Reaching large audiences with important information is a challenge faced by many government departments. Carefully considered policies can fail at implementation if key audiences remain disengaged.

This was the difficulty faced by the South African Department of Environmental Affairs when engaging stakeholders about the Biodiversity Economy. The Biodiversity Economy presents opportunities for people to improve their lives and create wealth from nature, whilst ensuring its sustainability for future generations.

The DEA recognised the power of storytelling through comics and cartoons – where complex messaging can be conveyed in exciting and engaging ways. Jive Media Africa, with over a decade’s experience in science engagement using comics, supported the department’s  vision, ensuring accuracy of messages, presented in simple language with compelling graphics.

Getting creative is crucial when it comes to conveying important, yet complex, messages to a wide range of audiences. Stories, and particularly comics, are an excellent medium for grabbing attention from audiences who might ordinarily shy away from new information. The posters, which combine colourful images and text lay out a narrative and effectively take readers on a journey. Along the way, they pick up key information, and start to see how they fit into the picture.

The Biodiversity Economy posters are available here:

Building Business from Biodiversity
Living Treasures
There’s Wealth in Wildlife 

They are shared with Creative Commons licences so you are welcome to copy, print and share them.

Don’t be ignored. Talk to us and find the perfect medium for your message.

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) lives the spirit of ‘engaged research’ at their Sweetwaters office in kwaMpumuza, South Africa. Jive Media Africa is proud to have produced a film that showcases the HSRC’s Sweetwaters site. Here, in the heart of Kwa-Zulu Natal, the HSRC undertakes ground-breaking research and society-led development efforts from within the Mpumuza community. The film serves as a communication tool which the HSRC can use to help them share their experiences and learnings with the wider research community.

“Thanks Jive Media! It was a lot of fun making this short film showcasing our work over the past 10 years in the Sweetwaters community.” – Dr Heidi van Rooyen: Executive Director, HSRC Sweetwaters

“We enjoyed working with you at our office and in our community. I strongly believe that everybody working with Jive, you leave them smiling, like us. Keep up the good work. It is easy and joyful working with you and I hope that we will meet again very soon. Thank you so much.” Sifiso Qwabe: Project Facilitator, HSRC Sweetwaters

Find out more about the HSRC Sweetwaters office here

Community Engagement is a key aspect of the work of the Human Sciences Research Council’s Sweetwaters office. The research centre is situated in the peri-urban Vulindlela District and undertakes social science research on a range of issues affecting local communities. The learnings from these communities can be further shared and applied in other settings.

In order to better understand the needs of this community, the HSRC Sweetwaters office embarked on a photovoice project. Photovoice is a participatory action research strategy primarily used in research involving marginalised communities. Photography is combined with other techniques, (e.g. critical dialogue) to encourage participants to reflect on and speak to community concerns. The images (and by extension the voices) can create awareness, engagement and meaningful dialogue with stakeholders and decision makers.

The intention of the project, was to work with vulnerable youth from the Sweetwaters area to gain insights into the challenges and risks faced by the community, especially as they are experienced by young men and women.

Research communication specialists, Jive Media Africa was asked to assist with the production and facilitation of a number of community events, designed to disseminate the outcomes of the project. Two events were held, an exhibition at the Jack Heath Gallery, curated by the Centre for Visual Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and a gathering of residents from the Edendale area which formed part of the study.

In order to showcase the work of the photographers in these different settings, Jive Media Africa adjusted the delivery mechanism for each setting. For the gallery exhibition, the images were printed and mounted individually. These images have subsequently been sent to the office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban. For the event targeting young people and residents of the study area, which took place in the Caluza Sports Centre, the images were printed onto long vinyl banners. These banners will be used in an ongoing tour to schools to continue to engage young people in discussions about issues of importune to them.

In addition, Jive Media Africa has created a portfolio of these images in printed form.

Dr Alastair Van Heerden, a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) Sweetwaters Office, posed interesting questions at the opening of the Amazwi Ethu: Speaking Back exhibition held at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.  What qualifies as photography art? Would it have been better to show images taken by professionals?  It was clear from the exhibition that amateur photographers are equally, if not more capable of conveying important messages about their perceptions and experiences of the world. Amazwi Ethu is one of the outcomes of a photovoice research project implemented by the HSRC Sweetwaters office. The aim of the project was to allow young people from the Sweetwaters community to raise their concerns and experiences through photography.

As research engagement specialists, Jive Media Africa was contracted by the HSRC to assist in the production of a series of community engagement events to profile this research to a wider audience. This included a public exhibition of photographs at the Centre for Visual arts (CVA) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), a community meeting in Edendale and the production of aprinted catalogue.


Research is an essential tool to secure health and wellbeing for the people of Africa and the world. Without deeply understanding the complexities of health issues, we are unlikely to develop the necessary innovations to address them. However, when that research involves human subjects, it becomes critical to consider both the potential benefits and the potential risks of that research. It’s a complex field, and one which requires unique responses to local challenges. Jive Media Africa are proud to be working with the South Africa Research Ethics Training Initiative (SARETI) to develop communication tools to support the initiative by celebrating and nurturing health research ethics expertise in Africa.

SARETI is an African-based, multi-disciplinary Masters programme at the University of KwaZulu Natal (Pietermaritzburg) focusing on strengthening and deepening research ethics in South Africa and Africa. SARETI provides a variety of educational opportunities, varying from short courses to full masters programmes, and partners with numerous organisations in Africa, the United States and Europe. SARETI’s staff represent many facets of research ethics and are drawn from South African and international universities.

