Women should believe in themselves –Mbabazi
Written by: George Kalisa
Monday, December 17th, 2018, 6:45
Donah Mbabazi came to the limelight after winning the Journalist of the Year award 2018.Her story shows her career journey like of many achievers was never straight. Mbabazi’s major challenge was finding a profession that matches her skills and passion, a quest that compelled her take a profession summersault from Finance in which she trained at the University of Rwanda to Journalism, which not only bring food to the table but has also brought a permanent smile on her face.
She took home Rwf1.2m after bagging two other cash prizes for gender and children’s rights reporting award and the first runners up award for the anti-corruption reporting worth Rwf800,000 and Rwf600,000 respectively. Mbabazi spoke to George Kalisa.
During the first days after University the slender lady with a dark skin complexion in her twenties could not wait for a job in Finance. She straight away started freelancing with the New Times in 2014. Little did she know she was creating a good impression in the editorial leading to her elevation to a full time writer in October. Her dream job.
Mbabazi says she was so happy to see her first published story. Her mentor is Solange Ayanone of Pax Press and admires TV personality, Flavia Tumusiime.
“The first time my story, a small story indeed, was published I kept that paper for about a year,” reminisces Mbabazi.
She attributes her achievement in the male dominated Rwandan media to hard work and passion for journalism.
She’s not yet done. The lady who wore a happy face throughout the morning interview says she has to work much harder to go through all ranks of the profession until she will become an editor.
“I think I will be in the media for quite a good time. I enjoy what I do. Maybe what I can say I hope to aspire for a bigger position in media like an editor.
Ms Mbabazi (Centre)
An all-round journalist
Though she writes more on women and health, Mbabazi says she almost writes for all the desks in the newsroom, which counts for the fast development of her writing skills.
“I write women and health articles as well as news, art and life stories. They encourage us to write for various desks to develop various writing skills,” says Mbabazi.
The soft spoken journalist still has fresh memories of how she felt after she had heard a female voice mentioning her name as the Journalist of the Year.
“I still hear that voice up to now, I could not believe my ears and when all eyes turned to me I gathered guts to march headlong to the podium to meet my fortune,” says Mbabazi.
I felt good, I felt like actually I’m representing fellow women. Berna Namata [a media personality] sent me a message and I felt good because she’s also someone powerful. Making women of her caliber feel proud of me made me equally feel proud of what I had achieved,” she added.
Lost in excitement she says, “this thing is really big and am super proud of myself and others who’ve been with me on this journey like my editors Rachael Garuka, Managing Editor and Managing Director of the New Times,” She says they have all been supportive variously and has no words that can express her gratitude.
“Because sometimes if you want to cover a story and you don’t have people who believe you can do it the situation can be really difficult. But, thanks to God we have all we need in the New Times”.
Mbabazi’s advice to Rwandan women, Journalism undergraduates
“Women should believe in themselves because they can really make it. There’s nothing that can stop us if we’re determined to do what we want and just like women are making it in politics. I believe even in journalism we’re going to get there soon”.
“The undergraduates in Journalism should know that the newsroom is not something for jokes and merrymaking but for determined people,” she adds.
On challenges she says: “Sometimes being a woman working in the weird hours with interviews at night - those things when you are not prepared can be challenging and I have had to adjust and deal with such challenges with success through planning and love for my work”.
Mbabazi who got Primary and Secondary education in neighbouring Uganda grew up in a family of six siblings, four of them are boys. She says she's dating someone and they're waiting for the right time to settle.