20th Mar2017

Choosing Passion over Talent: The Stigma Surrounding BAs

by admin

For most students, transitioning from high school to varsity brings an exciting prospect of learning what one loves, rather than what is required to merely pass. There is however, that lingering afterthought of job security upon graduation. This afterthought plays a significant role in determining which degree a student chooses. The variety of bursaries offering to fund scarce skills courses does not make the decision any easier for prospective students.

Degree of Doubt

I recently had lunch with three of my friends; two of whom are studying a BCom Law degree, with the other pursuing a BA Law degree. I was amazed at how the conversation shifted from BA students having it easy to insulting remarks about how BA students ought to either have a backup plan regarding future financials or marry rich’. Being a BA student myself, I felt excluded from the discussion, and at some point, I started to question my choice of study.

It is no secret that the BA degree comes with a lot of stereotypes, and in an environment like Wits, it is perceived as being lowest on the hierarchy of intelligence. One of the ways to emphasize this lies in the building of the university. A comparison of the Wits Science Stadium with the Wits School of Arts, which is in dire need of renovation, is one of these. Arguably, the Wits Arts Museum (WAM) is in great shape; however, the question is why this is so.

Wits Science Stadium

Wits Art Museum

Well, from a personal perspective, the kind of environment where Arts students learn does not have much significance, however, the products of these students labor, with reference to WAM, is important for the good representation of the university’s public image. Although looked down upon, a BA degree improves writing and communication skills, exposing the students to different fields of interests at the same time. What students from other faculties fail to understand is that the flexibility of the BA degree and the application of theory do not guarantee a distinction. It is not about the binary between right or wrong answers. It is all about broadening your understanding. Successful BA degree-holders include EFF leader Julius Malema, who graduated with a BA in Political Sciences from Unisa, and Mashabela Galane who has a Wits University Honors Degree in Dramatic Arts and Media Studies.

In essence, if the BA degree was prioritized as much its fellow counterparts, if more funding was provided to these students, and if more job opportunities were opened up, the BA degree would have greater significance than it does now. At Wits, publications such as the Vuvuzela, outlets such as Vow FM,  and blogs such as @exPress_imPress play a significant role in making this degree worthwhile and enjoyable.

13th Mar2017

First Year Experience

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As the first quarter is ending and the level of intensity increases, Matriculants are gearing up for their exams. Last week, Matriculants from different schools around Johannesburg and Limpopo made their way to the Career Indaba, which was held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Sandton. The event offers first hand career advice and guidance to help Matriculants make the right decisions about their future .

I remember last year when I was in Matric, I had also attended the same event and, as I result, I couldn’t wait to finish high school. I couldn’t wait to get away from home, the annoying teachers and, most especially, the dull school uniform I wore. “Varsity life “that is what myself and my fellow pupils used to talk about . We saw it as a life you get to live in your own way, do whatever you want to do and wear whatever you want without anyone saying a word. But I saw my imagination fooling me when I entered the gates of University.

As a first year student myself, I find it very funny how University came out to be the opposite of what I had anticipated. I expected it to be all that television University students had presented it to be. All hot chicks, lit parties and the freedom of doing whatever I want to do.

The first few weeks were so hectic that I had no choice but to go with the flow.First day I couldn’t find my lecture, didn’t know where the toilets were and I knew no one. When I finally got my lecture, I thought I was in the wrong one because I didn’t understand a single word the lecturer said. As weeks went by I started familiarising myself with the ins and outs and made a few friends here and there. When I got my first assignment I just didn’t know where to start, as I understood nothing and had worries about my potentially plagiarising on the other hand. I then realised that the high schools cut and paste had no place. I remembered my Life Orientation teacher, teaching about time management and tried applying the method but it just did not work.  Not that I didn’t get it but just because I was busy occupied by a lot. All that happened in the past weeks made me sit down and do some introspection. I found out that I was overwhelmed by “Varsity life” and just did not know my place. This made me stand up to the situation and be the solution , give myself enough time for books or “ chow course” as students say and the rest will follow .

I am not trying to make any Matriculant  not want University anymore but I’m just trying to give a clear picture of reality. I know how awesome the feeling of finishing high school is, but the future waits. Although there are those hot guys and girls, top fashion, lit parties and “cool life “, there is more to it than meets the eye. I can now proudly say “Varsity life “will become the way you want it to be.





