Ms Noxolo Grootboom to Receive a Doctor of Philosophy (honoris causa) at Nelson Mandela University

Ms Noxolo Grootboom (centre) will receive a Doctor of Philosophy (honoris causa) for her invaluable work and contribution to journalism, media, and communication, as well as her upliftment of the linguistic heritage of South Africa.

Born in Cacadu (formerly Lady Frere) in the Eastern Cape, Ms Grootboom moved to Gauteng in 1981, where she took up a course in computers at a Johannesburg-based computer academy. Thereafter, she took up a position as a typist at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) in 1983, seeing this as an opportunity to move into the media space, albeit with no formal journalism background.

She worked her way up to being appointed as a production assistant and received mentoring from fellow journalists. Her love of storytelling and her passion for the isiXhosa language landed her a position as a current affairs producer.

A stand-in stint in the newsroom in 1990, reading a news bulletin, impressed the public broadcaster’s management and she subsequently became an isiXhosa news anchor.

With her unique sense of humour and her inimitable knack for the isiXhosa language, Ms Grootboom represents many things that Nelson Mandela University stands for, including the value of healing society from its brutal wounds, while preserving the intellectual heritage of isiXhosa for families across the nation.

Her public service in South African society to translate stories and capture the mood while teaching younger generations of the content and knowledge preserved in language, makes her one of the few news anchors and storytellers who deserve the opportunity to be honoured by “ukuthweswa isidanga” (graduation) for the excellent work done in service to society for more than three decades.

It is an honour for Nelson Mandela University to confer the degree of Philosophy (honoris causa) on Noxolo Grootboom.

Nursing Science Master’s Student’s Pioneering Research

Seven years after graduating with a Bachelor of Nursing Science at Nelson Mandela University, Bizana-born Xolani Dlamini (30) will be crossing the same stage to receive his Master of Nursing in Advanced Clinical Midwifery and Neonatal Nursing Science.

Xolani is also about to complete his first article for publication, reporting his master’s findings and preparing for his PhD.

His research focused on the birthing process preparedness of first-time mothers in the public obstetric units of the Nelson Mandela Bay Health District (NMBHD). He found no previous similar study and/or literature with a South African context.

Xolani is an accoucheur (male midwife) who is passionate about midwifery care and lectures midwifery nursing sciences and research at Lilitha Nursing College. He started his master’s programme on a part-time basis while working full-time in a busy maternity ward.

“I have not lifted my foot off the peddle since!. It was a four year roller-coaster, having to overcome endless lists of challenges” he says.

These included having to convince ethics committees as a male researcher in a midwifery domain, finances, changing jobs and balancing the work-life-university triangle. And of course the complications of COVID-19.

His study found that first-time mothers were predominantly fearful of their birthing process experience. First-time mothers further expressed receiving poor information from the midwives at the antenatal care clinics, whereas they applauded the help from women who have previously given birth, their families, WhatsApp groups, Facebook groups, the Mom-connect app and YouTube videos.

The study concluded that there should be formal birthing preparation classes, counselling sessions and detailed information-sharing about birthing process strategies such as videos, mannikins (dolls) and posters.

Xolani says research confirms that poor birthing process preparedness could lead to psychological problems and therefore, for his PhD, he hopes to develop strategies to enhance birthing women’s preparation to be comparable to developed countries such as the USA.

Xolani praised his supervisor Professor Sindiwe James who supported him diligently even after she retired and his former Mandela University Midwifery lecturer, Israel Sonti for his assistance.

He also holds Postgraduate Diplomas in Nursing Education (Stellenbosch University) and Health Service Management (North-West University).

His advice to young nurses is to continuously challenge and develop themselves to keep up with the everchanging world and developments.

Music Alumnus Wins Top Theatre Award

South African mezzo-soprano and Mandela Uni Alumnus, Siphokazi Molteno, has won the Best Performance in an Opera (for the second time) at the 57th Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards held recently.

The Award was for her 2020 portrayal of Dorabella in the Mozart opera, Così fan tutte. Siphokazi is currently in her first year of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at The Metropolitan Opera in New York. The Program was created to identify and develop extraordinarily talented young artists in the realm of opera. She was previously a member of the young artist programme at Cape Town Opera, where she recently sang Romeo in Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi and the Third Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute.

In 2020, she won the Rising Star Encouragement Award in the Glyndebourne Opera Cup and Best Female Performance in an Opera in the Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards in South Africa for her 2019 portrayal of Romeo.

She was also a winner of the 2018 Schock Foundation Prize for Singing. After winning the Ana María Martínez Encouragement Award and the Audience Choice Award at the Houston Grand Opera Annual Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers in 2017, she joined the Houston Grand Opera Young Artist Vocal Academy.

On the concert stage, she has performed as a soloist in Haydn’s Nicolai Mass and Mozart’s Coronation Mass at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, and Verdi’s Requiem with the Dar Choral Society in Tanzania.

Siphokazi has been singing for as long as she can remember, having always held the knowledge that it was what she wanted to do. She remembers hearing her first aria and being amazed at what the human voice could achieve. With the support of her family and a high school teacher, she was able to pursue singing as her career.

She completed her Diploma in Music at Nelson Mandela University under voice lecturer, Lionel van Zyl and proceeded to complete her Diploma in Opera Performance under the tutelage of Patrick Tikolo at the University of Cape Town.