Wonder Woman In Science (WWIS), Ms Mabli Gwacela made her small screen debut in an interview with TV personality Jeannie D, on SABC 3’s Afternoon Express. Gwacela is a Developmental lecturer and PhD candidate in the Discipline of Food Security and was named a WWIS by the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science during Women’s Month.
Gwacela was in Mpophomeni outside Pietermaritzburg hosting a workshop she helped organise with Slow Food Community and Emphare Organics, when she heard she would be on the show. ‘I was shocked and excited,’ she recalled.
Her research team at the Sustainable and Healthy Food Systems (SHEFS) sponsored her travel and accommodation arrangements. ‘I am very lucky to have their support,’ said Gwacela.
On arrival at the studios in Cape Town, she was welcomed by the producers and then ushered into the dressing room to get her make-up done. ‘I felt like a super star and the vibe backstage was buzzing,’ said Gwacela.
She admits to being star struck when meeting Jeannie D, and had an enjoyable conversation with her and the make-up artists backstage: ‘We got to have some girl chat and talk about issues we face as women.’
Gwacela was overwhelmed by the positive response from friends, family and social media. ‘I got so many calls, WhatsApp messages, Instagram DMs, and Facebook likes and received very pleasant words of encouragement,’ she said. She hopes to use this exposure to create awareness around food security. ‘I’d like everyone to try planting a seedling in an old two-litre yoghurt container, to experience the joy of reaping what you’ve sown.’
Gwacela has also formed an organisation called Difficult Discussions to tackle issues confronting communities. She aims to facilitate conversations around sensitive issues in order to de-stigmatise societal ills. ‘I would like to meet people and have them share their stories, so that we can find solutions together,’ she said.
As a female scientist, Gwacela encourages students to use the resources available to them to advance their learning. ‘When you don’t understand something, research and ask about it – even if it’s a simple question. Bit by bit, you will find the answer,’ she said.
Watch Gwacela’s interview at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYRUoX1ifSU&t=48s
Words: Sashlin Girraj