Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Year of the Vuvuzela, Phillip & A Busy Political Zoo

Tshepo Tshabalala

The snnual university protest march at the beginning
of the year scared away a few first year students
 as it turned violent with police and extra security personnesl
being called to assist .

It was a year of great achievements, all sorts of animals prowling the political scene, attempts to muzzle the media, striking public servants and Phillip. Nobody has met Phillip but the word on the street says he is on his way to Brazil after his success in South Africa. Oh, and so came 2010 to end after the final whistle of the FIFA world cup saw Spain winning the tournament.

 At the Tshwane University of Technology it was an even more eventful year with an expected student strike right at the beginning of the year. Journalism students were not making it easy in the Soshanguve campus as many of them came with their Model C demands. It was clear that some were scared and fearful and the disruptions saw the journalism department lose at least two students but the rest of them eventually became accustomed to TUT’s ‘traditions’. Those who left were soon to find out that protest marches happen at almost all major universities in the country and the grass is not always greener on the other side.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Celebrating An African Christmas

Surfing in Durban two days before Christmas.
 Christmas is a time of year when many would listen to Boney M in the past and learn every Christmas Carol there is because is just seemed normal. As I grow up I realise that certain things we did as kids matter less and our parents don’t encourage Boney M sing alongs anymore.
I have been reading people’s facebook status updates and have realised that many have been drinking since the beginning of the festive season. Some say they will be in Durban and will be mixing their favourite alcoholic drinks with sea water.
I just wonder whether the true meaning of Christmas still exists in young people who are in their twenties. I wonder whether they ever spare a moment for “Mary’s Boy Child” or whether they have given all that up.
Then again maybe this is what the festive season should be like in a country like ours with people who are from many different religions. The Shembe, Muslims, Hindu and Rastafarians don’t believe in Christ the way Christians do so the fuss about Christmas is really unfair to them. Their holy days are also not as valued as Christmas holy days.
Christmas images we grew up seeing as children are also not the true reflection of the African continent. We never get snow on Christmas here. In fact temperatures are likely to be above 30 degrees Celsius with unbearable humidity to accompany it. The rain might come in the afternoon but it will hardly take the heat away.
Everyone does get in a celebratory mood, it’s just not the same celebratory mood that the Americans have fed us through their multi-million dollar film industry. So I say let’s ignore those messages about strange foreign trees and weather temperatures we are not used to and define our own Christmas as Africans - the one of church, the sun and the beach.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cold Showers, Inadequate Internet Access & Poor Library Facilties Empower People

Eric Mkhunjulwa

TUT empowers in the lecture hall
But residence shower facilities are
not the best.
My first year at the Tshwane University of Technology has ended and I believe that this university really does empower people as it says it does. I have learnt that my department, the journalism department, is one of the best in the country and the United Nations has named it one of the four journalism schools with potential for excellence. The other potential centres of excellence are Rhodes, Stellenbosch and the Walter Sisulu University.

Some people choose to study at TUT because of the motto, “We empower people!” On the whole the university does live up to these words, but there are places that lack in a big way.

As a university they focus strategically on developing the human resources of South Africa to address the country’s labour market needs. They remain in touch with the needs of its immediate environment and the surrounding community. This is through the university’s formal and informal community engagements namely work-integrated learning and partnerships with numerous community-outreach activities respectively.

Honestly speaking (or writing, if you wish), this institution gives many opportunities of empowerment. No matter how much of a “houtkop” or “numb skull” you were told (or reminded) you were back in high school, this place will push you to get up and make things happen for yourself or watch as things happen for others.

If you are (or were) doing the latter, it means you failed to hear professor Errol Tyobeka’s advice when he said “Those who join us for the first time - my advice for you is to immerse yourself in your studies and in student life in general, soon you will find your place in the TUT family,” and surely you have to admit you have a problem.

In published brochures, posters and advertisements and in each and every faculty prospectus you see these beautiful pictures and clips of this multicultural institution, a perfect place!

Although some may argue with me, I am of the opinion that the university failed us as its students. Despite waking up in the morning to have a cold shower before going to a lecture, the library facility in the Soshanguve North campus is small and less functional than the more superior Pretoria West campus. There are limited books to use as references in assignments. You may find that the books you are looking for are at a different campus which is kilometres away from Soshanguve.

The internet centre facilities are not enough to accommodate every student registered with the institution and the internet is not always available.

But still, the university still strives to achieve its quest in EMPOWERING PEOPLE and ITS STUDENTS. Again, it’s still producing graduates who are equipped with necessary skills needed in the labour market.
Whether positive or negative, circumstances empower people to do something good with their lives. It is unfortunate though that as students we expect people to do things for us and we tend to forget that it is us who should seize every opportunity. I am expecting a student strike at the beginning of 2011 and I believe it should be about poor library facilities.