tiema A Master of Journalism student at the Durban University of Technology graduated cum laude after completing research which investigated the effect of television soap operas on Zulu traditional marriages. Tiema Muindi, a Journalism and Media Studies lecturer, graduated during the DUT Spring Graduation Ceremonies at the Fred Crookes Sports Centre, DUT Steve Biko Campus. Muindi’s Master’s research employed the Cultivation Theory which states that high frequency viewers of television are more susceptible to media messages and the belief that they are real and valid. “I’ve always been interested in issues related to culture and the media”, said Muindi. “Media has a strong influence on African culture. In South Africa, we have popular soapies such as Generations, Scandal and Rhythm City. These programmes enjoy a following of millions, the majority being Africans. Most of these soapies tend to portray a universal culture and in doing that, tend to portray ideas, standards and values that may offend some but appeal to others. For example, many (soapies) portray cohabiting as though there’s nothing wrong with it, something I lamented (in my research) as such helps erode our African values. These soapies have however somehow empowered women. An example is the character of Karabo Moroka (played by Connie Ferguson) asking her husband if she can take a second husband which sparked a national debate regarding why men can take multiple wives yet women could not marry more than one husband. In terms of men, my research also found that men found soapies to be challenging to their traditional positions in society. On a positive note, the research also found that some married couples use sopies as a way of evaluating the state of their marriage and even (positively) influencing their partners. One of the dangers of soapies is that they have a continued narrative. For example, a character who is a criminal could continue his dirty deeds for ten years before being brought to book (which may have a negative psychological effect on the viewer),” he said. Muindi urged South African film producers to create soapie programmes that portray African values such as Isibaya, while also sounding a warning that if Africans fail to document their cultural heritage, it will get lost. Muindi is looking towards the future in terms of his academic studies, saying that he has already started working on his PhD proposal. Source: DUT

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