Ncamsile Matsebula – Swaziland

Ncamsile Matsebula – Swaziland

Date: June 30, 2015
  • SHARE:

I was coming from a country where I had never heard a gunshot before. This was three months into my arrival in Ghana. It was during a time when there were coup d’états. I had no idea what a coup is. I had to learn how to hide from stray bullets. At times, we survived without food as colleges would close and people would go back to their villages and hometowns. Some countries would send aeroplanes to evacuate their people. One day when I was an intern at Ghana Broadcasting Services, I had just left the station, and a coup started. During the coups, they would target the armory and the radio stations, as they would need to announce who was taking over. I was a student and had no support system from home. From then on I developed a strong character, because it was survival of the fittest.

In my line of work, I have a passion for issues to do with women and children. When I came back from my studies, gender was a fun activity. Men in the newsroom hardly wanted to go to workshops on gender, women and children. We went around the region attending seminars and obtaining a lot of knowledge through this. We would take turns attending, as it was only two women in the newsroom at the time. I attended many workshops through the Federation of African Media Women (FAMSADC) an organisation in which Swaziland was a member. We were able to create the Swaziland Media Women’s Association (SMWA). Here we uplifted the status of women by having a newsletter, which was not run like the mainstream media. Its content was going to be our responsibility. We had a lot of support from the United Nations organs. However, it disappeared into thin air.

Under the Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Services, I worked at a Regional Swaziland Broadcasting Office in the Sishelweni region. I was collecting and disseminating government developmental information and news from the region. This was part of government’s efforts to decentralise and promote government developmental activities in the rural areas. I would collect news stories, edit and send them to Mbabane. I made most of my impact here. Members of Parliament in the region made it a point that I got a vehicle to go and cover my stories. From this, I learnt a lot about poverty. I encountered stories of people taking tuberculosis medication without anything to eat and a lot of child headed families.

I have moved within the ranks. I am now in management. I am able to send journalists to go for trainings around gender. From this, we see an improvement in our bulletins. Whenever they write, they consider women’s voices, which hardly feature in the news. The environment we work in is conducive, especially as we have an enlightened director and deputy. All senior management is coming from the newsroom, so we speak in one voice. Therefore, it is easy to push our agenda, as they understand the issues in the newsroom better.

I come from a family of writers, and my inspiration comes from my family. My father and uncle wrote books in SeSwati. They wrote grammar, poetry and literature. From this, I developed an interest, especially in news. I started reading newspapers and listening to BBC news with my father at a young age. I also have a cousin who did journalism and worked at Times of Swaziland and Ligwalagwala. Besides my family, my editor at Times of Swaziland, the late James Dlamini, highly inspired me to remain in the industry. The assignments he gave me were difficult but they motivated me. I always thought the assignments are not for women. However, it enabled me to compete with the boys for assignments. What he did for me toughened me up.

It is easy for a woman to be marginalized in the newsroom. The industry is a boys club. One could be in a position of power, but your voice may not be heard enough. They do not get major assignments and no reason for it is given. Sometimes women are marginalized in the newsroom because of themselves. They do not take themselves seriously. They feel comfortable covering beauty and entertainment and they do not want challenges. Sometimes what they wear is not enabling, since journalists need to be always on the move. We are also our own enemies in this industry.

At the same time, the more journalists go to attend trainings, the more positive people’s attitudes become. The derogatory language starts to go away and people begin to respect each other. If more journalists are gender sensitive when they are thinking about their story ideas, then they can be gender aware in their stories.

As a woman in this industry, I wish I could play a bigger role. I have been trying to push journalist’s attendance to workshops on gender, as this is where they will get the knowledge and an understanding on these issues. I try to mentor those who are willing. We need to come out of the socialization that suggests that women do not support each other. Those below should begin to support women in higher positions so we get rid of the “bring her down syndrome”. At the same time, those in leadership should also stop behaving like men in dresses. I understand that when you are in higher realms you are trying to be part of the boys club and you forget that the junior females in the newsroom have concerns, and you could possibly help.


Comment on Ncamsile Matsebula – Swaziland

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *