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SILENT WOMXN

"You cannot kill me I am alive on everything. " V.Maluleke

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NB :This is not a review on Tyler Swifts hit single ‘bad blood’

By Lesego Mkhize 

We are introduced to Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian agent who fled from Moscow to London, in order to escape the country’s security service and Vladimir Putin’s feared wrath at that time.

In the opening paragraph Will begins with what is known as the “establishing shot” in photography. Here the scene is set, the audience is lured back into a vortex of time and can perhaps imagine themselves in London during that cold season. Will’s writing is delicately detailed and constructed in such a way that the reader could possibly confuse Will, with Alexander.

The author’s style of writing begins with a climax. He does this by using diction that will evoke the reader’s attention (e.g. violently vomiting). This is the authors attempt at preparing the reader for the catastrophic events that will unfold.

Throughout the article we know Alexandra to be a Russian agent who found himself sipping on something much stronger than tea.

We feel almost instant pity towards Alexander and the pain he is faced with but shortly after his death, the veil is lifted and we are exposed to the dark side of a man we felt so much empathy toward in the beginning of the article.

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The author cleverly adds a personified nuance to each character we are introduced to. For example; even in his last days, Alexandra still wears his armor of steel withered and all we see how vengeful he is even at his death bed.

“The poison had produced a death so painful that he chewed through his own lips.”

Once again there is a continuation in the use of over dramatic and extremely descriptive diction, to convey to the reader the urgency of radioactive poising and its detrimental effects during the Russian war. Perhaps this is not the only point the author wishes to bring across, maybe in using such raw diction the author is trying to show how the agents more often than not caused their own deaths.

It is here that the blame is shifted­­- we see the widow of Alexandra, Marina as an innocent victim who was unknowingly buried into a situation beyond her own comprehension.

As the article begins to gradually shape itself out we begin to slowly understand how poison comes in more form than one and that a dead man’s story is just that- dead.

 

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I AM TIRED OF CARRYING MY MOUTH AS IF IT WERE CREATED FOR SILENCE.

 

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Sometimes having a mouth does not always mean you are allowed to use it.  Or at worst you are instructed ; how, when, where and why you should use your mouth. The above is very popular especially in society if you are both black and womxn.

Perhaps this is why as a student journalist I wanted to start a blog, beyond its academic purpose. I wanted to feel like I finally have a voice, in this very loud and deaf society that only listens to hear itself speak.  Hence the title “SILENT WOMXN”, this title comes from a place of frustration and utter irritation. Especially the sympathy black womxn are welcomed with, we are either the definition of pain or promiscuity.  And this is normalized as if this is the purpose of our existence.  Black womxn are diminished to the sex between their thighs… and we are tired.

We are exhausted of having to constantly defend our existence to people who only notice our bodies and forget our names.

We know how tell OUR OWN stories.

We do exist outside of your negative connotations.We have names too!

We know how happiness feels like in our own skins and on our tongues.

We do not just make love but we are  the very definition of love!

This blog serves as a mouth piece even for those who have forgotten how to use their voices.

This is why it is important for not just student journalist to have blogs but for womxn within this field, to express their OWN opinions outside of those that have already been manufactured.

 

Nine South African Provincial capitals

Rrr-ew-land Street (The only street in Cape Town that allows you to activate a different kind of sexy just by saying it!)

 

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Roeland Street sign

 

(Rr-ew land) The trick is in perfecting the street name…

 

Step 1: Take a deep breath in. Start by slowly releasing the air through your mouth arched in a pout-like shape to pronounce the letter R … so “Rreeew”

Step 2:  For optimized pronunciation please remember to  squint your eyes into a cat-like smize, tilt your head slightly. Now that is how you activate a Roeland Street sexy!

With my guidance I will help you unlock the ultimate, seasoned element of spiciness that Roeland Street has to offer. But first we need to start at the bottom…



Imagine that Roeland is a naked canvass. Yes… comparing tar and concrete to a whole canvas,  does kind of seem careless but what I am trying to emphasize is the ability this street has to bring together a kaleidoscope of people, and still be able to cater individually for them. In essence allowing the paint to be the painter, compared to Long street that is well known solely for its night life joviality. Roeland is versatile; varying from rug stores to design art-rooms for the creatives to work their magic. Of course this is a very vague description of Roeland but hopefully throughout this post, the metaphor will be interpreted clearer.

