage will either be changed to a gender-neutral sign or new ones will be built, but it all depends on the approval of the policy,” he said.
First year BMus student Max Liebenberg said gender neutral toilets are the first step in fighting gender inequality. Liebenberg said for the convenience of transgendered individuals the university should make gender-neutral toilets available.
Foundation music student Shakeel Cullis said gender-neutral bathrooms and toilets are the norm in households. “I don’t see why it should be any different [at Wits],” said Cullis.
Heritage studies student Rita Potenza said men have the tendency to not keep their bathrooms clean and because of that, she would prefer to keep toilets separate.
“I wouldn’t want the unhygienic level [of male bathrooms] to spill over into the girls’ toilets,” said Potenza.
Francis Burger, MA Fine Arts, said if the university were to introduce neutral gender toilets she would prefer them.
“I prefer peeing standing up,” she said.
The University of Cape Town has introduced gender-neutral toilets on campus to accommodate transgender students and staff.
Gender-neutral facilities are common in many institutions in the United States of America. Other South African universities such as Rhodes University are also in the process of making these facilities available in line with anti-gender discrimination policies.
by | Jul 25, 2014 | Featured 1
- Wits has been ranked the top university in Africa and 114th in the world. Photo: Wits Communications
By Percy Matshoba and Roxanne Joseph
Wits University has been ranked the top university in Africa and among the best in the world by the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR).
The CWUR looked at 1000 universities around the world and ranked Wits at 114 overall. University of Cape Town is ranked 267, Stellenbosch 311, the University of KwaZulu-Natal 459 and the University of Pretoria 609.
The criteria include the quality of education, alumni employment, quality of faculty, publications and research papers, influence, citations, broad impact and patents. Wits scored highly in alumni employment (29th) and quality of education (79th).
“It makes me feel like I am in a world class institution.”
The CWUR previously compiled a list of the top 100 universities in 2013, and has now extended the ranking to 1000 universities in the world. The group claims to be the only ranking system that includes in its research the quality of education and skills development of students without relying on surveys and university data submissions.
Third-year law student Lerato Maviya said she was not quite convinced by the CWUR ranking system in terms of the quality of education. “I still find flaws in the way we are taught [at Wits],” she said.
BA Law student, Dimpho Bendile said the rankings made her proud to be a Witsie. “It makes me feel like I am in a world class institution.”
Approach ranking systems with caution
Wits Vice Chancellor Prof Adam Habib discounted the rankings and said they should be looked at with caution. Different ranking systems used different criteria for universities.
“We believe that as a university we should not be distracted by such ranking systems,” he said.
Habib said the university’s focus should be to build a “nationally responsive and globally competitive institution, one that is both demographically diverse and cosmopolitan.” He said that if the university focuses on these qualities it will surely build a strong accreditation which will be acknowledged by more “established and relevant ranking systems”.
Proud to be a Witsie
Wits university alumnus Simiso Ndlovu said, in terms of graduate employment, the university had gone out of its way to find employment for graduates. “I got my current job through my honours lecturer,” she said.
Ndlovu said the university’s top ranking gave her a sense of honour and prestige among competing graduates. “I can go anywhere in the world and proudly proclaim that I am a Witsie,” she said.
Director of Alumni Relations Peter Maher said the CWUR ranking was a confirmation of previous reports that had ranked Wits highly. He said Wits has produced high achieving graduates when compared to other universities in Africa.
“The overall ranking is good news for Wits graduates,” Maher said. Harvard was ranked as the best university by the CWUR, scoring the highest in seven of eight categories.
The top 10 universities on the list were shared between the United States, represented by eight universities, and the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
Japanese universities were also heavily represented in the top 20 with the University of Tokyo at 13th and Kyoto University in the 16th spot. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology took the 18th spot and other US institutions completed the list.
by | May 12, 2014 | Featured 1, Lifestyle
Braamies enjoying African Blended coffees and free Wi-Fi. Photo: Percy Matshoba
Braamfontein locals know this store as the one with the old, red Mini Cooper inside it.
Branson Centre, its official name, is the store that offers a cup of java that has could have its origins in as far afield as Rwanda served under exotic names like The Dictator.
Serviced by Motherland Coffee, the coffee-shop part of the Virgin Mobile store, dares to be bold and different in the coffee-drinking experience.
Beverages with personality
With the names of their beverages ranging from ice d’Ivoire invented in Cote d’Ivoire and The Dictator that comes with a slogan “Make your day, Obey you”, it’s no wonder that young, hip, urbanites are attracted to the shop.
The coffee is also sourced according to fair trade practices which ensure ethical and fair practices in farming and sourcing coffee on the African continent.
There is also the pull of free Wi-Fi which is a sure bet in attracting student patrons but with a small cup of coffee costing around R22 and the larger at R35, it is likely that usually cash-strapped student customers are leaving the store with a thirst.
