ISSUE #4 January 2020
OFFICIAL UJ ALUMNI MAGAZINE
UJ introduces Alumni Connect for graduates
School of Tourism and Hospitality marks 50th anniversary: 1969 - 2019
Convocation Introducing the new Executive Committee of the UJ Convocation
Pieter du Preez The first quadri- plegic to complete the Ironman triathlon
Sport UJ men’s rugby team wins 2019 Varsity Sevens
UJ IN THE RANKINGS
World Rankings Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) (ShanghaiRanking)
QS World University Rankings
Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings
University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP) U.S. News and World Report’s Best Global Universities Rankings (BGUR) Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) World University Rankings Webometrics Ranking of World Universities (Ranking Web of Universities)
QS BRICS University Rankings
Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings
QS Under 50 University Rankings
Times Higher Education (THE) Young University Rankings (THE YUR)
S Graduate Employability Rankings
Stay Connected www.uj.ac.za/alumni
A message from the Vice-Chancellor 9
1 INTRODUCING THE NEW EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE UJ CONVOCATION 3 UJ INTRODUCES ALUMNI CONNECT PLATFORM FOR GRADUATES SCHOOL OF TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY 6 School of Tourism and Hospitality celebrates 50 years 10 Celebrating a 50-year legacy of excellence in Tourism and Hospitality Education 11 Recognising alumni excellence in tourism and hospitality 12 From student to academic 13 The School of Tourism and Hospitality venues awarded a 4-star grading INSIGHTS 14 Education has a broader purpose, says UJ’s Prof Salim Vally 18 UJ research team develops AI application set to diagnose life-threatening diseases 19 Prof Samuel Oluwatobi Oluwafemi highlights the significance of nanotechnology in healthcare 21 UJ study reviews evidence on medicinal plants as alternative treatment for menstrual pain 23 Prof Marie Poggenpoel: High risk of violence and aggression among health professionals 25 SA-China Joint Research Centre on Chemical and Environmental Engineering 26 UJ researchers receive top honours at 2019 NRF Awards HONORARY DOCTORATES 27 Honorary doctoral degree for activist Kumi Naidoo 29 UJ honours renowned physicist and former Rwandan Science Minister Prof Romain Murenzi 30 UJ bestows honorary doctorate on former MIT Chancellor, Prof Philip L Clay SPORT 33 UJ men’s rugby team wins 2019 Varsity Sevens
15 Prof Debra Meyer: Mitochondrial DNA reveals unexpected ancestral connections
32 UJ Spor t Senior Director Nomsa Mahlangu the first woman to be elected President of the Federation of Africa University Spor ts
35 Pieter du Preez The first quadriplegic to complete the Ironman Triathlon 37 Proteas’ captain Bongiwe Msomi is the new head coach of UJ Netball 39 TED x AND UJ – REIMAGINING THE FUTURE 42 STRONG REPRESENTATION OF UJ ALUMNI IN THE 2019 MAIL & GUARDIAN 200 YOUNG SOUTH AFRICANS 43 UJ TAKES ACTION AGAINST VIOLENCE 47 UJ RECEIVES MILLION DOLLAR CASH BOOST TOWARDS POVERTY AND INEQUALITY REDUCTION IN AFRICA
34 UJ crowned 2019 Varsity Basketball champions
In this edition, you will find some of UJ’s recent success stories, that is why the magazine is called ALUMNI IMPUMELELO, which means success in IsiZulu. Through this publication we take time to celebrate some Illustrious Alumni, Events, Research and Honorary Doctorates. We invite you to follow us on social media and update your contact details on the UJ website. This will allow us to re-connect with you and for you to share in UJ’s journey. This journey includes positioning UJ as a leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
46 UJ continues to lead South African universities in transforming the CA profession
From left: Mr Lubuto Kalenga, Prof Kinta Burger, Mr Nell Ledwaba, Dr Tinus van Zyl
Introducing the Executive Committee of the UJ Convocation
UJ HAS CONCLUDED THE ELECTION OF THE FIVE EXECUTIVE MEMBERS OF CONVOCATION. THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE UJ CONVOCATION (EXCO) COMPROMISES OF FIVE MEMBERS ELECTED BY THE CONVOCATION EXCO AND THREE EX OFFICIO MEMBERS, NAMELY THE VICE-CHANCELLOR, REGISTRAR AND THE SENIOR MANAGER RESPONSIBLE FOR ALUMNI. IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE UJ STATUTE, THE COMPOSITION OF COUNCIL INCLUDES TWO EXTERNAL REPRESENTATIVES OF CONVOCATION, ELECTED BY CONVOCATION. A CANDIDATE IS REGARDED AS ‘EXTERNAL’ IF NEITHER A REGISTERED STUDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF JOHANNESBURG NOR IN THE EMPLOY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF JOHANNESBURG. THE TERM OF OFFICE OF THE MEMBERS IS FOR A PERIOD OF THREE YEARS.
President of Convocation Member of EXCO Dr Boitumelo Molebogeng Diale (Internal) Dr Diale currently holds a position as the Head of Department of Educational Psychology in the Faculty of Education at UJ. She also chairs the Faculty of Education Transformation Committee and plays an advisory role in the University Transformation Office. Professionally, Dr Diale is a registered Educational Psychologist with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. She is the chairperson of the South African Career Development Association (SACDA), an Academic Board member of South African college of Applied Psychology (SACAP).
