Nelson Mandela partnership

by Ioanna Haritos

In honour of the 30th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, Nelson Mandela University and the Nelson Mandela Foundation have partnered together to further forward Madiba’s legacy.

On 3rd February 2020, university vice-chancellor Prof Sibongile Muthwa and foundation chief executive Sello Hatang signed a memorandum of understanding in the areas of social justice advocacy, human rights activities, and scholarship and research.

“The foundation and the university are both cognisant of the great responsibility associated with carrying the name of Nelson Mandela,” Muthwa stated at the signing ceremony held at the Mandela bench on South Campus. The collaboration was a “match made in heaven”.

The university and foundation’s shared vision of helping to create an equal, just society has given rise to a number of projects aiming to make a meaningful impact on society.

The Transdisciplinary Institute for Mandela Studies (TIMS), a joint project between the University, Foundation and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) was launched last year, which uses Mandela as a lens through which one can view societal challenges and generate workable solutions.

Another project is the Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity (AFRE), which is a partnership between the Foundation and Columbia University, in New York City. Mandela University will assist with developing curriculum content for the fellowship programme.

The Foundation, in collaboration with the non-profit organisation Habitat for Humanity, is also looking into working with the University’s Department of Human Settlements on affordable community housing.

Words: 239


photo: NMU photo gallery on student portal

Happy Human Rights Day!

Who were 69 people that changed South Africa?

For this years Human Rights Day article, we will look at its history, its influence or impact and how we can celebrate it.

For the past years, South Africa as a nation has celebrated the 21st of March as Human Rights Day. However, this honorary public holiday stems back to 59 years ago at the police station in the South African Township of Sharpeville in Transvaal (today part of Gauteng).

Human Rights are recognized and enforced in all countries all over the world. There was a universal declaration of Human Rights after the Second World war on the 10th of December 1948 by the UN General Assembly. What did this mean for South Africa?

At this time, the apartheid system which was a policy of strict racial segregation was just introduced. Did this policy align with the Declaration of Human Rights?

To further answer this question, lets look at what exactly Human Rights are and how they influenced the Sharpeville Massacre.

“Right to life”

A simple and yet a demanding sentence.

Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.

The 1948 universal rights based them humanity, freedom, justice and peace. In South Africa, they are entrenched in the Bill of Rights in Chapter 2 of the Constitution and they include the right to life, equality and human dignity.

The 7000 protestors

Imagine living in a society where failure to carry a little book detailing your name and origin would result to your arrest.

This internal passport resulted from the Pass laws that entitled police at any time to demand that Africans show them a properly endorsed document or face arrest which limited their freedom of movement.

On the 21st of March 1960, 7000 protesters peacefully demonstrated outside the police station against this passbook. The police later started shooting killing 69 people and injuring 180 others. Most of the injured people later died, suffered from paralysis and obtained major injuries.

“I survived by lying flat on the ground…”

“We can forgive, but we can not forget”

This event is regarded as one of the most triggering events in South Africa because it showed the world the extent apartheid had on its citizens. The lack of basic rights such as freedom of movement or speech and the non-existent relationship between the police and the people.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) regards the 21st of March as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The Sharpeville demonstration was influenced by women in 1956 who protested against the racist Pass laws, when 20 000 women marched to the Union Building in Pretoria, singing “wathint’ abafazi, wathint’ imbokodo meaning “you strike a woman, you strike a rock”.

How you can celebrate today

Considering the recent self-quarantine measures to control the spread of COVID-19, here are some things you can do today.

  • Research more about Human Rights Day and how it has shaped South Africa and the rest of the world
  • Educate someone about the rights they have
  • Learn about the rights not recognized or limited in other countries
  • Learn about your family’s history

It is important to note that Human Rights Day is not only about the Sharpeville Massacre, it is about reflecting on our rights, protecting them from violation irrespective of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and to remind each other that they apply to everyone citizen or not.

Its also to remind us to remain vigilant and report abuse and cruelty, such as human trafficking, child labour, forced labour and violence against women, children, and the aged.

To conclude, Human Rights Day is one of the most important days in South Africa. The 21st of March made history and encouraged our independence which has brough us where we are today. Remember to reflect on your rights and learn more about them.

Wishing you a happy Human Rights Day from MadibazNews!

Can love be blind?

Is it possible to fall in love with someone without seeing what they look like?

