20 September, 2010
Like fish in a net, laziness has caught them
Every morning they just sit and do nothing
As the four seasons manifold,
they just sit in the sun and feel its warmth envelop them like a mother’s hug
The saying,” a man who never walks out always praises his mother’s cooking”
is meaningless to them
The “get up, get out and do something” attitude is anathema to them
Their views are cramped to a small 30 Kilometer long township
This is their sole constituency; the place that they know inside out,
for it is the only place they have ever been
Asking for a Rand so they can get “a little to burn” has become a daily song
During festive seasons they sit and watch a bus from Johannesburg
just to see who is bringing the new style to their beloved sordid township
Pale young ladies swaggering with ailing infants on the backside,
Illiteracy has smoldered them,
Perpetuating the state of inferiority into their subordinate minds
A constant abuse by their unemployed irresponsible boy friends
surface in their “some time ago” gorgeous faces
The government is to bear the brunch of its roguish offspring.
It is forced to shell out a lot more on social spending
because the level of reliance is mounting.
Teenage pregnancy, crime and school drop outs fills the air of the township.
Unemployment rules at will because all hands that are supposed to corrode it
are always on holiday.
Snail pace service delivery is apparent,
Poor lit tarred roads, pervasive pot holes, dust looming streets characterizes the place.
The only library is situated afar,
despite the fact that literacy is the only key
to unchain these inherited chains of poverty.
Witch-craft, inebriating or boozing and local gossiping
add to the culture of the township.
The big brother who is expected to unchain the family
sits at the back of the house with a dagga bundle
and smoke till the sun shoots to the West.
When the sun rises again from the East,
The township continues with its usual routine at ease.
Who should be blamed?
18 September, 2010
Weeks before the ninth anniversary of the September 11th World Trade Centre bombing in New York City, Reverend Terry Jones, leader of a small church in Florida, threatened to publically burn the Qur’an on the day of the anniversary this month. He even went as far as to name his proceedings as an ‘International Burn a Qur’an Day’ event.
With Constitution week happening this month on campus, such an action begs the question: At what point does one’s expressive actions and views amount to blatant discrimination or inciting violence?
The first amendment of the US Constitution deals with freedom of assembly, petition and speech. It stipulates that the law is prohibited from denying one the right of these freedoms, though this protection is not absolute. Apart from the threat of burning the Qur’an, Reverend Terry has claimed Islam to be ‘evil’ and went as far as to write a novel, aptly named ‘Islam is of the Devil’. This clearly amounts to vilification but constitutionally, he seems to be protected as there is only potential of inciting violence. Though the burning of the Qur’an was eventually never carried, his radical attempt had Muslims from as far as Indonesia and Afghanistan burning images of the reverend in offence.
Though it is one man’s rightful exercise his constitutional freedom, such an action raises the question of whether there needs to be a limit to one’s expression, especially when it comes to another’s beliefs. Burning the Qur’an or any other religious text is a blatant attack and disrespect for a belief but if something as powerful as the Constitution cannot prevent such, the document becomes reduced to a mere idea.
Among other policies, the university has one on eradicating unfair discrimination and harassment. After sifting through all eleven pages of courtroom jargon, it declares that the university adopts a zero tolerance approach to the violation of one’s right to religion, race, belief, language, age or orientation through discrimination. Like the US Constitution and its many clauses, the line between expression and hate speech becomes blurred. If students decide to burn their bras protesting the incredibly large ratio of women to men in the university, they can either be arrested on the grounds of offending and thereby discriminating men. Similarly, the women themselves can defend themselves by claiming that it is university policy that protects them from carrying around flaming pieces of lace and ribbon.
With the wrath of the Media Tribunal upon us, some are starting to question the purpose of journalism education and independent news if such regulations are implemented. If government pushes the bill forward, our country is no different to the Stalinist Russia of media censorship by the state. As if policing one’s thoughts and right to information is not enough, the line between freedom of expression and inciting violence becomes blurred and as long as one’s actions can potentially incite violence, even the most radical can confidently use the Constitution as a breastplate against the arrows of public outcry.
