The Bona Retsang television show is about to find a new home on the public broadcaster SABC 1, where it has the potential to reach millions of young South Africans. In preparation, the team has begun gearing up to meet the needs of being on the national broadcaster. This has meant the addition of a second show per week and added pressures to an already busy schedule for its journalists and programme makers. To understand the team’s preparedness, I decided to get an insiders view of what it takes to go national on SABC 1.

Vuselela Media Bona Retsang Crew and Cast 2014

It is 11am on Thursday and the Bona Retsang production team go through the motions before the taping of the show. P.K and Zack Attack, the show’s hosts, do their own make-up as they talk through the script and joke with the technical crew who move around them adjusting lights and moving the set into place. The soundman places microphones on the hosts who respond as if on auto-pilot moving their arms, hair and collars to accommodate the hidden microphones. The show’s producer and director, Shane Potgieter, does a quick run through with the team seeing if the script is clear. Shane is no stranger to the pressures of national television as he produces a live show each morning which features content from Bona Retsang community journalists called “Geleza Nathi ”. The Bona Retsang team continue to set- up and rehearse, everyone focused on their own job and getting it done right. The mood is very different from everything that has lead up to this moment. “We can’t stuff this up” says Shane “This is the national broadcaster”.

Zack Attack and Phetile PK Khuzwayo on set of Bona Retsang

It’s Monday 9am and the production office is a hive of activity. Everyone involved in the show is on a computer, a tablet, the landline or a cellphone. They are all looking for stories, a rush before the 9:30 editorial meeting, which will decide on the content for this week’s show. The stories they are searching for are not necessarily the big stories; rather these are the stories that matter to the audience. According to P.K (Phetitle Khuzwayo) who, when not hosting the show, is also one of its producers; “Bona Retsang means look at what we are doing. We are not just reporting, we are reporting with a positive twist, we are looking for those stories of young people making a difference, facing challenges and overcoming them.” Part of the content needed for the show is gathered from community journalists shot on handi-cams and edited with basic editing software, some of the content is cellphone-shot community journalism from across the country and some of the content is shot by interns learning the ropes at Vuselela –media, the company that produces Bona Retsang. The result is that there is a constant hum of hushed chatter, the toggle sounds of a mouse and the clicking of keyboards as stories are developed.

Someone blurts “It’s 9:30” and the team scramble out to their editorial meeting.

Bona Retsang Mthoba REeading the news

Beside the various reports and community journalism pieces that make up the show, Bona Retsang is shot in a green screen studio. The green screen is then replaced with a very realistic set as the show is recorded. The show is shot each week as if it were live. This reduces the amount of time the team need to spend editing the show, a luxury they do not have. “Live-to-Tape” recording has the advantage of feeling like live, full of energy and first hand emotion, the only difference is that it is recorded to tape to be broadcast later. Sitting in the control room the director and vision mixer watch the show as they put it together. Calmly, more like air-traffic control than creative, commands are spoken and gracefully executed. The young intern, Sophie Robertson, sits behind the tele-prompter, a device to feed lines of dialogue to the hosts, and orchestrates its speed as P.K reads flawlessly, energetically, mixing her languages to appeal to the vast audiences who will view the programme even though the script is written in English. The team cut to a pre-recorded segment shot earlier in the week, P.K makes a joke and the whole team are in hysterics. They don’t have much time to compose themselves as they are about to be live again soon. Shane and Lebo, the shows timekeeper, count down in unison “Live in…5…4…3…2…1….”

Shane and Brendan Vuselela Media

There is tension in the air as the team continue to make phone calls, rustle up guests and find experts and subjects to interview, almost as if a ticking time-bomb is in constant countdown to the show. One of the most important considerations is finding young people to be the centre of the show who have positive stories to tell. For P.K there is an added dimension with the show heading to SABC 1, this is finding better quality guests. “Its been a challenge we set ourselves to find guests who are well known celebrities or are high profile, with important things to say. In the past we found people sort of right to interview, now we choose experts who are specific.” The change she says, has meant much higher quality but equally as much pressure.

The studio team are readying the set for an interview. This requires a newcomer to be given a microphone and get a quick briefing. While the team set up for the segment Zack Attack and the guest joke and talk about what is expected. The team seem to have it all under control as the studio manager sits patiently and posts a tweet.

