Just two weeks ago the newest SRC president was elected at this year’s PYA Branch General Meeting. Nompendulo Mkatshwa (22), affectionately known as Ulo has been chosen to sit on the Wits throne that allows her the power to push student agenda’s and politics.
AT THE HELM: Newly elected SRC president, Nompendulo Mkatshwa, met with Wits Vuvuzela to discuss her responsibilities, feminism and social issues. Photo: Reuven Blignault
As the newest president, are you excited or are you nervous about your new appointment?
It is a huge responsibility and I am humbled. Together with my collectives and the PYA. Remember we have a huge backing, there are four organisations that will back us up in anything that we do and we will deliver as the PYA and the SRC. Our prime being in this institution is to deliver to students, why else would we then have a PYA and SRC? We are the voice of students.
What is your first and most important concern as you enter the role of president of the SRC?
My term will officially begin in November, and I think by then one of the biggest challenges the campus will be faced with will be students writing their exams. To ensure that all students are supported in whatever manner they can, we are readily available to consult any student that needs to consult and [after the exams] when results have come out and students have written their exams, we will ensure that we are here as the PYA and we’ll be here during the holidays to ensure that we represent all students that the institution excludes from itself academically and financially.
In light of the EFF members who were subsequently suspended from the elections, do you think that in any way made PYA an obvious choice for students to vote for?
One may say that a PYA vote is a vote that can be shared with the EFF as well, however speaking as someone who was observing how elections were going, I still think the PYA was going to come out victorious as it did, because at the end of the day students have always had faith in the PYA and we are humbled by that; and it’s not because we are arrogant, it’s because we try our best and we are as authentic as we can be.
As a female president are you going to consciously adopt a feminist approach in pushing women agendas in how you discuss things?
As a gender activist I have my own reasons as to why I don’t want to be called a feminist, because I’ve been called a feminist over and over again and I’m fine with it really but, I refer to myself as a gender activist for various reasons around how there’s a lot of blurred lines around feminist terms, characterization of terminology, and I so want to be part of the revolution that will seek to consolidate all feminists through the best way possible. So, yes I am a gender activist, I believe in the emancipation of all genders in society.
Then what do you advocate for concerning gender related issues?
I advocate for the engagement and deliberations of issues of LGBTQIA; strongly so because we also reduce the discussion of gender to man and women and that’s not where it is, we talking about everyone.
Johannesburg has often been a place of conundrums; apartheid acts as a beginning and an end. And literature which is often an art that connects the unsaid with the truth, acts like a mirror which reveals a society to itself. We look at 15 Black authors who have left their imprint on the city.
Many authors in South Africa often express the things people are afraid to say, taking to writing books, poetry and plays in the midst of the political confusion and social instability. Some of these authors have given way to the hip, misunderstood, radical and frustrated authors of today.
As a microcosm of South African society, Johannesburg is a city which typifies the contradictions of the country; on one hand we have the Houghtons and the Gautrains, and on the other, Soweto and Alexandra.
We even have streets named after Miriam Makeba and Louis Botha. Sometimes Justin Bieber comes to visit, on other days Jill Scott.
We take a look at 15 important black writers to influence the city of Johannesburg.
Some are alive and some long gone, some are newly controversial and some are long standing celebrities, but each one has left an imprint on the metropolitan hub of social transformation and the beating heart of South Africa, 20 years still in transition.
1. Bessie Head
BOTSWANA COME TO JHB: Bessie Head as young woman. Photo: Katleho Sekhotho
Bessie Amelia Head was born on the 6th of July 1937 in Pietermaritzburg, although she is is usually considered Botswana’s most influential writer.
According to Remembered, Head’s mother was white and her father was black. She was raised by foster parents after her mother gave birth to her in an asylum, and then taken in by the Anglican mission orphanage.
In later years she trained as a primary school teacher, but in 1959 Head decided to pursue a career in journalism.
She wrote short stories for the Johannesburg Golden City Post, which was a weekly supplement and sister publication to the then famous Drum magazine.
When she moved to Johannesburg to write from Drum, her work began to precede her as reputable writer.
