OPRAH WINFREY: “Women are going to save South Africa”

“Women are going to save South Africa” – Oprah praised for powerful speech in Soweto
Twitter Nelson Mandela

|CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA! NO!|Celebrated TV personality and humanitarian Oprah Winfrey was applauded for the powerful words she shared at the Is’thunzi Sabafazi (Dignity of Women) talk at the UJ Soweto Campus on Thursday

South Africa will celebrate 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela in 2018, with special holiday packages, new openings, projects and events.

South Africa will celebrate 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela in 2018, with special holiday packages, new openings, projects and events.

He was born Rolihlahla Mandela on July 18, 1918, into a royal family of the Xhosa-speaking Thembu tribe in the South African village of Mvezo

HISTORY

Oprah was invited by Madiba’s widow and fellow humanitarian Graça Machel to be part of the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 celebrations.

Oprah opened her speech by telling the audience that this was her 36th visit to SA and reminisced fondly about how she got to have 29 meals with Madiba.

Oprah said that, even though Madiba could have been filled with so much bitterness over the apartheid government, he chose to be grateful for the lessons he learned.

MANDELA 100: JAY-Z AND BEYONCÉ Headline Global Citizen Festival In Cape Town, South Africa

Preacher Andres Bonsu, Bono and Beyoncé Knowles on stage at the '46664 - Give One Minute of Your Life to AIDS' concert at Greenpoint Stadium on November 29, 2003, in Cape Town, South Africa. Beyoncé will headline the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100.

Preacher Andres Bonsu, Bono and Beyoncé Knowles on stage at the ‘46664 – Give One Minute of Your Life to AIDS’ concert at Greenpoint Stadium on November 29, 2003, in Cape Town, South Africa. Beyoncé will headline the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100.

|CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA! NO!|The Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100, marking a century since South African president and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela was born, takes place Sunday, December 2, in his home country with Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Ed Sheeran headlining in the name of ending extreme poverty.

Other performers in the festival at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg include Pharrell Williams, Chris Martin, Usher, Wizkid, Cassper Nyovest, D’Banj, Eddie Vedder, Femi Kuti, Kacey Musgraves, Sho Madjozi and Tiwa Savage.

The festival, free for fans who take anti-poverty actions, begins at 2 p.m. local time, which is 7 a.m. EST. It will be livestreamed on YouTube below:

Preacher Andres Bonsu, Bono and Beyoncé Knowles on stage at the ‘46664 – Give One Minute of Your Life to AIDS’ concert at Greenpoint Stadium on November 29, 2003, in Cape Town, South Africa. Beyoncé will headline the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100.

Ahead of the event, Beyoncé penned a letter to Mandela, who was born on July 18, 1918, and died in 2013.

“I first met you in 2004 at the 46664 AIDS Benefit Concert in Cape Town, and the impact you have had on my life resonates with me today and every day,” the American singer wrote in the letter she posted on her website. “Your kindness and gratitude for every experience, and your ability to forgive are lessons I have learned and will pass on to my three children. My entire family holds you in high regard.”

Beyoncé continued: “It is an honor for me to travel to South Africa this week in celebration of you and your efforts to right so many wrongs. You were a strategic warrior, a bold activist, and charismatic and well-loved leader. Your vision for dignity, for human rights, for peace and a South Africa free of racism and apartheid, allows us all to turn dreams into reality.”

South African President Cyril Ramphosa Says No Land Grabs In SA


President Cyril Ramaphosa and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Picture: GCIS

|AIWA! NO!|CAPE TOWN – President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised land expropriation without compensation will not be carried out through land grabs. He says the process will be done within the confines of the law. He was assuring investors.

“Our country is based on a rule of law. We have got strong institutions that don’t only protect investors, but people,” said Ramaphosa.

He said the people have turned to the courts each time they wanted to take on the government.

“Land reform is conducted through the most judicious manner in our structures including Parliament,” said Ramaphosa.German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is in the country on a state visit, told Ramaphosa on Tuesday that South Africa would remain attractive to investors.

