Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Pearl Nicodemus

Passing matric and being accepted to University to further my studies was quite an achievement. What went though my mind is that university is thrilling, exhilarating and electrifying! Moving out of home to live either in res or alternative accommodation feels like the best experience one can have. But it’s also nerve-wrecking.

So it’s time to leave. I pack all my bags, get in the car with a look of glee on the thought of the soon to be experienced freedom.

I get there.

And then “tjo” comes out of my mouth which is when I realise things are bad. I look around and wonder where exactly three people are going to fit. As if the idea of sharing a room with two or three strangers is not traumatising enough. When I get there I find that my roommate have brought additional roommates.

Then I am greeted by the mother of all roommates - COCKROACHES! They are everywhere and then disappear when I whip out a can of ‘Doom All Purpose Insect Killer’

After complaining to self, parents and everyone else who cares to listen I then decide to pay my neighbours a visit. “Tjo” cannot come out this time. My jaw is too far down for me to even utter one word. The question that is in my head is, “do human beings really live here?”

I look up and and see a large hole in the ceiling. “Ok breathe it’s not that bad”, I say to self. Who am I kidding? There are potholes on the floor and the walls are not painted. The lockers are half the size of mine, the showers look as though one wouldn’t be able to turn around without hitting something and what really saddens my heart is seeing three running taps that are broken and unable to shut. They have since been fixed as there were thousands of complains.

After a long day of classes, you just want to go back to your room and jump on your bed even if it’s just for ten minutes - in silence. This is before you hit your books, cook and do all the other little bits. But that is not meant to be.When you open your door you find your room looking like a flee market in Ouagadougou as if all that is left are European tourists to come and buy some souvenirs.

I’m not making sense right. Well on this day I return to what should be the comfort of my space to find my 271 million roommates and their friends gathered on top of my bed like bees around honey. It doesn’t end there they are nosier than the Bree taxi rank in Johannesburg. That is when I realise that‘me time’ is declared null and void here. It is substituted with ‘we time’!

Most first years I have spoke to share the same sentiments but after a few weeks of hostel living it seems most have adjusted to the hustle and bustle of TUT Soshanguve. Most have confessed that hostel living in Sosh is not so hostile. I personally think that this is the best type of environment for a budding journalist - interesting, shocking and action packed!

Student Journalists Inspired by Mahlatse Gallens

Puleng Sekabate

On Friday, 19 February 2009, SABC Senior Specialist reporter Mahlatse Gallens was a guest lecture at the Tshwane University of Technology’s Department of Journalism in Soshanguve North.

Gallens was fresh from covering the earthquake destruction which left around 200 thousand people dead in the Caribbean island of Haiti.

Students at the campus were surprised by her humble nature as she shared her inspiring words with them. She explained how traumatic situations like the one in Haiti can be for a young reporter and stressed the need for counseling when a journalist returns home.

“One needs to get back to normal. Live your normal life, when coming back from a story,” Gallens explained.

Gallens was based in the Democratic Republic of Congo for three years where she covered the conflict in the North Kivu region of the country. She explained how difficult it was to get started in the country where they spoke French as she couldn’t speak the language at all when she arrived. The conflict in the country is still based on ethnicity between the Tutsis and the Hutus. The conflict between the two groups led to the genocide that resulted in the death of 800 thousand people in Rwanda in 1994.

She further explained how different journalism is treated in the country. “In the DRC journalists get paid to cover a press conference. They thought because I am a foreign journalist I would have to get foreign rates.”

After clarifying to the country’s authorities that it would be unethical for her to accept any fee for attending press conferences she started getting more requests to be there when they took place.

She says she would often face ethical questions as she came across child soldiers in some of the regions she has covered. The same happened recently in Haiti as people kept on asking her for food and all she has in her bag was a snack and a bottle of water.

“There was no water and that water could have started a conflict,” she says.

She says if she gave something to one person another would have fought that person for it as they were all equally desperate.

