His full name is Christopher Khuselo Kale – most people call him ChrisKellz. He is the democratically elected Lilian Ngoyi Student Representative Counsel Hall Representative, as well as being the 2014 treasurer for Joe Slovo House and the Project Officer for Methodist Society, but his unofficial title is “the premier of the Lillian Ngoyi hall” at Rhodes University.
The third year Bcom Accounting student from the Xhosa suburb of Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape defines his role as acting as a “liaison between the students in the hall and the SRC”. A day in the life of a this Hall Representative is filled with the busyness of being a university student as well as keeping up with the meetings and reports that come with this leadership position.
Chris said that in the midst of all this activity, “You don’t really have much time to yourself.” His passion for his role in the hall is obvious. Chris has been successful in maintaining the casual, friendly and mutually respectful relationship that he established with the hall’s student body and he wishes for it to remain that way. He even re-counted an incident with the younger students he used to tutor when they addressed him using the traditional Xhosa title for a revered older man – “Bhuti” – and his vehement refusal to be exalted to such a position of authority.
“I said no, don’t call me that. You must call me by my name”, he said while shaking his head vigorously. This rule does not apply to his proud cousins, Lelethu, Pumezo and Ndikho. Approachability is where Chris believes the essence of being a good leader lies. He cites the Rhodes University Vice Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, as one of his influences from which he draws inspiration for his own leadership style. He described Dr Mabizela as having a humble, respectful, and approachable father-figure-like manner which is both pacifying and liberating for his followers. Other icons like the “intellectual” Thabo Mbeki feature. The softly spoken Chris teemed with glee when he started talking about his mother and grandmother who he said raised him. He appreciates the “nice Christian” women who must have been the apt board of advisers behind this premier’s success. He spoke with awe and excitement about being taught the values of self-respect, caring and supporting others that he has today.
The position of Hall Representative was not without its fair share of challenges this year. There was the issue of organising accommodation for students who could neither afford to go home nor pay for alternative accommodation during March vacation. That was preceded by the contentious #RhodesSoWhite and #RhodesMustFall debacle which caused friction within what Chris sees as an already divided student body. This is not to say there have not been any accomplishments made by Chris in partnership with the Lillian Ngoyi Hall Committee. The Welcome Dinner – a chance for the hall’s students to relax and socialise – was a hit. The prominent players were the Lillian Ngoyi Hall Senior Student, Mthawethemba Kumalo, and the Lillian Ngoyi Hall Administrator, Genean Catto, as well as Chris and the students who volunteered to organise the event.
Christopher’s long-time friend who went to the same high school as him, Noluvuyo “Vuyo” Matiwane, said that “he believes in many chances” and his journey towards becoming Hall Representative epitomises this. The 2014 hall representative elections were his second time running. The first time was in 2013 to no avail. Despite his feelings of dejection, Chris decided to enhance his abilities as a leader by helping with hall student governing and seeking advice from Somila Tshabe – a former Hall Representative – who talked him through the logistics of the process and supported his ambition. Somila said that he identifies Chris with one attribute which is “the will to do” what is necessary for him to succeed.
Songezo Mtsatsa, who has known Chris since their shyness ridden first year, said, “When you ask him to do a certain task, he will kill it. That’s the kind of person he is.”
It is not all work and no play for Christopher Kale. He likes to find peace in the sanctuary for sleep that is his residence room. In the little time that he has to spare he likes to watch action movies and play April’s Fools’ Day jokes where he quits the position of being Hall Representative and gets everyone in a panic. My House Warden, Meesbar Jiwaji, has not quite forgiven him yet for that one.
Chris’s goals for this year include improving student awareness and participation in student governing in a campaign to reduce what Somila calls “the student apathy of an apolitical student body”. The other is to realise his vision for a united student body in the hall that embraces diversity.
Most likely to: become a successful Charted Accountant and business man.
Written by Samkele Myeni.