Yeoville Week 4: Epilogue

VICTORY LAP: Thursday was our last day of shooting, we travelled to Yeoville, Gandhi Square, back to Yeoville and Braam-ies-fontein. Photo: Lutho Mtongana

VICTORY LAP: Thursday was our last day of shooting, we travelled to Yeoville, Gandhi Square, back to Yeoville and Braam-ies-fontein. Photo: Lutho Mtongana

*As part of the in-depth research project, one of the requirements of the BA Honours in Journalism and Media Studies degree at Wits University, students are required to write daily blog entries to show the progress of their projects. This year the theme is Yeoville and students have to take on a topic that tells a story that is Yeoville specific.

I spent the past week helping my teammates get footage for their projects.  Even though my project was complete, watching people scramble to do last minute work had me in panic mode.  I kept second guessing whether I had enough footage, or if my final draft was good enough.

It reached the point where Percy and Lutho had to tell me to calm down.  Tensions flared, we used abusive language.  Lutho referred to us as her “bitches”.    I was forced to watch her take pictures, I can understand having to help with sound for video, but watching someone take pictures is painful when you have your own deadlines to stress about (or in my case stressing about deadlines I already met, weird).

The sarcastic comments kept rolling and I think I may or may not have called a kid who ran into my equipment a “little shit”.  (Since becoming a journalist, my vocabulary now includes colourful newsroom profanity.  My parents would be disappointed).

TJ'ING:  Luca Kotton attempts to TJ, a signature move we learnt this year by our photo lecturer TJ Lemon; one puts oneself in an awkward position to get a great shot.  Photo:  Lameez Omarjee

TJ’ING: Luca Kotton attempts to TJ, a signature move we learnt this year by our photo lecturer TJ Lemon; one puts oneself in an awkward position to get a great shot. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Also, Luca took me to some dingy block of flats to meet one of his subjects. He told me he was scared to go alone.  I don’t know how my being there made a difference, I don’t know any karate moves.

I think my highlight was working with Percy’s subject, a designer from Nigeria.  He puts the “I” in Diva.  Lutho had to keep giving him pep talks, to build his confidence.  He’s a perfectionist so he didn’t want the footage we got to tarnish his “brand”. He kept withdrawing and we had to keep convincing him it’s a school project.  It really taught us to change our approach when working with different people.  The “people” business is not easy.  In fact, Percy has sworn off going to Yeoville ever again.

One of the interesting things we saw in Yeoville yesterday was a police raid on Rockey street.  People abandoned their shops.  Apparently police were checking for papers.

We also heard it was a drug bust, they were wearing those kitchen gloves, like something from CSI.   Luke from the Transitions team got a whole scoop because his topic is the transition of Rockey Street.  he also managed to take some dramatic pictures of people being slammed against walls.  As Murphy’s Law would have it, we obviously got there when the drama dissipated, so no action shots for us.

Later, as we were saying goodbye to one of Lutho’s subjects, he shared a few wise words.  Firstly, that I shouldn’t get tired of school and quit, and  if I have the opportunity to learn I should make the most of it.  He also told me to “relax more” when I work with people.  I guess I have a permanent frantic look on my face.  Numerous times people asked me if I was alright.  Lutho also commented that she heard that question posed to me, too frequently.  I guess my resting face is “PANIC”.

Coffee is to a journalist what heroine is to a junkie.

Not doing work stresses me out more than doing work  (I’m starting to think I’m a workaholic).  I actually took the day off on Wednesday, but really I still worked to feel better.  I finished my infographic and I’m pleased with it, I used some of the tips we got from our new and social media lecturer for our work on the “10 years Wits Vuvuzela infographic” .  I’m glad that the things we learnt this year  became useful in this in-depth project.

Despite my constant stressing, we had a great week together.  For the first time, all four of the Creations teammates hung out and helped each other, we sang karaoke during trips (yep, that’s about as much as we’ve done for teamwork).

Today, feeling a bit defeated in the newsroom, I used every opportunity to leave.  One was going to Father Coffee in Braamfontein with Roxanne, Luke and Rofhiwa (I don’t drink coffee, which is one of the reasons I’m a terrible journalist, but today I did, and I can now say “coffee is to a journalist what heroine is to a junkie”).

