The death of universities?

A radio feature concerning MOOC’s and free online courses.

Khan Academy, Edx, Harvard, MIT and the BBC all contribute to this new model of online education.

Could this new model make Universities redundant?

 

ASSIGNMENT FOR FINANCIAL JOURNALISM

More than 1 metric ton of Dagga confiscated in Gauteng

The drug watch initiative in Gauteng has confiscated thousands of drugs off the streets since its commencement in June.

An estimated 1220 kg of Dagga has been confiscated followed by 330 kg of Nyaope, also known as whoonga, the potentially lethal drug combining multiple substances such as crushed ARVs and rat poison.

Whoonga, the potentially lethal drug found on some streets of South Africa. Image at Blogspot

The majority of the arrests were made in Orlando, totaling 1020, followed closely by Sebokeng and Benoni with 857 and 820 arrests respectively.

The head of Crime Line, Yusuf Abramjee, praised the public and the police for “making it uncomfortable for drug dealers and manufacturers to continue holding the public at ransom.”

Other than making arrests and confiscations, Drug Watch is supporting drug affected families to rehabilitative programs with the hope of the culprits to be reintegrated into society.

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Rhodes is safest student town for murder in country

According to recent crime stats, the number of cases reported in 2013 has shown evidence of Rhodes University having the lowest rates of murder out of the other major student towns in South Africa.

Stellenbosch, though lowest on attempted murders, had the highest number of murders per 10,000.

  Murders per 10,000 Attempted Murder per 10,000 Assaults per 10,000
Stellenbosch 6.7 17 89
Potchefstroom 4.5 27.5 130
Rhodes 4.2 22 42
Alice 6.5 25 30

Potchefstroom lead the way in assaults at 130 cases per 10,000 people. It also took number one spot for attempted murder at 27 per 10,000.

Alice showed a high murder rate with 6.5 per 10,000 but the lowest assualts out of the four towns researched.

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The death of degrees…and universities?

Parents save their hard earned cash for years to ensure that their children have the opportunity to attend university. Some scholar’s social lives and fingernails are in tatters from the strain to gain a scholarship or bursary, just to have the chance to study at places like Harvard or MIT.

The cost of a university education rules out millions of people from ever having the advantage of a degree. Should the socio-economic world we are born into dictate our future?

What if a university education was free AND top class?

Today we have massive resources online at our disposal. People across the globe can access this information through their cell phones or computers. With this vehicle, there are new ways to gain a quality education, free of charge.

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have given a chance to those less fortunate to gain the skills required for higher learning and special skills.

According to the BBC, at Harvard University, more people signed up with MOOCs in a single year than have graduated from Harvard throughout its 378 year history.

Twenty years ago, this wouldn’t have seemed possible. Today, institutions like Harvard and MIT have set up Edx, an online education platform offering Harvard lectures and short courses, free of charge, to anyone who has an internet connection.

The first online course offered by Harvard drew 155,000 students from 163 countries. That’s more than all the students that have ever graduated from MIT, all within the first week.

Is this the beginning of the end for universities and its ‘passport to life’ idea?

Much like in newspapers, the old school traditional approach has had to change rapidly in order to stay afloat. Many newspapers were casualties of not adapting fast enough.

Khan Academy is a famous non-profit educational organisation practicing online. Their mission statement is “Learn almost anything. Completely free, forever,” and they have already changed the way classrooms operate throughout the United States.

A ‘flipped-classroom’ approach has been adopted in many schools, where children use Khan Academy at home to learn new concepts, such as fractions or equations, through watching fun educational videos and playing math games. During school hours, the teacher will go through the exercises already completed by the students in order to focus on their specific areas of weakness.

Could university lecturers turn into tutors in a similar manner?

The socio-economic bias is somehow still present in the online model, with 80% of enrolled MOOC students already having a degree.

This is changing though. People from around the world are taking part on discussions and online forums, learning and benefiting from Ivy League schools. The chances of gaining a Harvard style education for those less fortunate have never been more exceptional.

