The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

26 February 2008

Talk Radio Fights Reimposition Of South African Apartheid


Hosts, Reporters Fight Emerging SA Racism

After experiencing disturbing signs of a new form of South African apartheid, local talk radio hosts and reporters are fighting back. Can they prevent their country from becoming the next Zimbabwe, where whites (including foreign leaders) are routinely blamed for economic and social ills?

Since last week, when white journalists were barred from attending a Forum of Black Journalists (FBJ) conference featuring African National Congress (ANC) President Jacob Zuma, the country has been reminded of its ugly past, this time with a reverse- racism twist.

Equally distressing is that black and mixed-race journalists who walked out of the meeting in sympathy with their white colleagues were called "coconuts", a derogatory term similar to "Uncle Tom" in the United States.

Now, led by Talk Radio 702 and its multiracial lineup, the medium is pushing to hold those responsible accountable, according to The Citizen:

The ‘coconuts’ strike back


JOHANNESBURG - Journalists and the public will be given an opportunity to debate the recent show of racism towards white journalists.

The two journalists from Talk Radio 702 who expressed anger after being labelled “coconuts” have been invited to take part, SA Human Rights Commission chairman Jody Kollapen said.

One of the people accused of using the derogatory term “coconuts” is Sunday Sun columnist Jon Qwelane.

Kollapen said talk show host Keino Kammies (shown below left) and Primedia news head Yusuf Abramjee had agreed to join the forum.

Radio 702’s Stephen Grootes (shown right) Ben Said of and another white journalist were barred from attending the Forum of Black Journalists (FBJ) function in Johannesburg last week where ANC president Jacob Zuma was a guest speaker.

Kammies and Abramjee later stormed out of the event in solidarity with their colleague.

Kollapen said the commission had decided to invite all affected parties.

But the racist journalists and their ruling party friends aren't without a defense, even if sounds like something lifted straight from a UC-Santa Cruz student guidebook. From al-Reuters, take a look:

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's leading human rights agency is investigating why white journalists were barred from a briefing with Jacob Zuma, the leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), media reported on Monday.

A number of white reporters were asked to leave or refused entry at an event on Friday sponsored by the Forum of Black Journalists (FBJ).

Black, Indian and other non-white journalists were allowed into the briefing, where Zuma was the guest speaker.

South Africa's Talk Radio 702 said it had formally complained to the South African Human Rights Commission after one of its reporters was told to leave the event in a Johannesburg suburb.

The commission is expected to make an announcement later on Monday, the Citizen newspaper reported.

The incident has stirred controversy in South Africa, with many drawing comparisons with the racist policies of the apartheid system, which was dismantled before the 1994 all-race elections.

The FBJ has defended its decision to exclude whites.

Abbey Makoe, the chairman of the FBJ's steering committee, told Talk Radio 702 that black journalists had been disadvantaged and sidelined historically and needed a forum to discuss their issues separately.

From here, one can only wonder how long the ruling ANC will tolerate talk radio's ability to fight back. Will South Africa soon follow Zimbabwe's path and shut down opposition voices? Will racism once again become the country's defining international concern?

FOR New England regional talk radio updates, see our other site.

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