By Sungeni Chithambo
I can already see that the Highway Africa Conference is going to be an experience of a lifetime. Not only is it the first conference I have ever attended but it is one which epitomizes the goals and ideas of my future journalism career. This prestigious conference is trying to achieve some sense of African unity. By bringing together a diverse multitude of delegates not only from around Africa but from the rest of the world, African media and its role in our ever-changing society can be defined and redefined using interpretations from various backgrounds. This is the unique flavour of Highway Africa, the only conference of its kind. Highway Africa is trying to bring people together and the attention it draws clearly shows us that the journey African journalism is embarking on, is one to be taken seriously. This is what I gather from the talks and discussions I have been to so far. This conference gives people a voice. Who knew I’d ever be in the same room as the retired president of Ghana and watch him avidly discuss issues of African development with people from all around the continent?
I am already overwhelmed at the number and calibre of guests at this conference and even more overwhelmed at the notion of networking with them. But I have to get over this irrational fear of crowds because it would not do well with my career at all. What journalist lurks in corners waiting for stories to come floating down from the sky? So I think it’s about time I give myself some advice; get some spine girl! I am yet to attend the Absa Africa Night and if this does not prove to be the networking opportunity of a lifetime then I don’t know what will. Highway Africa and the delegates taking part have much to contribute to my future career as a media worker. Their experience, background and advice will shape the choices I make regarding exactly which path I want to take in the future. My plans might change and I believe it is up to the media professionals attending this conference to mould my ideas of journalism and help me grow. Rubbing shoulders with some of Africa’s finest media professionals will hopefully lead to me drawing on their ideas and incorporating them into my own view of journalism in this flourishing continent.
There is so much people have to share. Highway Africa is an event well worth talking about, tweeting about, blogging about and making Facebook status updates about. Everything that happens throughout this conference needs to be documented so that others not part of the Highway African experience can gain insight into things like developmental issues in Africa and the problems African media is facing.
I am enjoying the experience so far. My fellow future journalists are awesome, my FJP coordinator is awesome, the long walk up the hill, not so awesome, but hey, we can’t have everything. After this conference is over, I want to know exactly what I want to do with my journalism career and where it is going to head. I need to be prepared.