Thought Leader is more than just a blogging platform, it’s a community, a digital village that is home to the local blogosphere’s greatest minds and loyal readers who love to bicker, get personal (when they know they shouldn’t) and, at times, even grow to see eye to eye. Here are some reader favourites for January 1 to November 30 2009 (Nielsen/Netratings).
1. Michael Trapido — No surprise here. Trapido, aka Traps, never fails to elicit a response. His pre-election “South Africa first, but I’m voting ANC” racked up more than 150 factious comments and got South Africans talking about who they would endorse come election day. Other memorable blogs include his outrage at the National Prosecuting Authority’s decision to drop charges against President Jacob Zuma (Traps had suffered a major heart attack a few days before and despite doctor’s orders to take it easy he “believed if I was going to drop then best it be while trying to protect our constitutional democracy than reading the latest Grisham”), his coverage of the Schabir Shaik medical parole, the Barry Tannenbaum ponzi scheme and Julius Malema’s antics.
2. Ndumiso Ngcobo –The humorous Silwane Files haven’t been the same ever since Ndumiso began writing a regular column for the Sunday Times Lifestyle. He received hundreds of emails enquiring about his whereabouts when he stopped updating his blog regularly. Some of this Zulu warrior’s gems include “Not everybody should be allowed to vote” and “MTN. The dog ate my homework”.
3. Sarah Britten — Sarah is one of the most prized assets in the Thought Leader family who regularly rivals Traps at the top of the leaderboard. Memorable moments include her repatriation to South Africa earlier this year in “Why I am an ex-expat, for now” and her analysis of the shameful rhetoric — “a repulsive admixture of sexism and nationalism” — surrounding the Caster Semenya debacle. Reader favourites include “Be honest. Are big boobs better?” and “Men shouldn’t have to beg for sex”.
4. Sentletse Diakanyo — Sentletse regularly crosses the colour line to take a swipe at the ruling party. Earlier in the year he chastised the government’s decision to deny the Dalai Lama a visa, Cosatu’s meddling in the Vodacom-Vodafone deal and those calling Judge Johan Kriegler a racist.
5. Azad Essa — Azad is an award-winning blogger who transports readers to the frontlines of cross-cultural interactions and misunderstandings. Reader favourites include his encounter with a bigot in Turkey who believes “The blacks have f***** it up haven’t they?” and overzealous policemen in Germany who epitomise the dangerous rise of the far-right across Europe.
6. Khaya Dlanga — This digital citizen and Twitterholic is undoubtedly one of SA’s most conspicuous new-media-philes. His account of the recent Twitter war between the US and SA over the use of the word “darkie” tickled the readers’ curiosity as did his jealous resentment of neighbours who have loud sex.
7. Rod MacKenzie — Rod, an expat who teaches English in Shanghai, China, knows all about this business of South Africans leaving SA which he explores in “Sour grapes: Would ALL the Brandon Huntleys stand up?” and
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8. Sandile Memela — Stirring the pot in an easily polarised community is what Sandile does best. His “Dear coconuts, there are no black racists” sparked a huge backlash from readers and fellow bloggers wanting to know who or what a “coconut” and “authentic black” is.
9. Reader blog — SA’s deep racial faultlines and tokoloshes run through this neighbourhood too. Memorable reader contributions include “I’m White” and “Malema is not going to disappear, not now, not ever”.
10. David Saks — David tackles a wide range of ideas on politics, gender, history and religion. Reader favourites include “Middle East fallout is poisoning our society” and “Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have abounded for centuries”.