The birth of Roeland street, begins at the bottom of Parliament where St. John’s Road and Plein Street meet. Roeland functions as the motherboard of the eastern precinct within the Cape Town CBD vicinity, stretching up all the way into Brandweer street where the Roeland Street Fire Station is located.

Personally before this, Roeland existed only for  three purposes; academia, printing and Kimberly hotel student specials (Kimberly which I will mention a latter stage) beyond that…for 365 days I probably walked around the street with blinkers. Upon realizing that the street has actual life, I was exasperated at my own arrogance and more so at how I had taken Roeland for granted.

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Statue of Louis Botha in front of the houses of Parliament

Walking up from Parliament I am greet by the statue of Louis Botha, a constant reminder of why one, I cannot afford to live on this side of the city and two this is why I  prefer  to rather take my shady shortcuts so I do not have to keep on bumping it a frozen-in-time Louis Botha. Continuing up this road, on the opposite side between St. John’s Road and Hope Street lies St. Mary’s Cathedral, mind you I have not been to church in eons so this only added to the hoarded guilt.

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St Mary’s Cathedral

Still remaining on the opposite side of the road,  lies the 12-storey Ruskins House where Sunrise Court, Formula 1 technologies and Karate Fitness Dance& Modern Hip-hop studio (for those of us with two left feet) can be found. Moving further up this road is Varsity Collage, an institution where creatives are encouraged to flourish. Shop 34, at about 5 m away from Varsity Collage is Government Motor Transport, Mae Artisan rugs which is located opposite shop 34, which probably stocks some of thee most expensive rugs. To  help you willow in your sorrow after over spending on rugs, head on over to the Craft beer and wine bottle store. If you’re not a wine person, then at about 10 meters from the bottle store is The book lounge, where I have captured a few of my own memories for a book launch.

 

Now my favourite part, food. I am a mean foodie and being constricted by a student budget has not stopped me from satisfying my taste buds,  especially when there are eateries on Roeland street that accommodate my tight budget. Firstly I have only ever walked past the Raptor Room, East City Eatery, but the aromatic flavours always remind me of how I am yet to live my best life.

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The Raptor Room
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East City Eatery

 

 

 

So I’ve resorted to Vida Café , Food lovers Market and The Design garage which is downstairs from my lecture room (also makes some of thee loveliest muffins and wraps). 

Beyond the food, another advantage Roeland street has especially for aspiring journalist like myself are many archive houses; such as South African Heritage Resources Agency and Western Cape Archives and Records Service .

For young graphic designers Roeland Square  which ism located in Wembley square, is the perfect spot to; pick up a camera, make photocopies, laminate documents and mingle with other creatives.

In conclusion. Reeew-land Street not only caters for the designers and creatives but also the historians, the writers, foodies (like myself) and much more!

 

The period we do not talk about.

 

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No baby.

Your body is not hurt.

A girl has died inside of your body

She is simply

B

L

E

E

D

I

N

G

Herself out.

She needs to leave this way

OR

The blood will rot inside of you

and you will smell of a dead girl.

Even when you are a woman.

No.

Female.

Wants to smell of a dead girl.

ESPECIALLY

When she is a woman.

 

This is the period we do not talk about

 

For as long as i can remember,

menstruation

InMyFamily

has always been narrated this way.

Menstrual blood is d-i-r-t-y!

We  are told to stay away from sharks

disguised as

innocent

Boys

Sharks love your blood

But not

You.

And your blood

will attract sharks

 

it is your fault you have blood.

                                          you

cannot blame sharks for things like

                                                       rape.

 

Because menstrual blood is dirty!

It is polluted with dead childhood dreams

you have been trying to

resuscitate

throughout womanhood.

The dead weight between your legs is often mistaken for

sex

even when hidden

Bleeding reminds you of an existence within

that even your vagina walls cannot contain

Every month

for

                 7

d a y s

i am bleeding another woman out.

my

Circumcision-Period

does not end.

How do you expect me to stay the same?

And

why do boys not bleed like we do?

why do they not bleed into manhood?

