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Taking the bull by the horns

By Nelly Shamase

I’ve finally moved out of home.

At the not-so-tender-age of 27, many would argue that it’s been a long time coming.

Try telling that to my parents.

When you’re the last born of seven children — and you’re a girl to boot — your parents are not as eager to let you go as they would be if you were the first-born, for instance.

But now that I have become a law unto myself, I realise that moving out of home is not as utopian as I had envisaged it to be.
For one thing, I now have to do my own washing and this is completely unacceptable. To me, at least.

Reason being, I don’t even know how to use a washing machine so the laundry facilities on offer at my current abode are useless to me.

Only because they are self-operational.

Somehow I sincerely doubt that my fellow boarding mates would jump at the chance to do my washing for me.


And my cooking skills leave much to be desired.

Now onto more serious matters.

Not only do I have to start afresh domestically, but professionally as well.

How silly of me to think I can just pick up the phone and say “I’m so-and-so from the M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism” and the person on the other end will sing like a bird and bend over backwards to get me what I need.

And to think that I thought saying you’re from the Mail & Guardian stable was akin to having a magic wand that you can point at will and walah: magic happens.

Uhmmmm … no.

But therein lays the challenge.

There’s no greater reward in life than succeeding where failure is a great possibility.

And the harder the task at hand, the sweeter the success.

But that’s the great thing about investigative journalism. It’s up to you to grab the bull by the horns and run with it until it bends to your will.

So where am I at present?

I’ve grabbed the bull’s horns.

I’m running.

And I’ll keep pushing until I have it eating out of the palm of my hands.

It won’t be easy but persistence is key and I have that in abundance.

And while I work at mastering the skills necessary to become a successful investigative journalist, my domestic shortcomings will be attended to speedily.

There’s nothing like a pile of dirty laundry and an empty stomach to get you going.


  • amaBhungane are the investigators of the M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit, public interest initiative to produce better investigative stories and plough back through internships and advocacy. On this blog, amaBhungane -- seasoned and award-winning journalists -- will penetrate the world of smoke and mirrors to bring you the story behind the story.