writers block

My fingers tingle.  My heart raises an emotion that can only be described by the name of an author, the title of a book, the poem I hate to love and a quote that cut so deep, rang so true and knocked the wind right out of me.

“Warsan shire.

Teaching my mother how to give birth

Excuses For Why We Failed At Love

‘I’m a lover without a lover.

I’m lovely and lonely.

I belong deeply to myself .’”

I am compelled.

My vocabulary falls short,The sentences don’t quite make sense, I don’t recognize this voice…

My tongue has forgotten every language that has ever danced pass my lips

Yet I am compelled.

Not express myself but to be understood.

And my body revolts

This body has access to muscle wisdom, generational and ancestral wisdom.The very breath of uNkhulunkhlu

It knows that I am enough.

It knows  it is enough to simply be.



As I am.

It is enough.

Creatively depleted

So with just five days left of this academic year my creative juices have completely been depleted. Between the draft, pictures, videos and the Wits fees protest I have very little left to give.

In the next week I have to finish all my in depth work, attend a data journalism course, pack my stuff in preparation for my move to Pretoria and stay alive.This is not how I though this month would go, but what doesn’t kill you right.

the first cut of my video was rejected so I had to shoot again. I got better footage this time but will have to change my story board. I also keep forgetting to make people sign consent forms so I now have to email them to all my participants.

I am trying to get as much of the admin type of things out of the way during the data journalism course. Today i did my captions and drafted my reflective essay. Everyone here has other work to do too so the facilitator is very understanding.


Picking a stuggle

I have been at the for front of the #WitsShutDown strike from day one. When things got serious our editor started asking for stories. But as  rookie journalists we often told not to write about ourselves.

So for the fist time this year there was no hesitation on what I should do. I cared too much about this fight. It is my story. So beyond documenting this in pictures,  I could not see myself produces a ‘objective’ story for our publication.

But doing this in-depth project has helped me pick my struggle. When we pitched our stories I went for things that I thought would be ‘well received/popular’ stories that I had no real interests in.

All of them got shot down. It was only when I went for something I actually cared about and have an interest in that my pitch was approved.  This experience of writing about Islamic art has taught me so much about myself, the Islamic faith and the writer/editor relationship.

Because I genuinely like art and am curious about various religions I was able to pour myself into this. When I spent nights reading up on the Islamic faith  or afternoons trying to understand the framing business I was fully present. Completely engaged.

I took it in and it became my story. Not in the direct sense but in that I am committed to it. To the people. To telling their story and I believe that this has makes me a better writer if not journalist.

Being deeply committed to a cause or a story does not blind me its drives me. It is when I take on a story as my own that I am able to go deep. To do the leg work that makes people trust you even when you may have to be critical of them or their ways.

I think it is when this kind of trust between writes and sources is built that people allow us journalist to do our jobs. It is this trust that will hold us accountable and maintain our integrity.

Often this means that I take longer to produces stories , That I wrestle with my editor more or don’t get that money shot all the time but this is the struggle I chose as a writer.

Maybe it means I am not good journalist but it has never stopped from telling the stories I care about. In fact it has made me the go to person for some stories here on campus and so maybe even in life people will chose me as their story tell over a “hard core journalist”

Playing catch up

So I haven’t been doing as much work on my in-depth project since the #WitsShutDown started. In part it was in solidarity with my fellow students but also because I want to document this moment in history as we live it.

I have managed to finish my draft and am just working on polishing it. I think it is decent and with a little guidance it will be good. This entire process made me realize that I have been doing this mentor-ship thing all wrong. But its better later than never I guess.

I’m worried about my video, I haven’t started working on a rough cut yet and the last interview I need might not happen. I’m discussing plan B with my video mentor tomorrow. Im desperately hoping for a rough cut by end o the week.

Although I appreciate the deadline extensions i can wait to finish this project, this academic year nje. I am TIRED.

Wits student march against fee increase

Wits University  came to a stand still today when a number of students blocked all vehicle entrances to the university.  The students were protesting against 10% fees increase for 2016.

Lead by the leaders of  various student moments, students and some members  of wits staff marched to Senate house- which serves as the administrative center of the university- and ensured the university is brought to a stand still.

