08 August 2005

Searching for subway super-hero

On Wednesday July 27, shortly before 09h00, a young man came to our rescue in the tunnel at the top of Cypress Road in Newlands.

We'd (three women and a Ridgeback) had our usual forest walk and were returning to our cars when we were accosted in the subway by a gangster-like skollie wearing an orange T-shirt and a heavy gold chain. He whipped out a large knife, pointed it at my friend's throat and demanded her valuables. She handed over her cell phone and he tugged a ring off her finger.

The mugger and his accomplices in the street ran away when a UCT student entered the tunnel and responded to our shouts for help. He had curly brown hair and was probably a postgraduate student as he expressed relief that they hadn't taken his most precious possession - two discs in his backpack, containing his degree.

The police would like a statement from this young man, and we would like to thank him properly for the decisive and courageous way in which he dealt with the thugs.

Please contact Janine on 083 252 1184 or Cathy on 083 453 2417.

Catherine Eden

"Phantsi, vuvuzela, phantsi!"

I was very interested to read the interchange on graduation in the Monday Paper of July 25 between Abraham Chupe Serote and DVC Professor Martin Hall - because I was at the ceremony in question and I had a very different experience from the complainant's. I heard the same admonitions, which I thought were entirely reasonable: really, why should anyone be allowed to get away with blowing a vuvuzela - or a bugle, or a trombone - in a graduation ceremony? It is an entirely selfish thing to do and detracts significantly from the necessary solemnity of what is the crowning academic occasion for the majority or parents and students. I also witnessed no evidence of a subdued audience. As a veteran of many of these proceedings, I can vouch for the fact that this was no less vibrant or cheerful than any other I have been to - and thanks to the presence of Rhoo Radebe, was more exciting than most. In fact, I far prefer the June graduations to the December version, because they are altogether more joyful occasions. There is usually a higher proportion of master's and doctoral students, and many of the undergraduates will have scraped by after repeating courses and writing extra exams - making for some heartfelt thanks (mainly from parents and relatives) for their eventual success. I also thoroughly enjoy the genuine outbursts of joy by parents and relatives, and the occasional praise song - and have been known to make a joyful noise myself, usually from the stage, when one of my students gets capped. So I do not think that Martin Hall's comments to the audience had any effect whatsoever, or that his use of football as a metaphor was in any way discriminatory against anyone except those for whom the comments were intended - people who wanted to turn an academic celebration into a football match.

I will agree with my aggrieved colleague, however, when it comes to the forms of song with which graduation is celebrated. In all the years I have been going to graduation, I have never sung Gaudeamus and nor do I intend to. Nor, I will note, does anyone else except the choir - at least, not so that you can hear it! While certain of us maintain a sentimental attachment to the song, I find it an archaic and incomprehensible impediment, which adds nothing to my appreciation of the occasion. I would rather process to Ode to Joy or even to Shosholoza - and I suspect many others would feel the same if asked. While I appreciate the need for ceremony and solemnity and the maintenance of traditions in academic ceremonies, I would also like to see some reappraisal of the symbols and practices at this university. Like scrapping Gaudeamus, and making graduations shorter!

Professor Ed Rybicki

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