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The Oppidan Press
Edition 5, 7 May 2013
PHOTO: HANRO HAVENGA
Sexual harassment RU protected 2
Free speech still under threat 3
SRC address election woes 4
RU Green energy challenge takes off
Newly installed meters will measure residence electrical consumption
By Zama Mncube Environment Rhodes University is continually seeking to further its unwavering commitment to maximising energy efficiency on campus. The recent installation of new electricity meters in residences forms part of a new campus-wide “Energy Challenge”. The readings taken from these meters will assist in ensuring that the University does not exceed acceptable consumption levels. “These readings will allow baseline data on the electricity use of Rhodes University students to be collected,” explained Chairperson of RU Green Ruth Krüger. “Trends can [then] be identified and any increases in use in the future can be carefully observed and responded to,” she said. The Energy Challenge is going to be implemented in stages. “The first step in reducing the amount of electricity you use is to measure how much that is,” Krüger said. Environmental Health and Safety Officer Nikki Köhly agreed, “The logic behind it is that you cannot monitor your energy consumption unless you measure it,” she said. According to Student Representative Council (SRC) Environmental Councillor Luke Cadden, Rhodes allocates an enormous percentage of its annual budget to electricity. “Rhodes University spends R24 million on electricity annually and a third of this amount is just for heating up water,” Cadden explained. Electricity is a vital resource for modern society and so monitoring the levels of electricity consumption is in the best interests of the University, its students and the town at large. If the University must adjust for increased expenses, student fees will be directly affected. Köhly mentioned that the “user pays” principle has been considered, which means that individuals who use more electricity would have to pay for their extra consumption. Those implementing the new system hope that the friendly competition engendered by the Energy Challenge will inspire responsible energy consumption. “Hopefully having these meters will enable the Eskom Energy Challenge between students to take off,” said Köhly. Cadden expanded on her point: “[The challenge] will create competition, res spirit and the satisfaction [gained] from doing something for a good cause.” He hopes residences will feel the need to meet the standards being set by their neighbouring residences. According to Krüger there will be significant prizes for the residences with the lowest energy readings. The installation of the electricity meters has proven to be nothing short of a success thus far, due to the support shown by the environmental representatives, who are, according to a satisfied Krüger, all incredibly eager to get involved in the project. Cadden, Köhly and Krüger are now looking to students to take on the initiative and enjoy some lighthearted competition for a good cause. The promised relief of no fee increase is something that no student can afford to ignore.
The Oppidan Press 7 May 2013
The Silent protest is one of many events hosted at Rhodes and aimed at tackling sexual violence. Photo: EMILY CORKE
Rhodes sexual harassment policy deemed most progressive
By Mitchell Shaun Parker ollowing recent allegations of sexual harassment by ten former students at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) against Senior Drama lecturer Tsepo wa Mamatu, Dean of Students (DoS) Dr Vivian de Klerk praised Rhodes University’s policy on sexual harassment as being “progressive”. But how exactly does Rhodes deal with instances of sexual harassment and assault? The University, which is host to a myriad of events every year aimed at tackling sexual violence, such as the Silent Protest, is notably one of the most progressive. Compared to universities such as Wits, which did very little regarding the assaults of wa Mamatu until there was enough public outcry, Rhodes has strict policy documents in place to deal with accusations of sexual violence or harassment. “We handle these things in a very serious light,” said Student Services and Antiharassment Officer Larissa Klazinga. Rhodes is one of two universities in South Africa which offer a 24/7 crisis line for students who are dealing with psychological trauma.“This puts us ahead of the game,” she added. If a student has been sexually assaulted, there are experts available at any hour to help them through the ordeal. Rhodes also has a Counselling Centre which operates free of charge for all students. The counselling centres in many universities in South Africa charge a nominal fee for each appointment with a counsellor. Wits, for example, states on their website that students
are charged R30 per session and that they can have a maximum of ten sessions. The facilities in place at Rhodes are more able in cases of sexual assault, as Rhodes has entirely free support from highly qualified professionals. Furthermore, all staff at the Health Care Centre are fully trained to deal with sexual violence and are aware of the protocols in place should such a case arise. South African law dictates that post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) can only be given if a charge is laid against an attacker. Rhodes, however, will pay for PEP for students at the Health Care Centre who do not wish to take their case further (something they are entitled to refuse) should the need arise. Moreover, pregnancy testing, STI testing and HIV testing are all covered by the University in the case of sexual assault, entirely free of charge. The University, through the DoS office, will also attempt to organise Leaves of Absence (LOAs) for survivors, so as not to compromise their academics. The University of Cape Town (UCT), Wits and the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN) all have policies regarding sexual assault, but none have the same level of assistance in place as Rhodes. The most any of them will do is direct a student to a nearby public hospital in order to get PEPs – which would legally then require them to lay a complaint against their aggressor, something many are hesitant to do, thus removing an important medical avenue. The institutions should also help deal with the legal ramifications of laying a charge within the university context. In comparison to Rhodes, where there are distinct support
structures in place as well as legal support, at these universities the onus is essentially on the student to deal with their situation. In fact, UKZN’s policy, as is stated on their website, suggests that cases should be kept as quiet as possible and that students should have their complaints “resolved at a local level with minimal formal processes”. The policy notes that students should rather take up their assault with criminal prosecutors, than with the university. The only university which seems to have similar structures in place is the University of Pretoria, which has a Student Health Clinic, an HIV/AIDS centre for HIV-related services and a 24-hour crisis line for those who need immediate help. Their only disappointment is the lack of formalised support for the psychological needs of students. However, the Rhodes University system is not perfect. As mentioned by Klazinga, there is currently a backlog at the Counselling Centre with students having to wait longer for an appointment due to a lack of capacity. This is an issue and needs to be addressed by the administration. It is clear though that Rhodes University has taken upon itself the task of ensuring a wellsupported environment for students and that, even when things go awry, there is a safety net to help protect students physically and emotionally. If you or anyone else you know has been the victim of sexual assault, you can contact the 24hour crisis line on 082-803-8146.
An Eastern Cape getaway
Thrilling climax to Battle of the Acoustics
Eusebius Mckaiser returns to Grahamstown
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Student socialists paint campus red
By Daniella Broomberg Campus was awash with the colour of bright red posters hailing the launch of a new student organisation, the Student Socialist Movement (SSM). The motives of this new organisation were little known until Tuesday 30 April when a campaign to inform students was started in the run-up to its official launch. The first seeds of SSM were planted last year, when a group of concerned Rhodes students came together with a mission to rebel against what they considered the “South African culture of silence”. They began to meet informally and from this followed the decision to start a formal organisation. SSM Organiser Claudia Martinez Mullen defined the movement as “a space for students who are feeling isolated and are suffering in silence to raise their voices”. SSM’s founding aims consist of a focus on fighting financial and academic exclusion, mobilising united mass action and rejecting elitism and a culture of commercialism on campus by seeking accountability in the hierarchy of management. On a broader scale it is concerned with the fight against poverty, hunger, gender inequality and working against the spread of HIV/AIDS, under the banner of socialism. How these issues will be addressed has not been fully clarified as yet. The SSM has a horizontal structure and its members claim to not believe in hierarchal power. It also believes in absolute transparency and honesty among its members and affiliates. The 30 April launch consisted of three speakers who critically evaluated the current state of operations at Rhodes University and discussed the ways in which these issues could be vocalised and solved. The launch was attended by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr Sizwe Mabizela and Deputy Dean of Students Roger Adams. Mullen was the first speaker and discussed the main objective of the organisation: free education for all. She further explored the battle between education and language and the subsequent preference of English as a medium of instruction. In her address, Mullen stressed the responsibility of youths to be the creators of the future they wanted to live in. SSM President Lipton Ncube followed Mullen with an address that assessed the nature of academic and financial exclusion. Ncube demanded transparency between the SRC and students, believing that the SRC should answer to students rather than the University management. He advocated the rights of students to recall SRC members if they perform inadequately and even explored the idea of policy on replacing inadequate lecturers and seeking responsibility from various departments when students fail, rather than solely blaming the students themselves. “It is your right to say when something is going wrong,” he said. Ncube called upon management to increase the number of tutors in various departments and allow them better wages. He voiced his frustration with the SRC and university management for continuously claiming to be trying to change circumstances without achieving results. This statement required further explanation as not all present were in agreement with this sentiment. Furthermore, he was appalled by the nature of exclusion at Rhodes and the complicated nature of the appeal process, which he felt left students with no choice but to leave. Last to speak was Lethabo Sekele, SSM Secretary and SRC Student Benefits Councillor. Despite concerns about conflict of interest due to her role as an SRC councillor, she described the SSM movement as “a space of clarity” which addresses grievances, while strongly advocating responsibility. She called upon students to band together, raise awareness and to think and discuss critically. Aiming to be more than just a student-interest society, SSM views itself as a movement advocating positive change and independent critical thinking. It aims not only to improve conditions at Rhodes but also of the community at large. Situated on a campus with minimal political activity and amidst continued claims of apathy on the part of students, Mabizela raised his concerns and called upon students involved in the SSM to be “architects of a better future”.
