Different environments can affect how one understands and views the world.
Zekhu Khwesa is a Bachelor of Music student at Wits University, a budding musician majoring in jazz vocals, and goes by the stage name “Lord Zekhu”. The Durban born musician said music has been a part of his liver ever since he can remember. “At the age of 11, I would practice at the staff kitchen at my school, that is when one of my teachers noticed me and gave me proper lessons,” he recalls.
Zekhu creates alternative, Afro-Pop, Trap and RnB music. He manipulates and fuses sounds from different genres that articulate and present the audience with something unique to listen to. “Music needs to introduce different taste, this helps broaden and open the listener’s minds to new, informative and insightful things,” Kheswa said.
The photograph that inspired Zekhu to write the JungleFever collection Photo: Sedibana Mpho
The love of music runs in the Kheswa family, Zekhu’s mother is an Opera singer and his uncle is a music conductor for orchestras, and lectures at UKZN. At the age of 10, Zekhu would go to UKZN to practice playing the piano. He tells Wits Vuvuzela that as a child he never realised that he was following his mother and uncle’s footsteps, but it is all making sense now.
Zekhu released his first collection JungleFever on 3 May, 2021. The collection consists of 3 solo singles, the singer explained the work behind JungleFever was inspired by photography shot by his friend, Sedibana Mpho. “I mostly create my work from analysing and interpreting art,” he said.
Zekhu initially pursued modelling when he first got to Braamfontein in 2014. But he said the experience came with a lot of stress and anxiety, and eventually lead to Zekhu slipping into depression, that’s when he decided to cut ties with the industry altogether. It was one of the biggest challenges Zekhu has faced, “I inspire myself by looking back at what I have done and look what I am going to do next,” he said.
Growing up in a musical family, Zekhu is inspired by greats such as Michael Jackson and Kanye West, who influenced his fashion and dance style. “At 9 years old, I would pick outfits for my mother to wear when she would attend meetings at school,” he adds.
Zekhu had also suffered from the impact that the covid-19 pandemic brought in people’s daily lives. He used to have paid gigs which became scarce, he said the lockdown period was tough, he saw it as an opportunity for learning and regrouping., “Time alone for an artist is the foundation of creativity,” Zekhu said.
Zekhu is currently working on another project “Cozy Collection” which is also inspired by the photographs he has taken before.
FEATURED IMAGE: Image of Zekhu Kheswa Photo: Alfonso Nqunjana
Wits University professors are conducting several research projects to help high potential youth from marginalised communities to succeed. Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Like the learners at Badimong Primary School, Leketi Makalela experienced poverty as a child and went to a school where resources were scarce and teachers poorly trained.
He chanted or, as he calls it now, “barked” text he didn’t understand, moving his finger and his head as he followed the words on the page.
But despite ineffective teaching methods, he miraculously managed to learn. Now, with a doctorate in English, linguistics and education from Michigan State University, he teaches teachers.
Makalela, a professor of language and literacy at the Wits School of Education, is an example of the talented young people who were the subject of the university’s symposium on high potential youth from marginalised communities.
The symposium was organised by the Office of the Vice chancellor and the Faculty of Humanities. It featured current and future research projects which might provide solutions to some of the problems which prevent South Africa’s young people from fully realising their potential.
At the symposium, Makalela presented a report on the bilingual literacy project he recently concluded at Badimong.
A simple but effective intervention
Over the period of a year, Makalela and his three assistants helped 30 high potential grades 4-6 learners improve their reading comprehension scores from about 25% to about 75% in both Sepedi and English.
He did this through a simple intervention. He provided the learners with culturally-relevant Sepedi storybooks which he asked them to read to their parents for 15 minutes every day. For the first three months of the project, Makalela visited the families of the 30 children, a few every weekend, to monitor the learners’ progress.
Makalela also conducted interventions which benefited the other 300 children in grades 4 to 6.
Making reading less painful
He worked with them to change their reading techniques, which he said made reading “so painful a task”.
Makoma Makgoba, a grade 4 social science and grade 5 Sepedi teacher, told Wits Vuvuzela about the reading skills of the children before Makalela’s intervention.
“The sitting posture can hinder how they read. They move their head, as if they are conducting a choir.”
She said Makalela taught the learners to avoid following the words with their fingers and moving their heads and mouths as they read.
Enriching the classroom environment
Makalela conducted workshops with the teachers, encouraging them to enrich what he described as a “barren classroom environment with no visual support to provide opportunities for incidental reading”.
He solved the problem of a lack of money for posters by asking the children to read stories in Sepedi and then rewrite them in English or vice versa. The children then illustrated their versions and put them up in a colourful “literacy corner”.
This technique also achieved Makalela’s objective of encouraging learners to see their home language as valuable.
Makalela said he wanted to prevent the children from becoming “academic monolinguals”.
“It’s like driving on one wheel. You need both wheels to get to your destination.”
Makalela will expand his project to three more schools in Giyani, Polokwane and Thohoyandou (Limpopo) and one in Soweto.