19th Sep2016

Fees Must Fall Reloaded

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We all know that last year for almost all institutions of higher learning in the country and some abroad when students from all races and backgrounds joined forces and heeded the call for transformation, the call for free education and every single injustice imposed by structural hierarchy, white supremacy and racial injustice that refused previously disadvantaged students a chance to acquire education. It was such an exciting time and it was reminiscent of the class of 1976. The unity exhibited showed the collective power of  social media and student politics ;and the need for the betterment or access to higher free quality education.

So many social movements took place last year. These movements included the #FeesMustFall protests; Open Stellenbosch’s call for transformation and amendment of their language policy; a similar situation took place as well at the University of Pretoria; #RhodesMustFall and many others. These movements not only looked at student politics but also to the issues faced by the predominantly black workers of universities. With that, we saw the Wits  SRC call for the end to outsourcing of university workers. All of these protests brought a sense of hope to me as a young person in this country. I may not have been directly or indirectly affected by all these issues but the fact that everyone had reached a consensus and called out the government and the leadership of the country to intervene or play their part simply showed how active, mobilized and conscious the youth of today, Despite our generation  having been dubbed the instant generation to bunch of  thoughtless vacuums, what happened last year solidified my place as part of an active youth.

The inspiration behind this piece is me recently stumbling across two short films depicting an array of issues including racism, financial exclusion, structural racism, patriarchy and colonization amongst many others  faced by students at institutions of higher learning, the film Luister that was shot by a group of white University of Stellenbosch students after the Open Stellenbosch transformation protests took place. Decolonising Wits by Africa Rise Foundation followed calls for decolonization and transformation at Wits University. Both these film made me realize how both powerful and essential those movements were.

It will be a year since these movements occurred; however, there seems to be little progressive change in all these institutions. It was common knowledge that the call for free education wouldn’t be an overnight reality – it would obviously take time. It still feels as though young students were sold dreams. Various questions remain around what will eventually happen as we wait for free education. Will it eventually happen when the budget for education in this country is not prioritized? What is happening at Stellenbosch and University of Pretoria? Has there been a multilingual policy implemented?  Has there been any money set aside for resources to establish that students with the difficulties of the language predicament are taken care of? All of these issues leave me with one final question-when is fees must fall reloaded coming back?


26th Oct2015

Oh, When the Witsies Go Marching In!

by admin

Chuene Raphunga gives us some insight into the day that the #FeesMustFall movement began, why and what can be done moving forward from this.

The Wits march that took place on the 14th of October resulted in no academic activity and the consequent cancellation of all lectures. The aim of this march was to reject the increment of fees for the 2016 Academic year. The proposed increment of the overall fees was 10.5% with an upfront payment increase of 6%. Residential fees were also said to increase by 9.4%, while the international students would have to pay an increase in fees of up to 10.7%.


These proposed fee increments subsequently lead to a march whereby students protested to the university Senate House Concourse, but the question still remained: was their plea being taken into consideration? While the leaders were busy addressing the students, conflicts among various leaders of varied political organisation emerged. Leaders from different student’s representatives addressed the matter, but in ways that contradicted the entire mandate of the march.

It could be argued that the march was not properly planned amongst the leaders representing the students. These leaders did not meet in time to negotiate how they would share platforms in addressing students. One of the speakers included the former expelled SRC president, Mcebo Dlamini, who, in his statement, declared that: “Habib must go!” Surprisingly, the current acting SRC President, Shaera Kalla, could not address the students. This in itself poses other questions that one needs to consider, such as: who are our representatives? And, how are we being represented?


Increasing the fees at the expense of the poor is a crime against humanity. Students are vital to the university and without ‘us’ there is no Wits. It’s time to work hand-in-glove since we are all dependent on each other as staff and students. Management itself is pocketing millions each year. At times it might not mean increasing the fees, but rather levelling the playing field. That is: reducing the extent to which management receives their incomes at the expense of the disadvantaged. Such recurrences pertaining to fee increases could potentially lead to exclusion of certain students as well as denial by the National Financial Aid Scheme to fund needy students in the coming academic year; something that students together with management and our representatives must at all costs avoid.

