Cultural practices are part of many South African families. However, the media gives this topic very little space. According to a research report on children’s coverage in the media titled, “Are we ever going to be heard?” by Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), cultural practices as a topic is among the less covered at 2%.[1]

When the media does report on this issue, MMA gets pleased because it means more and more issues facing children get space in the media. It is against this background that MMA awards a GLAD[2] to Daily Sun for an article titled, “Vumani Bo! Thwasa (10) becomes a Sangoma” (11/10/2021) for its positive portrayal of a child who practices as a sangoma. The journalist, Aaron Dube not only reported positively of the child but also interviewed the child whose voice is dominant throughout the story.

The article reports about 10-year-old Mbali “Mnikelo” Khubeka Ngomane from Mmakau in the North West who graduated as a sangoma after undergoing training in Tshwane.  The article is accompanied by five bright pictures of Mbali wearing colourful attire with the caption indicating that she wore the attire at her ceremony after graduating as a sangoma.

Speaking to the journalist, Mbali says in the article, “My ancestors want me to help people and I am ready to fight against evil. The ancestors also want me to be a medical doctor and they told me to study hard.”

By interviewing the child, the journalist adhered to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC).  Article 7 of the Charter states, “Every child who is capable of communicating his or her own views shall be assured the rights to express his or her opinions freely in all matters and to disseminate his or her opinions subject to such restrictions as are prescribed by law.”[3]

Apart from the Charter, MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media were also adhered to. The Guidelines urge media to access children stating, “Children have a right to have their views heard on matters that affect them, so try and include them.”[4]

Having children speak in a story about them is an empowerment on its own. More so in stories such as this one which talks about less covered topics involving children by the media.

MMA urges Aaron Dube and Daily Sun to continue covering stories about children and to include the children’s voices when in the children’s best interest. Well done!

Written by Ntsako Manganyi

Edited by Lister Namumba


[2] GLADs are awarded to media for reporting on children responsibly and for accessing them


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