Rebecca Rwakabukoza: Stay humble, Stay hungry!

It actually gives hope to have media see women as more than the boxes they have ticked us on Click To Tweet

Rebecca Rwakabukoza is a Ugandan feminist blogger and freelance journalist who writes at the intersection of gender, feminism, health, and social justice. She is currently co-organising dialogue initiatives to improve gender equity in the Ugandan media sphere. As a 2014-2015 Global Health Corps fellow at ACODEV in Uganda, she led efforts to improve knowledge management and communications for the organization.

Rebecca completed her undergraduate studies at Amherst College where she was a United States Student Achiever’s Program Scholar and Koenig Scholar. She spent her summers during college with the Uganda Village Project in Iganga, Uganda Rural Fund in Masaka, and interning at the national daily newspaper, Daily Monitor.


As someone who majored English in college, are you surprised to find yourself working in the global health space? What drew you to the field?

I was lucky that I studied in a liberal arts curriculum so while I majored in English, I took classes across several fields. I was not surprised to find myself in the global health space because while public health was not offered as a major at Amherst College, I was able to take plenty of classes in the field, both at Amherst and at the other colleges in the 5-college area. Also, I interned in the field.

Global health was one of the fields that I knew I would always end up in because it just felt natural. My mother is a nurse, and I grew up knowing that conversations about health were especially important outside the doctor’s room.

You’ve spoken widely on global health and social justice, including at TEDx Live in Kampala. For so many of us, public speaking can be overwhelming.

Why is it important that we raise our voices for what we believe in? Any advice on how to stay calm on stage?

For me too! It was very scary to stand on the stage. I had practiced several times with friends, and the TEDx organizers in Kampala. Some friends in GHC had also filmed me while I practiced and I got to watch myself before. I went over my script several times and was afraid it would sound practiced, so definitely getting to watch myself before braving the stage was good.

This might sound cliche but I think ultimately what helped was choosing a topic I was most passionate about. Speaking from the heart should be scary, but it does have a way of calming you when on a stage. Because you know, if anything, at least I was true to myself.

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What is your major source of inspiration in the face of challenges and obstacles?

I draw inspiration from so many places, depending on the gravity of the challenge. If it feels like Rwenzori Mountain level stuff, then I have to call in the big guns: my mother and grans. They field many calls and sometimes we don’t even talk about what the issue is, but just speaking to them about something random helps.

I am really big on history so I suspect some of my attachment to them is the stories they tell. Plus they are pretty incredible women. I also get a lot of inspiration from archives so I listen to a lot of history podcasts and visit the Uganda Society library to read old books. Digging through history is my happy place. But also, food. I am a stress eater.

Can you tell us about a mentor or advisor who really made a positive impact on your life?

There are so many! There has always been someone holding my hand through life, from primary school to now, seeing a better, more hardworking, more focused, smarter, more empowered version of me and helping me work towards her.

If I had to pick just one, I would say my college advisor, Professor Rhonda Cobham-Sander. I don’t know how she believed in me or why, but she did and it made all the difference.

Rebecca Rwakabukoza says better media coverage is good for women’s health Click To Tweet

You’re currently working on improving gender equity and representation of women in the media in Uganda -so cool! What’s the tie in with health?

Health ties into everything. Some of the biggest issues women face right now are health-related: access to family planning, gender-based violence, maternal health. The most direct answer, therefore, is better coverage is good for women’s health. But the project I am co-organising however, is more than health and the specific women-related issues. It actually gives hope to have media see women as more than the boxes they have ticked us on -boxes that either have to do with our reproductive health or that see us as caregivers in society.

Media that allows for the presence, and wisdom, of women in their coverage and sourcing is good media. It is what media should be period. Anything else is a disservice to the community.

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And you recently became a mother -congrats! As a woman who is identified as a feminist, what are your hopes and dreams for your daughter’s future?

Thank you! My wish for her is that she gets to choose. To choose how she wants to live her life, to choose who she would like to be, and how she would like to contribute to the universe. And if she doesn’t want to contribute, that’s fine too.

Now, the hardest part I suspect is going to be my role in this. I hope I am able to teach her enough and may she -goddesses willing- be an even better, stronger, more badass feminist than I will ever be.

Which accomplishment -personal or professional- are you most proud of?

I am yet to do something and look at it and think of it as my biggest, or best, achievement. I am still working on things and it all only goes higher. My next one is my biggest.