2. Miriam Tlali
TLALI ON MY WALL: Miriam Tlali is the first black woman in South Africa to publish a novel. Photo: Katleho Sekhotho
The first black woman in South Africa to publish a novel was Miriam Tlali.
She was also one of the first authors to write about Soweto. Tlali studied at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg until it was subsequently closed to Black people during apartheid.
Tlali then left to study in Lesotho but was unable to continue with her studies because of a lack of funds.
She then became an office clerk and wrote her first novel Muriel at Metropolitan in 1979. Her subsequent books include Amandla(1980), Mihloti (1984), and Footprints in the Quag (1989).
She was honoured in this year’s 21 Icons. Here is her story: Miriam Tlali
3. Njabulo S Ndebele
Prof Njabulo Ndebele reflects on his achievements during his inauguration as the new Chancellor – Sanlam Auditorium on Kingsway Campus on Friday, 16 November 2012.
Ndebele is currently the Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and a member of the English Academy of South Africa.
Author of The Cry of Winnie Mandela, in 2004 it received critical acclaim, and his earlier publication Fools and Other Stories won Ndebele the Noma Award, which is Africa’s highest literary award for the best book published in Africa in 1984.
Ndebele has also written a number of highly influential essays on South African literature and culture, these were published in the collection Rediscovery of the Ordinary.
IMAGE: Taken during his inauguration at the University of Johannesburg.
4. Steve Biko
THE CONSCIOUS MAN: Steve Biko on the cover of Drum magazine.
This man writes what he likes. Very little introduction is necessary when discussing the father of the Black Consciousness Movement.
The movement was an instrument pivotal to the empowerment and mobilization of much of the urban black population in South Africa during in apartheid.
Much of his letters, essays and teachings have stood the test of time and newly formed parties such as the Economic Freedom Front have aligned themselves quite obviously with Biko’s words.
In Johannesburg CBD, the Steve Biko Foundation can be located at the Braamfontein Centre on Jorrisen Street. The Foundation aims to “…strengthen democracy by championing dialogue, scholarship and programmes on the relationship between identity, agency, citizenship and social action.”
The renowned larger-than-life poet says, “Contrition is not bless me Father for I have sinned, contrition is I have taken from thee therefore I give thee back.”
These are Mattera’s words on addressing the issues surrounding the collective responsibility that white people have but have ignored in the new and democratic South Africa.
He says, “They suffer from forgetfulness.”
Mattera was born in the Western Native Township, now known as Westbury in Johannesburg. He grew up in Sophiatown, and according to an interview with Lucille Davie Don Mattera: poet of compassion,Mattera was during his high school years a gangster, the leader of the Vultures which was one of the most powerful gangs in Sophiatown.
He has worked as a journalist at the Sunday Times, The Weekly Mail (now the Mail & Guardian) and The Sowetan. He has trained over 260 journalists. Mattera also has a doctorate in literature.
CHIMAMANDA: The Thing Around Your Neck Photo: Katleho Sekhotho
6. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Although reading this list one might find Adichie irrelevant to the theme, she has become by far an African novelist who has transformed the way in which young black readers in Africa have become attuned to literature.
A Nigerian author, one might argue she has entered into the sacred realms of Achebe and Okri.
Her books include Half of a Yellow Sun, Purple Hibiscus and The Thing Around Your Neck, the latter being a collection of short stories.
7. Gcina Mhlophe
Gcina Mhlophe: Never fails to entertain and never fails to get her message across. Photo: Katleho Sekhotho
Easily one of the most celebrated poets in South Africa, Mhlophe has easily become synonymous with the music of liberation and the songs of freedom.
She is known as a South African freedom fighter, activist, actor, storyteller, poet, playwright, director and author.
Well-travelled and globally celebrated, she continues to hold African idiomatic expressions and metaphors at the helm of her artistry.
Her play, Have you seen Zandile? Was first performed at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg in 1986, with Mhlophe as Zandile.
Here is Mhlophe talking about the importance of knowing you ancestral connections.
KOPANO MATLWA Photo: Provided
8. Dr Kopano Matlwa Mabaso
Perhaps one of the youngest writers to emerge in the literary sphere as a force to be reckoned with Matlwa’s Coconut, opened the lid on the realities of being a 21stcentury black girl living in South Africa.
