Being aware of one’s privilege should not be viewed as a burden or source of guilt, but an opportunity to learn and work towards building a more inclusive society.
Wits Journalism alumnus and former Voice of Wits (VOW) FM presenter Shandukani Mulaudzi, tells Wits Vuvuzela of her dream of changing the world and telling stories via multimedia. Mulaudzi is currently a journalist at City Press. (more…)
Johannesburg is a place where people aspire to be something different and dream of what they could be or could have been, said author Mark Gevisser.
“[It] is a city of diversity, dreams and difference,” said Gevisser at his book launch on Tuesday evening at the Wits Art Museum (WAM).
The author and former journalist, best known for his biography on Thabo Mbeki, was hosted by WAM and the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) on the first leg of his tour for his new book Lost and Found in Johannesburg.
Gevisser said WAM was an example of “psychic geography” because of its location “on the threshold of Johannesburg” between the suburbs and the city centre.
“[WAM] is a place where you can rub up and contemplate each other across glass, class and race,” he said.
Gevisser said that during the previous book launch in 2008 for his Mbeki biography, Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred, South Africa was on the verge of change after the former president was ousted from his position by the ANC.
“We are once again on the edge, on a threshold because of the impending elections.”
As part of the book launch, Gevisser was interviewed by City Press editor Ferial Haffajee. In answer to a question from her, he said that he wrote the first part of Lost and Found in Johannesburg as a way of inventing new modes of being in touch across class and race barriers that still exist in the city today.
“We must not wait for times and elements to connect with other people or with other places,” Gevisser said.
The second part of Gevisser’s book was written to convey his experience as one of many victims of crime in Johannesburg, a city created by a gold rush—and the greed and vice that came with that—in the late 19th century.
Gevisser said that he and his friends had been the victim of a home invasion that left them physically beaten and one of them raped leaving them “emotionally scarred”. He described writing about this attack as “making order out of chaos”.
But instead of fleeing South Africa out of fear, he decided to go to Alexandra township – one of the “main frontiers” of Johannesburg where crime and poverty are rife.
“It was my way of forcing myself to re-engage instead of retreating,” Gevisser said.
As the discussion ended Gevisser reminded his audience that Johannesburg is an “Afropolitan City”.
“Johannesburg is a city of threshold, a city of doors and there are always gates to climb.”
ONE OF the main messages that emerged from the third session of the Ruth First memorial colloquim today was not to generalise when it comes to discussions about the media in South Africa.
Prof Anton Harber of the Wits School of Journalism said people should be hesitant about making generalisations about South African journalists being obsessed with the ANC-led government.
Harber said it was clear that the print media was directing investigative efforts at corrupt politicians, instead of just the government as some people have implied. “There will always be massive attention on the state.”
Harber went on to talk about the importance of independence. He said he believes that every journalist should declare all their interests and beliefs in the name of transparency.
Harber said: “I’ve argued at a number of forums that journalists should embrace that form of transparency.”
Dr Essop Pahad, along with Ferial Haffejee, editor of the City Press, joined Harber on a panel chaired by Dr Last Moyo.
Pahad emphasised that never before has the ANC-led government been so factionalised. He warned the media to be careful about these factions and to ensure that they themselves did not become a faction supporting one or other group within the ANC.
Pahad felt that problems with the media’s reporting on the government stemmed from the juniorisation of the newsroom. “I think this issue of the juniorisation of our newsrooms needs to be addressed, and addressed very seriously. I do believe that the media needs to go back to some of its basics.
“We do require that our journalists spend more time in the newsroom. They get hired by the government or go where the money is,” said Pahad.
Pahad also said the media needs to be much more critical in dealing with issues such as the way international bodies such as the EU and the USA have interfered in countries such as Libya and Syria.
He pointed to his observation that there was not a single journalist that questioned Hillary Clinton about the USA’s the right and authority to demand regime change in Syria on her recent visit to South Africa. “Why is it that our commentators uncritically report on the so-called Free Syria Movement.”
Dr Last Moyo, of the Wits Media Studies Department, also raised the issue of the training of journalists. “A journalist staying in Sandton, working for the Mail and Guardian in Rosebank, driving past Alexandra or Diepsloot sees no story. The question is how to train them to see a story.”