Deputy President Member of Exco Ms Zanele Anathi Modiba (External) Zanele Modiba is a personal development speaker, a marketing specialist and the Managing Director of her own strategic marketing consultancy, The Alternative. She is the creator and founder of the pioneering Kingdom Board Game – an African themed board game that promotes knowledge of all African countries and their practices.
Member of Exco Ms Mandy Wiener (External) Mandy Wiener is one of the
Council Representative Member of Exco Ms Mukovhe Confidence Tshilande (External) Confidence Tshilande is an ambitious and dynamic
Council Representative Member of Exco Mr Msizi Smiso Khoza (External) Msizi Khoza is currently a Director at Absa’s Investment Banking division where he supports clients across the continent to tap into local and international capital markets in order to meet their financing needs. Msizi is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and featured on the 2012 edition of the Mail and Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans.
country’s best known and most credible journalists and authors. She worked as a multi award- winning reporter with Eyewitness News from 2004 until 2014. She has won a number of National and Regional Vodacom ‘Journalist of the Year’ awards, has been ‘The CNN African Radio Journalist of the Year’ and has received several commendations in the Webber Wentzel ‘Legal Journalist of the Year’ awards. In addition, she has received the National Press Club award in the Radio Category and the Social Media category and was awarded the ‘Rising Star - Women in the Media’ award in 2011.
geotechnical engineer, motivational speaker, preacher and mentor. She is a candidate engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa and an Associate member of South African Institute of Civil Engineer (SAICE) and the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering.
For more information, visit: https:// www.uj.ac.za/alumni/convocation/Pages/Election-Results.aspx
UJ introduces Alumni Connect platform for graduates
The UJ Alumni Connect system, an online platform, matches our graduates to a willing mentor who, through support, counsel, guidance, reinforcement and constructive engagement can help our graduates succeed in their career and meet their goals,” says Prof Burger. Not only does the UJ Alumni Connect platform make provision for mentoring, but it also allows graduates to re-connect with classmates (locally and abroad), receive news and event updates as well as ongoing educational opportunities and employment offerings. The platform is fully integrated with social and professional networks, but also permits graduates to expand their networks and to cultivate a culture of giving back to their alma mater in the form of mentoring assistance. “UJ is committed to new techno- logies that promote accessibility and interaction as a further step in preparing our graduates to be
future leaders. We are pleased to offer this service to our alumni and to open the door for relationship building,” says Prof Burger. The Alumni Connect system follows the launch of UJ’s Digital Certification and Online Qualification Verification system that was introduced to increase security features relating to the certification process, to curb counterfeiting of certificates and allow for third parties to verify their qualification online, at no cost. Google Play Store Link: https:// play.google.com/store/apps/ details?id=com.graduway.ujalumni For Apple users, download the “Graduway Community” app, once inside, select University of Johannesburg as your institution. Apple Store Link: https://apps. apple.com/us/app/graduway- community/id1457549791
The University of Johannesburg (UJ) recently introduced a high-tech, online platform to drive engagement among its alumni, thereby enabling gra- duates to leverage on the power of mentoring services that the University provides. The technological advances that the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) brings about necessitated such a platform in line with the University’s strategic objective to shape graduates fully equipped to join the world of work as global citizens. 4IR is changing more than just the production processes of companies and their business models – it is changing the world of work and how people interact and live. Prof Kinta Burger, UJ Registrar, says there are multiple barriers keeping many of the country’s young people locked out of the labour market and opportunities. “Mentoring is a vital aspect of career and workforce development.
School of Tourism and Hospitality
School of Tourism and Hospitality a 50 year JOURNEY
The history of the School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH) at the University of Johannesburg dates to 1969. It all began with a vision that South Africa should develop hoteliers who would be able to compete with the rest of the world. A rich history starting in 1969 In February 1969, slightly more than 20 students registered for a National Diploma in Hotel Management at the Witwatersrand College of Advanced Technical
The STH was officially opened on 30 August 2005 by Sol Kerzner, South African business magnate and founder of two of the country’s largest hotel groups, and Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, former Deputy President and current Executive Director of United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). The facilities at the customised Kerzner Building at UJ’s Bunting Road Campus have been designed to ensure a rich learning environment for practical and business skills.
Education. Three years later the Wits Hotel School, as it was affectionately known, started offering a three-year diploma in Hotel Management. The restructuring of the higher education landscape in 2005 led to the founding of the University of Johannesburg (UJ). It was during this time that the former Technikon of the Witwatersrand Department of Tourism and the Wits Hotel School was merged into the School of Tourism and Hospitality.
Metamorphosis over the last 10 years
of staff, postdoctoral research fellows, and an increased research affiliate network. The School has international and national partnerships with 43 senior research associates from 42 universities across the globe. In 2017, the STH launched the Food Evolution Research Lab (FERL), a virtual lab that promotes research focused on the evolution of food, health and nutrition. Awards, rankings and certifications The School’s awards include being ranked 18th globally for Hospitality and Tourism Management In 2019, by the prestigious Shanghai Rankings. This is a tremendous jump from the first ranking in 2017, that placed the School in the 34th place. We are also position- ed 1st in Tourism and Leisure studies in Africa by QS World University rankings.
