The Plagues and Me

(Commissioned by and adapted from Tony Sutton’s ColdType website: “Writing Worth Reading From Around the World.”) Dear Friends, Comrades, Colleagues, I know you haven’t asked, but thought I’d get ahead of the curve and report that I’m in great shape, mentally and physically — although approaching my prime with unseemly haste I wake to the thrum and thunder […]

Screw The Inverted Pyramid

This is the third instalment in Tim Knight’s series for The Journalist on the craft of broadcast journalism. His first two were The Business of Social Justice and How to Interview.   “I watched the Morning News, the Noon News and the Late-Night News. I saw the Local News, the National News and the World […]

Fall and Rise of Our Man in Lesotho

A military coup beckons like distant thunder from the other side of South Africa’s border with Lesotho. Soldiers shoot police … police shoot soldiers … the general commanding Lesotho’s army defies the King’s command to lay down his sword … rebel soldiers train in the mountains … Lesotho prime minister and allies flee across the […]

The Statue and the Shit

For 103 years the statue of Cecil John Rhodes crouches there on the University of Cape Town (UCT) campus, brooding out over the rugby fields all the way to the Cape Flats. The statue celebrates his dream of a white man’s Africa — stretching British imperial power 7,235  kilometres from Cape to Cairo. For 103 years it ignores sun, […]

Sharpeville Remembered …

    I’m a twenty-two year-old reporter on the Sunday Express, Johannesburg, when police slaughter sixty-nine unarmed children, women and men at a black township outside Johannesburg called Sharpeville. The very name has since become a symbol for the evil that was apartheid. The massacre changes South Africa forever. Journalists’ cameras catch some of the horror of the Sharpeville killings. But the […]

Zuma Desperately Needs Performance Training

Dear President Zuma, Judging from your SONA 2015 performance — I mean your speech, not the farcical first act about which others have written with considerable dismay — I have to believe that you don’t have a communications coach. (If you do have a communications coach, however, he or she should be taken out behind […]

Long Walk of Prisoner #46664 (Part 3)

Part 3: Now Cracks a Noble Heart It’s July 18, 2001, and I’m back in Johannesburg for yet another training workshop with SABC journalists. This day is former president Nelson Mandela’s eighty-third birthday. The SABC Morning Live crew and I are invited to his Johannesburg home to broadcast early morning birthday celebrations. It’s not early […]

Long Walk of Prisoner #46664 (Part 2)

Part 2: “Viva Mandela!” It’s the eve of the 1994 general election in South Africa —first democratic election in the nation’s three hundred and forty-two years. I’m in Johannesburg leading a team of CBC TV journalism journalists. Our mission is to turn South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) journalists from state broadcasters into public broadcasters. From […]