This article was originally written for The Oppidan Press campus newspaper, Rhodes University.
05 September, 2010
Being a part of the Highway Africa conference gave me a chance to meet some of Africa’s finest media professionals. God fearing and dedicated Remmy Nweke, the first Nigerian to be recognized in all his international prizes, is one such person. He is the Senior Reporter and Head of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) desk at Champion Newspapers Limited in Lagos, Nigeria. He is also the editor of the award-winning blog, ITRealms Online.
Nweke sees blogging as a semi-occupation. “You can call it my hobby, and a serious hobby at that,” he remarks. Nweke’s work keeps him busy as he has to be online most of the time, especially after closing work. According to Nweke, this requires discipline and a supportive family and wife. He is the first in a family of ten and is married to a trained journalist, Mrs Nkemdilim Nweke. When he was in primary school and even afterwards, Nweke usually worked on weekends with his father in order to earn money for his school fees. “I believe so much in hard work,” he says.
Hard work is definitely a large contributing factor to Nweke’s many achievements. “There is no year since 2002 that my journalism work is not professionally recognized,” Nweke says. As a founding editorial member of Highway Africa News Agency (HANA), he won the first ever HANA-SABC Journalist of the Year award. He is also the first Nigerian to ever be elected into the HANA editorial board. At this year’s Highway Africa Conference, he was the first runner up at the Telkom-Highway Africa New Media Awards.
Amongst his other great achievements is being the runner up in research and innovation at the African Information Society awards organized by the United Nations Economic Community for Africa (UNECA). He was also presented an award in the category of the Information Technology (IT) business solution for the second time at the 2005 African Siemens Profile awards held in South Africa. These are just a few of the numerous awards Nweke has bagged and there is no doubt that more are on the way. Nigeria has a reason to be proud.
Ever since Nweke read about Nigeria’s first President, the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, he has always wanted to be a reporter. “ I always wanted to contribute to the growth of my society, which now has become a global village; in the fight against injustice and other social vices and I think that journalism offers me that opportunity, more so to educate and entertain the populace and improve the condition of lives around me through my writings”.
Nweke graduated from The Institute of Journalism and Management Education in Enugu, Nigeria with a Diploma in Journalism and a Diploma in Computer Studies. He went on to receive his Advanced Diploma in Journalism and also completed a Post Graduate Diploma programme in Contemporary Diplomacy with the University of Malta in collaboration with Diplo Foundation in 2006. He recently defended his Master of Art (MA) in Contemporary Diplomacy with the University of Malta.
According to Nweke, blogging is a valuable tool for journalists to market themselves online as they remain active in this information age by communicating well with people and reporting their activities. “The role of journalists in today’s society is to embrace technology, especially ICT as it portends the tripod for the future survival as the information century unfolds”. Nweke also emphasizes the importance of training and retraining as it leads to eventual success.
“Above all, I think breaking even in my career to become who I am today is my greatest achievement and I give the Almighty God the glory for His love and blessings,” says Nweke. Amen to that.
Follow ITRealmsOnline on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ITRealmsOnline.
03 September, 2010
Bright Eyes: Poliswa Plaatjie at Rhodes University recently. Pic by Anorth Mabunda
Poliswa is a pretty light-complexioned young woman who loves company of everyone she comes across. She’s diligent and industrious. The 19-year old is of medium build and height. She speaks isiXhosa and enjoys hanging out with her friends. She's currently a second year Media and Journalism student at Walter Sisulu University in the Eastern Cape.
Like everyone else, Poliswa has avocations and abilities of her own interests. She enjoys writing, reading and socialising but she's not into fashion. “I hate people who are always on fashion,” she said.
I define her as a simple and extroverted girl who is full of entertaining at all times. Poliswa was basically born at Umtata, Eastern Cape, but didn’t spend enough time with her family. She almostly spent her childhood with her little mother in KwaZulu-Natal.
The last born in a family of four, Poliswa has an open and light-hearted relationship with her siblings.
