What do you do as the Content Generation Manager at Safaricom PLC?
In simple terms, I think of my role as multimedia storytelling. It entails developing and maintaining a proactive multimedia news content generation strategy for internal and external audiences; high-level engagements and communications, including speeches for executive and foundation leadership; implementing and collaborating in digital communications campaigns with cross-functional teams; risk communications; working with agencies and managing communications resources and budgets.
What inspired you to choose to become a health and science journalist?
My interest to become a health and science journalist was largely influenced by my background growing up. My mother is a midwife and I grew up in a hospital. I learnt at an early age how important good health is, various illnesses and a lot more from my mother based on the various cases they handled in the wards.
However, by the time I got to high school, I was somewhat disillusioned by healthcare due to the sometimes unavoidable deaths and healthcare workers’ welfare (or lack of). This redirected me to the social justice aspects of healthcare and science.
This inspired my desire to pursue Political Science (to understand the authoritative allocation of resources) at the University of Nairobi. While there, I also took up Communications and Literature to beef up my Political Science. I thus wrote throughout campus about various facets of health and it was only natural for me to take up health and science journalism when I joined the newsroom.
Even after I left active journalism, I still worked with health researchers and scientists in the continent at the African Population and Health Research Center.
You’re an 11-time award-winning storyteller and journalist! How were you able to achieve this?
Yes, over the decade or so I have won international, regional and local accolades, awards and fellowships. It’s been humbling as it’s been illuminating that I, a young Kenyan woman, am recognised in some of these awards as reminders that I was on the right path in my dedication, commitment and pursuit for great storytelling.
How I looked at and still view these accolades is that they are an elevated platform for two things: to celebrate excellence and to advocate social justice concerns (sexual reproductive health rights, neglected tropical diseases, role of technology, governance etc.).
How did you hone your storytelling skills to the level where it is today?
To be a storyteller, I believe creating content is one thing, but you should also consume other people’s content. See how they do it, why they do it, their formats and any gaps in their content creation. This is the mantra I use every day. I’m always asking: How are other people doing their storytelling–speeches, slides, stories etc. and why?
So every quarter, I do a quick audit of my storytelling in comparison to my peers where I identify any skills gap I may have. I then look up useful courses or reach out to peers to see how to learn from them. I learn from others just as I share my skills. Partly how I started my podcast, KalundeTalks, which is all about stories, content creation and storytelling from the voices of peers and colleagues in the media and communications industries.
What are some of the changes you’d like to see in the communications industry across Africa?
I would like to see more appreciation and respect for communications in organisations and our various governments. In most cases, communications is barely existent and when it does, poorly funded, staffed and generally not at par with global standards.
At the continental level, I think we need to have more opportunities for communications peers to collaborate and learn from each other. This way, there’s a great avenue for new/potential to be mentored by veterans in the industry and vice-versa.
If you could have a conversation with your younger professional self, what will you say?
I would tell my younger professional self to be okay with making mistakes, asking for help and keep up the dedication in chasing and finding great stories.
I would also tell my younger self that it’s okay to take a break and to recharge: it can’t always be work and work.
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