Veteran journalist, activist and Africanist Mathatha Tsedu is set to join Wits Journalism as an adjunct professor focusing on growing connections to the continent as well as tackling issues of transformation in South African media.
Tsedu said that his two main priorities will be establishing exchange programmes for Wits Journalism students and academics with other journalism schools around Africa as well as transforming the curriculum by introducing “a more afro-centric and less euro-centered approach to literature used in teaching”.
“These two are interlinked as the exchange programme would also assist with the organic transformation of understanding,” Tsedu said.
Wits Journalism head Prof Franz Krüger described Tsedu as being well placed for this task due to his links to journalists across the African continent.
“His network of contacts among journalists on the continent is second to none. He will also help us think about issues of transformation in the media, and what this means for our teaching,” Kruger said.
Tsedu joins Wits Journalism from the SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) where he was executive director and was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of the Western Cape.
Tsedu described his new role as “challenging”.
“It’s challenging given that universities around the country are going through a period of unpredictable uprisings and demands for transformation which Wits journalism also has to confront,” Tsedu said.
Tsedu added that he believes that the task of Wits Journalism, and university journalism programmes like it, was to teach journalists to work in the new media environment but also to “produce journalists that can help South Africa understand its role and place in Africa.”
The department has seen extensive changes recently, with head Prof Anton Harber leaving for a two-year contract as editor-in-chief of 24-hour news channel ENCA.
Krüger said the department was “pleased indeed” to have Tsedu join the department.
“Both career-entry and mid-career students will benefit greatly from the wealth of knowledge, wisdom and experience that he brings,” Krüger said.
Tsedu began his career at the Northern Transvaal Post in 1978 as a reporter. He later joined the Sowetan where he was a reporter, an investigations editor and a political editor. He has had leadership positions at the Sunday Independent, SABC News and has been the editor of both the Sunday Times and City Press.
He was banned for over six years by the apartheid government and restricted to Seshogo, Polokwane from 1981 to 1986 and barred from working as a journalist. He was detained for long periods without trial during which time he was tortured by security police.
This article originally appeared on Journalism.co.za