To conclude the month of love, we thought we would tackle a controversial and often talked about topic. The word “love” on its own calls for widespread debate. Others argue of its existence and most especially the significance of Valentines Day while to others, it is everything.

                            Physical attraction + emotional connection = Love

Believed to be the love equation, it has been debated as to whether physical attraction contributes anything at all. A new Netflix series titled “Love Is Blind” attempts to answer the question with an experiment that pairs different people who have never seen each other in separate “pods” to establish an emotional connection. The motive? to see if you can propose to someone you have never met before.

 A little spoiler, five days down the line and they were already two proposals. You might argue that five days is to little to decide who you’d like to spend the rest of your life with especially with the modern day “three year dating” rule, but these people seemed genuinely convinced that they were ready.

Meeting your fiancée for the very first time

The rules of the show are that you and your fiancé/ fiancée meet for the very first time a day after the proposal. Luckily, most if not all of them were also physically attracted to their partners. However, they were still asked if their partners physical appearance had at all changed their feelings for them. To which most of them said no.

Let’s take a deeper look. What is an emotional connection?

According to Everyday Health, an emotional connection s a bundle of subjective feelings that come together to create a bond between two people. The word emotional means to arouse strong feelings.

Other studies have shown that in order to have an emotional connection people must be willing to become vulnerable with each other. This vulnerability builds trust which then forms a strong bond.

Susan Johnson and Hara Estroff Marano, authors of the article “In the Name of Love” (Psychology Today Magazine, March 1994), “We fall in love when a strong attachment bond is formed. We stay in love by maintaining the bond.”

The show is set up to encourage this bond by the using the pods so that the pairs do not see each other. It is believed that people are most vulnerable to a stranger. Someone they can’t see. No facial expressions to discourage them, no fear that they might judge them.

Astrology and emotional connection

Most people believe that their star signs affect their love life. Phases like “Scorpios can not date Leo`s” or that “if you find a Libra then he is a keeper” how true could these be?

Zodiac signs have dominated the world for centuries to the point where some people start off their greeting by saying “What star sign are you?”

They are also believed to influence the emotional bond because since zodiac signs are known to tell peoples personalities, most people believe that they can only get along with certain traits and personalities and so the zodiac signs are a great way to tell.

But again, it depends with the type of people. What about physical attraction?

You have seen movie scenes where a man approaches a woman with pretty blond hair in a coffee shop, orders her a cappuccino, asks her on a date and months later they are in love, living together with their dog Bruce. Well, does that really happen in real life?

“I fell in love with her from the first moment i saw her”

“it was love at first sight”

Love at first sight is a tricky subject

It could mean either that; 1) the persons personality appearance e.g. the way they talked

                               2) Their actual physical features e.g. blond hair, blue eyes

Other people genuinely have a certain type of people they are attracted to first. Sometimes, they don’t even notice the coloration with their past lovers.

In the Netflix show, most couples are attracted to their lovers. However, it has outlined that they are certain factors that play a huge role with physical attraction. Especially if there is an age difference or race.

Research has shown that women are more likely not to be attracted to men younger than them

Internet dating sites like Tinder or Cupid match also work with physical attraction. You swipe according to a person’s profile picture. Internet dating has dominated the market. While other sites encourage meeting and first dates, others are there for people who would like to have long distance relations. The same concept, loving someone you have never met.

To go back to our first question, can you love someone without ever meeting them? The answer is it depends. It depends with the personalities and the people involved. Phases like “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder” which mean beauty doesn’t exist on its own but is created by observers has been used to back up the theory that you can indeed love someone you have never met.

 Let’s look back at our equation

Physical attraction + emotional connection = Love

What do you think?

To conclude, there are various factors which play a role in both the emotional connection and the physical attraction. But all in all, love is different with every single person. They are people who have fallen in love with animals and they believe its genuine. While to others it sounds like pure insanity. In the show, nearly all the couples get married. So maybe physical attraction doesn’t always play a role after all.

LOVE like a bee

What is love?

The Oxford dictionary defines love as: to adore, to be fond of and to care.

