Day 17 of 31: They say it happens in threes

BLESSINGS: A kind homeless man helped us change a tyre in the rain. Photo: Robyn Kirk

BLESSINGS: A kind homeless man helped us change the tyre in the rain. Photo: Robyn Kirk

While trying to recall all the bad things that happened today, I asked my group members where it all started.

Me: “What’s the first bad thing that happened today?”

Robyn: “We woke up…”

That sums it all up. Today was one of those days where it feels like a dark cloud is following you all day – what’s even better is when the cloud finally bursts and you get rained on… or rather, hailed on – Literally. But before we get to the drenched clothes, lets go back a few steps.

I don’t know how I slept but for most of the day I couldn’t fully turn my head to the right without flinching, so filming wasn’t fun. I had two interviews scheduled for this morning, they didn’t feel  right – I’m concerned about the direction my video is going because of my characters –  but oh well, we’ll see. All my main interviews are done so I mainly just have to focus on b-roll and stills.

My second interview started with my character explaining that she was dirty – she and some volunteers had been trying to manually unblock one of the drains that were over flooding in the market. Robyn saw how this would be a great image for Zelmarie’s story. She came back fuming after people in the market started rudely telling her to leave before she got in trouble… All the fuss over a few pictures of a puddle… A puddle?!?

After filming my interviews we went on to film for Robyn, more like cutaway shots where we warned against pickpockets and robbers while filming.

Then for her Anazi, we watched a young woman botch her first try at cooking pap for her fiancé. We didn’t bat an eyelid when we led her to believe she was on the right path :/. So maybe the bad luck was actually karma.

We then sought out Nazi’s next character. She knocked on the makeshift door a few times to make her presence known then walked in… 5 seconds later our usually brave Anazi, passed by Robyn and I running and raced down the stairs. Apparently she had walked into a couple being “intimate”.

Anazi: “Why did I have to be wearing my glasses?! I could see everything!”

Poor woman couldn’t get the image out of her head all day.

We met our mentor this afternoon to catch up, do recon and get invaluable advice. A great day we had on the patio discussing Yeoville. Her meeting calmed our nerves and we were in great spirits. She honestly made our day.

En route to the department we get a flat tyre… I was driving practically on the rim while stuck in 5pm peak time traffic, with a lopsided car. That’s when we all start panicking, but we figured we’d make it to the gas station next to the Wits Arts Museum.

That didn’t happen. We could barely move, and so a homeless man on the four-way intersection told us to park in the next street and he offered to change my wheel. We stood around watching him work. The drizzle came…. But he kept at it, right until they rain stopped 20 minutes later. Great man he was! The homeless all reminded us to be helpful, “One day, you’ll help me too” the man said in response to us thanking him.

Sound kit wars, or as Robyn calls it, “The Great War of 2014”, lead us back to Yeoville, to return a sound kit to another member then back to the department. Where we finished the day with great jokes and Robyn almost losing our audio SD card in the wrong slot of MacBook… I saved the day… Of course 🙂

So maybe this bad luck stuff doesn’t always stop at three…



Day 16: As if the walking wasn’t enough…

Lion Park was great on Saturday, this lion passed right by my window and I froze with fear. My family won't let me live it down. Photo: Tendai Dube

Lion Park was great on Saturday, this lion passed right by my window and I froze with fear. My family won’t let me live it down.       Photo: Tendai Dube

As if the walking wasn’t enough in Yeoville, we also climbed a good six flights of stairs to get to the rooftop of an apartment building to get an aerial shot of the market place. I was trying to show the size of the space but that didn’t work out too well – the building wasn’t high enough.

We left the building just to find out we had to climb to the third floor so Anazi could interview the residing family about their living conditions.

Before all that, we started the morning by filming a man preparing his morning routine. As far as uncomfortable situations go – filming someone as old as my father coming out of bed was a new experience. Anazi was thankful she didn’t have to go through all that alone.

Might I add that this morning started at 4 am, after showering and all, I received a phone call from my group member telling me that the subject we were supposed to interview isn’t answering. I happily went back to bed just to wake up an hour later feeling much worse.

We interviewed the Yeoville market manager and it went well. I aimed for more angles and got relevant cutaways. He was extremely helpful today, despite him and Anazi making fun of my non-existent Xhosa knowledge.

Tomorrow I will continue my plight to get onto a high enough building to get the Yeoville market at. Hopefully I don’t break my neck for the shot. As well as two scheduled interviews in the morning. Quite certain tomorrow is going to be a long day – print-feature draft feedback day!


Day 11-13 of 31: Denim sacrifice

Rolling Robyn through the Yeoville market to get that shot. Photo: Tendai Dube

Rolling Robyn through the Yeoville market to get that shot.    Photo: Zelmarie Goosen

I enjoyed a weekend’s reprieve from Yeoville, my gran is around so we went to the Lion Park and enjoyed some family bonding time – unfortunately it wasn’t guilt-free. Knowing that the second draft was due today was a downer.

We started filming this week and I had to restructure my story to focus on the need for space in the Yeoville market. I met my character who has been on the waiting list for eight years and we discussed the possibility of the market committee finding her a space.

Once again I will brag about my group’s great work ethic, we’re always keen to help each other out. As a result of our generosity – I hoped into the back of a truck to help steady a camera and all went smoothly, until I had to get back out, I overestimated the length of my legs and cringed at the sound of fabric ripping. With every step the hole got bigger – spent the rest of the day shielding my rear with a sling bag and sunhat.

We spent the afternoon refining our storyboards after Zaheer’s feedback – we figured four heads would be better creatively than one. Hopefully we were right, but we’ll only know after the revised versions are read.

Filming b-roll was great fun in the market today – I enjoyed dragging Robyn through the market on a trolley to ensure one of my shots would come out great.

Anazi almost got us chased down the street after she tried to take a pic of some homeless people’s bedding along the wall of Shoprite. We didn’t realize they were standing across the road until the large group of men started cursing at us. We let it go and walked away.

Tomorrow I interview the manager at the market.

Day 10 of 31: Ten! Like 10dai. No? Okay…


One of the many forex bureaus in Yeoville that are not being used when money is illegally exchanged on the streets.     Photo: Tendai Dube

We spent a good portion of the day in a feedback meeting with our mentor talking about the next step and the things we need to work on or add to our features to make them great.

The multimedia chat brought about some stress for me as I felt I was back at square one and had to think about yet another angle for my video.

As a result of this newfound confusion, we ventured on an impromptu visit to Yeoville. I was not dressed the part and felt extremely uncomfortable – don’t wear a mini skirt in Yeoville if you can avoid it. Especially not on a windy day…

I was led to two new characters for my video that I am really excited about. One is willing to be filmed but the other said he would “think about do it” only if he could remain anonymous, he’ll confirm on Friday. They both gave me insight into the way the market works, specifically how trade works across the borders both in goods and in payment.

When our coordinators said we should tell our friends and partners that they wouldn’t see us this year – they weren’t kidding. I’ve become a special occasions kind of person. So only weddings, baby announcements, and very close friends birthdays are an exception and maybe the occasional guilt appearance (I feel like my friends hate me). I reckon that any free time I have should be used wisely, by sleeping.

However, tonight I thought about something other than Yeoville for a few hours over dinner with my best friend for her birthday. It was a conscious effort trying to ignore the time passing knowing I had to blog and revisit my draft, storyboard… the list goes on and the days are passing by much too quickly.

I don’t know how it’s already Wednesday.

Day 9 of 31: “Foot in the door”

A bus parked on Hunter street in Yeoville. The bus is scheduled to leave for the DRC tomorrow evening.   Photo: Tendai Dube

A bus parked on Hunter street in Yeoville. The bus is scheduled to leave for the DRC tomorrow evening. Photo: Tendai Dube

Since the beginning of the journalism degree, our coordinator and lecturer Jo-Anne Richards drilled it into our heads that we should not simply rely on telephones and emails when you keep getting the run around with a source. Go to their office, and just like in the movies, put your foot in the door until you get access!

Fortunately for me it wasn’t that dramatic, I spent a large portion of the day calling one of the City of Joburg division to get hold of someone regarding permissions around speaking to management and recording around the Yeoville market. Eventually Anazi suggested we go there in person.