Udacity.com have found an exceptional way of profiting from this new trend. Udacity have teamed up with Silicon Valley to offer courses made by Google and Facebook, specifically catering to the people they need in the industry. Completing these courses will dramatically increase ones chance of getting a job in this field.
These unique courses are offered at a fraction of the cost of a university course.

Added to this is the fact that you could do these courses in your own time, anywhere you want. You could gain work experience or get a job that still pays the bills while you are studying. No need to sit in classes or hand in assignments, everything is done online.

Obviously there are degrees and courses that will almost certainly require a University and the need to be physically present in class – Medicine being an obvious example – but the old models of three year degrees in philosophy and psychology for example, seem to be struggling to stay relevant in this new, unlimited world.

Universities are going through this crisis. They are facing some scary possibilities of economy redundant. Some might say that it is unfair towards these institutions of tradition and heritage…but then again, wasn’t it an unfair model in the first place?

Skate in the Cape – Are skate parks the answer…or just a trick?

The Opening of the Gardens Skate Park

The Opening of the Gardens Skate Park

With the opening of a new skate park in Gardens, Cape Town, and the rise in skate competitions, what lies ahead for this increasingly diverse sport?

 

 

Judas Priest’s lyrics, “Breaking the law, breaking the law!” bursts out of the speakers, entertaining the packed venue known as The Pit.

The Pit, a skating bar in Cape Town’s city “bowl”, is hosting the Vans invitational skateboarding competition on a cloudy Saturday evening. Skaters speed from one end of the fluorescent lit bowl to the other, performing grinds and wall rides on each end.

A competitor attempts to impress the judges.

A competitor attempts to impress the judges.

The association attached to skaters is normally that of reckless trouble-makers and vandals but watching the skaters and crowd, I don’t see the connection.

There are no fights breaking out; even when a board accidentally goes flying into someones face or a beer is spilled onto a spectator’s camera. There are no vandals destroying pot plants or mail boxes. If anything, there is a general camaraderie and respect between everyone present.

The Pit Party. Invitational skate competition poster.

The Pit Party. Invitational skate competition poster.

 

Earlier today, an award winning skate park, known as the Gardens Skate Park opened in Cape Town. Hundreds of skaters were testing the new rails and boxes at the opening.

Quinton Robertson, one of the skaters taking part in the competition at The Pit, spoke about what he thought a skate park brings to the community.

“Kids will have a facility where they can hang out after school and when they are finished their homework. It doesn’t matter if they are bored, they can just watch and this helps to keep them off the streets.”
A skater hitting a ramp

A skater attempting an aerial trick at the Gardens skate park

The skate park hosted hundreds of young kids, some as young as 8, and people from all backgrounds.

Marco Morgan, a founding member of the National Skate Collective, an organisation hoping to advance the culture of skateboarding in Cape Town, believes however that this diversity has not always been present in the sport.

“Skateboarding has always had stigma of rebellion or dare-devils attached to it, and for that reason it has been attractive to some and less attractive to others.
“In South Africa, these stigmas ran a bit deeper and skateboarding was seen to be exclusively “white” with the type of slang, fashion and music associated.
“…looking at the skateboarding community today, these walls of exclusion have been broken down, and the South African skateboarding community shows diversity in its sport and culture.”
Mill park skatepark opening day. Skaters of all ages came from around Cape Town to the opening in Gardens.

Gardens Skate Park opening day. Skaters of all ages came from around Cape Town to the opening in Gardens.

There has also been an increase in gender diversity. The Pit’s competition includes a female, Melissa Williams.

Williams is the only female competing against 35 male competitors.

“Gender has always been an issue in skateboarding, as it has always been seen as a masculine activity; however with the increase of females participating in the sport, we are seeing a much more diverse community, illustrating a real sense of accessibility,” says Morgan.
“At a competition level, we have seen organisation such as SAGRA [South African Gravity Racing Association] and KDC [Kimberely Diamond Cup] cater to the demand for female competitors.”

Unfortunately Williams couldn’t comment on gender in skating as she had to be taken to hospital after severely breaking her finger in one of the heats of the competition.

Injuries are synonymous with skating. 

