Unearthing Grahamstown

Report by Natalie Austin & Jason Randall

Dr Rob Gess caused a stir with his discovery of Gondwana’s oldest known land animal, Gondwanascorpio emzantsiensis, in 2013. He continues to make internationally important discoveries which have opened Africa’s most important window into the 360 million year old Late Devonian world. Most of these he found in the estuarine derived rocks from Waterloo Farm on the outskirts of Grahamstown. Formerly employed by the Institute for Evolutionary Studies at Wits he has recently taken up a Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at his original alma mater, the Rhodes Geology Department.

The scorpion fossil remains are the oldest terrestrial animal remains from Gondwana, one of two supercontinents that existed from 510 to 180 million years ago, before fragmenting into the land masses now known as Africa, South America, Australia, Antarctica, India and Madagascar. He talks here of his work with Dr Cyrille Prestiani of the Royal Museum of Natural History in Belgium, and an expert in Late Devonian palaeobotany.

Grocott’s Mail moves to the Africa Media Matrix

Production by Natalie Austin & Jason Randall

Since 1869, Grocott’s Mail has acted the voice of Grahamstown’s community. It is the oldest independent newspaper in South Africa and has run from an iconic building in the town’s Church Square. This has been sold and the Mail’s editorial is now based at the Rhodes University’s School of Journalism in the African Media Matrix.

The old Grocott’s newsroom is of historical significance and new owners, Supello Investments, plan to refurbish and maintain the historical aspects. We explore what the move means for the community newspaper and its future.

Richard Grant – getting science to the classrooms

Report by Natalie Austin & Jason Randall

Many schools in South Africa do not have access to biology or science laboratories or the required resources for practical demonstrations in the classroom. In a Scifest Africa 2014 workshop Toys from Trash, Richard Grant teaches learners how to make science education resources from cheap and accessible household items. Richard a retired Rhodes University lecturer. Working with Dr. Ken Ngcoza from the Rhodes Department of Education they hope to integrate these experiments in all schools in order to make students more excited about the subject of science.

East Midlands College protest

Report by Deneesha Pillay & Megan Flemmit

Students of Eastcape Midlands College in Grahamstown are evicted from their accommodation and and threatened with closure of the school. Because of funding problems in the institution, landlords evicted the students. The students then marched to the EMC premises to await the campus management response. Many of the students are from out of town and have no money to get back home.

Biotechnology – a science explored

Report by Deneesha Pillay & Megan Flemmit at SciFest Africa 2014.

One of the workshops that The South African Agency for Science and Technology Association held concerned the use of Biotechnology. High school students attended workshops that presented a technique to extract DNA from wheat using everyday household products to give them an understanding of the process and the science.
They also explored how biotechnology is used for genetic modification of organisms and the many controversies around this. The conflict between the humanitarian, corporate and science perspectives has led to great debate about the ethics of Genetic Modification (GM). This video proposes different ideas about the ethics involved and the concerns some environmentalists have with GM.
We also see how biotechnology is used in a sustainable way. The Institute for Environmental Biotechnology at Rhodes University works in parallel with the Belmont Valley Water Treatment Works to clean sewage water to produce water that is less harmful for the environment.

Mandela Memorial concert at Rhodes University

Report by Robyn Wertheim & Cindy Archillies

On 28 February students from Rhodes University in Grahamstown, came together to honour ex-President Nelson Mandela through song, music and dance at the Nelson Mandela Memorial Concert. The concert which was hosted at the Settlers Monument featured performances by Rhodes Acapella group Signature Sound, Tri Factor, E-Lastic Band, and Rhodes Dance Society amongst others.

Rhodes University SRC Media Councillor Brian Mabe, explains that the concert took place this late because students were on vacation at the time of ex-President Nelson Mandela’s passing. For performers, E-Lastic band this was a particularly special night because it allowed different people from Rhodes University to showcase their talent while at the same time honouring Nelson Mandela.

ESCOM in SA energy crisis

Report by Robyn Wertheim & Cindy Archillies

South Africa’s electricity crisis cannot be solely solved by reducing domestic consumption. Eskom’s accountability and their monopoly position are put under the lens by Economics Professor Gavin Keeton and The South African Civil Society Information Service (SACSIS) columnist Glenn Ashton.

Freedom – VonDirty

Production by Cindy Achilles & Robyn Wertheim

Freedom is a house track produced by Grahamstown DJ VonDirty featuring Saya that tells the story of two unrequited lovers. The video tells the story of a woman who is getting ready for a night out. While she is getting ready we enter her fantasies where her lover is helping her to get dressed. Once she is finished getting ready she goes to a local nightclub where he is DJ-ing. There the two dance together. It is when she goes to the bathroom and we re-enter her fantasies that we see that their love story is not quite what it seems. Distraught by this realization, she returns home by herself. VonDirty is a well-known local performer who is the resident DJ at establishments in town. Saya is a Journalism Student who performs in her spare time.

“Buddah Lands” – WordsUntame

Production by Lillian Magari & Noxolo Mafu

Music video from Afro-world Grahamstown band, WordsUntame

‘Ring around the riptide’ – The Fishwives

Production by Natalie Austin & Jason Randall

Grahamstown band, The Fishwives, showcase “Ring around the riptide”. Through interior and exteriors the scene moves the instrumental ensemble through various natural settings. The talents of the five-piece band and a fire act are combined in their usual practice room lit entirely by candle light. and sorrounded by all the instruments of multi-skilled musicians. The symbolism of rings move from inside the burning room to sunlight outside. The sun complimens the burning candles and moves from day to night. Fire is spun around as if a riptide and flames split the sky.

The Fishwives are Celery Burger, Lizzie-Lou Gaisford, Nicole Germiquet, Cal Thompson & Strato Copteros

Dream by CeeCee

Production by Deneesha Pillay and Megan Flemmit.

The song explores the story of a woman who realizes that the person she is dating is unfaithful to her, yet she still remains in the relationship. Because she loves him, she is willing to accept any part of him that he gives her. She wants him to ‘sell her a dream’. The music video depicts one woman who is in this situation of being cheated on.
Music by CeeCee featuring Carol Marikano and Papama Bacela