Monday, May 9, 2011

Television is More Than Just an Entertainment Box in Africa

Mary-Jane Mabula

The 1976 education march took place right after the launch of television
in the country which played a pivotal role in the change to follow.

Television in South Africa has been more than just a box that sits in the family room with images of entertainment going through – even though one might be forgiven for thinking that at times.

Moving pictures have played a pivotal role in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa when citizens saw them for the first time on 05 January 1976. The power of moving images is something that no amount of radio broadcasting or print media can compete with. I believe that having those images broadcast on television was more powerful than hearing moving speeches from leaders of various liberation movements. It was the biggest propaganda machine run by the National Party, but it worked against them. In fact some researchers have proven that television took a while to arrive in South Africa because the ruling party at the time was scared of the impact it would have in bringing down the oppressive system and they were right as without television our struggle for freedom could have lasted much longer.

Television in Africa also serves another purpose of bringing communities together. There is a time when it was a luxury only a few could afford and it was the most luxurious gift a son working in the city could buy for the family based in the rural areas. The house with a television set would then be a communal place where everyone from the village would marvel at the stories they would be seeing playing out before their eyes.

Due to our demanding lifestyles, the only time most families get to spend together is when watching television. Progressive parents use television programmes as a foundation for discussions with their children. Many often say the internet is taking over in urban areas but television is still the preferred source of information for millions in Africa’s urban areas. Radio is of course still the cheapest and most preferred form by the majority of Africans especially those in the rural areas.

The need for education has been even seen by those who write scripts for soap operas on this continent and we now see real life being shown with dialogue on HIV/AIDS, abuse, peer pressure, bullying and many other societal problems.

Recently the sex lives of characters of television programme, Intersexions,
becameone of the most tending topics on social networks.

Television is a source of many conversations. We can’t wait to hook up with our friends to talk about the previous night’s unfoldings on Generations. Even those with access to the internet would watch their favourite shows on television and tweet and facebook about them as they are watching. Recently a South African drama, Intersexions became one of the most trending topics on social networks.

The film and television industry provides work for such a variety of professionals and non-professionals from writers, actors, agents, directors, editors, security guards, cooks and assistants. The benefits and positive effects I receive from watching television are countless. It entertains, informs and most importantly educates.

Television allows one to travel the world without really lifting a leg. I’ve got a wide insight on various cultures and traditions of the world and learn how other people interpret life.

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