What is one leadership mantra that you live by?

“Stay humble. Stay hungry.”


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Sihle Hlophe: The film industry still largely sexist, and at times racist

Sihle Hlope chooses the stories that she wants to tell through her communications business Click To Tweet

In a modern world of film, deeply ingrained and out-dated sexist misconceptions are still stamped on film scripts and video cameras. It wouldn’t be a truthful to say the women working behind the scenes of some great productions, worked with smiles on their faces from beginning to end. In South Africa, there are some really talented women directors who do not get enough recognition.

Sihle Hlophe is a rising 30-year-old film director who is challenging the ingrained sexism of the industry through storytelling. Sihle has openly spoken about sexism in film. She is a holder of the current ICA fellowship and the chairperson of Writer’s Guild of South Africa.

Journalist, Khethiwe Mndawe got to interview Sihle for SLA while she was in London for the Screenwriters’ Festival with the Writers’ Guild of South Africa.


Briefly describe how running your own business in the film and production industry has been for you as a young black woman.

I started my company, Passion Seeds Communications in order to promote minority languages and make a contribution towards the alleviation of youth unemployment. I also wanted to give a platform to marginalized female technicians such as cinematographers, editors and sound recordists.

Although the journey has been rocky, it has also been very fulfilling. The biggest challenge is the difficulty in accessing funding for films. However, the government has progressive incentives in place to help young entrepreneurs.

Another challenge is that the industry is still largely sexist, and at times racist. One has to be persistent; knocking on doors and getting rejected repeatedly is not for the faint-hearted. The best part about owning my own production company is creating jobs, training young people and of course, getting to choose the stories that I want to tell.

Which film production projects have you done that closely targets stories related to Mpumalanga or the neighbouring borders, eg, Swaziland?

Both of my short films are SiSwati films. You can see some of them on my Twitter page. I have not had the opportunity to shoot in Mpumalanga. This is due to lack of support from the province, even though both my films are ‘set’ in Mpumalanga.

I shoot in Gauteng because that is where I get support. I must mention though that I was deeply touched when the Department of Arts & Culture recognized my work by presenting me with a ‘Best SiSwati Film’ award at the Mpumalanga Provincial Arts & Sports Awards in 2015; I just wish that support would extend to actual productions.

Also, I did a short documentary a few years ago based in Swaziland. Its topic is related to the reed dance of virgin girls.

One has to be persistent in face of the challenges in the film production industry Click To Tweet

Which countries abroad have you visited and what were you representing there?

My film ‘As I Am’ has been screened at prestigious film festivals in the USA, Switzerland, Tanzania and here in South Africa. With support from the Department of Trade & Industry, my company Passion Seed Communications has been to film festivals and markets in France, the Netherlands, the USA, England, Germany and Canada.

I was also an exchange student in Helsinki, Finland during my final year as a film student at Wits University. Other countries I have visited include Brazil, Kenya, Lesotho, Poland, Estonia, Holland, Swaziland and Botswana. I would like to visit Asia next.

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What unique experiences did you come across in these countries?

I have experienced many unique things in many different countries.

One of my greatest experiences as a filmmaker is when I am afforded the opportunity to share my story with people from different walks of life. To see that story resonate with those people is the most powerful thing a storyteller can experience.

@NubianStorytela's films have been screened at prestigious film festivals in different countries Click To Tweet

What changes would you like to see in the industry when it comes to opportunities for African women directors?

There are some really talented women directors who do not get any work or recognition because of deeply ingrained and outdated sexist misconceptions. It’s truly sad. Some directors are also subjected to sexism and sexual harassment. I would like to see this change! Enough is enough.

I would also like to see the government of Mpumalanga investing in its talent and supporting filmmakers like other provinces do. I have more chances of getting support from the Durban Film Commission than I do in my own home province. For me, that is a tragic situation.

What have been you greatest achievements so far?

Finishing my Masters degree under very trying circumstances and writing and directing two SiSwati films. I am an advocate of minority languages.

In fact, the title of my Masters paper was, “The Underrepresentation of Minority Languages on SABC 1: The case of SiSwati“. I have been passionate about promoting my mother tongue for as long as I can remember.

You were recently granted the ICA fellowship, congratulations! What is it about?

I was one of the fellows chosen by The Institute for Creative Arts (ICA) for 2016. The opportunity is awarded to creative thinkers and doers in diverse disciplines. ICA fellowships encourages collaborative dialogue around issues of urbanism, community, historical legacy and the postcolonial imaginary.

