Hayibo! Have you heard this one?

2008-05-02 00:00

Have you read about the latest conspiracy theory doing the rounds — that plate tectonics are part of a sinister British plot to keep England further away from Zimbabwe?

And are you aware of the latest proposal on sports quotas for South Africa — four pensioners, six people with Aids and four unemployed people in the national sports teams?

Heard the one about the Saudi Arabian scientists who are denying the existence of the vagina? Or about Eskom’s decision to resolve the power crisis by burning Zimbabwean bank notes?

Well, if you haven’t, then you haven’t tuned in to South Africa’s new satire website Hayibo.com.

Launched in January by Cape Town Media agency Sunday Media, Hayibo describes itself as “South Africa’s second best source of satirical news, after the SABC” — and the website is averaging growth of about 50% a month.

“We’ve started small, but we’ve had a great response,” says Sunday Media co-owner Anthony Pascoe. Pascoe, a sports-mad former SA Ultimate Frisbee player who says he loves to laugh, lists some of the people, institutions and issues that Hayibo has “taken the piss out of” in the past four months — “the American elections, Zimbabwe, Japanese whale hunters, the Democratic Alliance, the Freedom Front”.

Pascoe (35) worked as an Internet sports journalist in Cape Town and London before starting Sunday Media, an outsource content agency.

“I worked in London from 2003 to 2005 and returned to South Africa after our son was born. We wanted to raise him in South Africa.”

Hayibo came about as a result of a conversation with former Mail & Guardian columnist and author Tom Eaton last year.

“We spoke about the American satire site, The Onion and how it had become so successful … We discussed how, in South Africa, there is a lot of funny stuff going on. We have so much material and, even though a lot of it is serious, there is fun to be had in spinning situations to see the amusing side.”

Eaton now oversees the content of the website, which updates every day with one new topical story.

Pascoe and his team have no trouble finding stories. “Even with situations that are dire, such as [President] Thabo [Mbeki]’s handling of Zimbabwe, we can take the piss.”

Pascoe believes strongly that South Africans desperately need to laugh, and that, for people who are positive, creative and dynamic, South Africa is the land of opportunity. “There is so much scope to be successful. There are problems, like the petrol price. But I am positive about this place. I also want to make a difference, to be active in the country and to make it better.”

Pascoe emphasises that the team at Hayibo are not angry. “We are not pushing any agendas. We are not like David Bullard, for instance. We do not try to be confrontational.”

Like Eaton, Pascoe believes that South Africa needs robust and brave media, for the political health of the country. “But I think we also need robust and brave people to take the piss, for our emotional health.

“There’s enough angry satire out there. We want Hayibo to be a great way to start your day in a country and a world that seem increasingly loony.”

Get your daily satire fix at www.hayibo.com.

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