In yoga, it has been established that every human being craves love. It started from the time we were babies, we craved love from our parents. We wanted them all to ourselves, but we eventually realized that they also loved other people (e.g. our siblings). So, some of us moved on to our grandparents where we found out it was the same story (if not worse). We started to go to school and met a teacher that showed us love. Yet again we thought this teacher only loved us but when we looked around, the teacher gave the same care to all the other kids (maybe even more love to other kids). We found a best friend who would only love us but that best friend had other people to spend special time with, in the name of love. Then we get married and become “ONE” with our partner. “This is it” we think, only to find out then, yet again that our partner loves and cares for other people more than just us. Then where can we find a love that will fulfill us?

Well, yogis believe that we must have an attitude of giving love without expecting any of it back. They say the best place to find love that is fulfilling is within. It’s easier said than done really. However, through meditation it can be done. During the yoga lesson, we started to meditate upon love. We were told to hum like a bumble bee, to that I wondered what is so special about a bee? Thinking about bees I wondered why we consider “honey” to be the sweetest thing to call a loved one. Is it a random word because honey is naturally sweet? Alas, the thought of this article was born. Where we discover what love is, from a Honeybee’s point of view.

Did you know? African bees are aggressive and resistant to viruses and technological threats (i.e Wi-Fi) as compared to their commercial counterpart bees from other continents.

The Honeybee

The honeybee is one of the most important pollinators on the planet. It pollinates about ¾ of all the vegetables, fruits and nuts that we eat (considering that there are also other pollinating insects and animals). In America it pollinates about 1/3 of all their food, with a revenue of $15 billion dollars a year. Without honeybees there would be no fruits like blueberries, mangoes, pears and apples. Due to population increase and globalization we demand more food, meaning we demand more bees to perform a natural risk on a very unnatural scale. They simply cannot handle.

To make things worse, technology also interferes with the bee ecosystem. Our Wi-Fi and other technological frequencies harm the honeybees. Without honeybees, human beings will suffer from food shortage and this will contribute heavily to the possibility of human extinction. Unfortunately, there are no substitutes pollinators for the honeybee.

There is a small town in China called Sichuan where all the bees died due to pesticide abuse. The small town pollinates its own fruits, pears being the common fruit. There is so much work that goes into this; It is said that an individual pollinates 30 tress a day (with hundreds of flowers) while a single beehive pollinates 3 million flowers a day. If this was to happen to a country like America it would cost them $90 million a year.

Why Love like a bee?

The focus in this article is on honeybees and their signature product, which is honey. Honey never spoils due to its long shelf life. Honey as a unique and special product produced by bees goes through a long process. It takes a lot of teamwork, organisation and hard work to make honey.

1 pound of honey requires over 10,00 bees that fly around the world three times (more than 75 000 miles) pollinating 8 million flowers.

What’s teamwork without love in the midst of it all? To make honey, every honeybee has to play their part. There is a certain level of trust and expectation among bees in making the honey. However, the most significant act of love as we know, is self-sacrifice. The bee is no stranger to this form of love. The bee is always ready to protect its beehive with the attack of a suicidal sting. How heroic.

So, I ask the question; are we willing to love like a bee? Where we play our part in a team/family, working to create something as sweet as honey? And most of all are we willing to put others first to protect our beehive?

In simple statement, are we willing to give out love without expecting it in return but with the hope that someone out there would do the same for us? Do we have someone or something that we’re ready to die for?

Why the future is female

The 21st century has seen a massive increase in activism and movements. The messages that these groups aim to spread have been given platforms to achieve a wider reach. We are talking about movements like #Blacklivesmatter, #loveislove, #metoo, the list goes on but the focus on this article is on #TheFutureIsFemale. In this short article, we will breakdown the three reasons why the #TheFutureIsFemale exists.

  1. Smartphones

Ever since the telegram, communication evolved immensely. From landlines to mobile phones to smartphones. Smartphones were considered “Smart” because they could multitask. The ability to play music, play games and then pause to reply to a text message. The game started to change (see what I did there).

With Smartphones evolving and getting better and better, so did the apps. The advancements of the apps started to trigger a new way of living. Now people are expected to multitask and do more than before. You can’t just be a traditional marketer anymore, now you must be good at social media, photo and videography editing and graphic design. Yet again the list goes on. [For homework, I would like you to look at the job requirements of a specific position e.g. Marketing assistant, secretary, teacher. Compare today’s requirements for the job and the requirements for the same job 10-15 years ago. You will get a better understanding.]

However, with multitasking being the keyword. It has been proven that females are better at multitasking than their male counterparts, making them well equipped for the future.

