Books For No Bucks

FREE BOOKS: Charmaine Pule, Media and Marketing Officer for the SRC shows Wits Vuvuzela some of the books they have collected for their book drive. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
FREE BOOKS: Charmaine Pule, Media and Marketing Officer for the SRC shows Wits Vuvuzela some of the books they have collected for their book drive. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

WITS students now have the opportunity to loan textbooks for free. Paul Maluleka is the brains behind the SRCs latest campaign that collects textbooks and books for students who cannot afford to buy books.

Earlier this year the SRC was involved in helping excluded students with their problems. They frequently complained that buying books and textbooks was a problem. They cannot all afford to buy new textbooks each semester.

The book drive is one way of fixing that problem said Pule, 4th year Education and Media and Marketing Officer for the SRC. She is running the book drive in conjunction with Maluleka in a bid to help alleviate some of the stress that students face when it comes to lack of access to resources.

They are looking for students to donate their old books to the campaign. Donated books will be given out on loan to students in need.  It’s a fairly simple process whereby students need to fill in a form from the SRC office. The students loan the books for however long they are needed..

So far, the SRC have received engineering and law textbooks. While this is appreciated, they need more textbooks and books from across all faculties and disciplines to broaden the campaign’s reach.

In line with the book drive, the SRC will be launching  a campaign called ‘Each One, Teach One.’ This campaign will look at donating a variety of things to matric students. Things like stationary, school uniforms and matric dance dresses. The objective of this campaign will be to support matric students who are in need. When dropping off the donated items, SRC members will also hand out food parcels and interact with the students.

Pheladi Sethusa 

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The Newsroom 1.0

This week has been INSANE. Insanely awesome that is.

We only started ‘working’ in the newsroom last week, when we had our first real news conference. News conference is when we all pitch possible news stories we have and plan the diary for that weeks paper.

The first time doing this was extremely nerve wrecking, even the second time I suppose. You’re never sure if what you have will be good enough or even news worthy. This week I pitched four stories and as it turns out they weren’t as rubbish as I imagined.

Yesterday during production all our threads started to come together. We edited pictures and articles, then  peer subbed (over and over again). I had the honour of having two of my pieces sub edited by Anton Harber. Yes, THE Anton Harber. I don’t know if it will ever really sink in that he is my lecturer.

We have worked really hard this week and are going to put out n amazing edition of Vuvuzela. We really went out to make as much noise as we could with this one. Every page will be jam packed with brilliant stories.

Basically – I love what I’m doing. I am exactly where I should be.

Cool Kid on Campus: Atish Jogi

Atish sitting outside of William Cullen Library. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
Atish sitting outside of William Cullen Library. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

FINAL year law student Atish Jogi is one of the most stylish men on campus.

His swag—in his own words—is on level “one hunnid.” As GQs Best Dressed Reader 2012 this is not hard to believe.

His hobbies include a mixture of sports he loves and creative art. He plays indoor cricket at the Sandton arena and runs with both the Braamfie and Rosebank run club’s. Artistically he is a photographer with a particular fascination with urban landscapes, street life and fashion.

Why did you choose to study law at Wits?

Wits is a premier academic institution and I really wanted to do law because I want to be involved in finding solutions to some of the country’s problems.

How did you win your GQ Best Dressed Reader title last year?

We had to submit photos of five everyday looks. These photos then went through a selection process by the GQ team, where they selected the top three finalists. Thereafter readers had to vote for their favourite from the top three-which happened to be me.

Is it then safe to say that you’re style conscious?

Well, yes. I don’t plan outfits or anything but I do make an effort to be presentable and wear clothes that make me look and feel good.

Do you think other guys on campus have any sense of style?

Not really. Some guys do try to make an effort but most are the track pants and sneakers types. All I’ll say to those guys is that women appreciate men who dress well.

What are you wearing today?

Vintage Nike Air Max One’s, G-Star Raw jeans, a Country Road cotton v-neck, a Polo jersey and Gucci glasses. I know it seems like I’m obsessed with brands but I’m really not.

Do you have a style icon?