She completed her primary education in the Eastern Cape and KZN, and her secondary school at John’s College, Umtata where she matriculated and was blessed with university admission letter.
She's a born-again a Christian. "My new life is such an important thing to me," she said
His dreams were to be a teacher because he was not mature enough and he did not have sufficient information.”My mom bought me a bicycle to show how much she cares and loves me” Lebogang said. He wanted his mom to pay much attention to him so if his mom ignored him he pretended as if he had a headache.
He explained that he used to play with both girls and boys because he had cousins of which some of them are girls and others are boys. He also has a few nieces. Going to school is the other thing that he liked to do. He never bunked school, he was a good listener and a much disciplined young boy when he was at school, never bothering his teachers.
Lebogang is a very cute, medium guy and he is slender. He is a very talkative and polite boy who likes to communicate and share ideas with people about what he knows. For instance, he likes to be on Twitter most of the time but he does not only share information with people on Twitter but also with people around him.
You should see his smile, he has a mouth full of beautiful white teeth and his smile bounces off his lips to his eyes and his whole face changes. He has a beautiful real smile and he doesn’t even know it.
Baphe Phukwana, a 20-year old from the Transkei, is quiet and reserved.
Baphe’s childhood was bittersweet. He was not raised by his mother but by his great grandmother. Although he had a father he says he never really had a daddy. His great grandmother played a significant role in moulding Baphe. Although the single most important woman in his life passed away, Baphe still remembers what she taught him: “Never search for something you don’t know.” He learnt this early in his life, when he searched for his absent father only to find him and realise that he should never searched for him to begin with.
After high school, Baphe left his home to pursue Journalism Studies at WSU. Although in tertiary, Baphe has no dating experience and he doesn’t seem to be bothered. All he wants now is to graduate and make money. Baphe’s spirit and essence are beautiful and so silently alive that one can see that his childhood really moulded him and it was filled with love. And that's a child needs: love.
Baphe, thinking about the power of new media at the FJP
Asanda Guwa during the FJP’s spring school
Asanda Guwa was born in East London. A bubbly, friendly and outgoing person, Asanda like making jokes. She the type of person people are drawn to.
She wants to make documentaries and tell stories of ordinary citizens because “each and everyone has got a story to tell".
Asanda spent most of formative years in boarding school, a situation she blames for the disconnect she appears to have with her mother.
But at least she interacted wtih different cultures and personalities and found school exciting and fun. "My second home," she called it.
Her grandmother taught her to love education.
And she does.
Wilhemina enjoying the FJP Spring School
Pic by Junior Bester
The journey from a small neighbourhood in Kenya to the busy suburb of Sandton in Johannesburg and then to Rhodes University in Grahamstown has certainly helped shape the life of Wilhemina Maboja. This sounds like an opening to a movie about a “rags to riches” story. However to describe Wilhemina’s background as rags would be an insult and incorrect, instead it is the story of somebody who has come from humble beginnings and now on the way to achieving her goals. Amazingly enough she is only 20 years old.
Wilhemina grew up in Kenya where she learnt the value of simply being a child and having the privilege of growing up in a close-knit community. As the years flew by she also understood the value of family, from whom she gained knowledge and strength. So when she moved to South Africa she was able to grab the opportunities granted to her. Now as a young woman with braided hair and newly acquired spectacles she is at Rhodes University riding on the fast track to becoming a professional journalist. Her dream is to write for Bloomsbury Publishers
Wilhemina’s drive for learning and her people orientated mindset makes her not only an excellent journalism student but also makes her an exceptional student of life. Yet what makes her more special is the fact that she never forgets where she came from and she always remembers the days where she rode her bicycle with her friends from sunrise till sunset. This is shown by the huge smile she has when she reminisces and the pride in her voice when she speaks about Kenya. Make no mistake about it Wilhemina is certainly somebody Rhodes and even her home country of Kenya can be proud of. I am certainly proud to call her a friend.
Aubrey works well with others because he is the kind of guy who would rather keep quiet and listen to others.
He had a good relationship with his parents as a child, he got special attention as the youngest and he has maintained that good relationship with his family till today.