Her debut Coconut was succeeded by her novel Spilt Milk, the former winning her the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literary in Africa in 2008, sharing the prize with “I Do Not Come To You By Chance” by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani and “Tenants of The House” by Wale Okediran.
Matlwa matriculated from St. Peters College in Johannesburg with distinctions in 2003.
9. Peter Abrahams
Once a sailor Abrahams was born to an Ethopian father and a Coloured mother, under the apartheid regime his mother was in South Africa considered a ‘Kleurling’. He was born in Vrededorp, a suburb in Johannesburg but later left South Africa in 1939.
His novel Mine Boy, published in 1946, remains relevant and timeless. Mine Boy was one of Abraham’s first works to bring him critical attention.
The novel was turned into a musical in 2014, in celebration of 20 years of democracy. The musical was showcased at the Wushwini Arts and heritage centre in the KwaZulu-Natal province.
Es’kia Mphahlele Photo: Katleho Sekhotho
10. Es’kia Mphahlele
Mphahlele was a South African writer, teacher, artist and activist. He was born Ezekiel Mphahlele but would later change his name to Es’kia in 1977.
He died at the age of 88 from natural causes. He was the first black professor at Wits and founded its African Literature Department.
This year Wits University will hold The Es’kia Mphahlele Postgraduate Colloquium and Arts Forum. It is a bi-annual event initiated in tribute to renowned writer and intellectual, Es’kia Mphahlele, who had a life-long interest in the training and mentoring of emerging artists and scholars.
A LONG WALK: Mandela’s legacy will undoubtedly live for generations to come. Photo: Katleho Sekhotho
11. Nelson Mandela
Perhaps Africa’s biggest icon, Mandela name is synonymous with the liberation themes that vibrate
MANDELA BRIDGE: The Nelson Mandela bridge in the night time. This photo was taken by renowned cinematographer Ofentse Mwase
throughout South Africa then and now.
While his many accolades precede him, he was also sometimes an author. One of his biggest autobiographies (also literally in the sense!) was his Long Walk to Freedom . The book profiles his early life, coming of age and 27 years in prison.
Here we see the Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg. The bridge is one of the many architectural structures throughout the country that honour Madiba’s legacy.
12. Lebo Mashile
FIERCE POETRY: Poet Lebo Mashile spoke out against Israeli apartheid at the IAW concert on this year during Israeli Apartheid Week. Photo: Michelle Gumede
She has no doubt become one of the most popular poets to date in contemporary South Africa.
A former Wits Law student, she was the daughter of exiled parents in the United States of America and returned in the mid 1990’s after the end of apartheid.
She has been actively involved in the plight against apartheid in Israel. She has performed numerously throughout the country, and recently partook in the Ruth First Memorial Lecture at Wits University, which was ablaze with political and social agenda that aimed to criticise racial dynamics within this democratic nation.
13. Panashe Chigumadzi
“Thank you Tseliso Monaheng for your amazing photographer’s eye.” – Panashe Chigumadzi
One of the newest voices to arise in recent years, she is a self proclaimed ‘Coconut’ and hers is the plight to transform the meaning of what it is to be a young black female in a democratic South Africa. She also spoke at the Ruth First Memorial Lecture to a crowd inspired by her words.
A Wits student, she will be releasing her debut novel Sweet Medicinelater this year. She is the founder and editor for the Vanguard Magazine, a platform for young black women coming of age in post apartheid South Africa.
She is currently completing a postgraduate degree in Development Studies at Wits.
14. Mamphele Ramphele
Although Ramphele has become in recent years a controversial figure, she is also a novelist.
Ramphele is a former anti-apartheid activist against, a medical doctor, an academic and a businesswoman.
She was one of several romantically involved partners linked to Steve Biko. Her latest book Passion for Freedom was published in 2013.
She was also leader of the Agang party; she has since withdrawn from politics from July 2014.
15. Zakes Mda
Zakes Mda was born in 1948 and has become a national signatory in the world of arts and literature.
