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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

Race, technology, and maritime labour in the 19th century
2016-06-23


Prof John T. Grider

 

“When employers
impose
worker identity,
it creates problems.”

What does identity mean to people today, and how is it formed? Religion, politics, race, ethnicity, and gender make up individual and community identity. However, Prof John Grider (University of Wisconsin – La Crosse) is of the opinion that employment moulds our identity, since we spend so much time on the job.

Prof Grider joined the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ) on the Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa Campuses to discuss his research on the maritime industry, published in his book, Foreign Voyage - Pacific Maritime Labour Identity: 1840 to 1890. “When employers impose worker identity, it creates problems,” he said. Particularly, this “creates instability in communities, and a vulnerability and insecurity amongst the employees”.

To illustrate his point, Prof Grider expanded on the history of 19th-century Atlantic sailors, a highly-skilled workforce, who failed to adapt to changes in their labour environment. Initially, the sea-faring community was very diverse racially. However, as the Pacific, and particularly Asian, marine community gained precedence, this tide turned to such an extent that, in 1886, the Atlantic sailors formed their own Coastal Seamen’s Union in San Francisco, causing a split between Asian and non-Asian sailors. Atlantic sailors had failed to integrate with the new technology of the day (steam power), nor had they accepted the demographic changes that flooded their community rapidly with cheap labour from Chinese shores. 

Prof Grider highlighted the need to maintain an adaptable mentality in the ever- and rapidly-changing labour world, since division amongst workers could lead only to further exploitation of the workforce.

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