He said he will encourage more German companies to invest in South Africa.

Steinmeier said there were currently more than 500 German companies in South Africa and they employ more than 100 000 people.

The Constitutional Review Committee in Parliament last week adopted the report on the expropriation of land without compensation.

The report will be debated in the Chamber next week.

But opposition parties have promised to challenge the report in court. They have argued the process followed did not follow all procedures required including dealing with the 700 000 written submissions.

EU – Zimbabwe Must Be Supported, South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa Appeals To European Union

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said his campaign to become leader of the ruling ANC last year received a payment from a firm with links to his son and that he previously and inadvertently gave incorrect information about it to parliament. The donation is being returned.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said his campaign to become leader of the ruling ANC last year received a payment from a firm with links to his son and that he previously and inadvertently gave incorrect information about it to parliament. The donation is being returned.

By CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA! NO!|Zimbabwe was on the agenda in talks South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa had with European Union (EU) leaders on Thursday.

During a media briefing, Ramaphosa said he discussed the importance of Zimbabwe and the lifting of any sanctions still in place against that country.

“Zimbabwe is on a path of great reforms. This needs to be supported, as Zimbabwe has turned a corner,” Ramaphosa said during the briefing.

He further noted that accelerating investment, focusing on climate change and women’s rights all formed part of global matters he discussed with his EU hosts.

“The EU is SA’s largest trading partner. Exploring opportunities for further investment and the investment climate, especially in SA, is of great importance,” said Ramaphosa.

“The EU agreed to strengthen cooperation in skills development in SA and in promoting entrepreneurship.”

Ramaphosa said the digital transformation of the SA economy in an inclusive manner was another area that needed to be supported.

As for the issue of land reform – on which Ramaphosa had been questioned before during his current visit to the EU – he merely mentioned that it was among the issues on the agenda with his EU hosts.

“We also focused on how we can best strengthen investor confidence in SA,” said Ramaphosa.

A further issue he said was important for SA and the EU to cooperate on was multilateralism.

“We should focus on the issue of multilateralism and make sure the unilateralism promoted by some countries does not lead to huge problems for many countries around the world,” he cautioned.

“The EU is a friend and ally willing to support us as we continue to enhance reforms we have embarked upon. We intend to grow our economy and address unemployment, inequality and poverty.”

South Africa’s Zulus join white farmers in fight against government land seizures

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini: “Because when government started talking about the appropriation of land, expropriation without compensation, Boers downed tools. There is no food in South Africa,”

South Africa’s Zulu nation joins white farmers in fight against government land seizures
© Reuters / Rogan Ward

|AIWA! NO!|The largest ethnic group in South Africa, Zulu, has spoken out against the expropriation of land without compensation in the country. Zulu is ready to cooperate with the country’s white farmers, known as Afrikaners or Boers.

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has said the group will cooperate with South African minority rights group AfriForum.

“The Zulu nation I’m talking about will not exist if we don’t have food. That’s why I say farmers must come closer so that we discuss what we can do when we talk about agriculture and the availability of enough food in the land. That’s why I’m asking AfriForum of the Boers to come and help us,” Zwelithini said, as quoted by eNews Channel Africa.

“Because when government started talking about the appropriation of land, expropriation without compensation, Boers downed tools. There is no food in South Africa,” he added.© Dimitri Otis

Zulu people are the largest ethnic group inth an estimated 10-12 million people living mainly in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. The group accounts for more than a fifth of the country’s population and its opinion is important in the context of the general elections next year. South Africa, wi

“Anyone who wants to be voted for and elected by us, I’m going to talk now, anyone who wants to be elected by us must come and kneel here and commit that I will never touch your land,” the Zulu King said.

While kings have no official power in modern South Africa, they still have the loyalty of millions of people and are recognized in the constitution as traditional leaders.

The land expropriation program run by President Cyril Ramaphosa is designed to redistribute land to poor black people to tackle severe inequality 24 years after the end of apartheid. It mostly involves lands owned by Boers, whites primarily of Dutch descent. However, the program has aroused discontent among the Zulus, too.

