why I chose to write

“ … I did not choose journalism. Journalism chose me.”

These words echoed. As the questions began to pile up in my heart. Did journalism really choose me?

After having the pleasure to sit in a talk by award winning South African Journalist, Zubeida Jaffer. I began to reflect on how destiny and the universe have worked together. As a third year journalism student, I am constantly forging my identity and understanding what my role as a journalist will be in society. Much like my identity, my understanding of my role as journalist is continuously being reorganized, re-framed and re-examined.

Jaffer reminded me of why, we as (student) journalist, have to understand our role, our society and who we are serving. In a democratic society, I can never divorce myself from the citizens I will cater to. As a journalist I am willingly carrying the burden of ensuring and contributing to the survival of democracy.

” I can never

divorce

myself from the citizens

I will cater to.”

For about three years I have struggled to find my voice and start up a blog that truly represented me. A blog that could possibly be platform for me to express myself about things I cared about. I am Kelly Kabongo; 20 year old black woman, born in Johannesburg to Congolese parents. I care about the stories of the voiceless, defenseless and disenfranchised. Cliché. But after witnessing the horrors of the xenophobic attacks in 2008 and 2015. As a Congolese person in South Africa. Despite not being directly affected. I care. As an individual that believes ‘in the social, political and economic equality of sexes’. I care when women are still disregarded. As a student who protested for more accessible and freer education, decolonization of institutions and curriculum. I care about the state of the South African education system. These stories I care about will not always be ‘news worthy buzz’ but will have longevity to it. As they look into social issues we are faced with in society.

The struggles Jaffer faced in the late 1970s as a Rhodes Journalism Student. Slightly differs from the struggles that I will face as a Rhodes Journalism Student in 2016. I am reminded of the words of Frantz Fanon, “each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfil it, or betray it.” I am inspired by Jaffer’s resilient work as a journalist during the Apartheid era. I am committed to being self-reflexive, civic-minded, competent and critical journalist.

The question remains: Did journalism really choose me?

The question may remain unanswered but as I grow as a critical (student) journalist my only desire is for the answer to unveil itself through my work.

Although, I am no heroine or custodian to the above mentioned stories. My voice and my commitment is enough. Enough to be a valid voice. Enough to use this space as a means to speak out. I am merely sharing my experiences and views.

My intentions as ‘Kabongo from the Congo’ remain pure. And as I mature as a journalist and writer, I will forever be in debt to Zubeida Jaffer for our encounter on the 15th March 2016.

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