2014 : The highlights and lessons learnt

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The best, yet worst year of my life. I always say that everything happens for a reason…and this year has shown me that when you feel like the world is crashing down on you….relax, take a breather and remember that nothing is put in your path by accident.

Eyewitness News – The place where my year started. Eager, energetic and positive I was going to make a change in the world with my voice and my words. It was great at first but I quickly realised that it was not for me. And I’m not saying it’s not for everyone, it just wasn’t for me. What I had thought I wanted to be, was not what I was doing by working here. After many talks, lectures, thinking, weighing of pros and cons I decided I would leave. And I did.

While it was not the best experience for me, it was reality hard and cold. It being my first year out of varsity, I threw myself into the harsh world of the average working person and Oh! did I feel it. Over worked and under paid – the life of a mainstream news journalist was rough and tough. I learnt to never take anything to heart or personally. People will critic you all your life; I learnt to take it from where it is coming from. The harder the push the faster and further you fly.

Professionally, EWN taught how to work under immense pressure; I worked through some of the hugest times news journalism, Mandela’s death, the Oscar Trial and the national general elections, among other great sagas like Nkandla, the experience – priceless. I also got to meet some great people who inspire me through the work they do and the souls they keep. The biggest thing was I found I could really do anything I put my mind to. There is nothing you can’t do if you want it bad enough. I left knowing I could be a radio journalist and I could be great at it, but that did not mean that because I could do it I should. I did it, and it was time to move on, the box had been ticked.

2014 was also the year I graduated with my Honours degree. Yes – 23 and sitting on two degrees. An accomplishment in my books and something I had never planned or saw for myself. I was spring cleaning my cupboards recently and I came across a project I did back in high school. One of the questions was what I wanted to do after I finish school. My answer – I want to take a gap year after matric, travel the world and find myself haha! (The big dreams we have in school). Needless to say that never happened – I went from matric straight into varsity – but it all paid off I suppose.

Nowadays I sometimes ask myself why I studied further, I should have just worked and grown from there – but then I realise that my knowledge is priceless and can never be taken away from me. It’s something I did and worked hard at, something I have accomplished and nothing I should be afraid of showing off. Yes I have two degrees and yes I’m 23. I learnt to never be ashamed of what you work hard for. Don’t be afraid of who you are. I learnt that you can’t control what people say or think of you and anyway what people think of you does not matter – what does matter is what you think about yourself.

After 2014 I think I am more confident in the person I am and confident in the future I see for myself. I realise that the more you try to please people the unhappier you make yourself. I also learnt that life is too short to worry about the small things. The little failures 2014 brought me made me stronger and taught me that in life you HAVE to fail. It’s what makes life interesting and challenging. And if you aren’t challenged in life how will you grow.

My career – there is no plan, there is no definites and there is no storyboard and there is no “I can’t”, I am young and I feel like this part of my life will be over very soon. I won’t be able to do what I can now in a few years, so why not make the best of it. The only plan I have is to learn, not remain stagnant, live and love. And this year … 2015 I plan to do just that.

P.S I want to start my own beauty blog this year – because why not?

If you love all things beauty I suggest you watch and follow these accounts on Youtube:

Working life: Being a journalist

“A veteran journalist has never had time to think twice before he writes” – George Bernard Shaw

The view through the eyes of a journalist is not one easily seen through the eyes of the professionals, philanthropists and terrorists of the world – instead it is a combination of all.

This year I took huge leap into the very rigid and responsible sphere of the working world. The thought of leaving behind my years of being a carefree, oblivious and drunken student – in the least – terrified me.

Taking this leap of life was like walking with a blindfold into trouble. All I had to base my perception on was the endless bills I watched my parents pay, all the dreadful responsibility of being an independent adult and the distant thought that I would be answerable to someone – someone like a boss.

This “working life” I speak of came to me in the form of Eyewitness News (EWN) from Primedia Broadcasting in South Africa.

Having being a diligent student throughout my academic career – I was sure that will not drown as I take on my next career – this being journalism and the media.

I perceived myself as an informed honour student from Wits Journalism and when I got that email from EWN offering me a job – I perceived that it would be the perfect place to take the next step in this new career I was yet to embark on.