Jive is particularly excited about this work because it challenges us to think about how to do better public engagement around science. As an organisation which spends a lot of time navigating spaces between science and society, we feel that research ethics practitioners have a lot to contribute to the discussion on public engagement. Research ethics processes require researchers to engage with participants, often members of the communities which suffer the health problem at hand.

And this engagement doesn’t only happen at the end of the research as a way of “disseminating” findings but by necessity happens before, during and after the research. Not only do experts have to find creative ways of translating their science in order to have conversations with “non-science” audiences, but they are also compelled to listen to the responses of these audiences – and to think through the benefits and the risks of their research.

That kind of interaction fundamentally alters the research and over time, shifts the research agenda. And in a world where decisions are made for millions by relatively few, having meaningful conversations with people about their health and wellbeing, and about the impact of research in their lives, has to be a good thing.

Please visit the SARETI website if you would like to view or receive copies of the 2010 to 2014 newsletters:


Announcing Story Press Africa:

Story Press Africa, an imprint of Catalyst Press (USA) and Jive Media Africa (South Africa), is a collaborative platform for sharing African knowledge.

Through the medium of stories (including graphic novels, young adult and children’s literature) we aim to place African knowledge in its rightful place among the knowledge of the world. We publish African stories for a global audience; authentic, challenging and frequently controversial visions of the continent that birthed humankind.

We debut this fall in the US with the graphic novel Shaka Rising: A Legend of the Warrior Prince, by Luke Molver which is the first in our African Graphic Novel Series. Watch this space…


Where did human beings first begin to wonder, investigate and create? Growing scientific evidence now suggests that it was right here, under African skies. And this process, repeated over millennia, now continues in the creation of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope. Jive Media Africa is honoured and privileged to have worked with the SKA in South Africa on the creation of a book which aims to deepen and broaden public interest and engagement with the SKA project. The book, Journeys of Discovery – Stories of Human Innovation in Africa, positions the  SKA within a larger story of over 200 000 years of human history and innovation on the African continent.

The book highlights scientific and technological advancement on the continent by exploring themes as varied as imagination and innovation, the human odyssey, pyrotechnology, early chemistry and early engineering, with beautiful images of symbolic innovations and development in Africa. The book provides an overview of the SKA project and how its objectives and long-term scientific benefits link to the story of human innovation, and ultimately to our future as a species.

The book was researched, written and produced by Jive Media Africa, in association with leading archaeologists and origins researchers. The publication has been exceptionally well-received and an exhibition highlighting key themes and images from the book and an official launch will follow. (Watch this space for more details).

“The products were brilliant and far exceeded expectations. The science communication experience and proficiency was of the highest standard. There are many highlights stemming from where the product was used.” – Mr Lorenzo Raynard, Communications Manager – SKA South Africa

Feature image: Ostrich eggshells covered with engraved geometric patterns found in Diepkloof Shelter, near the coast, north of Cape Town. Image credit: PJ Texier



How do we go about changing the way South Africa understands and invests in Early Childhood Development?

Jive Media Africa has been part of a research-process led by the FrameWorks Institute in Washington to better understand how experts, stakeholders and the public understand key issues in Early Childhood Development (ECD).

The aim is ultimately to work towards creating new narratives which can be used to communicate key learnings about ECD to positively transform our society. The research report which was designed and produced by Jive Media Africa, is entitled: Early Means Early – Mapping the Gaps Between Expert, Stakeholder, and Public Understandings of Early Childhood Development in South Africa.

The work has taken place in co-operation between the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development, Stellenbosch University, UNICEF and the MRC/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit. The report was authored by Eric Lindland (PhD), Prof. Linda Richter, Prof. Mark Tomlinson, Ntombizodumo Mkwanazi and Kathryn Watt.

Jive Media Africa was privileged to support the Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Human Development with its science engagement activities at the CoE Directors’ Forum which took place on the 25th and 26th of August 2016 at the Howard College Campus in Durban. The Centres of Excellence programme is an initiative of the National Research Foundation and the Department of Science and Technology that takes place annually. Jive supports CoEHuman, the first of the CoE’s with a focus on Social Sciences, with science communication services. These range from communication strategy and media production support to developing engaging ways to interact with the public around the science being undertaken through the programme. School learners were very excited by and engaged with the activities at the exhibit. Here are some photographs from the event…

Dr Phil Mjwara (Director General of the DST) and Prof Linda Richter – Director of the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development


A0 Shellscheme Posters

Jive Media Africa is proud of these short films/ documentaries that tell the stories of some of the community members whom Dlalanathi supports (an NGO providing psychosocial support for children through play by training and supporting caregivers).

Mr & Mrs Gwala – Families healing families

Dlalanathi – Mr & Mrs Gwala – Families healing families from Dlalanathi on Vimeo.

Building The Road – Youth changing preceptions of youth

Dlalanathi – Building The Road – Youth changing preceptions of youth from Dlalanathi on Vimeo.

Gogo’s story – Healing through play

Dlalanathi – Gogo’s story – Healing through play from Dlalanathi on Vimeo.


Tel: +27 (033) 342 9380/2
Address: P.O. Box 22016, Mayor’s Walk, 3208


Tel: +27 (033) 342 9380/2
Address: P.O. Box 22016, Mayor’s Walk, 3208

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