The Zulu King said he is waiting for a meeting with the president. “He (Ramaphosa) must come here… and say it, write it down in an agreement and sign off that the land of the Zulus will not be touched,” Zwelithini said.

Trump Information-sphere – Debunking with data; Insights From Fact-checkers Around The World

CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA!NO!|EJC|Ever wondered if a politician’s claims really add up? Or perhaps you read a news story which seemed a little fishy? Armed with data, fact-checking organisations across the globe work tirelessly to help separate these facts from fiction, and any misnomers in-between.

To find out more about debunking with data, European Journalism Centre (EJC) gave subscribers to their data newsletter access to a global group of fact-checkers for an exclusive; “Ask Me Anything“.

How about starting with the most recent one; US President Trump’s UN LIE of the ‘century and centuries’ to come;  “In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country,” line which drove the listeners into murmurs and laughter – mockery.2018-09-26

The world just laughed out loud at Donald Trump. That day, during the president’s address to the United Nations General Assembly, the audience laughed when Trump boasted that “my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.”

As soon as the words left Trump’s mouth, a ripple of laughter traveled through the crowd and grew as Trump reacted to the guffaws

An unnecessary and embarrassing spectacle at that; if you ask me. Of course the humongous CLAIM was debunked as quickly as it was uttered; by the laughter of the audience and the world; also later on; hours later if I remember correctly, by Donald Trump himself;  

On the one hand, that is a pretty even-keeled response from someone as tantrum-prone as Trump.

Reader question: Can you share some good examples or best cases where data has been successfully used for fact-checking?

Anim van Wyk, Chief Editor, Africa CheckGood data aids good fact-checking, which need to point out exactly what the data can and can’t tell you. The more limitations, the less certain the answer becomes.

For example, it’s easy to use data from the World Health Organization’s Global Ambient Air Quality database to rank cities according to their pollution levels. But the fine print shows that these entries aren’t comparable. This is due to differences in the methods and quality of measurements – and the fact that some cities suspected to be the most polluted don’t report data to the WHO.

Samar Halarnkar, Editor, Factchecker.in: Data are [we never use the singular!] the foundation of fact-checking.

One example: The Indian telecommunications minister announced that within a year of taking charge, his administration ensured that the government-run telecoms behemoth, BSNL, had turned a operating profit, after seven years of losses, and had added subscribers. After a meticulous examination of data–including right-to-information requests–we found that operating profits did not mean the company had turned profitable; indeed net losses had increased, and the minister had, conveniently, not mentioned that more subscribers left than were added.

After a new right-wing government took over in 2014, there were many reports of lynchings, especially of minorities, based on violence related to cows, considered holy by many Hindus. The ruling party and its adherents insisted these were isolated incidents, were never reported before and were not related to the extreme version on Hinduism that they promoted. A debate raged nationwide, poisoning politics and society, made worse by the absence of data–national crime records did not register crimes related to bovines. At Factchecker.in, we created a database of each such crime from 2010 onwards, so that crime patterns could be compared with those after 2014, when the new government took office. Our database–now widely quoted in India and abroad–clearly shows that the overwhelming majority of the victims of such lynchings are minorities, in particular Muslims, and most violence has occurred in states run by India’s ruling party.

Image: Factchecker.in’s interactive database of cow-related violence in India.

Matt Martino, Online Editor, RMIT ABC Fact Check: Politicians in Australia often like to speak about records, both when attacking opponents and spruiking their achievements. A famous example in our unit was when the ruling Coalition Foreign Minister said that when the Opposition Labor Party were last in government, they bequeathed the “worst set of financial accounts” in Australia’s history to their incoming government. This particular fact-check took several months of work sourcing data from the history books on debt and deficit. We were able to find data on federal government surpluses and deficits, plus gross debt, stretching back to 1901, and on net debt handed over to incoming governments back to the 1970s. It’s a great example of where a claimant has used the raw number in place of a percentage, which puts the figure in historical context. In this case, experts told us that these figures must be expressed as a percentage of GDP to enable historical comparisons. Ultimately, we found that the Foreign Minister’s claim was wrong, as there were far larger (as a percentage of GDP) inherited deficits recorded during WWII, far larger gross debt inherited in the same period, and far larger net debt bequeathed to a government during the 1990s.

