Magazine gives voice to South Africa's teenagers

Story highlights

  • Live Magazine South Africa is written for and produced by young people in Cape Town
  • The first issue will be published mid-November
  • The 48-pages of news, views and entertainment aims to give a voice to the younger generation
  • The reporters are aged 18-25 and come from a range of different circumstances
It's a nerve-wracking week for the 20 young journalists of South Africa's newest youth magazine.
It's nearly deadline day and the Cape Town office is a buzz of activity as the finishing touches are made to the first magazine aimed at the mainstream youth of South Africa.
But it's also a publication that's been made entirely by the same people it's targeting.
"It's not just them writing articles and then a professional team taking that and making it pretty," said founder of Live Magazine South Africa, Gavin Weale.
"Live SA has been commissioned by young people, subedited, designed and illustrated. We even have young people working on the circulation, distribution and marketing," he added.
But along with producing 48-pages of news, views and entertainment the project is bringing together young people from a range of different backgrounds and races.
The results are breaking boundaries and giving many of the youngsters an opportunity to realize their full potential, the founders say.
One of the writers, Ntomboxolo Nana, has aspirations of one day working as a professional journalist. Just a few years ago she was a member of a gang and spent time in prison.
"She has tried to apply for college but is struggling to get in to school so we are giving her a platform to get in to school. We hope that the experience she gets here will push her into journalism," explains Live Project Co-ordinator, Nkuli Mlangeni.
Mlangeni says the magazine is also providing young people with a platform to speak out about issues that are affecting them.
"It's a place for them to communicate to other young people in their age group about the political situation, education system and discuss what culture they are interested in," she said.
She adds that a lot of the media in South African is run by an older generation.
"They didn't have places to do this before, there are blogs and social networking but internet is still not accessible to everyone so this is a good medium as the magazine will be distributed for free," she continued.
Nana is currently writing a story about an issue that the younger generation have been protesting about in the area.
A child was beaten up at a school in Khayelitsha on the principal's orders. Nana's piece about violence in schools hopes to give a voice to some of the concerns the younger generation have had with the incident.
Another writer is working on a 'dummies guide' to the ANC youth leader, Julius Malema.
There will also be articles reviewing products and advice and tips for school-leavers and young entrepreneurs.
Live magazine originated in the UK and after a decade in business and a circulation of 30,000 the success of the quarterly publication prompted Weale to bring the concept to South Africa.
Weale secured funding for the project from the Shuttleworth Foundation, a social innovation agency set up by Mark Shuttleworth, a famous South African entrepreneur.
But the hope is for the magazine to become the authentic voice of South African youth and be entirely self-sustainable within one to two years.
The reporters are aged 18-25 and come from a range of different circumstances.
Weale says the editor comes from one of the most dangerous townships in Cape Town and is working alongside youngsters who have had more privileged upbringings.
The organization is also working with 'remote' contributors in surrounding townships through regular workshops.
However, despite the youngsters different backgrounds, the professional mentors that guide and train the youngsters report that a common theme unites them.
"All the kids wanted to address the segregation in Cape Town, they all wanted to talk about that and use the magazine as a platform to discuss it," said Mlangeni.
Another mentor, photographer Chris Saunders, has been honing the youngster's camera skills. He says it's been incredible hearing how everyone has interacted with each other.
"The conversations they've had while they are working in the same room have broken a lot of boundaries," he said.
"There is still a rift between many communities and people are still separated by language and cultures and this has really been a bridge to that," he continued. "They sit in a room and talk about their different cultures and problems. It's been a learning curve for us as well."
The first issue of Live SA will hit the streets in mid-November across the Western Cape and Gauteng. But Live has future ambitions to take the concept to other parts of Africa.
"There are millions of young people out there who are hungry for this kind of opportunity, so it can't happen too fast!" Weale said.