In the second last edition of Confronting Racism, Koketso Sachane chats to the political spin doctor Chris Vick, and performance artist Khanyisile Mbongwa.
They explored the use of media and the arts as a means of propaganda during apartheid,messaging around the anti-apartheid movement and transition into democracy.
Koketso started off the discussion by posing a question
What is the role of media propaganda as a vehicle to promoting a certain narrative in a country’s consciousness?— Koketso Sachane
Vick reflects on his upbringing and shares how the media played a role in how he perceived things as a young white boy in the Free State.
You don't think about it at the time but it's incredibly formative at that age to be exposed to those sorts of images,to be exposed to the sort of news— Chris Vick
We never interacted with people of other races and classes.We were particularly never exposed to the arts and culture or media of other South Africans...it really has a profound impact on your entire framing,how you frame life,how you frame your attitudes to other people— Chris Vick
Meanwhile Mbongwa points out that critical spaces such as art galleries are still not easily accessible to people who are in townships.
Post-94 South Africa in media is still quite centered in a particular space and only particular people can engage— Khanyisile Mbongwa
Vick's perception of things was changed when he witnessed torture of young lack people for no reason and that for him was a turning point.He started seeing South Africa in a different light.
what apartheid did to White people was make them passive-recipients of apartheid propaganda— Chris Vick
Mbongwa has mixed feelings about art and the power that it has to change people's perceptions.She believes that art has a way of taking away the seriousness of an issue.
Art can also make the tragedy that you are dealing with,seem so beautiful when it is not— Khanyisile Mbongwa
The role of the media is critical in framing people's perceptions and in how we move forward as a country.How do we make sure that the media fulfill their role?
Journalism as a profession is really struggling to understand and to capture the essence of what is really going on in South Africa and its been a problem for a while— Chris Vick
The young generation is carrying the burden of the past and the movements that have started recently are proof that the young people want to change the narrative of South Africa.
The youth of South Africa are incredibly refreshing,in terms of the way they are identifying problems and articulating.That gives me great hope— Chris Vick
Taking into consideration what has been said,we all have a role to play in moving our country forward.
This article first appeared on 702 : Confronting Racism:Propaganda, Media, and the Arts