SJN onboards ten Solution Journalism Africa Fellows from Nigeria, Kenya

The Solutions Journalism Network’s Africa Initiative has onboarded the inaugural ten fellows from Kenya and Nigeria who will implement solutions journalism-focused projects across the continent.

The fellows were unveiled by SJN Africa Initiative Manager, Ruona Meyer, on Monday, August 23.

“Running until November, the cohort comprises journalism lecturers, artists, as well as veteran and investigative reporters who will be delivering their projects in various African languages and in formats including digital theatre, educational curriculum and investigative radio,” Meyer said.

The fellows will receive a total funding of $20,000 to pioneer a community of content creators and platforms that enhance solutions journalism for Africa by Africans.

The fellowship falls under the SJN Africa Initiative where 60 newsrooms and 30 fellows across Nigeria and Kenya will receive training and funding over a three-year period. The Solutions Journalism Network is a non-profit organisation with a presence across 18 countries, and over 500 newsrooms.

Welcoming the new fellows, one of the SJN Co-founders, David Bornstein, said he hopes that the fellowship helps build a better news ecosystem in the continent “to move us out of the direction of fear and more in the direction of hope; credible hope, or ‘hope with teeth,’ is how we put it.”

Programme Manager of Health Watch Nigeria, Betty Baiye, assured the fellows that NHW would support them with mentorship and other resources to ensure the success of their projects.

Senior Health Reporter with NHW, Chibuike Alagboso, said the rigorous process that witnessed five fellows from Nigeria out of 150 applicants paid off with the emergence of outstanding individuals and projects.

While noting that efforts to spread solutions journalism in Kenya have been ongoing for over three years, Science Africa Founder and Managing Editor, Otula Owuor, said the fellows were very welcomed to be part of the core team to help “entrench solutions journalism at least in Kenya, but at most across the continent.”

“We at Science Africa are more than willing to work with you, very closely, as you try to realise your objectives. We can only hope that after the three months we will continue to work together, as you build the Sojo approach in the newsrooms in Africa,” Project Lead at the Nairobi-based science and communication consultancy firm, Daniel Otunge, told the fellows.

Below are brief profiles and details of their projects;

  • Abdulkareem MOJEED is an investigative journalist and researcher working with Nigeria’s Premium Times newspaper. His project is a reporting series called “Climate Smart Agriculture solutions,” which will focus on how farmers are using homegrown and adapted agricultural practices to boycott existing extreme climatic change events in peri-urban communities in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
  • Adhiambo Edith MAGAK is a freelance writer published in outlets across the UK, America, and in Kenya. Her project  “Special Needs Kenya” is a series of mediated conversations that will unearth and curate the solutions that young people living with physical, hearing, and mental health disabilities have developed, in order to thrive and improve the quality of their everyday life.  She hopes that the findings will be adopted and replicated by the Disability community in Kenya.
  • Angela OKETCH, is a Health and Science reporter with the Nation Media Group, has received Presidential Honors from Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on her exemplary Covid-19 coverage. She will be working on a reporting series on the solutions that peer-to-peer community groups in Kenya are implementing to reduce HIV viral load and transmission in selected counties across Kenya.
  • Brian MALIKA is the Founder of One More Percent, a grassroots media advocacy non-profit, as well as a freelance journalist focusing on climate change, food, and nutrition. His project, Climate Solutions Media Lab will build the reporting capacity of 10 underrepresented media content creators aged between 15 – 24 years, enabling them to showcase climate change solutions from rural and coastal tropical Kenya.
  • Christopher OMONDI, a radio presenter and publisher with the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation will be overseeing a multilingual (English and Luo) series of reports called “Curbing the Spread at the Lakeside,” on how the Lake Region communities are curbing the spread of the Coronavirus. The project will prioritise the Covid-19 solutions being implemented by Boda Boda (public transport) operators who are crucial to starting, and breaking the chain of the spread of Covid-19 in Kenya.
  • Jamiu FOLARIN teaches Mass Communication at Crescent University, Abeokuta, Ogun State in South West Nigeria, where he is a student favourite. A freelance journalist and doctoral candidate with over ten years’ experience, his project will pioneer formal uptake of solutions journalism by educators, students, and reporters. His goal is “Mainstreaming Solutions Journalism in Ogun State.”
  • Lekan OTUFODUNRIN has over 35 years experience as a journalist and media trainer; he is a part-time lecturer at the Nigeria Institute of Journalism. Lekan is Founder/Executive Director of Media Career Development Network, Nigeria’s foremost media career support organisation, with outreach across Africa. His project is the creation of the West Africa Solution Journalism Hub, a dedicated section of the Media Career Development Network website on story ideas, reports, links, and career resources that are linked to solution journalism. He will be working with a network of Journalists from West Africa, including writers with disabilities, to produce content for the Hub.
  • Rey Bulambo EGIDE is a freelance cinematographer and theatre practitioner, who has awards within and beyond Africa for his work on minority communities. For the Fellowship, his project will train actors and deliver solutions-focused performances through drama and music.
  • Seun DUROJAIYE is a journalist and the founder of Social Voices, a digital platform for public service journalism, and was recently a fellow of the African Women Journalism Project, covering underreported issues around COVID-19 in Africa. Her project “Localizing SoJo” will deliver training in (and publication of) solutions journalism stories in three of Nigeria’s official languages – Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba – and Pidgin English. She aims to “combat information poverty” by ensuring non-English audiences can access solutions-based news reports about Nigeria.
  • Zainab SANNI is an Investigative journalist currently serving as Deputy Director for News and Current Affairs at Agidigbo FM in Oyo state, Nigeria. Her “Solutions Journalism for Radio” project will establish a dedicated news desk for Agidigbo 88.7FM, focusing on gender and environmental-based solutions reporting, which will be aired in English and Yoruba. She expects this project will create a culture of solutions journalism among broadcast reporters and introduce the approach to the grassroots audience in Southwest Nigeria.