Later I helped Rofhiwa shoot at Constitution Hill, which was a first for me, I’ve never been there  (I’m also terrible at being South African).

I finally calmed down after consulting with my photography lecturer and video mentor.  My stills are good and my footage is approved.  It’s such a relief, now I can go forward with editing (there I go again, when I’m not working, I’m thinking about work).  It took me too long to realise that it’s better to consult and ask questions if I wasn’t sure about something.  It would’ve spared me a lot of worrying, which is practically part of my DNA.  Also, my feature mentor approved my final draft, so I don’t have to feel bad about enjoying my weekend.

The past four weeks in Yeoville have been an illuminating experience.  I know I’m in the right industry (I would die if I sat behind a desk for the rest of my life).  It was hard at first, and it called for courage a number of times.  I learnt a lot about people and how they think.   I also learnt that I’m capable of much more than I give myself credit.

I doubted my story a few times but something Lutho said about “just sticking to it and making the best of the situation”, was like a life bouy that got me through it.  She also said that she wanted to slap me a few times so that I could stop panicking and calm down, I’m glad she didn’t (although it probably would’ve helped).

The most valuable thing I learnt was to keep moving forward.  The immortal words of Finding Nemo’s Dory have never made more sense than they do now, “Just keep swimming” (I guess if you don’t, you drown).

For the final outcomee of the Wits Journalism In Depth 2014 project click here

For my article, click here

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Yeoville Day 21: Came, Saw, Conquered

*As part of the in-depth research project, one of the requirements of the BA Honours in Journalism and Media Studies degree at Wits University, students are required to write daily blog entries to show the progress of their projects. This year the theme is Yeoville and students have to take on a topic that tells a story that is Yeoville specific.

I went to Cornerstone church, one last time.  I got a few more stills, even though I have a lot already, but I had the opportunity to go again and I wanted to make the most of the last day in Yeoville.  There was less pressure this time and I could talk to some congregates on a social level.  Even though I wasn’t intending to do more work, just soaking in the environment and taking mental notes was journalism.

Now I know Yeoville like the back of my hand. 

From this experience, I haven’t just written about “subjects”.  There are people in Yeoville, I met who I intend on visiting in the future, like Rookshana Visagie and Joe Muthee.  They’ve invited me to attend church there again, I may take them up on it.  What’s surprised me the most about Yeoville is the hospitality of the people.  They are so friendly and helpful!

END OF THE ROAD:  The final day of in-depth saw us doing the rounds one last time.  Photo:  Percy Matshoba

END OF THE ROAD: The final day of in-depth saw us doing the rounds one last time. Photo: Percy Matshoba

I wish I could say on the last day, something magnificent happened, but it was a bit anticlimactic.  No fireworks or epic encounters.  It wasn’t conclusive either, we went in, got our stories and moved out.  The people will continue with their lives, as if we weren’t even there.

On the way there, I took a taxi myself (that’s a big deal).  I was a little skeptical at first, being the only passenger in a taxi.  The driver dropped me off in Hillbrow and put me on another taxi to Yeoville.  Three weeks ago, the thought of doing that would’ve paralysed me with fear.  These internal victories are so valuable, now I know Yeoville like the back of my hand.

When a guy on Rockey Street yelled “Hey brown!” at me to get my attention, I didn’t curl into the fetal position as I expected.  I just turned around and yelled back “Uh-uh!”  (I didn’t know I had it in me).

Later I met up with Rofhiwa and Bongiwe who were shooting at the Catholic Church.  They were taking footage at a soup kitchen.  While we were there we spoke to a homeless medical doctor.

He has a sad story, he’s from Zimbabwe and he’s worked all over the world.  He kept telling us about story ideas in Yeoville.  He said we should be fearless and that we were capable of writing for Al Jazeera.  That was an enlightening experience, we have the means and the opportunities, there isn’t any reason for us to hold back.  We have nothing to lose.

We met Percy and Lutho at the Rockey street market, we were supposed to shoot Percy’s new subject.  But the lady never turned up.  Luckily Percy had a back-up designer so we went to her house on Dunbar street.  We will be shooting with her again tomorrow, bright and early at 8 am, Lutho and I aren’t keen.