He has written countless novels, poems and plays, many have been performed throughout the country on many stages, including the Market Theatre in Johannesburg, Newtown. He has won major South African and British literary awards for his novels and plays, and is currently a Patron of the Etisalat Prize for Literature.
He has also been awarded the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work.
Nompendulo Mkatshwa and the various members of the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) were officially constituted despite false claims that Mkatshwa was not elected as president by branch general meeting (BGM).
Nompendulo Mkatshwa remains SRC president, despite false claims by individuals within PYA BGM that she wasn’t. Photo: Riante Naidoo
Friday saw the official constituting of the Wits SRC of 2016, despite a false allegation that a PYA BGM was opposed to the selection of Nompendulo Mkatshwa as president.
A media statement was circulated on Friday morning on PYA letterhead stating that the BGM did not elect Mkatshwa as president, later it was found to be a false claim.
Mkatshwa told Wits Vuvuzela that it was not PYA BGM who made those allegations but in fact ‘opportunistic individuals’ who decided to step outside of the democratic electoral process.
“Those are just individuals, that’s not PYA, those are opportunistic individuals who are just trying to disorganise the organisation, and we’re not going to allow that thing to happen,” said Mkatshwa.
Mkatshwa stressed that the PYA deals with matters internally, and will deal with this particular matter. She said that any individuals who spoke outside of the BGM did not want to respect democratic centralism.
“Being bestowed with the responsibility of leading students is the most humbling thing.”
On Thursday morning the PYA announced the various portfolio members of the SRC, and yesterday at 5pm the new members were officially sworn in.
Mkatshwa told Wits Vuvuzela about how she feels about being elected as president, “Being bestowed with the responsibility of leading students is the most humbling thing that anyone can go through or experience.”
On her excitement, “I’m humbled, I think it hasn’t sunk in yet,” describes Mkatshwa. The meeting which began at 6pm on Wednesday and ended at 4:30am on Thursday morning was an intense and grueling one.
Former SRC president Mcebo Dlamini noted on his Facebook page that it was a very strenuous process.
Other elected members include deputy president Motheo Brodie, secretary general Fasiha Hassan, deputy secretary general Thabo Boom and treasurer general Karabo Marutha.
Mkatshwa remains confident with her backing, “We have four organisations that will back us up in anything that we do, and we will deliver as the PYA and the SRC.”
“We’re not perfect,” said Mkatshwa. “We will stumble here and there and we will admit where we have stumbled, but at the end of the day we will do our utmost best to have the interest of students being put first.”
A Braamfontein student has warned others about being vigilant of a Nigerian con man who offers money in exchange for safeguarding his fake cocaine.
Jabulani Makoko*, a student at the Auckland Park AFDA found himself in a scam earlier yesterday when he agreed to safeguard 2kg of what appeared to be cocaine.
Makoko said that he was sitting by the stairs of the building opposite the Pick n’ Pay on Jorissen Street, in Braamfontein, waiting for a friend.
After a while a well-dressed Nigerian man came up to him, saying he needed help.
“I believe him yeah! Cause hey man he has the money here and he has 2kg of coke, which you’re not gonna leave with anybody, that’s worth a lot of money! So I trust him.”
Makoko said the man explained that he desperately needed his phone to make a call to meet a ‘white dude’ who would be upstairs in the building.
“I believe him yeah! Cause hey man he has the money here and he has 2kg of coke, which you’re not gonna leave with anybody, that’s worth a lot of money! So I trust him,” said Makoko.
The man offered Makoko R500 to hold the cocaine which he would pay the student when he returned. Makoko says he was “desperate for the money man! I was broke. And the guy came up to me now and made it sound so legit, here’s R500 bucks in cold hard cash.”
Makoko then gave him his cellphone, and the Nigerian man made a phone call in front of Makoko. The Nigerian man then said he needed to move closer to wherever the ‘white man’ would be watching him and he moved closer towards the street.
Makoko now says that was ‘my biggest mistake.’
Makoko says he was too busy looking at the ‘coke’ anxious about what he had gotten himself into, and not so far away from him were two female metro cops. Makoko says that’s when he began to panic but decided to remain silent.
“What if this is something that could possibly go wrong and I’m implicated in this,” said Maloko.
