197SAX hits the streets

11 February 2016 | Story by Newsroom
Brief interlude: Hundreds of students took the streets in the early hours of 11–February to sell SAX Appeal, all proceeds of which are donated to SHAWCO.
Brief interlude: Hundreds of students took the streets in the early hours of 11–February to sell SAX Appeal, all proceeds of which are donated to SHAWCO.

The magazine is an annual initiative of UCT's RAG (Remember and Give) to raise money for the Student Health and Welfare Centres Organisation (SHAWCO). Nicole Dunn, SAX Appeal editor-in-chief, gave the UCT newsroom a peek behind the scenes of the new-look publication.

Q: What is the significance of this year's theme, 197SAX, and how does it speak to some of the contents?

A: 2016 marks the 40-year anniversary since the Soweto Uprising of 1976. We believe that this provides an opportunity for SAX, as a student-run publication, to reflect on the progress (or lack thereof) in South Africa and the remobilisation of students in 2015.

Last year was a landmark year for the students of South Africa. Many students realised the parallels between 2015s movements and those of the 1970s and '80s. 'Why are students forced to learn in Afrikaans?' 'Why are the police arresting us for protesting peacefully?' 'Why am I being antagonised for demanding my basic rights?' These are the questions that two generations of students have had to ask themselves.

This year, SAX Appeal takes stock of how far students and this country has come. We have tried to emulate the great SAX Appeals of the past, just as student activists have tried to emulate the great student activists of the past. This is a pivotal moment in our country's history and students should be at the forefront of our new narrative.

SAX Appeal 2016 is here to amplify the voice of the students; to amplify the new narrative. We think it is fitting that it attempts to reclaim its rightful place as the voice of the students in 2016, four decades after the most infamous year in South African student history, 1976. In keeping with this narrative, the theme is 197SAX.

Q: SAX Appeal always causes a stir in Cape Town; are you expecting any particular kind of reaction to this year's edition?

A: We expect to receive several lines of criticism, although these are never entirely predictable. Members of the public have already objected to the redirection of SAX, terming it “too serious” or “overly PC”. We don't believe that this will be the reaction once the magazine has been read. SAX has always been about pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo, and this magazine certainly does that.

Q: How does this year's SAX Appeal differ from previous offerings, if at all?

A: Given the mass mobilisation and socio-political conscientisation of students over the past year, we have taken SAX in a completely different direction to recent editions. We believe that it provides an extremely valuable platform for discussion and commentary on the issues that have come to the fore over the past year, and to expose angles that official media sources will not cover. As such, we want it to be the voice of the students and to include as many voices as possible. This is why we have changed the structure of the team slightly to allow for student contributors from across the country, as well as external contributors.

In its long and infamous history, SAX Appeal has had a conflicting voice. In its formative years, the magazine was light-hearted and flippant. During the struggle, the magazine veered toward more pressing content.

Coupled with a series of student protests at UCT in the 1970s and '80s, SAX was at once a notorious and heroic publication, and it amplified the voice of students against apartheid. Unfortunately, the post-apartheid editions never quite lived up to the promise of their predecessors.

The magazine's content became more lurid and explicit, and there was a strong dependency on a shock-factor. This controversy for the sake of controversy approach has severely discredited the importance that the magazine once had.

Today, when people think of SAX Appeal, they think of drunk, scantily-clad students selling an equally explicit magazine. A magazine that has been filled with blatant misogyny, racism and discriminatory statements, a magazine created by an overwhelmingly white editorial team, a magazine with no meaning or substance. We need to reclaim SAX Appeal and what it means to us as students. We need to re-evaluate who and what form part of the magazine.

Our vision for SAX is that it will retain some of its entertainment value through clever satire and parody, but will not contain the slapstick humour present in some previous editions. There simply is no space for it in the magazine given the events of the past year and we feel that it would be shameful to sacrifice genuine contemplation and reporting of serious issues for inside jokes that are simply not that funny.

Story by Yusuf Omar. Photos by Michael Hammond.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Please view the republishing articles page for more information.