Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) commends Sunday Times for their article “Black kids ride new wave of hope in Durban’s surf” (05/07/2015, p.12). The article by Matthew Savides looks at how black youngsters have taken up surfing as their sport of choice. In particular, the article focuses on 17-year-old Ntando Msibi, and how his penchant for surfing began. The youngster is interviewed in the article and shares how his passion for surfing started when he saw “a group of guys standing [around] and learning how to surf and asked them if he could also learn.”

The article also briefly reports on Samkelisiwe Cele, a 16-year-old who is also excelling at the sport. A focus on this young girl shows that just as much as the sport is being taken up by young black males, young girls like Samkelisiswe have potential too.

Such positive portrayals of children go a long way in challenging stereotypes about children and, especially black children. Surfing as a sport has been dominantly played by white people and to see a profile on young black people taking up the sport helps show a different perspective and inform diverse perceptions.

In addition, such images of children help encourage other children to believe in themselves and not be afraid to break new grounds and to be ambitious.

“Children should be seen more as heroes than just a child because it helps children feel good about themselves” – Ziyaad Moosa, 14 years, Media Monitor

MMA’s most recent research on how children are portrayed in major South African media revealed that children are shown in very limited roles: The study found that 44.3% of the news-stories showed children as “just children,” or gave them a non-descript role.

This is an unfortunate finding given that children as evidenced in this article play far greater and diverse roles than the ones that are shown by the media.

Therefore, it is articles such as this one that can potentially shift how children are perceived and challenge the common ways in which children are portrayed in the media.

We look forward to more articles of this nature.

By Kgalalelo Morwe Gaebee