In-Depth:Day Nine – Gradual progress

TALKING CULTURE: Antique store owner, David Wu, explains the importance of language proficiency and Chinese culture Photo: Sibusisiwe Nyanda

TALKING CULTURE: Antique store owner, David Wu, explains the importance of language proficiency and Chinese culture
Photo: Sibusisiwe Nyanda

I have finally left Emoville. The days of no progress and self pity are finally a thing of the past. I am still not where I hoped I would have been by the end of the second week, but I am aware of how far I’ve come and I’m so grateful.

A meeting with a graceful antique store owner in Cyrildene, David Wu, proved to be positive vibes being sent into my week. While the meeting wasn’t entirely linked to what my topic is, the openness and the sincere desire to help proved the theme of the rest of my week.

Super grateful, exhaustion and all.



In-Depth: Day Six


GOING IN CIRCLES: In desperation, I found myself back in Bruma and Cyrildene. Again, I was unable to get through to the people I needed

I am seeing flames! After all my appointments (one of which included a picnic with a Chinese student) were cancelled, I decided to take to the streets again.

Today was spent on the field for the most part. The day started at Hyde Park and ended in Bruma and then Cyrildene.  While the latter proved fruitless, the Hyde park trip left me feeling hopeful. No, that’s not only because I walked into Luminance for the first time and actually held the chicery that is Kate Spade kitchenware with my own hands (when it costs that much, do we still call it kitchenware?).

I went to see the lovely Emma Chen of the Red Chamber restaurant. We spoke about Chinese art and culture and to what extent they have been carried into South African society. She reminded me of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory and that when Chinese people come to the country, their main focus is survival. In other words, they don’t have the time to be concerned with enjoying art in the same way people living under more comfortable conditions might.

She also said something I found striking and true: while the Chinese community may not consume art leisurely, they certainly live art. Tomorrow I’ll learn more about this as I meet two Chinese artists based in Jozi whose focus this topic is.  They are relevant to my topic as they are both young Chinese nationals living and working in Johannesburg.

I’m finding some clarity in the midst of all this panic and confusion. I hope the light bulb moment doesn’t come too late.

In-Depth: Day Four – An angel inna Jozi

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THE SOCIALITE: My new favourite person with two of her friends.
Photo: Sibusisiwe Nyanda

So yesterday was so depressing a day I decided not to blog. I had nothing new to add to my developments and I was feeling really sorry for myself. Much of the mess I was in had to do with my poor time management, if we’re being completely honest.

Anyway, depro stuff aside, today was a much better day. I met an amazing young woman who agreed to chat to me about some of her experiences. It was towards the end of my search and I was starting to wonder if I’d ever find anyone else who would be willing to meet with me. This was after yet another person decided to postpone a meeting.

I feel like I’m finally getting somewhere and it’s taken me a long time to get here. I have less time than most in my class now, but I don’t think it’s impossible to catch up and produce some work I can be proud of.

Tomorrow’s my friend’s bridal lunch and I’m so sad I may have to miss it. I was looking forward to some braai vleis, a glass of something cool and long conversations with my girls.

But China calls, at last, and I must answer…


In-Depth: Day Two

I can’t wait to stop writing about how difficult I’m finding it to get my project off the ground. It’s not the difficulty I can’t stand, it’s the feeling of immobility that’s driving me up the wall!

I can’t wait to stop feeling defeated before I’ve even started because my angle has shifted again or because I’m unable to reach people who are willing to talk to me. I’d like to start writing about how interesting a day I had with one of my contacts, how many inspiring ideas I have about the multimedia aspect of the story. I’d like to make real progress.

This is the most challenged I’ve felt in a long time and I’m doing my best not to buckle under the mounting pressure.

I suppose it’s all part of the process and I need to be diligent and patient. Made it this far, right?

In Depth Project: Day One – Getting started’s always toughest

I went into this year’s in depth project with great excitement. I had so many big ideas before I even knew what the topic was. I got carried away imagining the awesome documentary-style videos I’d be making. I told anyone who cared to listen about how I did some in-depth alternative media stuff and so “this project is toootally up my alley.”

The excitement with the topic hasn’t changed but the confidence (read arrogance) was quickly replaced with a sober sense of how great a task we have upon us. I’m finding that my big ideas are not only unoriginal but also, in some ways, unrealistic given the time we have. I’m nervously considering a complete change of focus but I feel my other ideas might also not be strong enough.

Tomorrow we meet our mentor to discuss the direction we’re looking to take. We’re talking about actual timelines and contact people, not wishy washy pie-in-the-sky pipe dreams. I’m hoping I’m not crippled by the anxiety I feel right now.

Talking is so easy. It’s time to start creating the kind of work I imagined I could. The subject matter lends itself to the discovery of some great stories. It’s time to hit the ground running.

“You should go see Josh”

PHYSICALLY FIT: A much healthier Joshua Irwin enjoys a good workout Photo: Sibusisiwe Nyanda

PHYSICALLY FIT: A much healthier Joshua Irwin enjoys a good workout
Photo: Sibusisiwe Nyanda

Joshua Irwin remembers having been overweight all his life. During his first year at Wits his weight pushed him into using the disabled parking area.  “I think the thinnest I had been was when I was 3… I was always a fat kid”.