Dinda Purnamasari, Senior Researcher, Tirto.id: Data is the soul of fact-checking. But not just data, more importantly, the context of data itself is what makes our fact-check more reliable.

First, on 2 May 2017, Jake Van Der Kamp, an economist, shared an opinion entitled “Sorry President Widodo, GDP rankings are economists’ equivalent of fake news”. At that time, Kamp quoted a statement from President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) that Indonesia’s economic growth was third in the world, after India and China.

‘GDP is an attempt to emulate the corporate world by putting money numbers on performance but… with GDP you get no equivalents of the corporate balance sheet or profit and loss account and no notes to the accounts’“Indonesia’s economic growth is the third in the world, after India and China,” said Indonesian president Joko Widodo.

Third in the world, is it? What world is that? Within Asia alone I count 13 countries with higher reported economic growth rates than Indonesia’s latest 5.02 per cent.

They are India (7.5), Laos (7.4), Myanmar (7.3), Cambodia (7.2), Bangladesh (7.1), Philippines (6.9), China (6.7) Vietnam (6.2), Pakistan (5.7), Mongolia (5.5), Palau (5.5), Timor-Leste (5.5) and Papua New Guinea (5.4).

But of course President Widodo’s Indonesia is a very populous country with 261 million people. We cannot really compare it with pipsqueak places like Timor or Palau. Thus let’s draw the line at the 200 million people or more.

This gives us six countries across the world and, in terms of economic growth, Indonesia is in the bottom half of these six behind India, China and Pakistan. Try it at a cut-off of 100 million people or more and you still get no luck. Bottom half again.

Way to go, Joko. Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story. We’ll make a journalist of you yet.

 

After this opinion became an issue in Indonesia, Tirto.id decided to verify the data that had been used by Jokowi. We looked at data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and based on that we concluded that Indonesia was not in the third position using general criteria, but instead ranks third among BRICS and high populated countries.

Image: A graph from tirto.id’s fact-check, showing that Indonesia is ranked third out of the BRICS countries.

Second, in early August 2018, the Vice Governor claimed that their policy of odd-even traffic limitation had reduced air pollution in Jakarta. His statement became an issue, and even some media quoted his data. We verified the data using measurements from the Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (Badan Meteorologi, Klimatologi, dan Geofisika – BMKG) and the US Embassy. Based on those, his statement was incorrect. The average of air pollution in Jakarta was still high and did not appear to be decreasing.

Tania Roettger, Head of Fact-Checking Team, Correctiv/EchtJetzt: Fact-checking only works for statements of fact, not opinions. So ideally there is data available to verify claims. We regularly use statistics about topics like crime, HIV-rates or jobs. If there are statistics on a topic, we will consult them. Of course, statistics differ in quality depending on the topic and who gathers the data.

Earlier this year, we debunked the claim that refugees sent 4.2 Billion Euros to their home countries in 2016. Data from the German federal bank showed that the 4.2 Billion Euros in remittances actually came from all migrants working in Germany for more than a year, not specifically from refugees. Most of the money, 3.4 Billion Euros, went to European countries, followed by Asia (491 Million) and Africa (177 Million).

Image: Correctiv/EchtJetzt rated the statement as four on their seven point rating scale.

Reader question: Have you seen examples where the same data has been manipulated to support both sides of an argument? If so, how do you ensure that your way of looking at the data isn’t biased?

Anim van Wyk: At Africa Check, we’re fond of the quip that some people use statistics “as a drunken man uses lamp posts – for support rather than illumination”. Depending on what you want to prove, you can cherry-pick data which supports your argument.

