Small Voices & Loud Messages

It’s a moody February morning. The kind of day when the idea of running on the beach tugs at an inner sleeve. I’ve learnt to obey these whispers.

Muizenberg beach is all grey sky and green waters today. A few lonely silhouettes move along the water’s edge.

I run sometimes on the sand, sometimes in the lapping waves. The seashore is that place between this world and the next. Between the conscious and the endless super conscious.

Running on the water’s edge keeps you sharp, focused. Any moment you could tumble over to the other side.

The mountain backdrop is a rising, giant amphitheatre… seats for a drama that never ends.

Just the other day we celebrated my Mum’s 88th birthday with family and friends. The occasion has left me with a deep appreciation of the lessons that they teach me daily.


On my way home from the beach I have to pass the graveyard where my grandmother is buried. A soft voice says maybe it’s time to visit with flowers. I’m in two minds. But something reminds me to heed the whispers.

I buy some red Valentine’s roses and head for the graveyard. Near the entrance a group of workers with shovels recognise me. They’ve helped to clean Ma’s grave before. They rush off ahead of me and get stuck into sprucing up the tiny piece of land.

I sit to one side cutting the flowers and placing it in a small vase.


The man who has been building the mound and smoothing it with water puts down the piece of wood he is using. I notice the name on the wood is exactly the same as my grandmother’s… Sophia Petersen.

I pick it up thinking it’s part of an old cross that belongs to her grave. But then I notice the piece of wood has a middle name and that the dates on it don’t match.

“Nee ma,” says Rasta one of the graveyard workers, “Die behoort aan die graf daar oorkant. Ons gebruik dit maar net. Dit het afgeval.”

The middle name on the other Sophia Petersen’s cross is Magdalene… the same middle name as my mother.

Some days I fear those soft voices I hear will pull me into a world of pure magic and I will become thoroughly useless in this one.


The ‘Spear’ that won’t go away

A kid asks a question and you provide an answer. But each answer is met with yet another ‘why’. No matter how much information you dish out, the ‘whys’ keep coming. Bullets of insistence with no end in sight. Sometimes as journalists we need to go back to being kids and just stay with the questions, no matter what.

The Journalist looks at why this Spear won’t die but just keeps asking ‘why’…


In 2015 VIA created a TV series called CO.ZA. Media24’s Via TV channel launched it in May 2016 and it has been a huge success. Season 2 has been on air on DSTV, the SA pay TV service, from November 2016. It is a VIA original concept that is now being developed as an international show.

A keystone of the concept is that the stories are created by viewers, under guidance from the producers. Video clips submitted by viewers, produced mostly with smart phones, answer some basic questions. For example:

  • What is home? How or why do we leave and what defines the sense of loss we experience when we do?
  • What are the essential national characteristics that we take with us into the world?
  • Each episode has a Video Postcard, an update from a previous participant


The Keeper of the Kumm

A city journalist reluctantly follows The Call of a Bushman Rainmaker … their story started 200 years ago. The Keeper of the Kumm is a historic and modern quest, interwoven in a story that crosses the flimsy boundaries between worlds.

In 1870 //Kabbo, a pipe smoking revolutionary Bushman hunter driven by his need to safeguard his fragile culture, goes on a Quest to find city people whom he has heard can preserve stories in books.  Along the way he finds Victorian researcher, Lucy Lloyd and German linguist Wilhelm Bleek. But even further down the line he engages a reluctant modern-day writer Sylvia Vollenhoven. 

Sylvia, a cynical city journalist in search of healing, undertakes a Quest of her own. Using 21st Century experts as well as ancient African ritual she follows The Call of  //Kabbo. Like a Bushman hunter she sets out on the trail and pins down the elusive meeting point between science and mysticism. In the unfolding drama of the new South Africa she finds a hidden story of the First Nations that touches on our common ancestry. 

The Keeper of the Kumm is a Multimedia Initiative that comprises the following:

  • The Novel written by Vollenhoven that will be launched by Tafelberg to coincide with the bicentenary of //Kabbo’s birth. Tafelberg is one of South Africa’s largest publishing houses
  • A Musical Theatre Adaptation – a joint initiative between VIA, Suite Basil Productions, the Baxter Theatre and the National Arts Festival
  • A Feature Length Documentary Film. The film in development is supported by the National Film & Video Foundation (NFVF) and agency of the South African Government Department of Arts & Culture
  • Multimedia Extensions e.g website, exhibition, educational material and a traveling show

Trailer Duration: 2 min 32 sec