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LISTEN: Youth Day podcast highlights South Africa’s growing economic inequality

Published Jun 16, 2022

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Cape Town – The first episode of Radio Workshop’s latest podcast, “I will not grow old here”, is available for streaming and download from today, June 16, coinciding with the commemoration of Youth Day in South Africa, the Children’s Radio Foundation said.

“Mary-Ann Nobele, a 23-year-old resident of Alexandra (Alex), a township next to Sandton, Johannesburg, chronicles her daily life throughout a three-part series, providing listeners with a unique glimpse into her current reality. She also examines the complex, but often compelling, reasons why she is not among the 70% of Alex youth who are unemployed,” the foundation said.

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The Radio Workshop podcast was launched in 2021 by the foundation, an organisation that trains youth as radio reporters, and aims to tell intimate and layered stories about a range of youth experiences across the African continent.

According to the foundation, “I will not grow old here” comprises in-depth interviews with Nobele’s family and friends, and poses difficult questions around how youth are expected to succeed in “a place like Alex”, and why Nobele so badly wants to leave the township.

Mental health among the youth is also discussed, with emphasis being placed on the lack of access to professional help and resources, and how young people are increasingly choosing to work for companies who prioritise employee well-being, according the foundation.

“People always talk about youth being the future as if we are people in the making – we are people now,” says Nobele, who in addition to being a radio reporter, also works at the NGO, Gun Free South Africa.

“Youth in Alex could easily get a low-wage job, but we know there is more to life and our resolve is clearer than ever. We want a space that pays the bills but also makes us content. Toxic environments, depression and anxiety in return for money are no longer worth it. What’s more, youth want jobs that will provide a solid foundation for the careers they actually want to pursue.”

The foundation said that episodes also placed a spotlight on the “invisible line” between wealth and poverty, aptly illustrated by the main road that separates Alex and the affluent suburb of Sandton.

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Nobele added, “We all had hope that post-democracy, focus would be placed on improving townships. Sadly, conditions remain the same; people are still struggling, still being sheltered by corrugated iron and still have no water or plumbing.

She said her goal is that this podcast accurately depicts how the majority of our population live, and raises awareness about why we need to invest in our youth now – there is no question that we as South African citizens deserve so much more.”

The podcast is available on audio streaming service Spotify. Episode 2 will be available on June 23 and the series conclusion will be uploaded on June 30, the foundation said.

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The Children’s Radio Foundation trains youth across Africa as radio reporters, giving them the tools and skills to research, interview and broadcast on local radio stations.

Delivered in local languages and in a youth-friendly style, their radio shows weave together personal narratives and information on the issues to create radio content.

Since 2006, the foundation has trained over 5 000 youth reporters at more than 100 radio stations in 10 countries across Africa.

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