PK in Action Bona Retsang

The editor-in-chief is also the journalist for this week, as much of the team is away training community journalists who will be contributing stories to Bona Retsang. Mthoba Chapi readies his crew to go and get an interview. He is in a rush, this week he will need to have 4 stories, 2 per episode. With the gear loaded the team are away, rushing across Johannesburg to Alexandria township to collect a story on recycling and how young boys have found an alternative to crime through the collecting of discarded plastic and metal for a local initiative the feeds these young men and pays them for their collections. With the move to SABC Mthoba says he is “excited and nervous, it’s a big deal”. With the show on the national broadcaster Mthoba believes that the bar has been raised as the programme is “double the pressure to produce what we did last year, twice as fast, but much much better”

Vuselela Media Bona Retsang Interview

The inserts created by Mthoba, P.K and the team are put together in edit and sound design, approved and readied for the show in studio. Across the courtyard of the Melville production offices is another building, a double story wooden office where Sarah Kiguwa-Smith co-ordinates an army of journalists. Under her command are 25 community centres across South Africa and more than 100 schools that are creating content for the show. Each episode features 3 pieces of community journalist work, either cellphone clips from schools or basic journalism shot on handicams, and it is up to Sarah to have this work ready for the show.

Vuselela Bona Retsang Studios Melville Johannesburg

The live-to-tape broadcast comes out of its second advertisement break. PK and Zack Attack are ready to start the link into the final segment of the show, the popular Boogooman Bhoba, a comedian that gives the news a funny twist through jokes and opinion. Lebo passes a stop watch to Shane. He calmly speaks into a microphone that only the hosts can hear: “P.K. we are 30 seconds short”. There is no hint of panic on their faces as P.K turns to Zack and ad-libs a 30 second discussion about the show and the week’s content.

South African Media NGO Vuselela Media

The journalists and the production team work continually. If they are not creating a story, they are researching a future production or on social media building the shows brand with loyal followers. The SABC 1 has yet to give the team their broadcast dates and until this happens the team continue to practice and prepare as they know it could be any day and quite possibly without much warning. Mthoba Chapi comments: “ We know we have room for improvement, we are working on an identity, we are working on our consistency, everyday we get better”. Producer P.K is optimistic about the show, although the proposed time slot of 4:30pm on Wednesdays and Friday afternoons is a traditionally tough slot with lots of competition. She said “We are speaking to active South Africans who want to make a difference, this is a different audience…I just hope they understand what we are doing and support it.”

The final segment of the programme plays out with funny man Boogooman’s famous catch line “Holla Black” and the show’s credits roll. The team congratulate each other and return to offices where they prepare for the next one. All in a days work.

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Bona Retsang Boogooman Bhoba Eureka Nkese

Bona Retsang Boogooman Bhoba Eureka Nkese


This week I interview Eureka Nkese, the comedian best known for his appearance on Vuselela Media’s  youth news and opinion show “Bona Retsang”.  Eureka talks about how comedy can shape the news and what could be  in store for Boogooman and Sista B fans in the future.

Check out this podcast for the interview.

An Interview with Eureka \”Boogoman Bhoba\” Nkese

Follow Boogooman on Twitter @eureka2funny or the like our Bona Retsnag Facebook page and receive the weekly video clips.


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By Jos Kuper &Lauren Shapiro

2 May 2014

(Re-blogged with persmission from The Media Online: Original source:


“The youth of today are not interested in the news” is a common belief among older media types. But research that Jos Kuper and Lauren Shapiro of Kuper Research did for presentation at a recent Wits Journalism Colloquium on the Future of News among the youth, suggests that this is not the case. What they found was that the youth are actually consuming more news these days, but are accessing it through a variety of platforms and with interesting social consequences for themselves.

It’s a common refrain among media people that young people no longer read newspapers – or much else – and the Holy Grail everyone is seeking is to find a way to entice the youth to read, and buy, papers.

This research sheds some light amidst the doom and gloom that often accompanies discussions about the future of newspapers, amidst plummeting circulations. The takeaway for newspaper publishers is there is a hunger for news and they need to find new and innovative ways to feed it and leverage their content across the different media platforms where this market is active.