2. Speech

When you look around our society today it’s more women that are vocal. I look among my peers and it’s the females that are more vocal. More females have YouTube channels and are active on their social media platforms. More females are fighting for a cause (it’s not just feminism). The males are barely making ripples, I wonder why they are so silent. Don’t they know what silence does?

With my female peers voicing out opinions now, regardless of how right or wrong, their opinions are, they are learning to speak. In five years, they will be better at it as compared to the ‘silent’ male counterparts.

3. Agreeableness

T. A., Livingston, B. A., & Hurst, C. (2012). Do Nice Guys—and <d Gals—Really Finish Last? The Joint Effects of Sex and Agreeableness on Income. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(2), 390-407.

Statistics show that those who score low in agreeableness tend to rise the ladder more as compared to those that score high in agreeableness. Men dominate in the workplace because they tend to score low in agreeableness as compared to their female counterparts that tend to score high in agreeableness. However, the leadership topic has been under close investigation. We need more leaders than mere mangers. The world is lacking in leaders. It has been proven that the most effective leaders score high in agreeableness. As we look for more effective leaders, yet again it is the females that will be better suited to lead the future (Interesting huh?)

In conclusion, when I say “The future is female”, I do not mean it literally but rather the personalities of women have started to prove to be of more value than the old school personality traits that were more male-dominated. I think it is recommended that we learn the skills of both genders and find the best mix. For someone who scores high in agreeableness, you will lose out in negotiations but provide a more motivated and effective environment for your employees or followers. For someone who is not good at multitasking, you will deliver excellent work because of the focus but you will struggle in the modern world that demands a person to be able to multitask.

That is my take on why the future is female. What do you think?

MMS-Meals allowances

By Ntsondwa Asithandile

In the midst of other students not receiving their allowances at all, the non-end bickering of students continues. In all respect their arguments are valid but as always not all of them agree on the same thing.

Apologies reader if I lost you there, allow me to answer the burning question of what this article is about. For starters, Meal Management System (MMS) allowance is the allowance allocated to NSFAS funded students staying on-campus. The allowance is loaded on their student card and can only be used on food chains affiliated with the institution (i.e. Rendezvous, North and South Cafeteria and Flava’s).

On-campus students are allocated this money because they receive R790 from NSFAS that is loaded on their intellicards which is a separate and remotely activated card offered by NSFAS through financial aid. Different from on-campus students, the oppidani students (off-campus students) receive R1500 on their intellicards without the MMS allowance.

Students staying on campus have complained about the different allowance allocations and also argue against the limitations of MMS. On-campus students say that they want to also receive the allowances like oppidani students and not be limited to on-campus food suppliers. Some of the reasons that students have presented is that, the queues are rather long and exasperating. Additionally, the students spoke about the poor quality of food at these cafeterias they are limited to.

However, Students that do not mind the MMS allowance argue that this way of receiving allowances helps them to save money from buying groceries and saves them time from cooking after a long day of classes.

Obviously, there is no right or wrong opinion but hopefully either a compromise can be reached amongst the students. Alternatively, the students can be given the option to choose between being treated as an off-campus students or rather keep the MMS allowances.

It’s that day of the year again …

Is Valentine’s Day overrated?

For decades, the 14th of February has been celebrated as the famous Valentine’s Day. Did you know that Valentine’s Day is the second-largest card giving day after Christmas? Linked to the themes of love, cupid and chocolate, it is still argued by a minority to be just a normal day. But wait, what is Valentine’s Day?

There are two bizarre stories about the origination of Valentine’s Day. The first is about Lupercalia which was a rowdy Roman festival on February 15th where men stripped naked and spanked young spinsters to increase their fertility. And then, of course, the more believable story about St Valentine who defiled Emperor Claudius’s ban on marriage by marrying young couples resulting in his execution on the famous date.

What about Cupid?

According to the Romans, Cupid is the son of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, depicted with bows and arrows to pierce hearts and cast a spell of love. And ironically, Venus’s favorite flower is the red rose.

People love love. The 14th of February is celebrated in all parts of the world. Makeup, chocolate, jewelry and other brands use this day to market their red and love themed products generating over triple of their profits.

“It’s just a normal day”

A lot of people question why the death of St Valentine should even be celebrated. They believe that both ethically and religiously celebrating St Valentine is wrong and immoral. Others, however, view Valentine’s day to be a moneymaking strategy for companies. Over 35 million heart-shaped chocolates are sold in America each year on Valentine’s Day.