Yes, my close personal friend and model Masego ‘Maps’ Maponyane. His style is unique and fresh.

Pheladi Sethusa

To tweet or not to tweet…

…that is the question.


Okay I lie, there is no question – I just like drama. I have to tweet, scrap that – I need to tweet. I just need to do it differently to how I have been.

We had a class on the how to tweet, when to tweet and what to tweet by our social media lecturer Dinesh Balliah. She presented the lesson to us with an impressive PowerPoint presentation. It made me realise how important twitter is as a social media tool.

Not to say I never thought about it like that, but I never considered how it can empower tweeps, journalists in particular. The gist of the presentation looked at the fact that social media is no longer just about chatting to your mates and discussing the mundane. Social media is now used as a platform to disseminate vital information – sharing video’s, link’s and photo’s that focus on hard news and issues, as and when they happen. Beyond that getting to engage meaningfully with a diverse range of people. As opposed to the ins and outs of little Hannah’s fifth birthday party or the very particular description of that morning’s breakfast.

Social media, if used wisely can essentially “make” you as a journalist. Even though twitter in particular has the power of launching people into (sometimes) illusory prominence. It’s not to say that journalists don’t have legit followers, who largely follow them based on the content of their tweets rather than pure popularity.

By the end of the lesson I was questioning how I have been using twitter for the past two years. That night I had a look through my archive and I realised that my 30k tweets are mostly annoying. There is a lot of whining and whingeing – some of which is funny but a lot of it isn’t.  I imagine it an irksome experience going through my TL. Especially when I was in a particularly good/bad mood – I felt it my duty to inform the world, ALL THE TIME (see what I mean). However, most of them are informative and go beyond the purely personal.

I guess this whole post has been a roundabout way of saying I need to change my tweeting habits. If not for my not-so-distant career, for the sanity of my followers. I won’t go as far as creating a personal account and a seperate professional one.I already manage four blogs, two facebook pages and three email accounts amongst other things. I could not possibly add a new twitter profile to the lot. Along with this I am deeply devoted to my twitter as is, it just screams Pheladi through and through.

I will attempt to tastefully and strategically mix the personal and the professional. It might be a challenge but I’m sure I’ll manage.

Another blog… Really…

Well yes, I have started another wee blog. Why? To separate my different selves I suppose. I will use this one to document my journey through my honours year. What I consider to be the year that makes me the writer and journalist I should be.

I will refrain from being overly emotional (or try to) and try to keep things as ‘PG’ as possible.

I am two weeks into the Journalism programme at Wits and already I can tell it is going to be a very long year. Long but fulfilling. It has already been a lot of fun because of the amazing classmates I have. I really cannot wait to get to know them better and form lifelong friendships.

I look forward to this new part of my life and hope you don’t mind that I’m sharing it with you.

Ok-thanks-bye 🙂

Pheladi Sethusa 

Fees rally

On Friday the 3rd of August, Wits students took matters into their own hands regarding the proposed fee increment of registration fees. Students heeded the call to meet at Senate House Concourse at 14:00 hours

Students gathered at Senaate House concourse for the rally. Picture: Pheladi Sethusa
Students gathered at Senaate House concourse for the rally. Picture: Pheladi Sethusa

Wits Management proposed that this fee be increased from R7950 to a staggering R8600. There is a steady increase in these fees every year. One would expect improved facilities and services as fees increase gradually but this is not the case. This was the main point of contestation for both students and the Students Representative Council (SRC). Fees are going up continuously yet students don’t see the use of this money in their surroundings. Lecturers and support staff are definitely not benefiting from the increasing fees so who then is..?

According to Professor David Dickinson, a lecturer at Wits and president of the Academic Staff Association of Wits University (ASAWU), Wits is making a profit from their surplus. In 2011 alone they made over R100 million in surplus profits which – when added to the overall surplus profit – came to a staggering R1.8 billion in total. The crowds gathered could not believe their ears when they heard these astronomical figures. Professor Dickinson went on to say that lecturers and students should not be divided on this issue and should help one another in taking management to task. As a parting statement, he highlighted how important it is for students to “engage with the big issues”.