A search for  “skateboarding fails” in YouTube, offers days of footage that will make your eyes water and steer most people away from the sport.

Injuries are commpn place in the skate world. Image at Soletron.com

So I asked Leigh Soulink, a young man with dreadlocks and a massive red rose tattoo covering his neck,  what he thought drew people to skating, even with such high risk of injuries.

“It makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something and you’re doing it solely because you want to have fun.
“I just like hanging out with my friends and being happy for the guy when they land a trick. That’s what skating is all about, just having a good time with friends.”

Sheldon Klopper, a spectator and skater himself says,

“It starts off with the people. They are very accommodating and it doesn’t matter if you’re starting out [with skating] or been doing it for 20 years.
“Skateboarding takes away that team sport vibe of being shut out if you’re not good enough.”

Skateboard with The Pit

It seems this accepting environment is one that sets skating apart from most other sports.

Today’s park opening and the regular competitions are a sign of the sport’s increasing popularity. More importantly, skating has an opportunity now by using the parks to shrug off the stigma associated with skaters.

By setting up the Gardens Skate Park , skating is granted more awareness and with this, acceptance.

Although a positive step forward, Morgan believes that throwing more skate parks at the issue of bad reputation, is not always a good thing.

“Skate parks are often the easy answer to dealing with the spatial antagonism between skaters and other users of public space.
“Although skate parks are awesome spaces for skaters to connect and congregate, it is seen as a way for authorities to control skaters spatial mobility and fence an activity, which most likely will result in facility-based mentality that supports the sport without supporting skateboarders’ needs.
“Most times we are not consulted about skate facilities and in these cases; these spaces do not fit our real needs.”

Morgan and the National Skate Collective are attempting to introduce a by-law that will allow skateboarders to skate on the roads legally.

“We have set up a task team with the City of Cape Town, to work together on developing future skate parks/skate facilities and integrating skateboarding into the urban fabric of the city,” states Morgan.

There have also been talks about a new skate park being constructed in Woodstock using these task team approaches.

The winner of the competition celebrating with a friend

The winner of the competition, Joubert van Staaden (left), celebrating his prize of R7000

This accepting community of skateboarders seems to be making progress in communities around the world. In South Africa, the diversity is striking and promises positive change.

But will this diversification and exposure lead to more facilities and support for the sport? Or will it serve to isolate the skateboarder even more by confining them and “fencing the activity” to spaces catered for them.

A greater question is raised: Will skating only be practiced in cordoned off, ‘legal’ areas in the future or will it be accepted for its freedom of expression and allowed to be practiced wherever the skater chooses?

As for now, the growth of this niche sport is on the up and skaters around Cape Town all seem to be winning.

Cape Town’s “DOPE” new skatepark ready for the world

The excitement is growing around the Cape Town skateboarding community as the opening of the award winning skate park in Gardens is set to launch on Saturday. 338 people have already confirmed their attendance of the launch on Facebook.

Tweets of anticipation and excitement for the park blew up today as the Cape Town media were allowed to test out the park. Here is one of the first pictures released of the completed park.

Excitement from the masses began on Facebook and Twitter, saluting the event set to open at 12:00 on Saturday, the 2nd of August.

Skate

With the opening of the brand, spanking new park, we decided to show you the three of the raddest skate parks in the world, according to some.

How do you think the newest addition in Cape Town stacks up?

1) Marseilles Skatepark (Bowl Marseilles)

One of the best skateparks in Europe.

2) Kona Skatepark

A park in Jacksonville in the States is known for its insane snakerun.

Video by Adam Gonzalez

3) Black Pearl Skatepark

Is rated as one of the best and biggest skatepark in the world. Looking at this aerial shot shows you why.

Image on cooler.com

The Mill Park Skatepark won the award from  in an international design competition earlier this year.

The Pit in Bree Street is hosting a invitational skate competition on Saturday evening. Cape Town will be running riot with skaters on Saturday and if you are one of them, be sure to send us a tweet or pic of your sickest trick.

Click here for the awesome Mill Park Skate blog.