After 20 minutes Makoko realised the man was gone and after 30 minutes Makoko said he began to believe that the man is not coming back. After an hour Makoko says, “That’s when it hit me that ok this guy is not coming back and maybe this is not real coke.”
When Makoko’s friend arrived he related the whole story to her and she said to him there’s no possible way that someone would leave that much cocaine with him.
After two hours Makoko checked the bag of cocaine to discover cake flour, he then called his phone and it had been switched off. Makoko said he had assumed the cocaine was real.
“[I didn’t] really look at it to analyse if its baking powder or the real deal. You just know if it’s a Nigerian dude, it’s got to be real.”
Makoko said he was still fearful when he left the bag of ‘cocaine’ where he had been sitting.
Makoko said that the same con happened to a friend in Milpark.
“I choose to appropriate the term ‘coconut’ and self-identify as one, because I believe it offers an opportunity for refusal, and this very refusal allows for radical anti-racist politics to emerge,” said Panashe Chigumadzi at the Ruth First Lecture this year.
Validation, resonance and irony in her humour is what I walked away with that evening. That said, I don’t know if she’ll accept my subsequent notion.
Of course I identify as a ‘coconut’, my whole upbringing dictates that I should; Model C schooling, occasional white best friends, ‘creamy-crack’ hair (see Chris Rocks Good Hair), hell, even smugness in sporting braces in Grade 6. But I like that I can now decide and accept that I am a coconut but still be able to refuse the assumed notion that I too am a benefactor of white privilege. There’s a kind of freedom in that.
But have you ever met some young black girl or guy and thought, damn, “you really are a coconut of the coconuts? Perhaps even the queen of coconuts?” You know, those whose speech is consistently punctuated with unnerving amounts of, “laarks” and “reeeallys”, or that “yah bru”
“The truth is hard to swallow when the belly’s full of lies.”
There are levels in life, I think one should know theirs and be comfortable with it. But more, one shouldn’t have to get defensive when another black person not quite on their level mimics you and things get all emotional and personal.
It’s understandable, that kind of outrage, seeing oneself through someone else’s eyes has rarely been funny. “The truth is hard to swallow when the belly’s full of lies,” said Jamie Foxx in Ali. And it’s not just in the tone of language, it’s the ‘hi-how-are-you?’ as you quickly walk by, not waiting for any response (then why did you ask?) Some coconuts don’t even have any speech impediments but just a denial that they are in fact Black. Others walk around calling themselves black feminists but laugh at the black rural girl who’s English isn’t that great. It’s a constant conflict.
“The ‘extreme coconut in denial’ skates close to the very whiteness that black people are constantly battling against.”
My fundamental concern with the ‘extreme coconut in denial’ is how it conducts itself with the older black security guard, domestic worker, gardener or ground staff in various environments, as if there’s a subliminal hierarchy at play. There’s a disrespect that has a likeness to when you’re discussing race with someone white; a not-listening, a defence mechanism, the kind of pose that says I’m just trying to get through my day, so I don’t have time to really acknowledge your presence.
The ‘extreme coconut in denial’ skates close to the very whiteness that black people are constantly battling against. I know that the black female waitress sometimes deliberately gives you bad service, but it’s nothing personal. She’s angry with a system that doesn’t recognize her as worthy and she hates her manager because she always has to pretend she’s busy even when she’s not. No, I’m not saying you deserve bad service, but tact and reverting to your mother tongue usually works.
Denying your coconutism is the very mechanism that allows some to perpetuate a free spirit, the candid race-doesn’t-matter-to-me attitude. Race matters and it’s an issue. Because being a coconut only means I’m Model-C schooled, black-taxed and sometimes free.
Thando Sibongiseni Gumede, a final year Law student at Wits, is not only an Allan Gray Scholarship recipient and a Brightest Young Minds (BYM) awardee, but is also an advocate for the education of black girl children and substantive equality. A self-proclaimed feminist, she remains highly competitive in a male dominated industry.
COOL KID: Thando Gumede, a final year law student is not only interested in Law but in the advancement of black girl children through education. Photo: Katleho Sekhotho
You are studying Law but also have a keen interest in entrepreneurial activities, why?
