A congratulatory message via e-mail from the Media Foundation for West Africa was the highlight of my day when the message said that I had been selected for the Climate Change Journalism Fellowship. I was to be among ten West African Journalists to travel from different parts of the subregion to Accra for a three-month residential training.
My body couldn’t contain the amount of oxytocin released into my system. I was simply inundated with delight. I just couldn’t believe my eyes when I again read from the e-mail that I was the only Ghanaian amongst ten fellows selected from over 400 entries across West Africa. It was definitely not a mere joyous feeling but a sense of fulfilment. It felt surreal initially, until I read the mail a few more times. I pondered over it and thought to myself “I am a force to reckon with”.
The excitement was notched higher when I was booked to take a flight to Accra, Ghana’s capital. “Finally, my dream has materialized,” I whispered innocently. This was my first ever flight to any destination in the world, and I just couldn’t wait to feel weightless on the aeroplane when it immediately takes off from the runway as my friends had described it.
It always was a refreshing and reflective moment whenever I looked into the sky to watch an aeroplane fly by. A moment that reminded me to work assiduously and ambitiously to accrue enough so I could have a feel of what it looks like above the earth’s surface. But the time came earlier than I had expected.
Uneasiness, delightfulness, and a sense of accomplishment filled my heart aboard the aeroplane, as I gazed at the beautiful blue skies high above the clouds. Indeed, I had achieved one of my goals in life.
Overcoming language barrier and Embracing other African cultures
Coming into the fellowship with nine other persons from diverse African backgrounds was a learning experience for me. Eight Francophones and an Anglophone from different parts of the West African subregion was a knowledge wealth worth tapping from.
Aside from their style of journalism, this has been a platform for cultural exchanges. I have learnt a chunk of life lessons from the varied personalities I encountered. Outstanding among them is their affability, curiosity, humility, and tenacity.
Understanding my colleagues never came easy. I always will commend my friends from the French-speaking countries for their zest to learn English. Strangely, Francophones are good adapters to language change than Anglophones are. They push so hard to learn English than we do to learn French. When I was first introduced to my housemates with whom I will be staying in our apartment for the three-month residential fellowship, I thought to myself “how am I going to communicate with my colleagues? We did not speak one another’s languages perfectly. “Asem a ba!” – I added – to wit, “There is trouble”. Thankfully, the “Comment allez-vous, Bonjour Mama” song we sang back in primary school saved me from humiliation during my first encounter with them.
I would listen to my French colleagues attentively just to extract the few French words I understood and observe their gestures to make meaning out of their statements. This definitely didn’t come easy. Being surrounded by several French-speaking countries should inspire us to take French lessons seriously in school. It would come in handy someday. You never know!
Disturbingly, many people in this part of the world are oblivious to the consequential threats of their actions and inactions towards Climate Change. However, they can’t be blamed because the stories have not been properly told by stakeholders including journalists.
Little did we know that Somalia’s age-long feistiness for food was partly attributable to some human activities resulting in a change in their climate. Many African countries are reeling from the adverse impact of rising sea levels, temperature increase, and change in seasonal and weather patterns. Personally, I feel the intensity of the scorching sun on my skin.
This is why I believe that with capacity building through fellowships like this, Climate Change will truly become a global concern – leaving no one behind.
By the end of the fellowship, I hope to be well-equipped with the requisite knowledge and skills in climate reporting, through the facilitation of well-versed resource persons in the field. The past few weeks under the tuition of some of the facilitators have been incredibly promising.
In the weeks ahead, I expect nothing short of in-depth training in investigations and climate change advocacies. I am ready to hone my skills in journalism.
Profound Gratitude to MFWA and DW Akademie
I am indebted to the Media Foundation for West Africa for such a rare and prestigious opportunity to land my first intensive journalism fellowship. This is no mere chance but a stepping stone to catapulting me into greatness, as I strive to make impact through pen and paper. The learnings from this fellowship will be imprinted in my ‘journalism DNA’ and be put to purposeful use in any way I can, to transform Ghana.
To the funders – Deutsche Welle (DW) Akademie – you have proven to be an international media organization bent on supporting quality journalism and boosting media skills. Your commitment to capacitating budding African journalists is unmatched.
My path in this field, likened to an aeroplane, has only taken off from the runway and steadily piercing through the white clouds to find its balance high in the skies for steadfastness and excellence. I will stand my ground to advocate for pragmatic measures to salvage humanity and our dying ecosystem.
My loins are gird up to tell the African Climate story!