Reasons to be Proud: In their Own Words

Photo of Wandile Msomi in New York

Port Elizabeth – Reasons to be Proud is a newsletter, started by Nelson Mandela University roughly seven years ago. The aim is to celebrate its students and their achievements in various fields, but who are the people behind the accolades? Here we provide you with the answers to the questions you might have had about the recent honourees and we take a closer look at the reason we are proud of these individuals.

For our readers who don’t know you, who would you say Wandile Msomi is?

Wandile is an easy-going young man with a keen sense of humour. I’d also like to think that I’m funny. I get sarcastic or very quiet when I’m tired, I get along with everybody – unless you’re the problem – and I’m very stubborn.

You’re a politics student – what attracted you to the world of politics?

I’ve always been fascinated by politics. You probably won’t believe this, but my love for politics started in 2006 when I was in grade 2. At the time, President Jacob Zuma was embroiled in his legal battles. I couldn’t even speak English, but I remember watching the trial [on TV] and I would have my family explain to me what was going on.

Also, I come from a political family: my mother’s sister was a UDF leader, back in the ’80s in Kwamashu, my mother works for the IEC and my grandmother was a member of the ANC woman’s league, so in a way, it was only natural that I gravitated towards politics. I am however the only child of my parents who are interested in politics.

How did your trip to the New York WFUNA International Model UN (WIMUN) come about and was this always your goal? (WIMUN is a simulation organized by the World Federation of United Nations Associations).

It started with an internal Model UN early last year. At the time I didn’t even know what the Model UN was, but I managed to [ ] get two honourable mentions. From there I was selected to go to Pretoria, where I was a UK delegate in the Security Council and I got the Best Delegate award. There the adjudicator suggested that I put my name forward for the WIMUN, which I also didn’t know about until I Googled it. I applied, not thinking much of it at the time, and I was accepted [ ] about two days later. After that, the processes of fundraising and visa application started. Three weeks before going to New York, I heard that I had been elected as the chair of the committee I had been assigned, meaning I was no longer going to be a delegate. 

Your journey to secure funding for the New York trip wasn’t easy. Can you tell us about that?

I started looking for funding here in PE. I first asked Nelson Mandela University in August. I think that might have been short notice [ ] because they didn’t reply. I then asked the city, but I didn’t receive any financial support in PE. I then went back home, to Durban, where I received plenty of support. I went to many media platforms and they were very excited; I went to three radio stations and I was featured in a newspaper article. The Department of Education in KZN [ ] managed to organise funding for me. The journey wasn’t easy, but my parents were willing to take out loans for me and we also opened an account where private individuals could [ ] make donations – I managed to raise a lot of money there. My friends also supported me by contributing whatever they could.

At the WIMUN your job was to ensure that your committee reached a consensus. Would you say that you’re a great negotiator and what do you think makes a great negotiator?

I think I’m a great listener. I can tell you what makes a bad negotiator – someone who doesn’t want to listen to anyone else’s view and [ ] just wants to focus on their view, which they consider to be the best thing since sliced bread. Although I’m stubborn, I think the greatest gift I possess is my ability to listen. It allows me to see other people’s points of view. That’s something I tried to pass down to the other delegates while I was there.

The topic you discussed at the WIMUN was Violence and Harassment against Men & Women in the Workplace. What did you identify as the causes?

We didn’t discuss the causes of violence and harassment – we looked at who is most likely to fall victim to harassment and how you can remedy it and stop it from happening. We also looked at what you can do once it has happened.

We had people representing the government, workers and employers (which is different from other UN sittings where one would usually only see representatives from the government) all in one room to discuss the topic and come up with a solution. The debate was predominantly centred around the question of who is most likely to fall victim and the protection they should be afforded. It was easy to agree that women are vulnerable, but when it came to men, the discussion required specificity, for example, ‘men in the LGBTQ+ community’.

Were there any solutions that came out of the discussion?

We came up with a number of solutions. The ones I remember at the moment are: to have hotlines where people can report an incident anonymously, clear legislation that protects people should be introduced and there should be campaigns to educate people on what it means to be harassed or violated [ ] because some people don’t know what harassment is.

What are Wandile’s plans for the future?

My short-term goal is to send a delegate to New York in January [ ] next year. There’ll be another WIMUN and I hope that I can go back with a delegate that I have passed down the knowledge I gained through my experience to. Something interesting about the WIMUN is that it was the first time the United Nations simulated the International Labour Committee, which is a committee that has been established for about one hundred years already. History will show my name amongst the first participants in this venture [ ] which is something to be proud of, but I want to expose more people to the WIMUN. Career wise, I am not completely sure, but I’d like to work in the UN and represent my country in the Human Rights Council. 

