Within the team at the Eastern Cape Community Action Network the need for new forms of information sharing storytelling in isiXhosa became quickly apparent. These needed to be able to create and share content on local burning local issues quickly and clearly, while also ensuring that the information shared was accurate and in line with lockdown regulations in place to curb the spread of fake news.
Mobile Journalists tell the stories of life in the time of COVID-19
The extended lockdown in South Africa is forcing South Africans from all walks of life to live, work and play in new ways. This has prompted a massive need to understand the impacts of the lockdown, while also identifying and sharing innovative solutions from all sectors of society. There was a need to democratise the power to share stories and enable anyone with a good idea to contribute to the collective adaptation and recovery process.
Building on the widespread use of social media channels like WhatsApp, the Eastern Cape Community Action Network enlisted the energy of a newly trained team of mobile journalists from across the Eastern Cape. These students from across the province, put the power of the cellphones in their pockets to put their new skills to the test in documenting one of the biggest human stories of the 21st century. This kicked off with a number of short videos explaining how to make simple face masks from materials found at home. These are featured below:
However, as EC CAN member and mobile journalist Lukhanyo Matshaya said ‘as the economy bleeds jobs, the period of lockdown is the interval of self-introspection for individuals,to review their business models and think about launching new innovations’. His stories of small traders and businesses who are responding to this tragedy, shines a light on the can-do spirit that lives within us all. His films feature Mongezi Xweso (a Fashion designer practitioner) and Anele Zephe (a Visual/ Fine art Artists) from Port Elizabeth, in New Brighton. They were some of the individuals who experienced major disruptions to their business, saying that “the lockdown has placed our businesses into a standstill, at this time of the year, we also used to gain a lot from our business, especially from weddings, matric dance and Initiation Traditional Ceremonies”. However, to salvage their business, they had no choice but to adjust it and opt for what is trending in the market. They had to identifying a niche of audiences in the business environment such as the making of the masks, these were emerging online driven businesses, which they had to use social media platforms as spaces to meet and engage with their clients and to sell their product. Lukhanyo Matshaya & Luke Metelerkamp