“A person without any ideas but with an ability to express them; a writer whose skill is improved by a deadline: the more time he has, the worse he writes” – Karl Kraus

Coming into a newsroom every day – you become less vulnerable to the little things in life. The small arguments from day-to-day with people you encounter, the tough criticism and the unshy sometimes unrealistic demands on you – all become something simple – like drinking tea.

You learn to become a tough and unconquerable person – immune to the things that would normally affect the average person.

A colleague of mine – in a long deep conversation – said to me that life is about friendship and acknowledgement. That’s exactly what I think about being a journalist. You need to have a lot of friends as contacts and the foundation of why we [journalists] do the work we do is for acknowledge. We want people to take notice of what we say, write and produce.

“The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read” – Oscar Wilde

Seeing reporters in and out of the newsroom – going to places of danger, celebration and sadness –  and coming back to produce some kind of content as if it were just one of those things is a talent that not many have – I believe.

This same colleague I spoke of earlier – told me that he lives a two-fold life and it’s important to dream – not just in your deep sleep – but in your day-to-day life. In line with the title of this blog – journalism is the dream in reality and – while we are not regarded as professionals in the “working world” it is something some people only dream of. It is a life experienced like no other. There is very little left to dream about – expect a better paycheck at the end of the month – I suppose.

Sometimes I do wonder how these journalists do it every day, with the minimal sleep, the long hours and the crazy deadlines – because you really do give your life to be a journalist – but suppose its about we live – the passion within that life.

As a young one starting off – I am excited of what the “working world” has in store for me. It turned out okay with some minor bumps, but an exciting career it is.

“I still believe that if your aim is to change the world, journalism is a more immediate short-term weapon” – Tom Stoppard

Reflections of my life since Vuvuzela

First of all…apologies to my followers of this blog. I have been out of the scene for quite a while due to hectic transformations happening in my life. Here is an update of what has been going on in my world of journalism.

Wits Vuvuzela

I did not have time to write a my final post to the amazing class of 2013 of Wits Journalism…I will therefore wrap it all up into one post.

So I finished up my year at Wits Vuvuzela in November last year. While I knew the end would come one day….when it did…it felt way too soon.

It was the most amazing year of my life. The year that I fell in love with journalism. I met 16 very different people who I spent the year with. Through the process I learnt to understand them, I grew to love them and I adapted to work with them.

Each and every person including my lecturers’ all taught me something. Tears, laughter, screaming, singing, dancing, drinking, stress, deadlines and wanting to jump off the 11th floor of Senate House of Wits University with everyone with me is how I will forever remember this year.

My last year of being a student has ended and as sad and heart-wrenching as that is to swallow, it is the brutal truth. I could have not chosen or wanted a different way to spend my last year at varsity.

I wish each and every one of my classmates of 2013 the utmost best in the future endeavors, where it be in journalism or not. I hope you all end up doing what truly brings you joy. We made history at Vuvuzela and we were the best. The world of journalism definitely needs to prepare themselves for the amount of talent that is going to hit them next week when most of us will officially start work.

You all have bright futures ahead of you and I hope to meet you guys on the field together. I will miss all our laughter, singing and most of all twerking in the Vuvuzela newsroom.

To my lecturers’ thank you for all you taught me this year…education is priceless and without your guidance, I would not be as “wise” as I am now.

Eyewitness news

I have started work at Primedia at EWN and have been here for the past month. A shock to the system might be an understatement. This is the real world okay and wow have we been thrown in the deep end.

As my boss told me on the first day “You will be thrown in the deep end, try not to drown.”
I am glad to report that I have not drowned.

This place is full of senior reporters who are excellent at their work and the passion that flows through their veins for journalism is kind of unreal.

Radio is predominantly what I have been working on, mainly for 702 Talk Radio, 94.7 Highveld Stereo in Johannesburg and 567 Cape Talk in Cape Town and Kfm.

Yesterday I got a the load down on how the EWN website works…I must say that WordPress is much simpler.

I still have a whole year to spend at this place, but for right now I am trying to dig myself out of a very big hole from underneath all this experience in this newsroom. I do hope I get there someday today.