Wits Vuvuzela visited the store at various times on four separate occasions and in all instances, the store was unusually quiet. Manager of the coffee-shop Webster Ndebele sees an increase in foot-traffic over the weekends as tourists passing by from the Neighborgoods market pop in for a cup of coffee. Most tourists admire the style,” he said.
To celebrate these visitors from abroad, the shop has created the ”Tourists” – the name for coffee laced with the varieties of European syrups.
The store opened last October and has even managed to make it into the Guinness Book of Records for cramming the most number of people – 25 – into the little Mini Cooper.
by | May 11, 2014 | Featured 1
I WON’T BE PUNISHED: Tokelo Nhlapo, one of the Wits 11, is fighting his sentence of 130 hours of community service. Image: File
UPDATE: Tokelo Nhlapo has confirmed via Twitter that he received 130 hours of community service and not 80 as reported in this article.
The statementreleased by the vice-chancelllor Prof Habib last year indicated that while all of the Wits11 received 80 hours of community service, “one of these students has further been found guilty of not obeying a lawful instruction issued by a University employee, and will be required to perform an additional 50 hours of community service for this offence.”
The identity of this student was not known to Wits Vuvuzela previously. We apologise for the error.
Some members of the “Wits 11” – the students disciplined last year after they disrupted a concert by an Israeli pianist – have agreed to accept their punishments, in spite of declarations to the contrary.
The Wits 11 were charged and found guilty of misconduct for interrupting a concert by pianist Yossi Reshef, as part of a pro-Palestinian protest, and were ordered to perform 80 hours of community service.
Tokelo Nhlapo and Pearl Pillay told Wits Vuvuzela the Wits 11 were united in opposition to their sentences. Pillay said the Wits 11 were not going to comply with the sentence because the ruling was “unfair”.
However, Wits spokesperson Kanina Foss said Wits 11 member Apelele Pindani had already made arrangements with the office of the vice chancellor to complete her prescribed community service.
If Pindani did not, she “will not be issued a certificate of good conduct”, which was necessary if the law student wished to practice in the legal profession, said Foss.
“Some people have complied and some people haven’t complied with the requirements of the sentencing.””
Contacted by Wits Vuvuzela, Pindani declined to comment on her own punishment, but confirmed the Wits 11 were divided over complying with their punishments. “Some people have complied and some people haven’t complied with the requirements of the sentencing.”
Foss said the university expected the Wits 11 to comply with their sentences before they finished their degrees. “The university would expect the students to complete the community service as soon as possible, but definitely before they complete their studies.”
But Pillay said she did not believe refusing to complete her community service would hinder her graduation. She said the judgement against them did not state that non-compliance would mean they could not complete their degrees.
Nhlapo told Wits Vuvuzela the 11 were pursuing every option available to continue to fight the sentence. He said they were in contact with a Constitutional Court judge, who was willing to review their case.
“We are not prepared to do business with Zionists who kill Palestinian women and children.” Nhlapo said the university had used a policy dating from 1988 to charge the Wits 11. He believed the ruling was illegal and unconstitutional in the new South Africa.
Nhlapo, Pillay and Pindani were SRC members when they protested the pianist’s appearance in 2013. Other SRC members Sibulele Mgudlwa, Joy Phiri, Tasneem Essop, Justice Nkomo, Klaas Mokgomole and Norman Mashegoane as well as Wits students, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and Feziwe Ndwayana, were also found guilty of misconduct for their part in the protest and all were ordered to perform 80 hours of community service.
by | May 3, 2014 | News
Clashing colour pallets, unconventional paintings and purposeful misspellings on the wall are a few of the things that catch your eye when you enter Anti-Est.
Braamfontein’s newest hotspot, located on the trendy Juta Street, aims to enforce the concepts of ‘unlearning’, free thinking and originality.
GIRL ON TOP: Manager, Roxanne Read says Anti-Est is more than a bar, it is a movement. Photo: Palesa Tshandu
Manager Roxanne Read said the establishment intends on challenging conformity by turning the lounge/bar into a place “where young artists can help challenge the culture of googling and encourage society to be accustomed to asking relevant questions and to move away from the norm.”
The bar has set the trend by creating rectangular shaped pizzas that are enveloped in unconventional packaging printed in eccentric statements that “fit the concept” of non-conformity.
A fresh range of cocktails and ‘uncommercial’ music created solely for the enjoyment of its audience is the way in which Anti entertains its customers every Wednesday to Saturday.
Read said the Neighbourgoods Market hosts more than 6000 people every Saturday and Anti benefits from this foot traffic, allowing the establishment to showcase its space and ensuring that Joburgers participate in its movement.
MIXOLOGIST: A barman gets your drinks ready while you soak in cool jazzy tunes. Photo: Palesa Tshandu
Anti is owned by four people: Nathan Reddy, Paul Shafer, Adam Levy and David Cohen, who, as a collective aim to eradicate the conventional thinking in society.