26th Oct2015

A One-Sided Story: My Thoughts on the #FeesMustFall Movement

by admin

Nokuthula Mkwanazi writes an interesting piece on the students’ perspective of the #FeesMustFall movement, whilst still considering other viewpoints in this complex and multifaceted debate.


Every story has two sides. In light of the #FeesMustFall movement, I, as a student, will be shedding light on the student’s side of the story.

As the protests began on campus last week, not only did I join the movement, but I also asked many students for their motivations behind joining the protest too. Many said that if they had the money, this fee increase would not be an issue because they understand why the fees are increased yearly. But therein lies the problem: the majority of the students are crippled financially. Most parents are still fighting to get their children out of poverty, a long 21 years after Apartheid’s demise. However, the repercussions of Apartheid followed them through into the new democracy. Bantu Education meant that most of the parents of today’s students were limited in their choice of tertiary education; this in-turn influenced the jobs available to them and subsequently dictated the lives that they could live and the support that they could provide their children with.

Many parents worked to their bones just to get their children through primary and secondary education on minimum wage salaries, lower-income jobs and government grants. This sacrifice seems to pay off when they can send their children to universities like Wits. However, financial exclusion threatens the dreams of these parents. Many parents fall into debt giving their children good quality education because they want them to fight their way out of a vicious cycle of poverty. For them it’s about wanting better for their children, even if they cannot provide it, and debt is the consequence of bursary and scholarship denials.


However, from the perspective of economists and the financial brains of the country, the fee increase can be justified. And, it makes sense that in order to get the best quality teachers, equipment, international academic journals and so on, one has to spend money. The weakened rand consequently spells disaster for the majority of financially strained students as this results in financial exlcusion. So, how then do we stop the cycle of poverty because students who come from financially incapacitated backgrounds know that their only way out is through education? And as much as we would like a fair scholarship and bursary system, it never really is fair; bursaries and scholarships are extremely selective and often favour the already privileged. In addition, national funding is experiencing a huge shortage of funding from the government as well as from internal and external corruption.

It is such a complex issue, it isn’t just black or white; everybody from every class, sector and race is affected by this issue. Everything can be justified from all perspectives, it’s just about finding a happy medium. This happy medium could mean more involvement from the private sector, in terms of sponsoring and donations; it could mean a stricter selection process in that of candidates for scholarships and bursaries… But, what is certain is that there will be a decision reached on the fees must fall campaign. Somebody is going to have to sacrifice something so we can reach that goal of ultimately eradicating all poverty through better education and subsequent employment opportunities too.

04th May2015

When is ‘Freedom of Speech,’ Free?

by admin

Ahmed Kajee speaks about the double standard present in the media and society by comparing two controversial incidents.

In case you have not heard, a large cloud of controversy has been hanging over Wits University SRC President, Mcebo Dlamini. This comes after he made comments on Facebook stating that he loves Hitler and that there is an element of Hitler in all white people. Dlamini went on to add that he admired Hitler’s organizational skills. However, I am not here to give you an Eyewitness News account of the unfolding events, I am merely providing a brief account of events that have subsequently led to massive social media outrage and backlash aimed at the SRC president.


Allow me to begin by firstly stating that I am completely against what Dlamini had said. It is highly offensive and if Hitler were alive today, both myself and Dlamini would probably be discriminated against, if not killed by him, based on the mere fact that neither of us are Aryan. However, that is beside the intended point of my article. My problem lies with society at the moment, and the general reaction to Dlamini’s comments.

Dlamini’s comments were in poor taste, no doubt. However, what I fail to grasp is the double standard that is present in society today. When a Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper printed the infamous cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, was there not an outcry? Yes there was. Unfortunately, it was only the Muslim community and a handful of others that protested this cartoon. What subsequently followed was a celebration and argument suggesting that it was done in the name of ‘freedom of speech’ – even though the drawings offended over a billion people.

Somehow, when the shoe is on the other foot it is no longer ‘freedom of speech’. Please do not think, even for a second, that I am condoning, promoting or defending the SRC president and his comments. My gripe lies with the double standard that is present in the media and today’s society. It’s atrocious that on one hand the celebration of ‘freedom of speech’ is called upon when it offends a certain community; but a massive petition begins on Facebook when comments are made which are equally offensive. I just wish there was some sort of consistency present in society!