7 May 2013 The Oppidan Press
The passing of the Information Bill stirs outrage and raises questions regarding the future of freedom of expression in South Africa. Photo: KIRSTEN MAKIN
Secrecy Bill set for Constitutional Court
The Information Bill has one more threshold to cross before being declared an Act.
Kirsten Makin and Binwe Adebayo he National Assembly’s passing of the Protection of State Information Bill on 25 April brought with it the familiar cries about the sanctity of freedom of speech and concerns regarding the future of the independent press. Considering that this initiative has been in the political pipelines for the last few years, it seems strange that there is a new wave of surprise and outrage. It would seem that there has been very much anti-government sentiment and very few considered questions about how and why the law enabled this bill to gain such incredible momentum. Met with widespread outrage at its initial introduction into Parliament in 2008, the Secrecy Bill, as it is often referred to, has passed into the final stage before being potentially declared an Act under South African law. Yet despite the panic that has seized South African media practitioners and society alike, the Bill has yet to be approved by the Constitutional Court. Strato Copteros, who teaches Media Law and Ethics as part of the School of Journalism and Media Studies, believes that it is not yet time to be alarmed. “The thing with South Africa at the moment and why no one is really panicking is that even though it has been passed by both houses of Parliament, it hasn’t been signed into law by JZ [President Jacob Zuma] yet and he has the opportunity to send it in for judicial review,” he said. Copteros went on to explain that even if Zuma does not send in the Bill for judicial review, organisations such as The Right To Know Campaign (R2K) and the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) will call for judicial review and can demand that the Bill be taken to the Constitutional Court. In addition to this, considering South Africa’s parliamentary system of proportional representation, the objections that have been raised by parties like the Democratic Alliance (DA) will have to be considered (even if only procedurally) before any final decision is taken. It is also important to note that private entities are also
Lipton Ncube is the Student Socialist Movement (SSM) president. Photo: JOSHUA OATES
raising significant concerns with and objections to the passing of the bill. This year, World Press Freedom Day (which took place on 3 May) focused on the places in which journalists are prevented from doing their jobs and it seems a serendipitous irony that this issue has reared its head now. In addition to events such as this, international newspapers such as Britain’s The Guardian have led with the story, also dismissing the likelihood of the Bill coming to fruition. However, many influential bodies in South Africa remain perturbed. Kameel Premhid of the Helen Suzman Foundation noted that the organisation is “deeply concerned by the passage of Protection of State Information Bill as it still, even in its revised state, violates the spirit and intention of the Constitution”. The Constitutional Court, which stands as the highest body of law in the country, should presumably be the President’s next port of call. The court would review the Bill in light of issues such as freedom of speech, access to information and the right to dignity. In addition it will be held against Acts already instated such as the Promotion to Access of Information Act (PAIA). Copteros believes that acts such as PAIA may play a significant role in the outcome of the Information Bill. “The interesting thing about the Promotion to Access of Information Act that nobody talks about is that in the preamble it states that it cannot be superseded by any other act of the Republic of South Africa,” he said. This “conflict of laws” places an additional onus on the need for the judicial review of the Bill. “Freedom of information is vital to a liberal constitutional democracy where the governed need to know what the govern[ing] do,” insisted Premhid, when asked about the supremacy of PAIA. At this juncture, it is unclear how matters will proceed, especially considering the different agendas of actors at play. However, it is abundantly clear that the law was never open to even preliminary discussions about a Bill such as this, but considering that events have already run their course, it is hoped that the law will come into full effect to ensure that the public remains the primary focus and that the media is allowed to fulfil its constitutional function.
Too many protests, not enough unity
A discussion by WASA looks at the involvement of youth in South African politics
By Chelsea Haith onfronting the supposed lack of involvement by the youth in current-day South African politics, the Women’s Academic Solidarity Association (WASA) held a panel discussion on Thursday 18 April at Rhodes University. The discussion was centred on the Politics Department’s Prof Louise Vincent’s 2004 paper entitled, “What’s love got to do with it? The effect of affect in academy”. This opened the debate, “Teaching the Born Frees: The Dea(r)th of Youth Intellectualism in the Post-Apartheid University”. Elaborating on some of the complexities of youth involvement in modern South African politics, the panel discussion opened up the floor to tackle a phrase very relevant in today’s political sphere: the ‘born frees’. South African youth, university students included, seem to be considered a particularly apathetic generation. However in her book, Kids these days: Facts and Fictions about today’s youth, Sociology lecturer at the University of Southern California Dr Karen Sternheimer wrote, “Complaints about the next generation have been made for centuries. Socrates observed that children were more disobedient, had less respect for authority and had poorer manners than his generation.” While these complaints permeate our culture and possibly affect our performance, many youths conquer significant odds to attain university entrance, fight for the betterment of their lives and be hard-working. The youth has been categorised due to what Sternheimer terms “generational myopia”: the conservative line of thought that the past was safer and better than the present. Dr Sally Matthews, also of the Politics Department, highlighted the issue that our world is no longer as polarised as it was under apartheid and that the South African youth are unsure of who their common enemy is. This, Matthews said, leads to a lack of activism. Identifying the enemy is crucial in politicising the youth and while the vast array of issues include HIV/Aids stigmatisation, rape culture, corruption, environmental degradation and the patriarchal state of our society, none of these unify the youth in a joint effort of protest. Dr Carla Tsampiras spoke in contradiction of the accusation of apathy, stating that despite the fact that Rhodes University seldom meets quorum during Student Representative Council (SRC) elections, as has been the case since the 1990s, the number of students, attending this panel discussion surpassed that of older generations. The proliferation of solely self-centred action by young people was suggested by Dr Nomalanga Mkhize, a Rhodes University History lecturer. Youth today are driven by “middle-class narcissism,” she said, referencing the youth’s obsession with the statistics of their Twitter followers. Mkhize noted that the youth want to be famous and they want to be controversial, not for the sake of discussion and engagement on topical issues, but for the notoriety and the associated popularity of what Mkhize terms “self-branding”. Mkhize stated that young people need to “find a new language in facing issues in a new political sphere” by leaving behind misrepresentations by political groups and representing themselves in the new political sphere free from the controversy of party politics. However, the blame cannot be placed solely on the youth. Noting that the youth may have been marginalised by overbearing factionalism in party politics, political and social issues become irrelevant as the youth feel that they have no voice and little role to play. “The methods that have been put in place to move on to a better socio-economic future for our post-apartheid country seem achievable in theory, but in practice they are flawed by the economic practices of the capitalist system and its effect on the democracy,” said born free student Ciske Uys, discrediting the charge of the youth’s apathy. He added that if one’s opinion is dismissed as immature or irrelevant, one is unlikely to contribute to political or social debate. Mkhize concluded that a new political sphere must be created for the youth to deliberate on their everyday problems.
