Who's who in the non-white Web 2.0 South African Zoo

This blog post was updated for some corrections in June 2012.

Mandy de Waal, a freelance journalist, wrote this article on ITWeb, profiling top social media gurus in South Africa. When I first read it, I found offensive not because it’s inaccurate, rather because it is incomplete. The main reason I take issue with this is because it’s an example of lazy journalism. She interviewed eleven people, all white, asking them about their Web 2.0 dream team is. Maybe she did not have a non-white person on speed dial. Yet she could still have made her point without having to call them the white boys club.

Ramon Thomas “dream team” of black Social Media experts:

Vinny Lingham SEO guru Internet entrepreneurVinny Lingham: This is the one person I assumed Mandy de Waal would interviewed for her piece. Maybe she skipped him because he moved to San Francisco Bay Area for a period of time. I’m not sure where he was based at the time the initial column. Vinny is a master at raising start-up capital for his Internet business ventures. Beside his SEO background I believe his experience naturally leads him to role of business development. Persuading other people to invest their cash into your business is a crucial factor to business growth.

Khaya Dlanga youtube video blogger Khaya Dlanga: A video blogger on Youtube has over 10,000 subscribers on his Youtube channel. I first met him at the annual Digital Citizen Indaba, a blogging conference, at Rhodes University last year. In his day job he works for an advertising agency, according to his LinkedIn profile, the Jupiter Drawing Room, one of the top agencies in South Africa. Another feather in his cap is that Khaya is one of the contributors to the Mail & Guardian’s Thought Leader group blog. What I would like from Khaya is to produce a weekly video blog for myself and in turn I would like to help commercialise his videos. There is a great potential to create a DVDs (like the Ask a Ninja DVD) based on his videos and sell this online, direct to home or to video rental chains in South Africa. His outstanding quality is his sharp sense of humour and wit.

Rafiq Phillips SEO guru bloggerRafiq Phillips: Cape Town based SEO expert, hardcore technology blogger and Internet evangelist blogs at WebAddict. He is the co-creator of iDrive a portal for finding driving schools in South Africa. Both of us represented South Africa as bloggers at the TEDGlobal Conference in Tanzania last year. The iDrive platform was accessible on MXit until recently. The innovation from him has led to him being featured on a Carte Blanche segment in March 2008. Rafiq would be the obvious person to run search engine campaigns and also act as the lead blogger to drive traffic and attention.

Charles Ash bruin-ou.com webmasterCharles Ash: The founder of the Bruin-ou.com community portal for multiracial or mixed race people. Charles has a technical background in the IT industry and started this community website while living in Cape Town a few years ago. Its been a labour of love for him and I was once more directly involved. He has built a 10,000 strong user community and a website that generates over 3.5 million page views per month with zero funding or institutional support. Since he started his own hosting company, Charles would be my choice to run the technical back-end from hosting to system administration.

Nur Ahmad Furlong designerNur Ahmed Furlong Cape Town based WordPress guruNur Ahmad Furlong: A web strategist and graphic designer also based in Cape Town. He blogs at Nomad-One and also at TechLeader. From what I can tell he is a fantastic designer but what really strikes me as unique is his ethically motivated approach to business. The fact that he has been spearheaded the launch of WordPress meetings in Cape Town is a testament to his passion for getting the good word about the WordPress open source blogging platform out and bringing together the growing community of enthusiasts in South Africa. I look forward to having him redo some professional blog designs for me in the near future and maybe some other branding work that requires a sharp eye for detail.

Yusuf Mahomedy Worksucks authorYusuf Mahomedy: Author, work radical and blogger at Worksucks and Work911 on The Times. His professional track record is impeccable as a Tax Consultant at Ernst & Young and Senior Manager in HR at MTN Group. What impresses me about him the most is his output: he has published 2 books (Worksucks & Smart Reward Strategies) and contributes to trade journals like HR Future. Since 2007 we have delivered several seminars together and most recently this Internet Cafe workshop. What I would like from him is help in self-publishing my own book, and also putting all the business processes in place, especially those who focus on human resources as I continue grow my business and move from casual to full-time employment of people.

Mario Olckers copywriter graphic designerMario Olckers: A multi skilled web developer, blogger, copywriter, graphic designer at Hogsback Media Networks. Mario was first introduced to me by Charles Ash, and even though we have not yet collaborated we have had numerous conversations. His skills in copywriting are what I need the most. You can also follow him on Twitter since I deleted my account.