To those that see it as a normal day, they believe that you do not need a specific day to show your loved ones love and affection. Everyday love and affection are seen as key aspects to any successful relationship, thus the 14th of February does not match this theory. It therefore creates financial pressure to match both the society and the partner’s expectation for this one day.

Other studies have shown that women view Valentine’s Day as more important than men.

Others argue that if it so important, then why is it not a public holiday?

The Social media effect

According to research, there is a direct link between social media influence and Valentine’s Day. Over 2.7 billion people in the world have access to social media. Social media is known to influence and impact people’s mindsets both positively and negatively. So, if you adore Valentine’s Day, there is a 40% chance that social media somehow influenced you.

Challenges like “shoot your shot”, which encourages people to have confidence and to stop waiting on a miracle, have all originated from social media platforms e.g. Twitter.

To conclude, everyone has different views about this day. Some see it as a normal day while others treasure it as more special. To go back to our first question on whether Valentine’s Day is overrated, I think the simple answer is to say everyone indeed has different views and it is an argument often lost.

But whatever your view may be, we hope you enjoy it.

Be sure to watch the Valentines Day special on NMU campus crush

A Chat with SA Top 100 Student, Thandokazi Magopheni

Nelson Mandela University MadibazNews

Popularly known as South Africa’s Top 100, the DHL GradStar Awards is a programme that annually recognises the top 100 university students across all varsities in South Africa based on academics, leadership qualities and readiness for the workplace.

This year, two students from Nelson Mandela University, Bwanika Lawrence Lwanga and Thandokazi Magopheni, made it to the Top 100 list and the MadibazNews blog was more than excited to sit and have a chat with them.

To dream BIG! That should I not succeed, to not give up. To take the failure as a lesson and an opportunity to improve and try again…

… explains Thandokazi Magopheni, fourth-year BCom Rationum Economics & Business Management student when speaking on the most important things she learnt from being a part of the GradStar programme. She works at Madibaz Radio, is a tutor and a food blogger so we decided to speak to her about balancing academics with extra-curricular activities, her dreams of changing the world and her Port Elizabeth restaurant recommendations. She’s goals guys! Enjoy!!

Hey Thando, congratulations on making the GradStar Top 100 list. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi Emi, thank you for the congratulatory message. My name is Thandokazi Babalwa Magopheni. Thandokazi means greatest love while Babalwa means beautiful blessing. I go by Thando which is my first and probably official nickname. Plus, it’s quicker to say. I was born and raised here in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape and went to Alexander Road High School in Newton Park. I’m in my fourth-year, currently studying towards a BCom Rationum Economics & Business Management. Well, since 2016, it has been called the Bachelor of Accounting Sciences in Economics & Business Management.

Nelson Mandela University MadibazNews Madibaz News Newspaper
Thando Magopheni with Madibaz Radio: doing an activation at 2nd Avenue Campus

Why did you choose your course and why did you choose to come to Nelson Mandela University?

I guess I was extra 😂😂 because I could have gone for the BCom Accounting for CAs degree and finished one year earlier (I would be doing Honours now). But I also wanted something that gave me a challenge and would broaden my career horizons/opportunities to other branches as well.

I chose Nelson Mandela University because it was close to home. More importantly, it is the best Accounting university in the country. Well it was. It dropped allegedly – Fees Mus Fall happened 😂😂.

On why you chose to get your degree, you say that you wanted something that gave you a challenge. What is a challenge to you?

A challenge to me is something new and difficult for me to do. But with great determination and effort, it will also help me as it is an opportunity for me to grow and learn the new capabilities that I may have gained from doing it.

Have there been moments where you wish you chose another degree?

Not really but sometimes, I do wish I was a flight attendant because all I want to do is travel around the world and meet new people. However, my weight constrained me so here I am studying accounting. I’m quite passionate about accounting to be honest and it will give me job security and the opportunity to travel.

What have been the most challenging academic and general school life situations thus far? How did you overcome them?

University is academically challenging. I’m pretty sure everyone can say that. For me, it is more of the amount work followed by the content as it always seems impossible to stay on top of it all especially since we are young students coming from a confined social environment such as high school. Also, keeping balance of your social life like spending time with friends and family can be quite challenging. Sometimes you’ve just got to take that breather before everything becomes overwhelming.