The STH’s commercial facilities were also recently awarded 4-star grading by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa. This makes
Over the past decade, the STH transformed into a world-class institution that produces top- achieving students. Our alumni enter the tourism and hospitality sector as critical thinkers and problem-solvers. And they go on to address economic and societal challenges. Not only has the School remodelled itself in terms of graduate profiles but also its staff profile and academic offerings. It now offers a full range of academic courses from short learning programmes to diplomas, honours and master’s degrees, and a doctorate. The STH is also well-known for its research profile, industry relationships and its commercial operations. Since 2010, the STH’s research profile has expanded rapidly due to an increase in the postgraduate stream, growing scholarly profiles
UJ the first higher education institution to achieve such grading in South Africa. The future of hospitality and tourism in South Africa
Looking to the future, the STH is preparing itself towards the possibilities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The School is involved with disruptors in the sector, evaluating the impact of large-scale automation, artificial intelligence, the adoption of smart technologies and big data. South Africa is buzzing with talent and the opportunities are countless. The STH is committed to giving the next generation the tools needed to embrace these chances in the tourism and hospitality sector.
A message from the Vice-Chancellor
Prof Tshilidzi Marwala
in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Among its various accolades and milestones, we are proud to note that the School is a major graduate contributor for the sector, has made great strides to raise its research profile and ranking, and successfully operates 4-star graded commercial facilities across our various campuses. The STH is truly living up to its motto of trading with a purpose. It is befitting that this 50th- anniversary celebration took place in September, which is recognised at Tourism and Heritage Month.
On 17 February 1969, 22 students were registered for the National Diploma in Hotel Management at the Witwatersrand College for Advanced Technical Education. Fifty years later, as the University of Johannesburg, we recognise and commemorate the rich history and legacy upon which the School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH) is built. Today, the STH is known as a world-class institution driven by a consistent vision to develop critical thinkers and problem-solvers for the tourism and hospitality sector
A big thank you to all our industry partners and alumni for their continued support. Congratulations to the winners of the Golden Circle and Rising Star Alumnus Awards, Gert Brumme and Thobile Dlamini. May the School of Tourism and Hospitality proceed to grow from strength to strength in the next fifty years and beyond!
A MESSAGE FROM DR DIANE ABRAHAMS, DIRECTOR OF THE SCHOOL OF TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY
Dr Diane Abrahams
Celebrating a 50-year legacy of excellence in Tourism and Hospitality Education
Dean who was Head of Business Development at the school. Further praise goes to Dr. Reinet “Dok” Mornet, Prof. Jane Spowart and the late Prof. Connie Mokadi who were all part of the transition phase of the school. Not to mention Mr Andre Mynhardt, the first Director of the STH in 2005, and of course, Prof Daneel van Lill who was the Director of STH until the end of 2010. This tribute would not be complete without celebrating the talented staff who have, over the years, been at the heart and soul of this School. And whose hard work resulted in the STH’s astonishing accolades and its multitude of achievements. It was heartening to see many of them in attendance at our anniversary celebration. Given that change is a constant, we know that whatever we do today we need to do better tomorrow because growth is a choice. At the STH we value diversity and inclusion as we believe that therein
In February 1969, just over 20 students were enrolled for the National Diploma in Hotel Management at the Witwatersrand College for Advanced Technical Education in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. Fast-forward 50 years and here we are, celebrating this milestone as the School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH). The STH has nearly 800 students and 65 staff and is one of six schools in the College of Business and Economics at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The School is ranked first place for Tourism and Hospitality in Africa by the QS World University Rankings (2018 and 2019) and is ranked 18th globally by the prestigious Shanghai rankings. It is a privilege to be at the helm of the institution. As we pay tribute to our humble beginnings, I want to recognise and pay tribute to those who came before me, starting with the late Leon Malan, the first Director of the former Wits Hotel School and the late Dr. Japie van Lill, the father of our Executive
lies our strength. Standards of excellence are not carved in stone. They are constantly being redefined and it’s important to recognise that, what was graded as excellent last year may not be so this year. And that is why we must keep mastering new skills. As we recollect the past and re-imagine the future of tourism and hospitality education, I am reminded of the great bridges we have built that have connected the old with the new. This bridge- building is behind some of the success of the STH as we continue to connect with industry and alumni. Relationships are a choice. Charles Spurgeon said: “Carve your name on hearts and not on marble.” So, let us continue these wonderful relationships. To all our alumni: we do hope you will come back regularly to the STH and continue to share with us your time to teach, coach, and mentor the students, and perhaps also learn a thing or two from the millennials. I know I continue to do so!