Fellows are encouraged to test boundaries, engage with new publics, and to explore the critical potentialities of live art. The ICA is particularly excited about the diverse contributions and imaginative ways of thinking presented by this year’s fellows –from performative writing, dance and music, to art, curatorship and interdisciplinary research. Conversations, exhibitions and public interventions presented by fellows will be announced in due course.

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Tell us briefly about “Nomfundo”?

“Nomfundo” is a short film about a conflicted, young woman whose life is irrevocably changed when she has a transcendental encounter with someone from her past.

The film is currently in post-production. It is my second SiSwati film and it stars Lucky Khoza. Lucky is one of the few SiSwati actors who has gained recognition for his hard work over the years.

Sihle Hlophe is an advocate for minority languages and shoots films in SiSwati Click To Tweet

What current project are you working on or promoting?

I have just started filming my feature-length documentary, “Lobola, A Bride’s True Price”. The documentary interrogates the idea of lobola (the bride price) from both a feminist and Pan African point of view.

I am also a national fellow at the University of Cape Town’s Institute of Creative Arts and the Chairperson of the Writers’ Guild of South Africa.

Your latest film sounds like very enthralling and personal topic. Can you tell us more?

In “Lobola, A Bride’s True Price”, I will be turning the camera on myself, and sharing my journey to becoming a married woman. I am a proclaimed feminist and someone who is both ‘Westernised’ yet deeply rooted in African identity. Through this unique perspective, I will be unpacking the notion of bride price in a way that can only be done by someone with extremely close proximity to the subject matter.

I describe it as, “vacillating between the scientifically sound written history of the West and the oral history of my elders”. The documentary will navigate numerous ethical and cultural landmines, challenging feminist beliefs about marriage as well as my identity as a South African woman of Bantu descent”.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Arit Okpo: I call myself a socially adept introvert

arit oko she leads africa
@menoword presenter/producer of @TheCrunch_EL is a socially adept introvert Click To Tweet

You may have seen Arit Okpo on TV and marveled at her grace and poise. Arit currently produces and presents The Crunch, the flagship news show for Ebonylife TV. On The Crunch, she discusses and analyses current affairs issues and stories.

When she’s not producing content or presenting shows, Arit writes prose, opinion pieces and discussions on current affairs. And she doesn’t stop there, Arit has also functioned as facilitator and event MC for a number of public functions.

With all this, it’s kinda hard to believe that Arit is an introvert. For someone who is constantly in front of the camera (whether at work or on her very active Snapchat), Arit has found a way to make her shyness work for her as she forges her path in Nigeria’s media industry.


How did you come to be a presenter and producer?

I had been thinking about going into media for a while, but thought it was going to be purely behind the scenes as a Producer and Director. One day in 2013 however, I got a call from my now CEO Mo Abudu, informing me that she was launching a new show and that she thought I would be great for it.

I had participated in her reality show The Debaters in 2010 and she had remembered me. Even though it was totally unexpected, I knew immediately that this was the opportunity I needed and I said yes to the job!

As someone who is shy and an introvert, how do you appear so comfortable in front of the camera?

I call myself a socially adept introvert, meaning I have learned how to engage actively in social settings. I bring this to my work in front of the camera, I try to chat and engage as if the people I am talking to are friends sitting right there in the studio with me.

When I’m in front of the camera, I talk and act in the very same way I act in my everyday life. In a nutshell, instead of stepping out of my comfort zone, I take my comfort zone to work with me.

Instead of stepping out of my comfort zone, I take my comfort zone to work with me - @menoword Click To Tweet

What is the typical day in the life of a producer like?

I produce a daily news show and so my day usually consists of; previewing the episode going to air that day, then checking that all the other inserts of the show are ready or being prepared (we produce these ahead of time). I check invitations to events and say yes to the ones that align most closely with our direction as a show and send these off for scheduling.

Then, I review the work we have to shoot and try to craft a direction for it. I check the news for the next day and send it off for recording and finally, I scour the web for possible stories and guests that we can feature. This is aside from the meetings, budget preparations, planning and general craziness that is all in a day’s work.

What do you think other young women can learn from you career path?

There is no one way to achieve your goals. My career path is very varied but each time a new opportunity came up, no matter how out of the way it seemed, I always looked for (and found) a thread tying it to the past and leading to my future.