Graph of News Usage

While small scale survey and video interviews with young people aged 18-25 for the Wits Future of News Colloquium  is indicative rather than definitive because of its limited scale, it does tie in with findings in several pieces of international research. In SA we found that having a base of information about current events including politics, actually secures our young people’s sense of their value in their social group.

Interactivity is the name of the game in terms of what comes in and what goes out.  The mobile generation is using the news in a more ‘fluid’ context – it flows in to them via social media like Twitter and Facebook, online, news alerts, radio, news posters and emails to name some of them. And it flows out again in many of the same ways to others in their social or work circles, but generally not before the sender has researched or interrogated the news item from multiple sources.  This generation is not as credulous as prior generations who trusted a newspaper title for example – this one needs verification before they trust themselves to send the item of news on to others. Nor do they totally trust the social media – they are careful about what they say on the social media and have a healthy concern regarding the disclosure of their private information (source: the futurefact survey, based on a national sample but excluding deep rural communities of fewer than 500 people).

Social Media Study quotes

The fluid nature of news consumption is also evident in the US where the Pew Research Centre confirms that teens’ connections have gone from stationary to moving with them throughout the day. For many mobile means spending more time with news and enables the use of multiple sources of news so that their repertoire keeps growing. In our small scale survey for Wits we found that over a half of those who access news digitally say they are consuming a lot more news than previously since they have electronic access to news platforms.

futurefact 2013 shows that 63% of 16 – 34 year olds have a smartphone compared to 44% in the 2012 survey.  This has enabled their real mobility in terms of internet access as they no longer have the need to be at an internet café or work or school to have access. But mobile also ensures they can check multiple sources and make up their own minds as to the validity or interest value of the news item before passing it on.

Digital Acess 5 Year trend

While the demise of the traditional printed version of newspapers is evident for the youth, the entrenchment of radio, another traditional medium, in the lives of the young mobile generation is palpable. The survey reveals 50% of 18 to 35s actually listen to radio on their cell phones (and also when commuting). Radio appears to serve as a prompt to a piece of news in much the same way as do the social media and news posters and in fact aggregated news sites tend to serve the same purpose.  It is worth pursuing the thought that digitally, newspaper titles would have to ensure they become the ‘primary second’ source.  The aggregated site and/or radio bulletin will probably be the initial source but if a title takes a breaking story deeper using devices that succinctly provide background, the issues for debate, and interrogation of the news item by trusted commentators, the title could well become the default subsequent ‘go to’ source.

Interestingly there is some pressure on TV as a primary news source though it is still a useful entertainment platform for them, whether on a big or small screen. Noteworthy is that reading the news is still a primary behavioural practice – but the printed version is unlikely to be the platform of choice. At this stage of their lives young people are also unlikely to shell out cash for subscribing to digital news platforms, but there is an acknowledgement that if their particular spheres of interest are catered to specifically, they may well subscribe if it is affordable and not available for free elsewhere.

In the Wits survey the young folk were asked what the news does for them personally.  A fascinating range of reasons emerged from the usual one of a need to be informed, to the belief that it equips them to engage in discussions with their peers which then feeds their need to be connected and entrenches their sense of belonging to a social group.    The political playing field is a ready source of interesting material – and futurefact shows a significant level of voting intention (over 80%) among 18-35 year olds, with 26% as yet undecided about which party to vote for.   Over 60% believe their vote can definitely make a difference and a similar proportion feels strongly that one can’t keep blaming the past for all the problems in SA today.   They yearn for a strong leader to emerge to restore order and discipline and feel that the country’s president should be elected by the people, rather than chosen by the winning political party.
Youth Vote Apathy
South African Youth Political AffiliationThe youth could arguably be called the C generation (with apologies to YouTube who coined the phrase while using it in a different context).  Young people have a commitment to and need of news that they actively pursue; they are curators of news elements via a variety of sources; they create their own NIBs (News in Briefs) or post links; they have constant connectivity to news feeds; and naturally this includes constant connectivity to social networks.   It is not a big stretch then to assume that news and its dissemination is critical for their sense of identity and community. This is good news for those publishers who get it

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Vuselela Collaborates on Blazon Article

Vuselela Media has collaborated with author Nomfundo Zakwe on her piece “Discipline vs. Child Abuse – The Invisible Line” for Blazon Magazine.

Zakwe followed the Bona Retsang crew who were collecting a story on child abuse and their interview with Dr Omar at the Teddy Bear Clinic for the weekly news.

Here is an extract from the article:

Discipline vs/Child Abuse- The Invisible Line
By Nomfundo Zakwe

“The subject of discipline can be a touchy one because of the fine line between discipline and abuse, over the years various child protection laws have been passed and reviewed. Yet still, there is a grey area. Everyone has their own method and view on child rearing and discipline, the way our parents have chosen to discipline us is very different from the way their parents did, and their parents before them. So naturally the next generation of parents have their own ideas.”

Read the full article here:

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Rainbow-nation makes comeback in new South-African Kids News.

Rainbow-nation makes comeback in new South-African Kids News..

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Vuselela partners with GivenGain


Vuselela has partnered with GivenGain, a crowd funding initiative,  to be able to gather donations for our projects in South Africa. The partnership is a way to reach out to activists who wish to join our cause and provide quality education to high school learners through dedicated tutorials and tutors and share youth views and opinions strengthening democracy in South Africa.

To support our organisation visit our GivenGain page at:

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The team behind Bona Retsng is a mixed bag. From our interns to our project managers, each plays a unique role in getting the Bona Retsang TV show and the community journalism programme done. We profile some of our unsung heroes and heroines in an eight-question interview with each of them.


Vuselela Sarah Kiguwa Smith

Sarah Kiguwa Smith

Sarah Kiguwa Smith – Project Manager/ Mother/ Scheduler/ Organizer

Sarah is the project manager for the Bona Retsang Community Journalism programme. A mother of 2 children (of her own) and to 25 young journalists across South Africa.


Who is Sarah -in 20 words or less?

Wife, mother to two toddlers (my CEOs), passionate about story telling and ready to take over the world with writing.


Before joining Vuselela what did you do?

Working for my, then, one CEO, my son Benjamin and writing scripts for corporate videos and Mzansi Magic.

Why journalism?

Stories. People.

What excites you about being part of the team in this years Bona Retsang training programme?

We have women on the training team.


What do you think is going to be a challenge for you?

We have more centers to go to this year; it is a tough juggling act.


Why do you think it’s important for young people to be given these skills?

Young people have a lot to say but often feel they are not listened to, this is an opportunity to get their voices heard. Also, communities are everywhere. No matter which part of the world you live in, you can be a community journalist and make a difference in that community.


What are you looking forward most to with regards to Vuselela and BR?

With Vuselela, working on the loveLife content and training. There are many things they do that could be expanded into, like GBV could be a project on it’s own, especially with it being a contentious issue in South Africa. I have never thought of being part of BR, it has just been the show I supply clips to every week.


Maraza Picture Vuselela Media


S’phamandla Mhlongo (a.k.a MarazA) Writer / Producer / Presenter /Facilitator

Maraza joins the team Bona Retsang roadtrip visiting 25 communities and more than 100 schools per quarter. When he is in Johannesburg he lends a hand to the creating of the Bona Retsang TV show.

Who is Maraza in 20 words or less?

A wood-burning farm-boy trying to survive in an electric city.


If you were a super hero, what special power would you have? :

The power to create multiple copies of myself, to serve as my assistants.


Before joining Vuselela what did you do? :

I travelled the country on roadshows, worked as a presenter for Channel O, and wrote copy for various promos and adverts, including one that won 2 Promax awards.


Why journalism?:

It liberates.


What excites you about being part of the team in this years Bona Retsang training programme?:

The opportunity to awaken young minds.


What do you think is going to be a challenge for you?

Creating multiple copies of myself, to serve as my assistants.


Why do you think its important for young people to be given these skills? :

Because they’ve been denied a voice for too long. Because they’ve been loud in all the wrong places.


What are you looking forward most to with regards to Vuselela and BR? :

Changing and growing lives, including my own.