From left: Golden Circle member Gert Brumme, Dr Diane Abrahams, Rising star Thobile Dlamini
Recognising ALUMNI EXCELLENCE in tourism and hospitality
later she completed a BTech in Hospitality Management and is presently doing her Master’s in Hospitality Management studies. Dlamini’s career in the hospitality industry kicked-off in 2011 as a trainee at the Protea Hotel Parktonian All-Suite in Braamfontein. She has held other positions since her internship and her passionate ‘go-getter’ character saw her named General Manager at the Road Lodge in Isando in 2016. She has been running the hotel as a profitable establishment
The School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH) has a deep tradition of acknowledging past students for their enrichment of the industry. Since the School’s inception in 2005, a total of 36 awards have been made across two categories − STH Rising Star Alumnus Award and STH Golden Circle Alumnus Award. Rising star Thobile Dlamini The Rising Star Alumnus Award is bestowed upon STH alumni who have been serving the industry for five to ten years. Recipients of this award demonstrated ground- breaking work that set them apart from their peers. This award acknowledges their contribution, serving as a measure against which future-fit tourism and hospitality leaders are developed. Thobile Dlamini is the latest recipient of a Rising Star Alumnus Award. She graduated from the STH at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) with a National Diploma in Hospitality Management in 2011. Two years
The most recent alumnus to achieve Golden Circle status is Gert Brumme. Gert has had a thriving career in the hospitality industry since he graduated from the Hotel School in 1977. He now holds the position of Divisional Operations Manager at Legacy Hotels and Resorts, and also serves as a director on several boards. Under his leadership, many of the resorts and lodges in his portfolio
have received international recognition like the RCI Gold Crown Award.
Ambassadors in the hospitality industry
for the past three years. Golden Circle member Gert Brumme
Reflecting on the significance of the awards STH Director, Dr Dianne Abrahams says: “I think it’s always important to connect with your alumni because they are the ones who are your ambassadors out in the industry. Hosting an event where they can come back, reconnect, and give back to the school is essential. Acknowledging their achievements is also significant and this is what we are doing through the Alumni Awards.”
The Golden Circle Alumnus Award was first introduced in 1988 when STH was still known as the Wits Hotel School. This award is presented to alumni who are respected by their peers as extraordinary achievers and contributors to the wellbeing of the tourism and hospitality industry at large.
From student to academic
“I like to refer my academic journey being completely incidental. I had the bare minimum understanding of what tourism is. I’m ashamed to admit I thought that it was just about travelling.” But, she grew to fall in love with this industry. The STH developed her passion for tourism and hospitality and was instrumental in her success which includes winning the World Tourism Young Talent Award. “To me, the school signifies growth and transformation for the individual and the industry at large.” Mrs Nanikie Mhlongo-Zungu, Academic Head for Hospitality Nanikie’s journey with the STH is a thread of breaking boundaries. She was among the first group of black graduates in the country to obtain a Diploma in Food Service Management. Then, in 1995, she was the first black female lecturer at the then Wits Hotel School’s Department of Food Service Management. Today she is the academic Head for hospitality at the School. “It has not always been easy, but this leads me to another key theme worth mentioning – the role of strong women, particularly other black women who have supported and nurtured my continued growth within the STH. I am particularly grateful to my
predecessor, Dr Hema Kesa, and Dr Diane Abrahams for allowing me room to thrive and grow as an academic. Ms Ita Geyser, Lecturer Ita believes that her career in the hospitality industry has come to full circle. An alumnus of the STH, she studied Catering Management at the then Wits Hotel School. After working in the industry for a few years she returned to the School as a lecturer and for the past 12 years has been ploughing back her knowledge to the next generation of hospitality professionals. “Hospitality can be a tough environment to work in,” she says. “However, what I appreciate most is that it is a happy industry. It is an industry of working in beautiful environments, meeting incredible people and making people happy.” She believes that the hospitality industry is the one sector where you can provide anyone with skills and those skills can quickly empower them to run their businesses and make a living for themselves. “Looking forward to the next 50 years, I foresee more growth. Institutions like the STH have a significant role to play in developing the next crop of industry leaders.”
The School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH) is celebrating its 50th anniversary. We spoke to some of the School’s lecturers who were once students but returned as academics. Mr Donald Brain, Senior Lecturer An STH alumnus, Donald has been a lecturer at the School since 1989. He qualified with a Diploma in Hotel Management at the former Wits Hotel School, after which he spent some time in the industry before returning to the School as a junior lecturer. “I began my lecturing career as a restaurant practical lecturer and later moved on to food and beverage studies,” he says. “I’ve had many wonderful experiences and my time with the STH has been most joyous and fruitful.” Thinking back to his time as a junior lecturer he is thankful for his mentors - Dr Renier “Dok” Mornet, Felix Sullivan, and Pieter Viljoen. But he is most grateful for the privilege bestowed upon him to help prepare so many young people to work in the wondrous industry of tourism and hospitality.
Ms Refiloe Lekgau, Assistant Lecturer
Refiloe’s first interaction with the STH was in 2015, when she enrolled as a first-year tourism student.
