It’s another time that I spend my week in Mombasa. The heat, oh my God!!! I find it too hard to cope with! I feel like a foreigner in Mombasa, I wonder how I coped when I lived in here! It seems like a new venture all together.
The exchange program under FK-Norway consists of four main programs. The preparatory course, always done to introduce foreigners to life abroad, the exchange program itself, home-coming seminar where you attend a course that kind of prepares you on how to adjust back to your society after months abroad. The successful completion of this, leads to a one month follow-up work where participants initiate projects in which they share their knowledge and experience with their organizations back at home.
July last year while in Kenya, together with other members from the Association of Media Women in Kenya, AMWIK lead by Hellen Ruud, Norwegian Journalist we had successful trainings at the United States International University, USIU, Magenta College and Zetech College in Nairobi. Coming from the Coast Province, I always feel obligated to give back to my community in any way possible. This is the reason I proposed to carry out part of my follow-up work at the Coast. I am in Mombasa therefore, to conduct training sessions with the journalism students at Daystar University- Mombasa Branch, Mombasa Aviation and Mombasa Polytechnic University College, together with other AMWIK members, Triza Mwanyika and Maureen Mudi both of whom have been on exchange programs before.
On Female Journalists
I am looking forward to seeing how these trainings turn out in Mombasa. Our quick observations and conclusions during the trainings in Nairobi, was that many journalists are not sure about journalism, what is it all about, what is in store for them in the real market? Will they make it in the main stream media houses, if they do not secure jobs, what can they do? How long does it take one before they get absorbed in the mainstream media? What about the female journalists with the tainted reputation?
“We have read and we have been told of many stories that seem to be going on in these media houses, there are claims that most successful female journalists have slept their way up, how true is this?” Asked one student at USIU. Surprisingly enough, this was one question that seemed to have bothered all the female students in all the media schools we visited. Very sad! These and other worst claims have been made before and continues to be made about female journalists. Why doesn”t the mantra- beauty and brains work for journalists?
“When you decide to get into media, especially in Kenya, be sure to expect anything said or written about you, after all someone has to get a salary at the end of the month. Gossip, especially media gossip makes Kenyans go wild. So you are either the target or the source, this is the sad news!”Advised Njambi Koikai of Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, KBC who joined us for the trainings at USIU, where she is also a student.
During my stay in Norway, I tried to find out more about these generalized stereotypes about journalist and the case was similar. “Journalists will never make successful relationships, they are always working, have no time for their spouses and in most cases they are never at home, so most of them in Norway are single or divorced. Only a handful have successful marriages.” Said a Norwegian friend.
Stereotyping of Journalists
Then, I realize that this is not just a Kenyan stereotyping of journalists. We once had a huge discussion about it with my friends from Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Norway and quite a number of things were said. I pity such kind of thinking, this is simply because many fail to understand that journalism is about passion, is about a calling,it is about a deep-rooted desire to use the media power for a major course. So if one does not have a supportive partner, such a relationship is definitely bound to fail.
“Come on Patience, you should have known this by now. It is known everywhere, that Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, NRK, and I am taking about the largest and the best media institution we have in Norway, together with the Ministry of Foreign affairs, these two, top on the charts with the most divorcees’. Said a Norwegian friend. She continued to point out that one reason that has been attributed to divorce cases with marriages involving journalists is the fact that they seem to love their jobs too much and are never there for their families! “This is of course with the good package that comes along with this career,” she added.
In Kenya, just like my Ugandan friend noted, this has been a contentious issue for a long time and when people discuss such a topic, they always seem to have names on their fingertips, so they will always go like, look at so and so and so and so? Why are they not married? How come they got married and their marriages did not last?
Somehow, this is one huge misconception that continues to worry students who plan to venture into this profession. How can they make a balance between such a tasking career, family and social life?
I still insist, journalism is a calling, if you do it with passion, the fruits of your hard work will always pay, however long it takes! Determination is the key. It takes time to build an audience, you will meet quarks who will criticize your skills upright, criticize your personality and tell you how pathetic your journalism skills are, and of course this serves for all careers. There is always someone who may want to bring you down, hang on there. Journalism for a long time has been a male dominated field and therefore, it is not easy for women who want to pursue this journey, but hold on there are many successful women who have made it and without sleeping their way up, so you too can be that woman…… “Every success story has a history, Only you, can write your story!”