by Asanda Guwa
At 06:45, I opened my eyes but was surprised to find that it was still so dark; in actual fact it was pitch black! So at the expense of seeming totally paranoid, I waved my finger in front of my eyes and still I couldn’t see a thing. I gave a little chuckle as I thought of a story a good friend of mine always tells about Xhosa people and their neighbours, she says in the township, when things go wrong in your home, you can always blame ‘Umama wase next door’ (the woman next door) for example when you go to tertiary and the children next door are still trying to get past grade 9 for the 4th time, you can always blame the woman next door because obviously she is not happy about your success and wishes it for her own offspring. It turned out that I was not blind on my first day at the Conference but was suffering from an eye infection. As soon as I temporarily sorted the eye out, I was on my way.
I had no idea what to expect from the conference itself, all I knew was that the Head of my department had said that I deserved to be here. I was eligible. Oh and not forgetting what I had read online; that the theme for the conference was “African Voices in the global media space” My interpretation of this was that the conference was about the role of the African media in the Global Village. After listening to some of the talks I realised that in actual fact what the conference was trying to achieve is a healthy state of the media compared to other global media agencies. They want to put an emphasis on blogging, what is it about and how is it a key player in the global media space? Most importantly they want to put an emphasis on objective reporting. Throughout the day the issue of reporting facts and the truth was on everyone’s agenda.
After registering and attending the first plenary Reporting Development forum, I was blown away. I had no idea how big this conference was, I had no idea I was part of something of such grandeur. I was in the same room as the ‘Retired’ President of Ghana, CEO’s, International Donor’s, journalists and other future journalists like myself. What really touched me was that Dr Diane Senghor ‘s speech. She said that they use to go out and teach rural people what was happening in their country and why, she said the most important thing is to groom the future generation of journalists to be analytical and to know how to report and most importantly to me, She spoke about self censorship and fear.
As I reflect on the day and as I think about what this conference means for my career, it’s quite simple. I come from the University of Fort Hare, some people call it the University of Frustration and Hunger. My school does not have bursaries and scholarships for Journalism students. I want to get the relevant media training I need in order to be a good journalist, I want to be empowered, I want to have choices concerning who I want to work for, what aspect of journalism I want to pursue and I never thought I could get that and where I am sitting right now, I can literally see that all of this is possible. Given the platform, I would like to tell the relevant people that We, as the future journalists don’t want to fail our country and our continent, we want to get training, we want to learn, we want to be able to report the truth and be analytical but we cannot do it without help and assistance of those with budgets that can make such huge differences in the quality of journalists produced in tertiary institutions such as mine. What exactly am I saying then? I will make the best of my time here.