The Oppidan Press 7 May 2013
SRC tackle electoral procedure
By Leila Stein and Mitchell Shaun Parker Politics Following the controversies of last year’s SRC elections, the incumbent council has made moves to streamline the electoral process to avoid further issues in this year’s third-term elections. Last year’s elections were riddled with complications as the ballot system was used for the first time in twelve years. Previously, the voting had been done online through an electronic system. “The electronic system was used because it was fair and accurate, got a better voter response and counted the votes as they were submitted,” said Eric Ofei (SRC Liaison Officer). Ofei went on to comment that last year the elections changed to a ballot system due to requests from the student body. year’s elections. Oppidan students, who often complain about it being difficult to vote, will be allocated a week in which to vote electronically. Students living in residence, on the other hand, will receive two days in which to vote by ballot, despite incidents last year of students being approached by affiliates of candidates at polling stations and being pressured to vote for particular people. Although it appears that the electronic system received a better outcome, it also has its downfalls. “It is really a choice of the lesser of two evils,” commented Ofei. Some of the issues that arose with this system were candidates being able to campaign in residences and thereby being able to pressure individual voters into voting for a particular candidate through a door-to-door campaign system. “There is a very official document governing the SRC elections but it needs to be reviewed,” said Ofei. “It is the election rules that are insufficient,” he added. These rules are part of the current discussions being undertaken by the SRC. As such, the SRC are endeavouring to create an Electoral Committee to allow for free and fair elections. However, in a hotly contested debate, the SRC also decided that members of this committee would not be past SRC members, even though they are the ones who understand the process most, having gone through it themselves. This is aimed at preventing bias towards certain candidates. It must be noted that this bias is not considered unconstitutional, but it was something the SRC felt should be avoided so as to ensure the fairest elections possible. Besides the technical side of the elections, the most concerning aspect has always been voter turnout. In a university of just over 7000 students, it is concerning for those running elections that there is a high likelihood of being unable to reach quorum the first time round. It is hoped that with Oppidan students being able to use electronic voting this year’s elections will be able to make a significant shift in the right direction. Nominations for the Student Representative Council general election open on 31 July.
We didn’t care if people voted once, twice or three times
Eric Ofei, SRC Liaison Officer
The born free generation, which refers to the individuals born after 1994, are considered to be the generation to take action and make a real change in South Africa.
Despite bringing in expensive professional help in the form of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) – costing R40 000 – the first round of elections were unsuccessful and did not reach quorum, the minimum number of votes required to make an election valid. A second round of elections was held, where quorum was just barely reached. This year’s by-election for the appointment of the SRC Student Benefits Portfolio was also problematic. In contrast to the SRC’s aim of 2137, a total of only 1329 votes were cast. “It is time to rethink the strategy,” commented Ofei. Interestingly, these votes were not validated. “We didn’t care if people voted once, twice or three times,” noted Ofei during an SRC meeting. Many students found that they were able to vote without having to give any identification. In their meetings the SRC decided they would use a combination of electronic and ballot voting for this
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News Features International Week in the spotlight
By Mitchell Shaun Parker and Jordan Stier Politics ith this year’s International Week set to take place this month, the Student Representative Council’s (SRC) International Affairs Councillor Ndana Tendayi is confident that this year will be a huge success. “In previous years, the International Week has focused on being an international student within the academic context,” Tendayi explained. “But this year it will be international students from an academic and student perspective.” This year’s International Week has been scheduled to run during the week starting 18 May. International Week coordinator and former SRC President Allan Magubane said that internationalisation is important for the strong liberal environment on which Rhodes University prides itself. Promoting the enrolment and inclusion of international students at the University is believed to promote diversity in academic thought by offering perspectives from around the world. “Rhodes is moving towards being internationalised,” Tendayi said. Rhodes is well known for its foreign student population, with an estimated one in five students originally coming from outside South Africa. “There are people from 66 different countries, including South Africa, at Rhodes,” Tendayi continued. “It is only fair to celebrate this diversity.” As a means to help create a platform for education from different nationalities and various cultures, the week will feature a colloquium of, as it stands, 30 people from 23 SRCs and institutions from around South Africa. Although unconfirmed, plans are also underway to bring the Oxford University SRC President to the event to give another perspective. The topic of discussion at the conference will be what internationalisation means to students, with the aim being to create a national benchmark. Additionally, Tendayi hopes that an International Student Council will be formed to help spur on the conversation and answer important questions regarding internationalisation and how it fits in with national legislation. A parade will also be held on Saturday 25 May. It will begin on Somerset Street and will circle around to the Great Field where participants will form the continent of Africa. Other highlights include a panel to debate the International Criminal Court’s prosecution of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, who was accused of war crimes, which will be run by the Law Department, as well as a forum to answer the question “Is Rhodes really home for International Students?” This will be run by the Director of Equity and Institutional Culture, the International Office Director and the International Affairs Councillor. “Since Africa Day falls on the Saturday after, we will be having an African Ball on the evening of Thursday 23 May to which all students, especially international students from Africa and abroad, are welcome,” said Magubane. The Ball will see Rhodes playing host to the Deans of each Rhodes faculty and representatives from foreign embassies in South Africa. Magubane confirmed that further information on these and other such events will be spread across campus in the lead-up to International Week. “The aim of International Week is to showcase what Rhodes University and the International Office are doing for internationalisation on campus,” explained Magubane. “It is aimed at allowing international students to display the pride they have in their respective home countries.” Residences and societies will be given countries to represent for the week, with the SRC having already claimed Spain. Non-academic departments such as the Finance Department and Grounds and Gardens will also be participating. However, Tendayi believed that this isn’t where it should end. “It shouldn’t be a week thing. It should be running throughout the year. We don’t just have international students for one week,” she said. On the student side, there is no representation for international students except from the International Office. Concerns have been raised that the initiatives international students want the Rhodes University administration to pursue are not being dealt with. “I strongly feel that foreign students are under-represented: one student representing 1400 students,” commented Tendayi. Moreover, Tendayi believes that things need to be thought of in a global context. As an example, she suggested
7 May 2013
The Oppidan Press
International Week will begin on Saturday 18 May. It celebrates student diversity. Photo: JOSHUA OATES that events like Pride Week or activities from the Activism and Transformation Week could reflect on what is being done on a global scale and try mirror and influence that discourse. “A university being international doesn’t mean that it is just because of international students,” she noted. It remains to be seen whether International Week will change the perception held by Tendayi and her peers that “Rhodes doesn’t care about international students”, but it can definitely be argued that this year every effort is being made to ensure that things are different and that a dialogue will be created so as to find the best way forward for both the student body and the Rhodes University administration.
