NRF Youth Month 2024: Nakisani Princess Sigama

NRF Youth Month 2024: Nakisani Princess Sigama

This year’s Youth Month is significant as the NRF celebrates 25 Years of Research, Innovation, Impact and Partnerships. These are the stories of the youth who have not only been impacted by the NRF but who also have an impact in their own spaces – and beyond! We thank all participants for sharing their stories with us.

Ms Nakisani Princess Sigama is a Master’s student in Media Studies at the University of Venda (Univen). She has received funding from the NRF for her Master’s and Honours studies.

How did your journey start?

My professional path has always focused on the media; I’ve always wanted to see myself actively participating in and involved with the arts, communication, and media. I made the decision to embark on a media journey in 2018 after being accepted to Univen for a Bachelor’s degree in Media Studies. I chose Univen in particular because it provided me with opportunities in all media platforms, including print, digital, television, and radio.

I had the best undergraduate experience possible because I was able to explore all of the media subfields and truly identify my area of expertise. I knew when I enrolled in the Bachelor of Media Studies programme that I belonged there and nowhere else. Because of my diligence, I passed with honours in both the group projects and the presentation tasks that I completed for marks.

My current area of interest is the media sector, particularly the production side of things. In order to protect my interests, I have done research on various cases and how particular media platforms are portrayed. And ever since I started my research, I have identified and looked into aspects of the media landscape that the public avoided as media consumers and recipients. My aspirations and early visions of learning about and shaping the media landscape have shaped my professional path.

Also, I am providing mentorship to the next generation of students by sharing all I have learned from my undergraduate studies to this point with them. In addition, I intend to write more and conduct more research on the characteristics of media. I also want to investigate the discourses surrounding the usage and abuse of media as well as the perceptions of media recipients regarding the media’s role as an economic, entertainment, and communication tool.

How has your affiliation with the NRF impacted your studies/career?

I would like to start by wishing NRF a very happy 25 years. My experience with NRF has only been positive. I began using the scholarship for my Honours in 2022 and it allowed me to pay for my tuition and housing costs in addition to my research expenses. In the same year, my laptop broke down, but I was able to buy a new one. Given that my mother could not afford my tuition, it was a huge help because my family did not have to worry about me.

Nonetheless, it was my responsibility to inform my mentees about the NRF scholarship and assist them in applying for postgraduate studies. And I’m happy to report that their application efforts were successful.

The NRF’s funding motivated me to pursue a Master’s degree and apply for another NRF scholarship to complete my thesis. I’m currently working on finishing my Master’s dissertation with funding from the NRF. The NRF funding opportunity has just been a good motivation for me to work harder and on time and also appreciate how wonderful God’s grace is if you are dedicated to anything that you put your mind to.

What is your research focus on/what is your area of expertise?

I am conducting research on social media, with a particular focus on X, formerly known as Twitter, and its impact on hate crimes related to Xenophobia and Afrophobia. My speciality is how social media users, particularly X, become oblivious to the user-generated content on the internet and use it to incite hatred towards asylum seekers in South Africa or other users.

The study focuses on the ways that South African social media users organise their xenophobic acts against migrants in their nation using X. Essentially, it is depictions of violent acts motivated by Xenophobia and Afrophobia on the social media platform X in South Africa, along with its consequences for foreigners.

Furthermore, the study seeks to explore how X has become a powerful platform and instrument to influence Afrophobia violence attacks on the instruction of Xenophobic activists on X. X has become the active social media platform to give ways for individuals, especially South Africans, to express their feelings towards African foreigners in their country. Thus, the violence emanates from how welcoming cyberspace is because some accounts on X, such as Operation Dudula, are used to support xenophobic violence.

Why is your work/studies important?

The study is important in that it is an addition to the existing knowledge on how the media influence attitudes and behaviours with regard to Afrophobia. The study provides new insights on how social media platforms either contribute or discourage Afrophobia. By delineating Afrophobia from the broader concept of xenophobia, the study brings insights into the way in which Afrophobia is shaped by contextual factors.

In addition, the study will create awareness among citizens on the hazards of xenophobia and Afrophobia, thereby contributing towards peacebuilding. The study will be useful to the Government and policymakers in the sense that it provides insights into the possible interventions to curb Afrophobia on social media.

What are some of your proudest academic achievements?

My proudest moments are that I passed my undergraduate well and received some awards and a distinction for one of the most difficult media modules. I also got an opportunity to work at the university’s branding, marketing, and communications as a trainee for journalism. I was also appointed as a senior mentor for first- and second-year media studies students.  

And finally, I completed my Honours dissertation with a distinction which allowed me the opportunity to apply for Master’s and receive funding again because my average was 75%.

Furthermore, I got a campus-based student job within the university as a news anchor, reporter and writer at the university’s community radio station, Univen FM.

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