Empowering Communities Through Media

On 01 June 2015, Activator and Media Founder Noxolo Mthethwa will be launching Nongoma FM, a new community radio station that aims to be a catalyst of change in the community of Mcebo, Nongoma, in KwaZulu Natal.

While this is her first broadcast venture, the 26-year old Activator is no stranger to the media industry. In August 2012, she launched a newspaper called The Provoker News, which is published weekly and distributed nationally with a strong emphasis in Gauteng, North West, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu- Natal.

“When I grew up, I always told my parents that I was not going to work for somebody else,” said Mthethwa. “In high school and varsity, I deviated from that and did accounting, but I had also started drafting a media business plan in high school and was perfecting it frequently as I had a keen business interest in the media.”

Today, The Provoker News is listed as America’s seventh largest magazine in Africa and lives up to its mandate to provoke.

“We have a strong emphasis on youth development, education, entrepreneurship and nation building and believe in provoking young people to reach beyond their perceived limitations and potential,” she said. “We use provocative content to channel the reaction we cause and ensure that our readers are equipped to take centre stage.”

The company’s figures so far show that Mthethwa is on the right track. The publication currently employs a team of 40 high- impact individuals and is self-funded by subscribers who pay R400 per year for a subscription. But she says launching a publication is no easy task.

“There’s no straight formula for starting a newspaper. For me, I just had to execute an idea that I had since high school, and that meant breaking a lot of barriers and going against all odds. The industry is also very hush and not open for new entrants, especially in the commercial space. The large players are secretive with information and what makes it even worse is that statutory bodies are funded by other media houses who make it very hard to breath and thrive in a conducive environment.”

Mthethwa added that while the reaction to the newspaper has been good, it took a lot of work to build up the readership to what it is now.

“There are those who weren’t familiar with reading newspapers and those who wanted to know why they had to choose ours,” she said. “Both these types of consumers provided us with the opportunity to educate and raise awareness around reading informative newspapers and also increasing product knowledge.”

Now, almost three years later, Mthethwa is branching out into broadcast media and launching a community radio station.

“We decided to launch a radio station because people in rural areas don’t have a voice and the idea of rural development that is forced down our throats is not ideal. In fact, it’s there to leave [rural communities] poorer than they were,” she said. “Community broadcasting becomes that voice and ensures that communities become actively involved in their development.”

Mthethwa also reported that the community is very excited about the radio station.

“It’s the first of its kind in the community and we’ve been getting a lot of support and encouragement. The interesting factor is helping them understand this radio phenomenon and encouraging active participation.”

The radio station will also be accompanied by a business and law clinic that will help the community with paralegal law issues and refer people to relevant institutions if the need persists. The clinic will be launched in conjunction with the radio station.

“This was inspired by my dad who is serving in the Department of Justice as a law expert, as well as Module 3 of the ACTIVATE! training programme where we were introduced to using the paralegal law guide to help communities with their legal issues,” Mthethwa explained. “People in rural areas don’t know where to go for their legal warfares and we thought that – because they already come to us with their problems – we need to provide a remedy for their legal challenges. We are hoping that this will also open an opportunity for law firms to do pro bono work in rural areas. The business aspect will deal with entrepreneurship development.”

Mthwetha’s vision for the radio station is to make a positive difference in the lives of people through educating and empowering them to reach their potential, with a special emphasis on young people.

“Young people are often painted with a colourless brush as if they cannot contribute effectively in advancing education, politics, growing the economy or simply assuming leadership roles. We need to create platforms that will package young people for who they are. I am simply partnering with other young people to create those platforms.”

Connect with Noxolo Mthethwa:

Tel: 084 467 9265

Email: noxolo@nongomafm.co.za




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