Final thoughts

Being and living in the “real world” is tough and its hard and its tiring but its what has to be done.

Cheers to upward mobility, happiness and progress!

Practicality always wins

From mid-week last week till this Monday life has been hard, to say the least. I have mastered the art of learning to “suck it up” when you feel like lying on the floor and playing dead.

Last week was the final week for #teamvuvu to gather their information. The last minute interviews, the quick video footage and sound bites and the last minute photography we needed.

Last minute interview

This was quite stressful because our 2000 word features are due today and our multimedia for our research proposal is due on Friday. It went alright for me as I had been working from the start but I did have a final interview on Saturday. I needed to conduct a final interview with Mr King Pon to get the final details for my feature.

Saturday I came to the department all ready to interview King and he had forgotten about our interview. The stress-o-meter went through the roof because I knew if I did not do the interview then I would have no other time and my feature would suffer. So I gathered my thoughts and agreed to meet King at 4. I needed to be practical, if I didn’t care who would.

The interview went well, I realised when I got to his Firework shop that he was having some problems because his roof was leaking from the heavy rainfall we had on Saturday. The interview went well and I managed to receive more information that I needed. I spent the rest of the weekend trying to perfect my feature and make it a good and easy read. Not as easy as it seems.

The last trek

With another hectic week ahead and Johannesburg in like what it seems tornado season, I hope I make it through alive . Perseverance has never been tested as much as it has in the past few days but I can see then end and it is near, its this last push and soon I will be over the finish line. Practical thinking gets you far.

[VIDEO + GALLERY]: Zuma in Cyrildene

On Friday last week we went to Cyrildene for a meeting and for the opening of the Chinese arch. To my surprise the President Jacob Zuma attended the event. It was a grand affair and my first time seeing Zuma in the flesh. I took some pictures  to document my day. Here is a gallery of some photo’s i took at the opening.

Staff whistleblowers slammed

“Several staff members, who encourage students to report their experiences of sexual harassment, have been victimised by the university.”

This was the damning assessment of the treatment of staff members who attempted to blow the whistle on sexual harassment at Wits, as detailed in a report released last week.

The report revealed that Wits staff members felt “sidelined, marginalised” and “silenced” by the university.
These staff members have indicated that they felt like “unprotected whistle-blowers.”

The perpetrators of sexual harassment often accused whistleblowers of participating in a “conspiracy” against them.

“Staff members who have attempted to assist with sexual harassment in the past, have experienced humiliation and silencing by roleplayers, and in some cases been actively labelled by fellow staff-members for causing trouble,” read the report.

According to the report, the “roleplayers” at Wits include the Legal Office, the Employment Relations Office, the Transformation Office, the sexual harassment advisor, Campus Control, Campus Health and university management.

Some staff members interviewed in the report complained that the university did not take a “proactive stance” on sexual harassment and did not deal with the issue.

“For example, in one case, a staff member has reported that a contract worker in partnership with the university has, on numerous occasions, aggressively targeted female staff,” read the report.

“Although this has been reported, to date nothing has been done from the university’s side, and as a result, there has been a high turnover rate of female staff in that department, who simply cannot work under such conditions.”

The report notes that ordinary staff members were at the “coalface” of sexual harassment as students being victimised are more likely to turn to them for help.

Because of this, staff should be constantly trained and supported in their dealing with student complaints of harassment.

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Ruth First Memorial silences miners of Marikana

by Prelene Singh and Ray Mahlaka. 

OUTRAGED activists and mine workers walked out of the Ruth First Memorial lecture this evening, in protest at the lack of engagement following Trevor Manuel’s Ruth First lecture.

Members of the public and of the university community gathered in the Great Hall to hear the annual memorial lecture of slain activist, journalist and scholar, Ruth First. Professor Anton Harber of Wits Journalism, vice chancellor Professor Adam Habib and Minister of the National Planning Commission, Trevor Manuel all addressed the audience.

