Fiona Mbabazi has worked for radio and television for years. She started out in Kenya and came to Rwanda and has graced the national television since. She spoke to Nasra Bishumba about the choice of her career and her plans for the future.
We have all seen your face on TV, but who is the real Mbabazi?
I was born in Mombasa, Kenya and I am an only child. I am a Christian, single, a go-getter and very passionate about life. I went to school in Kenya, Taita Academy for my primary school, Mwasere Girls still in Taita Voi, and I then moved to Nairobi for college where I did my Advanced Diploma at East Africa School of Media Studies. I am currently at Mount Kenya University pursuing a degree in Communication.
Tell us about your journey in the media, how did you end up where you are today?
My passion for the media started when I was quite young. I participated in a kids show in Kenya known as “Mix them, Gather them”. There was something about the lights and voicing my opinion that really interested me. After school, I got an internship at one of Kenya’s leading radio stations, Milele FM, where I worked as a production assistant. I had so much fun producing and brainstorming. I was camera shy for some time that working behind the scenes was just perfect for me. I moved to Rwanda and started working as a Public Relations Officer for an NGO. One of my friends in the media who had so much faith in my capabilities insisted and introduced me to the then Flash FM station manager who immediately signed me up as the breakfast show presenter. After three months at the radio station, I heard that Rwanda Television was hiring and I applied for the anchor position and I got it. I worked at Rwanda Television from 2010 to 2012 and when a new TV station called TV 10 opened, I knew that I wanted to be part of the exciting pioneering team of the first private TV station in Rwanda. When they offered me a good deal, I went for it. I worked with them for two years till this year when RTV rehired me after being revamped and renamed Rwanda Broadcasting Agency.
What is the most challenging thing about your job?
The most challenging thing about my job was actually at the beginning when giving your voice as a young woman, especially as a budding journalist. I am thankful to God that things have changed because women are now given equal opportunities as men.
You have worked on radio before, why did you choose TV?
I still love radio but I think that I was born for TV. I love TV. It gives me a sense of belonging. I feel like I connect with people better on television because they can hear and see me. The people who I look up to professionally all are on the TV section of broadcast journalism. TV is just my passion.
From whom do you draw your inspiration?
I am inspired by prayer and knowing I still have to reach out for my goals and dreams. My inspiration career-wise is Julie Gichuru of Citizen TV and Christiane Amanpour of CNN. I love how tough and yet calm Amanpour is when conducting her interviews. Gichuru is simply just a cool and calm person. I love that about her. Away from work, my life inspiration is my mother. If I am ever half the woman she is, I will be more than grateful.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
I love writing. I wake up in the middle of the night to write but only my close friends get to read my write-ups. I love cute pens and key holders. I currently walk around with eight key holders on one ring and at least 3 pens.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I still want to be in the media but doing a bigger show but most importantly, I want to be able to give back directly to the young girls who want to be journalists. I would like to start an inspirational group that talks to the younger people about career and life in general. It’s basically a mentorship programme that will help them to be a bigger version of us.
On a personal level, I hope to have met someone by then and started a family.
What advice would you give a young girl who aspires to be a good television news anchor?
Be yourself. Most young girls sometimes tend to want to be who they really aren’t. You want a certain dress or car because someone else has it. In the long run, you realise you lived your life trying to be someone else. It is important for you to be comfortable in your own skin, find out who you are, be okay with it and live your life per your own model; not someone else’s.