The students gathered at this rally were in high spirits and burst into song whenever there was a pause from the speaker’s side.

Tokelo Nhlapo did a great job in running the proceedings smoothly and getting people to join in when necessary. Not that those in attendance needed much help, students present were vehement in their stance against this proposed increase. Their attendance and energy proved evidence of this.

After this, the SRC president, Tebogo Thothela, made a speech. 

His main concerns were the fact that Wits registration fees keep increasing rapidly when other universities do their best to make increases as affordable as possible. He made it very clear that the SRC had students’ interests at heart and is taking direction from the student body with all their actions. That together with strong support from students, we could all have a hand in changing any inflexibility shown by management.

**NOTE: Post first appeared on exPress imPress on August 14 2012. 

 

Wits staff strike back

Thursday 19 July 2012 marked the beginning of the Wits staff industrial action against management. The main issue of protest is against the low wages that staff members at Wits are paid.

The strike came to my attention on Twitter via Professor Pumla Gqola’s timeline. Her hashtag#WitsStaffIndustrialAction was very useful in highlighting the staff’s main issues of contention. Members of ASAWU (Academic Staff Association of Wits University), NEHAWU (National Education Health and Allied Workers Union) and ALTSA (Administration Library and Technical Staff Association) joined forces to propel the protest.

Wits-strike
Wits staff marching outside the university’s entrance on Enoch Sontonga road in Braamfontein.

This was what they called a yellow card march, pending a response from management. If their demands are not met, the strikers threaten to enforce full industrial action on the 2nd of August. The groups feel that considering the surplus profits that Wits makes they are entitled to increases. They are demanding a 9% wage increase for support staff and a 7.5% wage increase for academic staff. Along with this was a demand for an on-campus childcare facility, increased amounts for individual research and an end to the overselling of open staff parking areas.

These demands are by no means preposterous or absurd; the staff members simply want decent pay for the work they do. Especially when there is enough money in the University’s coffers to do so. Every year students pay increased fees and the government grant is increased. It only makes sense that staff salaries should also increase. At the moment increases are granted on a performance basis but this can judged very subjectively and is not necessarily the fairest way. The memorandum handed over was accepted by management and will be taken into consideration, they say.

Hopefully, management will heed staffs call by adhering to their demands. Our staff is very capable and deserving of this increase for the phenomenal work they do.

**NOTE: Post first appeared on exPress imPress on July 23 2014. 

Digital Apartheid

exPress imPress hosted its second roundtable discussion on the 11th of May 2012. The topic for discussion was: ‘Digital Apartheid: Is the smartphone age segregating or uniting South Africans?’.

nathalie-225x300
Nathalie Hyde-Clarke.

The Graduate Seminar Room was not as full as we had anticipated but there was an eager audience present and ready to engage with the topic at hand. The first speaker was the ‘headliner’ if you will: Nathalie Hyde-Clarke. She is an ex-Witsie who is now the Head of the School of Communication at the University of Johannesburg. Her presentation was based on a research study she had recently done on trends of mobile phone usage in the Greater Johannesburg area. Her findings were very illuminating and served to debunk some assumptions about mobile phone and smartphone usage that I had.

Her findings could be summarised as follows. In 2010, 85 percent of the South African population owned a cell phone, with around 35 percent of those using their phones to go online. By 2012, there was a major increase in these numbers with 35 million people owning cellphones and 36 percent of those being smartphones. She found that people do not really use their smartphones to their full capacity. Most people use it for social networking and entertainment purposes which is problematic as a large number of people who own phones do not really know how to use them properly – smartphone or otherwise. Hence, the lack of mobile phone literacy was a problem that she identified in her research. There are no classes to learn how to use a phone. Most people just learn as they go along which is not an altogether bad thing but for example for someone who lives in a rural area and is illiterate, this could prove to be a trying task.

