Day 1 as a Cape Argus intern

I had no idea what to expect on my first day at the Cape Argus, but was pleasantly surprised when I was tasked with covering the Tweede Nuwe Jaar minstrel march. The march takes place every year on the 2nd of January and has its traditions in slavery in the Cape.

In the nineteenth century, slaves in Cape Town were given one day off in the year (2 January). On this day, they dressed in fancy costumes and sang and danced through the streets. Some of those songs can still be heard at the parade today.

All of the photos below were taken by me.

All set up for the march at the Grand Parade.
Waiting patiently for the minstrels at the Grand Parade.
The Original District 6 Hanover Minstrels were the first troupe in the procession. They have been the champions for the past nine years.
A member of the Original District 6 Hanover Minstrels.
Two young members of the Juvie Boys.
The Juvie Boys celebrated their fifth year at the minstrel march.
A young minstrel looks bewildered as he marches through the parade.

Click on this link to read my article, which appeared in the Cape Argus on 3 January:


Tinder – a cautionary tale

“I nearly spent the night in prison, because of a date with a guy I met on Tinder.”

Yes, you read that correctly.

Amy Clarke* (23), a former Tinder-user, experienced a crazy second date in August last year.

How it started…

Amy says that she downloaded Tinder, the online dating application, because she wanted to find out how digital communication affects social relationships and emotional attachments.

Amy, an art student at Stellenbosch University, had been chatting to her date for about a week, when they decided to meet. On their first date Harry* was the perfect gentleman.

“I actually quite liked him. He was very kind and sweet. But now I realise why he was so nice.”


It was a match for Amy & Harry.  Photo: Saarah Survé

She wanted to see him again

After working a night-shift at a bar, Amy decided to tag along with Harry, who needed to deliver a parcel to Cape Town International Airport, for an early morning flight to Johannesburg.

“We planned to have a coffee at the Woolworths café.”

Something wasn’t right

“I waited in the car at the cargo freight area, while Harry went inside. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something fishy was going on,” Amy explains.

“I realised that I had gotten myself into a huge f***ing mess, when Harry returned to the car with the police and sniffer dogs.”

They searched the vehicle and apparently found something suspicious. “I was immediately separated from him and escorted to a small office space by a female police officer, where I was interrogated,” Amy says. 

Harry’s parcel contained cocaine.

Amy thinks that the police officer took pity on her.

“I think that she saw me as an innocent bystander, after I showed her the Tinder chat messages between Harry and myself and she believed me.”

Amy was let go without being charged. She does not know what happened to Harry. He never messaged her again.

Would she still recommend Tinder?

Yes, despite her experience.

“I think that it’s a great way for people who struggle socially to find company. The concept of technology as a way of connecting should not be shamed.”

Any tips for new users?

Her advice is to be safe and smart, and learn from her story. (See below for 10 more Tinder tips)

*Names were changed to protect identity.

Perhaps after reading this story, you’ve decided that Tinder is not for you. The non-Tinder-users in the video below would agree. Hear them explain what the app is in their own words, and why they’re not using it.

Top 10 Tinder Tips from 5 Tinder users:

  1. Don’t take Tinder too seriously – have fun!
  2. Make your photos count. Don’t post gym pictures or selfies – too many will make you look vain.
  3. Don’t believe everything that someone tells you, because they will tell you anything to get you to go on a date with them.
  4. Be honest, because lying on an online platform won’t get you far.
  5. Try a different opening line. Change “Hi, how are you?” to something smart or witty, that they’ll remember.
  6. Write something in your Tinder biography, because that could be the difference between a like and a pass. Be grammatically correct – it tells a lot about you.
  7. Be ruthless – don’t talk to everyone.
  8. Skype beforehand, so that you can see who they are before you decide to meet in person. Make sure you meet in a public place.
  9. Be yourself.
  10. Be safe and be smart. Tell a relative or friend that you’re going to meet someone.

Swipe right for love?

How Tinder has changed the dating game 

Catherine Paulse (20), a UCT student, had been single for a year, when her best friend dared her to download Tinder, if she didn’t meet a man in a week. In fact, Catherine’s friend, Jessica*, met her current boyfriend on Tinder.

