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 “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

Bottom of Form

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

Broadband needed for SA journalistic revolution

Cheaper, faster broadband will rapidly transform South Africa’s journalism industry, said Esmaré Weideman, Chief Executive Officer of Media24.

She was speaking at Stellenbosch University’s journalism department on Monday, where she discussed the state of print media in South Africa and other related topics.

“We are in the middle of this incredible revolution in the media. I sometimes wish that government would just sort out broadband so that it can become cheaper and faster, because when that happens this industry is going to change at the speed of light.”

Professor Lizette Rabe, from Stellenbosch University’s journalism department sympathised with Weideman: “I can just imagine how frustrated you are, waiting for government to provide cheaper, faster broadband. It is the key to the new world.

“What is being done?”

Weideman said that the former Minister of Communications said that “government does not have money”, whilst the Minister’s successor said that the broadband issue is a “key priority”.

Finally she said, “I don’t know. I don’t know what is going to happen”.

Arlene Prinsloo, National Digital Content Coordinator at Media24 believes that low-cost, high-speed broadband would result in more people subscribing to digital versions of newspapers and other publications.

“This shift will also lead to an increased use of interactive graphics or data journalism, because it will not cost as much to download. It would lead to a digital explosion.”

Weideman noted that “there is this impression that people do not read anymore, it is untrue”.

Research by the South African Audience Research Foundation, which “measures readership in South Africa has just come out, and guess what; the Media24 newspaper readership is still on the increase.

“There are people who read, that might be reading very differently nowadays, but the point is that they read.”

Prinsloo was less positive about the future of print media: “I currently have mixed feelings about print media in South Africa; because I think that it lacks innovation, it is stagnating … we focus too much on print.

“Unless we dramatically change our content, so that people would want to read print, I believe that in the next five years there will no longer be printed Afrikaans newspapers, but I hope the future proves me wrong.

“If print dies it does not mean it is the end of journalism. Journalism should not be so closely associated with print media. Journalism can survive on numerous other platforms, as it already does.”

My 24 hours as half of a human, half of a man.

Journalist and self-proclaimed feminist Sherlin Barends attempts to immerse herself into the typical lifestyle of a Saudi Arabian woman.

In the Quran, Surah Al-Ahzab, Allāh speaks to the wives of Prophet Muḥammad:

“And abide quietly in your homes, and do not flaunt your charms as they used to flaunt them in the old days of pagan ignorance; and be constant in prayer, and render the purifying dues, and pay heed unto Allāh and His Messenger: for Allāh only wants to remove from you all that might be loathsome, O you members of the [Prophet’s] household, and to purify you to utmost purity.” [33:33]

My hands. My face. These are the only parts of my body that are exposed.

Every other Saturday I am scantly clad in my Pioneers hockey club uniform: a tight fitting, sleeveless, red shirt and a grey skirt that only just covers my buttocks, as I run down the road to the sporting grounds.

This Saturday, with my father’s permission, a family member escorts me to the hockey field that is a mere 250 meters from my house. I’m wearing a loose-fitting tracksuit that matches my black headscarf.

There is a “long-existing ban on sports at girls’ state schools” in Saudi Arabia, a country which is considered to be one of the most sexist societies in the world.

Thankfully I am allowed to play as I am part of an all-girls team that is only interested in recreational hockey. I have exchanged my skirt (or “cookie curtain”, as my close friend Anastacia Slamat aptly refers to the 20 cm long piece of material) for one of my brothers ill-fitting pair of shorts that cover my knees. A long sleeved top, knee-high socks and a headscarf completes my modest attire.  

An opponent’s father looks at me for a second longer than what is deemed appropriate, but then forces himself to redirect his gaze. His 4/5 year old son however, continues to stare. Fully in control of his outside voice, but not his inhibition, he shouts “Look there!” at the top of his lungs, as he points in my direction.

Surprisingly I find his candid response refreshing. The same cannot be said for the little man’s father, who wordlessly reprimands him with a tug at the trousers and a fierce glare.

The sky is blue and cloudless; still the wind pierces through my skin. Within the first ten minutes of the game the cold is soon forgotten. I’m already sweating, I struggle to breath, it sounds like my heart is beating in my ears and all I want to do is rip the constricting scarf off my head.

I don’t. But 20 minutes into the game I weakly raise my arms, indicating that I want to be substituted. This never happens.

During the second half of the game I’m back on the field and manage to bypass three opposing players. I wish I could say it is because of my remarkable ball skills, but I have a suspecting feeling that these girls, who have never met me, are being soft on me.

Final Score: 1-1

I shake the ladies’ hands, but avoid all contact with the male referee.

I am exhausted. Al my body wants to do is soak and unwind in a steaming hot bath. Instead I bathe the dog, clean the bathrooms and the dirty laundry gets washed, hanged, folded and packed away.

These tasks would have been more bearable if I listened to the soulful sounds of India Arie or Corinne Bailey Rae.

“The general attitude for many religious people is that music is forbidden; malls and stores do not have music playing through speakers in order not to offend religious customers.”

Before I drag my sweaty self upstairs I am suddenly filled with a sense of accomplishment. The smell of chemicals fills the house and I inhale deeply, as if smelling a fresh bunch of flowers.

It is a Saturday evening and I am in bed by nine that night.

With my father’s permission I go to work the following morning. To be more specific, my father drives me to work.

“Women are banned from driving: This is the most notorious ban involving Saudi women. Women have never been allowed to drive unless they drive in the desert or inside private compounds. The main arguments for preventing women from driving are that it may cause women to leave their houses more often than they need to (which is frowned upon); they may have interactions with unrelated males and the need to uncover their faces.”

I then ask my father to escort me to the MFM92.6 radio studios, located on the third floor of the Neelsie. He does this without hesitation in his role as a Saudi Arabian father, but more so as the concerned father of a Matie student. 

Under certain circumstances Saudi Arabian women are allowed to work.

Now wearing a shapeless black dress and a headscarf, it is almost as difficult to avoid my male co-hosts’ hugs than it is to avoid the music.

For the next four hours we host the Weekend Breakfast between six and ten that Sunday morning.

Strictly speaking a Saudi woman will not be left a lone with a male that is not family, then again Robin De Cauwer is part of my MFM family.

We agree to avoid eye- and physical contact and I wear earplugs and kill the volume on my headphones to ensure I don’t listen to the music.

De Cauwer is accommodating the fist 30 minutes or so, but thereafter he is visibly annoyed: “Are you just going to sit there like a hot potato?” he mutters.

As I can not hear the music and because I’m not familiar with the newer songs, I struggle to comment on them: Did I like it, how did it make me feel, is it a potential chart toper? I don’t know. Needless to say this is frustrating. 

Instead of making use of public transport to get home after my show, as there is no male family figure around to escort me, I wait (not so patiently) for my father for the next two hours.

I just realised that I can’t recall the last time I spent so much time with my father in one day. Also, during the past 24 hours people, men have been staring, but not one of them looked at me like a piece of meet that they are just dying to devour.

This is refreshing, like the little boy’s frank response, the smell of clean linen and constant feeling of being cared for.