The Leisure and Recreation Association of South Africa (LARASA), headed by UKZN academic Mrs Maliga Naidoo, united for its inaugural international congress in Durban earlier this month.

The congress at Durban’s International Convention Centre featured 23 distinguished speakers and prolific scientists from 15 countries. 

The theme, Building Liveable Communities through a collaboration of Recreation, Leisure and Tourism initiatives, highlighted issues and challenges faced in:

Professor Christopher Edginton, Secretary General of the World Leisure Organization in the United States, delivered a keynote address which featured the success of leisure oriented communities globally. He argued that leisure could be one of the major catalysts for social, cultural and economic development.

Further keynote addresses and presentations by international speakers highlighted the importance of encouraging society to get physically active, to focus on youth development and to provide opportunities for all citizens thus reducing the high cost of disease.

Deputy Mayor of Durban, Councillor Nomvuso Shabalala, said living a healthy lifestyle was not emphasised enough in Sout
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The reorganisation of the College of Humanities’ School of Built Environment and Development Studies has created the opportunity to renew its historical ties with the KwaZulu-Natal Institute for Architects (KZNIA) and to identify a new role for joint co-operation between academia and the profession. 

UKZN postgraduate architecture students were invited by the Dean and Head of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies, Professor Thokozani Xaba, to the Young Architects Forum at the KZNIA earlier this month.

The event heralded a fresh start and provided an opportunity for old and new students and professionals to network and consider key issues affecting new graduates and young architects. Enthusiasm for the forum was obvious from the turn-out - 70 students and 30 architects and associates enjoyed the event. A lucky draw for a digital camera added zest to the proceedings.

Discussions focused on current challenges and the students were encouraged to comment on their architectural needs and desires. According to Postgraduate Administrator, Ms Samantha Nipper, the outcomes of the forum discussion illustrated a revived joint partnership with a number of positive outcomes which will enrich the profession and scholarship in the School.

The KZNIA agreed to work closely with UKZN to support the current academic programme by enlisting the services of young professionals and graduate architects to assist with studio work, design projects and dissertations. To advance research development, it was agreed that postgraduate students could submit articles for publication to the Journal of the South African Institute of Architects.

Since one of the key challenges for new graduates is to access employment opportunities, the institute agreed to assist with this and to set up posts which would allow the students to further their studies.  In return, UKZN agreed to send students to careers days and events and to encourage youngsters to study architecture and to join the KZNIA.

Another positive outcome was the KZNIA’s willingness to advertise UKZN on its website and to feature the University on its Facebook pages. 
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Croatia's Professor Kata Mlinaric-Majerski fascinated her audience of Chemistry students and staff during a set of public seminars on the Pietermaritzburg and Westville campuses. 

Majerski of the Department of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry at the Ruder Boškovic Institute in Zagreb, Croatia, was visiting UKZN as a guest of Professor Gert Kruger and Dr Thavi Govender of the GGKM Research Group in the School of Chemistry and Physics.  The interests of this research group span the disciplines of organic synthesis, asymmetric catalysis, peptide drug design and computational chemistry.

Majerski’s seminars focused on the anion recognition through hydrogen bonding by adamantane-dipyrromethane receptors.  In particular, Majerski discussed the synthesis and the binding studies of adamantane-dipyrromethane derivatives (AdD), as well as on the investigation of their anion binding properties.

Majerski explained that anions play key roles in chemical and biological processes. Many anions act as nucleophiles, bases, redox agents or phase transfer catalysts, while most enzymes bind anions as either substrates or cofactors. Additionally, she said it was of great importance to detect anionic pollutants, such as phosphates and nitrates in ground and waste water. Consequently, it was highly desirable to obtain anion sensors which would be characterized by high binding constants and selectivity.

Majerski said that this demand had fuelled research in the field of anion sensing during the past 20 years resulting in numerous publications which had been reviewed.

Majerski, who is presently Senior Scientist at the Ruder Boškovic Institute and Head of the Laboratory of Synthetic Organic Chemistry, is the leader of many domestic and international projects and was awarded the Croatian State Award for scientific achievement in the field of natural sciences in 2004. 

New staff members at the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science have been welcomed to the fold at functions at the Science and Technology Education Centre (STEC) on the Westville campus and at the Pietermaritzburg Staff Club.


College management were on hand to welcome academic and support staff who had recently joined the College. While several staff members had moved to the College following the University’s reorganisation last year, there were also some new additions to the UKZN family.


Guests at the events were given a thorough understanding of how the College functioned, taken through administrative issues, and informed of the importance of their roles. Following the formal presentations and discussions, everyone got better acquainted at lunch.

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The Programme for Improving Mental Health Care in South Africa (PRIME-SA) – led by UKZN’s Professor Inge Petersen - was launched earlier this month at Klerksdorp in the North West Province.