The office block is less than a two-minute drive from our journalism department and we got what we needed done in those five minutes. I just wish it hadn’t taken over 10 calls in five hours to get to that thought. The receptionist hates me now, understandably so.

First draft in today and so is feedback. I’m glad the story is going in the right direction but I have some structural issues to work on in the feature.

The multimedia aspect of the project is coming along as I started working on the storyboarding for the video. It’s a little sketchy right now but that’s because my brain is fried – spring weather is rather ruthless on the streets of Yeoville.

My group (the most united group of the lot if I can brag a bit) travelled out to Joubert street for the third or fourth time since the in-depth project began, to find someone we’ve been hunting down. And we found him, so Robyn’s story can now go forward.

Zelmarie seems to have attracted a very persistent admirer, Ernest has not let up and continues to harass her whenever he spots her in Yeoville. We agree that he is a dangerous character and slightly unpredictable but we’ll keep an eye out for him.

All in all, today was a day of small victories that will lead to great developments tomorrow.

Wish us luck 🙂

Day 8: Not all print stories make for good visuals

A tough lesson I had to learn today because of my choice of topic. However if it came up that I would have to change my topic because of its lack of visuals, I know I would have put up quite a fight.

Luckily it didn’t come to that. The coordinators and Zaheer came to a unanimous decision about my video ideas – they simply weren’t working. I have to agree; I knew I was grasping at straws so I wasn’t too wounded.

They gave me constructive criticism and advised that I should take a small aspect of my topic and try finding a more specific angle that wasn’t so general and that is more doable. When I heard that I was stumped. My mind went into overdrive trying to think of another idea fast before I fell behind the class.

Zaheer explained to me how some stories are simply great for print, but don’t necessarily translate well visually but encouraged me to keep thinking about it because of our reluctance to tank the story.

I remembered the manager at the market and how money flows in and around him, I explained everything I knew about him to my coordinators and swiftly we came up with another video idea for me.

My video will revolve around the manager at the market and his interactions and conflicts between him and the 213 traders in the market. I will look at the conflicts he has with the street hawkers outside the market as a result of a nine-year waiting list for a stall in the market. But let me not get too carried away and leave something for the multimedia to show.

Us young worker bee journos were rewarded with a surprise around noon – a generous supply of caffeine by way of energy drinks. That’s the way… keep them powered for the hive.

After delving into our multimedia ideas with Zaheer, the class spent the rest of the afternoon in Yeoville once again. I didn’t have much to do in the suburb but tagged along so I could gatecrash a fellow group members interview.

I sent a few emails looking for assistance relating to the research aspect of my written feature and made a couple of calls. The manager at the Yeoville market was on leave but will return tomorrow, where I will explain all I need from him and hopefully get consent and the other necessary permission I need for my video.

Au revoir

Day of wannabe rest: Day 7 of 31

Hard at work on a Sunday evening. There's really not enough caffeine in the world for a journalist.   Photo: Tendai Dube

Hard at work on a Sunday evening. There’s really not enough caffeine in the world for a journalist. Photo: Tendai Dube

It was quite the uneventful day because we didn’t make a trip into Yeoville today.

I spent half the day reading up on as much of the laws and regulation I could understand related to the black market in johannesburg. After that I started transcribing my voice recordings and writing my first draft.

The other half of the day was spent struggling through concepts for my multimedia. I finally concluded that I want to have a video that predominately shows the streets of Yeoville, mostly Rockey street since its come to me that all the money flows heavily through that street.

I figure my video will have to be heavily carried by voice over because of how broad the circulation money is.

Possibly have a shot of foreign money being exchanged, a close up shot of hands and of the notes. If I could…

I have to admit to myself that the concept is flimsy and quite honestly boring, but I don’t know how else I can visually depict my topic. Hopefully the meeting with Zaheer Cassim may yield some clarity but I’m not holding my breath.

I considered having “Peter”, one of my key characters speak about the reasons he has dealt in he street and why he couldn’t and still can’t go to formal institutions.

I also thought about speaking to one of the guys I’ve met, while he explains the type of people who engage in the black market, as well as the network around the process. The trust the act involves and how it is uncommon for them to get caught by the police.