Field Report: Verena Löffler

Also available in Deutsch

The ends of the earth have always been fascinating for me. I travelled to Australia in the far-east and studied in California at the far-west from a eurocentric perspective. After my matric, I decided to explore the very South, namely South Africa. A friend and I applied to help in an orphanage in Cape Town for a year. However, our application get lost (oh Africa) and I had to put my plans on hold. A few years later, I met the former head of KAS Media Africa and my curiosity about this far away country reached new levels. I wanted to see it with my own eyes, thus, I decided to apply for a position as a research assistant in Johannesburg: this mystic city that is supposed to one of the most dangerous in the world. It wasn’t an easy task to tell my parents about it, but in the end this little conflict was worth it!

KAS Media Africa enabled me to connect my practical experience as a freelance journalist to my theoretical knowledge being a student of Political Science. Christian Echle, head of the office, allowed me to conduct my first own research project outside of university. In April 2015, South Africa was distressed by a series of xenophobic attacks leaving seven people dead. The situation resembled the conflict that broke out in 2008 when 62 people died and more than 100 000 had to seek refuge. Back then, the media was highly criticized as having contributed to xenophobia with biased coverage. My research question was clear: How does the South African media report about xenophobia and migration movements now? With support from my colleagues inside and outside of the office, I was able to finish a report that sheds new light on the phenomenon of xenophobia in South African society.

But that’s not the whole story yet. The small but mighty team of KAS Media Africa gave me detailed insights into the daily work of a development agency. I helped with the organisation of conferences and events, researched profiles of participants, wrote reports and translated them. One weekly task was the research for Tops of the Blogs, a presentation of the best African blogs about currently debated issues.

Overall, I spent one of the most, if not the most, exciting and inspiring times of my life in South Africa. Johannesburg is a vibrant city with lots of contradictions waiting to be explored. The fragile and young South African democracy involves big risks, but ever bigger opportunities. The people who I met during my stay have a lot of potential and I am optimistic and eager to see what the future brings. One thing I know for sure: When I come back – and I most definitely will – things will have changed.

Researcher Verena Löffler

Contact person

Christian Echle

Director Regional Programme Political Dialogue Asia

Christian Echle
Phone +65 6603 6160
Fax +65 6227 8343
Languages: Deutsch,‎ English