Nelson Mandela University MadibazNews Madibaz News Newspaper
Thando Magopheni has been an international students orientation assistant for the past 3 years

When you say, “sometimes you just got to take that breather before everything becomes overwhelming”, what are the essential things you do to take a breather?

I normally explore recipes from magazines or cookbooks that are at home but most times I just binge watch series like NCIS LA, Madam Secretary, Empire, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Two Broke Girls to name a few.

You’re a marketing officer at Madibaz Radio, you tutor Pure maths, Business Studies and Accounting to high school students, you’re an avid bookworm, you volunteer in children’s homes, you’re a full-time student and now a top 100 scholar. What are your secrets to balancing your academics with extra-curricular activities?

To be honest, I’m also not sure what my secret is but I believe it’s because I have a great support system. God first, as always, my mother who is my greatest source of strength and my handful of close friends who are merely there by text or in person when I need them.

Looking back to matric and now, fast forward to 2018, you are one of South Africa’s top 100 graduates. Congratulations once again by the way. What keeps you motivated? What drives you to do what you do?

I am driven by the fact that I want to challenge myself to change the world around me. So, not by making a huge global impact but by taking small steps changing the community around me and inspiring younger people to challenge themselves to change the world around them. You can say it’s a ripple effect of change by inspiration.

You have participated in the Beyond the Classroom (BtC) leadership program and you hold a Duke of Edinburgh gold award of which you were the secretary for the Gold Award Holders’ Port Elizabeth committee. How did your previous leadership positions help become a top 100 scholar?

They have helped me hone the necessary soft skills required at the workplace. The GradStar judges assessed us in terms of soft skills possessed and how work ready and leadership oriented we were amongst other factors.

(Side note, about her response to this next question: Get ready to soak it all in!)

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Thando Magopheni attending a four week Accounting and Business program in the Netherlands

What are the most important things you’ve learnt from the GradStar programme experience?

To dream BIG! That should I not succeed, to not give up. To take the failure as a lesson and an opportunity to improve and try again. Also, to not limit myself to one discipline but also channel others instead of limiting myself to one thing. I mean, the business leaders that spoke to us studied something completely different to what they are doing now which goes to show their versatility.

You dabble in philanthropy by donating to Doctors Without Borders and supporting projects that involve children. You also volunteer at children’s homes and community centers. Given a blank cheque, how would you change the world?

I would like to live by the ethos of Gift of the Givers and MSF. They are exemplary examples of changing the world and providing sustainability.

Since you were born and raised here in Port Elizabeth, and you’ve been learning French since 2017, how do you feel about travelling?

I love travelling! I think I love it not because of the idea of being a tourist but exploring and immersing myself into that country’s culture, languages and people. It is knowing that when I come back home to South Africa that I have changed and have a new part of myself to explore.

(Side note, about her response to this next question: Get a pen and paper and take notes!)

As a food blogger (the lost gourmand on Instagram), where can you recommend us to go eat at here in PE that will never let us down?

There are definitely many places in PE that are unseen hot spots, but it also depends on the kind of person you are. For instance, if you are more of a nightlife person, most of Richmond Hill restaurants may appeal to you such as Asada which is meat oriented, Kindred Kitchen which is vegan, Upstairs or Salt. Although, Salt may have crappy service if you go in the afternoon or evening. Just a disclaimer. And then for a person who enjoys the finer things in life, Two Olives restaurant, The Muse and Ginger restaurant are great places to eat at. Then again, that’s my opinion so it depends on the particular taste you enjoy.

Very much appreciated Thando! Thank you so much for doing the interview.

It’s no problem. Thank you too.


Connect with Thando on Linkedin

A Chat with SA Top 100 Student, Bwanika Lawrence Lwanga

Madibaz News Student Newspaper Nelson Mandela University Port Elizabeth

Popularly known as SA’s Top 100, the DHL GradStar Awards is a programme that annually recognises the top 100 university students across all varsities in South Africa based on academics, leadership qualities and readiness for the workplace.

This year, two students from Nelson Mandela University, Bwanika Lawrence Lwanga and Thandokazi Magopheni, made it to the Top 100 list and MadibazNews was more than excited to sit and have a chat with them.