As we walked the streets one last time, the sun draining any remaining moisture we had in our bodies, fatigue setting in, we hobbled onto a full taxi.

I hope my story does justice to the realities of Yeoville.

Yeoville Day 20: Hillbrow, almost

Photo: Lameez Omarjee

BUILT THIS CITY: Artist, Junior Sokhela says he has a house in the suburbs but loves “this place” overlooking the view of the city. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

*As part of the in-depth research project, one of the requirements of the BA Honours in Journalism and Media Studies degree at Wits University, students are required to write daily blog entries to show the progress of their projects. This year the theme is Yeoville and students have to take on a topic that tells a story that is Yeoville specific.

Today Lutho and I braved the inner city streets of Berea to shoot at Junior Sokhela’s studio.    She said she knew where he lived.  Trusting her, I followed her until she said: “Ah let’s wing it”.  I started to get worried.  As we were approaching Ponte Tower, that’s  when I felt like hitting her over the head with the tripod.  But I chose not to, because I wouldn’t have any idea how to get out of Hillbrow myself.

The good news is, we found our way to Sokhela’s place with the help of Lutho’s subject, BK, who we met at a central place.

It was incredible, amidst the economic frenzy of the city, there’s this other enchanting artistic side to it.  I’ve heard and read about it, but I’ve never had the opportunity to explore it.

YOU'RE GONNA BE A STAR:  Upcoming artist BK, had an opportunity to meet Junior Sokhela who's keen on working with him in the future.  Photo: Lameez Omarjee

YOU’RE GONNA BE A STAR: Upcoming artist BK, had an opportunity to meet Junior Sokhela who’s keen on working with him in the future. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Walking into Sokhela’s modest home, you’re greeted with a portrait of artist Bob Marley.  He has more of these hanging on the walls, black-and-white pictures of Malcom X and Boom Shaka.

The walls of his studio are adorned with the Boom Shaka records that reached gold and platinum status.  It was a privilege to meet Sokhela, he spent two weeks in studio with Hugh Masekela  and  he has worked with Brenda Fassie.

He told us she lived in the same building as he does now, and later moved to Ponte Tower.  He told us about their work on “nomakanjani” and I blurted out, “I love that song”! (Well, that’s one way to lose street cred).

Sokhela met BK, an artist trying to make a break.  Sokhela gave him some advice on the industry.  He told BK to find an identity and to add more kwaito to his music to make it memorable and recognisable as South African.  Having helped Lutho with her footage over the week, I noticed many of the artists incorporated Western influences in their music.

Sokhela was pleased to hear that BK sings and is good at RnB.  “I hate rappers,” he said.

Worried about our safety, and our equipment, Sokhela walked us back to catch a taxi.  For three solid minutes, I got a microscopic snapshot of Jo’burg city.  Walking the streets, past the vendors selling kasi snacks, the tasty smell of runaways being braaied on the street (I may be vegetarian but I know tasty food), it struck me that little girls were  playing hopscotch on the streets I fear daily.

I guess to survive Jo’burg, you become Jo’burg.  Dangerously addictive, limitless surprises.  I love this city.

 

 

 

Yeoville Day 19: Just fine

SEASONED:  Two days left in Yeoville, I've reached my limit.  Selfie: Lameez Omarjee

SEASONED: Two days left in Yeoville, I’ve reached my limit. Selfie: Lameez Omarjee

*As part of the in-depth research project, one of the requirements of the BA Honours in Journalism and Media Studies degree at Wits University, students are required to write daily blog entries to show the progress of their projects. This year the theme is Yeoville and students have to take on a topic that tells a story that is Yeoville specific.

I’m fine, not the Freaked-out, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional fine.  But rather, the I-don’t-know-if I-still-have-a-pulse fine, but it doesn’t matter because EVERYTHING IS JUST FINE.

Started the day by working on my third draft, then went to Yeoville with Lutho to get her remaining footage.

