Publishing only a handful of stories a week means that we at tagged! are very picky about what we put out, so every read is a top read. But, one can have favourites among favourites, so here are our editor Pearl Boshomane's favourite tagged reads of 2020, in no particular order.
- Exclusive interview with Sindi Dlathu and Larona Moagi of The River (by Andile Ndlovu)
So fun to watch: we managed to get Andile Ndlovu into a virtual room with the inimitable and iconic Sindi Dlathu, and the incredibly talented and dope Larona Moagi. The topic? The River, of course, and what it's like leading one of the most popular shows in the country.
- Blood Psalms: Elevating African stories to epic proportions (by Phil Mphela, portraits by Neo Baepi)
This was the first thing we did on tagged: an exclusive interview with Bokang Phelane, star of the upcoming Showmax and Canal+ epic, Blood Psalms. The series will be out in 2021, and it's definitely something we plan on featuring a few more times. I legit can't wait for this show.
- Sisanda Henna's work imitates his life closer than we think (by Gabi Mbele)
He's been one of the country's top actors for several years, and he's had a particularly busy period as of late, starring in Trackers, Rogue and Inconceivable. But instead of saying "I am nothing like my characters, I am a thespian", Sisanda Henna basically told us he has lots in common with the characters he portrays, which made for a refreshing read.
- Millennial pursuits and trauma at their most honest (by Naledi Sibisi)
I'm still too triggered to finish this show. Michaela Coel really set the world alight this year with the magnificent series I May Destroy You, and Naledi wrote a piece that became the blueprint for what we do at tagged: take a TV/ movie review and add a personal, raw touch to it.
- Gomora & the portrayal of sexual violence against the male body (by Kulani Nkuna)
Such an important topic, one I feel we don't explore nearly as much as we should. One of the most polarising (hate to even say that) storylines on Gomora is the sexual exploitation of pupil Teddy by his teacher, Miss Manzi. Kulani Nkuna writes a piece about why the young male body isn't afforded the same privileges its older counterpart receives.
- The 90 Day Fiancé empire is peak Hetero Ghetto (by Pearl Pillay)
You know that Marie Kondo gif where she says, "I love mess"? Yeah, that's me. And when it comes to messy reality TV, few do it better than the 90 Day universe. Pearl Pillay wrote a piece about why it's so addictive – and problematic.
- On Kelly Khumalo & women who dare to live their lives on their own terms (by Rofhiwa Maneta)
For me, this isn't about whether or not Kelly Khumalo was in fact involved in the murder of soccer star Senzo Meyiwa. Rather, about how willing and even overly eager people are to condemn women for perceived (or imagined) wrongdoing. It's about how some women make more acceptable victims than others.
- No end in sight for Arsenal's silent night (by Carlos Amato)
One of the traits of a damn good piece of writing is if it can enthral the reader, even though the subject matter isn't something they would typically be interested in. I care very little for sports, but this piece is so delightful that it's no wonder it's one of my favourites from tagged this year.
- Who needs the Windsors when you have the Kardashians? (by Mvelase Peppetta)
Cheeky is my favourite genre of writing, and this piece is as cheeky as it gets. With the UK royals dominating headlines and social media in 2020 (and long before that, of course), Mvelase decided to pit them against the only famous family he feels deserve royal status: The House Kardashian of Calabasas.
- We love TV villains because we are all accomplices (by Andile Ndlovu)
You gotta love it when a writer takes a topic (the women in Phathu Makwarela's universe) and turns it into a meditative, artsy, semi-philosophical piece about why we love to hate our villains onscreen and how that communicates perhaps uncomfortable truths about ourselves.
- The impact of Orlando Pirates is unquantifiable, but here's a glimpse of their sheer power (by Mazola Molefe)
I swear, this has nothing to do with me being a Pirates supporter. The piece is an excellent, evocative exploration of the rich history of Orlando Pirates Football Club with a kicker (i.e. final sentence) that made me gasp because it's that beautiful. An editor's dream.
THE LONG READS
- KUWTK: 15 years of being an unstoppable force (by Zoe Msutwana)
I asked Zoe Msutwana, massive Kardashian stan, to write a 500-word piece about the reality TV queens – I should have known that was a tall order. Zoe submitted a 1,500-word piece that was so good we split it into a two-part series. It's great to have a serious, intelligent, analytical piece about a subject matter so many people approach with disdain and look down upon (namely reality TV and the Kardashians).
- Xhosa commentary gave black rugby back its voice and musical sound (by Simnikiwe Xabanisa)
It's difficult to remember the Springboks' 2019 Rugby World Cup victory without hearing the voice of the brilliant late commentator Kaunda Ntunja. In this beautiful, evocative piece, Sim takes us through the history of isiXhosa rugby commentary, using Ntunja as the lens through which to view this story.
- A horror film about the omnipresence of abuse (by Naledi Sibisi)
The Invisible Man is one of the best films of the year, and as an abuse survivor, I loved how it perfectly captures the ubiquity and omnipresence of abuse. The film's star Elisabeth Moss bodied this performance, and Naledi Sibisi wrote an incredible piece to match.
Thank you to all our contributors for a wonderful year. Thanks to MultiChoice and to the tagged! team – Unathi Shologu, Amukelani Chauke and Zola Tanana – for every darn thing. And most of all, thank YOU for reading! Stay safe, see you in the new year x