How Perugia (Almost) Broke My Heart

It started off at the session on education. Last week, in a corner room just off the Piazza IV Novembre, in the charming medieval town of Perugia, Italy, Alice Ross, a young journalist working for Greenpeace UK’s Unearthed bemoaned the cost of her fancy investigative journalism degree at City, University of London. The total for her year-long course? A whopping 9,000 pounds (more than $11,500). Ross likened it to a pay-to-play scheme that landed her a plum job, but effectively keeps out those who can’t afford to pony up thousands or puts them in a not-so-privileged place on the fringes of the industry.

Watch Your Language

Everyone in the room thought they got the joke. When Trevor Noah announced Black Panther for Best Picture at the 2019 Oscars, a wave of laughter washed over the crowd as he talked about growing up in the fictional country of Wakanda.

Confessions of a Walmart Shopper

I never intended to shop at Walmart. Ever. After all, Sam Walton and family represented all I was raised to sneer at. They are well known for stomping out freedom of speech by snatching “offensive” artists such as Sheryl Crow off their abundant shelves and banning any books they deem unfit for popular consumption, including Jon Stewart’s America: The Book.

Certain of My Doubt

IT WAS NOT UNTIL I READ Life of Pi a few years ago that I realised the extent of my sins. “It is not atheists who get stuck in my craw, but agnostics,” Pi Patel told his creator, Yann Martel. “Doubt is useful for a while. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”

Masters of Our Own Destruction

On a recent Monday morning some of South Africa’s most senior journalists, with two dozen fresh-faced journalism students, gathered at Hofmeyr House in a leafy corner of the Wits University campus. Crammed into a small room with low-slung ceilings, they were there to hear British journalist Nick Davies speak about the state of the world’s media. It was not good news.

How America’s Next Generation Was Outclassed

A RECENT FEATURE that ran in the Los Angeles Times told the story of the increase in street vendors who have set up shop selling soaps and perfumes, flowers or hot dogs. No longer is this the territory of recent immigrants but rather the increasing domain of America’s former middle classes – you know, those people with stable jobs and steady incomes.

Mother and Daughter

When I was nine, the same age as my daughter is now, my best friend and I were lying on the living room floor flipping through my family’s photo albums. She stopped on a page and delicately fingered the black-and- white photograph of my mother and father at their wedding.

In Suburbia

VICTOR IS FORTY-THREE AND LIVES in the backyard in a small room, maybe eight feet by eight feet. I would guess it is the size of a prison cell. It has no windows. There is no paint on the walls, just raw, grey concrete that is cool to the touch.

On Being Foreign

They were a gypsy sort of family, roaming from Italy, to Algeria, to Tunisia and, finally, America; first New York, then to California. He was a third-culture kid well before it became part of the global lexicon. I suppose that was partially why my father was never quite clear about his background.

On Paris, Pot and Ziggy Marley

WHEN PARIS HILTON ARRIVED IN SOUTH AFRICA two weeks ago, she posted a photograph of herself in a mini dress on Twitter, her long legs crossed high, seated atop her entire Louis Vuitton luggage set: a long trunk, and bag after luxurious bag, worth — contents excluded — more than the GDP of most small African countries.