Petersen, a Professor of psychology, is the programme’s Principal Investigator and is working in collaboration with Professor Arvin Bhana of the Human Sciences Research Council and Dr Lara Fairall of the University of Cape Town.

This PRIME programme is a multi-country research consortium which aims to generate world class research on the implementation and scaling up of treatment programmes for priority mental disorders in primary and maternal health care contexts in low resource settings.

It is funded by the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development (DFiD) which includes the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centre for Global Mental Health and the Centre for Public Mental Health as well as the Ministries of Health in Ethiopia, India, Nepal, South Africa and Uganda.

The aim of the launch was to create awareness amongst multiple stakeholders about the programme. ‘PRIME-SA is working in collaboration with the national Department of Health of South Africa as well as the Department of Health in the North West Province to pilot and scale up the integration of mental health into the re-engineered primary health care system,’ said Petersen.

In the context of a treatment gap of 75 percent for common mental disorders in South Africa, PRIME-SA will generate evidence-based research on how to close this treatment gap within existing resource constraints of the country’s overstretched primary health care system.

‘This research will be piloted in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District which incorporates Klerksdorp with a view to scaling up in the remaining districts in the province and hopefully in other provinces as well,’ explained Petersen.

UKZN’s biogeography team has authored a new global regionalization, published in the American journal, BioScience.

Alfred Russel Wallace – who proposed the theory of evolution by natural selection at the same time as the better-known Charles Darwin - had another feather in his cap… he was the first to map the world in terms of its zoogeographical regions.

Based on the observations made during his extensive travels, Wallace realised the world could be subdivided into terrestrial regions according to their different faunas. These were often separated by sharp boundaries (one boundary cutting across Indonesia was later named “Wallace’s line”). Wallace had to base his map entirely on intuition as no analytical methods were available at the time.

With modern analytical methods now at hand, UKZN biogeographers Professor Serban Proches and Dr Syd Ramdhani thought it was high time to test the validity of Wallace’s regions. The results both confirm and alter Wallace’s work, with several new regions and sub-regions recognised.

For example, Madagascar is now recognised as a full-scale zoogeographical region, and the Congolian forests of Central Africa are for the first time recognised as a sub-region.

Proches decided to incorporate the new regionalisation into his biogeography teaching, and what better way to do this than have on display a large map illustrating the new regions? Making such a map, however, was a job for more than just one or two people.

Geography staff and students reacted with great enthusiasm to his idea embarking on some serious painting creating a new face for an old UKZN map.

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UKZN proudly hosted one of the events for the 2012 World Social Work Day on the Howard College campus.


Both the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) have declared the 3rd Tuesday of March every year as World Social Work Day, with social workers being encouraged to celebrate the day at institutional and/or national/regional levels. 


‘On the 26 March this year the Global Agenda will be presented to United Nations Development Programme Administrator, Ms Helen Clark,’ said Professor Vishanthie Sewpaul of the School of Applied Human Sciences at UKZN.


World Social Work Day is linked to but separate from the United Nations Social Work Day. It was introduced to celebrate social work at different levels in recognition of the fact that only a few can attend the United Nations Day in New York.’


This year’s theme was: “Social Work Matters”, made possible by The Global Agenda, a product of a three-year collaborative initiative undertaken by three international organisations representing social work practice, social work education and social development.


‘Our social work students are also encouraged to actively engage with The Agenda and the programmes of action to try to make a difference at whatever level they can,’ said Sewpaul.


In light of this, the University hosted one of the events which had

The Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on the Howard College campus was packed to capacity for the opening night of the 15th Time of the Writer International Writers Festival.


The week-long festival is presented by UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts and made possible through funding from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and other valued partners.


Seen among the host of local celebrities, high profile business people and Government officials who attended were Speaker in the eThekwini Municipality Councillor Logie Naidoo, and well-known writers Ms Gcina Mhlophe and Ms Laurette Ngcobo.


The evening was opened by the Director of the Centre for Creative Arts Mr Peter Rorvik who gave a joyous and hearty festival welcome to everyone, saying this year’s event had an underlying thread of freedom of expression.


‘Freedom of expression is fundamental for the creative act of writing. It relates also to the conditions in which writers operate. We need to ensure an environment in which writers can write freely and speak freely without limitation or censorship.’


Rorvik said the impact of writers on social consciousness should not be underestimated. ‘Writers bear witness to the stories of our nations and of our numerous cultures; they inform and educate us about our histories, our struggles and about ourselves on personal, political and social levels. We need to defend and nurture their freedom vigorously.’


He pointed out that many areas in Africa were poor but in contrast the continent was rich with stories. ‘Time of the Writer brings writers together so that we can hear more about these stories and the people that make them.’