As he grew older he tried to lose weight but would usually gain it back after a short while.

He saw nutritionists for help but felt their “cut and paste” eating plans were impersonal and out of date. After years of being on diets that left him feeling exhausted and hungry all the time, he decided to develop his own formula for getting lean.  “I was just tired of it and it hurt. You get overlooked often. You’re not even in the friendzone – you’re just not an option because you’re not desirable.”

In November 2011, the 3rd year Psychology major decided he would become healthy for life. On his own plan, Irwin lost 55kg in 8 months.  The self-confessed former sugar and carbohydrate addict is now a nutritional coach and personal trainer.  The business idea came to him after he joined the Wits gym and saw “most people doing stupid things.”

He became the “go-to guy” after people heard about his success and would ask him for advice on nutrition and fitness.  “The guys were really big but their muscles were overworked and disproportionate. They ate a lot and drank protein shakes and I was like ‘Why? Eat your food!’”

He has since landed 13 clients, 8 of whom are fellow Witsies. A former Anthropology major, Kirby Randall, lost 12kg on his plan. He claims another client lost 9kg in 2 months and that his mother has lost 12kg since taking some of his nutrition advice.

Irwin’s approach to nutrition refutes some well-placed “myths” about how to get healthy. He argues people don’t need 6 meals a day to function, especially because most people underestimate the portions they have. He fasts 16 hours in a day and stays away from carbohydrates and sugar. “By accident I didn’t have carbs once and I decided to go a few days without.” He says the cravings for unhealthy foods “disappeared” when he stayed away from bread, grains and sugar.

He also doesn’t believe in using food as a reward. “Never reward yourself with what you’re trying to recover from,” he quotes a friend as having once told him. When asked about how he rewards himself, he says he enjoys sushi.  “Chocolate brownie ice cream from Woolies with those real chocolate bits is lovely. I know my stuff, but you don’t want those cravings to come back.”

The Witsie believes other students can benefit from his nutrition plan especially during exam time. He argues that they could use intermittent fasting as a healthy approach to the busy schedules that usually have them reaching for sweets and potato chips under pressure. “A carton of ice cream, for exams? Easy!”

His nutritional package includes an eating and training plan which costs R700 as a once-off fee. “It’s for people who are trying to lose weight and want to know what to do. I tell you how many calories are in the foods you eat and give you a shopping list.” Irwin also counsels his clients who he says have some “horror stories”.

He says being thin is linked to how well people deal with their past life experiences. He argues that nutritionists miss this point and this leads to their clients not being able to successfully conquer weight problems. Irwin trains clients at R2 400 a month for an hour, three times a week. He says he had to charge more for his services to “make sure people are committed” to the plan and getting his help.

Irwin plans to do his Honours and Masters in Psychology, focusing on behavioural and eating abnormalities. He feels the person-centred approach from therapy will help develop more meaningful relationships with his clients.  He wants to be the “go-to-guy” for fitness and health in Johannesburg and has his sights on famous South Africans. “I want celebrities who have had weight problems to be able to tell their friends ‘You should go see Josh’ because of my work.

Cool Kid on Campus

COOL KID: Salphy “Roxy” Ramohlale  Photo: Sibusisiwe Nyanda

COOL KID: Salphy “Roxy” Ramohlale
Photo: Sibusisiwe Nyanda

She works for Coal Stove Pictures, which is owned by two former Witsies – Wandile Molebatsi and Fidel Namisi.  She shares some of the most exciting aspects of her new venture.

What are you studying at Wits?

I’m doing my 4th year in BA Dramatic Arts. My majors are film and television. I’ve also done production management.

How did you get into your current job?

I was desperately looking to do what I studied for because I felt like I was wasting my time otherwise. I found out about Coal Stove online and it happened to be in Braam, so I went there one day. I didn’t even make an appointment, I just rocked up (laughs).  Fortunately, Wandile was there and he was really friendly.

He said I was welcome to come and observe them in action and I said I’d be back. The next time I went, Fidel was there. He later invited me to a writing workshop they had for an upcoming series called Remix. Before I knew it, I was interning for them.

What do you do as an intern?

I work as part of the creative team. I help with scriptwriting and do research for them. Whenever they need it, I share my opinion on what I think will work and so on. It’s cool because it’s usually not the same thing every day.

What do you do when you’re not working for the production company or busy with school work?

I want to branch out, I want to do broadcast. A friend of mine helped me get an opportunity to work for TransAfrica Radio. We start the first show next week and I can’t wait. I’m excited to network and expand in terms of my career.

What’s the most exciting part about your work?

Being in the credits for Remix has to be a highlight. Actually, knowing I’m being recognised as having been a part of putting something like that together was cool.

What projects are next for you?

The company will be shooting a feature film and a reality show later this year. I’m looking forward to being on a real set with real cameras and the works. It was also fun to be part of the creative team that put together the proposal for the reality show.