Don’t be afraid to say yes to unexpected opportunities and don’t be afraid to try things you’ve never tried before.

Don’t be afraid to say yes to unexpected opportunities @menoword's advice on career paths Click To Tweet

Do you have a career development plan? If so, can you share it with us?

I am very excited about curating and sharing the everyday stories of the continent. Whether it’s our food, our habits, our people or our politics, Africa is a very interesting continent.

I look forward to creating content that celebrates the very fabric of who we are –our similarities, differences, hopes, failures and successes.

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You’re very active on Snapchat. Do you use this medium to actively build your brand or is it something you do for fun?

It’s pure fun for me. It’s a chance to share my everyday life, my thoughts and my activities.

I enjoy the chance to share with people a little bit more about who I am away from the camera.

Your hairstyles and clothing choices on The Crunch are always on fleek, what’s your favourite clothing item?

I have a fantastic styling team that does such an awesome job of making me look good and they’ve given me some incredible looks.

For my every day look, I’m crazy about my ankara pants of which I have quite a number; they’re comfortable, versatile and made in Nigeria!

Do you always have a good night’s sleep?

Nope! I only get a full night about 2 nights a week. I am very nocturnal and so my brain starts to wake up around 10pm at night and goes strong till 2–3am.

Sadly, this lifestyle is not very compatible with a 9 to 5 job, meaning that on average, I get about 5 hours during the work week.

I look forward to creating content that celebrates who we are - @menoword Click To Tweet

How do you find time to write while working full-time on The Crunch?

I have to say that it is not always easy. Sometimes I am tired, other times I am simply not in the mood, especially because my job makes me associate writing with work.

Deadlines help though, once I have a submission deadline I make it happen. I’m going to work on writing more next year though (I say this every year).


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Jabu and Gugu: It’s difficult finding women in film to take up crew positions

foxy five
Jabu & Gugu from @TheFoxyFiveTV team clue us in on feminism and self-care Click To Tweet

We all know the challenge of getting African parents to understand what you’re doing when you’re not in a typical 9-5. Now, imagine if you were making a webseries?

The Foxy Five is a hot web series that brings lessons from intersectional feminism in post-Apartheid South Africa through five characters. It draws creative inspiration from Blaxploitation cinema and based goddess, Pam Grier.

SLA is excited to see gorgeous women bringing magic to our screens. We were doubly excited to speak with two women from the Foxy Five team. Jabu Nadia Newman is creator, writer and director while Gugu Radebe is the show’s producer.

With them, we uncovered the joys of being part of a production team that is all-women and why South African women are at the forefront of change. We also got Jabu and Gugu to share what should be inside a self-care toolbox.


Why use a 70s edge to tell the story of intersectional feminism in post-Apartheid South Africa?

Jabu: I used a 70’s edge to create a cinematic world for the characters. I knew that a lot of what was going to be in the narrative would be real experiences but wanted to stay clear of, like a documentary style.

I wanted the world that The Foxy Five live be influenced by The Black Panthers, Blaxploitation cinema, all of Pam Grier’s bad ass womxn characters and 70’s fashion. Fashion is a huge inspiration for me and I want all by work to be connected by a particular style or era.

What has been surprisingly easy about making your production team solely women? What has been difficult?

Jabu: The most amazing thing about working with womxn is the ideas that we come up with. Because we’re all relatively going through similar experience, we always seem to read each other’s minds and understand each other’s viewpoint and vision.

It has been a blessing to have these womxn trust my vision and understand what I’m —and we’re all— trying to do. I don’t think many men would have supported me when I first started The Foxy Five.

The most difficult aspect of working with womxn, is finding womxn in film to take up crew positions. Like finding a womxn sound recordist and engineer proved to be very tough. Oh, and getting time in everyone’s schedule to just meet and shoot is fucking hard. Like wow, black womxn are doing the most so we’re always busy.

The most difficult aspect is finding womxn in film to take up crew positions - @JabulileNewman Click To Tweet

Gugu: It has been surprisingly ‘easy’ in the sense that we are all womxn that know each other from different spaces and circles however when the call to begin the project came, coming together was effortless.

Creating a kind of sisterhood came naturally to us. With that mentality alone, it made it easier to come across different womxn that would want to be part of the project.  What has been particularly difficult is finding a predominantly black womxn team to fulfil production specific roles, however after a lot of researching we were able to find more womxn to fulfil the core roles in the production team.

