Yes; South Africa next! That is the big announcement and I can’t even believe it myself. Sometime in the middle of the night in 2015, I woke up like I was being pursued in my dreams. It was the same feeling and restlessness I get when my whole being is convinced about something I should do immediately and I’m procrastinating. I pulled out my laptop and started typing away an idea that would later turn out to be iJourno Africa – now operating in Ghana and Kenya.

The basic idea is to teach student journalists, the concept of data journalism that looks closely at hard facts and figures, analyze and create stories others are not paying attention to, particularly developmental stories. In doing so, I’m hoping to inspire and churn out Africa’s next generation of data-driven journalists who will add rigour to the journalism work we do.

The journalism institutions in Ghana have embraced it because they agree it’s a great initiative and possibly the best solution for the huge chasm. We’ve had some promising student journalists from the Ghana Institute of Journalism, African University College of Communications, University of Ghana, Central University College – all in Ghana and Daystar University, one of the best journalism institutions in Kenya.

The core team that organized Kenya’s first Journoshop (From Left: Carolyn Thompson, Jeremiah Kipanoi, Thomas Otieno Bwire[Kenya Chapter Lead] and Anne – a volunteer
The core team that organized Kenya’s first Journoshop (From Left: Carolyn Thompson, Jeremiah Kipanoi, Thomas Otieno Bwire [Kenya Chapter Lead] and Anne – a volunteer

Our trainees in both countries have produced some really good data stories that touch the core of our development life as a continent. I’m happy to announce that South Africa has opened its big, warm, welcoming arms to receive us, led by our Chapter Lead WandiswaNtengento. The University of Fort Hare, the same university that trained Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and other great minds from that country, will be our home institution. Keep a close eye on our Facebook page and on Twitter for more details.1,000 trainees

Our target is to train 1,000 students as soon as we can, in 2017 possibly. We’ve just done a little over 120, but we will keep our eyes on the ball and look on the bright side. Malawi, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Cote D’Ivoire are knocking on our doors; but all I can say is that, God’s time is the best. We will be there sooner than later.

The anchors

The real heroes on this journey so far have been the volunteers who sacrifice their precious time and spend their own money to make this happen. Let me take this opportunity to name a few; Daniel Peprah, Angela Bortey, Roberta Abbey Quaye and Kwesi Sekyere Osei. In Kenya, the guys making it happen are Thomas Otieno Bwire and Jeremiah Kipanoi. These guys have amazing passion and blessing Kenyans with it.

Special thanks to Bernard Avle, a director of iJourno Africa who has spurred this project on with fantastic ideas, money and his time.

Bernard Avle (Right) and volunteer Angela Bortey

Another special mention goes to Carolyn Thompson, the Canadian journalist who opened my eyes to data journalism and has probably done more than I have, to train a lot of our students in Ghana and Kenya. She has an amazing heart, which has taken her to the volatile South Sudan to teach journalism there as well.

Last but certainly not least, Mawuli Tsikata, Sandister Tei, Jacky Habib and Philip Kofi Ashon, thanks so much for sharing your time and skill with our students. The sky is not even the limit, our dream to become Africa’s TRUE VOICE, shall come to pass.

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