The demographics of this list of 29 or 30 people (I keep counting and get a different number), according to my unofficial census, indicate a bias toward male tweeters. Of the 29 (or 30), 16 are men, 12 are women and I don't know the gender of one (or two) person.
But here goes. The people I think you should follow, and why you should follow them. They are in no particular order by the way, the numbers are there so I know how far I have to go.
29. @RanjeniM: I have been following Ranjeni for quite some time, and she really interested me when someone else on twitter, whom we mutually followed, threatened suicide, then disappeared. She was found a few days later under circumstances I didn't really understand. But Ranjeni's calm and measured reaction to it, which I agreed with 100%, set her apart from the plethora of "I AM UNFOLLOWING THAT BITCH" etc. So I started following her more closely - you'll see, she's on my "mass-debate" list, and I realised just how intelligent she is.
28. @Ghost1609 This chap is one of the football extraordinaires on Twitter, but I think we started following each other during the Cricket World Cup (let's not talk about it). Now we discuss anything, all the time, and both have opinions on just about everything, from Ricoffy to footy to US politics. Like me, I get the impression that Mr Ghost1609 is a jack of all trades. Also enjoys a scotch which makes him a good oke.
27. @Mthombothi, Editor of Financial Mail: Some people are just awesome to follow. Barney Mthombothi is just a great passer of opinion, from international and domestic politics, to football and cricket. Whatever it is, it's interesting. Some people just have it (there's also a few of these on my list).
26. @sboshmafu: The funniest person on Twitter. I shit you not. Hands down. If you're South African you'll find her even funnier. Absolutely awesballs.
25. @helenzille Probably the next funniest person on Twitter. Ideally, you'll catch her during an aggressive meltdown, or during a fat argument with someone. Then just sit back and enjoy.
24. @AltCricket is my favourite account dedicated to the world's greatest sport. A lot of people have wit when it comes to the sport. AltCricket has more wit than the others, and a deep understanding of the game, which only those who are lucky enough to be obsessed can understand. If you are a cricket fan in the remotest sense, follow right now. The World Cup, when I discovered the account, was far more enjoyable due to AltCricket. I won't go through a Test series without them now.
23. @paulyberk: Also lank funny, and a cricket enthusiast. But fucking sharply intelligent. Watching Berkowitz argue with someone is a treat, as it is done with ace precision. He is also one of those writers with a fairly rare ability to deal with complicated things (in his case, electoral statistics) and turn them into something we can all understand. Well, not me. I don't need it. I am clever. Ask him to write you a limerick, too.
22. @murrayingram: I can't remember how I found Murray Ingram's account, but we started DMing once when we realised we had a mutual friend, and this turned into a conversation about politics. I think our political backgrounds are quite similar, and it is now great following someone whose point of view comes out of the same development as my own. While I may not agree with him on everything, I can understand what he means all the time. It's a totally personal favourite, this bloke, but I would expect some universal appeal too.
21. @Keithlevenstein is one of the few business people I follow on Twitter. Like his bio says, he is a believer in transformation, and it's great to see someone explain the principles of affirmative action, and the principles around it, in a practical sense. Interpretations of these laws is often done in a highly opinionated manner. While Keith is also opinionated about it, he explains what he means. Respectable bloke and not scared of his opinion.
20. @KingBiyela: There is no one in Twitter who is more opinionated than Lunga Biyela. No one, I tell you, but he has a great focus on sport which is why I initially started following him, but with opinions ranging to just about anything. He's damn amusing. Just follow him and see. You're totally missing out if you don't.
19. @biobot: This dude is also hilarious, and is the editor of SA Sports Illustrated, so it's not surprising he's not short of wit or sport quips.You don't have to be a sport fan to follow him, there's plenty of humour about everything.
18. @mtyala: I am still quite new to the news profession, and there are a few journalists I really eye with respect - you know, the kind of person you'd like to be. Mr Mtyala has measured responses to everything, and is quite often right. Sometimes biting without getting hysterical. It's kind of awesome.
17. @Thabo99: Thabo is undoubtedly one of the most argumentative people I have come across on Twitter, but what some people perceive as annoying, I view as an ability to learn stuff. Thabo is very well read and very very thoughtful. One can choose to bat what he says, or listen when he explains why he thinks it.
16. @BrazilFinance: The name is pretty self-explanatory, and is another of the very few finance people I follow, but intersperses financial quips with news, opinions and whatnot. It's nice to see another developing economy's ups and downs so succinctly listed. Certainly worth a follow.
15. @NomalangaZA: Undoubtedly one of the smartest people on Twitter with an amazing scope of knowledge on all things South African, and always up for a debate over what she feels strongly. I am certainly brighter for following.
14. @UnathiKondile: Earlier I mentioned @Thabo99 as being argumentative, but there is no one on Twitter who is up and ready to defend (or attack with) his point of view like Unathi Kondile. A lot of people might find Unathi difficult to take in because he's quite (well, very) brash, and it's doubtful that a consensus will agree with him, but you are seriously missing out if you don't follow him. In terms of South Africans, we would do well to expose ourselves to those whose points of view come from a place completely different to ours - particular people my age who had a half-apartheid upbringing. Unathi Kondile is a case in point. Says a lot of things that many people need to hear, and a hell of a lot more on top of that.
13. @GugsM: Some people are just cool. It's hard to work out what the most appealing aspect of Gugulethu Mhlungu is. She is just awesome. Rapier wit, dinkum South African, just bloody awesome. It's hard to sum her up in a few words. Just follow.