“Don’t be a hero, because no story is worth your life.”

Her rich experiences as a journalist widened the minds of the students who have chosen the same career.

First year journalism student Pearl Nicodemus said Gallens experiences increased her passion for journalism. “It was very enlightening to hear about journalism in the art, it was a breath of fresh air. It also made me realise that journalism in art is an era yet to be explored.”
“The talk with Mahlatse Gallens was an insight into the journalism world, giving me a way to visualise how it is to be a woman in the journalism world,” explained another student Rethabile Mabula.

“It has been a pleasure having a motivator such as Mahlatse Gallens. Basically it has enlightened me as an individual that being a journalist is not about the fame and spotlight. It takes dedication and passion at large,” explained student, Sibongile Mahlada.

Tebogo Mpawu said he was motivated by the lecture, “The talk made me more eager and passionate about the field. I am looking forward to the real co-operate world as she has motivated us and I am also looking forward to being the real journalist.”

Gallens experiences as a conflict reporter made Tlholo Tseolo want to be a journalist even more now, “With regards to objectivity in her experience from Congo and Haiti and how she handled herself as a journalist.”

It’s clear that all students thoroughly enjoyed this lecture. Gallens says she is back at the SABC and is part of a team that is trying to form an investigative desk. “I don’t want to cover a protest march. I want to cover the story behind the protest march,” she said.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Blindfolded, wet and climbing walls in Toppieshoek

Tshepo Tshabalala.

Recently the first year journalism class of  TUT went to Toppieshoek in Magaliesberg. Third year student Tshepo Tshabalala went with them and this is what happened.

The temperature in this place is hovering at 39 degrees Celsius. Ok - a bit of an over exaggeration but sweat is bleeding from my eyeballs and palms are dripping of insoluble water as I pen these words.

After countless days of selection tests and interviews the cream of the crop has eventually been chosen to be part of the Journalism department. Out of a possible 400 plus applicants only just over a hundred made it. And every year the new lot has to spend time away playing with water, mud, ropes and climbing walls – not what one would expect budding journos to do. The TUT journalism department calls this a team building exercise.

So on January 25 the young ones hop on a bus with about 50 strangers. There are looks of suspicion doing the rounds as we leave the city of Pretoria into the wilderness of Magaliesberg. Maybe wilderness is pushing it a bit, let’s call it a green, leafy countryside.

The day’s activities start with seemingly cheesy exercises and some old games everyone grew up with in the township. Once the old bones are loose it’s time for some team work – with strangers.

Imagine this – you are blind folded in a room and are told to look for a rope and make a triangle using the rope. That is just one of the tasks given to them. When you think the worst is over the tasks just keep on getting harder and harder. To follow they are to get into groups of 15 and stand on a small piece mat with all feet on it and then try to turn it over using just their feet. With team work, countless arguments and screaming matches some of the teams manage to get it right. Many realise their mistakes and promise to work towards fixing them in future.

I heard the other half of the class which went at a later stage got to play a game of moving a bucket of water from one side of the line to the next with the whole group lying down and just using their feet. You can imagine the result of that – a really wet, muddy and sticky situation.

Then comes the climax of the day, for me at least. For some reason it is torture for some and I just cannot get that. What is this you ask? Let’s get the drum roll ladies and gentlemen – it’s the wall climbing. Not sure how high the wall is, but it’s long. After much fear, sweaty palms and shivers; the climb becomes easier with the cheering and jeering from the onlookers.

The reward for this madness that might leave your brains scattered all over the floor should you fall is the magnificent scenic view of Harties, which one unfortunately cannot take home. For some, the worst part of this is the abseil down. You would think people are always comfortable with being on the ground.

The abseil unfortunately signals the end to an adventurous day but despite this it is clear that the new students are planning to use all the life skills learnt at Toppieshoek throughout their journey in the Soshanguve campus.
To some this was confirmation that they had made the right choice.

Thursday, February 4, 2010