Skeletons in my camera lens

Jantji Ngwenyama.

I have seen and appreciated my colleagues write compelling columns and I refrained from writing out my own thoughts because they are not news.

Ever since I started working for The Tembisan I focused mainly on gathering news to create a good read for the readers in Tembisa.

Things that, as a journalist, I faced in the line of duty were often the last things I take to bed when the day is over.

As a result, when I am tossing and turning all night, I always failed to interrogate myself as to why I cannot sleep well.

I eternally got haunted by questions like: Are we, the journalists, unknowingly creating monsters out of our own children? How are we contributing positively as a paper to let young people thrive in their attempts to become better artistic citizens?

Is our brand clearly visible and does it unite with residents where the community celebrates achievements or do we only pitch when your sons and daughters are getting slaughtered for crimes committed in the neighbourhood?

Truly, these are questions that denied me a fulfilling sleep knowing that the community expects much from their media. All these are, and more become, the skeletons that resurface back to haunt me in my dreams and from now on I need to deal with them.

When I joined the fraternity of journalists, I was rather mistaken to think that my responsibility is, at most, to build the community I was meant to serve. The idea of finding the good in my people got more entrenched in my veins as I frequently met concerned Tembisa residents who were stern in their belief that the negative image Tembisa has is built and perpetuated by the local media we have in the township.

I then made it a goal to prove the allegation otherwise by giving these brothers and sisters a space to tell me how they want to be perceived by the world and allowing them to work with the paper to rebuild the image of Tembisa as the second economy they claim it is in the ever preached township economy topic.

Have I achieved what I set out to do as a journalist? In my career, I have met detractors who feel entitled to disrupt and misuse media to settle their personal scores which is pure vendetta not in the best interest of the public.

If, as a journalist, you are impenetrable and refuse to be used as a weapon to settle their scores they ensure that your career is cut short.

Suicide to my journalism career, therefore, my failure to teach the community about the roles of a journalist and enlighten them on what a journalist can and cannot do. It suddenly dawned on me that my exit from the industry will not be a grand one. If my failure to teach my community about the workings of a journalist is suicide to my career, surely then I should write a suicide note to my township detractors and maybe it should read as follows:

Tell your children, in my pursuit for rewards I was never right. I now lay my pen to rest, therefore, never will I ever write again. They hope the township streets I walk gives birth to premature stories they’d rather tell. Hell! What do they think of us? Clearly that our heads are just an empty shell?

Demons snatch reasoning in their mind. Alas. Consumed by greed they cannot even be kind. Misconception about iKasi is a miscarriage. My people have Ubuntu. We’re not just heartless savages.

We’re not hungry for blood so we don’t kill every day. Yes, crime feeds you but for another rape, I will never pray.

My role in the community becomes completely dense, while deadly skeletons play hide and seek deep inside my camera lens. Is my fate a legal abortion, because I dare to look through the positive eyes of my black nation? I only write what you like, when the death of my brothers and sisters take a hike. I was there when a boyfriend sacrificed his children for slaughter.

I compiled money-spinning chronicles on death and rape of your neighbour’s daughter. Her lifeless body never narrated any story, it just laid quiet as it was dumped there on her father’s stoep.

The man in charge sent no condolences to the family because this … was just another leading scoop.

Enemies of progress thoughtlessly misled media to settle scores. Conspirators, you destroy natives’ future and your actions show that you hate Africa to its core. Pointing fingers while you’re blaming every leader who strives to speak sense. Abusing journalists’ good intentions to secure front pages for your nonsense.

You act like you care, posing next to poverty pushing your publicity stunts. Yet, your failure to roll up your sleeves in restoring this community really stuns.

My advocacy for an African dream has just begun . . . hang on, it will never be outdone. Tell all your cronies, as a journalist I hang up my gloves because for me pushing your agenda . . . I’m done.

  AUTHOR
Jantji Ngwenyama
Journalist

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