24 April 2009

Journalism in Jozi

By Xetsha Ayanda Hlongwane

I left Cape Town three days after the lecture phase heading for Johannesburg. I wanted to meet potential donors, so as to raise funds for the outreach to East Africa. I had tried to raise support for the outreach before, but, to my surprise, nothing had come up. I told God that I would take the first step of going to Johannesburg and since He is my partner, He would take the second one of taking me to Kampala, Uganda. But unfortunately, He did not take the second step.

I fought against God about the unsuccessful trip. Then He reminded me how I had been seeking some other opportunities, in case I did not go to East Africa. This to him was a sign of failing to trust Him completely for the provisions of finances. He taught me that I should not create alternatives when I trust Him for something. But then He assured me to stay in Johannesburg till He says I move.

In this big city, I meet a lot of people from all over Africa and beyond. I interview them in a relaxed atmosphere after work and hear both tense and interesting stories. These stories are usually about what they expected to find in Egoli (as Johannesburg is popularly known by fortune seekers) against what they actually found on the ground.

I have already spoken to five different people from three different nations; Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. Most of them, especially from the first two countries, came to the city because of its popularity as a city of gold. The guys agree on the fact that drama starts unfolding on the way, from seeing headless bodies or seeing heads without bodies to watching helplessly your sister is gang raped.

They tell me that it works as a vaccine against more inhumane lifestyle in the Hillbrow and Berea flats in Jozi (seems like Johannesburg has many names, maybe its because of it hosts a variety of lifestyles), where a two bedroom apartment can host up to 20 inhabitants. I am told it’s a norm for a foyer to be a bedroom of up to eight people, then if they are married or sexually immoral the kids in that particular apartment must get used to the sight of a couple being intimate.

I do not know what to say to these guys who have lost all humanity and cannot see anything more than a sex toy in an average woman. I wish I could do something to change their newly adopted lifestyle quickly, but I know just talking to them makes a difference and, with time, God will make a way. I am glad I did SOFJ for I now ask intelligent questions and my writing has improved a lot. I do not struggle to get people to talk, thanks to the skills I acquired during the school.

From Uganda

On the Ground by Lydia Smit, South Africa

Nothing can compare to the sights and sounds of Africa. It has been a year since I have been in central Africa. There is a strange familiarity to the old (but comforting) bucket shower after a day’s travel and being cushioned in by a mosquito net for a night’s rest. I realised again my love for simplicity.

When we landed in Entebbe, Uganda, a sunset serenaded us into our new-found destination. I loved the thought that in the distance there were fishermen going out for the late catch of the day. In my heart the journey to come here started long before I placed my feet on Ugandan soil.

At the end of last year, God placed it on my heart to do a School of Field Journalism (SOFJ) through a ministry called Africom. This ministry is focused on communication within YWAM projects around the continent of Africa. At the time, I did not know exactly what I should do with the skills I would acquire with the school, but I had it on my heart to tell stories: stories of Gods testimony in the lives of people, situations, stories of tragedy, and hardship but also restoration. So much is happening around the world and many times the immensity of its beauty is lost for it is not shared and celebrated.

I knew that this school included a practical outreach that was designed to serve different YWAM ministries within the continent as well as to communicate what is happening in this part of the world.

Just after the three month lecture phase I was to fly to Uganda, but I still did not have the funds, I just knew I was to go. So all I could do is pray, visit friends, and wait as my departure date arrived. But a word echoed in my heart , a word I had received just before I was to leave, “I will never leave you of forsake you”(Psalm 18:30) God's way is perfect! The promise of the LORD has proven to be true. He is a shield to all those who take refuge in him. I took God at his work and did everything I could to prepare for the trip.

God came through for me! Monday morning, the day I was to fly, I received the ticket that would take me to Uganda that same afternoon.

Now, I have been in Uganda for two weeks. It is hard to explain the beauty of this place. God’s faithfulness has not ceased. There is so much God is doing through YWAM here, as well as through individuals. And it has been a blessing to see it. I have learned it is better to walk in faith than to trust in your own human effort.