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Guns Could Not Silence The Romantic Voice Of The African Night

There can be few radio stations in the world, which have broadcast for 10 days at gunpoint; few stations come back to life after 35 years—fewer still would return with the same people on air. This is the story of Africa’s first commercial station, LM Radio of Mozambique.




Nostalgia is a thing of the future as far as one of the newest old radio stations in Africa is concerned. The breezy sound of LM Radio in Mozambique is back with a vengeance, with plans to broadcast across the whole of Southern Africa.

LM Radio was about the dream as much as the sound. Hopeful songs of love and laughter from LM, Lourenco Marques—as Maputo was known in those days—the city of palm trees, prawns, piri piri, sunshine and sand. The Monte Carlo of Southern Africa where smart yellow taxis ferried holidaymakers through the wide pristine streets of the city to the aroma of ground coffee and fresh bread.

This was the Mozambique of the 1960s and 70s where LM Radio made its name. There is a generation of boardroom executives in Southern Africa who grew up listening to LM Radio, under the bed sheets or in a boarding school dormitory. LM Radio had that allure of the underground as it played records the national broadcasters of neighboring countries refused to touch. Out of the African night came the sound of the Beatles—banned in South Africa after John Lennon said they were bigger than Jesus—The Who, Herman’s Hermits, Pink Floyd with a sprinkling of home-grown pop. Many who were youngsters in that era can’t remember exactly what the national broadcasters were playing, but recall it was difficult to dance to.

Gerry Wilmot with a shrivelled orange in the wake of the seige

It was this frustration with the establishment that led to the birth of LM Radio in 1936. Advertising man, GJ McHarry, from Durban in South Africa, wanted to hear jazz on the radio. The South African Broadcasting Corporation refused to touch it, so McHarry headed north to set up a station at Radio Clube de Moçambique.

The new station hosted big band music and variety shows before studio audiences. It brought the sparkle of tinsel town, with Latin dash, into the dowdy farms, barrack rooms and mining camps of Southern Africa. It prospered in the 1950s and became hip in the 1960s and 70s. Heavens, even young Cliff Richard paid a visit to the station that played his records. By 1969, it was estimated nearly nine million people, in South Africa alone, were tuning in.

A symbol of its success was that, in 1972, the SABC bought LM Radio for a massive R60 million—a fortune back then. The National Party government was twitchy about independent radio stations broadcasting from outside South Africa’s borders. The station struggled on through the turmoil of Mozambique’s painful independence before it closed on October 12, 1975 with a simple announcement on air saying: “For us it has been 39 happy years.”  The new government in Mozambique took over the station to air educational broadcasts.

Fast forward to September 21, 2010 and radio engineer, Chris Turner, and his team were putting the finishing touches to a radio transmitter fixed to the top of a 10-story concrete block in Maputo, ahead of the first full broadcast of the revived LM Radio.

The tiny studio was also in the tower block, but has since moved to small offices in the basement of Hotel Cardoso.

“The lifts in the tower block didn’t work very well,” says Turner.

LM Radio is Turner’s dream and radio is his life. He grew up in Cape Town with one ear fixed to the radio and was an avid fan of LM Radio.

“They played Elvis, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones and you didn’t hear it anywhere else. Everyone in my age group has a memory,” he says.

Turner started a pirate radio station from his bedroom by the time he was 12. The police came to his home and closed down the station three times, but that didn’t deter Turner who grew up to train as a radio engineer.

To follow his dream, Turner and his wife sold property to raise the $3 million capital to open the station. It wasn’t easy; there were hours spent poring over Mozambique’s often pedantic bureaucracy.

The reward was that LM Radio is expected to break even in its first year, ahead of forecasts. The target is to achieve R12 million ($1.5 million) turnover in five years. It is taking advertising from South African supermarket chains to corner shops.

“We are about quarter of the way there,” smiles Turner.

LM Radio is banking on a large English-speaking population in Mozambique, largely South Africans; plus it broadcasts on medium wave in Lesotho, the Free State and in Johannesburg through community station Radio 2000. The station claims between 55,000 and 75,000 listeners a week, with a target of 125,000. Turner plans to apply to broadcast in Zimbabwe and Zambia, followed by the rest of Southern Africa where he thinks there is an even bigger pool of people who want to listen to Elton John and Abba.

“I think there is something in the music of the 1970s. It is feel good music, happy music. A lot of people write and tell us that our music lifts them up,” says Turner.

