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

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Samora Sekhukhune, Karina Melikyan and Paula Slier

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Will the 1820 Settler’s Monument be renamed?

The recent #RhodesMustFall campaign provoked vital conversations about the colonial heritage of the country.  Understandably, the monuments and artworks representing colonial history created a sense of unease among the students, which was emphasised by the institutional racism of the university. Brenda Schmahmann discusses the impact of these monuments, their naming and the particular changes underway for the 1820 Settler’s Monument in Grahamstown. Schmahmann is the South African Research Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture at the University of Johannesburg. Continue reading

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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Fields Of Green for all

“At the end of Matric in 2004 I took a trip to Europe and during that trip I visited Amsterdam,” says attorney Paul-Michael Keichel. “Not only did I smoke some very high-grade cannabis and enjoy it, I found myself in a very functional society in which people go about their business [and] the sky doesn’t fall.”

Keichel and the “Dagga Couple” are challenging the laws that prohibit the use of cannabis. But a new tie and shiny shoes worn by Keichel are not enough to convince the Constitutional Court to change a law criminalising a potentially harmful substance. The first step in challenging prohibition is to prove that the risks associated with cannabis are not actually true, and the second step involves proving that the prohibition of cannabis does not succeed in minimising these alleged risks. Keichel does this by debunking the myths around the following areas.

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Women pursuing cultural leadership despite challenges

Women are slowly making their way up in the world with things shifting and changing considerably over the years. The arts industry in particular is showing good signs. It was recently announced that 80% of this years National Arts Festival programme is written, created, directed or headlined by women.

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Lliane Loots speaks to an audience member after the roundtable.

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South African histories recontextualised

Our ancestry, heritage and the traditions passed down to us from previous generations
have a huge impact on how our identities are formed. “Our understanding of knowledge is very much contextualised by our own culture, so living in that western culture, we tend to give priority to the discoveries of our own culture and tend to forget or even change stuff,” says anthropologist Janet Hayward.

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In her PhD research, Hayward traces the lineage of clans across the Eastern Cape and how they were affected by European and Asian shipwrecks around the Wild Coast. Understanding origins of clans can provide a greater understanding of ourselves and how we interact with people different to ourselves. “[This research] gives us a glimpse of a different kind of South African reality,” says Hayward. “Cultural contexts shape knowledge [and a] shared history [can] become more important than [a] shared race.” Continue reading

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