Where the world is going is something I like to call cross-educational pollination. It means that gone are the days where law students go to law school to become a lawyer. So now, faculties will be teaching skills, skills that can go anywhere and in any way they want to.
Entrepreneurship is a mind-set where you identify inefficiencies and then solve those problems. So when you have cross-educational pollination, then someone who’s an engineer has got the hopes of becoming the president, not just a politics student.
You were chosen as one of the ‘Brightest Young Minds’. What exactly does that mean and how do you feel to be chosen as one?
It’s about collecting the brightest young minds on the African continent, 100 people all over Africa came together through a selection process. It wasn’t about marks, it was really just about people who presented ideas and presented themselves in a genuine way. All I can say is wow! The event was a great networking opportunity.
What are you currently working on?
There are basically two things I’m working on, it’s a new technology for sanitary pads and the other is a tech company. I’ve written a research paper on that [the former], it was about the right to basic education for black girl children in rural South Africa; one of the hindrances of going to school is [a girls] menstruation, so their biological disposition.
The postulation I make is that I say to the state, it has a constitutional obligation to balance the scales for both boys and girls.
You say you are an advocate for education and particularly substantive education, what does that mean?
Government needs to provide proper sanitation in schools, pads and panties to girls, particularly to girls in that community, either through social grants or making those things freely available to them.
That is called substantive equality. It’s better than formal equality, substantive equality asks why? At the starting line you need to remove all the rocks and boulders that are on the race track for girls to be able to manoeuvre themselves freely and equally.
Former Wits SRC member Jamie Mighti walked out of a Wits town hall earlier today after he found himself in a shouting match with VC Adam Habib.
A Wits town hall ended in tension earlier today after a shouting match between Vice Chancellor Prof Adam Habib and former SRC member Jamie Mighti, with the latter leaving the room when the argument reached a boiling point.
During the town hall, Mighti shouted his suggestion from the back of the room that Habib should order police to protect Wits students in Braamfontein, Habib shouted back that this was illegal for him to do.
Mighti insisted that the University of Johannesburg has such initiatives in place. Habib responded that it’s the responsibility of the municipality to do that.
The two parties then had a shouting match, with both accusing the other was ‘lying’.
Mighti said that Habib “Should stop lying to the students.” Mighti, who was wearing an Student Representative Council blazer, told all present that he is no longer a member of the SRC.
After the publicly heated argument, Mighti and several other students left the Senate Room. Habib continued with the meeting.
SRC president Shaeera Kalla told Wits Vuvuzela, “Town hall meetings for me are a space where things can really get unproductive, close to election time you find that parties come and want to have the loudest voice or the loudest bark.”
Kalla said she doesn’t appreciate students walking out like that, because they’ve come here to engage. “It’s a common tendency sometimes that when things don’t go your way to walk out, it’s a bit cowardly. But I do appreciate the input, and I think it’s fair to have input of that nature. The vice chancellor should be accountable and I really don’t think its professional of him to scream at students like that. There must be respectful engagement from both sides,” said Kalla.
On addressing the issue of Wits students safety outside of the university, Habib said he cannot control neighbourhoods surrounding student residences, such as Esselen residence in Hillbrow. “I don’t have the authority to look after Hilbrow,” he said. Habib added that he believed Esselen residence should be closed down.
Uber Hour, an initiative by Project W, is a new plan to help Wits university students get to Bree and Noord taxi ranks safely after school.
Wits’ Project W have created an initiative to take students from the Wits campus to Bree and Noord taxi ranks in Johannesburg CBD at the end of each day.
This project, which kicked off yesterday, aims to influence Wits management to implement the Uber Hour across campus to get students safely to their respective taxi ranks, said SRC transformation officer Thami Pooe.
Uber is an international transportation networking company that operates by connecting commuters to drivers through a cellphone app.
Presently Uber are sponsoring this service by providing ride shares with the Uber Van which will pick up students at the Wits main campus bus stop. However, Pooe could not offer the specifics of how long Uber was willing to provide the service.
Pooe said Project W was looking into a way to make the ride service sustainable. He said this could work in two ways, either students pay a monthly flat rate or a small fee for every trip. Pooe said he hopes that Wits will subsidise the service, keeping costs low for students.