When LM Radio was reborn, in keeping with the theme of the station, there were blasts from the past. DJs, who were veterans of the original station, went back on air as if it where yesterday, rather than the last century, that they signed off. Reg de Beer, a veteran presenter who died in January, came back as did Nick Megens, a Dutch national, who had got into broadcasting at Radio Clube while working at his father’s company in Maputo.

Megens, who lives in Johannesburg, survived one of the most fraught chapters in the LM Radio story. It all began one spring morning with a frantic phone call from station manager, Gerry Wilmot, telling him to come into Radio Clube as soon as possible.

Megens was living on Catembe Island, just off the coast, and took the ferry over to Maputo. As he jumped into a taxi he knew this was no ordinary day as thousands of people running in panic through the streets of the capital buffeted the vehicle. This was September 7, 1974. I Shot the Sheriff by Eric Clapton was number one on the day Portugal signed the Lusaka Accord handing the liberation movement, FRELIMO, control of Mozambique within a year. It was a shock to many of the white Portuguese after more than four centuries of colonial rule.

“People were giving away the keys of their houses on the streets and later that day I saw people at the airport, holding one suitcase, weeping,” says Megens.

When Megens got to Radio Clube he found it bristling with guns. Armed white militia had taken over the radio station because they feared the Portuguese, or FRELIMO, may use it for propaganda. The show went on; for 10 days Megens broadcast with a couple of gun-toting militia men at his back.

“All I could think of was, ‘what happens if one of these guys goes to sleep and his gun goes off, the bullets are going to fly around the room?’”

The militia brought in supplies to their prisoners on air. The only problem was that it was just oranges and cigarettes and Megens didn’t smoke. His stomach rumbled while cartons of cigarettes piled up against his wall. Station manager, Wilmot, demanded the newspaper photograph him holding a shriveled orange in protest.

When the Portuguese Army ended the occupation by storming the radio station they lobbed in a couple of hand grenades.

“It is not a nice sound,” says Megens.

Nearly 40 years on, LM Radio is a nice sound and that is maybe why it has overcome closure, political chaos, civil war and scores of desperate men with guns.

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How To Cut The Cord: The Top Smart TVs For Streaming 2019





Freeing yourself from the shackles of cable or satellite television is easier to do than you might think, especially if you have a smart or connected television.

Smart TVs have integrated internet and interactive features that allow users to stream music and videos, browse the Web and view photos. Almost every new high-end television sold within the last two years or so has smart capabilities. So how do you choose?

If you want to take advantage of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and more, then look at these television sets.

LG C9 OLED 65-inch TV
Best smart TVs
On the streaming front, it provides a single place to browse and search for TV shows and movies from apps like Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN, PlayStation Vue, and more. LG

In addition to a beautiful, detailed picture and a big soundstage, this 4K OLED sports cutting-edge connectivity, including an HDMI 2.1, and a comprehensive feature set including both Google Home and Amazon Alexa built in. It also comes with Home Dashboard, a new tool that turns the set into the central control hub of all your connected home devices—from doorbell cameras to smart thermostats to appliances like a washing machine or a stove.

On the streaming front, it provides a single place to browse and search for TV shows and movies from sites such as Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN, PlayStation Vue, and more. It also lets users rent, purchase and watch TV shows and movies from Apple’s iTunes store.

Vizio 55-inch M-Series Quantum
Best smart tVs
This Vizio is equipped with updated SmartCast 3.0 software includes support for Apple AirPlay2 and HomeKit, making it just as suitable for iOS users. VIZIO

At under $700, the 55-inch M-Series Quantum offers a serious value in the smart TV arena. Not only does it deliver an excellent picture and sound, but it is also equipped with updated SmartCast 3.0 software, which includes support for Apple AirPlay2 and HomeKit (making it just as suitable for iOS users).

The update also has a more vibrant selection of locally installed apps, including Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu and Vudu. Thanks to a partnership with PlutoTV, the Vizio also offers a dedicated streaming channel called WatchFree, which gives you a TV-watching experience with more than 100 free channels, including sports, news, cartoons, and movies. You can also pair the set with an Amazon Echo device for voice control with Alexa.

Sony Master Series 65-inch A9F OLED TV
Best Smart TVs
This 65-incher also comes with Google Assistant capability, which lets you search for content, find online information, use online services and even control smart-home devices.SONY

If money is no object and you want a TV with loads of features, an incredible picture and terrific sound, go with the Sony A9G. The A9F is one of the first Sony Android TVs to ship with the newest version of its smart OS. The most notable names in video are preloaded, including Amazon Prime Video, Google Play Movies & TV, Hulu, Netflix, Sling TV,and YouTube. For music, Google Play Music, Pandora, SiriusXM, Spotify, Tidal and a slew of internet radio stations.