Mr Donald Brain, Senior Lecturer
Ms Refiloe Lekgau, Assistant Lecturer
Mrs Nanikie Mhlongo-Zungu, Academic Head of Hospitality
Ms Ita Geyser, Lecturer
50 years of milestones The 4-star grading could not have come at a better time as the School marks the 50th anniversary of its legacy institutions – going as far back as the days when the Wits Hotel School first opened its doors. In closing, Prof Tichaawa said that the STH was pleased by the Tourism Grading Council’s recognition of its facilities. “This milestone certainly bodes well in terms of us further cementing our position as a leading academic institution in our field, which also operates top-class and 4-star graded MESE facilities. We encourage the UJ community to keep supporting us and wish to invite all prospective clients, be it from industry or the corporate sector, to come and sample what we have to offer.”
The University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH), has made history when it was bestowed a 4-star grading for its Meetings, Exhibitions and Special Events (MESE) venues by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa earlier this year. Cutting edge conference facilities The Kerzner @ UJ at the Bunting Road Campus is the commercial arm of the STH and boasts state-of- the-art conference and banqueting facilities. Its two conference rooms combined can host 200 delegates and the auditorium seats 147 people. A further selection of executive boardrooms and meeting rooms cater for smaller groups. The Kerzner Building also showcases a culinary theatre that seats 54 delegates, and the Alumni Bar and tasting room, the Waterford Restaurant, and the Design Café coffee shop serve a variety of cuisines.
Mr Gerald Hamadzirip, the operations manager overseeing all the business units under The Kerzner @ UJ, believes that the grading will be a major morale boost, not only for clients but also for staff and students. “The grading will unquestionably add a flair of confidence for our staff and students to proceed to deliver an experience which is equal to this standard and even beyond,” he says.
“Although we operate as a business entity, this is also
where we harness and grow the talent in the field of hospitality management and food and beverage operations,” he explains. “We call it trading with a purpose − operating a business whilst building opportunities for our students to gain practical working experience.”
School of Tourism and Hospitality venues
grading awarded a
Other than the industrial kitchens in the Centre of
Culinary Excellence, a broad range of hospitality services is also offered at the UJ Kingsway Campus and the Johannesburg Business School. A major achievement “Being the first school in the country to have its commercial facilities graded is a major accolade,” says Prof Tembi Tichaawa, STH Academic Head of Tourism. “More so, being graded 4-star. It speaks volumes about the standard of our facilities and the level of service quality you can expect as a client.”
ATTENTION MUST BE PAID TO “SHOUTS AND WHISPERS OF RESISTANCE ONTO A WIDE-ANGLED LANDSCAPE” THAT LINKS POLITICAL AND SOCIO- ECONOMIC ISSUES TO THE DAY-TO-DAY CONTEXTUAL ISSUES OF TEACHING AND LEARNING.
The often-misinterpreted nature of the relationship between education and society is reduced to narrow economic ends. Whether it is in the media, policymaking, academic writings or public debate, the relationship between education and skills, particularly the skills-mismatch discourse, frequently dominates discussions, especially those on unemployment in South Africa, says Prof Salim Vally, Director of the Centre for Education Rights and Transformation and the NRF- SARChI Chair in Community, Adult and Workers’ Education at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). Prof Vally delivered his professorial inauguration address titled ‘Between the Vision of Yesterday and the Reality of Today: Forging the Pedagogy of Possibility’ in the University’s Council Chambers, Madibeng Building, Auckland Park Kingsway Campus on Wednesday, 4 September 2019. He said this seemingly common- sense approach places the burden of responsibility squarely on individuals and their “deficits”, while obscuring the real systemic obstacles to procuring decent and remunerative employment. He pointed to the vision of education for liberation that existed in the broad liberation movement during the struggle against apartheid, focusing specifically on “People’s Education” and “Workers’ Education”. Reflecting on the history of the education liberation movement, Prof Vally explained that the purpose and value of education and the country’s rich tradition of educational praxis are based on social justice and democratic citizenship. “Instead of an instrumental and narrow role for education reduced solely to the labour market requirements of business, economic growth and international competitiveness, the purpose of education is much broader,” he said.
Prof Salim Vally
Education has a broader purpose ,says UJ’s Prof Salim Vally
deliberations has contributed to the failure in addressing and overcoming the profound inequalities and social cleavages that characterise the South African education system. In his address Prof Vally insisted that close attention must be paid to “shouts and whispers of resistance onto a wide-angled landscape” that links political and socio-economic issues to the day-to-day contextual issues of teaching and learning and the structural character of poverty and inequality. Alternatives and possibilities are vital because of the failure of the system. The “assault on education and reason”, increasing inequality, devastating unemployment and the rise of obscurantist, xenophobic and misogynistic discourse, militarism as well as the unprecedented ecological crisis, means that meaningful education that addresses these exigencies is decisive, he concluded.
Examining the reality of apartheid’s legacy on education, compounded by some post-apartheid policies – particularly the overarching macro-economic neoliberal strategy, Prof Vally stressed that it links the latter to the paradox that while post-apartheid education policies established the formal basis for social justice and equity through legislation, in reality these laudable goals remain unattainable and elusive. In the face of the desultory state of schooling and the failure of neoliberalism, the “solutions” advocated, including strident calls for the privatisation of education and resorting back to an apartheid- like disciplinary regime, are dangerous and will exacerbate existing inequalities, he warned. One of the questions explored is whether the elision of social class analysis and meaningful community participation in education policy
Prof Debra Meyer: Mitochondrial DNA reveals unexpected ancestral connections
AS A COUNTRY WE FOCUS ON APARTHEID AS THE ORIGIN OF ALL OUR ILLS, WHILE OUR SLAVERY HERITAGE IS LARGELY FORGOTTEN.