Pooe said a transport service to Bree and Noord have been needed and the “SRC have been promising [it] for years, and it’s not happening”. He said the university needed empirical evidence that such a transport service was in demand, and he hopes Uber Hour will prove this.
Pooe highlighted that many students walk from school to taxi ranks and get mugged on the way. The reason for using Uber as a service is also a logistically viable option, having a bus travel to the taxi ranks can also be a “security hazard”.
Pooe said Project W has been conducting surveys since 2013, with the aim of getting a sense of just how many students have been mugged while walking to and from the taxi ranks to school. “We want to give that to the university,” said Pooe.
At this years’ Radio Days Africa, celebrity guest and Cliff Central Founder Gareth Cliff gave some hard hitting facts about the future of radio. Often deemed controversial and opinionated, Cliff shared his experiences of leaving 5FM and the huge advantages of podcasts in radio.
Gareth Cliff is no stranger to the spotlight and his presentation at the Radio Days Africa 2015 conference, hosted at Wits, confirmed the adversities he had to face in launching his online radio channel Cliff Central which has turned into a huge success.
Cliff shared his frustrations with working at a terrestrial radio station such as 5FM particularly the time constraints when talking to guests; the spot breaks, the news, traffic, commercials, music and other time check station ID’s. On an online radio station “You can have a real conversation,” he said.
The radio television personality expressed his passion for podcast usage by audiences. Listeners are able to pause when they like, and play it over, “I can pick it up again later, and its my little bit of me time; it’s selfish, it’s indulgent, it’s pure. You miss something on radio, you missed it.”
Cliff also noted the importance of catering to the specific needs of people rather than a large unrelated number of people. He expressed that if a listener is passionate about fishing, or needle thread, they should be able to find that and keep that. He also says its much more effective in advertising.
The often ignored and normal way DJ’s carry a show is outdated he emphasized. Letting the listener know about the time, weather and that ‘You’re listening to… your hottest frequency on…”, that formula is dying.
Cliff expressed his excitement about the future of radio and particularly online streaming and podcasts in Africa. “We’ve got great talent, we’ve got abilities, we’ve got people who have stories to tell, and the world wants to hear our stories!”
This years’ Radio Days Africa conference held at Wits was not short of power players in the industry who gave their insights and accounts of the radio arena. The event was aimed at highlighting the ever-growing and fast changing industry of radio, and Africa’s particular role in the business.
Zambian born South African actress and radio host Masechaba Lekalake answered the question: Is prime-time radio a male preserve? And she was not short of answers.
Lekalake is well known for her radio show Power Life on Gauteng’s Power FM 98.7, and she expressed that in South Africa,we are doing very well in getting women onto radio and “We should give ourselves a pat on the back.”
"As woman. If we continue to steel for crumbs, we will continue to get crumbs."- @Masechaba_L #RadioDaysAfrica2015
She also emphasized that we need to do away with the idea that when a woman comes into the industry it will be difficult, Lekalake says we need to start changing that agenda.
She co-anchored her presentation with Leo Manne of Trace TV. Manne touched on the evolution of radio from an audio platform into a visual one, where webcams are placed in radio studios and now audiences can see what a presenter may look like.
COVERING THE BIG NEWS: Business Day editor Songezo Zibi. Photo: Dinesh Balliah.
This year’s Menell Media Exchange conference played host to much needed debates and commentary about the future of the media industry.
The conference, which took place in Sandton, Johannesburg this Friday and Saturday, was not short on humour as delegates and speakers confronted the prickly issues of the future of the media industry and sustainability in the digital age. The second day kicked off with a comedy roast of South African media by the Late Night News (LNN) team of Loyiso Gola and Kagiso Lediga.
The duo took a stab at almost everyone in a media roast, including controversial media veteran Allister Sparks, to news organisations like the Sunday Times and the Mail&Guardian to radio host Redi Thlabi.