Rhodes protected from meat contaminants
By Mila Kakaza and Sophie Foster Supermarkets, suppliers and local food franchises have been thrown under the spotlight throughout South Africa as a result of the international meat scandal which has rocked 13 European countries. Responding to the outcry, Professor Louw Hoffman, a researcher at the University of Stellenbosch’s Department of Animal Science, took the initiative to test South Africa’s processed meats, including sausage and beef mince. The results were horrifying. The study found traces of pork, donkey and water buffalo in the processed meat. In fact, a staggering two-thirds of the meat tested had traces of non-beef contaminants. Even more shocking was the fact that suppliers were deliberately mislabelling packs of meat with bogus information. Imported meats were being relabelled, making customers unaware of what they were really eating. Supermarkets such as Pick n Pay, Checkers and Shoprite were hesitant to speak openly to reporters from The Oppidan Press. Pick n Pay stated that it was not possible to speak to us because they were not in charge of the situation, referring us instead to their head offices in Port Elizabeth. Checkers refused to comment, while Shoprite failed to respond to questions. The Oppidan Press also contacted the Steers franchise for their views on the issue of meat reliability and how it affects their business. Manager of the Grahamstown Steers branch Kudzai Chatikobo stated that the meat used for their beef patties and chicken has never been sourced from local suppliers. “We deal with quality,” Chatikobo said. The Catering Department was also quick to reassure students that the meat they supply is exactly what they say it is – despite never-ending jokes between students about the braised club steak. Simon Wright, the Acting Food Services Manager who works under the Residential Operations Division and is a close associate of Connock’s Butchery, said that their supplier had tested all their meats and they slaughter all their own produce. Wright also noted that Rhodes University does frequent and unannounced inspections of Connock’s Butchery’s products and working utensils, as well as the cleanliness of their fridges and transport vehicles, ensuring that students have no need to worry about where the meat is coming from or what condition it is in. Despite these reassurances, some - Kudzai Chatikobo, Grahamstown Steers branch manager
We deal with quality
Seminars for undergraduates and postgraduates considering studies at the University of Sydney
Pretoria May 13; Durban May 14 Pitermaritzburg May 15; Cape Town May 15 and 16 Applications can still be made by those unable to attend the seminars For more information contact: Elsa-Marie van Schalkwyk 012 807 0122 or firstname.lastname@example.org Application fees will be waived if you apply at the sessions, providing you present your academic transcripts and meet our entry requirements
students remain sceptical. One such student was Sarah-Jane Davies, who said she was aware of this situation and was “disgusted” at the thought of consuming meat “that you would never have eaten in your life”. She did, however, stress her relief at hearing that the dining halls carry out frequent inspections. The Hall Warden of St. Mary’s Hall Peta Meyers stated that although the meat provided in the hall was not particularly “top quality”, it was of a standard that is expected from a school catering company. She pointed out that there had been no complaints from students or kitchen staff members during the months in which the meat scandal had made international headlines. Thankfully, it seems the Rhodes community can eat happily with the knowledge that the dining hall meat is uncontaminated and healthy.
Staying alive in the Grahamstown restaurant business
By Timothy Rangongo Business With four coffee shops on campus and a wide selection of restaurants in town all vying for the attention of students, locals and visitors, Grahamstown can be a busy place during term. However, the real test for any would-be business owner is how to stay afloat when the students have gone home and the National Arts Festival is not in town. Running a restaurant in Grahamstown is no easy task, with the ever-fluctuating demand for good food and cheap, reliable service being just one of the many challenges. A large market share for many restaurants consists of students, but this cannot be depended on, what with students dining out only occasionally, as the Rhodes dining halls cater (for the most part) to their needs. Therefore, strategic planning and organisation proves to be of paramount importance, especially with most restaurants in town being located closer to campus, perhaps to attract student clientele. The manager of Spur Grahamstown Zimi Msimango said that regardless of the infrequent dining out by students, “they [students] are responding well to the two-for-one Monday special”. She added that, “The overall customer turnout during the week besides Monday evenings is satisfactory on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, days on which we run specials.” Msimango noted that the rest of the week is quieter. La Trattoria also introduced its two-for-one pasta evenings and music night promotions in order to keep their establishment bustling and to curb the concern of fewer diners during off-peak seasons. La Trattoria’s manager Liza Caporossi said, “One has to play nicely during the seasons when the town is busy like during O-Week, Graduation week and of course the National Arts Festival.” It is crucial for restaurants and cafés to grab hold of the lucrative opportunity that these major events on the Grahamstown calendar present. Reducing expenditure in the short run and saving more from the busy seasons aids survival during the dreary upcoming months. In the restaurant industry, the ambience, décor, geographical location and management are as essential as the food itself. Thirdyear student Owona Madlingozi said that she favoured “a quiet, cosy place with a firewood oven, wine cellar and a good winelist” when dining out. Drive and determination are also essential personality traits that one needs to make it in this industry. “If you do not believe in what you do,” said Café Delizzia’s manager Christiaan Oosthuizen, “then nobody else will, and chances are that you won’t have a perfect business unless you do just that.” Running a restaurant in Grahamstown thus proves to be challenging. La Trattoria served an estimated 700 customers over three days during this year’s Graduation week. Enthusiasm, hospitality and persistence are critical for one to deal with such high volumes of customers. Customers are also diverse and all have different specifications, making tolerance a winning trait to retain customers. It seems less difficult for franchises to attract and retain customers. “Tourists and the town’s visitors of all sorts did not have to look any further when in town and looking for a bite,” said Msimango. “Most are well acquainted with the [Spur] brand and know of the specials that [we] run.” Together with their higher profitability rate and the fact that they are the only dining establishment in Grahamstown with a children’s playing area, Spur definitely has an advantage. Spur’s signature birthday wishes, dances and free icecream are undoubtedly another competitive advantage that draws Grahamstown residents to its door. This is a broad distinction from La Trattoria’s competitive advantage, which lies in the quality of their products. They import about 80-90% of their products from Italy to afford customers a proper authentic Italian dining experience. Student Elri Steenkamp commented that, “Good food, especially a different and wide variety of food” is what she looks out for most when she dines out. The influx of tourists into Grahamstown goes a long way to provide income during busy periods. When these have come and gone, students and locals are the prime market which seems to give business enough momentum to keep up. Running a restaurant or similar establishment in Grahamstown is not child’s play. Taking better care of the market segments proves to go a long way towards keeping the eateries open.
