Blazon Magazine’s Tolu Oshokoya paid a visit to the YFM office and had a chat with Busisiwe Gumede, current affairs anchor at GP’s hottest frequency. She also anchors the Frank Talk Dialogue, a televised round-table discussion on issues that affect the youth living in South Africa, organized by the Steve Biko Foundation.
Tell us about yourself Busisiwe
I think there are different parts of who I am. I always get overwhelmed when people ask me who I am. I have always been a sucker for journalism and always loved the idea of empowering people through information.
My definition of Journalism is making people aware of their struggles and possible solutions. Simple things like not having water in a community, people seem to accept the problem, while a journalist would say “according to this act of the constitution, you guys are supposed to have water” I love that about journalism.
I am a young journalist that loves sparking discussions and debates. I come from the Alexandra township, went to Marlboro Gardens Secondary School where I was head girl for about 2 years. I’m privileged to be from a closely knit family. It’s a big family of 5 children but our parents instilled that togetherness in the family. I’m hardly at home because of work; however I noticed that needs to change because the power of being close to your family keeps you grounded.
How did you begin your Journalism career?
I studied Political Journalism at UJ. While I was at varsity, I was working at Alex FM because I realized by the time my peers finished their degrees, it would be difficult to get jobs because of lack of experience. I started with Alex FM in Grade 11, just reading headlines in the afternoon.
I started on a new show at Alex FM on Saturday mornings titled “Morning Glory”, where I also had to interact with the audience. In my last year at UJ, without an appointment, I approached the former YFM news head, Zukile Majova. I was allowed to record a short news bulletin demo and two months later, I was called to read the weekend news. Right now I’m the senior reporter and current affairs anchor.
― Brigham Young
You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation
Share some of your memorable moments in the media industry.
The most heart-warming memory is me driving the Election show on YFM. Having to dig for content to get people talking was a test and it helped me put away my doubts. The Swing Vote show team and I really did a fantastic job. Getting to meet people who commend your work at events and conferences is heart-warming. Having an impact on my listeners and informing them to make the right decision at the polls was the greatest prize of all. My most memorable moment though was when I was entrusted to deliver the first bulletin informing YFM listeners of the death of former SA president Nelson Mandela. Its weird how everything unfolded before President Jacob Zuma officially delivered the news on national TV. We (YFM News TEAM) were out for dinner with other veteran journalists. In that quietude, notifications started coming in. We abruptly had to leave the dinner table, drive franticly to the YFM studios to prepare bulletins. The rush! Adrenalin! I felt like I was part of making history.
Any special people or events you have come across?
Interviewing Julius Malema was quite challenging. He was in studio for the Swing Vote show. All I wanted to know was what he was offering the youth, why he decided to start the EFF and if he would return to the ANC, if given a chance. The response we got from people calling in and the way he conducted the interview was commendable. I think he could feel my energy also, even though I was a bit nervous.
What are your favorite topics to cover in the news?
Unemployment; that’s always at the top of the list .Discussing the latest stats and getting to know what individuals, agencies and what the government is doing to tackle youth unemployment. I have a couple of friends who are still unemployed and I do understand the frustration.
How is your relationship with the rest of the YFM team?
I work with really brilliant young people. It’s a newsroom of people under 30 and we tackle issues on the same caliber that an older newsroom would and I think we are the future of journalism. I tend to get really personal with my work because I am a perfectionist, so I might not be the best person to work with when things don’t go my way.
Any challenges faced as a woman in the media industry?
I am antagonistic of the traditional look that news and TV networks try and dictate to female anchors. I feel there should be different images to symbolize different facets of beauty in a country as diverse as ours.
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by dynamic people like Isha Sesay, Ayanda Alli Paine and Former President Thabo Mbeki; whom I respect and would love to interview.
What are your plans for the future?
I started at a community level-moved to regional and hoping to make a breakthrough into an international news agency like CNN. I also started Women Careered Recruitments which is my own recruitment company, aimed at offering career solutions, organizing employment seminars and offering employment opportunities-strictly for women.
Details on its launch will be disclosed in due time.
What is your opinion about the young people of South Africa?
I believe that we have come a long way as the youth of South Africa; and with the help of technological advancements-we have a lot of information at our disposal. Unfortunately I feel there is still a lack of interest in socio-political issues- and we would be further as a country if more young people played their role in transforming the country. We have good stories where young people are doing pretty well, but if you go check the country as a whole, it could be better.
Your message to women in this special month?
With that being said-I would encourage women and aspiring journalists to arm themselves with knowledge. Read, please read! . Journalism isn’t a glamorous industry. It’s about giving a voice to the voiceless and fulfilling your obligation to the people through telling their stories. Passion is vital in this field and without it…you are unlikely to make it.