Amplifying African Voices Through Podcasting

Our forefathers passed down our stories orally, and some attempted to etch them into stone. However, those engravings were eventually washed away, leaving us with the responsibility to carry on where they left off. Africa, a continent rich in diversity, encompasses numerous languages, cultures, and histories. Podcasting, with its low entry barrier and global reach, has empowered Africans to use their voices, changing lives and narrating the authentic tales of the vibrant African continent.

While all stories hold significance, today we focus on the narratives of marginalized communities, empowering them to share their own experiences. African podcasts that explore topics such as the impact of colonialism, cultural traditions, and social issues delve into the realities of those who often lack the means to express themselves. African podcasters inspire change and foster meaningful conversations, one episode at a time.

Traditionally, African stories were often filtered through the lens of Western media, leading to a limited and biased understanding of the continent. However, podcasting has allowed African stories to reach global audiences and bridge cultural gaps. Africans have created podcasts that challenge preconceived notions and offer authentic perspectives. The personal stories shared through this medium shape the reality of African lives. Here are a few podcasts that tell authentic African stories and deserve recognition:

I Will Not Grow Old Here

“I Will Not Grow Old Here: A Girl from Alex” is a captivating podcast produced by the Children’s Radio Foundation’s Radio Workshop and hosted by Mary-Ann Nobele. In this three-part series, Mary-Ann takes us on a journey through life in Alex, a township adjacent to the opulent Sandton. Through her voice, listeners explore a township brimming with vibrance, resilience, and determination.

Let’s delve into the history of Alexandra, commonly known as Alex. This township was one of the first urban settlements designated for black residents during apartheid. It served as a home for black workers who provided services to the nearby affluent suburbs of Johannesburg. Despite living under oppressive conditions, the black residents of Alex displayed unwavering resilience and a strong sense of community.

The township became a hub for activism and political mobilisation, playing a crucial role in the struggle against apartheid. Today, the township remains dynamic and diverse, comprising a mix of informal settlements and low-income housing. Residents continue to face challenges such as high unemployment rates, crime, and inadequate infrastructure. Yet, Alexandra Township continues to shine through its struggles.

I Will Not Grow Old Here: A Girl from Alex delves into the life and hardships she faces while living in the township. She vividly portrays the experiences of a young person with aspirations for a better future, grappling with numerous challenges designed to keep her confined to Alex. Mary-Ann also interviews individuals who express how their dreams seem unattainable due to limited resources and a lack of access to quality education.

“It was more about youth unemployment. My generation is often considered lazy, and treated as if we lack ambition. By sharing my experience as a young person in Alex and shedding light on the experiences of other young people, I aimed to showcase that despite coming from an environment lacking support and upliftment, we are striving hard to make it in this world. We work multiple jobs, yet it is never enough,” said Mary-Ann.

The Ambie Award nominated podcast is not merely a story of struggle; it serves as a testament to the determination, strength, and resilience of the human spirit. This podcast provides a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by those living in underprivileged communities. It acts as a call to action, urging listeners to support initiatives that empower and uplift marginalised communities, acknowledging the potential for change inherent in each individual’s story.

Unpacked with Relebogile

“Unpacked with Relebogile” is a captivating podcast that takes listeners on a thought-provoking journey through a wide range of social and cultural issues. Hosted by Relebogile Mabotja, each episode of “Unpacked” revolves around an individual’s life story, tackling topics such as surviving gender-based violence, alcoholism, prostitution, homophobia, and human trafficking. Relebogile skilfully guides her interviewees to share their stories, leaving listeners informed and enlightened.

“I wanted to change the lives of ordinary South Africans, which includes everyone, in various ways. Primarily, by presenting them with different perspectives and opening their minds to previously unseen or unheard sides. The global reach of the show has exceeded my expectations, but we still have a long way to go. This platform has many more stories to share, many more lives to touch, and many more perspectives to broaden,” said Relebogile.

Unpacked distinguishes itself through its commitment to inclusivity and amplification of underrepresented voices. Relebogile and her team actively seek out diverse perspectives by inviting guests from various backgrounds to share their experiences. With this approach, Unpacked tackles complex and sometimes controversial subjects, encouraging critical thinking and prompting listeners to examine their own biases. If you seek an open-minded and intellectually stimulating podcast, tune into Unpacked with Relebogile.

The growth of the podcasting scene fosters a sense of community building among African podcasters. By amplifying our voices as African podcasters, we enhance the representation of the continent. There is ample space for podcasters to share their experiences, knowledge, and resources. A collaborative environment opens the floor for aspiring podcasters to learn from established voices and continue amplifying African perspectives.