Updated: Feb 8
Each week, frayintermedia highlights a journalist doing good work on the continent and honours them as our #FaveOfTheWeek. Meet award-winning Cameroonian journalist Rekiatu Musa Jingi who is passionate about the visibility of people with disabilities, children, women in the media.
Q. How did you become a journalist?
A. As I got older I became interested in current affairs and the wellbeing of girls and women. I would always want to watch TV and listen to radio news with my dad and recount what I learned. I would recount the stories to my friends back in school and when they asked followup questions I didn't know what to say so I got more curious wanting to know more and complete the stories I heard.
I did, of course, have a glamourised idea of what being a journalist involved. They’re made to look like their lives are full of freebies, press invites and beautiful soirees with celebs and the rich and powerful. The reality, however, is very different.
I started my degree in Journalism and Mass Communication in 2010 at Advanced School of Mass Communication in Yaounde Cameroon and thereafter spent three years working incredibly hard and learning the reality of what it is to be a journalist. From day one we were sent out to find stories, talk to people, get interviews, find contact details, and make it happen. It’s a skill I have continued to use both in my job and in my day to life and I’m very grateful to have learnt that it's ok to push for what you want.
Besides my university work and deadlines, I actively tried to create relationships with editors and journalists working in the fields I was interested in. Although it was a compulsory part of my course to graduate with honours, work experience was the best learning experience I had to prepare for full-time work. I worked in television newsrooms, online, and met some amazingly talented people whom I learnt so much from. One of my work experience appearances even led me to the job I’m in now, working as an investigative Journalist for the Cameroon state broadcasting media CRTV in the Adamawa region in Cameroon.
Q. What does being a 2020 Labour Migration Reporting award winner mean to you?
A. After having my bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication I wanted to travel at all cost to foster my studies. During that same period, lots of Cameroonians returned from Kuwait, Lebanon, and Dubai in tears as they recounted their ordeal during their stay there in search of greener pastures. Most of them were exploited as sex workers and not as domestic workers, waitresses or shop workers. Their heartbreaking stories changed my mindset and shaped the way I see the world.
The Labour Migration Reporting award to me is an honour and will push me to want to tell more compelling stories about migration. Given I`ll have the opportunity to do some courses on labour migration which I formally don’t have I’ll be able to write my story more professionally. Labour migration is still considered a hidden issue. Good journalism is about seeking the truth and trying to let the voices speak, not putting them at risk. Millions move to the Middle East in search of decent work. Media reporting on labour migration plays a critical role in how we view migrant workers. I think it’s the beginning of a new era in my reporting.
Q. What draws you to tell stories about women and children?
A. I feel devoted to being an investigative reporter covering humanity, advocating for girls and women's rights while promoting the education of the girl child to re-imagining African women. I escaped early marriage in a predominantly Muslim community like the Adamawa, where girls are still given out for marriage as young as thirteen. As a Muslim girl growing up in a conservative home it’s a privilege for me to get an education.
So I decided to use my writing skills to advocate for social change and gendered religious issues in northern Cameroon. I have a radio show where we discuss women issues like girl child education, sexual reproductive health, gender-based violence, the inclusion of persons with disabilities and more. I keep telling compelling stories about women because when girls are educated and empowered they help grow economies making them agents of positive change. I discover that women have more to give and are always left behind.
Q. What stories should African journalists tell?
A. As journalists, we have the ability to educate, inform and shape public perception. Positive stories change mindsets and build the Africa we want. Stories that will promote peace and togetherness. Some people around the world see Africa as a country, which isn’t right. So African journalists should report more on the potentialities of Africa. When we talk of Africa, we talk about culture some of these cultures have held us down, others have propelled us. So it’s our role as African journalists to decry all these evil customs that hold us back from exploring our diverse potentials. Stories that promote peace and show our cultural diversity that makes us unique as a continent and not what colonial masters have shaped.
Q. What makes an exceptional journalist?
A. Having a passion for your work makes you an exceptional journalist. Whether that passion is for gender issues, justice, health, migration or education, passion is what fuels journalists to pour their hearts and souls into a story. It ensures that the finished product is the best and most informative piece possible. Being goal-oriented makes you stand out.
The ability to be goal-oriented and think in terms of the future makes you a remarkable journalist. Many unique journalists I’ve come across work hard from school, sacrifice time with their families and risk sustaining the wrath of the public throughout their careers goals. To be exceptional you need to spend your personal time or even weekends dedicating yourself to your skills and take some time to evaluate your goals and maybe even set some new ones.
Finishing a story may not always be easy or even safe, but exceptional journalists display firm determination to report different events to the world. If journalists were to give up on a story every time a situation felt risky or an important piece of information was tough to get, many important world events would have gone unmentioned. That doesn’t mean journalists should put their life at risk but for even the smallest news stories, a resilient determination to do your job professionally and ethically can not only make you a better reporter but also lead to career growth.