Johnny Masilela, The BEAT editor. Photo: TK Mashaba

Nervous moments ahead of the Caxton Awards


Johnny Masilela   l   Views: 97

A couple of editions ago I made passing mention of the Caxton Excellence Awards.

My take, genuinely so, was that we at The BEAT and our sister newspaper, Die Pos/The Post, had entered for the first time.

That is, I cautioned that we should not get ahead of ourselves, but instead view our entries as something like testing the waters.

The plan was to go for broke for the next round of awards, entering almost every single category available.

Indeed we at The BEAT did not do very well at the level of testing the waters.

The surprise — indeed pleasant surprise for all of us — was when for some reason I was named the Caxton Excellence Awards Best Columnist of the Year, for my regular contributions not to The BEAT, but at Die Pos/The Post.

My winning column at Die Pos/The Post is called “The Other Side of Town”, with the purpose to give the newspaper’s target market a rare glimpse into township and village life.

Part of the winning portfolio was a column in which I captured the day I enlisted the services of a township-based Afrikaner fellow to do the weeding out at my mother’s place.

When my elderly mom saw the man, she obediently declared: “Good morning, master.” My foot!

Now weeks ahead of the unveiling of the finalists for the awards were a tense affair, with me cautioning the reporters we were but testing the waters.

Then communication came from the Caxton headquarters, to the effect that five of us, namely Die Pos/The Post editor Keina Swart, manager Bea Emslie, reporter Andries van der Heyde, photographer Herman Steyn and myself, were the finalists.

These triggered tense moments for the very editor who cautioned reporters to simply test the waters.

My own gutfeel was that being a finalist was good enough recognition to worry about the ultimate prize.

Not until Andries suggested, a few days before the awards ceremony, that it would not make sense for Caxton to invite winners and other finalists, too.

He was confident it was only the winners, including myself, who were invited.

Andries’s observation was way off the mark, for on arrival at the gala dinner in Parktown, Johannesburg, we were met by several hundred potential winners and other finalists.

Once again my gutfeel was that only the tried and tested journos from far more prominent titles such as the Zululand Observer and the Vaalweekblad, stood a fighting chance of being declared winners.

When the time came for the announcement of the best columnist, I was humbled to see my name flashed on the big screen.

And then the programme director declared: “And the winner is … Johnny Masilela!”

Believe it or not, my reaction was a frown and then a blink, and then I sheepishly turned my face, looking for this winner called eeehhh … mmm Johnny Masilela.

Let me take this opportunity to extend my gratitude at all readers who have kept us on our toes at both newspapers.

We also got a pleasant surprise when our front page story titled “High-speed chase” trended really well, meaning our readers do prefer our theme “shock and awe” kind of journalism.

35 days ago       22 March 2018