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A series of activities to highlight International Brain Awareness Week took place on all five UKZN campuses recently.


The programme was initiated by the College of Health Science's Neuroscience Research group under the auspices of Professor William Daniels and Dr Musa Mabandla of the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences.


On each campus, staff and students participated in a variety of fun-filled educational activities to raise awareness about the brain and different brain disorders.  The University community was encouraged to participate in various brain games (testing memory, attention and perception) and optical illusions and brain teasers.


The group also exhibited models of brain tissue, animations describing brain anatomy, a microscope station (brain tissue) and informative posters throughout the week.


Ms Sharon Coetzee and Ms Nosisa Dlomo, students in the College of Humanities, said they found the activities interesting and mentally stimulating.


Mr Khayelihle Makhathini, a Masters Medical Science student in Human Physiology and member of the College's Neuroscience Research group, said it was essential to publically emphasise the importance and functioning of the brain and to 'stay sharp', adding that physical activity protected neurons as a person aged.

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Isikhungo seScience neTechnology e-UKZN iSTEC ibisingathe izikole saseNingizimu Afrika emkhandweni wokulungiselela umqhudelwano wokuphikisa i-2012 National Schools Debates Tournament.

Emva kokuqhudelana okunzima, abafundi bavakashiswa kulesisikhungo esihamba phambili kwezesayensi nomgcini wamagugu.

Lomqhudelwano wenziwa abakwaSouth African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA), abayingxeye ebhekelele ezamabhizinisi yeNational Research Foundation (NRF).

Umqhudelwano uhlukene izigaba ezintathu - imikhando, imiqhudelwano yezifundazwe kanye nomqhudelwano weNingizimu Afrika yonkana. Abahambe phambili ezifundazweni zabo bazoya eGoli ukuyoqhudelana ngezihloko ezintathu: ibiotechnology/biodiversity, inanotechnology/hydrogen fuel cells kanye nepalaeontology. Abaphumelele bazowina ukuya phesheya kwezilwandle.

Lomqhudelwano weSAASTA National Schools’ Debates unikeza abafundi ithuba lokufunda ukucwaninga, ukucabangisisa ngezihloko nokuqoqa ulwazi babuye bafunde ukusebenzisana nabanye abantu beyithimba. Kulokhu bafunda ukwethula ulwazi oluhlelekile noluzwakalayo.

Inhloso eyinqikithi yalomqhudelwano kungukwakha uthando kubafundi ukuba bafundele izifundo zesayensi, ubunjiniyela nobucwepheshe (SET), ngokucwaninga nokuphikisana ngezihloko eziphezulu.

Click here for english version

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The Alumni Relations Office co-ordinated an alumnus and donor get-together in Cape Town on Saturday, 17 March.

The annual event took the form of a three-course dinner at the Vineyard Hotel in: Newlands which provided an ideal opportunity for the 58 alumni, donors and friends of UKZN who attended to renew old acquaintances and meet fellow alumni.

Guests were updated on developments at their alma mater through thought-provoking and informative talks given by Ms Nomonde Mbadi: Executive Director of Corporate Relations, and Professor Renuka Vithal, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning.

There was also a mind-challenging and fun magic show.

Guests all received information packs containing a selection of University publications and a corporate gift. A similar event takes place in Johannesburg in May for all Gauteng-based alumni and donors.

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With an aim of encouraging UKZN students, especially first years, to know their HIV status, the HIV and AIDS programme at the university launched the First Things First mass voluntary HIV Counselling and Testing Campaign at the Howard College and Westville campuses.

This national initiative aims to test 35 000 students at the campuses of South Africa’s 23 public Higher Education Institutions by the end of the year. This initiative will also reach out to other members of the Higher Education community, including academics, administration and service staff.

Ms Nomonde Magantolo, UKZN HIV/AIDS Co-ordinator, said providing such initiatives by the AIDS Programme would help students lead a healthy and responsible life so that they could focus on their studies.

During the launch a number of guest speakers including celebrities, personal development trainers and motivational speakers encouraged UKZN students to put their studies, health, careers and goals first. They were advised to become responsible citizens.

Gagasi FM DJ Ms Pamela Kay, who has been living with the virus for over 11 years, encouraged students to know their status. ‘I know my status so should you.’  She reminded the packed venue of the sacrifices made by people before them to provide the opportunities available today. ‘Grab the opportunities and run as fast as you can. I wish I had listened and I wish I had finished,’ said Kay.

Mr Siyabonga Nzimande (27), who visits high schools and tertiary institutions to advise students about morals and values, said: ‘You need to understand your background.’

He recounted how his poor upbringing, growing up with an abusive stepfather and an HIV positive mother, encouraged him to work hard so he could rise above it all.

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