Hmm! I thought this will be easy, but it is not. How do you easily bid farewell to friends and family, and not feel one inch guilty about it? Or sad? Or…?
Yah! That’s it. I am outa here. It’s a wrap, I am done! Seriously, this is my last column, and day or two at The Voice. So goodbye and love you lots.
Okay, maybe I can do better than this without breaking down and leaving a pool of tears behind. And this is my story.
Three years and three months ago, I arrived at the people’s paper to replace a good friend Emang as editor. I had mixed feelings then as I do today.
My background, abilities or experience were not real the issues here. I think I was, and still, in a position to handle the post without falling apart. I had behind me many years at some of the best newspapers in the region of southern Africa – Mmegi, Mokgosi, Sowetan, Sunday Independent and Mail & Guardian. So, I could not feel overwhelmed. Right? Not exactly.
The Voice is a very interesting setup. It is a very interesting and exciting place to be in, and you don’t miss a beat when you hit the floor here. It is your true and colourful African newspaper, and believe you me, no African newspaper is boring.
So if it was not the ‘deep-end’ feeling what was it then?
You see, in my donkey years in the newspaper industry, I have had no qualms of what I was doing, where and how. I would jump into the next taxi, car or plane and head off to a story or a job (true, I spent most of my working life in Mzasi), and just be fine about it. Nothing, or no one was holding me down to anything. Free as a bird, and free to do as my heart wished.
Okay, that was until God arrested me. And when He did, everything changed. Attitude changed, priorities changed. Even family set-ups changed. I got hitched and moved to the village and you were the first to read about it here!
“For nothing is impossible with God.” So says Luke 1 verse 37 and I am 100% in agreement.
Lets get back to my now. The Voice editorship was a good job to come to, and after having done this and that following Mokgosi’s sad fall, a stable place to be.
But, it was still not easy. In my new faith walk, it was an awkward move to make. In fact, a bold friend told me, “you, The Voice? It’s not for you, You will not last six months in that place.”
Why? To my loving born-again friends, from the outside, The Voice represented the ‘other’ world. The front page Thokolosi stories were a world they couldn’t relate to, and worse even for my gender activists friends, was Page 3.
But I also found it was not only the conflicting emotions of outsiders. Here, I don’t really think I was the most welcome captain of the ship. To some in The Voice, whom I must add later became my best pals, I came from the ‘other world’ – spiritually and professionally.
I know my boss, Ausi Beata, bless her, was under pressure to prove I was the right person for the job coz I carried the ‘enemy’ tag. And that tag was that of ‘serious’ broadsheet media. I could not cope in the tabloid media, they reasoned, as I was too political, and serious. I bet some wondered if I was not ‘sent’ to destroy the people’s paper.
I had to prove that I was and remain a journalist, regardless of the type of publication I work for. I truly believe I am part of this special breed, better still endangered spices, called journalists. I can’t be pigging-holed. I swim, not sink, with the currents.
As I part ways with my good friends, I pray that I did not destroy and that instead I am leaving a better product to the loyal and new readers.
Professional issues aside, it was a challenge to be in the new family with a different take on life. Here, I found very few believers in Christ. In fact, I recall a colleague’s comment in my earlier days saying; “there is only one person who doesn’t drink here…” and that really challenged me.
However, I must thank the good Lord, that though I was sent, as I believe I was, to a cynical (believe you me I think only lawyers beat us to this) lot, I found willing and changeable hearts. In the first few weeks, I must have sounded like a freak when I asked that we stand in a circle, holding hands and pray before every meeting. By the grace of God, three years and three months later, The Voice editorial team prays, with renewed vigor every week.
And thanks to the Holy One, attitudes not only changed, but in this short period I have seen souls saved. I am talking of fathers who have left the beer halls to rebuild the families, and young men who are either married now or about to. I have seen young ladies drop the bottle for the Bible, and some even returning to walk with Christ. I thank the good Lord.