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The newly appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor: People and Operations at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), Dr Vuyo Mthethwa left the DUT women inspired and ready to conquer the world at the Women’s Month Webinar hosted by her office in partnership with the Division of Corporate Affairs, via Microsoft Teams on Wednesday, 31 August 2022.

The webinar received a good turnout with about 100 guests in attendance. Facilitating the webinar was the DUT Communications Manager, Ms Noxolo Memela who reminded women that they have the power to change the world, in their small spaces, in every part of life they touch. Memela also cautioned the women against the “Pull Her Down” syndrome aimed at discrediting other women, she advised women to work together to make their light shine throughout their environment and the world.

Welcoming the guests was Mrs Nonhlanhla Gumbi, Director: Procurement at DUT, who began by acknowledging all the people who took their time to attend the event. She also encouraged women to have a purpose in life despite the negative atrocities they face daily. Gumbi advised the women to form collaborations with other women to have their voice heard and to increase their choices in the world.

A Human Resources Management Master’s student, Ms Boipelo Katlego, recited a powerful poem titled: Dear Woman, aimed at honouring all the powerful women.

Delivering the keynote address, Dr Mthethwa titled her presentation “Run Your Own Race” where she shared a story about her own run. She found it fascinating to share her story just at the tale of the most popular race, the Comrades Marathon.

“Those who run, walk races would have learned over time that each race that you enter, you actually do it alone. Therefore, do it for yourself, not to compete with others but do it for yourself by setting your own targets and just going for them,” said Dr Mthethwa.

She further revealed that without contradiction, she is not a runner due to the shape of her body, being flat-footed and with scoliosis. Dr Mthethwa indicated that with her condition it would be a health risk if she puts herself through the gruelling pain that such races entail. However, Dr Mthethwa did not let this stop her from participating in other races with shorter distances (10kms / 21kms) now as a walker including the virtual

Comrades Marathon in 2021 which she ensured that she completed at her own pace.

Taking people back as to how her interest in participating in the races started, Dr Mthethwa revealed that it started at the age of 12, when her late mother, a former community leader of Clermont township organised a 10km run/walk to raise funds for community projects that were going to uplift women in the area. She recalled the derogatory comments she received from the spectators asking what a fat girl was doing on the road which are words that penetrated deep into her heart. Dr Mthethwa indicated that she completed the race to fulfil her mother’s wish despite the odds.

“Fast forward 11 years after the incident, my mom had been killed the year before I embarked on yet another race, the Spar’s 10km race. This time it was to continue the legacy of my mother by raising funds for Sibusisiwe Child and Family Welfare, specifically a computer centre that we had started for the community of Clermont. My challenge to myself at the time was that I would run it under one hour. Each of my family and friends, had to sponsor me per kilometre as I challenged myself to do it. I did this race in 57 minutes and raised R35,000 for the computer centre,” explained Dr Mthethwa.

She revealed that she recently participated in a 10km Supa Mama race which she completed in one hour, 45 minutes. She claimed she was fascinated by the name of the race as she wanted her children to remember that she is their ‘super mama’.

Last Sunday, 28 August 2022, Dr Mthethwa together with other DUT staff members set up a table at Cowies Hill to support the Comrade Marathon runners, including those from DUT. Her main role was to inspire the runners to finish their own race.

Despite the challenges she faced growing up including being sexually abused at a young age, Dr Mthethwa encouraged women to be resilient, read books, ensure that they learn something new on a daily basis and take the front seat of their own dreams.

The webinar ended with a robust question and answer session between the guests and Dr Mthethwa.

The Executive Dean: Faculty of Management Sciences at DUT, Professor Gugu Mchunu delivered the vote of thanks, extending her appreciation to the fabulous women who attended the webinar. She thanked Dr Mthethwa for reminding the DUT women who they are and what they stand for.

Pictured: DVC: People and Operations at DUT, Dr Vuyo Mthethwa.

Photographer: Keith Kenneth.

Simangele Zuma

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