Young people hold the answers to achieving sustainable development in Africa. These wise words come from Nontobeko Tshabalala. Nontobeko is from Swaziland, she is a journalist, blogger and social media extrovert. She believes that good writing enhances the experience of life and is working towards fulfilling that. Nontobeko is passionate about the youth and their involvement in making worthwhile contributions to the discourse around issues such as gender disparity, Afrocentricity. Nontobeko talked with our SLA contributor, Itumeleng Mphure on becoming a woman worth watching.
How did you get into journalism?
For the longest time, I wanted to be a lawyer but when I got to grade 12 I didn’t think that I would be happy as a lawyer in 30 years’ time. Then I had a conversation with my father and he told me that there can only be satisfaction in a salary if there is job satisfaction.
So I applied for journalism at the Durban University of Technology because I love reading and writing. I went to a Technikon where they teach practical skills. What lead me into journalism is actually the reason why I wanted to be a lawyer for the longest time. It is because I can make strong arguments and find evidence to back it up.
Which publications have you written?
Before I moved to Ethiopia I was working at the Swazi Times as features editor and I am still a weekly columnist for Swazi News. I have also worked at the Sunday Tribune (Durban) and Soul Magazine (South Africa).
What’s the best you have written so far?
Every time I write an article I write it as though it’s the best I will ever write. When Lupita Nyongo had just won an Oscar and received a lot of publicity I wrote a piece about how it’s important to see dark girls in the limelight so that girls who look like that know that it’s okay to be dark. I wrote this article because there was a big debate over Lupita’s dark skin.
Makila James who is the US Ambassador to Swaziland took that article back home for her family to read because she felt that it resonated with every black person. It is time for Africans to accept their different tones of their skin colour.
What are you most passionate about?
I want to lend my voice to the continued liberation of women. I don’t have a definite plan of where exactly I see myself in the future but I know that my passion will lead me to a place where I can advocate for women.
What’s currently on your mind?
Furthering my studies. My professional experiences surpass my academic qualifications and that makes me feel uncomfortable. Right now I am at the African Union (AU) and the tables I am sitting at require me to further my studies.
What lead you to joining the AU?
I have the constant desire to be better and improve myself so when the call for the African Union Youth Volunteer Programme came, I applied and now I am serving as the Special Assistant to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission. I was chosen as one of the Media Institute of Southern Africa’s (MISA) Women to Watch in 2014 but I am constantly working towards being a woman worth watching.
What’s your fondest beach side memory?
It was in Mozambique. I went to apply for a visa to France and I had lunch by the sea side. It was a very stressful day but I eventually got my visa. I had lunch at the seaside and also took a walk. It was so calming and that’s what I remember most about it.
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