Refiloe Mpakanyane

Refiloe Mpakanyane is the former host of ‘Weekend Breakfast’ on talk station 702 and host of the primetime SABC 3 tv show, ‘Trending SA’.  She has a penchant for arts and technology which underpin her entrepreneurial work in research and on-demand audio content.

Refiloe’s MC’ing and speaking work has seen her hosting corporate and NGO events, including a trip to New York in 2015 to share the stage with Trevor Noah, Danai Gurira, Bono, and U.S Presidential hopeful, Joe Biden. The event was the commemoration of the ONE Organisation’s World Aids day.

Her talks as a professional speaker are divided into two areas. The first relates to literacy and access to books in South African schools. She was a National Book week Ambassador for 5 years and before moving to China from 2016-2018, ran an annual book drive in the East Rand where she refurbished school libraries (which were often just storerooms) and encouraged learners to read, improve fluency and understanding.

Her second speaking and facilitation passion, fuelled by her time in China, is technology. While there, she was so impressed and given pause by the ubiquitous presence of technology in our lives, the convenience and the entrepreneurial opportunity it unlocked. But also by the widespread government surveillance that it enabled in such a highly plugged-in society.

Her approach to tech and digital literacy is not necessarily focused on the processing power of the latest device; instead, it is to bring into everyday conversation developments around the world which impact us greatly but don’t enjoy widespread or consistent media attention.

These include:

  • the dismantling of the Obama era Net neutrality laws in the US; why we should be worried and why our local Internet Service Providers Association claims there is not a need to legislate around this
  • the scenario-planning around the possible bifurcation of the Internet (American vs Chinese) and where that leaves the founding promise of the internet as a global commons
  • the realistic opportunities that tech presents in SA and what we talk about when we talk about that hackneyed term – 4IR.

During her radio shows, Refiloe takes every opportunity to address ‘obscure-but-important tech matters so we understand what we are opting into, just by virtue of picking up a phone, but most importantly what opportunities lie right at our fingertips.

She has also facilitated her fair share of data science and MERL (monitoring and evaluation) roundtables and discussion panels.

Having had her start in the radio newsroom over 16 years ago, Refiloe loves nothing more than researching and conducting a good interview, and with these passions in her arsenal, Refiloe moved on to producing radio and eventually co-hosting the drive show of one of the country’s biggest commercial music radio stations (Metro FM) – and all this while also working as a news anchor on eNCA for just under a decade.

Passionate about the creative arts, Refiloe has dabbled in acting (the Clint Eastwood movie, ‘Invictus’ and the local feature film ‘Nothing For Mahala’).

She has interviewed an extensive and eclectic mix of musicians, actors, politicians, and captains of industry. They include South Africa’s jazz luminary, the late Hugh Masekela, maskandi singer Busi Mhlongo, actors John Kani and Don Cheadle, American Civil  Rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, directors Chris Nolan and Gavin Hood of ‘Tsotsi’ acclaim, and U2 frontman, Bono.

Her proudest achievements have grown to include her literacy advocacy work (in collaboration with the South African Book Development Council) as well as using her platforms to include ordinary South Africans in conversations around technology and digital literacy.