Celebrated radio personality John Perlman of KayaFM joined media strategist Shaka Sisulu, commentator Palesa Morudu and Business Day editor Songezo Zibi on the first panel that focused on how South African media covered the big stories of the day. These included the coverage of xenophobic violence in South Africa along with Nkandla. Perlman offered advice to journalists struggling with coverage of big stories which can be chaotic: “We need to be comfortable with confusion and not being right,” he said.
Sisulu was critical of what he referred to as a predetermined narrative in the media and added that the South African story needs to be told in a more diversified way.
While Zibi received much applause for his contribution to the panel discussion.
#MMX15@SongezoZibi asks an important question on xenophobia, What would the story have been if BEE included other African nationals?
Wits University had a strong presence on the second day of the conference. Wits Journalism’s Ashfaaq Carim and Dinesh Balliah formed part of the panel discussion on new ways of storytelling. TV lecturer Indra de Lanerolle presented a short talk on the 10 things you need to know about South Africa’s digital space.
Andrew Phelps from the New York Times highlighted the challenges when faced with breaking news in the digital world. “No one remembers who was right first but everyone remembers when you were first and wrong.” He said that journalists need to choose accuracy over speed when working with online stories.
The conference wrapped up on a positive and optimistic note although the uncertainty around the future of journalism and in particularly, sustainability, will linger long after.
Long time journalist and public commentator Allister Sparks (82) found himself at the centre of a social media storm when he declared Apartheid architect Hendrick Verwoerd was a ‘smart politician’. Wits Vuvuzela spoke to Sparks at the Menell Media Exchange conference in Sandton about the state of journalism in South Africa and the shifts in the political landscape.
VETERAN JOURNALIST: Allister Sparks remains vocal about dying newspapers, the ‘gimmicks’ of the EFF, and the ‘unbalanced’ Baleka Mbete. Photo: Dinesh Balliah
What stood out for you at this year’s conference and is there anything you expect to hear?
I was particularly taken by yesterday’s session by Catherine Kennedy (of the South African History Archive). I didn’t go to the branding, maybe I missed something there, I guess I feel it’s a bit too late for me to brand myself at my age (laughs). For me Catherine was the highlight. Particularly John Perlman and Songezo Zibi, I thought there were wise thoughts that came out of them.
On parliament in South Africa today …
Parliament has been a very refined and remote place, now it’s in the public eye and I think that’s good. [However] it will have to take a grip on itself, and it needs a better speaker than we have at the moment, because it can easily become a laughing stock, it can really damage its reputation.
On the EFF and their disruption in Parliament, and Baleka Mbete …
I do think the EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters), has brought something, but it’s got to be very carefully monitored by a much better speaker than we’ve got. I think Max Sisulu would have managed it, Max was a very good speaker and Frene Ginwala likewise, not a partisan speaker who’s the chairman of a party, and her lack of balance shows so glaringly, nobody takes her seriously.
I think the red garments [of the EFF] was a gimmick, I guess once you’ve got them it’s very hard to get rid of them, I don’t think it has any impact anymore, it had an impact in the beginning. The gimmicks need to be limited, but they can only be limited by the speaker, and that’s got to be by persuasion, not by bringing in the police. She (Mbete) needs to call in the whips and say ‘How do we deal with this?’
I think a lot of it [parliament] is archaic language and it’s a bit absurd; it’s meant to preserve a tradition, but at the same time its got to give way to the modern world and the modern South Africa where not everybody shares the British tradition. There has to be some kind of control in the transformation of parliament and only a really wise, strong, and influential speaker can do that.
On Business Day editor Songezo Zibi …
I think he’s a very thoughtful young man and I think he has some very important insights … he’s a real asset to the media. He’s a young man and he’s a very important addition to our galaxies of editors, he’s thoughtful and cares about the media. John Perlman has been around for a long time, but this is a newcomer really [Zibi] out of a different profession, and he has a great career ahead of him.
On newspapers in the new digital age …
I think two kinds of newspapers papers are going to survive in the new digital age: One is the local paper, the small town paper and the other is the serious paper. I think the popular press is going to die, and we have an awful lot of popular press here and its days are numbered.
There’s got to be one black newspaper that’s going to emerge as a serious one, [maybe] it is the Sowetan, City Press is getting there but it’s only a Sunday paper.
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