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Swahili Broadcaster Mwanaisha Chidzuga

Mwanaisha Chidzuga is a broadcast journalist currently working at the Kenya Television Network (KTN). She recently left the British Broadcasting Corporation(BBC) to go back to KTN where she previously worked as a Senior News Anchor. Besides her incredible work, her infectious smile is also very popular among viewers.

 

Mwanaisha or Isha as she is fondly referred to, has been in the industry since 2002. “I love broadcasting because it opens doors for you, challenges you and earns you respect. You also get to travel and meet people,” she says.

 

REQUIREMENTS: According to Mwanaisha, you must be good in communication, be confident, intelligent, very creative and hard-working. You must also have an authoritative voice and a 'face' (for TV). Training in broadcast journalism is also as important. Talent (like in her case) can be an advantage in the beginning. To stay in the industry though, one must respect herself and others. High moral and ethical standards are just as important.

HER STORY: Mwanaisha grew up in Kwale, Coastal Kenya. She attended Ziwani Primary School and became the very first girl from the area to go to a national school in Nairobi (Kenya High School).

Mwanaisha Growing up in a large family (five girls and three boys) was both a challenge and a blessing. For one, she had to excel both at home and school. Isha's family was not so well off, but they never lacked the basics. It was this background that taught her how to share and appreciate others. "The person I am today had a lot to do with my upbringing. My father constantly reminded us that each of us was unique; words I carry with me to date. I always say, ‘There can only be one Mwanaisha, so I better make her the best!” she says.

Her mother, Zainab Chidzuga, also encouraged them to participate in extra-curricular activities, even going out of her way to compose songs and poems for them and ensuring they master them. Throughout her school life, she participated in drama, poetry, debate and music competitions. She also liked to swim. All these activities led her to become more confident, work smart and trust in God.

Mwanaisha’s first job (soon after high school) was at Pwani FM where she worked as a radio presenter / DJ. How she got her first opening was by chance. “I had accompanied my friend for the interview when I was requested to try it too..and I got the job!” she simply explained. It was one of the best decisions she has ever made.

She later moved to Idhaa ya Kiswahili-a Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) station. These two first jobs were not easy but she got training in presentation and production from professionals like Khadija Ali, Leonard Mambo Mbotela, Zainab Azizi and Elizabeth Obege. “Some of the lessons I learnt at Idhaa were that to be successful in broadcasting, one must strive to be original-do the right thing differently and take criticism positively,” she offers. She joined KTN while she was pursuing her BSc. in Communications and Public Relations at Moi University-Nairobi Campus, a course she is still undertaking.

Apart from broadcasting, Mwanaisha has also served as a board member on the Coconut Board Authority-Under the Ministry of Agriculture. The presidential appointment saw her become the youngest Kenyan to have served as a board member in a parastatal (2005-2012).

On Language: Swahili was Mwanaisha’s first language and was easier for her to use in her media ventures. This does not however mean that she is not fluent in English. Often, she has to use both languages depending on the need. She advises young people to love Swahili too. “When you love Swahili, it loves you back,” she believes. She also stresses on the importance of reading widely, practicing and having a positive attitude. Like her, great Swahili can actually get you the top job.

At the beginning, the most challenging thing was juggling family life (she is a mother of two), broadcasting and being a student. “It can get really tough but I’ve learnt that it all boils down to proper planning,” she says.

Other broadcasters she admires are Catherine Kasavuli (Citizen TV) and Ayesha Sesay (CNN). Mwanaisha gives back to the community through her trust, Isha Foundation, which supports education. She is working on creating the most successful public relations and media company in the world.

She attributes her success to working smart, believing in herself and in God, good education, support from others and respecting herself and others.

Awards won: Best News Anchor 2008 (Human Rights Awards) and Best News Anchor 2011 (Coast Media Awards)

Favourite quote: Success is for those who are brave enough to be different and jump into the world of the unknown.

On mentorship: My greatest have been my mother and Khadija Ali (KBC). It is important to have one as she can guide you in achieving your goals.

Career lessons: You are your own best friend. Do not shy away from shining and do not let anybody tell you you aren’t good enough because you and only you can be the best.

Most memorable moment: There is something special about each and every story and bulletin I have done

What inspires me: A better today and tomorrow for my family and I.

On smiling: Smile everyday and live longer. Do not waste your energy frowning and do not let anything put you down! You’ll always get a smile back when you do.

My role models today: My mother Zainab, Mitchell Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Wangari Maathai.

Favourite cartoons: Tom and Jerry and Kung Fu Panda.

Favourite music: Taarab and others

Tips for future broadcasters: Be yourself, work hard, respect yourself and avoid shortcuts.

Advice to BINGWA Magazine readers: Do not just go to school for the sake of it; learn as much as you can.

 

This story was first published in BINGWA Magazine Issue 10 2013