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In your interview with OkayAfrica, you mentioned that South African women can add much more to the rest of the world regarding feminism.

Can you share what issues South African women deal with today and how they navigate them?

Jabu: Right now, South African womxn are leading the revolution and are at the forefront of bringing change. Plus, these womxn are also having to make sure that the movement is intersectional and call out all the misogynistic and patriarchal bullshit that is evident in the movement.

(South) African womxn also draw so much power and strength from their ancestors and pre-colonial history that when it comes to decolonizing feminism we need to be playing a huge role.

What particular challenges have you faced as South Africans making a web series?

Jabu: The biggest challenges as with any independent film-making is funding. And then next is probably getting our parents to understand exactly what we’re doing.

Gugu: What has been particularly difficult is sourcing funding. Considering that this web series medium is fairly new, not enough funders cater for this specific medium here in South Africa.

As intersectional feminists it’s hard to portray these five archetypal characters- or any others- without projecting our own individual thinking around topics that are raised.

Not enough funders cater for the web series medium in South Africa Click To Tweet

What can we expect from The Foxy Five in the next six months?

Jabu: Firstly you can expect the last 3 episodes of this season and then only bigger and better things for next year!

Gugu: We will be releasing our last three episodes soon and we’re still to unpack many layers of intersectional feminism all the way up to the finale.

In the interim we’ll be hosting fundraising parties come November in Cape Town CBD, keep your eyes on our Facebook Page for more information.

What do you think young black South African women need in their self-care toolbox?

Jabu:

  • Coconut water to quench the thirst —because the thirst is real
  • Long hot baths for our aching muscles
  • Vaseline for our lips
  • Flowers for our rooms
  • Shea Butter for the skin
  • “Girl Without A Sound” by Buhle Ngaba for lonely nights
  • Pap Culture for the laughs
  • And of course The Foxy Five for healing and feeling loved

Gugu:

  • Water
  • Good music
  • A book to write thoughts
  • Mom on Speed dial
  • Coconut oil

We want to know what amazing things young women are doing in your communities. Tell us about them here.

Makhosazana Ndlovu: No matter what happens, stay true to yourself

Makhosazana Ndlovu
Makhosazana Ndlovu is a woman slowly making her way through the media industry Click To Tweet

Makhosazana Ndlovu is a woman defined by her values. Her strong value system ensures that she sees through whatever decision she makes. This has helped her move forward in the media where she is slowly growing as a content creator and producer.

When she is not working at Hillbrow Radio Makhosazana also works at a NGO which gives young people skills they need to navigate their lives and careers as they grow up.

Read on to see how this young South African woman is doing her own thing and making strides in her career.


Tell us about your work as a producer. How has it contributed to your life?

My journey as a producer has been a whirlwind of emotions. But I believe that through this job I have grown a lot both as a person and as a content producer.

One of the exciting things about content production is that I get the chance to use my creative juices. And of course, my line of thought gets to be articulated by other people.

How did you start in the media world and what challenges have you faced?

I started early this year and I was motivated by my passion for journalism.

I had just finished my tertiary education and luckily there is a radio station (Hillbrow Radio) near my neighbourhood. I work at Hillbrow radio on a part time basis and I must admit that it is creating a leeway for me in media.

With my job, I am honing my skills as far as content production, news reading and presenting is concerned. I am also starting to appreciate and understand the celebrity culture more.

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You’re also involved in women empowerment campaigns, why do you think women need to be empowered

First, I am involved with women empowerment campaigns because women empowerment is one of the causes that I am passionate about. I think women need to be empowered because we still live in a society where women are marginalized and objectified.

I feel like elements of socialization still play a role in how women are treated or treat themselves. Therefore, my vision is to see a society where women make their own decisions independently without influences of socialization or patriarchy.

My journey as a producer has been a whirlwind of emotions Click To Tweet

Tell us about the NGO you work with.

Currently, I work at an NGO that aims to develop the youth from cradle to career.

The experience has been absolutely amazing and I have learnt a lot as I have grown both professionally and in general. The feeling of helping young people makes me sleep peacefully at night and puts my heart at peace.

What do you feel most proud of?

I am proud of most of the decisions I have made in my life. I am also proud of having completed my degree in record time.

Then again, I am also proud of the #womenforwomen campaign that I put together with a colleague of mine.

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If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

I would go to China, just to see the Great Wall of China.