How do you think your experience at the WIMUN will help you and the community?

The reason I went to the WIMUN in the first place was because I saw that South Africa has a non-permanent seat in the Security Council and we’re calling for a permanent seat. This to me, meant that we’re taking on more responsibility [ ] as a country, in the international community. I, therefore, felt that I needed to equip myself, others (by sending a delegate) and ultimately the country so that when South Africa takes on these new roles, we have the necessary capable people in roles of influence.

Mine is not to uplift my immediate community – mine is to uplift the country. For me, this is about South Africa and its role in the international community. So, I want to capacitate myself and others to help our country.

Fast Facts;

Favourite Food: Burger & chips

Favourite Sport: Football

Inspiration: Ban Ki-Moon, Barack Hussien Obama & Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

Star Sign: Cancer

Quote: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” – Eleanor Roosevelt

 

Deaf Ears or Closed Ears: On-Campus Rape Incident (Again)

This one hits close to home. I cannot even remember the number of rape protests I’ve attended at Nelson Mandela University (NMU) with the cry for one thing which is protection of my female body. I’ve been here since 2016, marching since 2016, but when has NMU ever prioritized women’s safety?

All we ever get is a correspondence talking about how the matter is “receiving attention” and that of how awareness in the form of initiatives continue to run to combat the matter. How is it that for 3 years we have been talking regularly, normalising a dark side to university life, walking over issues of rape and continuing with life after the momentum that came with a hashtag and a march has died?

It is obvious that the security at our residences is under-equipped to deal with the repeated accounts of rape experienced by students. The initiatives and campaigns that were launched for such purposes are clearly out of the question. So, what must a student do now? How do we stop the rape cycle in our own safe spaces? A place that is intended primarily for privacy and habitation?

A student has been raped in her own room by another student of the same university, and now as we shut down the University and beg once again for protection, the student will be the one who must bump into their rapist at a test venue or at the gym, while investigations are pending right?

Rape is a real thing, as real as the way a victim is treated afterwards.

Stop brushing this off until the next one happens, stop keeping us silent by giving empty promises simply because of our vulnerability. Something has really got to be done.

Enough has been enough, we are exhausted.

Are our cries not being heard simply because of our communication, or are our cries just being blatantly ignored?

Image by Tembelihle Menziwa

First Annual Nelson Mandela Convention for Youth Develoment Launched

MadibazNews Madibaz News

The waves of change in South African society and the higher education sector in recent years have necessitated deep reflection and introspection on the content and pace of transformation. Young people have been key participants and contributors to conversations around the deepening of transformation in the country and sector, as witnessed during the campaigns for access, transformation and decolonisation in the last few years.

In a concerted bid to elevate and make the youth voice a more prominent contributor to policy, Nelson Mandela University is launching the Annual Nelson Mandela Convention for Youth Development, spearheaded by the Student Governance and Development directorate under the Dean of Students.

The convention, which will take place over three days (30 July – 1 August) under the theme Living in the Age and Hope of Madiba, will zoom in on issues relating to education, leadership, employability, entrepreneurship and health and wellness. Dean of Students Luthando Jack says: “Young people in their various forms of diversity constitute an important stratum in our society and are the future leaders and inheritors of our country. Nelson Mandela University believed that there is need for a sustained focus and discourse on the needs, challenges, aspirations and visions of young people.”

This, he adds, through facilitating generational and intergenerational dialogues on Nelson Mandela and youth development, and generating and propagating ideas and knowledge for youth development through mobilizing and activating young people to be the centre of this enterprise.

The convention bodes well with the University’s belief that “higher education plays a major role in the development of a vibrant society and is key to delivering the knowledge requirements for development that will enhance the quality of life for all citizens”.

The University set itself a compelling vision of becoming a dynamic, African university recognised for … read more

A Recap of the Madibaz Radio Men’s Forum

On the 11th of August, the Madibaz Radio team hosted a Men’s Forum. The event saw the likes of Siya Beyile, Phiwe “Pastor” Nozewu, Lex “Dr Smile” Leo and Kojo Baffoe descend upon the shores of the windy city, on a sleepy Saturday afternoon.

I know right? A men’s forum…in women’s month? Counterintuitive much?

Actually, it is quite the contrary.

While insights were gleaned during the first half of the event, as the distinguished guests weighed in on their careers and respective journeys. Baffoe advised, “Take competition out of it,” when considering success. Leo said, for him a career is a “natural progression of what he loves to do.”