I reiterate, I do not accept or promote the comments made by Mcebo Dlamini. I find them offensive and any comments made which offends any group of people should not be tolerated in society.

At the end of the day, we are one; we are South African.

20th Oct2014

2014: reflections of a first year student

by admin

Ahmed Kajee reflects on his first year at university.


Despite it not being the end of 2014 just yet, this is my last article on exPress imPress for the year. I thought what other way is there to sign off then to look back on the year and discuss how my first year went and the joy that this year has brought me.

So firstly, this year for me started out with me entering Wits University. Was it anything I expected? Oh hell no! For all matriculants of 2014, this is for you. Coming into university I expected a campus that one sees in movies where one or two people owned popularity. This could not be farther from the truth. Nobody is idolized here – at least according to my knowledge. The whole “John Tucker Must Die” vibe is non-existent. Popularity is definitely not the biggest element to varsity. If anything, passing and getting solid grades are. Furthermore, what I did not expect is the lecture theatre vibe. I never knew I had the power to play Candy Crush in my lecture for a full ninety minutes and nobody would care. Coming from school rules that were very stringent, freedom from the petty rules such as hair, shaving and cell phones is something that made my life super easy – although the onus was now on me to focus in class.

Onto the serious element of university regarding my sole purpose of attendance – no I am not referring to women! – Academic performance. Well coming from seven-subjects to four subjects is always a change. Here one should not think because it is only four subjects that it will be easy. It is university so expect more depth and so on! However, the upfront knowledge of test and assignment submission dates helps the process.

You may not know all your lecture venues but stress not, this is not high school… Ask and you shall be directed. For me, comprehending the fact that I was just a number and my lecturer did not give two hoots about what my name is, is something that took some time getting used to. Although, you should keep in mind that lecturers are approachable and willing to engage should you require anything. Furthermore, based on the teaching style that each student prefers, one is likely to come across some lecturers that just widen your horizons and make your mind work in over time. For me I had a psychology lecturer that ran classes that included dancing and life lessons over and above course content. It was amazing!

Speaking of amazing, this year I also came across the most exciting, welcoming and joyful community in the form of Ultimate Frisbee. I joined The Wits Ultimate Frisbee Club in the first week of the year, during O-Week – which is an orientation programme organised by the university for the first years. I have explained how Ultimate works before, so feel free to check out my article about it. The wonderful souls at Ultimate Frisbee are the happiest people you will find in the world. I thought I would join with these words in mind: “Let me try something different, Meh!” – And I never looked back from there. Amazing tournaments, lovely people and chasing a plastic disc every week, what more could I ask for? For you wonderful people who play Ultimate Frisbee and to the wonderful Wits Frisbee community, thank you and I love you!

I also joined the exPress imPress blog team this year. This blog forms a part of the Media Studies Department. We meet on a weekly basis to discuss recent events and the articles we plan to write for the following week. Here we often get into heated debates when discussing topics such as politics and world events. I even got labelled a “Pistorian” during the course of the Oscar Pistorius Trial. Yeah, I was THAT guy. The meetings were a brilliant way of getting other peoples’ perspectives on issues in the world.

Right, I am done wiping my tears of happiness from my face. I then experienced something called Tutorials, which are compulsory to attend on a weekly basis. In essence, it is a class you attend in groups of between 15-25 and discuss the week’s lectures with a postgraduate student. These are one of the best periods, and sometimes the worst, depending on the subject. Although, thankfully I was blessed with good, sorry I mean great, tutors who I get along with. My advice, do not hate on your tutors and be open to learning in those periods.

Beyond this, in university some students can also expect lots of free time and early ends to their days. In my case, on a Tuesday I was free from 10am until 3pm – enough time to study and go over work, right? I did find myself on numerous occasions sitting on the lawns with friends or missioning for fast food. Yeah, procrastination is also something I was at war with constantly. A maxim that will help you get by is something simple, but deep: do not try to kill time because time will simply kill you. Yes-beloved reader, I do have some sense of deepness in myself.

