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We thought he had a black heart

childrensradiofoundation on April 30, 2012 08:55

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Brandon (14 years), Keith (13 years) and Jameel (11 years) are three youth reporters trained by the Children's Radio Foundation. They live in Manenberg, on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa, beset with high levels of unemployment, substance abuse, gang activity and violence.

They decided to produce a feature story on two of Brandon’s neighbours in Letaba road, the heart of Manenberg’s gangland.

First, there is uncle Ben, a warm elderly neighbour who lets Brandon watch TV at his house. Then there is the elusive Nazeem, a local gangster who the boys both fear and respect.

On their journey down Letaba road, they quickly realise that appearances may not be the entire story. And the heart they thought was filled with cruelty turned out to be not so dark.

A not-for-profit organization based in Cape Town, South Africa, Children’s Radio Foundation (CRF) gives young people the skills and tools to make their voices heard and to engage in dialogue about important community issues. Working in six African countries, CRF partners with local radio stations and community-based organizations to train youth as radio reporters and to create sustainable youth-driven media initiatives.


Brandon: We went to uncle Ben’s house. I choose him as my favourite
Keith: But uncle Ben didn’t want to talk or have us interview him because he was shy. And we felt disappointed.
Jameel: No we’re walking in Letaba road. Lots of people, people sitting around and children playing and dogs and all of that stuff. Here we walking and
we see Nazeem.
Brandon: He’s got a scar on his face.
Keith: On his arms he looks like he’s been stabbed or he’s been in gang fighting or something like that.
Brandon: My name is Brandon and I would like to interview you.
Nazeem: Yes, sure. My name is Nazeem Karriem.
Brandon: How is your life in Manenberg?
Nazeem: I’m enjoying Manenberg, ‘cos why I was born and bred here. I would like to put back into the community things I never had as a child.
Brandon: And I see he was answering me and I felt surprised because when I looked at him he was like serious and happy to answer my questions.
Keith: Why did you start doing drugs?
Nazeem: Gee, that’s a long story hey. You know recently I found out you get certain people that need a certain drug, because why their mind work too
fast. And certain people perceive them as either being crazy or they are being too smart for themselves. So I’m like that kind of people, you
Brandon: Was your life better when you started using drugs?
Nazeem: It can never be better, it can only go downhill from there. Because why, how can you build a nation when you’re busy breaking it down? So drugs
is never the answer.
Keith: Like Nazeem said, he’s not a gangster but some people think he are, but in his mind he’s not. Actually the way he talks about himself, he wanted
to talk the truth and to give a message to other people.
Nazeem: You just think I’m full of trouble and…it’s not like that. All I can say is, use me as a mirror man. Maybe I am your mirror. Your mind is the biggest
muscle in the body and that is the muscle that is seldom used. So you need to train yourself to use your brain. The sky is the limit, you hear it in
music guys. There’s no limit to what you can be. So that’s how I conclude what I got to say to you guys.
Keith: When we got there, I felt quite scared but now I’m feeling like a big man. We didn’t know how our neighbours are and like me, I didn’t always go
to my neighbours and…and now I know.

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