‘I love being informed and to positively explore and use that information. Education is forever growing and evolving, and I believe it involves sharing of knowledge, teaching and learning. Academia provides such an environment for me, so says Mr Mzwandile Makhanya, Media &Cultural studies lecturer at UKZN’s School of Arts. He is the youngest academic involved in community participatory projects.
Makhanya is involved in community hands-on projects, where together with the communities they explore film as a communication tool in facilitating empowerment and development (SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT).
During his Masters research, Makhanya has worked with a crop gardening community in Willowfontein (a peri-urban community in PMB).
‘When this project started I was working with 20 women, however, as the project progressed more community members including men became part of the project. We contributed tremendously in bridging the gap between government initiatives and the needs of the community’
Makhanya chose a study that focuses on empowering and developing typically disempowered communities and groups within communities, particularly with rural, semi-rural and peri-urban women.
‘As part of my PhD project, I have stated to engage in a participatory project with a community living in Isimangaliso Wetland Park. The projects looks at issues of social injustice and food insecurity. I am mentioning these two projects because they are part of my academia’.
‘However, I get invited and contribute in a number of different community and youth development projects, women empowerment and development programmes, and food security projects. Amongst community outreach organisations I have worked with include UKZN’s Famer Support Group, Jive Media Africa (science-communication Company) Thandanani Children’s Foundation and more’.
He believes it is important for stakeholders and professions to contribute positively to a cause that enables sustainability and promotes community involvement.
‘I am interested in projects that teach the community how to fish instead of promoting the community to beg for fish. I also believe that the younger generation or future leader’s play in important role in achieving sustainable progress of the community. Therefore, I always encourage participation of the youth.’