The Oppidan Press 7 May 2013
Water tanks installed in residences can be used during water shortages. Photo: RORY BOON
Grahamstown’s water sorrows are nothing new
By Mamaputle Boikanyo Environment or many residents, the story of Grahamstown’s water woes is as old as the town itself. The town has been beleaguered by water quality and supply issues almost since day one. However, the question of why this is the case is an interesting one. According to Lorraine Mullins, the author of Grahamstown’s Water Supply: A Brief History from 1812 to 2008, Grahamstown’s water supply has always been a thorny issue. Mullins said that people must understand “what a struggle it has been since 1812 to supply [water] to the town”. Ironically, Grahamstown was founded because of the abundant water supply from the Blaauwkrantz River. The town is part of the Kowie catchment system, which supplies our water today. In 1819, the population density of Grahamstown was much lower than it is today, with only 25 houses in the area. However, the promised farmland in Albany resulted in an influx of settlers from 1820 and the number of houses rapidly increased to 400 by 1830. The population increase took its toll on Grahamstown. “Each time the authorities have declared the [water] problem solved, the growth of the population has proved them wrong,” said Mullins. Environmental influences have also impacted the town’s water system throughout its history. Droughts have been a recurring problem, which is not surprising considering the fact that Grahamstown lies on the edge of the Karoo. In the droughts of the 1860s, citizens living in the higher areas complained of the unequal distribution of water, a sentiment still expressed by residents today. Modern-day Grahamstown is still a water-scarce community but improvements are beginning to be seen. The Blue Drop System, which measures water quality, brought up Grahamstown’s rating from 36.13% in 2010 to 55.77% in 2011 and the Makana Municipality soon hopes to reach a rating of 97%. The Kowie Catchment Campaign (KCC) has been initiated to foster the maintenance of the Kowie river system in order to improve the well-being and health of the Grahamstown community. The KCC has been working with the Makana Municipality for over a decade. Nikki Köhly, who is head of the KCC and is the Rhodes Environmental Health and Safety Officer, said that working with the municipality has “borne some fruit”, but also noted some difficulties. “There has been quite a high turnover of staff,” she explained. “The municipality has lost some important institutional memory [as many qualified officials leave] which doesn’t help when it comes to dealing with the infrastructure.” In March this year Grahamstown was subject to prolonged water cuts, which left many residents angry and frustrated, a situation that was further aggravated by the municipality’s silence. A frustrated resident, Andy Walker (@reddevilandy10) took to Twitter to berate the municipality: “#MakanaMunicipality Nothing on your website about the water issue? Do people even work at the municipality??” Eventually the municipality issued a statement saying the shortage of water was due to an issue with a supply pipe from Howiesons Poort dam. Mullins and Köhly both agree that residents of the town and students from the Rhodes community are doing quite a lot to assist with the water issue, through important organizations such as Galela Amanzi. Students should also try using water sparingly as many small, water-saving actions can make a big difference. In the meantime it seems that Grahamstown residents will have to continue to voice their dissatisfaction over the continual water worries. To find out about ways to contribute to beneficial water practices or if you want to download Grahamstown’s Water Supply: A Brief History from 1812 to 2008 for a more indepth analysis of Grahamstown’s water history, visit www. kowiecatchmentcampaign.org.za.
Smart foods giving students the academic edge
By Tsitsi Mashingaidze SciTech f you are currently frustrated by poor memory, lack of concentration or a general decline in your cognitive abilities, then perhaps you need to start watching what you eat. The nutrients which people consume daily may have a negative impact on their mental performance. Experts are exploring how adding ‘smart foods’ to your diet could make a difference in your cognitive performance, which, for some students, could be the difference between a pass and a distinction. The food we eat today is very different to that eaten by our ancestors. Food production and manufacturing techniques, coupled with changing lifestyles and increased access to and demand for processed foods, mean that our intake of fresh and nutritious produce is much lower, while at the same time our intake of fat, sugar, alcohol and additives are steadily on the rise. Consumption of high-fat processed food causes damage to the hypothalamus – the area of the brain that is responsible for the body’s levels of hunger, thirst, natural rhythms and cycles. The Oppidan Committee Welfare and Environmental Representative Patrick Wilken understands how hard it may be for students to budget for a healthy and balanced diet, but emphasises that it can be done on even the tightest budget. “Whole grains which are low-GI provide a steady supply of energy to maintain a balanced and lengthy study session,” Wilken explained. “Get low-GI bread that is more filling and healthy, green tea, fish which is a good source of vitamin B, broccoli which is rich in vitamin K and enhances cognitive function, and tomatoes that contain antioxidants which protects from dementia and Alzheimers.” In order to maintain regular blood sugar levels, eat regular meals throughout the day. Missing meals, especially breakfast, leads to low blood sugar, which in turn causes bad moods, fatigue and also makes it difficult to concentrate. Sugary foods are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream and this tends to cause an initial high or surge of energy that soon wears off as the body increases its insulin production, leaving you feeling tired and low. The body manufactures insulin from the pancreas leading to plummeting blood sugar levels – commonly dubbed as hypoglycemia. Eventually, this will trigger the release of adrenals and
7 May 2013
The Oppidan Press
Fast food and take-outs obviously don’t meet all the requirements of a healthy and balanced diet but the decision to eat them rests with the students
- Owona Madlingozi, Entertainment Rep Prince Alfred Food and
adrenaline hormones like cortisol and epinephrine. Both of these have the potential to deplete brain cells and place stress on your liver. The rapidly changing highs and lows in blood sugar levels can actually cause chemical imbalances in the brain. You can go from feeling happy and energetic during a glucose high, to feeling sleepy, irritable, unfocused or agitated during a low. Wholegrain cereals, pulses, fruit and vegetables are filling and because the sugar in these foods is absorbed more slowly, they don’t cause mood swings. These foods are more nutritious as
they contain thiamin (also known as vitamin B1, it has been associated with control of mood) folate and zinc. Not having enough fluids in the body also has significant implications for mental health. The early effects of even mild dehydration can affect our feelings and behaviour. The average adult loses approximately two litres of water daily through the lungs as water vapour, through the skin as perspiration and through the kidneys as urine. If one does not drink enough fluids to replace this loss then they will get dehydrated, causing loss of concentration and reduced mental functionality. Coffee, cool drinks, tea and some energy drinks contain caffeine, which some people use to boost their energy levels. However if taken in large quantities caffeine can increase blood pressure, anxiety and depression as well as sleeping problems. Caffeine also has a diuretic effect in the body – it encourages the production of urine and therefore leads to dehydration. For this reason it is recommended to not rely only on caffeine-based fluids whenever thirsty. If you do take drinks with caffeine in them, limit yourself to just three or four per day and drink other fluids such as water, fruit juice and non-stimulant herbal teas at other times.
The Prince Alfred Residence Food and Entertainment Representitive, Owona Madlingozi, shared her thoughts on what students who are in residence should be aware of. “Fast food and take-outs obviously don’t meet all the requirements of a healthy and balanced diet but the decision to eat them rests with the students,” she said. Alcohol has the potential to kill brain cells and any substance containing nicotine has been shown to cut off or restrict blood flow to the brain. The restriction of blood flow due to nicotine reduces efficient delivery of healthy substances like oxygen and glucose. Nicotine also tightens capillaries, which play a large role in obstructing the delivery of blood and healthy nutrients to neurotransmitters – messengers that allow neurons (brain cells) to interact and communicate with one another. “It’s something that people take for granted,” said student Ivy Ng’ok. “The amount of toxins we put into our bodies in the name of fun. I regularly juice fruits and vegetables and it has done wonders for my energy and concentration levels.” The human body needs food and all the nutrients they provide. Be aware of what you eat and who knows? You just might crack a first during the upcoming exams.
COME DINE WITH ME
INGREDIENTS 1 tbsp Margarine 2 Medium Onions roughly chopped 2 Cloves Garlic roughly chopped 5 ml Nutmeg 1.25 ml Peri Peri spice 1 ltr Water 1 Chicken/Vegetable Stock Cube 250 ml Cream 1 kg Butternut peeled & chopped Salt & pepper to taste METHOD 1. In a large pot, melt the margarine and fry the onions, garlic, nutmeg and peri-peri until just soft. 2. Add the butternut, water and chicken stock cube and bring to the boil. 3. Allow to simmer for about 30 minutes or until the butternut is soft. 4. Remove from heat and blend with a stick blender or food processor until smooth. 5. Stir in the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper.
