Blog Archives

MECS Shines at Graduation 2015

MECS Student Fights TB to Graduate With Honours

Farah Sader. Photo courtesy of UKZN NdabaOnline.

Farah Sader. Photo courtesy of UKZN NdabaOnline.

On Monday night, Farah Sader graduated with a BA Honours in Media and Cultural Studies after overcoming a long battle with tuberculosis. Her Honours research, entitled “Constructing a South African Identity: A textual analysis of Die Antwoord’s music video Fatty Boom Boom,” aimed to explore a form of identity in post-apartheid South Africa; but her success came on the back of years of fearless determination and struggle.

Originally, Sader began her studies as a Fine Arts student in 2009, but in early 2010 was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis, and was forced to deregister from her Fine Arts degree. She told us that her “TB recurred 6 times; basically I had it for two and a half years”.

“I was on the highest dose of medication and was often too ill to attend varsity, especially having to be in and out of hospital and undergoing numerous surgical procedures”.

“Eventually my doctors gave up and told me it was either going to kill me or they would have to remove my diseased lung”.

Miraculously however, Fader began to respond to her medication and did not need to have her lung removed.  Six months later, she was TB free.

“All the while I continued to study, with just the bare minimum of two modules a semester,” Sader added.

Sader commended her peers, tutor and lecturers for her motivation “I owe my entire career to the support of my peers, Mr Shaylan Janneker, Ms Desirey Viney, Ms Sandra Pitcher and Dr Nicola Jones, who supported and encouraged me throughout the times I struggled.”

Asked about her future, Sader said that intends pursuing something “in field of graphic design and public relations, as well as to complete a Post Graduate Certificate in Education, as I would like to teach at a later stage in my life.”

* We’d like to thank Merusha Naidoo for her work in writing this story.

MECS Says Farewell to Honours 2014

Some of the Honours class in front of OMB.

On Friday last week, the MECS department said its final goodbyes to this year’s Honours class.  Hosted by Academic Leader Dr Nicola Jones, the farewell event paid tribute to the hard work done by both students and their supervisors throughout the year.

The evening began with an award presentation for the top achievers of the year .

Claire Keyworth and Mellisa Muchena with their final research projects.

Warwick Jones received “The Writer’s Award” for his excellent short story Sometimes I Run and travel piece, Toward Pondolandwhile Mellisa Muchena was awarded for her outstanding research presentation.

In addition, the hard work of Merusha Naidoo was recognised, winning her the “Most Improved Student” for 2014 and Claire Keyworth won the “Best Corporate Portfolio”, which also helped her get a job as the new marketing assistant at St Charles College.

However, the evening was not just about rewarding academic excellence as lecturers recapped some of the moments that will always remind them of 2014.  Tawanda Kahlari was presented with an alarm clock after requesting to write his final exam standing up, so he didn’t fall asleep, and Farah Sader was given ‘a happy pill box’ filled with Rescue tablets after the class voted her the most likely to panic in every situation.


Mellisa Muchena, Farah Sader, Sarah Muller, Tegan Mitchell and Claire Keyworth at the farewell party.


Journalism class with Academic Dr Nicola Jones.

Lecturer Sandra Pitcher, playing MC, thanked the class for everything that they had done during the year, stating that their sense of humour and personalities had been a “rays of sunshine” throughout a very challenging year.

When asked about the year, Tegan Mitchell said she loved the fact that “everyone was similar … which helped the class form quite a tight knit little group”.  She added that Honours has helped her grow as a person and that the practical nature of the courses have prepared her for the working world.

Sine Ngubane remarked that she values being “able to learn from such a knowledgeable group of lecturers and that their dedication to their students has been awesome”.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better year,” she said with a smile.

MECS Students Join Anti-Rape Demonstration

MECS 3rd years supporting anti-rape protest outside Old Main Building.

MECS 3rd years supporting anti-rape protest outside Old Main Building.

Earlier today, students from the MECS 3rd year class joined approximately 60 other UKZN students in a demonstration to highlight their anger at an alleged rape that occurred in the Old Main Building bathroom on Friday morning.

The students, who self-organised the protest over social media, stated that they wanted the public and the University community to know that they were disgusted at the alleged crime and that they would do everything in their power to help make UKZN PMB a safe learning environment once again.

When John Muwema, a third year MECS student, was asked why he had joined in the demonstration, he remarked that it was important that men took a front role in opposing rape.

“We cannot call ourselves gentlemen if we do not stand up for women”, Muwema said emphatically.

MECS 3rd year students outside OMB.

MECS 3rd year students outside OMB.