Helping young people makes me sleep peacefully at night and puts my heart at peace Click To Tweet

What words of advice would you give other young women?

No matter what happens, stay true to yourself and stand for what you believe.


Hey South African #MotherlandMoguls, the SheHive will be in Johannesburg from November 3-6. Find out more here.

4 helpful tips from Angela Ochello in ‘The Governor’

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There’s just something incredibly beautiful about undertakings that require us to literally break our own glass ceiling. So many women are told to forget about venturing into active politics. And the appeal of this sector, especially in Africa has been generally zilch.

At least this can be spiced up in our imaginations. EbonyLife TV’s series The Governor follows the ups and downs of Angela Ochello the Governor of Savannah state.

We don’t know about you but for us, The Governor is particularly inspiring. We’ve learned a lot about decking out our own spaces, whether in politics, business, career or whatever it is we do. Here’s what else we’re learning from The Governor.

Dress the part

The 42-year-old Governor has a signature style that’s all her own, one that features a pixie haircut, classic and figure-flattering dresses and yes, dark lipstick. Equal parts sweet and no-nonsense.

It’s a look that says any woman can easily be the boss and still look effortlessly sassy, no matter her age. And it’s no surprise that we love it!

Age like a pro!

We’re a little, okay very, excited about the revelation that Angela is 42! She looks so fabulous. Yeah, we know there’s the popular argument that good genes are responsible.

Still Motherland Moguls, you can be a busy smart woman and still look this good. The days of looking raggedy in the name of being ambitious are behind us. Armed with the right information and care, you too can age like a pro.

Multitasking…our turf

It will surprise you to know that highly successful women like the Governor of Savannah state, also run successful homes.

Applying multitasking skills to your business or job actually works. Imagine that in addition to a hectic career or business, most African women still do school runs, cook, clean and get other life errands done. If that’s not superwoman-ish, I wonder what is!

Politics actually looks good on women

Any woman who can endure the brutalities of politics deserves our respect. If you’re unsure over your plans to join politics, Angela Ochello makes it look like it’s not such a big deal.

Real life hasn’t yet determined if more women, especially of African descent can safely attain lofty political heights. Still, we think women should go for it. It’s possible, ladies!

You can watch the series on Thursdays at 9pm WAT on EbonyLife TV (DSTV Channel 165).

Naomi Kamau’s 5 tips on success and mentorship

Mentorship needs to be built, enforced and embraced. This is what creates the next generation of leaders, to spur the growth and prosperity of a country. Through mentorship, I know I will leave a lasting legacy

– Naomi Kamau, Kenyan producer, actress and scriptwriter

There isn’t a soul in Kenya right now in love with local television drama that hasn’t heard of Naomi Kamau. Naomi is by far one of Kenya’s leading television producers and actresses. From her acting roles in “Mother in law” and “Shamba Shape-Up” to her popular TV production “Machachari”, she is described as an iron lady when it comes to the Kenyan production arena. It is evident that Naomi has done a lot for the Kenyan TV industry. Hers is a passion to tell the African story for what it really is. To showcase the ordinary Kenyan life, to use drama to solve social problems and to help others embrace their heritage and be proud of who they are.

As a mentor and a mother, what gives her the greatest gratification is when Kenyan’s appreciate their own, when they rave about Kenyan productions and when they see themselves or others they know of in the characters created. Naomi posits that this is the path to greatness for any country -embracing their own abilities, heritage, culture and splendor.

“Africans need to create content that is commensurate with the lives they live for this is what will entice and draw the audience into appreciating their own”, she says.

When mentoring the young people. First and foremost it is important to recognize that we cannot as entrepreneurs implement the dream forever and that we have to pass the baton on to the youth in order to create a culture of sustainability in quality TV productions.

“I have great mentors myself like Wachira Waruru, Latifah Ngunjiri, Catherine Wamuyu and David Campbell. Successful people, most of the time, have to have mentors who are older and younger than they are”, she quips.

IMG_0022Having studied air-ticketing and taught History and English to secondary school students at some point in her life, Naomi shared five steps that she believes is the sure pathway to a successful production career.

1. Identify your passion

“Passion should be what drives you to surge forward. My parents wanted me to be a teacher but the passion within me couldn’t let me pursue that. I ended up teaching for two years but the passion was at it again stirring deeply
within me. The one strange thing about passion is that it’s almost spiritual and so strong and real that it will not let you rest until you embark on the journey to your dreams.”

