University of Cape Town: UCT master’s student handpicked to co-edit New African magazine

The unique editorial project solicited the assistance of young African leaders to guest‑edit the August/September edition. The project formed part of a joint initiative between New African magazine and the Mastercard Foundation. Faku, a Mastercard Foundation scholarship recipient, is currently completing her master’s in psychological research at UCT. She was the only South African student selected to participate in the once‑off project. Five other African guest editors also made the grade.

“What an honour it’s been to be part of this undertaking.”

“What an honour it’s been to be part of this undertaking. The process has taught me so much. But above everything, it’s taught me the value of utilising our experiences, positionality, human resources, intellect and collective humanity to bring forward views and actions that can move us towards sustainable development,” she said.

Eligibility criteria

Candidates were selected for the role in line with a set of stringent guidelines: applicants could be no older than 35 years old, and an excellent command of the English language, with demonstrable experience in communication and print media industries, were non‑negotiables.

When the Mastercard Foundation scholars at UCT got word of the project, seven of them joined Faku in applying for the role; but they weren’t the only contenders. Mastercard Foundation alumni and current scholars, as well as other young people in their networks, added their names to the hat. Part of the rigorous application process required that candidates submit several compelling pieces of their writing to the Mastercard Foundation selection committee. Faku submitted three articles she compiled in 2020 for the Her Campus UCT student chapter, which covered the ‘Humxns of UCT’ series and two trailblazing womxn profiles.

“I chose these articles because they reflected my values of diversity, gender equality, leadership, activism and inclusion,” she said.

The foundation selected the top six contenders, who were then vetted and accepted by the New African magazine editorial team. Thereafter, the co‑editors’ work started in earnest. They were tasked with providing editorial direction, which included developing newsworthy content ideas and effectively steering relevant topical discourses. Conducting interviews with high-profile commentators on the continent, coming up with the volume’s cover story, and commissioning writers for feature articles also formed part of their work.

The highlights

The opportunity to serve in this esteemed position has earned a deserving spot on Faku’s career highlights list. However, if she was to be strong‑armed into choosing just one highlight from this experience, then her interview with internationally acclaimed author and feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie would make the cut.

Her conversation with Ngozi Adichie explored how to alter the mindset of men globally to help them view women as their equals, and to make them understand that ‘we are them and they are us’.

“The truths reflected in the stories we chose to tell are humanising, and help to advance social justice.”

Faku also particularly enjoyed co‑authoring articles on navigating sexual spaces after sexual trauma, and the spiritual journey towards becoming a traditional healer. The discussions with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Nigerian economist Tony Elumelu, led by her fellow co‑editors, are two other content highpoints.

“These content highlights fully represent the African dream, and the cover stories discuss different angles thereof. It [content highlights] also questions whether Africa is the best place for young people to fulfil their dreams, and discusses the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic on the ambitions and aspirations of African youth,” she said.

“The truths reflected in the stories we chose to tell are humanising, and help to advance social justice.”

Achieving the African dream

For Faku, the theme ‘Creating a dream Africa’ is forward‑thinking, and also serves as a reminder of the devotion, deep love and dedication of the preceding generation, who started the groundwork towards an equitable continent. But there is still work to be done.

Her stint as a co‑guest editor provided her with an opportunity to connect with influential people, to start conversations on important matters affecting the continent, and to discuss solutions to numerous challenges.

“These collaborations are vital for creating possibilities that make a difference.”

“These collaborations are vital for creating possibilities that make a difference. Through conversations with people in positions of power, we can start setting our own agenda for the change we want to see,” she said.

Faku called on African youth to create new opportunities for themselves, and to grab those that exist already with both hands. She encouraged young people to use their challenges, marginalisation and vulnerabilities as fuel to build their dreams.

“We are the next generation of African leaders, here to lead the continent into the African renaissance. We need to use this power to our advantage – so that everyone can benefit, and not just a select few,” she said.