Lecturers Present at artSPACE Seminar


Last Friday, Academic Leader in the School of Arts, Dr Nicola Jones, and PhD student and contract lecturer from Media & Cultural Studies, Ms Sandra Pitcher, were invited to present their ideas surrounding the future of social media at a seminar hosted by artSPACE Durban.  The seminar, entitled “Looking Forward: Our Lives in 2034”, brought together academics from various disciplines from across South Africa to discuss changing social, cultural and technological trends that could emerge in the coming future.

Dr Jones led the discussion and began by looking at the importance of free speech and gossip in the development of culture.  The discussion then went on to highlight the role of social media in this development and the impact that it may have on individuals’ responses to future events.

However, the most interesting aspect of their presentation was the idea that those policies which attempt to govern social media are outdated and require careful re-consideration to protect both the individual and the power of a shared online community.

Pitcher remarked that, currently, policy is too in favour of Western ideals and the wants of large capitalists, while Jones emphasised the benefits of creating a platform in which anyone has the ability to contribute.  It was acknowledged that social media is still in its infancy, but both Jones and Pitcher agreed that as the medium develops, the more important it will become in social discussions and global culture.

The seminar aimed to inspire local artists in preparation for their exhibition, “Looking Forward: Our Lives in 2034”, curated by artSPACE and hosted by Gallery 4 in August.





MECS Graduate Awarded MFA

Mlondolozi Zondi

Mlondolozi Zondi

Media and Cultural Studies alumnus, Mlondolozi Zondi, has recently been awarded a Master of Fine Art (MFA) from the University of California, Irvine in the United States. Zondi, who graduated with a BA degree specialising in Media and Cultural Studies and Drama in 2007 from UKZN, was awarded a Fulbright scholarship, in recognition of his creative talent, to study as a MFA candidate in dance at the Claire Trevor School of Arts at the University of California, Irvine in 2012.  The School of Arts, which was founded by Academy Award winner Claire Trevor, is recognised by Times Higher Education as the top, less than 50 year old, university in the United States.

Since joining the School in 2012, Zondi, who describes himself as a choreographer and performance activist in his online CV, was commissioned by the acclaimed Laguna Beach Art Museum to create a piece entitled Ceremonious for its annual dance festival in 2013.  Other work he has completed while in the United States includes choreographing In-Mate, a dark apocalyptic themed piece, which premiered at the Claire Trevor New Slate exhibition, and was described “as an unforgettable work of art“.

This work has been complimented by several other creative pieces, produced both individually and in collaboration with South Africa’s Flatfoot Dance Company since 2007.

Zondi performing at UCI Dance Escape 2013.

Zondi performing at UCI Dance Escape 2013.





MECS Students Graduate with Most Distinctions

Masters graduate Genevieve Phillips and her supervisor Prof Anton van der Hoven.

Masters graduate Genevieve Phillips and her supervisor Prof Anton van der Hoven.

On Monday 14 April, the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s College of Humanities, Pietermaritzburg, held their graduation ceremony at the Royal Agricultural Showgrounds.  The Department of Media and Cultural Studies was well represented with two Master’s, seven Honours and 54 Bachelor degrees awarded to their students.  However, the Department can also boast as having the most students in the College graduate with distinctions.

Ms Sarah Dawson was the only MA graduate in the School of Arts to qualify cum laude for her dissertation entitled Capturing ghosts and making them speak: Genre and the Asian horror film remake, and whose examiners described “the experience of writing (and reading) this dissertation […] an intriguing memory in an ongoing game that, although playful, also never ceases to be serious”.

In addition, Ms Tracy Webb was the only student to graduate summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Social Science in Pietermaritzburg, who, along with other students from Media and Cultural Studies, made up 66% of the distinctions in the School of Social Science Bachelor’s degree programme.  In the School of Arts, four out of the seven distinctions awarded for Bachelor Degrees were awarded to Media and Cultural Studies students.

Honours graduates Stephanie Sheik and Nikolai Pillay.

Honours graduates Stephanie Sheik and Nikolai Pillay.

When asked why students in the Department were successful, Ms Mellisa Muchena, who graduated cum laude with her Bachelor of Social Science degree, said that Media is a difficult subject, so it pushes you to do well and that overflows into your other subjects as well.

Lecturer in the Department, Ms Sandra Pitcher, said that these results were just reward for students, but more importantly, demonstrated the dedication of a small department to see their students succeed and compete with other larger departments around the country.

This success has translated into large postgraduate numbers, with more than 38% of the Department’s graduates returning to do Honours in 2014.



%d bloggers like this: