22 year-old Rashid Malekela likes to sit back in the broadcast booth and watch youth reporters work their radio magic. Today’s show on Mwanza’s Metro FM is about the tourism industry in Tanzania, which all but ground to a halt due to the pandemic. As the sector slowly builds back, the youth reporters want to find out how tourism can become inclusive and benefit more Tanzanians, while also adapting to climate change.
Rashid knows broadcasting a radio show is not easy. Once a youth reporter himself, he now works as the group’s lead producer. He assists the group in preparing for weekly shows, helping them sharpen their show ideas, conduct research, and identify the right people to interview. Rashid offers additional coaching: keep your questions short and to the point; remember that the interesting story often surfaces in your follow-up questions; and always, always, make sure you have spare batteries for your audio recorder.
He remembers how intimidated he used to get when he interviewed adults, and also the rush he felt as the broadcast clock counted down to the start of the show. “Now I am a very confident person. I can talk in front of people, I can offer advice. I can educate people about important issues in Tanzania.”
“This was my dream. Since I was young, I knew that one day I would be a journalist.” In addition to leading the youth reporters, Rashid is a media studies student at St. Augustine University in Mwanza. He says his love of reading paved the way for his journalism career.
When he was 16, Rashid joined the Children’s Radio Foundation’s program offered through our local partner, the Mwanza Youth and Children Network. He learned not only about the fundamentals of journalism and radio broadcasting, but also how to report on a range of social issues including climate change, gender-based violence, entrepreneurship, human rights, and adolescent health. Time and time again he has seen the deep impact that hearing youth voices and perspectives on tough issues has on listeners. “Young people are committed to innovate and bring positive change in society. Because we are advocating for children and youth issues on radio, people are changing.”
Back in the studio, the show is wrapping up. Rashid is ready to offer up both his praise and healthy critique. With today’s show under their belt, there’s little time to wait until preparation for next week’s show begins. As he helps the group navigate through new topics and newsworthy stories, Rashid is focused on taking them on a similar journey of self-discovery, growth, and commitment to active citizenship.
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Photos: Sydelle Willow Smith