“Until Julius comes, that’s how long the ANC will rule.”

So said acclaimed author and journalist at Daily Maverick, Richard Poplak, whose book Until Julius comes is being launched in Cape Town this week. He was speaking at Stellenbosch University’s Journalism Department yesterday.

His statement follows President Jacob Zuma famously saying that “the ANC will rule until Jesus comes”.

Poplak’s book, a compilation of articles that he wrote during the 2014 elections, “very quickly became about the rise of the EFF: how quickly and how profoundly they exploded onto the political scene”.

“At the start … they were a joke, with Julius Malema the rip off artist of rip off artists.

“But I soon realised that this was a proper phenomenon, which was going to massively impact South African politics, not just in the short term, but for the next decade.

“What makes Malema as powerful as he is right now is the fact that he has tapped into a very, very real anger and he is able to understand it.”

Nicola de Jager, Political Science lecturer at the Stellenbosch University, blames the ANC and the media for his power:  “The ANC created an environment that makes people susceptible to the EFF” and the media is responsible for “the coverage and leverage the party is given.”

Poplak defended his reporting of Malema, adding that the politician “knows exactly what to give us. The biggest story in South Africa is the EFF, hands down”.

He believes Malema is a “great political mind”, who “knows this game better than anyone around. It doesn’t matter that he got a G in Woodwork”.

“He is incredibly self-aware”: from what he does, says and even wears.

“We cannot underestimate how powerful that performance in parliament was.

“On Thursday Julius Malema did something that has been passed around across the country. He stood up to the bad guy and gave him hell, right in the Luthuli House.

“That was a massive game changer.”

The EFF knew “If we sit back in parliament and act like Mmusi Maimane right now, all ‘yes sir, no sir’, then we are dead, but if we go in and we revolt then watch what we can do.

“The DA never had the balls to do so.”

De Jager went on to say that “parliament will never be the same again. Whether this is for the best or better remains to be seen.

“Rules of the law provide a framework in which people operate. If those rules are undone you undo an entire society.”

She associated Julius Malema and the EFF with the gladiator games: “You are entertaining your masses.  And your masses are loving it. Meanwhile Rome is crumbling.”


Ebola: Stellenbosch youth uninformed and uneasy

“Although I don’t know much about Ebola, what I do know is that people are dying,” says Donovan Blignaut.

Nathaniel Witbooi asked “is Ebola a person?”

Dijan Botha threatened to leave the African continent, adding that “Ebola is like a flying spider. It is a HIV and TB hybrid, which can be easily contracted through the air”.

Though many Stellenbosch youth do not know a great deal about the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), most of them are frightened of its potential impact on South Africa.

Clinical psychologist at 2 Military Hospital Top of Form

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Tracy-Lee Arendse stated that “from a psychological perspective there are definite ties between limited knowledge and the fear that the Ebola virus elicits.

“People who are not completely informed have all kinds of ideas and phantasies about what the virus can do and how dangerous it is. They usually associate it with their worst fears, example dying.”

Dr Deidre Hendrikse from the Eastern Cape Department of Health maintained that there is no cause for alarm.

“Hospitals within each province have been identified as being the ‘go-to’ hospitals for possible cases: Tygerberg Hospital in the Western Cape.

“Specific protocols and guidelines are available, and have actually been for years, with adequately trained health care workers to ensure the best controlled environment if suspected cases arise,” Hendrikse said.

Arendse said that misunderstood or misconstrued information cause unnecessary distress. “We should be educated on Ebola in order to dispute irrational thoughts and beliefs,” she added.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), “a major global player in infectious disease intelligence” fulfils the role of being “a resource of knowledge and expertise in regionally relevant communicable diseases to the South African Government, to SADC countries and the African continent.”

A statement by this organisation included a list of things one should know about the “deadly viral disease”: IVD was formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, as infected individuals potentially experience “bleeding inside and outside of the body”. The virus is spread via direct interaction with the bodily fluids of the infected and is therefore not an airborne disease, “so simply being in the same room as an infected person … is not a risk for infection.”

Also, there is no cure or vaccine for the Ebola virus and treatment is limited to supportive therapy. In preceding outbreaks, 50 – 90% of Ebola patients have died. Still the risk of EVD cases being imported into South Africa is believed to be low.

The statements also highlighted the fact that “at 14 August 2014 noon, there have been no laboratory-confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in South Africa associated with the current outbreak in West Africa (affecting Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria).”

Afrikaans: my moeder se taal, my moedertaal

Pennetjie. Wasgoedpennetjie. Dit is my gunsteling Afrikaanse woord. Danksy hierdie eenvoudige voorwerp, ʼn spesifieke een van hout om presies te wees, is ander woorde soos bobotie en braaivleis en idiome soos ‘die doodskleed het geen sakke nie’en ‘dit nie breed het nie’, deel van my steeds groeiende Afrikaanse woordeskat.