These boys

                 hide

up mountains

             &seek

manhood

 a role-

they cannot

play.

                                  I

wish someone could have said to me

 instead…

NO baby your body is not:

hurt.

You are a bleeding that does not heal

STOP

stitching up your

                      womanhood

Covering it up with band-aids&apologizing

 as if

bleeding

makes you:

hurt.

 -Lesego Mkhize

Silence.

if you do not scream no one will

hear you.

your body plays out a silent monologue uncomfortably  that not everyone can bare to watch. even the couch is disgusted at how you can live in a decaying body and

r

o

t

yourself self into adulthood.

 – Lesego Mkhize

 

Data journalism: wait what journalists now get paid in megabytes?

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Imagine a world where journalists earned megabytes for a living. A world where the data must fall campaign did not exist, imagine if the world become a utopia for mobile networks we would all live happily ever after right? Wrong. Sadly,all of the above is only good enough for one’s imagination rather than for reality. The truth is, data journalism (DJ) has nothing to do with megabytes but much more to do with how journalists analyse and capture data in order to create correlation and causality.

DJ is not a new concept,in fact its been around before Mandoza started singing Nkalakata according to Simon Rogers;

The first ever edition of the Guardian‘s news coverage was dominated by a large (leaked) table listing every school in Manchester, its costs and pupil numbers.

My point is data has been around since the bygone age, only it was being published in books as statistics or figures whereas now it comes on spreadsheets and files formatted for computers. DJ has only recently started to gain momentum in the media,prior to this journalists were or still are data illiterate when it comes to data journalism. The organisation Code for South Africa  has recently launched the data journalism academy, personally I think  there should be no excuse for journalists not to equip themselves with the essential skills in order to understand digital media.

Data is powerful and as a result journalist need to learn to cut it down into bite size chunks without compromising quality for quantity.  DJ encourages journalists to use digital media  creatively in order to produce current and well analyzed information compared to the traditional news room methods. Let’s look at an example closer to home. Zuma’s  Inkandla estate controversy; initially the story was then exposed by Mandy Roussow . However the story was declared officially only after amaBhungane  requested information  from the Department of Public Works under the PAIA . The release of over 12 000 pages of documented data obtained by amaBhungane, meant that journalists had to sift through the yucky chunks of Zuma’s dirty laundry in order to find the juicy and mouth-watering bits at the bottom.  Had the media simply released all the information like this…

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Or like this…

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Nobody would have bothered to read it, in fact you probably scanned all of that or didn’t even bother to read it at all . Look at it like this; it would be like the media forcing a new-born baby to eat solid food 12 hours after being born, the new-born baby being the consumers of course just isn’t ready. Too soon, media consumers cannot digest concentrated chunks of data yet because it is a powerful thing. This is why digital software tools such as OutWit and GoogleRefine make it easy for journalists to gather organised online data in order to dig deeper and communicate better.

Yes, DJ is to some extent promoting robojourn but we aren’t exactly living in the stone ages anymore, technology is developing and fast…it’s only fair that we in turn develop ourselves with it too. Data is power, and by data I do not mean megabytes…I mean information. The world is made up of information molecules floating all around you just waiting for you to discover them…

 

 

The evolution we are too scared to talk about: the rise of the machines.

Cars are machines, that have made it easier for humans to get from one place to another. Inevitably technology has made living for human beings quite simple, and we in turn love that! But what happens when the profession you have invested half of your adulthood to suddenly gets “snatched” by a machine?   Robots are being perceived as being better human being story tellers, than the actual human beings themselves are.

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We are living in a world where regardless of your profession, your position at some point will get replaced by a machine. I want to place a greater emphasis on, automated reporting better known as robojournalism. According to What.Is.com  robojournalism is the use of software programs to generate articles, without any human intervention.

For example when an earthquake struck Los Angeles in the early morning hours of February 1, 2014, a content generation algorithm created by programmer/journalist Ken Schwencke posted the story to the L.A. Times within eight minutes of the tremor, complete with a map pinpointing the epicenter.

