In a lengthy profile of Robert Noyce, the co-founder of Intel, the writer Tom Wolfe mentions a saying that was a favourite of his subject. Wolfe writes that Noyce liked to say: ‘In a small town when something breaks down, you don’t wait around for a new part, because it’s not coming. You make it yourself.’ The saying owes its origins from the curiosity about why ‘small-town boys from the Middle West dominated the engineering frontiers.’ Wolfe notes that Noyce reckons ‘it was because in a small town you became a technician, a tinker, an engineer, and an and inventor, by necessity.’ I guess the founding and establishment of Lerabele follows the same logic.
Of course those who have been gifted with a curious mind will ask, correctly so: what is Lerabele?
Lerabele is a digital site with a Pan-Africanist bent for thought-provoking ideas about this and that. Founded on the principle of building a united, progressive Africa, Lerabele is fearless in pursuing new and existing ideas beneficial to the prosperity of Africans and holds no bars in arguments and debates that are important to achieving that goal within the continent and abroad.
Many a people, particularly Africans, have been moaning for years about the negative and uninspiring portrayal of black people in mainstream media in South Africa, but no one has taken initiative to start a magazine, newspaper, radio station or television network that seeks to assert the contrary. And if there are such individuals who take the leap to build a media company, they either fall into the same trap of reporting negative news dressed as ‘objective journalism’ or they simply write fluff because they fear to upset the status quo. But then again, the general problem in South Africa is that no one wants to start anything significant. Everybody is just too happy to live the Instagram fantasy.
Over the years we too at Dithakong Media have observed with melancholy and disappointment at the state of the media in South Africa, time and again lamenting how certain matters are not interrogated and ideas in general are not being explored. Thus, like ‘small-town boys from the Middle West’, we chose to make the parts instead of waiting for them to be delivered from the metaphorical big city. Africa, and South Africa particularly, need a platform like Lerabele; a platform where no idea is too big to execute and a debate too complex to simplify. Instead of sitting quietly at the reception waiting for our turn to be invited into the boardroom, we decided to build the boardroom. We did as a South African comedian accused one radio jockey when he was shown the door by his employer: we built employment. It is our belief that if a taxi doesn’t stop for you, you build your own, if you miss your flight, you start your own airline. Surely you can’t be the only one whom the taxi didn’t stop for or the only one who missed a flight. It is okay to sit and mope, but for how long?
Having said that, Lerabele is not a newspaper and therefore not a competition for established players. We are not about to eviscerate mainstream publications nor does our arrival signal ominous gloom for journalists. In fact, we look forward to working hand in hand with these media houses if their goal is aligned with that of Lerabele – bringing forth ideas and creations that are beneficial to the African society.
Ours is a digital site where ideas for a progressive South Africa and Africa will be baked, heavily debated and put in practice to see if they indeed work. Some of these ideas are too spicy and therefore unpalatable for mainstream newspapers and magazines to swallow hence the existence of Lerabele – a laboratory for pure African thought. We represent aspirations and wishes of ordinary Africans, telling their story with its charm and horror because at Dithakong Media, we understand like they do: that beauty and ugliness is sadly part and parcel of life. For far too long the grievances and dreams of the great masses of our people have been sidelined and treated as unimportant. That train stops here – Lerabele has arrived.
Another aspect that Lerabele brings to the fore is to sift from the general public new, fresh voices whose thoughts and vision resonates with the principles of Lerabele and might not necessarily be accommodated on the pages of many media publications around the country and the continent due to the reason I mentioned in the previous paragraph. These ideas I keep on referring to range from various and wide subjects such as the arts, academia, business, entrepreneurship, fashion, literature, politics, sports and technology. I might have omitted other subjects but that is the beauty of a new adventure: you might plan for this and realise later while on the journey that there is much, much more. It is for this reason that we are so excited to be introducing this ambitious rebel. We are delighted to witness Lerabele settling into a reputable repository for quality content, leading from the front as an example of how we ought to handle ideas as an African community and most importantly learn how to execute these ideas.
Lerabele functions in a binary system: either it blows up or it tanks. Like us at Dithakong Media, I trust that your hope is for the former. Ladies and gentlemen, bagolo le bana, Lerabele…with a cause is officially here. We look forward to your support, engagements and so on and so forth and other beautiful things like that. Pula!