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Homegrown research crosses borders

- Zeblon Vilakazi

EDITORIAL: Where do you belong? Where do you feel most at home? Curiosity explores these questions and many more in our latest issue.

Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Postgraduate Affairs.   ©Lauren Mulligan |

For some people, Ekhaya (isiZulu for ‘home’) may evoke feelings of belonging and security, representing a physical space inhabited by people with whom they identify. To others, the word may induce quite the opposite reaction – Ekhaya may be a physical or psychological space that people reject.

Issue 7 of Curios.ty, themed Ekhaya, features research across Wits that explores the concept of home. 

I grew up in Katlehong in the East Rand. My home for my formative years, I will always identify it as a place where I belong. At the same time, I still have vivid memories of violence that my hometown was subjected to in the ‘80s and early ‘90s and the memorials of those buried in the fight for freedom. Sadly, although there has been some progress in uplifting this community, not much has changed in my home, 25 years after democracy. 

As South Africans went to the polls this year, some politicians continue to use divisive issues relating to land and migration to score political points. This issue of Curios.ty features research-based stories on land ownership and reclamation, migration, and xenophobia, amongst others. As an internal migrant from south-eastern to northern Johannesburg, I relate to the story on internal migration. 

At the same time, I must admit that I feel just as at home in a physics laboratory at Wits – as I do in Russia, the US, or at CERN in Geneva where I undertake my research. While the concept of home may ground me physically to a particular space and time, the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is changing the world as we know it. The world of physics is my intellectual home, but the confines of time and space matter less as I engage remotely with peers across borders in real time.

Curiosity, Issue 7: #Ekhaya --- 

This issue includes stories about homes of the future, assistive tech in the home, what our prehistoric homes can teach us, and even what we can learn from birds who build multigenerational treehouse nests. 

Discover how housing quality has changed in sub-Saharan Africa, and how housing is being decolonised in Yeoville with the transformation of Edwardian-era bungalows into African urban compounds. Explore how we share spaces via backyarding and with the homeless, and have your questions on ecobricks answered. 

How is Ekhaya represented in the arts and how does it feel to not feel at home in your own skin? Ekhaya is as subjective as it is tangible.