Nathalie made a statement about the teenagers and kids of today missing out on the world due to their preoccupation with their phone. It was only fitting to have a representative of the youth to challenge this. Leenesha Pather, a fellow exPress imPress blogger and Media Studies Honours student, attributed the growth of smartphone usage to affordability. Blackberries often come with a R60 internet bundle which effectively soothes the airtime woes of many ‘broke’ youngsters. She did mention that while accessibility had increased, smartphones serve to segregate people on a physical level in the sense that people would rather text, BBM or tweet one another than actually go out for a coffee together, hereby not quite countering Nathalie’s point (as I had hoped) but supporting it. But in the same breath, Leenesha mentioned that perhaps if everybody had access to smartphones, race and class divisions could be bridged.

roundtable2-300x225Following Leenesha, Wendy Willems, a lecturer and now Head of Department of Media Studies at Wits University, spoke. She has been doing research in Zambia on mobile phone usage. She mentioned that patterns of ownership and cost are very similar to the earlier mentioned South African case. People who cannot afford these technologies are ‘left behind’ and this creates a burgeoning digital divide. In Zambia, people attribute mobile phones to a number of social problems like adultery. A lot of people seem to think that mobile phones break up happy homes.

In the discussion held afterwards, the debate echoed ease of access in Africa and questioned how reflective the findings actually are of places outside Greater Johannesburg. Along with this, there was a shared sentiment that smartphones need to be made more affordable, used as more than accessories and used to their full potential. If this happened they could be used as educational tools and really help to put the world at everyone’s finger tips.

**NOTE: Post first appeared on exPress imPress on May 28 2014. 

THEATRE REVIEW: The Line

peuf_20120514_26-247x300This year the Wits Arts and Literature Experience (WALE) had a number of interesting events on offer. Of all the events I managed to attend, one in particular stood out. I wouldn’t call this piece a review but rather an abstruse comment on the play.It was a fairly warm and pleasant afternoon, the 10th of May 2012. This changed completely when we were ushered into the Nunnery. A Wits theatre space which has quite an eerie feel to it. It felt like we had just walked into a dungeon. This was cemented when the huge black doors where bolted shut for the performance to begin. The lights were dimmed, all whispers faded and The Line began.

It was an amazing play to watch. Even though it only ran for 50 minutes, one was not left wanting. The storyline was robust, intricate and full of devastating truths. Truths about who we are as so called South African citizens. Citizens who are so caught up in the ideas of their superior nationality that they burn, torture and destroy the lives of their fellow brothers and sisters. The play was primarily about the heinous acts committed during the xenophobic attacks in South Africa in 2008.

The script and most of the dialogue in the play was made up by a number of interviews conducted by the director, Gina Shumulker. This made for a far more transparent and sincere opportunity to identify with the characters. There were only two actors (Khutso Green and Gabi Harris) on stage but they managed to tell the stories of several interviewees. Ms Green played five vastly different characters. Just by changing her voice and mannerisms, she managed to play each character with spellbinding conviction. Her physical appearance was but a mirage on that stage. We ‘saw’ a different character every time she opened her mouth.

We got an insight into the kinds of people who propelled the violence, in this case an ANC councillor, a young thug and a Johannesburg-20120510-00071-300x225woman who was a victim of the hype incited by mob mentality. We got to see people who just stood by and watched, stopping only to take photographs (people like us). But most importantly we got to see the victims of the xenophobic violence. The innocent people we all let down.

There was a discussion after the play. Most of the audience members were moved by the performance. Moved in that they had never taken the xenophobic attitudes and actions seriously up until this point. There was a common feel around the room that the time of shifting the responsibility of dealing with such issues to government is over. The onus is on us as individuals to say to one another that ‘this is wrong and we will not tolerate it’. We can’t stand back anymore and watch such atrocities take place right under our noses. There are a lot of things that we put up with and ‘let slide’. The killing of innocent people should not be one of them.

The Line left me feeling guilty and ashamed. Ashamed of being a South African citizen and guilty in my complicity of inaction. However, there was a trickle of hope in all of this. There was a character who was involved in the violence who was rather remorseful after the fact. Her guilt is a sign that our people haven’t completely lost their humanity. That we still have the ability to feel for others, that all is not lost.

**NOTE: Post first appeared on exPress imPress on May 22 2014.