2. Take the first step

“It is evident that God will certainly not bless someone who isn’t working toward the dream. You have got to be on the journey that will take you to your passion irregardless of the circumstances. A lot of young people view money as a great impediment but it shouldn’t be, you can work for the people who you want to be like, that is a path that will somehow lead you to where you are looking to go.”

3. Be creative and resilient

In this industry young people can be anything they would like to be if they put their minds and hearts into it. There are vast opportunities in wardrobe, make-up, animation, graphics and writing that young people can explore and excel in.

4. Work hard

This is the essence of success. It means literally getting down and dirty. When things seem not to be working, strive on, Rome was not built in a day. It takes hard work and time to build a successful and thriving career.

5. Read and Research

You need to know what others in the industry have done so that you can create something better. Better still you can liaise with the people already there in order to create something better. Production is an expensive venture especially for a young person and mistakes cost money. It would be good to know what other people who’ve made it think of your work. That is the essence of having a mentor.

Lungiswa Moore: Women of colour need a positive community

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Community, sisterhood, friendship, marriage…these are all important topics for women of colour. Zimbabwe-born, US based Lungiswa Moore started her lifestlye and community website #mygirlsquad to foster positive connections online. Sisterhood is important and so is family and community but there are right ways to doing business with people you care about. Lungiswa share her tips on that and more.

How did #mygirlsquad come about?
#mygirlsquad is inspired by women of colour. We are strong, diverse and beautiful but this isn’t shown enough in the media and in our daily lives. Women of colour are grossly underrepresented. I wanted to create a platform to show the positive in women of colour, not just as individuals but as a collective and a community.

There’s not enough being told about the growing positive trend of amazing women of colour breaking boundaries and collaborating on great things to uplift their community. We’re happy, loving and ambitious – that should be the narrative.

What challenges have you encountered in the past with your business?

The biggest trial for me was actually having faith in myself. Tackling self-doubt and steering with faith alone is a very lonely road. There have been many times I’ve been awakened from sleep by my fear of failure. It has made me procrastinate on deadlines and even made me lose opportunities because I felt that I wasn’t the person for it.

As an entrepreneur, I feel that even if you’re running a one-man show, many things can go wrong in one day. However, if you allow your self-doubt and fears to overpower your faith and ambition to get through the day, you have already sunk your ship. Fear is inevitable. It’s a natural reaction when you’re faced with something unknown. Just don’t let it turn into doubt. When I start to get doubtful I always surround myself with affirmations. If you don’t have anyone in your life who can give you affirmations, you have to create them yourself. You need constant reassurance that you can do what you set yourself up to do.

As someone who has worked with friends, is there a right and wrong way to it?
From my experience there is. I’ve worked with many friends before and even with my husband. You have to first understand what your friend’s strengths and weaknesses are. It’s all fun and great when brainstorming ideas get flowing and there’s excitement about launching something together. But knowing your friend as a friend, and knowing your friend in business is different.

Your friend may have your back when it comes to personal issues, but when you start dealing with money, things become different. So understanding their strengths and weaknesses puts you both in a better position to work cohesively in things that best fit each other. Some tips from me

  • Always have a contract – this protects you both in case things go south.
  • Communicate. A lot of misunderstandings can lead to bigger issues if they are unresolved. Conflict can carry into your friendship and things can go very sour very quickly if not resolved.
  • Most importantly try to make time for your friendship. Sometimes, you become engrossed in the business side that the friendship gets lost. Remembering that you were friends before getting into business will go a long way.

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You mentioned working with your husband, how can young African women balance marriage with working with their partners?
As an African woman, I found this a challenge when I started. I, along with many other women, have been raised to always put your husband first in your marriage. While that works within a marriage, it doesn’t always work that way in business. You sometimes have to go with your gut or put your husband last sometimes. In any business relationship, there will always be a difference in opinion one time or another, and when that happens – you have to deal with that pragmatically.

I’m a passionate individual and I tend to have strong opinions. In instances where my husband would disagree with me, I would not only argue my point in a meeting but I’d find myself randomly arguing the same point while we’re watching our favorite show. That’s crazy! Knowing when to turn that business switch off is important, especially when working with your spouse. In a 9 to 5 it’s easy to come home after a hard day and vent to your spouse about your annoying co-worker or boss, but when you work together and the annoying co-worker is your spouse – it gets tricky. So, leaving business at the office and keeping the marriage at home is the best way to balance it.