In everything I have ever applied for, the greatest asset I have had is myself. So, I advise everyone who aspires to be part of such lists like the GradStar Top 100 to be as genuine as they can be. They are looking for you not a replica of someone else who already exists…

… explains Bwanika Lawrence Lwanga when speaking on what students aiming for a Top 100 spot need to do. Lawrence is a third year LLB student who grew up in Komani, and went to Queens College Boys High School in Queenstown, EC. He’s also a black consciousness and Pan-Africanist so we decided to speak to him about his reason behind choosing his degree, his extracurricular activities and overcoming challenges. He’s pretty hilarious and super smart guys! Enjoy!!

Hey Lawrence, tell us about yourself – like your name and what your friends call you.

Hey Emi! Well I have three names; my full name is Lawrence Mkhululi Bwanika. I’m an ethnic mix between a Ugandan father and a Xhosa mother and I guess everyone wanted a shot at naming me. I used to use Lawrence as my name because that’s what my parents called me and stuff. However, I believe that your name needs to have a meaning and I couldn’t derive any meaning from Lawrence, so I started using Bwanika, which means with time comes wisdom or to grow is to know. It’s something I really identify with at the moment because of all the pressure to be and know everything that society puts on you.

The name Bwanika really keeps me grounded to move my own race at my own pace. My friends call me Lays (like the chips, but no relation to the chips). It’s short for Lawrence. Then others call me Chimurenga, which is a name I got when I was housecomm at Xanadu Residence.

Nelson Mandela University MadibazNews
Bwanika Lawrence Lwanga at the 2018 Annual Steve Biko Lecture held at Nelson Mandela University

Alright then, Bwanika it is. So why did you decide to study law?

I chose Law because it is a strong undergraduate qualification to have. That and I got lied to by Suits and The Fixer 🙄. I think an LLB opens many doors and develops a person in many aspects such as critical thinking and writing on a domestic and international front.

I’m drawn to this field because I would like to become an inclusive policymaker. I believe in the inclusivity of Africa. I’d like to use my innovative thinking to be a helping hand in mitigating the causes of global inequality and creating a global community that has frameworks that support lasting solutions and promote working relations that are mutually beneficial to all.

(Side note, about his response to this next question: All I can say is my jaw was agape learning about all he does – I was super amazed that he does all these and as a full-time student.)

And what extracurricular activities are you involved in?

Yho, uhm I do a lot of weird things. At the university I’m part of the Black students Stokvel – a society geared towards creating a more socially responsive Nelson Mandela University environment through political dialogues, events, and engagements with university stakeholders especially for black students, ground staff and academics who have historically been at the receiving end of unfair treatment by institutions.

I’m also a debating coach at the Kingsridge school for girls, I think that’s my favourite thing to do. We are first in the province at junior level and we excel nationally at senior level. Those young people really inspire me and give me a lot of reason to work hard and be an example.

I’m also involved with the Boxer super stores marketing team at their head office. I work with them at their annual boxer youth leadership camp that selects 45 young people from South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho to go to Durban for a week for leadership training – It’s a lot of fun to meet and talk to some remarkably smart young people.

I’m an entrepreneur and am busy working towards launching one of my projects called the Laymxn’s Memoir. I am an Allan Gray Orbis foundation candidate fellow, which has really exposed me to a lot of cool entrepreneurs and given me a lot of opportunities to spread my wings and grow as a young person.

I’m part of the delegation that’s heading to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia next year for the International Youth Leadership Conference which is really cool I guess!

That’s really really really impressive Lawrence! And what do you do for fun?

For fun, I run or hang out with my friends, I live a pretty interesting life and generally a lot of the fun stuff is involved in the work I do and the people I meet when doing my work. Also, bruh I think naps don’t get the recognition they deserve so yah for fun I sleep. Then for a little risk and adventure I sleep when I am supposed to be studying before a test.

Nelson Mandela University MadibazNews
Bwanika Lawrence Lwanga speaking at the 2018 Annual Steve Biko Lecture held at Nelson Mandela University

😂 Bruh, you don’t have to say that twice 😂😂😂😂. Okay, so we know you’re a black consciousness and pan Africanist proponent, can you elaborate on the causes dear to you?

I come from a long line of activists in my family and this has influenced a lot of the work I do and the ideology I carry. Succinctly, what matters most to me is the healing of Africa and the repatriation of indigenous land and life. I believe in movements that aspire to make this manifest and so you will find me all over platforms that speak against racism in all forms, patriarchy in all forms and all forms of inter-sectional manifestations of oppression.

