Johannesburg with youth from the Township Diepsloot

At the 5th World Summit on Media for Children in Johannesburg (24. - 28.3.2007), media professionals from 88 countries have met. Every three years, this conference is about improving quality in media for children and youths.

At the 5th World Summit on Media for Children in Johannesburg (24. - 28.3.2007), media professionals from 88 countries have met. Every three years, this conference is about improving quality in media for children and youths.

After Australia, Greece and Brasil, South Africa hosted 1000 adults - and 300 children. Because on the parallel children's summit, 13- to 18-year-olds experienced how they can be part of the process of creating radio, TV and other media productions and also demanded their voice in programmes provided for them.
Journalist and media trainer Julia Kaiser has given pre-summit workshops for young journalists, on behalf of the Berlin International Film Festival, supported by the Goethe Institute Johannesburg.

Right into the heart of South Africa it was, where we, a handfull of media trainers from all over the world wanted to look. We wanted to work with children from developing or rural areas. This finally happened - although differently to what we had expected. We didn't travel to other provinces in South Africa, but instead stayed right in the centre of Johannesburg. The director of the African Cultural Centre in Newtown, Benjy Francis, at the same time a board member of the World Summit, provided his facilities for Pre-Summit-Workshops.
The old factory premises underneath a highway bridge reminds of a huge off culture project. Small classrooms are provisorily divided of the huge halls. Artwork and sculptures from earlier youth projects are standing around each corner, some still in the making. The back of the hall is a huge storage room for materials that might be used for artwork later, wire, old tires, cans, tin barrels and so on.
All we have is electricity and the equipment we have brought. A challenge for the trainers.
60 children, most of them between 13 and 18 years old, have gathered in the green coutyard of the premises. They are black, we, the trainers are white. Will they accept us?
Not a problem, we will soon find out. Because we can offer activities for any interest.
The Italian band "The new Zulus" composes a "Song for Peace" with the children, which will later be performed at the opening night of the World Summit on Media for Children. Animation film maker Antonia Ringbom from Finland lets the children and youths draw figures in different stages of a move. Afterwards she takes pictures of the images with a digital camera, making a simple animation from them. Leslie Rule and her 16-year-old son Tom let their participants invent stories and illustrate them on laptops they have brought all the way from their home in San Francisco. The children read their stories out loud, record them and put them together as an illustrated audio story.
At the same time I work with twelve youths aged 13, 16 and 18. First we discuss the topic of my workshop, "Image and the Media". The young people interview each other and write short portraits that we record with ste studio equipment I have brought. The boys and learns learn practically what we have just talked about: Nobody feels like being pictured with all his talents, attributes and personality, but the interviewer can give back only his own snapshot-impression. A radio-minute or a few lines in a newspaper can only show a fragment of he whole picture!
With this thought, the youths go on to their actual tasks. As "racing reporters" they find out what happens in the other workshop groups. With microphone and recorder interview the project initiators and participants and they collect music and atmo-sounds for a little radio show about our two workshop days.

  mp3

I am very satisfied with the result of my part in the workshop programme of the World Summit. One day after the conference I even see an aditional quality in it. Because Benjy Francis takes us to the area the children are from. We see the township Diepsloot only driving by, but the impression is only deeper. Shacks, tin-topped roofs from the edge of the highway to the horizon. Between, torn garbage sacks.
As a trainer a got the opportunity to work with children from a developing area I could otherwise not have reached. They own the same creativity, capacity and curiousity asall children. But without help they don't have a chance.
13-year-old Koketso put it in words at the end of the workshop: "When a journalist asks, where you live, you can answer him. Because he doesn't want to robb your home or murder you. He is just interested." This trust and self confidence can be strengthened by media work with children and youths.