Monday, September 19, 2011

A story comes together

The main street of Whittlesea. The revamped Shiloh Irrigation Scheme can be seen in the background.
Before I delve deeper in this blog post, I must emphasise something I have recently learnt. The area I have stated as being the Whittlesea region, is called Hewu. Whittlesea  is the central town of Hewu, hence the region tends to go by the name of Whittlesea. So, the radio series I am producing is a documentation of Hewu, a region which incorporates the town of Whittlesea; the locations Sada, Dongwe and Shiloh; and many villages.

As I said I would in my previous blog post, I designed my fieldwork process in such a way, that my interviewees would give honest, detailed accounts of their experiences in and their opinions of Hewu. This strategy proved effective, as I have strong material from these interviews. There is a nice variation to the accounts given in my interviews. I have information of how Hewu has struggled to adapt in democratic South Africa, and that people in the region live tougher lives than they did when the region was under Ciskei rule. I have also gained information on how the bigger nearby town of Queenstown has attracted businesses and people from the region, leaving Hewu without key sources of income and employment. 

From my interviews, I have a large weight of information detailing the period under Ciskei rule, to the transition period of Hewu. What I like about this information, is that it is told by people who live in different parts of the region, and who share different experiences.

A littered part of Sada, near a factory.
Mr Qodwana is the charismatic community leader who is disappointed in how the region has fared in democratic South Africa. He is also fearless with his points of justifying his views. Mr Mpendukana maintains how easier it was to be the headman of a village in the Ciskei years than now, and how unapproachable modern day government officials are, when he has issues to raise to them. 
Nomahlubi Mpondwana-Koza, educator in Whittlesea.
I have since also interviewed Ms Nomahlubi Mpondwana-Koza, who has also spent all her life in Hewu and has also worked there as a teacher. She gave key information on how she notices how her students are not doing well by how they act in the classroom situation. She also shared delightful insights on her experiences in Shiloh as a child. 

Mafuza Sigabi, former Executive Mayor of the Chris Hani Municipality.

The former Executive Mayor of the Chris Hani Municipality, Mr Mafuza Sigabi was an importantinterview, as he too was born and bred in Hewu, and faced some criticism from Mr Qodwana. He spoke on how he and other students became politically inspired as teenagers and also spoke of the liberal actions of Hewu community members in the years that led to the fall of the Ciskei.
The topic of the Shiloh Water Scheme is one which has proven worrysome, because there are just too many stories to follow about this project. Mr Qodwana spoke of how the Shiloh community fights amongst itself, leading to the stalled progress of the project, while Mr Sigabi speaks positively about the how the project has incorporated a crop and dairy project, which I have also seen as having a positive effect on the region. What I have decided to do though, for the sake of satisfying an 8 minute audio piece, I will instead focus on the sustainable development in the agricultural sector in Hewu, rather than just the Shiloh Water Scheme. This scheme requires more time to fully investigate the politics and circumstances behind its demise, and I could follow up on it in future. For now, I will focus on other key agricultural topics such as this water scheme, Waterdown Dam (which provides water for Whittlesea, Sada, Shiloh, Dongwe and Queenstown), and other relevant projects.

Waterdown Dam, 10km from Shiloh, provides water for Queenstown and some parts of Hewu.
I am looking forward to compiling these stories. I have tons of information regarding Hewu in the Ciskei era and in the present. I do not see the need to include more voices in the audio pieces, as I would like to give the voices a character in the series, and having four people to contribute in the three part series could do just that. 

I am now at an exciting and key stage of my project. The diversity of views and voices I came across when I gathered content will come together. I conducted my interviews with people who are not close together, who live different lives, but are from the same area. Their respective views will have to come together, to ensure that the series echoes a powerful message. My challenge now is to make sure this is achieved.

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