A recent opinion piece by Prof Debra Meyer, Alumna, Executive Dean of Science and Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) was published in The Conversation on September 1, 2019. Biochemists study life on a molecular level. So, as a biochemist, it made sense to investigate my own existence at that deepest of levels, which is why I had my DNA sequenced – my mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, to be exact. This genetic material is found inside mitochondria, the sub-cellular compartments or organelles where food is converted into energy. DNA from this organelle is passed down primarily from mothers to their children. During fertilisation, the father’s sperm transfers his chromosomal DNA into the
female egg, leaving the mitochondria behind.
If any of the male mitochondria are transferred into the egg, it is usually destroyed by internal processes.
Prof Debra Meyer
mtDNA sequencing are returning it to view. This is important because South African identity is more complex than just black and white, and slavery shaped the society in ways that should not be ignored. The history of haplogroups So, what is haplogroup M2, the one I have discovered I belong to? Haplogroup M, together with its sister group N, originated from the same ancestor – known as haplogroup L3. Members of this haplogroup are believed to be the first humans that migrated out of East Africa between 80 000 and 60 000 years ago. Once these ancient humans left the African continent, they went on to populate the world. Haplogroup M is found almost exclusively in Asia (Figure 2); M2, with an estimated age of 50 000 years, is found primarily in South East India and Bangladesh. I was suspicious of my results. But my siblings’ mitochondrial DNA sequencing results were assigned to the same haplogroup and analyses done at three different laboratories – two national and one international – reached the same conclusions. So, I was left with finding a way to get this outcome to make sense. The colonisation of what is today the Western Cape province and the subsequent contact of the indigenous Khoi-San with Europeans and their slaves provides a plausible explanation as to how the mitochondrial M2 haplogroup pattern could end up in someone with documented Khoi-
However, recently published work has shown that in a small number of cases, mitochondria from the father got into the egg, was not destroyed and was passed on to the children. In most cases though, sons do not pass along mtDNA to their children. Every mother, however, transfers her mtDNA to her daughter who will in turn transfer it to her daughter and so on throughout the ages. Because mtDNA does not change much over time, maternal lineage information from thousands of years ago becomes accessible today. My female ancestor would, I thought, be Khoi-San. That’s what family records and knowledge of my immediate ancestors suggested. The Khoi-San were Southern Africa’s first people, and dominated the region for thousands of years. I expected to belong to the haplogroup L0, typical for all Khoi- San and many Coloured people. “Coloured” is a racial classification introduced by the apartheid- era Population Registration Act to refer to a multiracial ethnic group native to South Africa with Khoi- San, Bantu, Afrikaner, English, Indian and South Asian ancestry. A haplogroup is a genetic population group of people who share a common ancestor on either the matrilineal or patrilineal line. The results of the sequencing tests surprised me: my mtDNA was assigned to the M2 haplogroup, a group whose origins are described as not native to Africa (see Figure 1) yet common to Cape Malay or Cape Muslims who have their origins outside the continent. Historically, people in this group were brought over from South-East Asia to South Africa as slaves for European colonisers. Apartheid displaced the slavery narrative to the recesses of South African history: as a country we focus on apartheid as the origin of all our ills, while our slavery heritage is largely forgotten. Now, as my experience shows, developments in
So the first shipment of slaves, mostly captured in present-day Angola or Guinea, was brought to the Cape in 1658 by the slave ships Amersfoort and Hasselt, respectively. In subsequent years, the vast majority of slaves were brought in from Madagascar, the Indian subcontinent and South East Asia (Figure 2). Some of these female slaves brought the M2 haplogroup with them. For the 180 years of slavery at the Cape, slaves far outnumbered the colonial population. The colonial economy could not function without the use of slave labour, meaning slave ownership was widespread. There are records of inter-marriage between the KhoiKhoi and San populations with colonial slave populations, as well as with African farmers and white settlers. Add to this the unrecorded and involuntary unions between especially the masters and their slaves, and it becomes easy to envisage sexual contact between a female slave and a European male circa 1660 – and the birth of a female child or children who went on to have offspring-producing relationships with other European/ Slave/Khoi-San/Coloured men in subsequent cycles until eventually one such cycle produced my great- grandmother. This is illustrated on page 17 (Figure 1). A possible maternal heritage chart with starting point circa 1660, presupposing 9-10 family cycles until the birth of my great grandmother in 1904, provided the ages of the females when giving birth were between 24-25 years of age. Based on family records, John Doe could have been European/ Khoi-San/Slave/Coloured. With one or more of the male ancestors in my maternal lineage being Khoi-San, the cross-over sharing of chromosomal DNA between parents explains the Khoi-San phenotype – that is, observable, physical characteristics – in my family.
San ancestry. Colonisation
The dominance of the Khoi-San in Southern Africa was ended by the Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie – VOC or Dutch East India Company in 1652 with the establishment of a refreshment station that became a colony and, finally a settlement. The VOC’s plans required labour.