An example is different stances on racial transformation in South Africa, or the lack thereof. A member of a leftist political party said in 2015 that  “whites are only 10% of the economically active population but occupy more than 60% of the top management positions.” The head of the Free Market Foundation, a liberal think-tank, then wrote: “Blacks in top management… doubled.”

Both were right – but by presenting only a specific slice of the same data source to support their argument.

Again, you need to find out what the data cannot tell you and try to triangulate by using different data sources.

Image: Africa Check’s ‘mostly correct’ verdict means that a claim contains elements of truth but is either not entirely accurate, according to the best evidence publicly available at the time, or needs clarification.

Matt Martino: A great example of this was the debate over “cuts” and “savings” to health and education during the early days of the Abbott Coalition government in Australia. The government argued that they were making a “saving” on health and education by reducing the amount spent on what the previous Labor government had budgeted to spend. Labor, now in opposition, argued that this was in fact a cut. We investigated the figures and found that the Coalition was still spending above inflation so it couldn’t be called a cut, but the projections the Coalition had made about savings were over such a long period of time that it was difficult to say whether they would come to pass. In the end we called the debate “hot air”.

How do we make sure we’re looking at the data the right way? We always rely on several experts in the field to guide our analysis and tell us the right way to interpret the data. We’re not experts in any of the topics we explore, whilst academics can spend their entire careers researching a single subject, so their advice is invaluable.

Dinda Purnamasari: In our experience, many use the right data, but the context is incorrect. Then, the data becomes incredible.

For example, reports that PT Telkom (state-owned telecommunication company in Indonesia) had provided Corporate Social Responsibility funds of around IDR 100 million to a Mosque and, in comparison, IDR 3.5 billion to a church.

We found that the numbers (IDR100 million and IDR3.5 billion) were right, but the purpose of the funding was incorrect. The 100 million was granted by PT Telkom in 2016 to pay the debt from a mosque renovation process. On the other hand, 3.5 billion was granted to renovate the old church, which also became a cultural heritage site in Nusa Tenggara Barat in 2017.

In this case, again, the context of data becomes an important thing in fact-checking. We must understand the methodology and how the data was gathered or estimated, even by double-checking on the ground, if needed.

Tania Roettger: Crime-data is a good example. In 2017 crime rates in Germany went down. But the statistic only shows the crimes that have been reported to the police. This has lead some politicians to claim that crime has not actually gone down and that the statistics are “fake news“.

When the meaning of data is debated, we consult independent experts to collect arguments about how the data can or should be interpreted. Or we look at alternative sources, for example the surveys some German states conduct with people about the crimes they experienced but did not report. (However, the validity of these surveys is disputed.)

Samar Halarnkar: In this era of fake news, data are often used to reinforce biases.

For instance, there was much self congratulation when the government claimed that India’s forests grew by 6,779 sq km over the two years to 2017. We found that this was not wrong because that is what the satellite imagery revealed. But what it did not reveal was that these new “forests” included forests converted to commercial plantations, as well as degraded and fragmented forests, and that the health of these forests was being gauged by satellite imagery with inadequate resolution. Indeed, numerous studies had recorded a steady degradation of forests over nearly a century.

Image: Factchecker.in found that this map of forest coverage was not what it seemed. Credit: India’s state of forest report (ISFR) 2017.

Indian remote-sensing satellites produce images with a resolution of 23.5 metres per pixel, which is too coarse to unequivocally identify small-scale deforestation and cannot distinguish between old-growth forests and plantations. To make that distinction, India needs imagery with resolution of 5.8 m per pixel.

So, all data are not always what they appear. They need to be verified and cross-checked, either with studies, other databases or ground reporting.

Reader question: How do you fact-check stories or statements when data on an issue isn’t available?

Anim van Wyk: It’s really unsatisfactory to use our “unproven” verdict, but sometimes the evidence publicly available at the time “neither proves nor disproves a statement”, as we define this rating. Still, the absence of data doesn’t mean anything goes in making statements of fact about a topic. We then point out what is known and what isn’t.