Finally, the best part about my first year in university was the people. I met some of the most extraordinary people since I started university. The best part is that I have only touched a tip of the iceberg. There are so many more wonderful people to meet in the future. Whether it’s “The Favz” who become your ‘missioning’ partners or your friends, who may or may not chirp you for being rejected by a girl for a movie (even though you never gave a specific time or place), you will definitely meet lovely people. My tutors were just the best ever. Apparently, Media Studies is well known for having the guy who is literally impossible to hate, and yes that’s you Tino. Gosh we love you Tino.

So what can you expect from University? In a nutshell, here goes. Lots of fun!!! Expect to meet lovely people. Also, expect to have to work when it is time to do so. It won’t be fun at times, but you will pull through. My advice on that front is to just attend lectures and you should be A for Away. And lastly, in the words of my dear friend and outgoing Ultimate Frisbee Chair: “GET INVOLVED!!!” –Woohoo!



30th Oct2012

Music speaks as an alternative

by admin

As many would have seen on campus, there is a diverse and dynamic group of emerging hip hop artists who come together in numbers to rap and participate in a platform of dialogue. As emerging hip hop artists, they share a common life of all being students at Wits University. On an occasional basis, mostly around mid-afternoon, students walk past their performance with interest and disbelief of how such talent lives and breathes on the surface of the University. The students participating in the unstructured event are from different races, gender, cultures, traditions and professions. When observing the participating students from the audience, one sees a guitarist, rappers, a diverse crowd and most of all one sees democracy. One could identify this young talented group of students as a subculture that subverts today’s cultural industry that is commercialised.

The intriguing story behind this subculture traces back to the past forms of oppression that the youth and minorities in South Africa suffered from. Racial inequalities, sexuality, gender differences and socio-economic factors kept these students from coming together previously and doing what they love. During the struggles of the past, the youth was stripped from their heritage, their traditions and their passions. In the presence of the emerging hip hop students, one looks beyond the social constructs and identity of the students but instead one sees the naked expression and truthful nature of the students.

Not knowing when to expect the next event or not knowing how long it will last for creates the very interest of its audience. After speaking to many of the students joining in the crowd, they felt that the unstructured event brought liberation and power into the hands of the students, especially those who are not represented by the mass of students. The event contributes to provoking social change at the university, such that it is not predetermined and selective. Bystanders come with interest and stand for a while and then leave with fulfillment and happiness. To them it is not about the genre, the setting or the performance. It is about the message, the content and the platform.

As stated by D’Cook (1985), “Hip hop continues to be a direct response to an older generation’s rejection of the values and needs of young people. Initially all of hip hop’s major facets were forms of self-expression. The driving force behind all these activities was people’s desire to be seen and heard”.

Through their acts, they portray a powerful form of how their music has constructed and shaped their identity. Their psychological emancipation is derived from their conscious ability to transform the socialization of contemporary society into an act of defiance in a counterpublic space. One cannot help but look forward to the next event that is unknown to us all.

Dewandre Lawrence is a third year student in Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand.



29th Oct2012

Invitation book launch Mehita Iqani, 10 November 2012

by admin

You are invited to join the Department of Media Studies and the Critical Research in Consumer Culture (CRiCC) Network for drinks to mark the launch of a new book, Consumer Culture and the Media by Mehita Iqani (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

When: Saturday 10 November 2012 16h45-18h00

Where: Graduate Seminar Room, South-West Engineering Building, East Campus, Wits University

Kindly supported by the Wits School of Literature, Language and Media (SLLM).

Please RSVP to katlegodisemelo@gmail.com by 6 November 2012

The book launch marks the end of the first CRiC symposuim to be held on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 November. A full programme is available here. All are also welcome to attend the symposium but please note lunch and dinner are reserved for registered participants only.

15th Oct2012

Topics in Media and Cultural Studies: 17 October 2012

by admin

The Department of Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand invites you to its last roundtable this semester in the Topics in Media and Cultural Studies series. Please join us Wednesday 17 October from 2-4pm in the Committee Room, Faculty of Humanities, South-West Engineering Building, Wits East Campus. The following speakers will give papers:

Anime fandom in Japan and South Africa

Cobus van Staden

Relate – fixing families through television: publicising private emotion in South Africa

Thabisani Ndlovu

For more information, please contact Sarah Chiumbu (sarah.chiumbu@wits.ac.za).

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