Each week, frayintermedia highlights a journalist doing good work on the continent and honours them as our #FaveOfTheWeek. Meet Malawian journalist Chimwemwe Mikwala who is the deputy chief reporter of current affairs at Yoneco FM. Mikwala is the 2020 MISA Malawi Awards Adult Literacy Education Journalist of the Year (electronic) winner. She has a passion for health issues, especially those that affect women and children.
Q. How did you become a journalist?
A. I knew since I was young that I would like to be a journalist. I know it sounds cliché. I was in grade seven and in Sunday school at church. We had a time where kids could showcase their talents. One of the activities lined up was "What's in the papers?". So we mimicked the way reporters present bulletins and their programmes on radio.
So after that, I was like: "Mom, this is what I would like to be. I would like to be a journalist.” Of course, my mom wanted me to be a nurse.
And she tried, you know, manoeuvering and said being a nurse is more rewarding than a journalist. I'm glad she respected my desires and also supported me.
Q. What does winning the MISA 2020 award on adult literacy education mean to you?
A. So to me, it just cemented my being a journalist. And also it means that I have what it takes to be here.
It was a deliberate effort, working on a story, working on a report, making sure that it's at a standard to compete at that level and win. I was so glad that I got to win this award.
Q. What stories should African journalists be telling more?
A. I think we should be telling more stories based on a victim's side (of the story). We don't really speak to the victims themselves. And it's not easy to get to the victims. Some are not willing to talk. You go to a victim who has been sexually harassed, who got pregnant, you know, this is a young girl and they're not necessarily willing to talk. But being a journalist, you have to have those skills where you can approach and be able to talk to someone who is a victim and you hear their stories, how they can be helped and do not just stop there. Ensure that you go back and see what solution can be done. Mostly, we just write a story then we drop it.
Q. Despite all the challenges in the profession, why do you continue to be a journalist?
A. This is what I've always wanted. And me being a journalist is my dream come true. And you get to see the world from a new angle each and every time. It's not like business as usual, life as you live it every day. You live a different life almost every day. You get to know different personalities and different backgrounds.
I have my own challenges as a girl and also as a female reporter [but] this is what I really wanted to be. And also because of the experiences I've gotten. Malawi has 28 districts, I've been to all those 28 districts.
Q. What advice would you give a budding journalist?
A. Have a vision.
Why are you a journalist and where do you want to be? Don't let life happen to you. Make things happen in life. Let's say you work for an organisation and you have to produce two stories a day. If that's all you do I don't think you're going to get anywhere at all.
There are going to be hassles along the way and they're going to be hard. There are going to be some limitations but don't allow them to get to you.
Is there a journalist you would like to see featured as a #FaveOfTheWeek? Let us know by sending us an email on email@example.com.