Advances in technology Without the technology to
accelerating our ability to compare large, complex DNA sequencing data sets and interpreting its meaning. Chances are, then, that in a few years mtDNA sequencing will disclose even more disruptive ancestral information – and allow us to see ourselves
and our histories more clearly.
*This opinion piece by Prof Debra Meyer was published in ‘The Conversation’ on September 1, 2019. *The views expressed in the article are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Johannesburg.
sequence mitochondrial DNA, I would not know of my ancestral links to slavery. Artificial intelligence is making sequencing faster, cheaper and more accurate, while machine learning algorithms that improve with experience are BECAUSE MTDNA DOES NOT CHANGE MUCH OVER TIME,
MATERNAL LINEAGE INFORMATION FROM THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO BECOMES ACCESSIBLE TODAY.
Routes used by the VOC slave ships juxtaposed against the predicted movements of Haplogroup M. Source 1: https:/ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haplogroup_M_(mtDNA)#/media/File:Peopling_of_eurasia.jpg . Source 2:https://slavery.iziko.org.za/sites/default/files/images/2015-11-06/DetailedMap.jpg
Some of the VOC’s Slave Routes Movement of haplogroup M, relevant to this discussion.
UJ research team develops AI application set to diagnose life-threatening diseases
From left: Mr Adeola Ogunleye, Prof Qing-Guo Wang, Prof Tshilidzi Marwala
A TEAM OF SCIENTISTS FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF JOHANNESBURG, COLLABORATING ACROSS THEORETICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL PHYSICS AND COMPUTER SCIENCE, DEVELOPED AND TRAINED A NEW MACHINE LEARNING (ML) TECHNIQUE TO FINALLY PREDICT AND DIAGNOSE DISEASES SUCH AS LUNG CANCER, TUBERCULOSIS, CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASES AND MALARIA. THEIR FAR-REACHING RESULTS WERE RECENTLY PUBLISHED IN IEEE XPLORE.
machine learning has discovered a new forest building method. According to the lead author, Prof Qing-Guo Wang of UJ’s Institute of Intelligent Systems, the case study on the diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder shows that the proposed method achieves the prediction accuracy of the ensemble at above 96% with reduced variance, which is much better than those reported in the literature. “In this new collaboration with Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, UJ’s Vice- Chancellor and Principal (a leading AI expert) and Mr Adeola Ogunleye, Machine Learning Engineer, we combined ‘Decision Trees’ and regression methods which are usually found in two difference branches of machine learning to take advantage of each.” A number of intelligent systems integrate two or more AI techniques (ANN, SVM, KNN) with a
The accurate diagnosis of diseases is critical to the survival of humans. At times, due to the overlapping nature and similarities of the symptoms, it can be challenging for an inexperienced clinician to properly diagnose diseases. Misdiagnosis of diseases has often led to increased costs, time and even death. However, to save costs and improve the quality of human diagnosis, artificial intelligence (AI) techniques have been applied. According to the white paper released by healthcare advisory PinnacleCare, 64% of medical practitioners surveyed testified that 10% of misdiagnoses lead to serious injury. UJ scientists have now made a significant breakthrough in both technique and understanding. Based on a suite of artificial neural networks (ANN) that they had designed and trained to acquire knowledge about the task at hand,
fuzzy logic system to form a Hybrid Expert System (HES) reaping the advantages of various techniques. It is a milestone for randomisation to be introduced at tree growth and forest creation. The local prediction accuracies on the leaves are used to select a subset of the test data for actual predictions. The ensemble combines trees and gives a better performance than the individually best performing tree.
By fusing tree-based machine learning with a random order the scientists believe that the symptoms of an ailment from a patient serve as the input vector to diagnose the ailment with the AI model. “There is an urgent need for the development of easily implemented, automatic and effective screening methods. This will help health professionals and inform individuals whether or not they should pursue a formal clinical diagnosis,” says the UJ team.
The good news for South Africa: With the knowledge and experience acquired in the above- mentioned and other recent publications, the UJ team has already started a collaborative project with Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital for AI based diagnosis of breast cancer of local patients. UJ is looking to expand this kind of AI work to a much wider scope by providing significant funding to address more common diseases.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) will have a greater impact on the evolution of global healthcare in the decades to come and nanotechnology would be a major contributor to this. According to Samuel Oluwatobi Oluwafemi, a Professor in Applied Chemistry at the University of Johannesburg, biotechnologists together with nanotechnologists can discover/fabricate new generation medicine or even a robot programmed to target cancer cells. “The ultimate goal of the research is to go beyond the laboratory experimental work, to answer questions such as appropriate dosage, delivery system and exposure times that maximise clinical effectiveness while minimising side effects, to increase the clinical acceptance of this technology,” said Prof Samuel Oluwatobi Oluwafemi when he delivered his professorial inaugural address titled ‘How small things can make a big world a better place: The significance of Nano in a Macro world’. He argued that the outcome of this research will provide renewed hope for patients diagnosed with cancer.