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The Oppidan Press 7 May 2013
Despite being the most frequently searched item on the internet, hardcore pornography isn’t often the subject of dinner-time conversation. However, the decision taken by the Independent Communication Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to relinquish opposition to TopTV’s proposition of three satellite porn channels has put the ‘p’ word on everyone’s lips. Debates about national morality aside, this move by TopTV speaks quite strongly to a notion of viewers as consumers, whose viewing demands (whatever they may be) should be catered to without question. When we consider that just a few short months ago, TopTV was on the brink of bankruptcy, this move is probably their last attempt to hold the company together. While The Oppidan Press has no intention of moralising, one must question the influence financial factors has on the type of content that is shared with the public. While the entertainment industry can be considered separate to the independent media, the thread of ‘adapt or die’ seems to pervade both, with the same result. Previous CEO of the embattled Tribune Company Sam Zell made similar concessions in the group’s newspapers, admitting publicly that he was not “a newspaper man” and, quite ironically, admitted that if he could put porn in newspapers, he would. It is abundantly clear that organisations, media and otherwise, are under immense pressure to remain relevant, in demand and in business. The basic threads holding these organisations together as purveyors of information, education and public opinion means the onus is still on organisations (media in particularly) to be discerning about what type of content they deem both necessary and appropriate. Although indicators suggest that TopTV will not gain huge profits from this venture, the precedent set is of most concern. TopTV has opened the door for other entities (perhaps without their financial might or expertise) to produce and disseminate content that will also gain attention. Twitter has been ablaze with comments from bloggers, documentary makers and even some journalists, who, with different degrees of seriousness, have argued that anything goes and one user even posited that Tumblr should include a Tumblr “After Dark” page to draw in more users and viewers. Viewers are being sold to advertisers purely as consumers – as a potential source of profit, by providing for any service they may desire. This mindset, entrenched in many multinational corporations, has spilled over into the personal. The entertainment and media businesses seem to have forgotten that their viewers are citizens first - that their ways of being in the world and even their identities, are constructed by what they see and hear in the public sphere. The media, of which The Oppidan Press forms a part, often complains about apathy and poor judgement on the part of the user. However, is it not true that in opening the gates for any type of content and comment to be permissible, we have permitted our viewers to react without discernment? The relationship is a reciprocal one. It’s not about whether or not porn is right for South Africa, or indeed anyone. Rather, the issue is that when you schedule a breaking news bulletin or a talk-show about pressing social issues just hours before overtly pornographic content, it’s hard to decide what’s important.
Porn gets South Africans hot under the collar
ILLUSTRATION: KATE-LYN MOORE
By Matthew de Klerk ornography. With the recent decision of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to give TopTV the go-ahead to air three channels of adult entertainment between 8pm and 5am, this is a word that has taken South Africa by storm. The upcoming channels (namely Playboy TV, Desire TV, and Private Spice) have got religious groups up in arms. So far, the decision has been condemned by innumerable religious sects, from The Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa and Assemblies of God of South Africa, to the Baptist Union of South Africa and the Dutch Reformed Church. They want this dirty smut banned, citing risks to women and children. According to the Family Policy Institute, “The Christian church is deeply concerned that the introduction of three pornographic channels in South Africa will exacerbate the current crisis of rape and violence against vulnerable women and children.” However, one needs only to consider the horrific rape and sexual violence statistics of South Africa before asking “Exacerbate? Hell, how could it get worse?” South Africa has had no nationally-aired porn channels until now and yet that has not stopped the insidious development of a culture of rape, as well as the current civil war against women. If rape gets worse, it won’t be because there’s sex on the TV. In addition, the advent of mobile technologies and services such as
The Oppidan Press staff and contact details
Editor: Kirsten Makin. Deputy Editor: Binwe Adebayo. Managing Editor: Jamie Bezuidenhout. Advertising Manager: Matthew Barbosa. Online Editor: Tyson Ngubeni. Assistant Online Editor: Stuart Lewis. Webmaster: Thandile Pambuka. News Features Editor: Tegan Scales. Assistant News Features Editor: Amanda Xulu. Opinion Editor: Andrew Tudhope. Environment Editor: Jordan du Toit. Politics Editor: Tarryn de Kock. Assistant Politics Editor: Emily Corke. Arts & Entertainment Editor: Jessica van Tonder. Assistant Arts and Entertainment Editor: Dirk Steynberg. SciTech Editor: Lethabo Ntshudisane. Business Editor: Mudiwa Gavaza. Sports Editor: Andrew Tombs. Chief Photo Editors: Josh Oates, Robynne Peatfield. Assistant Chief Photo Editor: Michelle Cunliffe. Chief Sub-Editors: Kate-Lyn Moore, Matthew de Klerk, Lucy Holford-Walker. Sub-Editors: Kaitlin Cunningham, Alexa Sedgwick, Fabio De Dominicis. Chief Designer: Chevawn Blum. Senior Designers: Aimee de la Harpe, Dale Scogings, Jehan Ara Khonat. Junior Designers: Lucy Holford-Walker, Madien van der Merwe, Hannah MacDonald, Amy Davidson. Illustrator: Amy Slatem. Multimedia (TV): Palesa Mashigo Letters to the Editor: email@example.com Advertising details: firstname.lastname@example.org www.oppidanpress.com www.facebook.com/theoppidanpress www.twitter.com/oppidanpress
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WAP, Blackberry Internet Service and ever more-available internet has made pornography easily accessible to anyone who wants it. So whether or not we take it off the air, it’ll still be there. All this will do is turn porn into the metaphorical elephant in the room. What the church should be looking into is ensuring that families have open discussions and that parents are responsible enough to make sure their children’s consumption of this material is controlled until such time as they are legally allowed to access it. To a certain degree, this pornography should be limited – but not for the reasons the church is thinking. First of all, it has to be emphasised that morality should not be imposed by anyone, least of all the church. If the church had its way, things as innocent as gay marriage would be illegal. No, the reason we should restrict pornography is simple: sexual education. In a recent article published in The Mail and Guardian, the South African system of sexual education was shown to be very poor indeed. The article, which draws on work done by members of Rhodes University’s education Department Jean Baxton and Lesley Wood, points out that teachers find it difficult to educate learners about sex. An included sidebar reveals some of the myths believed by learners who attended discussions at a community project in Johannesburg. According to the article, some learners believed heinous myths such as “if a girl drinks coke after sex, she won’t get pregnant” and “having sex in water prevents
pregnancy”. The high schools I attended up until university all had terrible sexual education. The laughable Education For Living classes in Zimbabwe were as ridiculous as the banal Life Orientation lessons given at my South African high school. They focused on two things: disease and abstinence. They do nothing but make sex embarrassing and scary, leaving learners afraid to ask the questions that could very well prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Porn won’t teach us anything about sex. Instead, it might spread more dangerous myths of power held by men and women in sexual relations. It won’t teach us how to put on condoms, or reduce our risk of unwanted disease, but will instead leave men wondering why their girlfriends don’t collapse into whimpering, moaning, sex-hungry maniacs when things get hot. Porn can be dangerous to perceptions of sex, yes - studies suggest that. But as adults, we have the right to choose what we want to watch, when we want to watch it. If it offends us, there’s a reason they invented the remote control. Instead of raising our ire at what is in essence an empty debate, we need to turn our attention to responsible sexual education. That way, we can maybe do something about the dire AIDS and rape statistics. We should worry more about why there are not three sexual education programmes clamouring for space on the airwaves and leave the ICASA masters to their messy debate.