This Sony 65-incher also comes with Google Assistant, which lets you search for content, find online information, use online services and even control smart-home devices. 

TCL 43S517 Roku Smart 4K TV
Best smart TVs
The Roku TV interface is uncluttered and easy to navigate, with big square tiles for all your apps and streaming services, including Netflix and Hulu. TCL

Great things can come in packages costing less than $400. Not only will you get a terrific picture, robust sound and a slew of genuinely exciting features, this TCL 43-inch model sports Dolby Vision HDR, Dolby Atmos audio support and integrated Roku voice search.

The Roku TV interface is uncluttered and easy to navigate, with big square tiles for all of your apps and streaming services, including Netflix and Hulu. There are also apps for major broadcasters, major sports leagues, and premium channels such as HBO and Showtime. Of particular interest to cord-cutters will be support for Sling TV, which provides a cable-like experience without the expense of a cable subscription.

Insignia 43-Inch 4K Fire TV Edition
Best Smart TVs
This under $300 43-incher offers most of the apps you’d expect, like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go and HBO Now, as well as Amazon Prime Video. INSIGNIA

Amazon finally seems to have a Fire TV that can compete with the Roku-powered smart sets. This 4K television with HDR support is packed with features for the Amazon faithful, with Alexa voice interaction built-in, Amazon’s huge selection of Fire TV apps, and a smart TV experience that puts Prime Video centerstage.  

This 43-incher costs less than $300 and offers most of the streaming apps you would expect, such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go and HBO Now, as well as Amazon Prime Video. Plus, Fire TV will soon get an official YouTube app packed with services such as YouTube Kids, YouTube Music and (most critical for cord-cutters) YouTube TV.

-Chuck Tannert, Forbes

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Multi-Disciplinary Education In The 4IR Era




There is an adage that states “if you want to know the future of a nation, study the behavior of its teachers”.

The most potent force for political, economic and social progress in society is education. The measure of how great a nation will rise is determined by how many people in its population are educated. The African continent today has a total purchasing power parity gross domestic product (GDP) of $6.7 trillion, and a population of 1.2 billion people.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in 2016, sub-Saharan Africa had a literacy rate of 76% compared to 89% in South and West Asia, 87% in the Arab states and 98% in the developed nations.

This literacy rate in sub-Saharan Africa is far from adequate, and calls for urgent and practical action to improve it.

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We are living in an era characterized by the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) where technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain are changing all aspects of our lives. Factories are automating. Because of these changes, the nature of work is changing.

Many jobs are disappearing altogether, and new types of jobs are being created. For example, we now have jobs that did not exist 20 years ago, such as Data Scientists. AI is now able to diagnose severe diseases such as pulmonary embolism, epilepsy and leukemia complementing the work of medical professionals. Because of the rapid automation in the medical field, doctors today require an in-depth knowledge of technology.

These changes in society because of 4IR require new sets of skills. Are our education systems ready to capacitate our people with the requisite skills to tackle the problems of 4IR?  Do we have enough teachers at all levels of our educational systems to be able to give our people skills that will make them useful in the 4IR era? Do we have enough educational institutions to be able to skill our people? Unfortunately, the answers to these two questions are in the negative.

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Given that we do not have enough teachers nor educational institutions to provide a critical mass of our people the requisite capabilities that will help them survive in the 4IR, what is to be done? One way of tackling this problem is to take a lesson from the first Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who realized that for India to thrive in the 20th century, it needed to invest in elite technical education. In this regard, he introduced the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT).

Nehru had this to say in 1956 at the first convocation address of the first IIT in Kharagpur, a city in West Bengal: “…Here in the place of that Hijli Detention Camp stands the fine monument of India, representing India’s urges, India’s future in the making. This picture seems to me symbolical of the changes that are coming to India.”

It is vital that African countries create a few elite institutions that will drive the African continent into the 4IR. The Pan-African University supported by the African Union is a good start, but we can do more.

Additionally, these elite institutes should not be limited to higher education only but must also focus on primary and secondary education. One example in Johannesburg is the African Leadership Academy (ALA), which targets gifted 16-to-19-year-olds. Today, the ALA has alumni from 46 different countries making an impact on the political, economic, and social aspects of the African continent.

READ MORE | The 4IR Strategy To Move Forward

For us to thrive in the 4IR era also requires our educational experience to be multi-disciplinary. In our limited institutions of higher learning, students enrolled for programs in the human and social sciences must also study technological subjects.