The main thrust of the affair was its second half, which considered the role women played in each of their trajectories. Beyile recounted a harrowing tale of domestic abuse and expressed admiration for his mother’s strength, especially her overcoming the ordeal and coming to forgive his father all in the name of healing. The footprint of women is also evident in his company, The Threaded Man, where the CEO is a black woman, as well as its general staff demographic.

Nozewu spoke about the impact that his mother and grandmother had on his parenting, allowing him to be more of a ‘mother’ to his own children.

To witness prominent men throw off their cool and speak honestly, about their careers, issues of gender, violence and the women in their lives was truly remarkable. Especially in an age, where masculine culture, as advocated by ‘lad mags’, depict a detached mode of manhood and success, determined by acquisition rather than being.

With this event Madibaz Radio subtly subverted norms, by making a space seen as designated for men, an intersectional space of engagement. A much needed balm after the tenseness of this year.

GENDER GAP IN HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS

Although we are slowly advancing towards a more equitable platform, in terms of gender equality in the “working world”, it could be argued that the current pace is not fast enough.

Despite constituting a substantial portion of employees within the higher education sector, women are still occupying the most menial jobs. Some attribute this discrepancy to the power gap in such environments where women feel intimidated to apply for management jobs – due to the fact that their male counterparts often get chosen over them.

In 2013, it was found that the number of educated women employed was 10% lower than their male counterparts with the same level of education. In terms of earnings, females earned only 82% of what their male counterparts earned, albeit having the same level of qualification.

What these figures indicate is that, on average, females expect to be remunerated at a lower rate or lose a job opportunity to their male counterparts even though their qualifications are not differentiated at the margin.

We are very privileged to be a part of the educated subset of the African youth who are tech-savvy and able to access a lot of information, such as these statistics.

The only evident message here is what more information would it take in order for young people to rise up and solve such pertinent issues within our immediate societal contexts – which will not only affect our generation but also the future generations to come.

Nelson Mandela University Choir Wows

After a memorable “From Africa to Asia” farewell concert held on 16 May 2017, the Nelson Mandela University Choir attended the 2017 “Heart of Chorus” Shanghai International Choral Festival, in Shanghai and Nanjing.

Being one of five choirs from across the world to receive an invitation, and serving as the official representatives of Africa, is of no surprise. Established on the eve of the South African democracy, 1994, the Nelson Mandela University Choir was not only South Africa’s first multicultural university choir. It has also managed to maintain a unique reputation for its innovation and excellence in the presentation of both Western and African music for over twenty-two years.

Since its inception, the choir has served as a beacon of hope, change and reconciliation across the world through their music and dance, imparting an important and powerful message for a non-racial society.

As a result of this, the Nelson Mandela University Choir has grown to become both a national and international treasure, by participating in over eleven international tours and making history at the 2009 International Choral Competition in Spittal-an-der-Drau, Austria where they received the first standing ovation in the competitions history.

Other achievements include representing the African continent at various global events. The recent invitation to perform at the Shanghai International Choral Festival constitutes the choirs seventh invitation to an international festival in the last ten years, and their fourth invitation to China.

The festival and China tour took place from 18 to 30 May 2017, where they performed amongst choirs from Germany, the Philippines, Russia, Thailand, as well as various other prestigious choirs from across China.

Despite much of the funds being provided by the Shanghai International Festival, the choir’s ability to participate in the tour remained frustrated by a lack of funding, due to it no longer being financially supported by the institution. Due to this, prior to their departure, the choir undertook a donation campaign to help alleviate the burden upon their members.

HUMANS NEED NOT APPLY

Before there was automation, humans used to have to hunt to survive. But, humans are lazy, so we started developing machines to do jobs for us. As time progressed and we evolved, our job-doing machines evolved with us.

Jobs are now being taken over by machines much faster than they were in the past, but will innovation save us again? While new information age industries are booming, they are creating fewer and fewer new jobs.

A massive company in 1979 employed more than 800 000 workers and made about 11 billion – in 2012, Google made 14 billion while employing only 58 000 people.

Human progress is based in the division of labour. As we advanced, jobs became more and more specialized. Machines were created to do narrowly defined and predictable tasks, so humans were considered safe in some jobs that were more complicated.

However, if one looks at complex jobs hard enough, they turn into a bunch of narrowly defined and predictable tasks one after another. Because of that, there will be no further room for specialization.

A key example of this is Baxter – Baxter has his own sight and can learn what someone wants him to do. Baxter is trained by demonstration using existing workers, cutting on time and costs by not having to be programmed for different jobs. Baxter is seen as a general-purpose robot and he costs less than the annual salary of a human worker.

This all leads to machines taking over more and more jobs, and humans being able to find fewer and fewer jobs. Our economies are based on the premise that people consume, but if fewer and fewer people have decent work, who will be doing all the consuming?