7 May 2013
The Oppidan Press
Syrian citizens facing violence send condolences to victims of the Boston bombings . Photo: JAMES BURR/FLICKr
From watchdog to lapdog: SA news agenda panders to the West
By Emily Corke Politics f you Googled the word “bombing” two weeks after the attacks in Boston on 13 April, the results would be dominated, to the 34th page (and even further) by news, speculation, outcry and general discussion around the bombing at the Boston Marathon. Media rushed to the scene with their phones, cameras and iPads: tweeting and reporting on every scrap of information that they could possibly get their hands on, regardless of who or what it came from or whether or not it was correct. What you wouldn’t read on your Twitter feed on that day and during the weeks that followed, was anything about the air strikes on Syrian civilians or the protests and rioting outside the Somali high court. News of the Boston Marathon bombing was later trumped by the shooting in Texas. On my own Twitter feed there were countless people asking “what is going on with the world?” This was asked despite the news of the rising death toll in Syria and the consistent bombings in countries in the Middle East. Even the earthquake in Iran seemed to slip under the Twittersphere radar, despite the instantaneous nature of the network. It could be said that the great Tweeting masses are either living under a rock or that they aren’t reading enough about events happening outside of the United States for it to make an impact on their lives. “There is little doubt about the weight of American dominance in the news we consume,” said Politics lecturer and PhD student, Siphokazi Magadla. “American culture is in our living rooms and iPods every day, so it is ingrained in us.” It seems that the past three weeks have been a clear sign of the type of news agenda that dominates the global media. The fact of the matter is that the alleged bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was briefly the most famous person in the world. Even more tragic is the fact that it seems as if more people know that three people were killed in the Boston Marathon than of the deaths occuring daily in war-ridden countries like Syria. “There is clearly a hierarchy with regards to the lives that matter,” Magadla commented. “The problem is that we do not recognize the lives of civilians in Syria as liveable, but rather we see life in that context as precarious.” Logic would lead some to point out that Syria is a dangerous place and therefore it is of little surprise to hear of the loss of life. It would be a shock in America because we think the American life to be more liveable, idyllic and less vulnerable. As any Media Studies student will tell you, the media has a profound influence on society. Media Studies lecturer at the Rhodes University School of Journalism and Media Studies Vanessa Malila said, “The global media are strongly influenced by economic, political and social structures, which differ across regions and is therefore strongly determined by regional political and economic trends.” The reality is that the media landscape, particularly in countries which don’t dominate the capitalist markets, is dominated by the agendas of the commercial giants who subsidise them. The South African media is no different. “In terms of the domination of the Western news agenda in South Africa, I think this is influenced by South Africa’s current and historical political alignment,” said Malila. Malila went on to note that not only is South Africa economically invested in portraying Western media, but also in propagating an identity that is acceptable to a Westernised world. According to Malila, South Africa has been influenced by its need to portray itself as the leader in African politics, economics and industrial development since the end of apartheid. “Part of that can be seen in the way the media prioritise particular news events, which happen on the global level (such as the Boston bombings) as a result of their news gathering culture,” said Malila. “It is also a product of the normative ideology, which permeates much of the mainstream news organisations in South Africa. They see themselves as the watchdog of society and something like the Boston bombings raises the need to alert society to the evils that can pervade society.” The notion of the media being the watchdog of society is considered the status quo. However, the very same structures that the media is meant to critique, such as government, the economy, corporations and even social structures, influences the news agenda that the media puts forward. Amongst the coverage of the Boston bombings, Aljazeera released a listening post which pointed to the faults of the timeless, consumerist media that operate entitled “Boston: When the media gets it wrong”. Incorrect facts are very dangerous in the media. Aljazeera reported that, in the chaos of the Boston bombing, “journalists scrambled to cover the bombings, some reports hit embarrassing and even dangerous new lows”. Commercialisation of the media exerts further influence over news agendas. In South Africa the emergence of China as a major economic influence should therefore have an effect on the media. However, according to Magadla, “China exists as ‘future’ hegemon, but very few South Africans identify with life in China,” and so we continue to have American interests and news broadcasted in our homes and communities. “Until that changes, an earthquake in China will unfortunately not affect us like a hurricane affects us when it happens in New York or New Orleans,” said Magadla. Should it be said then that the media is failing the public by broadcasting the agendas of political, economical and social structures? “The media project is an elitist endeavour that reflects the musings of the middle and upper classes,” said Magadla. “Until we think the lives of the poor matter, the frames that journalists use are unlikely to change.” This is a question posed to most areas of the capitalist world. The answer is not a simple one. Considering the American-dominated way in which the world operates, it is unlikely that the way our news agenda is shaped is going to change either. “I think the media fail in a number of areas of their reporting, particularly when reporting on African issues, youth issues and issues which relate to marginalised South Africans,” agreed Malia. However, although it is a reality that South African and African news is swept under the carpet, one should not detract from the importance of the events in the past three weeks. “I do not think there is anything wrong with reporting on events such as the Boston bombing, but it needs to be made relevant to ordinary South Africans,” said Malia. “They need to make us see why it is important to us rather than just reporting on it and taking for granted that audiences think this is important to us because it’s important to the Americans.”
Arts & Entertainment
Something new to dance to
By Jessica van Tonder and Charles Mackenzie hortstraw is a Johannesburgbased band that has been making waves internationally through the indie music scene. With their simple melodies and catchy rhythms they have become a prominent sound in live music venues and clubs across the country. Performances from the new album Good Morning Sunshine will be the highlight of their tour. The group hopes to produce the same exceptional experience for the Grahamstown audience as they have in years before. “Our performance probably won’t have changed too much, but our repertoire of songs has changed a bit. We’ll be playing a lot more songs off the new album this time, and they’re generally more upbeat than our older songs. So I reckon people can expect a bit more energy but still the same fun party vibes,” said vocalist Alastair Thomas. Shortstraw has incorporated many new influences into their music, including performances with other local musicians Zubz and Shane Durrant for a number of their new songs. “Shane is an old friend of ours. We released our last album on his label so we got to know him quite well, and when the song [“No Money”] came about we just figured he’d be a perfect addition to it. We gave him the verse without any lyrics and he just came in and let loose,” said Thomas. Shortstraw also found incorporating rap would bring a different sound to their new music. “The band wanted to produce an album that people could dance to, be happy and sing along when listening to it,” said Thomas. They hope to be more commercially successful this time around. Their developing sound now includes an afro influence, along with some kwela and indie. The response to the change in their sound has so far been good: “One of the songs just got playlisted on 5fm so the whole commercial side of things is going pretty well,” commented Thomas. Shortstraw makes sure that the fans are always number one when it comes to producing the music that they want. And when it comes to being a band, Shortstraw is as natural and synergetic as they come. “We’re all friends. So that helps with the whole getting along with each other side of things. Through that time together, we’ve all become really solid friends and have gotten to know each other really well. So when it comes to creating content, it just kinda comes naturally because we’re all already on the same page,” said Thomas.
The Oppidan Press 7 May 2013
Phil Moffett, a graduate of Rhodes University, has released a new album called The Beginning. Photo: PROVIDED
Rhodes guitar master reaching new heights
By Jessica van Tonder “Crowds can either be inspirational or they can hinder your ability to portray your compositions, the trick is to play for yourself and have no fear of how you will be perceived by the crowd.” These are the words of Philip Moffett, a Rhodes University graduate. “I started playing the guitar when I was 15 years old, which was nine years ago. Rhodes was where I began performing. The general reception of the students was great and boosted my confidence in performing.” Moffett studied Instrumental Music Studies, which was an application of Classical Guitar Technique that greatly influenced his guitar playing and musical understanding. His music is a fusion of classical, slap harmonics and flamenco with percussion embellishments. “My composition usually includes elements of Andy Mckee, Don Ross,
Khaki King, Jon Gomm and Newton Faulkner,” he said. Moffett has played in many venues, including markets, restaurants, pubs and festival theatres. “The highlight for me was definitely Splashy Fen. It was a great reception and overall awesome festival,” he said. Moffett has recently released his debut album The Beginning. Producing the album was a learning curve for him in terms of songwriting, production, editing and mixing. His immediate goal is to promote himself and raise his public profile through shows and social media. “I also need to keep up my songwriting and continue to learn more about music - it’s infinite and perhaps more powerful than all wisdom and philosophy,” he explained. Unfortunately Moffett will not be playing at the Grahamstown Festival as he has many shows booked throughout KZN. If you are looking for his music, contact him on his Facebook page for the release of his EP.
