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Soweto buzzing

Liliane Landor | 10:14 UK time, Friday, 26 May 2006

Our new - well relatively new - interactive programme World Have Your Say (WHYS)has sent a team to Soweto. Presenter Roz Atkins (Cornish, surfer and part time DJ) editor Mark Sandell (West Ham, ex 5 live but settling in very well thank you) and producer Fiona Crack (ex Online, great cook) decided to hold the global conversation in Nambitha - a restaurant in Orlando West in Soweto.

ws.gifThe programme was simulcast with YFM in Joburg. YFM is a youth station that plays mainly music, the South African equivalent of Radio 1 you might say. But they broadcast the programme in full and were extremely pleased with the results. So much so that the World Service marketing man in the region tells me YFM are seriously considering taking the programme. They'll stop playing music for an hour every day to play WHYS - here's hoping!

We asked the audience to set the agenda and the discussion revolved around crime rates, corruption, foreigners and xenophobia. It was a great - and revealing - listen. It got away from the usual black/white divide to focus on black South Africans vs other Africans. For the first time publicly, people were talking about ANC corruption and taking the local ANC minister to task.

The guests were certainly engaged and the tone passionate. People rang the programme from all over Africa, the US, GB and from as far as Bangladesh. Lots of texts too. But then some of the guests complained we were painting a negative picture of their country. Roz's line was: it may be uncomfortable but you're setting the agenda - these are the issues you the audience chose to talk about.

Anyway it ended on a high. The editor of the Sowetan newspaper (on first name terms with Mandela, I'm told) said to Mark this was the best conversation he'd heard coming out of Soweto with Sowetans talking to the world. The team is still buzzing.

You can hear the programme here.


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