Jy sien toe ek jonger was, seker so drie of vier jaar oud, wou my ma my baie graag Engels aanleer en Afrikaans ietwat in die proses laat verleer. Ek “help” haar toe een somersdag met die wasgoed. Met uitgestrekte hande vra sy toe “please pass me the… the…” Alles behalwe “peg” kom toe uit haar mond uit. In daardie oomblik verander sy toe vinnig haar deuntjie en vra haar deurmekaar pikkie vir ’n pennetjie. Engelse lessie vergete.

Afrikaans is my moeder se taal, my moedertaal is Afrikaans. Ek dink, droom, dans en raak beduiweld in Afikaans.

Ek stem dus saam met meneer FW de Klerk, wanneer hy se dat taal meer as net ’n medium van kommunikasie is, maar dat dit ook ’n kardinale deel van ons menslike identiteit, kultuur en innerlike wese vorm. Afrikaans moet beskerm en bewaar word. Ek glo ook, soos hy, dat die voordele van moedertaal onderrig nie oorbeklemtoon kan word nie.

In ’n ideale Suid-Afrika sou opvoeding, ook tersiêre opvoeding, in al elf amptelike tale beskikbaar wees. Hier sou universiteite met Engels, Afrikaans, Ndebele, Sotho, Noord-Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa en Zoeloe handboeke en dosente toegerus wees. Hierdie proses is duur en onprakties en daarom egter glad nie die geval nie.

In realiteit vind tersiêre opvoeding tans hoofsaaklik in Engels en Afikaans plaas. Om in Suid-Afrika opvoeding in jou moedertaal onderrig te ontvang is dus ʼn voorreg en nie ʼn reg nie. ʼn Voorreg waarby sleg ʼn sekere gedeelte van die populasie baat vind.

Engels as tersiêre onderrig taal maak sin, maar nie Afrikaans nie.

Ja Afrikaans word derde meeste in ons land gepraat. Meneer de Klerk het in 2012 aangevoer dat byna 7 miljoen Suid-Afrikaanse burgers se eerste taal Afrikaans is. Hy voeg by dat dit ʼn inklusiewe taal is (ongeveer 200 000 swart mense lys Afrikaans as hul eerste taal). Meneer De Klerk verwerp dus ook die idee van Afrikaans as die taal van die onderdrukker. Die einde van Apartheid was immers aangekondig in Afrikaans, sê mense graag.

Die feit bly staan dat swart leerders selde in hul moedertaal tersiêre opvoeding ontvang en moet dikwels in hul tweede of selfs derde taal onderrig word.

Afrikaners aan die ander hand kan kies en keur tussen die Universiteit van Stellenbosch, Universiteit van Pretoria, Universiteit van Potchefstroom en die universiteit van die Vrystaat.

Hierdie leerders word dan aan die einde van die dag verwag om met mekaar te kompeteer, alhoewel die speelveld duidelik ongelyk is. Verskille in prestasie vermoë, word dan as natuurlik beskou en nie sistematiese ongelykheid nie

Engels behoort deur die bank as taal van opvoeding in Suid-Afrika te wees.

Transformasie is nie maklik nie. Ware transformasie kos opoffering.

Improve your storytelling abilities: exploite the differences between print and online journalism

Various fundamental differences (and similarities) exist between online and print, when working as a journalist in today’s multifaceted media milieu. When we use these differences and similarities to our advantage, we improve our ability to tell stories.

Keep in mind that though online media is all the rage, South Africa’s digital divide is undeniable.  Many citizens are still unwilling or unable to access online media and depend on print to stay informed.

My grandmother for instance owns a cell phone, but she never uses it for news updates. For her, nothing beats the smell and feel of a good old newspaper. On the other hand you have my cousin who does everything with newspapers besides read them: covers her books, washes her windows, puts it at the bottom of the budgies’ cage etc.

So do yourself a favour and forget about the online versus print debate. Instead, use both mediums and play to their respective strengths.

However DO NOT (like various South African publications) write and publish something for traditional print and simply copy and paste it to an online platform. Rather follow these easy tips on how to publish online.

10 Things to do when publishing online

  • Less is more. Write short powerful sentences.
Fight the urge to frantically type whatever comes to mind.
  • Make use of colour (but not too much). Traditional print is limited, but not online mediums.

  • Tell your story using visual aids like pictures and videos
  • Be first. Online journalism is immediate and thus great for breaking news. Remember how the Oscar saga was broke on twitter. 
  • If you cannot break the news, you need to be in-depth or add a different spin to what has already been said.

  • There are endless possibilities when it comes to things you can click on there, so a catchy title is a must
  • Avoid vague descriptions for titles. You reader should know what to expect
Say no to ambiguous titles!
  • Lists (not unlike this one) are a great way to make information digestible.
  • Make sure that whatever you post online is interactive. People love to convey their opinions or share their personal experiences. Interactive maps and linking stories to Facebook or Twitter are also great ideas

Feel free to add any other helpful tips on how to publish online. While you at it, you can also follow me on Twitter @Sherlin_Barends