(Side note, about his response to this next question: Powerful!)

Yup! Seeing you in those platforms we have indeed!! With all of these on your plate, what situations have been the most challenging thus far and how have you overcome them?

Uhm, well I’ve faced a lot of challenges in life in general, but I believe many of them have taught me lessons that I’m grateful for. The other challenges have been because of my position as a black person in spaces that have no interest in my well-being.

I struggled to take a positive posture towards my schoolwork for a long time especially from high school into my university career. I used to say I’m street smart until my mentor told me that to be street smart means you’re smart enough to know that grades are important. That conversation did a lot to shape my work ethic and diligence towards my work.

I struggled a lot with the effects of the university space, so before I got on Allan Gray, I really struggled financially. And that’s really a can of worms that affects every other aspect of your life. I’ve been poor for the majority of my life. It’s just that my parents shielded a lot of it from my siblings and me. I don’t come from an affluent family and with only one of my parents employed, I struggled to get by with regards to access to textbooks and food. I couldn’t experience “the big world” when I got to university because many of the things required money I didn’t have.

Going into the fees must fall protests and for a very long time after, I did struggle with a lot of depression and post-protest trauma from the violence that was senselessly metered out against students who just wanted a better life.

To be honest dealing with these things is a mission you know. There’s no happy ending sometimes and a lot of our healing takes a realisation that we need to stand together as a people and we need to first deal with our problems (especially black men), on a personal level. Our healing from traumas requires deep work that oftentimes we don’t have the time to do because of the incessant pressure from society and academic commitments.

I am a lucky soul! I survived and now have people who take care of my finances. It’s a big contributor to the depression of many students. I use the luck I have to improve the lives of as many people as I can:

Alongside a few friends I established the Xan-drive Feeding and Wellness Scheme at Xanadu Residence that helps students get access to food and psychological assistance at residence level.

Bwanika Lawrence Lwanga speaking at the Archives Center during the Africa Week Dialogue earlier in 2018

I work a lot with high schools in order to assist students from backgrounds that are underprivileged because of colonialism and apartheid. We work hard to make sure young people especially young women are prepared for university in advance.

We try to source funding and use university students who are on scholarships to mentor and give information as to align the students from a young age to be in a position to finance themselves through university as well as develop a deep sense of self in order to mitigate the initial shock that comes with the violence of University and later, the working world.

I believe many of our problems are structurally engineered through institutions. So oftentimes, you’ll find me running around advocating for better policies.

I overcome a lot of adversity by digging deep and fighting right back hey! I fail a lot more than I succeed. Nobody documents the bad times.

I have an amazing partner and she helps me get through a lot. I have a solid group of friends who keep me inspired. I have the best mentors on earth who help me navigate a lot of the issues I face.

Lastly, I think I try and make sure nobody else goes through the same issues I face. If I have the ability to change something for the better, I take time to do that.

Thank you so much for that. My last question is what advice would you give the Mandela Uni student reading this interview and wanting to become a “Top 100 student” just like you?

Uhm, I think with regards to applying for things such as GradStar I can only give the same advice that was given to me by someone who made it before me which is pretense will break under the pressure when you are not yourself in high-pressure situations. In everything I have ever applied for, the greatest asset I have had is myself. So, I advise everyone who aspires to be part of such lists like the GradStar top 100 to be as genuine as they can be, they are looking for you, not a replica of someone else who already exists.

Very much appreciated Bwanika! Thanks a lot for doing the interview.

It was an absolute pleasure, thank you so much. Keep well and take care.


Connect with Bwanika on Linkedin.

If I Am to Have a Daughter: A Women’s Month Tribute

If I am to have a daughter,
I pray she doesn’t inherit the chains of this world.
I mean I pray she doesn’t inherit the claims of this world.
She doesn’t have to hide behind men’s clothes
To walk down the road
‘Cause then she’d just be another black man
Walking down the road and she’ll know,
She’ll know she might not make it back –
But I guess that’s better than being a black woman walking down the road isn’t it-safe
Has become a privilege even amongst ourselves.

If I am to have a daughter,
I pray she doesn’t inherit the chains of this world.
She doesn’t inherit the claims of this world
‘Cause that’s all man has ever done.
Claimed all that was not his
And chained for all to see.

Image by: Pryncess’s Mind and Emotions