Free education, free speech and responsibility.

Is Free Higher Education Possible in South Africa Panel Discussion                                                         Chaired by Judge Dennis Davis

‘Who is in the room?’ Activist Lindsay Maasdorp would ask this of the audience several times throughout his opening address. With a judge and a university vice chancellor on the panel and a R40 barrier of entry into the discussion space, Maasdorp was criticising the exclusivity and reaffirmation of privilege in spaces such as Think!Fest. Neither Maasdorp nor anyone else in the room could have anticipated that this issue would manifest itself dramatically in response to his original question; ‘Who is in the room?’

The full audio, as well as comments from the panellists can be found below.

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Conflict Reporting with Paula Slier

After 15 years of front line reporting as the Middle East Bureau Chief at Russia Today (RT), Paula Slier has had extensive experience reporting in war zones.

In this presentation Paula discusses new dangers faced by conflict journalists, the risks and unique advantages of reporting on conflict as a woman, the difficulty of validating information and the state of various refugee camps in Europe.


Slier spent half of her presentation answering questions from the audience, graciously giving comprehensive explanations of various crises in the Middle East and the nature of international media.

Third World Bunfight: Twenty years of Theatre

‘How do I describe 20 years of performances in 50 minutes?’

Brett Bailey, the new Artistic Director of the National Arts Festival and Creative Director of Third World Bunfight, spent well over 50 minutes on this task on Sunday. The presentation was a dense, deep unpacking of his wide body of work that was a pleasure to watch.

Over the last 20 years Brett Bailey produced over a dozen performances, including IpiZombi, MacBeth, Big DadaHouse of the Holy Afro and Terminal. These productions have taken the form of theatre productions, moving installations, operas, site-specific performances and house music shows.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first Third World Bunfight show, Zombie, at the National Arts Festival. Continue reading

Alternative international media: Russia Today (RT)

With a large global viewership and an appeal to media consumers beyond Russia, RT Television has become a global power in online and television journalism. Karina Melikyan, RT Head of Content Distribution Services, explored the strong youth following behind RT Television and the extent of RT Television’s international journalism


Samora Sekhukhune, Karina Melikyan and Paula Slier

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Conversations on Whiteness

One of the loudest and most consistent requests from black South Africans has been for white people to take on the emotionally difficult work of educating other white South Africans about racism and whiteness

Today, a room of predominantly affluent white South Africans attempted to take this challenge seriously in the What Should White People People be Doing, Thinking, Feeling and Saying Now? panel discussion. While the process was undertaken on a small scale, in a private space and with no imperative to achieve more than conversation, it was a sincere acknowledgement of the fact that ours is a racialised society and that we as white South Africans are also implicated in this.

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Human Rights: Another look at Africa’s changing fortunes

Deprose Muchena, Regional Director of Amnesty International’s Southern Africa regional offices, spoke at length about the importance of a human rights focus in Southern Africa at the moment.

Muchena spent much time exploring the misleading conflation between economic growth and prosperity in Africa. Despite consistent GDP growth, African countries are still characterised by profound inequality, unemployment and human rights violations. Continue reading

Student voices dominate hashtag protest discussion

Bringing together people from different backgrounds to discuss the student protests and hashtag movements is never easy. Yet students are taking the lead, and taking to task problematic responses in the process.

“I can tell you now, the people in #ZumaMustFall were dololo in #FeesMustFall, and the people of #RUreferencelist are far too often dololo in LGBTQ issues. Whose voice is now going to be worthy of being listened to?” – KhanyisileMboya

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