Samar Halarnkar: If data are not available–or independently verified data are not available–there is only one substitute: Verification through old-fashioned, shoe-leather reporting.

For instance, India’s Prime Minister once claimed that his government had built 425,000 toilets within a year. With no independent verification, this claim was hard to dispute. Obviously, it was impossible to verify that 425,000 new toilets had indeed been built in all of India’s schools. But after sending reporters to conduct random verifications in eight Indian states, it quickly became apparent that the Prime Minister’s claim was–to put it plainly–a lie.

Matt Martino: RMIT ABC Fact Check tests the veracity of claims made by politicians and public figures in Australia. If someone is making a claim to influence policy, our position is that they should have good evidence to back it up. Lack of evidence is no excuse so we try and persevere regardless.

Sure, this often leads to less-exciting verdicts, such as “unverifiable” or “too soon to know” but the verdict is not the be-all-and-end-all of a fact-check. In these situations, we explore what data is out there; we consult experts in the field for their opinion, and we present it to the audience as best we can so they can see how we’ve come to our decision.

Video: More detail on how RMIT ABC Fact Check finds and checks claims.

Dinda Purnamasari: If the data isn’t available, we will place it as unproven, though this flag is unsatisfactory. But, before we conclude the issue as unproven, we still explain the verification steps that we undertook. This is because we want citizens to understand that, when tirto.id places a claims as unproven, it means we could not find the credible source of the information.

As an example, one of our politicians stated that the LRT development cost for 1 KM was USD 8 billion. After we checked reliable and credible sources, and we couldn’t find the information, then we concluded the issue as unproven.

Tania Roettger: “Knife crime on the rise“ is a recent story, but the federal crime statistics do not list crimes committed with knives as a special category. Some states in Germany do, but among them, they differ in what they count as knife crime. That definitely does not make our work easier.

In cases like this, we source as much information for a claim as is available. If it turns out the material is not sufficient to verify or debunk the claim, we list what is known and clearly state what is missing. If there is no convincing tendency we give the rating “unproven”. But it is important to keep in mind that those making a claim also carry a burden of proof – if one makes a statement of fact, it needs to be based on evidence. This is one of the things we’re trying to show with our work.

Reader question: Are there any established guidelines for determining the reliability of a data source? How does your organisation determine which data is appropriate to use?

Samar Halarnkar: We do not have established guidelines. In general, we consider if the data source is reliable. Sometimes, it might not entirely reliable; for example, a government source, in which case we use the data but cross check with experts, independent studies and/or our own checks. Some public databases are largely reliable: for instance, government-run databases on health, farming and education. We do not consider those data that have previously proven to be compromised or are doubtful.

Matt Martino: We don’t have any hard rules around it, but generally the source should be a non-partisan organisation. In Australia, we rely heavily on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which is a government organisation which has a reputation for providing objective data on a range of issues. This is an example of a good source.

When considering a source, it’s always pertinent to ask: “what is their agenda?” If their motivations for providing data might influence the data in a partisan way, it’s best to leave it alone. As always, it’s a good idea to consult experts in the field on what is the best source to use in verifying a claim.

Dinda Purnamasari: Since we already know that every data has their own nature, such as context, methodology, etc, we have established a standard for the secondary data that is used. Our first level of the source comes from the Government Statistic Bureau, Ministry/Local Government, company financial reports and the stock exchange. As a second layer, we use world organisations, verified and credible journals, consultants and research companies, as well the national or high reputation news agencies. Although, we have this standard, we also cross-check information by consulting with experts in the field, so that we use the best sources.

Tania Roettger: When we’re investigating a claim, one task is to understand what exactly a given piece of data is able to tell. We establish how and why it was collected, what it contains and it excludes. Usually we note the shortcomings of a statistic in the article. Whenever we are uncertain about the evidence we have gathered, we discuss the issue among our team.

Anim van Wyk: There’s no way round studying the methodology by which the data is collected. This must then be discussed with experts to get their input. And all data sources, even those considered reliable, have limitations, which has to be highlighted.