Prof Samuel Oluwatobi Oluwafemi
Prof Samuel Oluwatobi Oluwafemi highlights the significance of nanotechnology in healthcare
“THIS WILL ALSO IMPROVE THE RATE OF SURVIVAL OF CANCER PATIENTS, NOT FOR JUST THOSE LIVING IN SOUTH AFRICA BUT GLOBALLY AS THE OUTCOME OF THIS RESEARCH WILL LEAD TO EFFECTIVE INTERVENTION IN MEDICAL CARE CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT. Furthermore, this research will provide alternate clinical treatment for cancer to the present chemotherapy, which, when developed into clinical treatment, will advance the economy. Thus, the long-time success of this work will have greater chances of attracting international funding as well as collaborations with pharmaceutical companies,” he said. Prof Oluwafemi highlighted that the developed superhydrophobic membrane will be used for the desalination and treatment of wastewater via membrane distillation with the aim of going beyond the laboratory experimental work, to calculate energy and cost required for the treatment of various wastewaters such as industrial effluents, home and municipal wastewater in order to increase the commercial acceptance of this technology.
climate change are their serious consequences. Water scarcity especially has become a key challenge in developing countries like South Africa and India due to industrialisation and an increasing population. The expected gap in global water supply and demand by 2050 is 40%. Though the Fourth Industrial Revolution could exacerbate existing threats, there is also an opportunity to harness this revolution to address these problems. Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence combined with advanced sensors can be deployed into water bodies to analyse the quality of water and share the information. This will allow us to see where and how the waterways are contaminated, for instance if they are near to industries that discharge contaminants. Advanced nanomaterials such as quantum dot-composites which can detect the contaminant quickly will open new possibilities for smart sensors and water treatment. For example, a new polymer nanocomposite membrane, combined with AI software, can analyse data from flow and pressure sensors to determine the best water treatment. New types of graphene- based membranes and new technologies such as membrane distillation could revolutionise the desalination market, which has grown steadily over the past several years.”
“The world has gone through various industrial revolutions since the 18th century. We are now in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. According to the World Economic Forum, the Fourth Industrial Revolution belongs to “cyber- physical systems” which can merge the capabilities of both human and machine. This is the era where artificial intelligence, genome editing, renewable energy, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, big data and the Internet of Things can combine the physical, digital and biological worlds.” He stressed that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will have a greater impact on the evolution of global healthcare in the decades to come and nanotechnology would be a major contributor to this. “Unlike the current therapies which attack the whole body, nanodrugs can be directed to the tumour in a patient’s body and can be activated upon reaching the target. These nanorobots or nanites carrying nanodrugs will be small enough to enter the human blood stream to perform a wide array of functions such as targeting the cells, delivering the drugs, cleaning arteries, killing viruses and potentially conducting surgery from the inside.” Prof Oluwafemi concluded: “While previous industrial revolutions modernised the world, we must not forget that our current
environmental problems such as pollution, water crisis, and
UJ study reviews evidence on medicinal plants as alternative
treatment for menstrual pain
Primary dysmenorrhea, or menstrual pain, refers to cyclic pain of uterine origin without pelvic pathology. Primary dysmenorrhoea affects 45%-90% of women worldwide, producing a significant negative impact on their quality of life, however only a small percentage of affected women consult a physician about their condition, and many choose to self-medicate. Dysmenorrhoea is more common in young nulliparous females with a family history of dysmenorrhoea; however, psychological stress and lifestyle factors such as cigarette smoking and poor diet also increase the risk of developing this condition. Pharmacological treatments include the oral contraceptive pill and/or non-steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs; however, these medications may produce numerous side effects. The use of medicinal plants as an alternative treatment for dysmenorrhoea is of growing interest among many women. UJ researchers Dr Chantelle Nienhuis and Dr Janice Pellow from the Department of Complementary Medicine evaluated the recent evidence on the effectiveness of medicinal plants in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhoea. The findings of this systematic review, published directly
in Complementary Therapies in Medicine, included 22 RCTs published between 2008 and 2016; nine of these studies were placebo-controlled trials and 13 were comparative studies to pharmacological treatment or nutritional supplements. Studies relating to the following medicinal plants were included: ginger, fennel, fenugreek, cinnamon, peppermint, dill, damask rose, lemon balm, yarrow, valerian, thyme, rhubarb, felty germander, noni and wheat germ. Most of the evaluated medicinal plants showed evidence of efficacy in relieving menstrual
pain in at least one RCT. Some medicinal plants are
reported to bring relief of menstrual symptoms through their analgesic, anti-spasmodic, prostaglandin inhibiting or anti-inflammatory actions; these may therefore potentially be a suitable alternative to conventional medicines for treating dysmenorrhoea, particularly in cases where these medicines are contraindicated or not well tolerated. “This study provides information regarding the recent clinical evidence on the use of medicinal plants for the treatment of primary dysmenorrhoea. Promising evidence was found for the efficacy of certain medicinal
From top: Dr Chantelle Nienhuis and Dr Janice Pellow
plants, however the results from these studies need to be interpreted with caution. This current evidence, together with their long-standing historical use, adds to the knowledge base on the use of these medicinal plants, and further large-scale studies are necessary to confirm their beneficial effects, therapeutic dosages, and long-term safety,” according to the researchers.
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