Coming from a family of four children and him being the last born is expected to do whatever the elders require of him, so he was an obedient child who listened and did things as he was expected to.
He likes following orders and doesn’t disappoint. One can see this when he was asked by the FJP assistant coordinator Nqobile Buthelezi to take pictures of the FJPs and he made sure that whenever we went out he took pictures.
He is very close with his siblings and they like doing things together and they’ve had this kind of relationship ever since he was a young boy and has remained close with them.
Aubrey grew up in a Christian family. One occasion that he remembers was when the other boys his age were going for initiation school and his father didn’t allow him to go; he had to respect his father’s decision. He was circumcised in the hospital and people understood his father’s decision but some were not comfortable with the whole idea.
Phumlani Nkwanyana was born in Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal. He still lives there and goes to school at the University of Zululand. His parents describe him as a shy little boy. “Everyone loved me,” he says. “People used to give me money”.
Nkwanyana reminisces on his childhood memories and speaks of the wonderful time he had in Grade 3 with his good friend Prince. “We used to talk about life,” he says. His worst memory was in Grade 1. He badly needed to use the toilet but was too afraid to ask his teacher for permission. He ended up soiling himself right in his seat.
Nkwanyana has three older sisters and a younger brother. Although his little brother was born, Nkwanyana’s parents were not planning to have any more children after he was born and so named him Phumlani, which means “to rest”. Nkwanyana recalls a time in Grade 5 when he and his brother had a fight in which his brother scratched his hand with a piece of broken mirror. The scar still remains. Regardless of this, Nkwanyana and his brother now get along like the best of friends although they fought a lot whilst they were young.
Nkwanyana not only enjoyed making new friends as a child but he liked making things with clay, playing soccer and watching Power Rangers and George of the Jungle. With his 100 watt smile and approachable nature, it appears as though Nkwanyana has remained the same sweet child as he was long ago.
|Tech savvy: Junior working in the Rhodes University writing labs.Pic by Mina Maboja|
Sungeni Chithambo was born in Malawi, in the place called Zomba. She is the first born and sister to two siblings. Sungeni was born in 1991. While she was young Sungeni had a strong desire to be one of the best vets, as she had love for animals. “I like little animals especially rabbits”, she said. Sungeni is uniquely identified with her nice, brownish spectacles.
She went to Schiennes Primary School, in Scotland where she was the only black girl. “I really liked myself as I was ideally unique from every one,” explained Sungeni.
The exquisite lady loves wearing skinny jeans and shirts which look very stunning on her. “Skinny jeans make me feel more comfortable and on top of the world,” said Sungeni. She likes freaky hair styles which keep her head wild every time.
Early this year, lovely Sungeni was fortunately selected to be part of golden key society, due to her superb academic performance. In the past she won an award as the best creative writer, which gave her inspiration to be the prolific writer.
As she grew up the love for animals altered completely and wanted to be the writer. Currently the striking slim girl is doing her second year in Journalism at Rhodes University. She spends most of her spare time writing, watching movies and surfing the internet. One day she wants to be one of the prolific writers. “I have that eagerness to be in high point of media industry, I just want to be in the top of the range” Sungeni said with a smile.
A pink flower ring in the middle finger and a gold alice band that complements her fancy ear-rings characterises Zinhle Mncube’s love for fashion.
The middle-sized dark haired and slim 19 year old always smiles but doesn’t like interacting that much.
Zinhle grew up in Protea North, Soweto. Although Zinhle wanted to be a lawyer during her fledgling days, she is now a second year journalism student in the University of Johannesburg.
As the youngest amongst two sisters and one brother, “I felt very sheltered and spoiled,” she said. She describes her childhood as very exciting, “I had no hard experiences, no school bullying. I went to a good Catholic private school and was always on top of my class,” she added with a beam.
Zinhle still recommends her childhood friends because they bring her good memories. As a young las she always preferred her own company and didn’t usually go outside and expose her crucial life to the ugly streets of Soweto.