All talk and no play makes the AU a dull toy

 

Image

“Every country, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, the real Muslims who are Salafism, or you are with Obama, Francois Hollande, George Bush, Clinton, Abraham Lincoln and Ban-Ki Moon, and any unbeliever. Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill. This war is against Christians.”

These are Abubakar Shekau’s words in a video released concerning the 276 girls abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria. Shekau, the leader of the militant group, is clad in fatigues and flanked by a group of men clutching AK-47’s, their faces covered by the Islam cloth, keffiyeh.

The abduction of the Nigerian school girls by Boko Haram has soared around the world via social media. International press has lambasted Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, and the African Union (AU) for their tardiness in dealing with the crisis.

Subsequently five West African countries have met with Francois Hollande, the French president, to ask for aid in handling this volatile situation. The United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) have offered support and the United Nations (UN) has just placed sanctions on Boko Haram.

What has the AU done about this fiasco?

In an AU press release regarding the most recent attacks on the 20th of May, the AU Chairperson of the Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, speaks of ‘heartfelt condolences’ to those affected and wishes ‘strength and a speedy recovery’.

Since the Rwandan genocide in 1994, where Africa looked helplessly on as the massacre took place, an initiative was set up to prevent massacres like these from occurring again. This initiative was called The Standby Brigades.

According to The Guardian, “T Standby Brigades would answer to the AU’s peace and security council, the continental equivalent of the UN security council. The aimwas to produce a rapidly deployable force and that by 2012 two units, each 2,500 strong, could be operational within just 14 days.

“The US poured money into the initiative, providing $500m to train up to 50,000 African troops. British involvement was also substantial, with more than £110m a year being invested via the African Conflict Prevention Pool for nearly a decade.”

In Jacob Zuma’s speech in 2014, condemning the Boko Haram, he mentions the problems facing the AU. “Part of the capacity needed by the AU is the establishment of the African Standby Force for rapid deployment in crisis areas without delays.”

Twenty years after The Standing Brigades initiative, there are still no forces.

The AU still has no defense system in place that can adequately handle African conflicts. Boko Haram carries on its insurgency in Nigeria as a consequence.

Boko Haram is not a new problem

The Islamist fundamentalists have been carrying out attacks in earnest since 2009, bombing, killing and raping in Nigeria and Cameroon. The recent kidnapping has been crucial in sparking a universal effort to bring Boko Haram to justice. There are many abroad who doubt whether Jonathan and the AU would have done anything for the kidnapped girls or other attacks if the international media and leaders didn’t jump on the case.

Africans too are taking notice of this lack of response, “According to New Zimbabwe.com, Joseph Chinotimba, a prominent Zimbabwean politician, said in a recent speech to parliament, “This [kidnapping] should be something that as Parliament we must condemn and I kindly appeal to government together with other nations to send soldiers to Nigeria and deal with this Boko Haram.”

South African artist and activist, Ntsiki Mazwai, said on eNCA, “It is unfortunate that it is not an African country that is coming to the aid of Africa.” The ANCYL (Youth league) leader, Bandile Masuku, stated, “… we believe that the African Union must rise to the occasion and Africans must have the necessary capacity to respond to African problems.”

The AU has done a lot of good for Africa too

The AU has assisted in the destruction of colonization in Africa and maintaining peace in countries such as Rwanda. According to The Guardian, “Africa indubitably registered some commendable progress under the AU. This is particularly true with regard to peace and security as well as economic growth and in countries’ economic performance.

“A number of countries that went through a violent conflict in the 1990s, including Rwanda, Liberia and Sierra Leone, have made remarkable progress.”

The AU is still ill-equipped though to handle the extent of conflict in its own continent. Therefore, Nigeria and other countries attend meetings in Paris and Brussels to ask for aid from the past colonialists.

Dr Simphiwe Sesanti, a journalism lecturer in media ethics in Stellenbosch, believes there is a deeper underlying problem when it comes to African countries seeking international help,

“How do you expect an organization [AU] to function when you have denied the people the type of education that will give them the power to do things for themselves? Those people will be completely dependent on you [colonials] for a long time, if not forever.