Why is sisterhood important?
I’ve always believed in the power of numbers. No man is an island and you never succeed alone. As a woman of colour – why would you want to be alone, when you can be so much more as a collective? Collaborating with like-minded individuals, who share the same social and economical issues as you, in order to achieve something should be something sought after. We have a long way to go as women of colour – gender inequality, domestic violence, social and economic issues stunt our growth, yet we are the fastest growing demographic in several industries that include business and education. Imagine if we pulled all our resources together?


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How to start a media company with no money and no clients

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If you’re ready to take the leap and start your own media and communications company, there’s no reason not to! Sometimes life requires you to take just jump and make your idea a reality. There must be some method to the madness though especially when you’re on a budget and have no clients upfront.

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We got some insider tips from Anne Mazimhaka, co-founder and creative director of Illume Creative Studio, a communications agency based in Kigali, Rwanda.

Launch online

There’s no need to launch your company with a cocktail party, bottles of champagne and a fancy guest list filled with big names that likely won’t show up. Go the easy way and start with a simple but good looking website.

Like with Squarespace which offers solutions for easy websites that will be eye-catching enough to your future clients. Your website should clearly list the services you offer. Remember to keep things clear and direct, let people know what you’re offering from the word go.

As a communications agency, you can start out offering services such as content development, creative consultancy, editorial roles and social media strategies which you can offer from the comfort of your home. Your contact details should also be well displayed for when people need to reach you.

Make full use of your network

This is something that you should start on before you take that leap. Build a network through attending events and rubbing shoulders with the change-makers in the industry. Save their business cards and contact details for when you’re ready to launch your company. As your launch date approaches send a newsletter announcing it through a service like MailChimp.

The key is the leverage the power of your network, and when contacting them do so strategically. Emails easily get deleted but people do not mind receiving an email announcing a company if they can see what’s in it for them. This is why you should include an offer in your initial newsletter, such as 20% off for first-time clients. This is a great opportunity to attract clients.content+development

Invest wisely

You’ll want to ensure any little money you have is spent wisely. Get business cards and postcard sized pamphlets printed out. These should again advertise your brand and the services you offer.

Once your business cards and pamphlets are ready, you should reach out to people who you would target as clients and leave those behind with them. This way you’re doing your advertising yourself.

By the time you snag your first couple clients you’ve set the ball rolling. When people see the value in what you have to offer, they will come flooding in.

Twitter chat with Flavia Tumusiime: Building a career in the media industry (Jun 16)

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Missed this event? Make sure you don’t miss the next one by joining our community today.

Ever wanted to know how to make it in the media industry? Are you invested in building your public image? The media can be a very lucrative place for young women to build a career in but many of us don’t know the first step to enter into it.

Join us on Thursday June 16 for a twitter chat with Ugandan TV presenter, radio host, MC and actress, Flavia Tumusiime on building a career in the media industry. If you’re not sure how to move forward in becoming a media personality, then you need to join this chat.

Follow She Leads Africa on twitter and use the hashtag #SheHiveNairobi to ask your questions and participate in the discussion.

Topics that we’ll cover:

  • How to balance public and private lives as a celebrity
  • When to start building your public profile
  • How to gain and maintain a lasting public image
  • The necessary skills required to work on TV
  • Media industry mistakes to avoid at all costs

Twitter chat details:

  • Date: Thursday June 16, 2016
  • Time: 2:00pm WAT // 5:00pm EAT
  • Location: Follow She Leads Africa on twitter and use the hashtag #SLAChatsshe hive nairobi

About Flavia Tumusiime

Flavia Tumusiime, has become a consistent and steady face in Uganda and Africa’s media world. Her journey began at the age of 14 when she landed top spot as one of the hosts of popular teens show on WBS TV. She later did a short stint on HOT 100 radio before being offered a show on the number one radio station in Uganda 91.3 capital FM where she now hosts the mid-morning show daily.

She was a face of Freedum Nytil a Ugandan clothing brand from 2006 to 2008. In 2007 she featured in her first film role in “Kiwani”, a H.Ssali production and is now lead actress in the “Beneath the Lies” series. Flavia’s career took a major turn in 2011 when she landed a role as co-host of the popular game show “Guinness Football Challenge” for 2 seasons and also became the first Ugandan VJ for popular African music channel, Channel O. She was the first East Africa to co-host the popular Big Brother Africa reality show in 2012.