 

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Automated article

Robots are not only cheaper but faster and have the ability to generate news articles in an estimation of 10 minutes or less. Hein Marias of  the Daily Maverick in June 2012, wrote an article on (Robojournalism: How afraid should we be?). In this article he identified robojournalism as “…one more way to trim costs and amp up profits.The economics are obvious. It’s cheaper to subscribe to the algorithm-spawn than it is to pay a pod of young reporters a living wage…”

Yes, undoubtedly robots are invented with artificial intelligence, but being a journalism student myself I am learning that some stories require human sensitivity that robots do not have. Machines don’t have the emotional intelligence that humans do. Nikiwe Bikitsha CEO of Amargi Media, stated in an interview  “… journalism is all about, the enormous responsibility we have to the audiences or the readers or listeners that we serve.”.

Looking back at South Africa’s media landscape history, what recently happened with the SABC 8 and the censorship saga. This immediately poses a question of is South Africa ready for the invasion of the machines in the newsroom,radio and broadcast? Well, Michael Salzwedel who was the digital media specialist at SABC News seems to disagree “…robots can’t think like humans (yet). Journalists and editors are paid to think, to discern, to make decisions…Robots just aren’t quite there yet.” He further added in the article “Robo-journalists are great for creating simple stories in seconds, but they can’t pick an angle, investigate inconsistencies or controversies…”.

Imagine a robot reading, in isiXhosa the 8 o’clock news. It’ll probably sound like a Metrorail programmed announcer, broadcasting train delays instead of the evening news. Journalist have that authenticity and human relation that  ordinary citizens can relate to. While robots may not ask for a salary increase nor be late for work, human beings are far more characterized than robots will ever be. So for now, the rising iron age can stay in its lane and allow journalists to flourish.

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The hunger games: citizen journalism vs journalist who cooks the food you eat?

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Last week I uploaded a video on my Instagram account of a woman who was manhandled by Metro Rail security officials for not having the correct ticket for first class. Undoubtedly, I was not the only one who immediately whipped out my smartphone so I could via social media inform the ‘rest’ of South Africa.

Like many others who probably succeeded much more than I did at making the video viral, unconsciously I was practicing citizen journalism as a journalism student. Or a student practicing citizen journalism…which ever one it is! This entire concept of citizen journalism has made me wonder why I still continue to even study a profession that ordinary citizens are practicing without the necessary qualification.

Initially when I introduced the whole journalism concept to my parents, they asked me why I was studying something I could do as a hobby. Shut the front door! Pause. Hobby?? Disseminating information to the public has been reduced, shrunk and squashed into a hobby?? One would initially think that as the information ‘gate keepers’, a profession like journalism deserves the undivided respect of the public minds it continually feeds.

Then again this very traditional journalism is dying out at the the hands of publications. Having to compete with new media has deduced traditional journalism into what Gareth Davis has described as a …”collection of click bait…the paper’s only role was to prop up the website with (increasingly) meager advertising revenue.”  Undoubtedly traditional media is suffering which means journalism is in trouble, even John Oliver seems to think so.

However, journalist too must be blamed for dropping the ball and allowing themselves to get swallowed up by the pressures of producing quantity far more than quality to the public. According to Tim Hinchliffe journalists aren’t able to maintain professional objectivity which is why journalism apps are needed to  combat corporate media bias.

Tim continues to say that “Citizen journalism apps make it even easier for users to share their unique, eyes-on-the-ground perspectives that show what is actually happening in real-time” . What U See  is an example of an app that has been created for citizen journalists, it can be installed onto an android or smart phone and enables citizen journalists to report on stories within their areas.

Are citizen journalists really at fault then for not only actively informing themselves but others in the process? Believe it or not, citizens are practicing a concept I would like to describe as ‘being a heavy chef’. I  was introduced to this concept at a media conference by Fred Roed,the idea behind being a heavy chef is utilizing new media to your advantage. Moral of the story -no one trusts a skinny chef, citizens are not only learning to cook their own food but eat it too. Just like media consumption should be a two way stream, journalist cannot cater to a dead audience.

This 21st social media dominated century, has created a big fat elephant of awkwardness and disrespect in a room filled with real journalists and what some would describe as ‘wanna be journalists’. But perhaps it isn’t all that bad, perhaps journalists need passionate activist and dedicated citizen journalists in order to drown out the noise traditional media has instilled and learn how to share the toys they do not play with. Anyway onto other news…who cooks the food you eat?

 

 

 

 

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