Consider some statistics from TechLeader group blog in terms of contributors by race:

Race Contributors Percentage
white 54 88.52%
black 2 3.28%
coloured 0 0.00%
indian 5 8.20%

What about me, Ramon Thomas? Interested in my contributions to Web 2.0 or Social Media in South Africa. Read or listen to the following interviews:

Sometimes I wonder will South African media ever, ever be more representative. When white people own most of the media companies, produce most of the radio or television content, publish (edit) most of the newspapers, magazines or websites, what do you expect?


Bloggers represent South Africa at TEDGlobal Conference

Two of South Africa’s leading bloggers will be attending the first ever TEDGlobal conference in Arusha, Tanzania from 4-7 June 2007.

30 May 2007 (Johannesburg): South Africa will be represented by two of it’s most distinguished bloggers at the TEDGlobal Conference held in Africa for the first time.

TED (Technology Entertainment Design) is an annual conference held in Monterey, California and recently, semi-annually in other cities around the world as TEDGlobal. The presentations, normally limited to 20 minutes, cover a broad set of topics including science, arts, politics, global issues, architecture, music and more. The speakers themselves are from a wide variety of communities and disciplines.

Nine South Africans have been awarded Fellowships to attend. These Fellowships are sponsored by multinationals like AMD, GE and Google and covers the costs of attending the TEDGlobal conference for those who would not otherwise be able to attend.

“We are very excited to represent South Africa at such an important global conference,” says Ramon Thomas, Managing Director of NETucation, an online research and training organisation. “The conference will expose us to our counterparts in the rest of Africa, and we look forward to collaborating with them to build a new future for Africa.” Thomas will be bloggingu the conference at his www.netucation.co.za, which was a finalist in the Best Business Blog catergory at the SA Blog Awards recently.

The TED.com website has won accolades and awards for it’s video podcasts of the lectures. There are currently a 109 videos available for download from the website and every month new ones are released to the public from the most recent in 2007 going back to 2002 at the moment. The speakers include lumanaries such as Jane Goodal, Richard Dawkins, Ashraf Ghani, former Iraq Finance minister, and many more. Several of the videos focus on solutions for Africa and the thirds world in the areas of poverty alleviation, architecture and town planning.

The conference co-producer is, Emeka Okafor, who spoke with Thomas, at the first Blogging Indaba held at Rhodes University’s New Media Lab in September 2006. Okafor, is a Nigerian living in New York, and blogs about business in Africa at http://timbuktuchronicles.blogspot.com. TED invited him to act as program director because of his intimate knowledge of unusual entreprenerial business in Africa.

“I’m thrilled to be attending a TED conference after watching and learning from all the amazing video clips from past events available on their website.”, says Rafiq Phillips, one of the top 10 bloggers in South Africa and co-founder of iDRIVE.co.za – a driving school search egnine, has also been selected with Thomas to attend TEDGlobal as a Fellow. Phillips will be blogging his experiences at www.webaddict.co.za.

There are over 25 South Africans who will attend TEDGlobal as Fellows, attendees, speakers, performers and technicians.

For more on TEDGlobal please visit:


Ramon Thomas
Managing Director, NETucation
Mobile 082 940-7137

Rafiq Phillips
Founder, Your Group of Web AddiCT(s)
Tel 021 591-3321
Cell 072 399-9888


Learning and Support using MXit

[This blog entry has been edited and updated on 9 Sep 2007]

Cape Town bloggers Rafiq Phillips uses MXit offering customer support for his idrive.co.za project. This idea can save small businesses money if they consider the implications – offering a support contact on MXit which can be accessible from any cellphone anywhere in South Africa (currently over 5 million users and growing at 13,000 new users per day). With some software development this service could be linked up with a call centre, if one already exists, and give clients the option of contacting your call centre via MXit.

Secondly today I met with Childline Gauteng to discuss a potential partnership to promote online safety more widely and through their regional offices. Laurie Butgereit, a researcher from Meraka Institute, part of the CSIR was also at the meeting. I was completely blown away by their project, Dr Math, which offers learning support and tutoring through MXit . The pilot at one school in the North West province is growing daily in numbers. For now the focus is on Mathematics but this mobile education programme will be rolled out with science and other subjects in future.

With this project educators can begin to warm up to MXit in new and interesting ways. And I’m looking forward to innovative ways to continue where William Smith left off.

* special note
add any of the numbers 27799923960-9 as a MXit contact to access Dr Math.