All academic activities was canceled for the day and staff members who wish to leave university premises where adviced to use public transport.

Half way mark

My first order of business today was submitting my second draft. Now that I can write 1200 words on Islamic art I feel more confident about the writing 2000 words.

Ridwaan has been very difficult to get a hold of in the last few day. Which makes me more nervous about my video. But we confirm to meet up tomorrow so we can get all the participants on the same page about what needs to happen on Saturday.

I also spent some time making my picture selections and edits for the photography component of my feature. I have some good pictures but not enough, at least not of the strong ones. So I need to take some more tomorrow.

It turns out a story board is much more complex than I thought. The video mentor came by to give us some pointers. It was clear that those of us who didn’t do TV were just winging it. But not all was lost. My pitch was more detailed than others so we used that to fill in the gaps with my story board.

Tomorrow I am helping Thembi out with video and start working on my third draft.

when a plan comes together.

I finally got the go ahead for my video. we are shooting on Saturday at the Fordsburg store.  I am so glad. Our lab/newsroom has only 12 computers with edition software. I really did not want to be one of those people that have to put pressure on others to finish their work because my video was shot late.

I’v been working on my feature all day. I think the main issue with my first attempt is was that I lacked direction. I did not know what my story was and thus could not tell it well. I also thought I could whip up a 800 story in a couple of hours. that was a complete fail.

I reviewed my initial pitches and the comments made on them. Once I figured out what got me interested in the first place, what I wanted to speak to and what my mentor wanted to see it was easier to use the information I had accordingly. Good old fashion story mapping saved the day.

With feedback happening face to face this time I really hope there is significant improvement.

I really hate the pressure and anxious this such work gives me. It is so easy to get swallowed by it. I have avoided the labs for the last few days because I fear collective panic.

The close we all get to or various dead lines the crazier we seem to get.  I keep telling myself that its possible, those that came before me walked this path and made it. But ts tough shem…Its tough

Weekend Wrap up


I got some version of first draft in on time. After about million attempts at nothing I finally  got something down. Also got my one on one time with the video mentor. He thinks I’ll have a good video but I’m nervous I’ll come back with some it and he will not be impressed.

After our meeting I work on my story board again he tweaked my pitch so I had to make the necessary changes . Ridwaan went MIA for a little while,he was not replying me emails. He is usually very good with communicating so I was a little nervous when he didn’t get back to me. Turns out he is in Botswana.

I tend to forget that people are not as invested in this as I am. If I cant confirm dates for the shoot in the next few days I have to come up with a plan B.


Finally got the chance to look at my feed back on my the first draft. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I have to rework a lot of it. I’m not even sure that have enough information to do that because she said I need more details in the story. But I have this week to do more interviews, in the mean time I think I’ll have to use some of my observations notes.

Ridwaan is still not back yet but I went to the shop any because the manager told most of the factory workers and artist come in on Saturdays. I met a couple of them but none wanted to confirm shooting days or time without Ridwaan. Which I guess is understanding but really inconvenient for me.

I had to help Dana with her video but she confirm it a little to late so I couldn’t go. I’m starting to worry about how we are going to peer review each other because we are all working with various people in the class but not necessarily our in–depth group mates.

Our second draft is due on Tuesday so let me get that done.



Chasing my first deadline

My first deadline is tomorrow and I might just be dead by then.

Being in the field in this heat is not ideal but I said I want to a journalist so here I am. I’m trying really hard to meet these deadlines because I’m hoping that if I do, I could really be done with my honours by the 31st.

I went to Pioneer Framers today to meet up with Mohamoud, he’s the Islamic artist that is part of my feature. After my interview with him yesterday he said he’d bring me some literature and notes on Islamic history, influences and interpretations.  I’m glad I went because his notes were more concise and relevant to what I’m doing. He also had a few art works to illustrate the differences in Islamic art from different regions so I got some good pictures.

I also  went to orient gallery  to discuss my proposal for the video and  finalize the charterers. we also had to agree on scenes that we can actually  accomplish by next week. After that I got  to finish my video pitch. Unfortunately we haven’t set the exact dates for shooting but they said they get back to soon about that.

Now if i can just finish my first draft on time.