Young women changing the face of African media

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A new generation of 30-somethings with brilliant careers, feminist convictions and, above all, confidence, are spearheading an assault on African media, using social networks as a launchpad.

“I do not understand what ‘no’ means,” Peace Hyde, one of the most high-profile members of this club, said in an interview with AFP on the sidelines of a conference on African media in Mauritius this month.

The British-born Ghanaian taught physics and chemistry in Britain before moving to Africa in 2014 to try her hand at journalism.
In the traditionally male-dominated world of the American financial media group Forbes, she quickly became head of digital media and partnerships at its African subsidiary.

Hyper-telegenic, Hyde grabbed an audience by creating and fronting the talk show “My Worst Day” on CNBC Africa, in which she persuaded powerful Africans to disclose their biggest failures, and what they learned from them.

She has a growing personal audience with 380,000 followers on Instagram and 63,000 on Twitter.

At the recent NexTV CEO Africa conference in Port Louis, her popularity could be measured by the number of selfies she was asked to pose for, especially by young women who seem to see her as a role model — which this individualist rejects.

“There is a heavy focus on feminism and women having a voice from a feminist point of view, but I have always believed I am an individual with a voice,” said Hyde, who divides her time between Lagos and Johannesburg.
“By default you will empower others and inspire others to follow in that same respect.”

“Succeeding in media in Africa as a woman is a lot of work, it is not for lazy people. You have to constantly prove yourself, you have to constantly work against the grain,” said Nigerian presenter Chinenye Nnoli, host of the talk show “Metrowoman” and head of a production company of the same name.

“In Africa — and not only in Africa, it is global — women have been over-sexualised, but the truth is that it is changing and people are responding to that,” she said. “There actually is a lot of content that mirrors powerful, influential women who have succeeded ethically.”

The non-hierarchical nature of social media has helped.

“Because of the advent of social media… you can actually have your show without necessarily trying to get some infrastructure. Now with your mobile phone you can actually start your talk show,” Nnoli said.

Ugandan sisters Seanice Lojede and Nancy Kacungira have achieved comparable success in different sections of the media: Lojede with her East Africa-focused Blu Flamingo digital marketing company, and Kacungira by presenting BBC World News’s daily “Focus on Africa” show.

The two share both feminist and pan-African beliefs, which they recently promoted in a video titled “Sexism at Work”, posted on Lojede’s “Black Working Mother” YouTube channel.

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