Seasoned journalist, Langa Khanyile who is a Durban University of Technology (DUT) Journalism Alumnus is on a mission to promote business news in isiZulu, in his newly established isiZulu-medium online business publication called Umbele (the udder).
Khanyile launched his e-publication, last year in September 2020, at a time when most publications were downsizing due to declining circulation and advertising revenue triggered by the outbreak of COVID-19. The isiZulu business portal is a brainchild of Khanyile, the Managing Director of Likhanyile Group who is a former journalist of Drum magazine, Isolezwe, Business Report, The Mercury and Sunday Tribune in collaboration with this his partner, Silindile Khanyile who is also a seasoned multimedia journalist, and the former editor of Isolezwe newspaper. Both are passionate about financial journalism, quality journalism and content creation in vernacular. They are confident that the publication will go a long way towards fulfilling their passion of preserving and advancing isiZulu, as they feel language is a big pillar of one’s heritage.
Speaking about Umbele, Khanyile said that with Umbele they hope to contribute to media ownership patterns, bring quality financial/business/economics news to isiZulu speakers and the lower LSMs. More importantly, he said they want to be part of the revolution to make isiZulu fashionable as “IsiZulu is the new English”. He further relayed that people need to debunk the myth that African languages cannot conceive of and engage with technical or specialist concepts. Khanyile said they aim to inspire greatness and excellence. According to Khanyile, their content, both written and audio (podcasts), especially SMME and executive profiles is enlightening and inspiring and making it available in the mother tongue is fulfilling and liberating.
Khanyile’s journey in DUT began in 1994 when he enrolled for a National Diploma in Journalism in the then Natal Technikon. Years later he returned to complete his BTech in Journalism, acing his dissertation with a distinction in 2010.
“The experience was life-changing in that not only did it shape me as a professional I was later to be, but it also moulded me socially. I learnt life-long lessons and lasting friendships. The all-round education I got from the institution remains invaluable to me. The biggest contribution has to be that the institution taught me to excel and hold my own against the best in the industry and anywhere in the world,” said Khanyile.
Giving insight in his journalism career, Khanyile said it started before he could finish his studies.
“In our second year of study we were required to do what was then called experiential training, an internship in today’s language, before our final year of study – the third. I got wind that the iconic DRUM magazine was opening an office in Durban (in Glenwood). When I got there the monthly magazine was relaunching as a weekly with an isiZulu edition. The regional editor said there were no opportunities for interns, but they were looking for translators. He convinced me to accept a permanent job offer. The lure of earning an income was irresistible. It was only about five years later that I returned to DUT City Campus to finish my third year of study. Soon afterwards, I moved to the Johannesburg office as a features writer, where I got to work with the likes of the legendary Kaizer Ngwenya, the late versatile Thuthu Msomi and then editor Liz Khumalo,” he said.
Furthermore, he said in 2002, he joined Isolezwe, the newly-launched isiZulu newspaper as a copy sub-editor. At Isolezwe, he said he pitched to write a tongue-in-cheek and humorous weekly sports column called uMacobana, which took the mickey out of sports personalities.
“I later returned to Johannesburg to join the financial newspaper Business Report, before joining The Mercury as copy and layout sub-editor. Then editor Angela Quintal invited me to be a columnist, thus was born another weekly column called man2man, which was a light-hearted take on weighty issues. While at The Mercury I was a freelance sub on The Independent on Saturday and the Sunday Tribune. Years later, I joined the Tribune as a senior journalist and helped news edit. Independent Newspapers (now Independent Media) later set up a national production unit, where I got to work on The Star, Pretoria News, the Cape Times and the Cape Argus. After an eventful and fulfilling 18 years, I left journalism to go solo,” explained Khanyile.
Going solo was not easy for Khanyile, however he said he opted for it as he needed a new challenge and had a desire to explore the world of self-employment.
“I had planned to set up an operation that would focus on my other love – education. With English being a medium of instruction, I had identified a gap to offer English tutorials for peri-urban and township learners. Studies had shown that a sizeable number of learners struggled, and still do, with their academics because of the English language challenge. So, with my background as an English copy editor I conceptualised a remedy for this segment of the market. The idea evolved to include corporate and individual Zulu and culture lessons and tutorials. Naturally, media and communications offerings were always going to be part of the mix because of my experience. The education services and media outfit Likhanyile Tutoring & Media has birthed a first, a vernacular business publication called Umbele,” said Khanyile.
Only nine months later after launching, Khanyile revealed that they have reached 15 000 users which he said is a remarkable feature. He said their social media community, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is growing markedly and they have since launched a YouTube channel. Khanyile said besides offering business news in isiZulu, what also sets them apart is that they are not driven by breaking news, their content is evergreen.
Pictured: Langa Khanyile