The fact that she is the youngest in her family and was spoilt didn’t have a negative impact on her life. “I have learnt to be always independent, responsible and stand my own ground. My parents always let me roam and be whatever I want to be.”
If there’s anything she would like to change about her childhood, Zinhle wouldn’t like to alter anything, “I think that it (her childhood) allowed me to be what I wanted to become and make my own choices independently. I think I had a relatively good experience,” she says in a generous smile.
Jenny labels herself "a fitness freak"
picture by-Sihle RAZ Mthembu
With a reputation for being confrontational and intelligent, Jenny Mathebula is certainly not running low on confidence. Born in Nelspruit in 1990, Jenny was raised in a large home where she lived with seven other people.
“I often spent my time in my room when I was growing up”, she says describing her childhood as less then ideal. Jenny instead found her resolve in the rhythms of books and novels and often occupied herself with the stories.
Today she cites To kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart as two of her best friends. “I liked books they kept me company and made me understand a lot of things” she says in a tone that is quite hard to box in, a mixture of xiTsonga and siSwati.
Today Jenny is a college student currently studying towards a degree in journalism. She is inspired by women who are strong and are talking action in their lives, Particularly because she never had these types of people in her life while she was growing up. “when I was a child I was surrounded by women who were very submissive, she says and it’s very encouraging for me to see women who are making things happen.
One such women she looks up to is Oprah and her get real and take action motto is something that has clearly had an impact on Jenny’s life and lifestyle choices. She recently started putting herself on a fitness program because of a history of diabetes in her family. “I don’t want to blame anyone in my family for my failing health ”, she says with a very determined tone that has become almost second nature to her.
Most Journalism students aspire to reporters, sports journalists, magazine journalists, investigative journalists. However, few aspire to be press ombudsmen – arguably the toughest job in the media.
Twenty-four year old Anorth Mabunda is an exception. He attributes his desire to be an ombudsman to the values he learnt in his childhood.
The tall, lanky Mabunda describes his childhood in Tzaneen as challenging. His parents divorced when he was nine and he feels that this greatly affected his childhood. “What I would change about my childhood would be to have both of my parents in one household,” he said.
He believes that growing with an abusive stepmom made him critical and pessimistic but it ultimately also made him a strong person.
Mabunda, the middle child of three children, wanted to be a lawyer whilst growing up and in his spare time, he enjoyed rapping with his friends. “I would always be freestyling with my friends in the corner,” he adds. He enjoyed socialising but he had no core group of friends while growing up.
He also did karate and he believes this instilled discipline, and focus in him. Despite attending a “ghetto” high school, Mabunda was not swayed by the violence and partying he witnessed from his high school colleagues. “I’ve always had natural ethics. I was not easily affected by what people around were doing around me,” he said.
Key to being an ombudsman is objectivity and a strong sense of right and wrong. Anorth’s inherent values, enthusiasm and strength of character will make him a great ombudsman one day. Watch this space!
By Jenny Mathebula
“I am quite adaptable” that is how Sphesihle Mthembu describes himself. As he grew up he had to be since he had to change schools a number of times.
Sihle is confident, loves people and it’s obvious that he likes attention. He likes to make an entrance.
His physical appearance is that of a rugby forward; he is medium height and has a thick build. It makes sense since he used to play a number of sports in school including rugby.
This contrasts with his chosen profession. Sihle wants to be an arts reporter and is really in love with anything that has to do with the arts, especially his favourite website, Mahala . It’s not the type of thing you would expect from a rugby playing Zulu boy from Pietermaritzburg. He also writes poetry just to add on to the mix.
He appears to have a lot of respect for woman as he was raised by his maternal grandmother.
Sihle is very close to his gran and credits her for his strong character. His gran was a very open person and always talked to him openly about everything and he can still talk to her about anything to this day.
“She made me an open person” is how Sihle describes his gran’s influence in his character. Oprah Winfrey is one his influences.
Take back your life is his motto in life. His mom moved to Johannesburg for work when he was very young but she still remained in his life.
He holds no resentment towards her and this is apparent in the way he talks about her. “She has done a lot for me and I always let her know that I appreciate it”.