HARD WORK DOES PAY OFF
By: Lindokuhle Simelane
From the dusty streets of Newcastle in Northern KwaZulu-Natal comes a young man chasing a dream in the busy suburban streets of Durban.
Sphelele Ngubane, who is currently registered for a Bachelor of Technology in Journalism, says development, education and broadcast fascinate him. Having launched his career at the tender age of 19 in community radio, Ngubane’s BTech research project is on the quality of news reporting at community radio stations. This has been his concern after his perspectives were changed when he learnt Radio Production at DUT.
Prior to studying at DUT, he tirelessly worked at grassroots level, preparing himself for a breakthrough into mainstream media. His voice can still be heard by many in Newcastle and surrounding areas where he reads news bulletins for Newcastle Community Radio. Although at that time he was fresh out of school and did not possess any post-Matric qualification, his enthusiasm was noted by many, most notably senior staff who encouraged him to venture into a journalism career. His duties included field reporting, compiling news bulletins for other news readers and delivering news bulletins. Before leaving the station, he had produced news packages for the station’s evening current affairs show. Under the mentorship of SABC newsreader Simpihwe Mthethwa, who was then the news editor of the station, he hosted the station’s special annual June 16 current affairs show.
As Ngubane launched his journalism career, he obtained a certificate in Community Journalism from the University of South Africa, which helped him have a better understanding of issues his community needed to hear about on radio.
Ngubane also has a background in print. Before joining Newcastle Community Radio, he had been working for Amajuba News. He witnessed the birth of the publication and was part of the smaller team which wrote the very first articles for the newspaper.
In October and November 2010, Ngubane completed the Introduction to Documentary Filmmaking course at Johannesburg’s Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking. The project, initiated by Love Life, was under the supervision of production company Born Free Media. Ngubane was one of the videographers for a documentary produced for the ‘I am Mzansi’ series.
During his school days, his by-line appeared every week at Caxton’s isiZulu publication in Newcastle, Inkanyezi. The newspaper, now called Amajuba Eyethu, featured a scholar’s column which Ngubane initiated.
“Graduating Cum Laude has been my goal since I was in my first year of study after a friend of mine told me of it. After he told me I went on the internet and the university handbook and researched what it meant to graduate Cum Laude. I then pasted big letters on the wall in my residence bedroom written “Cum Laude”. Little did I know that everyone who walked into my room saw the letters. That gave me a challenge to do well and sustain the standard because everyone had expected me to graduate with distinction,” said Ngubane.
Sphelele says he always regarded anything below 75% as a fail, adding, ” I am happy that I did well and I hope that even with BTech and post-graduate studies I will do well also.”
“Getting the Dean’s Merit Award makes me feel very special,” said Ngubane. It’s a prestigious award which I never thought I would ever attain. When I came to DUT and attended my first lectures I felt threatened to be in the same class with students from multi-racial schools, thinking they would do better than me because they understood English better. However after a few marked scripts were returned I had confidence and from there I never looked back. I sustained the standard,” he added.
“My dream job is lecturing journalism or related studies in a university where I would teach students practical journalism skills. Having spent eight months in a newsroom, I realise how important it is for journalism students to be trained practically, so when they get to the newsroom and they are thrown into the deep end, they actually manage to swim. However, before that I would love to work at a radio station and television station, so I can further my education and attain new skills.” Said Ngubane
Sphelele Ngubane is currently a reporter with the KZN-based newspaper, The Mercury.