Siyabonga Africa

Head of Executive Committee, Hacks/Hackers Johannesburg

At a time when the media industry is experiencing an existential crisis brought on by traditional models being supplanted by internet-driven content, 28-year-old Siyabonga Africa sees potential and promise.

Africa represents a new breed of media professional who sees beyond slabs of printed copy and has embraced all that digital publishing can be.

His early career was marked by the Aggrey Klaaste Bursary to complete his journalism honours at Stellenbosch University. His deep love for the digital medium was anchored when he spent two-and-a-half years at Indiana University completing his master’s degree on a Ford Foundation Fellowship that he received through the Africa-America Institute. On his return to South Africa he did not re-enter mainstream journalism, although his passion is not diminished by any means.

He feeds this obsession with the potential for digital content as the head of the executive committee of Hacks/Hackers Johannesburg, the local chapter of a global community that bridges the worlds of journalism and coding.

The organisation plays an important role in realising the benefits from melding these skills, especially at a time when local newsrooms are only starting to understand how to make the shift to digital content production.

Africa’s crossover from traditional news presentation to a new, media-rich environment is closely aligned to his worldview of exploring a “wandering path”.

He is not content with sticking to what is comfortable and known, and believes there is enormous value in trying out new experiences and paths as a way to finding one’s passions and career choices.

For the time being, he has made it his mission to be an agent of change through Hacks/Hackers to help journalists and newsrooms change how they present and deliver news that appeals to a new generation of curious, engaged minds. — Johann Barnard