Journalism is a gift inherited from my father- Kabendera

In 1979 the world was blessed with talented Tijara Kabendera. Kabendera was born in Nyarugenge District to the late Shinani Kabendera and Salama Kantarama.
Kabendera followed in her father’s footsteps. Courtesy photo
Kabendera followed in her father’s footsteps. Courtesy photo

In 1979 the world was blessed with talented Tijara Kabendera. Kabendera was born in Nyarugenge District to the late Shinani Kabendera and Salama Kantarama.

The extrovert Kabendera followed in the footsteps of her father who worked as a journalist for Radio Rwanda, Voice of America and BBC among others. The late Shinani Kabendera sadly drowned in 2000.  Kabendera is a big personality in the broadcast industry and works with Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA).

Kabendera has been in the entertainment business for ten years now and is admired by both the young and the old.

She is very good at her job and recently won a Diva African Award for Best Entertainment Presenter.

Her journey into media

When Kabendera was 14 years old, her family relocated to Tanzania where she completed her secondary school education before enrolling at East African Institute in Arusha to study journalism.

To grow her career, Kabendera participated in various journalism trainings at the East Africa Training Institute in Tanzania.

When asked to talk about her life as a journalist, Kabendera smiles and slumps into silence as if to recollect how it all started.

“When I was a child I thought of becoming a singer but I got discouraged by many people especially my mother. Every time I tried to sing she would laugh at me and tease me- that my voice was terrible,” says Kabendera.

According to Kabendera, she tried her chances at being a nurse but jumped ship because she lacked the ability to stand the trauma of watching people in unbearable pain.

All hope was not lost. Kabendera found comfort in her father’s recorder, and she knew journalism was worth a try, despite the fact that her father never liked the idea.

“My father didn’t want me to become a journalist and he used to say that it’s a stressful  career,” Kabendera narrates nostalgically.

Kabendera remembers taking her father’s recorder and recording herself very so often. She says that she never had any idea that she would ever sit behind a microphone and broadcast news let alone be the host of a talk show.

Her turning point

According to Kabendera, her turning point was in the year 2000 when she lost her father.

“Losing my father was the worst thing. I wanted to be like him. When he passed away I realised that journalism is a gift that I got from him and never wanted to close the chapter.”

Despite the bad memory in Kabendera’s life, when you talk about her family, her face lights up.

Kabendera says that she is what she is because of her fans and family. The soft spoken radio presenter explained that she derives her happiness from her fans and family and that is the reason she does her work with dedication.

“My family and fans are the ones that have made me who I am, they keep me going. My best weapon, which is also the mark of my vibrant show, is my determination and the motivation in my voice just loud enough to catch the attention of the listeners and never let them down.

I speak with confidence. It is very hard for listeners to get bored when listening to me; everyone would surely love to tune in again as long as it is me,” says Kabendera.

The mother of three kids says her husband is proud of her and supportive. “He is always very supportive and it gives me courage to keep going. I usually wake up at 5 am and prepare my children for school after which I go to the radio station where I have radio talk shows from 8 am to 11,” she explains.

Advice to women

“Women lack confidence. Even those that have talent do not put it to use. They fear taking risks. Women have to focus on their talent and feel free to speak in public. We shouldn’t completely depend on our husbands in this era,” she says.

As a female journalist Kabendera wishes that Rwandan media would create a platform on both local and international scenes. She also wishes to venture into a charity to help the disadvantaged people.

“I am dying to do something for the disadvantaged children out there,” she says as we wrap up the interview.

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