“We should not be afraid to be unorthodox”

In the lecture itself Manuel spoke about the challenges of mine workers, the migrant labour system and the national development plan but was careful to point out that anything he said should not be seen as preemptive of the  decisions of the official commission of inquiry which is ongoing. He also addressed the problem of equality in the mining and migrant labour sectors in South Africa.

The commission of inquiry was launched to find answers to the killing of 34 miners by police last year but has been plagued by financial issues. Manuel said South Africans should give the commission full confidence that it needs for it to find answers. “We are all sorry that people died but clearly Trevor Manuel is not.”

Manuel said after Marikana last year on August 16: “We have learnt much about the human condition and solidarity and we should not be afraid to be unorthodox.”

Shortly after Manuel completed his speech, Claire Ceruti, activist with the Democratic Left Front said his speech was “rubbish.” From her seat at the back of the hall she shouted “Give us the right to talk about inequality, we are all sorry that people died but clearly Trevor Manuel is not.”

“This is an abuse of the memory of Marikana”

Ceruti said Manuel repeated everything they already knew. She said everyone sat and listened to him [Manuel] speak, now “we want to ask questions”. Ceruti said: “This is an abuse of the memory of Marikana and she said “its ridiculous” regarding the current inequalities in the mining industry and the profit made by the mining companies, which is being sent overseas and not being spent locally.

“People are just getting poor, he can’t argue that there is an improvement in living conditions at the mines … Trevor Manuel is not sorry about people who are dying. We just want to see justice after his role in Marikana,” said Ceruti.

Ceruti and the group of miners she had arrived with were escorted out of the hall by Campus Control with the vice-chancellor in close proximity.

In response to the disruption, Manuel commented after the lecture: “I don’t know what their concerns are. They started shouting and screaming. I don’t know the issues they raised. That was not appropriate raising the issues at the memorial lecture.”

Prof Habib said that the “right to protest is protected and we respected and allowed it to happen”.

Habib said that if questions were taken the conversation might have never ended but “I am glad it happened and I’m glad we managed to move on”. “I think its wonderful and is a representation of the complexity of her [Ruth First] life, and that’s what we hoped for.

Anita Khana of the Marikana Support Campaign said she was not satisfied by what Manuel said. Khana also said that mining companies are more worried about profits.

I feel like vomiting

Khana said that “Manuel showed a deep understanding of inequality but there is a real gap between what he thinks inequality is and what is actually happening.”

Ceruti said: “I feel like vomiting”. She expressed concern around the fact that Manuel came and gave a wonderful speech and made everyone listen to some music and goes home feeling wonderful about himself.

Marikana Support Campaign

Trevor Ngwane, spokesperson for the Marikana Support Campaign said: “The miners were silenced today” when he expressed his concern over the fact that there was no conversation about this in the lecture. Ngwane said: “The miners came here today hoping to get five minutes to have their say”.

He said the miners wanted to to say that they were still suffering and their wages was “starvation wages”.

The most important thing Ngwane said the miners wanted, was to appeal to Manuel for funds to pay for their legal representation at the Marikana Commission. Workers have withdrawn from the commission because they do not have funds to participate. This is unfair because they are the victims, said Ngwane. Dali Mpofu, the advocate representing the miners said: “It would have been important for him to reconcile the recent decision of the Cabinet to turn their backs on the miners.”

“They weren’t capable do that without opening up the debate between what obviously are clashing classes. There were workers here and those who belong to the elite should be confronting the issues of inequality” Mpofu said when addressing the question of whether the event was what he expected.

 “I think Ruth First would have loved it.”

A miner who was shot last year by police in the labour disputes commented in an interview with Wits Vuvuzela: “Its painful what they are doing to us. He was suppose to speak the truth, the real challenges of mine workers. No body is listening to us and it worries me. We are not stupid, we want progress as to why we have been killed.

“At the moment we do not have rights.”

Scatterlings of Africa

Johnny Clegg who was summoned to the stage minutes after the members of Marikana Support Campaign and the miners were escorted out of the hall by security said: “It was a magical moment” and “I think Ruth First would have loved it”. He said that it was a confirmation of South African democracy and a conversation which needs to happen

The night ended off with Clegg performing some of his greatest hits including the international hit “Scatterlings of Africa”.