On the taxi ride there we met a guy in the film industry.  He inquired about our equipment and where we were shooting.  It turns out, he was a Drama For Life student at Wits.  We spoke about journalism and how it was close to film.  Lutho wants to go into broadcast journalism, I’m still undecided.  Lugging camera equipment is not my most favorite thing in the world.  Although, hearing taxi commuters converse in French is quite therapeutic, that may be one of my new favorite things to do.

We ended up at Rasta House to meet Lutho’s subject, who was late.  People have no respect for time, it irks me especially because we have deadlines to meet.  In the meanwhile I started talking to this guy, who raps.  He asked me what I do besides school, that was insulting and sad, because outside school I have nothing going for me.

When I asked him what he does besides rapping, he enthusiastically told me that he’s a hustler.  (In some ways I’m a hustler too.  A hustler of information, but I’m trying to make my job seem way cooler than it is).  He specializes in weed.  And that was the day I met a dealer.  I think I’m ready to die now.

I’m a Christian before I’m a journalist.

I told him I was working on churches in Yeoville and we ended up having a conversation about religion.  He believes he’s god.  And he said that I am god too.  And our parents are mini-gods.  The basis of his claim is Genesis 1:27, “God created man in His own image”.  I tried to explain it didn’t mean we were god, but it was fruitless.  He started telling me about meditation and that we each have a third eye that needs to be unlocked.  I lied before, now I’m ready to die.  But first I’ll have to pray for him, and share the gospel, because I’m a Christian before I’m a journalist.

When Lutho’s subject eventually arrived, we had to find a studio to film him.  We tried the one on Rockey street but it was unavailable.  So we have to go back to Yeoville tomorrow, and we’ll have three studios available to choose from.   That’s how life works … when you need one studio, none will be available.

Lutho and I reached our limit.  At one point when we were walking to catch a taxi, we just couldn’t move anymore.  “I’m exhausted Lameez,” the poor thing had to change her plans.  She thought she’d be done shooting today.  Things could be worse, we still have two days to put things together.

As much as in-depth has made me reconsider my career choice in journalism, I’m certain it’s made me more determined to be one.  Seriously, how many  people can say they met a dealer and didn’t buy anything?

Yeoville Day 18: “Praise Jesus hallelujah”

TEAMWORK:  Lutho and Percy accompanied me to get some of my footage today.  Photo: Lameez Omarjee

TEAMWORK: Lutho and Percy helped me get some of my footage today. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

*As part of the in-depth research project, one of the requirements of the BA Honours in Journalism and Media Studies degree at Wits University, students are required to write daily blog entries to show the progress of their projects. This year the theme is Yeoville and students have to take on a topic that tells a story that is Yeoville specific.

We had an eventful day.  I started by checking the footage I got on Sunday.  Good news is, it’s in focus, so I don’t have to reshoot.  The bad news is, Percy has to reshoot her interview because the footage is not in focus.  Problem:  When she wanted to arrange an interview with her subject, she found out the woman had given birth!  So we spent the day doing damage control, finding a new subject for her!  Luckily in Yeoville, there are many designers and we found three!

I was pleased with the day’s events. I managed to finish my vox pops.  I had to beg people but eventually I found four people willing to speak.  I also collected the rest of my B-roll.  I managed to get hold of the Presbyterean church to ask them a few questions for my written feature too.  They sublet their hall to Cornerstone church and I hadn’t spoken to them until my mentor highlighted it.  So I think everything is on track, just not looking forward to writing the third draft.

If he’s ever carried a tripod, he’d know that it doubles as a self-defence weapon.

Lutho‘s people bailed on her too.  So we couldn’t get footage of them.  But we found the expert she was looking for her written feature.  We forgot the directions to the house, but we asked these guys on the side of the street.  They thought we wanted to buy weed.  Once we clarified that we were not interested in the green leaves being shoved in our faces, we followed them to a house on Rockey street.  Percy whispered to me, “We could be lead to a slaughter house for all we know”.  She was right, but I think God was on our side today, we had a lot of strange experiences.

BETWEEN TAKES:  We found a resting palce in someone's backyard.  Photo: Lameez Omarjee

BETWEEN TAKES: We found a resting place in someone’s backyard. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Twice, people we interviewed told us to watch our equipment and said Yeoville isn’t safe.  One man asked us if we had security with us … If he’s ever carried a tripod, he’d know that it doubles as a self-defence weapon.  We haven’t had major incidents, but today on Rockey street, a guy opened my bag.  I felt it and turned around, he denied it.  I’m glad he didn’t take anything, that was close!

