Sunday, August 28, 2011

Feeling vindicated

In my previous blog entry I mentioned the kind of approach I will be taking in my interviews; an approach which gives the interviewee the platform to fully speak their mind on a given issue. This is indeed what I have done in my first round of interviews, and I feel vindicated. I have covered themes in this first stage of interviews, which have the potential to make the radio series I am producing even more powerful. 
A run-down factory building in Sada, Whittlesea.

I conducted my first round of interviews with two elders from Whittlesea. Messrs Soki Qodwana and Vela Mpendukana have both lived in the Whittlesea region for over 40 years. They are both recognised leaders of their communities, and have both been intent on improving the quality of life of people in their respective communities. 
Soki Qodwana, community leader in Sada, who is highly critical of how the Whittlesea region has deteriorated.

Interestingly, they do not know each other. Whittlesea as a region covers a radius of about 40km. Under Ciskei rule, this whole region was a flourishing agricultural community. The town of Whittlesea and all the townships and villages in the region flourished in that era. But today, there are claims by citizens in this region that it has regressed in democratic South Africa. The Whittlesea region today, according to them, is a shadow of its former self. The stories told by Messrs Qodwana and Mpendukana have similar links, although their respective communities in the Whittelsea region lie about 30km away from each other. 

In my interviews with them, I have made a number of breakthroughs, regarding how I plan to go forward with the fieldwork process. Mr Qodwana provided information of the politics of the region, which have halted some of the key projects in the region. He is also very vocal about the struggle of the region today. Mr Mpendukana spoke about how local government today unapproachable. Under Ciskei rule, government leaders were accessible and were intent on developing agricultural and rural communities in the region. This is not the case today, he says.
Mr Vela Mpendukana, community leader in Kamastone, Whittlesea.
I have arranged an interview with Mafuza Sigabi, the former Executive Mayor of the Chris Hani Municipality. My interview with him will be largely informed by the valuable information I was given by Messrs Qodwana and Mpendukana. I will also use the theme of the merits and demerits of the current provincial government, to highlight why the Eastern Cape provincial and regional government has not been willing to invest in its communities. I have learnt so far that the Ciskei and Transkei governments, while having their own weaknesses, still contributed handsomely in building their communities. These themes were revealed by my interviewees; I did not come up with them. 
Another run-down factory in Whittlesea
Over the next week and a half, I will not be focusing as much as I would like on the series. I will be out of the country, but I have arranged interviews with three youths, whom I will meet together when I arrive back in the country. I will also interview two more adults who were youths in the Whittlesea region during the Ciskei region. With these people, I will follow the same technique I adopted when interviewing Messrs Qodwana and Mpendukana, and give them the room to give full accounts of their experiences in Whittlesea. I am satisfied with the success of my interviews so far, and I am looking forward to the process of completing the radio series. 
Pipes which haven't been used in years at the former Shiloh Irrigation Scheme.

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