Fellowship supports citizen-focused radio

We are delighted to announce that the 2017 Sylvester Stein Fellowship has been awarded to Khutso Tsikane, community radio broadcaster and news editor at Wits Radio Academy. The award will fund her to attend an intensive three week leadership training workshop in Accra, between 10 July and 2 August, as part of the prestigious Moremi Initiative Leadership Empowerment and Development (MILEAD) program for outstanding emerging female leaders in Africa.

A talented journalist and editor, Khutso has experience working across a variety of media to produce content that raises awareness of pertinent social issues, and advocating for African growth, women’s empowerment and community development. Currently, Khutso produces weekly talk shows for Wits Radio Academy, exploring topics ranging from law and education to news and current affairs, which are broadcast on a number of community radio stations. In addition, she oversees a team of 15 volunteers who she trains in radio journalism and news reporting.

Khutso’s current role as a broadcaster, editor, and educator will be greatly enhanced by her participation in this training programme as she will develop valuable skills in areas of effective communication, personal development and community organizing. Additionally, the training will provide an opportunity for Khutso to cross-examine concepts of leadership in a broad African context, cultivate the skills and experiences necessary to occupy and excel in her leadership position, and gain knowledge on cutting-edge issues critical to African women and their communities.

Following on from this training, the MILEAD program requires participants to establish a project that will facilitate change in their communities and, to this end, Khutso plans to implement a project that will create a network of community radio stations which are citizen-focused and provide vital educational and rights-based material to community radio listeners. In particular, she hopes to use the platform of community radio to engage marginalized groups within South African society, with a focus on rural women.

She says: “In my daily job it has become evident that communities are in need of more specialized programming such as legal, education and health shows. Creating a network of community radio stations which are strengthened with content and training from the Wits Radio Academy will have a positive impact, enabling community members to understand their positionality in relation to their community leaders and understand who they can demand accountability from in their communities.”

Being able to effectively communicate and implement the community radio network requires an understanding of leadership theories that are relevant and applicable to organisations which are led by “Ubuntu” and African values. Many of the communities I work in are deeply gendered and patriarchal and have no room for gender equality which means that some projects we have implemented proved unsustainable. The high prevalence of femicide and gender based violence in rural South Africa necessitates dialogues and interventions which are possible through community media. The role of rural women in development is also an area that is overlooked and can be engaged with through community media.”

The Sylvester Stein Fellowship is awarded annually by the Canon Collins Trust in memory of the renowned author, journalist, anti-apartheid campaigner and longtime friend of the Trust. Since 2016, money donated by Sylvester’s friends and family has been used to support the development of talented southern African journalists with a focus on the promotion of human rights and social justice in the region.