An important part of Afrika Connexions, from its inception, was broadcasting news on the situation in South Africa. The need for a different type of news was made necessary by the mainstream media’s superficial coverage of the struggle and its penchant for presenting stories about the hunger and poverty of Africa – a model that still prevails today.
The presenters of Afrika Connexions recognised that African people in Australia, who were so far away from home, deserved access to information about the struggle and situation back home. Remember, this was all happening before the Internet, meaning that other sources of information were not easily accessible, so email and skype couldn’t be used to simply contact your friends and family back home.
When the program began in 1985, presenters used a public telex service in Sydney to receive information. They got press releases from the PAC headquarters in Dar Es Salaam, the UN Centre Against Apartheid in New York, and of course from within South Africa itself. They also found sources from within the Australian media, with friends passing on information from AAP wire services. Gathering the news during this time was a collaborative and community effort, with friends and family bringing back newspapers from South Africa rather than gifts. There was also contact with the black sailors who came on cargo ships to Australia, offering everything from newspapers, the ship's manifest and themselves as sources of information. The ship's manifest provided vital information for the boycott campaign against South Africa.
Of course, as time and technology progressed, gathering the news changed. The introduction of a fax machine and eventually computers meant that finding information to broadcast could be a lot easier.
In later years, Frederic Naboya was a dedicated volunteer who came from Burundi bringing his experience in journalism. Fred put together a bulletin every week, dropped in at the station and presented the news segment without missing a beat. For a long time, Fred was famous at Skid Row for being the only person from Burundi in Sydney. We haven't found Fred, so if you are out there, send us an email, brother!
Despite the Internet, the need for the news remains unchanged today. Still, every week, people tune in to hear news from Africa read by someone who has a strong bond with the continent.