Those enrolled in technological programs must study human and social subjects. Technological subjects should focus on the issues that confront the African continent, such as affordable and appropriate technology, limited and incomplete data, and cost-effective manufacturing.

The human and social subjects should focus on the urgent issues facing Africa today, such as social cohesion, connectivity, stability, conflict and unity. Due to the limitations of physical infrastructure and good teachers, African countries should pull their resources together and invest in online platforms to facilitate education through modern techniques such as blended and augmented learning.

The outcome of the education system, whether at primary, secondary, or tertiary levels, should be logical, numeracy and verbal skills. These skills will give our people the capacity to tackle the challenges of the 4IR such as coding, problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity and decision-making. 

– Tshilidzi Marwala is a professor, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg. He deputizes President Cyril Ramaphosa on the South African Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

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Creators Rather Than Consumers





More entrepreneurs are committing to closing the skills gap in Africa’s future job market.

In 2015, an image of a young man, Tankiso Motaung, at a street corner in the middle of Sandton, Johannesburg, holding up a placard, went viral. On the sign were the words, “I have a BTech in electrical engineering. Please help. I need a job,” along with his contact number.

The following year, an image circulated on social media of Anthea Malwandle, a young chemical engineering graduate, standing by the traffic lights, similarly, begging for a job.

What is the future of work in a digitally-led world? Is it this dismal?

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2018 Future Of Jobs Report, reveals nearly 50% of companies expect digitization will lead to a reduction in their full-time workforce. It further estimates that by 2022, 75 million jobs globally would taper off as a consequence of digital business transformation. 

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South Africa’s unemployment rate is already high. Motaung and Malwandle represent more than 50% of our youth that are unemployed. And according to Statistics South Africa, one out of three graduates will, likewise, enter the job market without any economic prospects.

But Nedbank economist, Isaac Matshego, is full of optimism. He is of the opinion that the initial job losses will be temporary.

“As humans get better acquainted and familiar with the new way of doing things and incorporating the new economic methods of production, we often see a net benefit to humanity overall,” he says.

More so, Matshego advocates that at the beginning, digitization actually requires human skills and so does the maintenance of the technology.

“That means we have to train our information technology staff,” he elaborates.

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The good news is that digital and other tech innovations will directly and indirectly produce new sources of work. The WEF report further suggests that 133 million new jobs may be created by 2022, thanks to industry 4.0.

But, for these opportunities to scale to the extent needed to address South Africa’s current employment crisis, there needs to be a strong supply of quality skills – spanning foundational skills like basic numeracy and literacy, through to advanced tech skills, according to Mark Schoeman, a manager of youth and technology at economic consulting firm Genesis Analytics.

“The first hurdle South Africa has to overcome is closing the skills gap in the short-term. There are an insufficient number of graduates with key skills in STEM being produced by educational pathways, and a qualification-job mismatch which sees graduates taking up work that does not reflect their qualification,” he says. Schoeman asserts this gap is an impediment to the country’s ability to realize new economic opportunities brought forth by technology.

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Government and private interventions have been made to ensure young people are training and learning critical skills to thrive in the changing world of work.

Heeding this call is WeThinkCode, one of the organizations fixated on future-proofing the youth. A non-profit, new-age technology school, WeThinkCode, led by Managing Director, Nyaradzai Samushanga, seeks to eradicate unemployment in the ‘tech’ economy by providing youth with skills sought after in the new world of work.

Headquartered in Johannesburg, the tuition-free school was founded in 2016 by three South Africans: Arlene Mulder, Yossi Hasson, Justinus Adriaanse and French citizen, Camille Agon. The institution enrols 430 students aged 17 – 35 years who are taught technical skills in software development including programming, graphics and algorithms.

“We do not measure success when students graduate. We measure success as placement at employment,” says Samushanga.

“All our graduates have been placed into permanent employment with a minimum entry-level salary of R20,000 ($1,408) per month… It is taking someone who could’ve fallen in between the cracks, and now they are a highly-skilled worker,” says Samushanga.

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More entrepreneurs are committing to the cause of closing the skills gap in Africa’s job market. Audrey Patricia Cheng, 25, the co-founder and CEO of Moringa School in Nairobi, Kenya, says: “We realized there was a massive gap in terms of access and also quality education. And we are seeing a massive rise in the number of jobs around technical skills because many companies are moving to the digital space.”

Since its inception in 2015, Moringa School has since trained close to 2,000 students with the necessary digital skills. Cheng is confident the continent is moving to a future where Africans would be creators of technology rather than just consumers.

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