12. @mandyldewaal: This is another journalist I have buckets of respect for: fearless, thoughtful and I have an immense amount of affection for her. Fearless is an odd term, because Mandy doesn't get ridiculous: fearless with immense brainpower would be a more accurate description. The kind of journo I would like to grow up into.
11. @yxspacemonkeyxy: It's weird - I have no idea who this tweeter is. I do not know if they are male or female (I actually found out recently but now I can't remember), black, white, coloured or Asian, old, young, nada. But uber-smart, and well-thought out responses to issues with a good dose of humour. Again, it's that mixture I find so appealing.
10. @joshjordaan: Another argumentative type, but listens as well as dishing it out, proving that not all people in their early twenties are stupid. If my recollection is correct, we sparred first over the African Union's involvement in Libya, and since then I am very glad I followed. Opinions flow from his BlackBerry keyboard like wine does in my house, but I get the impression there has been thought added to them, even when I disagree. From a vocal DA supporter, it's quite refreshing. Can also be bitch funny.
9. @Karenjeynes: A master of the English language. As it is the only one I speak with any effectiveness I play with it often, and Karen Jeynes is the ideal foil. She's very smart, a stunning writer and knows a lot of things that go on currently, and not so currently. She's one of the folks that just "gets it". Although she's also oddish, which makes her even more attractive to me.
8. @mspr1nt: I started following mspr1nt because of our mutual obsession with cricket. But she is 1,000 times more than that, although primarily a sports fan. She's also an Arsenal fan, for her sins, but I have forgiven her this due to, well, Arsenal. She is an animal lover too, and we have had one or two convos on Twitter where we both leapt to the defence of someone. My timeline is far happier with her in it, even if she's whining.
7. @becsplanb: Another one with rapier wit, and a fiery temperament. Let's be honest, that's a pretty hot combination, isn't it? I only came across Rebecca when we started working together on iMaverick but I have a total and severe Twitter crush on her because she's awesome all the time.
6. @TOMolefe: To be honest I have a feeling I have known him for way longer than 2011, but if I pulled his name out now I would end this list at 2. I do so heart Mr Molefe who is, without a doubt, one of the smartest political (and other) interest people I know, and isn't scared to mouth off, although he remains quite polite, at people who have dumb ideas. I think he very clever, enjoy his articles, and the amount of crap he talks. He's also great company over wine, by the way.
5. @Mabine_Seabe: I am not quite old enough to view younger people as the future, but I do anyway. SA will be in great hands when Mr Seabe is in some kind of leadership position. He is on top of politics in all sectors, and is happy to shit out one party as happily as he is the next. He's wonderful, actually. He will be in the cabinet of @Zamantungwa_K when she's the president.
4. @amaeryllis: The top US tweeter in the whole country. On top of every issue, and BITING BITING BITING criticisms of those who are stupid and/or wrong. Happy to nail both sides, is 100% frank, believes what she says and knows a hell of a lot about everything. If you follow US news in any fashion, you are missing out by not following her. She's awesome. Of of my absolute favourite Twitter accounts in the world.
3. @khadijapatel: I started following Khadija when the Arab Spring kicked off, and have never looked back. By complete fluke she became a colleague and it meant I spoke more and more to her. Not only is she one of the top writers in South Africa, she has a knowledge of what is going on in the Middle East and international relations that must be one of the top in the developing world. Also a cricket fan, incidentally. She's incredibly intelligent, speaks 100 languages and cooks wonderfully. For an excellent news source, you should follow her immediately.
2. @USEmbPretoria: Not only is USEmbPretoria the greatest twitter account for news from various sources about the African continent, it has also, directly, helped loads of people. I am not going into detail I am afraid, but I fucking adore him/her.
1. @JoziGoddess: One of the most respectable people I have ever come across, and another arguer who is prepared to fight her very well-thought out corner. She is an amazing writer, although you have to pinch her until she'll admit it, and a superb conversationalist. It's not all intense though, JoziGoddess has a wonderful sense of humour - well, I find her funny - and discusses hair and weightloss as easily as she discusses racism and politically contentious topics.
(See I fucked the numbers up) 0. @phillipdewet: I will happily confess to Phillip de Wet being one of my idols - my favourite journalist in South Africa, and I am very appreciative that it is him who has taught me, directly and indirectly, most of the stuff I know. Phillip was one of the first journos to live-tweet press conferences in SA, which was when I started following him, and progressed to live-tweeting his experiences at township protests, slums and so on. He doesn't cover these sorts of events from afar, getting properly stuck in so that we, who read his stuff, get it virtually first hand. He's obviously a lot more than a Twitter account: most of his real classy work is in article form, but for the purposes of this post, we'll limit it. I am so heart for him.
There were others who got close, or who would have been on this list last year (but I didn't do one). @comradesipho is a colleague and drinking buddy, @lesterkk is one of my favourite people, @6000 is my best blogger in SA, @Lihle_Z is my partner-in-crime in New York City, as is @NadiaNeophytou. As I mentioned earlier, @Zamantungwa_K is going to be president one day. @KevinMcCallum is king of sports. There are obviously people I have forgotten.
And @magicmike1313 gets a special mention because he provides me with goods and services that you don't.
Who are your favourites?
EDIT: There was always a chance I was going to forget someone, and MvelaseP has been a staple on my timeline. I am quite sorry I didn't mention him - he's a class act and you should totally follow him. Oke loves bacon: respect.