Sihle Vuselela Media

Sihle Mbthani

Sihle Mbthani – Intern /Junior Trainer/Jack-of-all trades


Sihle joins Vuselela and team Bona Retsang as an intern. Having completed the community journalism programme in 2013, Sihle won a spot in the top 3 community journalists in the 2013 B Media Ys citizen journalism competition. Sihle is currently training with the national training team and helping in creating the Bona Retsang weekly news.


Who is Sihle in 20 words or less?

I want to educate young people about stories so that they can be heard.


If you were a super hero, what special power would you have?

Telekinesis, the ability to move or manipulate things with my mind.


Before joining Vuselela what did you do?

I was a volunteer and a groundBreaker at The New loveLife Trust.


Why journalism?

Journalism keeps me informed on what is currently happening our country however changing people’s lives and the community at large.


What excites you about being part of the team in this years Bona Retsang training programme?

What excites me is about being part of the team is learning from all the people who I will meet.


What do you think is going to be a challenge for you?

What I think is going to be challenging is young people who don’t have positive attitude however I am looking forward on encouraging them.


Why do you think it’s important for young people to be given these skills?

It is important for young people to be given this so they exercise their right to freedom of speech.

What are you looking forward most to with regards to Vuselela and BR?

Am looking to learn from all the people who I’ll meet at Vuselela and BR.


Sungeni Chithambo

Sungeni Chithambo

Sungeni Chithambo: Journalist/ Trainer/ Sister


One of the young women who have joined the team this year, Sungeni is taking to the road as part of our community journalism programme.


Who is Sungeni in 20 words or less?

Sungeni is a dedicated individual who loves the world of storytelling. She has a heart for meeting new people and doing new things in a world that is constantly changing!


If you were a super hero, what special power would you have?

The power to detect a need and be able to provide miraculously for that need.


Before joining Vuselela what did you do?

I worked in the PR Industry for a year, after graduating from Rhodes Journalism.


Why journalism?

There is never a dull moment in this industry. Telling stories has the power to change ideas, attitudes and actions and it excites me to know I play a role in doing that.


What excites you about being part of the team in this years Bona Retsang training programme?

It’s an opportunity to tap into untold stories from the perspective of the youth.


What do you think is going to be a challenge for you?

Hearing touching stories and knowing that sometimes I can only be an ear.


Why do you think its important for young people to be given these skills?

Nothing can be done about community issues if no one says anything. As future leaders of the country, young people need to be given the skills to tell the rest of the country what’s happening in their towns or cities.


What are you looking forward most to with regards to Vuselela and BR?

As much as this experience allows for us to give the youth a channel to voice their stories, it is a great opportunity for me not only to learn so much more about this country but about the things affecting the youth who live in it.



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The Faces of our Training Team: Getting Personal with the Personalities of Vuselela.

Vuselela Media launches its national tour to 23 communities across South Africa on March 10, 2014. The unsung heroes of our media and community journalism training are our trainers. We do a 5 minute interview to break the ice with a new face and a familiar one.

Enathi trainer Vuselela

Enathi, Junior Trainer for Vuselela Bona Retsang


Enathi Mqokeli


Journalist and Trainer for Bona Retsang

Who is Enathi -in 20 words or less?

Determined young lady from Grahamstown.

If you were a super hero, what special power would you have?

I would love to read minds


Before joining Vuselela what did you do?

I was a filmmaker at the Sustainable Seas Trust

Why journalism?

I want to report facts and educate my target audience

What excites you about being a trainer in this years Bona Retsang training programme?

Giving back to the community by educating the youth of South Africa

What do you think is going to be a challenge for you?

Having to edit ‘harsh’ personal stories. Stories that young people are dealing with like drugs, rape stories and other emotionally hard stories, but I am looking forward to the challenge.

Why do you think its important for young people to be given these skills?

I love the idea of equipping them with the necessary skills to become community journalists. I would have killed for this type of training when i was in school.

What are you looking forward most to with regards to Vuselela and BR?

Training young South Africans and using my voice to inform, educate and entertain our target audience.


Mthoba Chapi Vuselela Training Trainer Bona Retsang

Mthoba, Vuselela Senior Facilitator



Mthoba Chapi.


Vuselela Director, Journalist and senior trainer for Bona Retsang

Who is Mthoba In 20 words or less?

