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Helping people by simply writing has been my greatest joy at Sowetan

‘I am sad at leaving the place I’ve grown the most in’

Londiwe Dlomo Journalist
Londiwe Dlomo in the Maldives, 2021
Londiwe Dlomo in the Maldives, 2021
Image: Supplied

As we wrap up Women’s Month, I’m also leaving Sowetan and of course, I have been thinking quite a lot about endings and beginnings.

One of the joys of my career has been helping people by simply writing about a topic.

In my early writing career when I was an intern for another media company, one of my duties was to write for a mommy blog.

I would speak to experts about childcare, nutrition facts, behaviours etc.

One morning, I received a call from a woman who was inaudible because she was crying so much. I was a bit shocked and startled but eventually the woman was able to get it out that she had read an article of mine on picking up the signs of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children.

She wept and told me the story of how she couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her son until she read the checklist of symptoms provided by an expert in my piece.

I cried with her towards the end of her call. It hit me then that a day at work for me could be a lifeline for someone else.

Over the years, there have been quite a few of those moments.

I grew in my career and my writing changed. I started leaning more towards the interests of my childhood, mainly food.

I have had the privilege to taste some of the best food this country has to offer, my affinity to all things food related comes from my mom.

My mother was magic as she made delicious dishes from seemingly nothing. She made the impossible seem possible. Sadly I lost her in April this year.

It felt like an atomic bomb went off inside of me.

I recall how we used to watch the Food Network together and her biased opinions on anything Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri, Siba Mtongana and Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman) would make.

Nobody could make food like them, she would say. I would tell her all about the food I’d eaten and the places I’d been. I’ve been to the best tropical destinations in the world and spoken to the most interesting people.

My last trip was to the Maldives where I spent a couple of days lazily consuming tamarinds, marvelling at their commitment to conservation efforts for the ocean and the environment in general.

Air taxi landing close to one of maldives islands.
Air taxi landing close to one of maldives islands.
Image: 123RF

That trip was a personal triumph for me, an anxious flyer, who couldn’t fathom travelling for more than five hours in a plane.

It was in the Sowetan newsroom that I soared the highest after having admired a few of the journalists from afar.

Sharing space with Lesley Mofokeng, whose entertainment reporting fuelled my dreams as a student in university, speaking to Len Maseko and Mapula Nkosi about the world of lifestyle reporting and eventually bringing my own flair to it for the newspaper.  

The rush I felt when I put out my first food page. I was floating for a week and then I had to do it again and again and I was in heaven!

Some stories made it to the paper and some fell by the wayside, I learnt to bat for myself and my ideas rather fiercely.

Another highlight of my eight years at Sowetan was being part of the team that brainstormed the inception of SMag, Sowetan’s lifestyle magazine.

Over there as well, I held court over the food page.

I was hired to work on the digital team but I found my way to the print side of things. I met Emmanuel Tjiya, a colleague turned best friend, who has gone on to do amazing things as the editor-in-chief of S Mag. Oh the shenanigans we got up to! We should write a book, thank you for being my friend Manny. 

The fast-paced newsroom felt like it was moving at warp speed, keeping up with digital work and print work was a great way to feel alive.

Over the past eight years at this company, I have written about almost everything, during the pandemic when the lifestyle world came to a standstill, I branched out into consumer reporting, to this day I still get phone calls from people asking if I can help them with a consumer-related issue.

I am sad at leaving the place I’ve grown the most in.

However working in a newsroom tests your mettle, I have seen so many versions of myself, rebranding is not just a concept but a lifestyle for me.

So, I go forth with the courage learned from chasing down subjects for a daily newspaper, with skin toughened by the comments of the audience from the country’s most vocal consumers of news on the SowetanLIVE platform, to a different version of me and to new beginnings.

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