Leading the pack: 100 editions on we recall our top stories
Today we are proud to celebrate our 100th edition. Just four years on The Journalist has filled a niche spot in the South African media landscape and the overarching goal has been threefold: helping young journalists tell their own stories, unearthing pioneers who have been written out of history and encouraging diversity in African storytelling.
By working closely with students, and helping them find their own voices, they have been given the power to tell the stories of themselves, their families and communities. As the leaders of the future, young South Africans are increasingly and unapologetically playing a large role in the democratic development of this country, from #FeesMustFall activism to bravely speaking out alongside the #MeToo movement, and we at The Journalist are increasingly giving them the space to flourish.
Some of our best reads are from these very students, as well as respected veteran journalists and academics. From interrogating structural violence in the university space, to holding corporates such as Steinhoff to account and going back to the colonialism period in order to understand the context of capitalism as structural violence, we have a rich variety of stories and voices.
This year has been a painful one, with the passing of our national heroine Winnie Madikizela Mandela, we reflected on the harrowing life Ma Winnie endured when she stood in the front-line of the anti-apartheid struggle while her husband Nelson Mandela and other political leaders were imprisoned. Ma Winnie was unbreakable but not unscarred. For many decades, scores of South Africans worked to end apartheid and build a viable democracy. Many of those who sacrificed their lives and livelihoods did so with no reward in sight and Ma Winnie was one of them.
Beyond the celebration of our historical giants, we’ve also looked at the most vulnerable in our society. The horrific deaths of Life Esidimeni represents the kind of evil the post-apartheid state is most likely to commit, and these are the names we should never forget.
Back in 2016 Lovelyn Nwadeyi, Stellenbosch University alumnus, made a powerful and moving speech fearlessly tackling the role that language plays in oppression, and problematised Mandela and Tutu’s ‘Rainbow Nation’ concept of forgiveness by black people for centuries of oppression and exploitation under white rule.
In the age of information and the rapidly churning news cycle, it is increasingly important to keep stories alive. One such piece is Project Spear, a documentary that was pulled at the last minute which tells the story about South Africans being defrauded of billions by the apartheid government as it was leaving in the Nineties.
But we also understand the value in our history, and what it can reveal about our present. From the enduring legacy of exclusion that Jan van Riebeeck brought to a new series that examines the detrimental effects of eurocentrism as the main underpinnings of education, knowledge production and public policy-making we begin to understand more about the factors that drive horrific incidents of violence such as Shimla Park and Ashwin Willemse’s walk off the set of Supersport and Helen Zille’s colonial tweets and the need to continuously stand up against ignorance and injustice.
The Journalist is an independent, not for profit organisation working with the academic community headed by publisher Zubeida Jaffer. Back in 2014 she became aware that journalism students were not provided with a South African historical perspective of their profession and decided to do something about it. By working closely with editors and being published alongside internationally recognised South African academics and thinkers, we are proud to showcase the work of young journalists and academics who are already making their mark. Please argue, engage, contribute and send us your stories.