 One man approached us and asked us to tell his story.  He said he was scammed, the fridge he bought did not come with the food and wine in it, as advertised … That was a laugh, but I think he was serious.

I was really grateful the girls helped me.  We sang a little karaoke while we walked the streets and bonded over the fries Lutho bought us for suppper at McDonalds.   then we We waited the whole day in Yeoville, just so that I could shoot for 20 minutes after 7pm.  It was scary walking in Yeoville at night, but there we were, praying in McDonalds to be safe before walking to the church.

We got footage of Rookshana Visagie at the Thursday night group meetings.  They threatened me, I better use the footage they stayed out late to get.

 

Yeoville Day 17: Rap God

MODERN POETRY:  Today we got footage of some of the local yeoville artists performing their pieces at Rasta House.

MODERN POETRY: Today we got footage of some of the local Yeoville artists performing their pieces at Rasta House. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

*As part of the in-depth research project, one of the requirements of the BA Honours in Journalism and Media Studies degree at Wits University, students are required to write daily blog entries to show the progress of their projects. This year the theme is Yeoville and students have to take on a topic that tells a story that is Yeoville specific.

Today I lost Lutho‘s money, R43 to be exact.  She gave me R50 to give to the taxi driver.  I assumed she got her change back, until later the afternoon it dawned on me that I should have been the one who took the change.

Thankfully Lutho is a calm person.  The worst she said was: “What the F#*K Lameez!” Then she bent over and laughed.

I helped her get footage for her multimedia.  We recorded some artists in the area, they had a rap battle.  I was handling the sound so I heard everything, from “Buy this boy Pampers”  to “I’ll penetrate till I ejaculate”.  I told them they had to repent after the session.  My eardrums suffered a beating.

Fortunately for us, we came out alive.  Fortunately for them, they did too.

Then we went to some guy’s house, his name is Lay.  We shot footage of one of the artists, BK for a song writing sequence there.  Fortunately for us, we came out alive.  Fortunately for them, they did too.  People are really trusting, we could’ve been  serial killers but they let us shoot in their house.

The weather held up for us until 5pm when we had to go to the church to get some of my footage.  We were brave to face the rain, but we quit when it started hailing.  Lucky for us, it stopped and we got to the church in time.  We waited till 6.15 pm but decided to leave because the pastor wasn’t coming through.

Tomorrow I have to do voxes and finish the B-roll.  My infographic is still in progress.

I managed to get hold of the NPO person, dealing with church registrations.  Her input was really helpful, I could possibly add that to my written feature and some of it will be good for the narration of my multimedia.

I can’t believe there’s four days left in Yeoville.  I’m worried, I hope I have everything I need.  Helping people shoot takes an entire day’s work and I don’t think the load is shared equally between all group members.  I hate feeling like I have to beg people for help.  When I help people, I do the job as if it’s my own work, but I’ve realised people don’t think that way.  It’s disappointing.

 

Yeoville Day 16: Slow Day

*As part of the in-depth research project, one of the requirements of the BA Honours in Journalism and Media Studies degree at Wits University, students are required to write daily blog entries to show the progress of their projects. This year the theme is Yeoville and students have to take on a topic that tells a story that is Yeoville specific.

Finally finished with my second draft!  Relieved.  I kept going over it, editing and rewriting. I asked Robyn  to read it for me.  Waiting for people to sub your work is stressful.  But Robyn said she liked it and pointed out a few corrections.

Later I got a chance to go over my stills.  I picked good ones and separated them from the rest so that I don’t have to worry about picking them last minute.

The newsroom is not as fun as the field.

I’m going to work on my infographic later.  Tomorrow both Percy and Lutho are shooting.

Today hasn’t been eventful, probably because I didn’t go to Yeoville.  I can’t also do anything in Yeoville without the equipment, we’re sharing it.  Most of my research is done so we’re only going out to Yeoville to get multimedia material.

I’m glad I could catch up with the writing, but the newsroom is not as fun as the field.