“At the end of the day we want to push people’s buttons, but at the same time allow them to demonstrate their crazy ideas sing this space as a platform,” said Read.
by | May 2, 2014 | Featured 1
HEADING TO THE USA: Former Witsie Shandukani Mulaudzi is hoping to head to Columbia University next year. Photo: Dinesh Balliah.
A former Wits Vuvuzela journalist raised R10 000 on Facebook in less than 12 hours for her enrollment fee to Columbia University.
Shandukani Mulaudzi, had been offered a place in the Master in Science in Journalism program at Columbia but could not afford the enrollment fee.
She told Wits Vuvuzela that she started an event on the popular social media platform asking her friends to help raise funds for her fees after she was denied an application for a bank loan.
She said her page was shared on various platforms by her friends and journalist Nechama Brodie, who then helped by reaching out to potential sponsors.
“I had pretty much tried everything and had no other option,” Mulaudzi said. “In less than a couple of hours I started getting money in my account.”
She said although she was sceptical about posting her banking details online she took a leap of faith as she was given 24 hours to pay her enrollment fee.
Mulaudzi has now opened up a group to serve “as a platform to share links to scholarships and potential donors” for her and her friend, Nokuthula Manyathi (also a former Wits Vuvuzela journalist).
“After the first drive to help me raise funds for my registration I realised that reaching out via social media can be very helpful,” she wrote on her Facebookpage.
by | May 2, 2014 | News
WE REFUSE: Tokelo Nhlapo, one of the Wits 11 says the group will not comply with the community service sentence. Photo: Nolwazi Mjwara
The Wits 11, students disciplined by Wits University for the disruption of a concert last year, are maintaining their refusal to carry out their sentence.
The students were charged with, and found guilty of, misconduct after interrupting the Yossi Reshef concert (held at Wits) and ordered to do 80 hours of community service. But according to the vice-chancellor’s office, only one of the eleven is making arrangements to do so.
“We are not prepared to do business with Zionists who kill Palestinian women and children” said Tokelo Nhlapo, one of the students.
Nhlapo said the university used a policy from 1988 to charge them and believes the ruling was illegal and unconstitutional in the new South Africa.
He told Wits Vuvuzela that the 11 are pursuing every option available. “We are in contact with a constitutional judge who is willing to review our charge,” he said.
According to an email from the vice-chancellor’s office signed by Kanina Foss (acting communications manager), the Wits 11 risk not completing their degrees if the community service is not carried out. They “will not be deemed to have met the requirements of the University for completion of their degrees” if they do not comply with their sentence, read the email.
In response, Nhlapo told Wits Vuvuzela he does not believe that the university will succeed in sentencing them for a crime they did not commit. He said, “We believe what we did was in the interest of the University.”
He added that one of the 11, Aphelele Phindani, already graduated in March and therefore they “refuse to comply with every fibre in their bodies.”
- Wits Vuvuzela, Israel vs SRC, May 2013
- Wits Vuvuzela, Wits 11 cry foul play at hearing, July 2013
- Wits Vuvuzela, Wits 11 complain VC is “player and referee”, July 2013
- Wits Vuvuzela, Community service for Wits 11, January 17, 2014
- Wits Vuvuzela, Wits 11 defy “bogus” punishment, February 7, 2014
by | Apr 11, 2014 | Opinion
Photo: TJ Lemon
As an East campus dweller and a West campus trespasser, I used to find that being recognised as a credible student did not come easy.
I always felt compelled to prove my intelligence, particularly on the side where the sun sets. In my first year as a Witsie, I discovered there was an unspoken hierarchy between the different Wits campuses, and East campus was at the bottom. You won’t find this status on notice boards, and there’s no statistic to back it up. It is simply implied by our over-the-bridge neighbours, in questions like: “Do you even need to study?” or in comments like: “I wish I was a BA student, you guys sit on the grass all day”.
After a year of desperation, I enrolled in a commerce course in which our lecturer would often warn us that if we failed, we could always enrol in a BA course. It wasn’t that I was unsure of my choice or that I did not have a sense of direction, it was that I had allowed my insecurities to dim my light. I did not want to be an accountant or an actuary, despite the pay. I did not find the idea of being a lawyer appealing. I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted to inspire, inform and to simply “write what I like”.
After many years of dodging questions like: “What are you studying”? Or “Is there a big market for what you’re studying?” I have found that my choice of study was not what I needed to alter to appease the unimpressed. It was my response to their attitudes. Mine needed to be the weapon which broke the ignorance.
The war between east and west has its source in our country’s education system, which esteems some courses over others. This arrogance has led to companies funding only the faculties which are home to those esteemed subjects. Our attitude as a country has created a clear divide. The fact that there is a divide between the Wits campuses is merely the symptom of a wider problem, not the root of it. I have learnt that I don’t want to be valued because of what I do or how much I earn. I want to be valued because of what I contribute to society.
Mother Teresa once said: “I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”