Throughout the year that she used the app, Catherine experienced the good and bad that Tinder has to offer.

“I’ve never been into dating sites, but I thought that it would be a cool way to meet people and look at hot guys. I found the app to be fun more than anything else. I didn’t take it too seriously,” said Catherine.

Tinder is an easy-to-use online dating application (app) that was founded in 2012. It uses your phone’s global positioning system (GPS) to find other Tinder users in your area. They can see your profile, which includes six photos from Facebook, your name, age and any pages you’ve “liked” on Facebook. If they like you, they’ll swipe right, if not, they’ll swipe left. If both of you have swiped right, you’ll match and be able to message each other.

Tinder works on the basis of finding someone attractive at first glance and quickly deciding if you are interested, while bearing in mind that you are only allowed a certain amount of likes per day.

According to CNBC, an estimated 50 million people signed up to use the app last year, but Tinder will not disclose exact figures.   

According to Tinder’s website, the app is available in 196 countries – there are 1.4 billion swipes per day, 26 million matches per day, and more than ten billion total matches. On the website there is a page dedicated to Tinder success stories, for couples who met “the one” through the app.     

According to Fast Company magazine, Tinder has 9.6 million daily active users and connections on the app lead to 1.3 million dates per week.

On average users log onto Tinder 11 times a day, according to an article on The New York Times’ website. Women spend as much as 8.5 minutes swiping left and right during a single session, while men spend 7.2 minutes, which can add up to 90 minutes each day.

According to Wired magazine, “42 percent of people using Tinder are already in relationships—and many of them are men”. Furthermore, according to Global Web Index’s 2015 study, 30% of Tinder users are married.

Tinder has a reputation for being used to engage in casual sex, hook-up or have a one-night-stand, but a recent study done by Tinder found that 80% of users want more than a one-night-stand.

James Thompson* (22), a former Tinder-user, would go on and off Tinder for a few days and then delete the app, because he was not sure whether he wanted to be associated with the stigma of being on Tinder. This is also the reason he wanted to remain anonymous.  

Tinder president, co-founder and returning CEO Sean Rad suggested that Tinder is more of a “social discovery app” than a dating app to facilitate romantic connections.

During an interview with Fast Company magazine, Rad claimed that his vision for Tinder is much bigger than just a dating app. He has plans to build Tinder into a robust advertising vehicle and subscription service.

In March last year, Tinder released Tinder Plus, which comes at a cost (about R140 per month and almost R300 for over 30’s), but has more features. New features include the ability to change your location when you travel to connect with people around the world, unlimited likes and a rewind button for accidental swiping.  

Rad had no problem justifying the price of the app. “How much would you pay me to meet your [future] wife? Ten thousand dollars? Twenty thousand dollars? Some people would probably give me their entire net worth.”

On the website’s description, it says that Tinder “empowers users around the world to create new connections that otherwise might never have been possible. We build products that bring people together”.

Dr Wendy Walsh, an American psychologist who specialises in attachment and human mating strategies, said that “biology trumps psychology”, meaning that men focus on beauty first and foremost, which is what Tinder allows them to do.

Walsh, who is also known as America’s relationship expert, said that Tinder is based on male mating strategies, because of the way that it works, with photos and only a short biography.

According to Walsh, women are searching for “resources, intelligence and kindness, which can be harder to convey on Tinder”. Therefore, Walsh advised men to put as much thought into the backgrounds of their photos, as they do the actual picture of themselves.  

“Women are looking for status indicators. They don’t care about your abs, unless they only want a hook-up. They are looking to see where that lamp behind you is from,” said Walsh.

According to James,  he will not recommend the app to his female friends, because “guys just ask for sex or nude pictures, or even send nudes”.

James joined Tinder to meet new people and possibly go on a few dates. He has been on three.

On one date, he met a girl on campus in between lectures. “That fizzled out, because she wasn’t the same offline (face to face) as she was online. I worked that out very quickly.”

“It’s a common thing when you have a connection with someone on the phone, because you’re texting and have time to think about everything you say, but when you’re face to face, you don’t have that same luxury.”  

