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30 November 2020 | Story Nonsidiso Qwabe | Photo Supplied

Acclaimed South African writer, author, and UFS research fellow Zubeida Jaffer was honoured with a lifetime achievement award for her career in journalism during the Standard Bank Sivukile Awards ceremony. 

Passion for journalism spans decades
During the award ceremony on 15 October 2020, Jaffer received the prestigious Allan Kirkland Soga Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognises a sustained and extraordinary contribution to journalism. Jaffer said she never chose journalism, but journalism chose her. She said when she first stepped into a newsroom looking for a holiday job in the 1970s, she did not know she had stepped into her future in news reporting. Since then, Jaffer has earned many accolades in the journalism industry as well as in academia. She also became an acclaimed author, and wrote her third book, Beauty of the Heart: The Life and Times of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke, during her time as a writer-in-residence at the UFS. While at the UFS, she founded the online media platform, The Journalist, a platform that provides history and context for key issues facing South African journalists. This portal also links students with academics across the country and will soon be extended to the African continent and the diaspora.

Jaffer said she felt blessed to be recognised among the many journalism pioneers in South Africa. 

“It’s extremely wonderful because it came so out of the blue. This year, with COVID-19, I was digging deep, and trying my best to keep focus. I’m very thankful. It’s made me pause, reflect, and realise that a lot of things I’ve done have been of value. When living your life, it’s not that you’re aware of that all the time. There are many people doing great things who don’t always get this kind of recognition,” Jaffer said.

Still a great need for journalists in South Africa 

Talking about journalism today, Jaffer said: “I am often overwhelmed to witness the enthusiasm and determination of young journalists across the country who come from humble backgrounds and inspire those around them. Our country is gripped in a bipolar condition. It is not clear how the healing will come, but it will. The challenge is to keep our minds in balance so that we can be strong enough to root out corruption and gender-based violence, while at the same time fully understanding our blessings as a people.”

UFS alumna Rising Star in Journalism 

In another accolade for the UFS, the Upcoming/Rising Star of the Year award went to former UFS Journalism student Brümilda Swartbooi for her article titled ‘Sy het hard vir ons gewerk’. The article highlighted the senseless killing of a woman outside her workplace, minutes after her husband dropped her off.

Brümilda Swartbooi. Photo: Supplied

News Archive

Afrikaans speakers should think differently, says Coenie de Villiers
2016-06-08

Description: Coenie de Villiers Tags: Coenie de Villiers

Coenie de Villiers was the speaker at the DF Malherbe
Memorial Lecture, held in the Equitas Building on the
University of the Free State Bloemfontein Campus on
24 May 2016.
Photo: Stephen Collett

Do not ask what can be done for your language, but what your language can do for others. With this adaptation of the late John F. Kennedy’s famous words, Coenie de Villiers stressed that the onus for the survival of their language rests with Afrikaans speakers.

According to the television presenter and singer, the real empowerment of Afrikaans does not necessarily take place in parliament. He was the speaker at the DF Malherbe Memorial Lecture, presented in the Equitas Building on the University of the Free State Bloemfontein Campus on 24 May 2016. The lecture by De Villiers, a UFS alumnus, was titled Is Afrikaans plesierig? ’n Aweregse blik.

Government not the only scapegoat
He used Kennedy’s famous phrase, Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country, as framework. “I believe that, if we reverse our sights and do not ask what the world can do for Afrikaans, but ask for a change what Afrikaans – and in particular each and every user thereof – can do for others, then we have, in good English terms, ‘a fighting chance’ that Afrikaans will not only survive, but that it will thrive.” He said it would be too easy to just blame the government’s language policy and/or its lack of application for the language’s uncertainties.

Speakers should act correctly
He said the actions of speakers, sometimes motivated by a love for the language, often causes more damage. “It is not the language that should squirm under the microscope. It isn’t Afrikaans that is being tested: it is us, the speakers, writers, thinkers, doers, and tweeters of the language that are being measured.”
De Villiers believes one should stand up for your language without hesitation or fear, but not necessarily in the middle of the road, and never in such a way that you abandon the moral compass of humanity.

Language will live on

He told the audience that Afrikaans speakers should maintain their language every day with the merit, humanity, and respect that they believe the language – and they themselves – deserve. The language will “live on as long as we use it to laugh, and talk, and sing, and do not kill it off with rules and directives.”

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