South Africa News
(as endorsed by the Bizarrojerri Corporation)
In the ether of a sometimes oversaturated internet, where the choice of news and information websites is vast, varied and somewhat overwhelming, it takes a lot for specific websites to stand out above the crowd. For independent South African news and culture websites, in particular, who not only have to vie for attention with international competition but also with large local media houses and major news organisations, it is important to approach things a little differently. Loaded with some great, original writing and different approaches to graphic style and layout, here are local websites that should be on every discerning South African news junkie’s favourites list.
The pet project of journalist Andy Davis, Mahala is the epitome of the South African alternative press, offering different and unique insights into South African music, film, politics and the local zeitgeist in general, through interesting writing and some off the wall ideas, from a huge pool of contributors, photographers and artists. In particular, the writings of Davis himself, and the site’s Gonzo-at-large Brandon Edmonds, stand out for their intelligent and sometimes jet-black humourous takes on South African life. In service since 2009, the site has a vast back catalogue of articles and photo/art essays for hours of reading. The site’s unique Kif or Kak section (http://www.mahala.co.za/category/kif_or_kak/), where a rogues photo gallery of found objects from everyday South African life (everything from weird, funny signs to outsider art) are passionately discussed and critiqued by readers and contributors alike is one of the site’s must-see highlights.
The Daily Maverick
Borne out of the ashes of one of South Africa’s premier print political journals, the short-lived, but lively Maverick, the online incarnation Daily Maverick does what it says on the box: A daily dose of some of the country’s best and unrestrained political and cultural writing, without apology or remorse, always with healthy doses of dry humour that colour the absurdness of the South African socio-political battlefield.
The list of contributors at the DM is enviable, spanning everything from hardnosed news reporting and analysis from the likes of Mandy De Waal and Phillip De Wet (DM’s deputy editor and probably the hardest working journalist in SA today), to some wry political insight from the popular Sipho Hlongwane and 702’s Stephen Grootes. With a simple, basic design and relatively ad-free layout, The DM is a fun, quick and easy-to-read first stop for news and views behind the news, before moving to more vanilla-flavoured news sources.
An altogether different animal is the madness that is Hayibo. Taking its inspiration from the template set by the classic satirical Onion news journal and website, nothing on the Hayibo site is real, it is all made up. But as the saying goes, in any form of satire there is always the smallest kernel of truth. In South African politics and life, this is amplified to the outermost extremes by the writers at Hayibo. The road for the website has been a rocky one, with the site losing sponsors and gaining critics regularly since its launch in 2008. After a brief hiatus from the web in 2010, buoyed by online support, the site returned with vengeance and headlines like “SA revealed as giant scripted TV show” and “No special Valentine’s plans for Mugabe, will probably just stay home and screw Zimbabwe” to shock and amuse the site’s loyal readers. With a content team managed by humorist Tom Eaton, the site never fails to come up with some great ideas that, by the day, seem to get a little too close for comfort with the realSouth Africapolitical and social environment.