I want to change the world by telling stories of the voiceless.

If you were a super hero, what special power would you have?


Before joining Vuselela what did you do?

I was a researcher at Khumbul’ekhaya after graduating from Journalism school at DUT.

Why Journalism?

It helps me speak out about things that I also feel are a concern in my country.

What excites you about being a trainer in this years Bona Retsang training programme?

I like seeing change in the youth. Its encouraging when you see others gain a new skill that can be used as a catalyst for good change in the country.

What do you think is going to be a challenge for you?

Making sure we keep a consistent level on the quality of the stories we document.

What are you looking forward most to with regards to Vuselela and BR?

Seeing the stories on the national broadcaster and getting people talking about our country.

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Vuselela loveLife Community Journalism Training

Vuselela loveLife Community Journalism Training in Hartebeespoort

loveLife and Vuselela-Media are, for the second consecutive year, enrolling groundBreakers from loveLife Y Centers on a one-year media literacy course. loveLife and Vuselela-Media reached an agreement to extend the centers that receive Bona Retsang Community Journalism training from 12 to 21. The extension was the result of successful partnership that helped bring to light the issues that affected the communities that were documented from in 2013.

“We saw most groundBreakers emerge as young enthusiastic journalists from their communities that captured a variety of stories that we couldn’t have done from the national office,” said Media Wise National Manager Fikile Ntanzi.

The 2013 groundBreakers also received new skills that introduced them to the world of media as South Africa breaks into community television broadcasting.

“Most of them moved on to study journalism in tertiary. We were able to show the status of various communities on issues that affect the communities. The groundBreakers also noticed the impact they had in their communities. This began a process of active involvement. The stories also get broadcasted on television,” she said.

Each Y Center deployed their 2014 Media Wise groundBreaker to Hartbeespoort in the North West Province. The groundBreakers received a five-day Bona Retsang Community Journalism entry-level training from Vuselela-Media trainers Mthoba Chapi and Brandon Oelofse who were assisted by new trainers Sphamandla Mhlongo and Enathi Mqokeli.

Some of the groundBreakers were Mpintshis at their respective Y Centers last year. “I have learnt a lot about journalism and film making. Now I know what as story is and how to create it. I love the editing and I have gained more camera skills. I am looking forward to creating stories that will educate people in Tzaneen,” said Mamoseki Shai who was an assistant to the Lenyenye Media Wise groundBreaker in 2013.

Vuselela-Media will be doing more training at the centers by visiting each center three times this year. The training resumes in March.

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Vuselela School Training South Africa

School training in Orange Farm, Gauteng.


Vuselela Media has released the 2nd edition of its training manual for Bona Retsang Community Journalists. The interactive workbook is aimed at developing strong cellphone citizen journalism stories and will be used in schools across South Africa.

Used as a training tool and reference guide, the 2nd edition workbook builds on the lessons learned over the last two years that the programme has been run. The first edition of the manual was implemented in over 130 schools.

“The first edition book didn’t really teach how to tell personal or peoples stories, it was about technical aspects more, it also didn’t introduce the citizen journalist to how to structure a story well” Said Mthoba Chapi, senior BR trainer and journalist. BR presenter and trainer for Vuselela Maraza said, there is more to work with for the trainer. The new book focuses much more on storytelling and has had better results, and we are seeing much better work. “It takes the same amount of time in the training, but the simplicity of the new book allows to teach a much richer course in the same time,” he said.

“The final cell phone citizen journalism products show an understanding of the theory and a willingness to want to try it again” said junior facilitator and new edition to the BR team, Enathi Mqokeli.

Compiled by Brandon Oelofse for the Vuselela Academy, the workbook is aimed at giving young people in communities across South Africa the tools they need to tell well-structured and powerful stories on their cellphones.

The community journalism programme that is run through schools training is linked to Bona Retsang, a youth news and opinion show that broadcasts twice a week on national broadcaster SABC 1. The clips produced through the training programme form an item in the Bona Retsang TV show called “Wat se” (slang term meaning “what do you have to say?”).

To download a copy of the Bona Retsang Community Journalism workbook in PDF click the link below.

PDF Download of CJ Book 2nd Edition

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