Reader question: What do you think about the potential of automated fact-checking?

Samar Halarnkar: I am sure it has immense potential, but this requires coding expertise that we do not currently have.

Tania Roettger: There are several ways in which automation could help the fact-checking process: extracting fact-checkable claims from speeches or sourcing relevant statistics and documents from a data-pool, for example. But so far we have not experienced or heard of a tool that would do our work for us.

Image: An overview of out automation could aid fact-checking from Understanding the promise and limits of automated fact-checking, by Lucas Graves.

Matt Martino: It’s an interesting area, but one which is currently undercooked. Parsing language is a big part of what we do at Fact Check, and machines are not yet capable of interpreting a great deal of the nuance in language. That being said, anything that allows greater access to the facts in a debate for audiences would be a good thing.

One area where there is already enormous potential is in searching for and identifying potential claims to check and key data on government website such as Hansard and budget papers.

I think that, like a lot of AI, there’s a long way to go, and we’ll be watching this space intently.

Anim van Wyk: The tools I’ve seen are helpful in monitoring important sources for claims to fact-check, such as transcripts from parliament. But I’m quite hesitant about fact-checks without any human intervention as nuance plays such a big role. The potential of getting it completely wrong when you are the one claiming to be correcting claims is not worth the potential credibility loss, in my opinion.

Dinda Purnamasari: It is very interesting, and could make the fact-checker’s work easier. But, for us, it is still long way to go. But, more importantly, to provide the context to data that I am sure is still hard to do by machine.

Reader Question: What are some of your go-to data tools?

Anim van Wyk: You’t can beat a good old spreadsheet. For illustration purposes, we keep it simple by using Datawrapper.

Samar Halarnkar: We use Tabula for extracting tables from PDFs. For analysis, we depend on Excel/Google Sheets and Tableau depending on the size and type of the dataset. For visualisation, we work primarily with Google Sheets, Datawrapper, Infogram and Tableau. We also use Google My Maps and CartoDB for some maps.

Matt Martino: We use Excel or Google spreadsheets for simple analyses; for more complex ones I use R Studio, which is more powerful and can handle much larger datasets. It requires coding knowledge, but the training is well worth it.

In terms of visualisation, we’ve tried many different platforms throughout the years, but Tableau Public has emerged as our go-to. Its abilities in formatting, design, calculation and visualisation are pretty much unrivalled in my opinion, and we’ve been able to create really interesting and rich visualisations using the platform, like those seen here and here.

Dinda Purnamasari: For analysis, we use excel, SPSS, and other statistical tools. It really depends on the purpose, size and type of our data and analysis. For visualisation, we use adobe illustrator, datawrapper, etc.

Want to participate in future ask me anythings? Sign up to the European Journalism Centre’s data newsletter here.

Mandela My Life is a welcome tribute to a hero, but avoids difficult questions

It is a welcome tribute to a hero, but  ‘Mandela My Life’ exhibition avoids difficult questions; Andrea Witcomb, Professor, Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies, Deakin University

Detail from Father of the Innocents, from the series, Mandela A Life’s Journey, by John Meyer.

Review: Mandela My Life, Melbourne Museum.


AIWA! NO!//The desire to eulogise, as often appears to be the case in this exhibition, does not allow space for questions that might allow for a fuller explication of the nature of Mandela’s legacy and its relevance beyond South Africa.

What is the role of commemorative exhibitions that focus on the life of a single change agent I asked myself, as I viewed Melbourne Museum’s latest blockbuster, Mandela My Life: The Official Exhibition.

The result of an international collaboration between Museums Victoria, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and IEG exhibitions, the exhibition is billed as a major international event that “will commemorate, illuminate and most importantly share Nelson Mandela’s living legacy with the world” on the centenary of his birth.

At first glance I doubted that these aims could be achieved. The tone of the exhibition could be accused of being hagiographic, given the ostensible reason for the exhibition – to celebrate the centenary of Mandela’s birth – as well as its narrative structures, which blended Mandela’s own words with the editorialising of the Mandela Foundation. This lent support to the claim that this exhibition was the “official” version of how to interpret the meaning of Mandela’s life.

