Proudly satirical

For people sick and tired of reading bad news on interest rate hikes, spiralling crime or Robert Mugabe refusing to give up power in Zimbabwe, there's a new satirical website that pokes fun at everyday life in South Africa.

The website, hayibo.com, the Zulu word for "wow! or No way!", was launched three months ago.

Readers have been in stitches over headlines like "Eskom vows to keep lights on, will burn Zim banknotes"; "Outrage as Boer prophet sees black government in South Africa by 2010"; "Albino journalist heartbroken after exclusion from blacks-only forum"; "No special Valentine's plans for Mugabe, will probably just stay home and screw Zimbabwe".

Launched in January by Cape Town-based agency Sunday Media, Hayibo bills itself as "South Africa's second best source of satirical news, after the SABC", and has been winning fans across the country and internationally.

Former Mail & Guardian columnist and author Tom Eaton oversees content and is a partner in Hayibo.

Eaton and Sunday Media co-owner Anthony Pascoe came up with the idea after a couple of sundowners about a year ago.

"We were just shooting the breeze and had bit too much to drink when we came up with the idea for satire media, where we could just take the piss. Last year we refined it and then launched the website."

They have eight journalists working full time on content.

"It needs a specific style of writing. We started small, but we've had a great response. It's early days, only the end of our third month online, but we're averaging growth of about 50 percent per month. We have 1 000 unique users."

Eaton said it was a huge amount of fun.

"That was always our plan. Knocking Eskom and calling Mugabe and Thabo (Mbeki) the hottest celebrity couple of the month was popular with readers. We choose issues that people feel strongly about.

"We need a robust and brave media for the political health of our country. But I think we also need robust and brave people to take the piss, for our emotional health."

Eaton said Hayibo's primary job was to make people laugh. "There's enough angry satire out there. Hayibo is just meant to be a great way to start your day in a country and a world that seem increasingly loony."


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