Eight years of Reggae Vybz on Soweto TV
Soweto TV is a South African community television channel broadcasting in the biggest township of South Africa, Soweto. The channel is free-to-air in Gauteng Province and it also broadcast to South African subscribers on the DStv pay TV service on channel 251. The channel is on one of the biggest streets in Soweto, Vilakazi Street; well known for being the only street in the world to have two Nobel Prize winners.
On Sunday, July 1 2007, the community TV Station made South African media history with the switch-on and its first live broadcast. Part of the programming that year included Reggae Vybz, a show dedicated to Reggae music, culture and lifestyle with news and interviews. This programme has been running ever since til present, making it the longest running Reggae Show on any Channel on South African Television history.
Behind the scenes and the success of the show which gave it its longevity, are two dedicated souls who work tirelessly to make sure that the Reggae show must go on. They face administration, financial and production challenges which they overcome with style and grace. At the helm of it all, is the producer Aubrey Kgaswane who has been with the station from inception lobbying and ensuring that Reggae music genre remains on the channels programming. Aubrey is what we could call a casual reggae music lover and listener who got introduced to the beat by his neighbor from Venda who used to feed the neighborhood with reggae music blasting from his speakers. When he joined Soweto TV, it was a natural decision to lobby for reggae genre to be part of the programming, which was the broadcasters mandate anyway to represent all music genres without exclusion.
The program got underway and they secured a slot with Crazy Punk as its first presenter who was a DJ and had other commitments elsewhere, which presented a bit of a challenge for the show in terms of time and availability. Then, Advocate Ras Sipho Mantula (Rastafarian activist / human rights lawyer) was invited to be interviewed on the show, after the interview, during a chat with Aubrey, he was invited to audition for the presenter role and he has been with the show ever since.
Ras Sipho brought in a thematic approach to the show whereby, using his knowledgeable base, used the platform to propagate Pan African reasonings linking it with the music and the culture of reggae. Another first for in the channel broadcasting history. A weekly show that was unashamedly and unapologetically African. The show gained audiences outside the reggae community to the general populace who are interested in African teachings, thereby introducing them to the sounds and history of Reggae and how it links back to Africa.
Throughout the eight year history, the show has seen changes and faced a lot of challenges. One being not able to find a female co-presenter who would join Ras Sipho in taking the show forward, a sore point for the Ras as he feels strongly about having a balance of nature. Although there have been female presenters over the years, none of them stayed and committed to the show as other promising ventures lured them away. The other challenge was the time slot of the show, it has been changed so many times that a lot of viewers had lost track and thereby loosing interest. It was also cut down from being an hour to half an hour, a set back that saw live interviews being taken off the show, the Book and CD Review Slot that was hosted by El Supreme was also sadly axed. “But all this will change in the near future”, explained Aubrey the Producer of the show. We are in talks with management about regaining our 1 hour slot. “We have already secured a fixed airing time slot now, and now moving ahead with negotiations of reinstating the 1 hour slot” he explained further.
Reggae Vibes on Soweto TV has seen a lot of artists, producers, news makers, practitioners, activists, pan Africanists, elders of the movement and international acts pass through Vilakazi Street Reggae studios for interviews and reasonings. They have covered events and interviewed legends on their show. An archive that will surely contribute to the visual construction of Reggae history in South Africa. Reggae lovers and practitioners are invited to send in their news, music for reviews, releases, videos to be featured on the show. Contact them on their Facebook Page:Reggae Vibes Soweto TV
Reggae Vybz Soweto TV airs on Thursdays at 1900 on DSTV Channel 251.