“Tie their hands and feet and ask them to run and compete with you. That’s why you can’t have African solutions in Nigeria just yet.”

This may be one of the reasons for the lack of ambition the AU has shown. It has been fifty one years since Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana spoke at the opening of the African Union,

“We must unite in order to achieve the full liberation of our continent. We need a common defense system with African high command to ensure the stability and security of Africa … We will be mocking the hopes of our people if we show the slightest hesitation or delay in tackling realistically this question of African unity.”

Boko Haram has cast an uncomfortable spotlight on the AU and their measures for peace keeping. Currently, as The Guardian stated, “From Bamako to Bangui, ordinary African men and women have cowered and waited, hoping that western troops or UN peacekeepers will come to their aid.”

Until the AU finds a way of dealing with conflict on African soil, past colonial ties continue to be the African way of dealing with African problems.

Anthony Molyneaux is a post-graduate journalism student and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

 

The dark days of ghost parts and horse placenta

Diego Costa

Diego Costa

A mysterious woman in Belgrade, Serbia, massages ‘fresh’ horse placenta on sport stars injuries in her small apartment on the second floor. The treatment, rumored to cost thousands of Euros, is believed to accelerate the healing time.

Footballers such as Dutch striker Rob van Persie and Athletico Madrid’s Diego Costa have flown thousands of kilometers to attend Mariana Kovacevic’s practice.

Pseudoscience practices are prevalent around the world.

In Massimo Pigliucci’s book, Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk”, Pigliucci discusses the blinding effects of pseudoscience and the lengths people will go to implement their beliefs.

In 2000, AIDS denialists from around the world were invited to Thabo Mbeki’s AIDS advisory panel. The consensus of the former president of South Africa’s panel deemed AIDS and HIV to be nothing more than a harmless passenger virus.

The panel decided, despite irrefutable scientific evidence, that this passenger virus required no anti-retroviral (ARV) medication. Instead herbal medicines and beetroot treatments were endorsed by the Minister of Health, Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.

This would be similar to telling a cancer patient that they actually didn’t have cancer; they just needed more fruit.

091216-Tasteless-Zapiro-Cartoon-on-Manto

This frightening and misguided decision doomed an estimated 330 000 people to an untimely death.

Peter Duesberg, a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley was an integral part of Mbeki’s decision to shun Anti-retroviral medication. He himself was an AIDS denialist.

Pseudoscience, such as AIDS denialism, is any subject that “fails to meet the three criteria of naturalism, theory and empiricism. Yet even when all three of these checks fail, its supporters still insist there is no problem”, states Pigliucci.

Why did a respected scientist such as Duesberg play a role in this travesty of pseudoscience? Why did he not take into account the overwhelming scientific evidence?

Pigliucci, a professor of philosophy at the City University of New York, states that “it is all too easy to find at least some ‘experts’ who will defend almost any sort of nonsense”.

This is pseudoscience at its worst.

In 2006, thanks to ongoing petitions of civic groups and 81 leading scientists, Mbeki implemented ARV treatment in South Africa.

The Human Services Research Council (HSRC) survey showed that over 2 million people were on ARV treatment by mid-2012 in South Africa.

Pseudoscience in education

The Dover School Board in Pennsylvania attempted to implement their religious beliefs into the school’s curriculum in 2006. Intelligent design (ID) was to be installed into the curriculum and taught as a science.

Intelligent design is a pseudoscientific view that believes there is an intelligent or guiding hand that created the universe. It is a form of creationism, which, in 1987, was ruled by the Supreme Court to be a belief system and not a science.

intelligent_design

“A field does not belong to science unless there are reasonable ways to test its theories against data,” states Pigliucci. In the case of ID, there is no way to test its theories therefore, it falls under pseudoscience.

The United States Constitution states that religion is not allowed to be taught in American public schools.

Against all odds, the Dover school board, fronted by Alan Bonsell, decided to push for the teaching of ID as a science. To promote their case, Bonsell recruited the help of the Discovery Institute, “a Seattle-based ‘think tank’ devoted to the promotion of intelligent design in public schools”, according to Pigliucci.