Keith Bernstein

Read more: Revisiting Nelson Mandela’s roots: a photographic exploration


Organised chronologically, the exhibition follows Mandela’s life. It begins with his birth in the Transkei region of South Africa, where he was initiated into his tribe’s traditional cultural practices and knowledge systems and attended a mission school.

The exhibition then follows him as he decides to leave his homeland for Johannesburg, where his experiences under apartheid radicalised him, leading on towards his role as a leader in the African National Congress, and his eventual imprisonment. His resilience while in prison and his leadership of the new post-apartheid South Africa led him to become the revered figure he is today.

This simple chronological narrative is given emotive force by three elements that come into play.

The first of these is the sound of Mandela’s voice at key moments. These include his famous Rivonia Trial speech in which he stated that he was prepared to die for the anti-apartheid movement.

Others are his memories of his childhood in the Transkei, his reflections on his time in prison, and his speech when he was freed, where his conciliatory approach to ending apartheid set the tone for what was to follow. Mandela’s voice guides us through the exhibition, supported by a rich display of personal photographs, letters and personal objects carefully preserved by the Mandela Foundation.

Boxing glove signed by Muhammad Ali.
Nelson Mandela Foundation. Photo: Jon Augier/Museums Victoria

These are then contrasted with the evidence of apartheid from material borrowed or reproduced from other collections and media organisations, which provides the second element. The role of these sources is to lend authority to the human rights claim that apartheid was an unjust system – they are the evidence of what goes wrong when equality between humans is not respected.

The third element is the visitor – a visitor who already knows the end of the story and believes in its righteousness. Mandela was on the right side of history.

None of this is wrong of course. But the desire to eulogise, as often appears to be the case in this exhibition, does not allow space for questions that might allow for a fuller explication of the nature of Mandela’s legacy and its relevance beyond South Africa.

Read more: Centenary of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s birth: a tribute in poems

For instance, the final gallery shows a series of 16 paintings by John Myer, retelling Mandela’s life story and giving body to South African’s pride in the achievements of this extraordinary man. This could have been the moment, however, when his legacy could have been broadened out and key themes explored and thus gone beyond the outpouring of grief on his death, captured by the 95 messages of condolence, one for each year of his life – available in the penultimate gallery via a table full of telephone handsets.

Melbourne MuseumPrepared to Die, from the series Mandela A Life’s Journey, by John Meyer.

Beyond the obvious answer – he was a hero who fought apartheid and won – what is it that those fighting for human rights can learn? What are the difficult questions his activism raises for those fighting on behalf of the oppressed? And, finally, are there other contexts in which his life might have meaning?

In an Australian context, some of the answers were alluded to in the speeches on opening night, which pointed to the relevance of Mandela’s activism for Australians fighting for Indigenous rights. Such speeches go some way towards explaining why the Melbourne Museum, which is aligned with human rights museums and whose First Peoples Gallery is an eloquent articulation of the need for treaty, is host to this exhibition.

But I would also argue that Mandela’s life is relevant to all of us at this particular juncture in time – a time when we need to hang on to the hope that change is both necessary and possible and that the actions of ordinary, everyday people can bring it about. This is as true for situations of unequal power relations as for other complex problems, such as what to do about climate change.

Mandela was an extraordinary man – but he was also supported by many others, both within and outside South Africa, all of whom believed in the necessity of change. Mandela is important because we need to have figures who show us that hope, resilience and leadership is still possible when those values are valued by all of us.

The exhibition does not make these points itself – but perhaps it is enough that such points can be made by those who visit it and reflect upon it. Even so, I wish there was less emphasis on the authorised, official nature of the exhibition, which, for me, closed down the potential for some really interesting discussions on the nature of change and how to achieve it.


Mandela My Life is being exhibited at the Melbourne Museum until March 3 2019.The Conversation

Andrea Witcomb, Professor, Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies, Deakin University

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