In an event that brought together many of the influencers shaping South Africa, Daily Maverick broke new ground with its speaker conference held at the Victory theatre on Friday, 23 November 2012. Billed as "The Gathering", the event showcased 14 heavy-hitting speakers from politics, media and civil society. Daily Maverick set the platform for much-needed dialogue about the impact of Marikana, the battlefield of Mangaung and the future of the State and its interaction with the media and other areas of social activism. This dialogue was mediated and hosted by comedians John Vlismas and Tumi Morake, who brought a fair amount of much-needed humour to the stage.
The event kicked off with a trio in South African politics - the ANC's Paul Mashatile; Cosatu's Zwelinzima Vavi and DA leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, who were probed and questioned by the Daily Maverick's own panel of associate editors. Closing the first quarter of the speeches was none other than Section 27 chief activist, Mark Heywood. Thereafter, some heavyweights within the media debated and discussed pressing issues about the state of South Africa and the responsibility of the media during these chaotic times. Ferial Haffajee (editor of City Press), Nic Dawes (Editor of Mail and Guardian) and Chris Vick (reputational manager) were joined on stage by 702's Aubrey Masango as a moderator, whilst the Daily Maverick panel fielded questions their way.
The most sombre speech was definitely that of Pulitzer Prize-winner Greg Marinovich and the mystery speaker, Bhele Dlunga - a Marikana mine worker who was subjected to police brutality and intimidation - giving a platform to a voice that has never been truly heard before. After such a low point for South Africa (in terms of Marikana), branding expert Yvonne Johnston gave a speech on re-branding South Africa and our ability to bounce back from such horrific and devastating events. As a guest speaker, Jay Naidoo presented his views in addressing the tumultuous times that South Africa faces advocating a grass-roots approach solution.
The day closed off with the last collection of speakers - Wayne Duvenhage (from OUTA), Daily Maverick's Ivo Vegter, Daily Maverick's CEO Styli Charalambous and the final closing speech by Public Prosecutor Thuli Madonsela. With such a strong line-up of heavyweight speakers and the topics of conversation being of a serious nature, the Daily Maverick once again provided relief (both comical and thought-provoking) through a series of interruptions with the assistance of ZANews and the street poet and wordsmith, Andrew Miller.
With the Daily Maverick going from strength to strength, founder Branko Brkic believes that they are in the perfect position to co-ordinate such events, coordinating this star-studded line-up with ease. Brkic argues that such an event represents the purpose of The Daily Maverick itself - namely "to tell the truth, to the best of our abilities."
CEO of the Daily Maverick, Styli Charalambous, delivered a poignant speech which described his own personal journey with the Daily Maverick as well as the future plans of the Media Organisation. When asked about the event, Charalambous replied, "These events not only entrench people's belief in what we do, but also assist in the Daily Maverick's strength and evolution as we, ourselves, grow."
With such an incredible success with The Gathering 2.0, many are waiting to see what the Daily Maverick's events will offer in 2013. We're pretty sure it will be something special.