The Discovery Institute sent Bonsell an explanatory video that was “arranged to be shown to the teachers to ‘educate’ them about the real nature of ID”.

Bonsell and the Dover school board members were then taken to court. Judge Jones ordered the removal of ID from the science curriculum. The school board’s attempt to force their ideologies into education was denied due to laws protecting science from bunk. Judge Jones said, “To assert a secular purpose against this backdrop would be ludicrous”.

Ideological views tend to influence judgment and responsibility as was seen in the Dover case. Think tanks like the Discovery Institute have also become breeding grounds for bias.

Think tanks refer to “a specific kind of organization, namely, a private group, usually but not always privately funded, producing arguments and data aimed at influencing specific sectors of public policy”. Pigliucci goes on to say, “too often their political, ideological, and financial biases are not disclosed to the public, which gives them the misleading aura of being neutral, third-party experts.”

These factors make separating science from bunk that much more difficult.

Albino’s plight

In Tanzania, people from all walks of life pay large sums of money for Albino body parts, believing them to hold magical powers that will bring good fortune.

There is a common belief that “albinos are ghosts who are cursed but whose body parts can ward off bad luck and bring wealth and success”, according to the National Geographic.

Witch doctors sell Albino body parts as talismans to miners who “bury them where they’re drilling for gold and fishermen who weave albino hair into their nets”. This witchcraft in Tanzania kills thousands of innocent albinos, resulting in hundreds of albino children having to live under protection in guarded camps.

Albino camp in Tanzania. Photo: National Geographic

Albino camp in Tanzania. Photo: National Geographic

The title of astrophysicist Carl Sagan’s book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark seems more apt than ever in Tanzania.

Sagan and Pigliucci both encourage people to learn critical or skeptical thinking to prevent pseudoscience tragedies such as these from happening.

Compared to the albino’s plight in Tanzania, the horse placenta treatment caused no serious harm to the footballers, except for their dignity. Diego Costa could only play for 7 minutes before having to come off after the ‘miraculous treatment’. On his departure from the field, one tweet read, “Horse placenta. Foal’s gold.”

Yet there are many who still swear by the treatment. There are even more who believe in dangerous, inhumane pseudoscience as mentioned in this article. Jumping on the band wagon is not an option and neither is sitting back. We should take inspiration from the truth seekers such as Pigliucci and Sagan, and remember the famous writer, Anatole France, who said, “If 50 million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.”

Anthony Molyneaux is a post-graduate journalism student and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

Short films and skate parks

Marcel Swanepoel at the Gardens skate park, Cape Town, The park is set to open in July 2014.

From the studio to the streets, from architecture to film, Marcel Swanepoel thrives on not producing ‘average work’. Anthony Molyneaux discovers what his ever changing existence is like and what he thinks our ‘everything-all-the-time’ generation is searching for.

The unfinished skate park lies quietly under the yellow light of Cape Town’s lampposts. Marcel examines the rubble and construction of the steps, half pipes and rail placements. “Our company, Epitome, wants to produce a video for this park and display it on the back wall on the day this skate park opens. We love skating, film and Cape Town and want to be a part of this venture. We just can’t get through the hierarchy at the moment.”

Marcel is working on a host of his own short films. Some animated, others shot in real time. One of the films called “Through the Fire” depicts a monster like creature, down and out lying on a couch, dismayed by the life of routine and its orthodox environment. The monster is contrasted in the short film by Lilly, a young child who instead enjoys the life of routine. Lilly is depicted as a happy-go-lucky being, thriving on the routine of life that the unhappy monster can’t stand.

“I have a phobia of normality, I was brought up in routine, society placed me in routine throughout my younger years and I needed to break free from this,” he states while stroking his week old beard.

Sparkling neon lit slot machines with names such as ‘Kitty Glitter’, ‘Russian Treasure’ and ‘Indian Dreaming’ illuminate an otherwise bland, square room at the back of a quaint pizzeria. The type of place one would expect the mob to meet. Framed photos of drunken customers sporting vuvuzelas and soccer scarves line the wooden walls.