James said that his worst experience was meeting someone who did not look like their picture on Tinder.

James prefers Tinder to meeting people in real life. “I like that you’re meeting people you wouldn’t normally chat to and that they come from a different background or walk of life.”

Before Catherine started using Tinder, she never made an effort to meet new people. “If people came into my life randomly, then I thought that they were probably supposed to be there, instead of swiping across my phone screen to meet people.”

Although she would recommend Tinder to her friends, Catherine said that not all of her experiences on the app have been positive.

“A guy started harassing me on Tinder, he kept sending me ridiculous messages asking for nude pictures and if I would sleep with him, but I refused to respond. He persisted.” She unmatched him (blocked him) and wanted to delete the app.

However, before she deleted the app, she started messaging someone promising.

“We’ve been chatting for a month now, but we haven’t met in person. He’s a really nice guy, and we actually have mutual friends. I’m seeing where that could go.”

Catherine believes that Tinder and social media in general have completely changed the way her generation dates.

“I look at how my parents dated and how young people date today. Social media has created more drama in dating. I think that’s one of the main reasons that our relationships don’t last. It opens up these doors where cheating can occur and miscommunication happens. Our generation obsesses over social media through stalking our partners, or girls and guys that we think that they are hooking up with.

“Then I look at my parents and I really believe that the lack of social media meant that they didn’t have those sorts of problems, because they had to talk about their issues, rather than sending passive aggressive messages over WhatsApp.”  

*Names were changed to protect identity. Catherine did not mind.

Waterfall – a descriptive piece

Saarah Survé, Stellenbosch Department of Journalism

Nicholas has bags underneath his eyes even though he has just woken up. His unwashed hair and greying beard make him look older than he is. He stretches one muscular arm across the crinkled sheets and onto the empty space beside him. He frowns, confused, and then dismayed realises that it wasn’t a dream. He sits up, unable to go back to sleep. His mouth is parched.

He hears the window panes rattling and the neighbour’s ducks quacking. Brown dried up leaves crack in the wind. Longingly, he looks outside of the window, to another place and time.

Someone is watching a young boy clad in a navy sweater and knitted cap walk carefully through the rustling reeds.

A young girl, wearing a maroon rain jacket, guiltily turns her face downward, as her long, mousy hair blows into her eyes.

A different memory; in the sunshine Nicholas carries his daughter on his back. Her cheeks are flushed pink, and she smiles, her hair out of her pretty, pale face.

A new memory; her brother follows her and together they crunch over the autumn leaves. The wind howls, crickets chirp and somewhere far away chimes ring.

The three of them laugh together, as their father runs a small black lizard between his fingers.

The sun disappears and birds squawk as if they are warning the family of something to come. There is a feeling of unease in the air.

She sees her brother on top of a mossy-green rock, breaking twigs into smaller pieces. She decides to join him. Now it is only the two of them, surrounded by leafless trees, in an abandoned forest. The air is crisp.

Her brother collects small, silver fish. His pudgy fingers pull out each one’s slippery eyeball and then he knocks its head onto a tree trunk. This action causes a pool of blood to congeal on the bark. The smell is overpowering and forms a metal taste in his mouth. He scoops out any leftover goo, and wipes his finger onto the ground. He leaves a gaping hole in the fish’s head.

Their father seems to be consumed in another world as he sits on a rock, throwing bits of reed into the water.

With nobody, besides his sister, watching him the boy defiantly rolls up his jeans, pulls up his socks and ventures into the shallow waters. Balancing on some rocks, he reaches for another fish. Just when his fingers are about to touch the surface, he slips and plunges into the icy cold water, which is much deeper than he expected.

He screams for help as he is submerged, his arms flailing and his legs kicking underneath the water, but all that comes out is bubbles. The water burns his throat and he can’t breathe as it begins to fill his lungs.

His sister looks on paralysed, frozen to her spot. Her lips are blue from the cold and she’s lost her pink glow. Now you can see that she has a little mole on the top of her lip, not noticeable at first glance.

Inspired by the short film, Waterfall, by Charcole. Watch the film here: