The Commute

BRIGHTGUIDE AFRICA  |  Podcast , ±35 min episodes every 4 weeks, 1 day  | 
The Commute is a podcast for South Africans, at home and across the world, who are interested in some of the biggest questions of our time and what they might mean for South Africa. Short and nutritious, it’s a great way to keep your ears company during your taxi/ car/ aeroplane/ bicycle/ train commute. And if your commute is longer – listen to several in a row! Designed to provide a high value explainer from experts, The Commute gives you, the smart South African, the big ideas in small bites. Series 1 available now.

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The idea of Geek Culture

Did you know that 71 000 people attended Comic Con Africa in Jo'burg recently? William Shatner was there! So-called “Geek Culture” or “Nerd Culture" is clearly really popular in South Africa. Excitingly, we’re also seeing the rise of local comic heroes like Kwezi and Captain South Africa (who is a woman, by the way!) and the brilliant visual artists who make them. Jessica speaks to Zaid H. Motala, self-described Geek Culture ambassador, about the world of comics, superheroes, gaming, cosplay, fantasy and science fiction.

Links from this episode:

Comic Con Africa
Comic Con Cape Town
Zaid Motala on Facebook, including some hilarious videos:
Artist Bill Musuku and Captain South Africa:
Kwezi Comic Books:
Ray Witcher, Illustrator and Artist
Marvel Unlimited subscription service:
DCUniverse (but currently only available in the US, sorry):
Crunchyroll for streaming anime and manga:
Shonenjump for manga:

During the interview, Jessica refers to the ugly incident around the Hugo Science Fiction Awards which took place in 2015. To understand what she’s talking about, read more here:
Listen to all episodes of The Commute podcast online by clicking here.

The idea of mapping South African emigration

Los Angeles for Justice Malala. New York for Redi Tlhabi. London for Nakhane Toure. And your Facebook feed is showing a stream of middle class South Africans moving to Australia, the UK and Ireland, right? South Africans seem to be on the move - but why don't we have the data to track this? Jessica speaks to Bernhard Smuts, developer of WhereDidWeGo.Com, a website that visualises self-reported data from South Africans as they move, either temporarily or permanently, to other countries.

Resources mentioned in this show:

The Dr Azar Jammine article on emigration Jessica discusses is here:

and the Daily Maverick response from Daniel Buckham she notes is here:

and a final response from Prof Daniel Kaplan is here:

Bernhard's recommendations are:
Listen to all episodes of The Commute online


#PODSTRIKE! This week, the Commute is part of #PODSTRIKE, a global coalition of podcasts lending our voices to support the young people seeking to make a difference about climate change. Learn more here about climate action globally and at home in South Africa:
Politically Aweh's Climate Change series on YouTube
Meet SA's 17-year-old climate activist, Ayakha Melithafa
Cartoonist Carlos Amato

The idea of cyberattacks

This is a fun one! How ready is South Africa for the new frontier of cyberattacks? The same technology that gives us social media and the ability to send text messages from our fridge is also being used for theft, extortion and election interference. Jessica speaks to Karen Allen, a Consultant at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, who is tracking Emerging Threats in Africa and their impact on human security. The books and resources mentioned in this episode are:

Karen’s article on cyberattacks in The Guardian

The Capture (TV series)

"The Perfect Weapon" by David E. Sanger

"The Age of Surveillance Capitalism" by Shoshana Zuboff

South Africa’s new Cybercrimes Bill comes into effect later in 2019

The idea of National Health Insurance

Yikes, the National Health Insurance bill is scaring the daylights out of South Africa’s middle class. Introduced by new(ish) Health Minister Zwele Mkhize, the bill promises to outlaw medical aids and make government the sole administrator of your healthcare by 2026. Jessica interviews Anthea Jeffery from the Institute of Race Relations, who has been tracking the NHI bill closely. ***Correction*** In this episode, Jessica states that Discovery’s operating profit for the last financial year was R9 billion. It was, in fact, R7.7 billion. Read the proposed NHI bill at this link:

The idea of going on holiday to North Korea

North Korea for your next vacay, anyone? Jo'burger Dan Brotman has done it, travelling to the world’s least visited country in January 2019. He tells Jessica what it was like, what he saw, and why South Africans should consider being a little more adventurous when splashing out on an overseas visit. You can find Dan Brotman on Facebook if you would like to hear more about his adventures!

The idea of an IMF bailout for South Africa

Will South Africa have to go to the IMF for a bailout at some point? Where did this idea come from? What do bailouts entail anyway? And does South Africa actually need one? Jessica speaks to Africa Expert and Director of Africa Risk Consulting Tara O’Connor to learn more about the International Monetary Fund, and what we might learn from our neighbours about the potential consequences - positive and negative - of taking a loan from the IMF.

The idea of South Africa billions of years ago

You know South Africa is basically the global hotspot for ancient rocks and fossils, but you didn't know how COOL they are. Jessica interviews paleontologist (amongst other things) Dr Robyn Pickering, who is back in South Africa after a decade abroad, about the pre-historic origins of SA's gold, #FeesMustFall, being a woman in science, and that time there were cockroaches the size of Citi Golfs roaming around.

The books Dr Pickering mentions are:

'Darwin's Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins' by Christa Kuljian:


'Lab Girl' by Hope Jahren:

Episode 11: The idea of the Ramaphoria hangover

It’s the last episode of Season 1, folks. But don’t be sad, because it’s a great one. Are you confused about whether the goodies or the baddies are winning in Ramaphosa’s presidency so far? Me too. The President seems constrained and the ANC resistant to economic reform. And the Deputy President scares the bejesus out of everyone except the ANC exec. Jessica speaks to political writer Carol Paton, who takes us through the Ramaphoria hangover in her characteristically sober and understated way. If you miss The Commute in the coming months, visit to re-listen to Season 1.

Episode 10: The idea of playfulness as a radical act

Art time! We're delving into some culture this week, and taking a break from geopolitics. Jessica speaks to the Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year Jemma Kahn about her latest work, the Borrow Pit, her Japanese influences, and why you're never going to make good art by just having beers with your friends and going to bed early. Visit for more info.

Episode 9: The idea of Making America Great Again

Donald Trump considers South Africa a sh*thole country – although to be fair he thinks America is a total sh*thole too. But he's gonna make it great again. What does having an American reality tv host in the White House mean for South Africa? Jessica speaks to Phillip van Niekerk, who is living and working in the Swamp itself, Washington DC.

The statement about UN voting loyalty to America mentioned in this show can be accessed here:

Episode 8: The idea of Finland's lekker schooling system

We suck at reading. South Africa came bottom out of 50 countries in a recent international assessment of reading and literacy. Other than calling for a revolution (as Tracy Chapman has been urging Jessica to do), what can we do? Well, some South Africa schools have decided they're going to switch to the Finnish education system. But what IS the Finnish schooling system? Jessica speaks to Professor Hillary Janks to find out. The book mentioned in this show is Finnish Lessons 2.0: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?

19 episodes

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