Marcel Swanepoel, a 28-year-old man, now sits across from me with a woolen beanie concealing his short disheveled hair. He drags hard on his cigarette, creating an orange furnace at the end of his fingertips.

The tiny silver ball attached below his left lower lip jumps up and down his beard laden face as he details his enjoyment of the otherwise empty room.

“A room can create comfort, calm or distress without you even knowing it.” He casually sips on his golden beer in between the drags of his hot cigarette and his explanation.

“Architecture is a wonderful concept; it’s a way to manipulate your environment. That’s why I went into it but I realized that I wanted more creativity than architecture could offer.”

Film is where Marcel finds his freedom, his passion to share his ideas and concepts with the world.

“In film I can manipulate space and environment infinitely with no rules or overseeing authority.”

Another cigarette is lit, his eye movements rove the ceiling in an attempt to formulate his words and concepts. “Little pieces of myself get into them [short films]. People wear masks for different occasions and I thrive on this fakeness. I call myself ‘the fake Marcel’ as I too adopt these facades.”

“Every person I meet can offer something. Getting to know people is my number one thing in this world. I love trying to break through these facades to get through to the real person.”

Marcel has studied many things in his 28 years. He started with Math. The idea of creating new theorems enticed him into the field of mathematics. After a year in this field, he changed to Engineering as this was less confining than math and he yearned to create something physical. After two years in Engineering, the creativity he desired was not satisfied. Architecture was next. The concept of developing and designing enticed him and he continued to gain his master’s degree in this field. However, this too provided too many obstacles to his creative nature.

Marcel now works for a ‘small time production company’ called Epitome with his step brother, Renico van Wyk. Film now caters to his creative streak while he lectures part time at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in Architecture.

http://thisisepitome.com/

“I believe I have a lot of valuable thoughts and ideas that could influence society”

The problem comes about as society is the very factor that’s preventing him from producing his ‘masterworks’.

Marcel refers to our society as an “everything-all-the-time generation.” Marcel believes that our current society has learned to adapt to everything coming at us at once due to the ease of information that the internet has brought us. Skimming the surface like a skipping stone, only taking in the bare minimal to serve our ever active fingertips and thought.

He chose a short film medium as he himself deals with this dilemma.

“I make these films for myself, not to serve any other purpose. Yet I want people to feel something when they watch it.

“I believe creativity is problem solving, or how creatively you can solve the problem.” He slides two empty beer glasses together and poses the question of how to merge the two glasses to become one. As he is explaining this, small droplets of perspiration formulate on his nose. “Many would come up with the most practical solution and go with that one but there are so many more ways to address the problem.

“You could break the two into shards of glass and because they are the same glass, they could be regarded as one. You could fill each with liquid and place them on top of each other to merge them into one glass.” After a shrugging of shoulders and more nose perspiration explaining multiple options to this dilemma, he states, “I could go on forever.”

Another one of Marcel’s film concepts is of greed. Marcel depicts greed as ‘Doctor Terrible, a well-to-do physician ambling from house to house. After knocking on people’s doors, he asks, “Anymoney home?”

Society is under scrutiny throughout Marcel’s life yet an overwhelming truth comes to realization. “Society creates the framework to work within.” Without it, too much freedom is given and essentially, the artist is left to their own divergent and detrimental devices. For Marcel, his work is aimed at the public, in order to influence the public. Therefore without the public, there is a missing link.

Upon asking what he hopes his movies will achieve he states, “I want people to be affected by them, to get emotional, to maybe even cry and to realize something within themselves they have been denying.”

Renico van Wyk, Marcel’s half-brother, a talented videographer, speaks of Marcel as having “a lot of good energy mixed with almost too much confidence. Creatively, he is always bringing the crazy ideas [sic].

He is really scared of losing originality.”

Marcel explains his idea of passion with a flurry of hand movements. “I believe I have many passions but finding one real passion to stick to is difficult.” He instead distills his passions across the board and infuses the different mediums with his infinite energy. Through short film Marcel finds his contribution to society through extension of his creative spirit.