Reportage

Essays and other articles have been published in non-profit publications, newspapers and magazines.

Are you Ready?

Written during the heady days of February 1990, when South Africans were celebrating the unbanning of the African National Congress and the release of Nelson Mandela, this article was published  in The Face, in April 1990.

"The last few weeks have been tough on my neighbour's Maltese poodle. It has been driven into an apoplectic state by roving nocturnal bands of comrades shouting 'Viva ANC' and 'Welcome Mandela'. Since President FW de Klerk unbanned the African National Congress on February 2, and released its leader, street life in the city of Johannesburg has undergone a definite change.

I must admit that on the day of the ANC's unbanning I was at home making minestrone soup. But who could blame me for doubting that FW's parliamentary address would stir up more than a few old vegetables? Anyway, the soup burned while I took to the streets, dancing and singing with the overjoyed masses." More...




shoulder_webCrying on the Hard Shoulder

Crying on the Hard Shoulder began as a letter to a magazine editor, explaining my decision to move to the UK. It won a Mondi Award in the year 2000.

"One year after the election I buy my first house. I choose to stay in Yeoville, where I have lived for nine years - the fastest de-racialising suburb in the country. I dig a garden, put down roots. When cautious friends inquire I say: 'Whatever happens, I am here for it. Here to stay.'" More...

 

 

 


 

Uganda Diary

I wrote Uganda Diary during a film recce (research trip) in 2001. A short excerpt was published in the Guardian.

"I have been warned that the Speak Hotel is noisy on the weekend, and when my colleague and I arrive in Kampala on a Friday we discover that it is disco night. The place is teeming with ex-pat NGO types, sex workers and locals in more or less equal numbers. I am amused to discover that I have been misspelling the name of the establishment, which bears a gigantic mural of its namesake in the foyer. There he stand on the edge of the great lake; a white Victorian with his trusty African porters.

Like the explorer John Hanning Speke, I am on a voyage of discovery of sorts. By revisiting the history of HIV/AIDS in Uganda, I hope to understand the complexities of this global pandemic that threatens a death toll of one hundred million souls. I am also hoping for a deeper insight into the vexed issues of drug therapy in low-income countries. In particular I plan to investigate the popular wisdom that says that Uganda is the only country (world-wide) that has succeeded in turning around a major AIDS epidemic." More...

 


 

megabombwebMillennium Megabomb

This article was published in Leadership magazine in 1998 when South Africans were still in a deep slumber about the severity of the HIV epidemic.

"The September Commission Report of 1997, which examines the broad forces on the trade union movement in the future, does not factor HIV/AIDS into its scenarios for the year 2005. Chief commissioner and COSATU Vice president Connie September denies that this omission means that the federation is neglecting HIV. She says that COSATU dealt with the issue at the 1997 Congress and that many affiliates have new HIV projects. But the fact remains that the big thinkers of the union federation were unwilling to rank HIV/AIDS along with crime, violence, poverty and unemployment as a future issue for its membership." More...



reader_mataga_webGo Home Old Man!

This story, on the workings of apartheid's notorious influx control laws, was one of the first essays I wrote 'on spec' when I began freelancing.  I include it here for historical interest. Although the legislation has long gone, it still casts a heavy shadow across the land in the form of fractured family life that in turn creates vulnerability to HIV; and a culture of crime that continues to plague the land.

A short excerpt of this story was published in The Reader and the South African Sunday Tribune in 1981.

"The air is heavy with the heat of waiting people. An old man shifts his stick a bit to the left, a hungry baby cries. The Black Sash Advice Office, in central Johannesburg, has the air of a hospital waiting room – but their clients are victims of a far less random disaster than accident or disease.

The work of the Black Sash Advice Office is to advise black people on a whole range of obstacles to leading a decent life. Their struggles are for basic rights that most people take for granted: the right to live in an urban area, to live at home with one's family, the right to a decent home, the right to be a citizen of the country in which one was born. More...



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