The closing date for th entries is 5 July. 2013.
Shortstraw is on a national tour to promote their new album for 2013. Photo: HANRO HAVENGA
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The Oppidan Press Taking student news reporting to the next level
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7 May 2013
The Oppidan Press
A new spin on charity
By Douglas Smith n Saturday 27 April, the Hair for CAIR and Annual Spinathon took place at the Rhodes University Health Suite. The purpose of the event was to promote cancer awareness and encourage people to lead healthy, active lifestyles. The event gave people the opportunity not only to donate money to a worthy charity, but also to show their active commitment to the fight against cancer by sweating it out on a spinning bike. Although South Africa is safe from most severe natural disasters, mortality rates remain high because of the scourge of serious illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and cancer. Stats SA released a statistic based on data obtained from deaths that were registered at the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) in 2010. According to the results, TB remains the number one cause of death in South Africa among diseases, having caused 12.6% of deaths in 2010. HIV caused 2.5% of deaths in that same year, but it must be remembered that people with HIV can suffer for many years before their bodies give in and so this statistic can be misleading. South Africa’s cancer statistics are not exactly the greatest either. Every South African lives with the fear that they could be the one in every six men or seven women in this country that get cancer during their lifetime. These statistics can be found on the Hospice Telefundraising website, along with a particularly striking truth about cancer: “Cancer is a great equaliser. It knows no boundaries of class, race and gender, sex or age. It can strike anyone at any time.” With diseases such as cancer in the world, doing what we can to help those in need is something that should be a part of all our lives. We may not be able to do much as individuals, but a group of enthusiastic individuals can certainly make a difference and it takes just one particularly enthusiastic individual to spark such a group. In the past, money raised by the Annual Spinathon has gone to CANSA. This year however, the suggestion was put forward to give the money to Grahamstown Hospice to see it used locally. This makes members of the community who got involved feel like they really made a difference in their hometown. The event attracted 19 cycling teams made up of cyclists and non-cyclists alike who kept their bikes spinning for four hours, successfully raising R4080 for the Grahamstown Hospice. While the pedals churned tirelessly to the sound of energetic music, money was being raised by people on the sidelines, who paid to have their hair shaved, curled or braided, raising an additional R940 for Hospice. Speaking of Saturday’s event Smangaliso Ngwenya, a participant in the Spinathon, said, “The whole thing really had a great vibe and it was amazing to be able to contribute.” Event organiser Charlene Donald spoke about the event’s success, mentioning that people often have negative views about charities. When people are asked over and over again to simply put money in a box it can make them feel used. “Adding sport allows [people] to actively participate in the process of making a difference, but also allows them to have fun and enjoy the event, thus shifting the negative view of charity events to a positive one,” Donald said. Another important factor to consider is that there are a large number of people who care about causes like cancer, but do not have the money to contribute financially. “Some people [can] not afford to donate, but are able to cycle. By approaching a business and asking them to sponsor their bike, more people are involved and the person without any money still feels like they are able to make a difference,” said Donald. The Hair For CAIR and Annual Spinnathon certainly gave people an opportunity to make a difference through sport. For those who missed out, keep your eyes and ears open because Rhodes students are getting more involved in organising sports-oriented charity events. Better still, organise an event yourself to raise money for your favourite charity. Take the initiative. Perhaps an Ultimate Frisbee tournament is the next order of business?
The Rhodes University Rowing Club’s Women’s C Eight rows up to the start of their race. The crew came seconds behind rivals UKZN (pictured). The Rhodes Crews will now begin their arduous journey to compete in the 2013 Universities Boat Race to be held in September on the Kowie River in Port Alfred. Photo: KEVIN FLYNN
Rhodes guitarist strums to success
Healthy eating could boost marks
see page 7
RU to celebrate international diversity
see page 5
see page 10
Mart-Mari de Bruyn, a member of the RU Rifle Club who made the South African Rifle team, takes aim during practice. Photo: MADIEN VAN DER MERWE
Rhodes hot shots leaving their mark
By Andrew Tombs o you and me, Jessica Vercueil and Mart-Mari de Bruyn seem nothing more than unassuming BSc students. But put a rifle in their hands and they become two of the fiercest shooters to have graced the South African national side, leaving their targets peppered with holes and coming home with gold time and time again. Both Vercueil and de Bruyn, members of the Rhodes University Rifle Club (RURC), recently made it into the 2013 Randle team for South Africa. This team has an all-female membership. It is made up of the top ten female shooters in South Africa, one coach and two reserves. The Randle is a postal competition (which means that the shoots are not limited to one place or time, with the scores being posted in) that is held between the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The competition consists of a .22 calibre rifle prone shoot in which the teams shoot at 50 yards and 100 yards, both with 20 shots, adding to a total individual score out of 400. These scores are then compiled together and sent in to be compared to the other countries’ scores. When asked why they got involved in shooting, Vercueil laughed and admitted that she hadn’t any experience with it before and that the fact that her sister was the chairperson when she got here was a contributing factor into her getting started. De Bruyn, on the other hand, has been firing what are commonly known as ‘twotwos’ (named because of the .22 calibre bullet) since grade ten. She originally started in grade eight with air-rifles and admits that she wasn’t good to start with, but that “when you love something, you will get better at it”. This marks her fourth year on the Randle team. The RURC has had its fair share of controversy, with legal issues concerning the handling, firing and possession of their firearms in 2012 leading to the club not operating. However, they bounced back from this with their stunning performance during the April holiday at the South African Target Rifle Association’s 68th Annual Small-Bore Championships in Bloemfontein, in which they won a total of 19 medals: seven gold, four silver and eight bronze. This competition took place between 1 to 4 April and the Randle team was chosen based on the scores of the last day. The shooting and scoring for the Randle was done the day afterwards. De Bruyn admits that this system is not the most effective as “not everyone is able to make it to Nationals, and we are tired after Nationals, so our performance is compromised”. However, this is in accordance with the Randle rules, which state that “the team is selected, and fires, during the course of the competing nations’ national championship”. However, the early nature of the South African Nationals and the sometimes poor turnout, has led to a bid to have the selection and based on the South African Target Rifle Association’s score matrix which takes the shooters’ scores and averages them, which allows for a greater pool to choose from as well as a more consistent performance. In a competition dominated by the United States, South Africa has won the trophy once in 1997 and came third in 2007. De Bruyn attributes this to the fatigue that the shooters feel, the occasionally poor turnout and the fact that very few are experienced with 100 yard ranges, as most ranges (including Rhodes University’s) are limited to 50 yards. As a result their scores suffer. RURC is also one of the only university-level clubs that participate, with most other clubs being provincial or private. With experienced,
When you love something, you will get better at it
- Mart-Mari de Bruyn, Randle team member
but not trained coaches the inclusion of two Rhodes members to the Randle team and the overall performance of the club is quite impressive. With no reward beyond boasting rights given upon making the Randle team, there are Randle colours for a shoot of 397/400 – which means hitting only three points off dead-centre, which can be a millimetres difference. De Bruyn currently has her colours. RURC is set to take part in the Eastern Cape Championships on 11 May and the Free State Championships later in the year.
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