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Fathiya Bayusuf | Kenya | Determination & Perseverance

Multimedia Journalist | Director @imarikamediake Community Influencer | Master of Ceremony

Hi there, I'm Fathiya Bayusuf, born and raised in Mombasa, Kenya. I'm a passionate multimedia journalist who focuses on telling insightful stories about women and youths in the coastal region. With 14 years of journalism experience, I'm a prolific Kiswahili writer and speaker, and a content producer with outstanding editorial skills that thrive in fast-paced "live" situations. As a competent team player with leadership and multi-media expertise, I focus on gender, culture, environment, and youth matters. I graduated from Moi University with a bachelor's degree in communication and public relations. Currently, I work as a correspondent for Deutsche Welle (DW) international media in Mombasa, Kenya, and I'm also an executive member of the Arabs Welfare Association of Kenya (AWAKE).

My journey in journalism started with a realization that I could become a voice that raises the issues affecting girls in our Arab community. Having witnessed a lot of terrible things happening to the girls, such as child marriage, gender discrimination and harassment, unequal access to education, and mental health issues, I felt that no action was taken to address these challenges. So, with my talent for storytelling, I decided to pursue journalism despite strong opposition from my family. I sponsored myself to study journalism in college and university. However, joining the media industry was not easy for me. Some people did not believe that someone like me could work in the media. So, I had to seek employment elsewhere to support my education. As a full-time employee in a certain organization, I volunteered to work as a freelancer for Taifa Leo newspaper and an intern at Baraka FM on a part-time basis.

Finally, in 2008, I was hired at Radio Salaam as a radio presenter, and that's when I fully ventured into the media industry. Since then, I have worked in various media organizations such as Radio Africa (The Star Newspaper), Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (Pwani FM), Nation Media Group (QTV), and currently with Deutsche Welle (DW) Kiswahili.

It has not been an easy journey in journalism due to the many challenges I have endured as an Arab Muslim girl in the media industry. However, I remain passionate and determined to be a voice for the voiceless and to raise awareness about the issues affecting our community.

What were the biggest initial hurdles you faced and how did you overcome them?

My biggest challenge was not having an equal chance to study like other children. I faced a lot of stress and difficult conditions while pursuing my education, but I never gave up. To support myself, I had to do manual work like stitching clothes for people and started working at a young age in different organizations to earn school fees and complete my studies up to the university level. Currently, I am advocating for the education of the girl child through mentorship and sponsorship. Another big challenge I faced was my mental health. I suffered from depression and even attempted suicide once due to the many challenges, disappointments, and frustrations I experienced. However, I sought counseling and therapy, which helped me take control of my life.

As a mental health advocate, I educate the public and create awareness about mental health in our community that often fails to recognize mental health as an illness. Sexual harassment has also been a major obstacle in my work. I have missed opportunities, chances, and even promotions at work due to sexual harassment by men who are mostly my superiors. Despite everything I went through, I did not give up, and God continued to open new doors of opportunities until I became who I am today - a role model to other young girls in my community.

What advice do you have for young people locally and internationally who are just starting out in their careers or pursuing their passions?

As a piece of advice to other young people, I believe that it's crucial to be strong, principled and creative individuals who are always willing to share knowledge, learn from others, and accept constructive criticism. Being patient, unique, and self-motivated is also essential when seeking opportunities or creating them for ourselves and others through our profession.

Building a strong network of support is also important, as we cannot survive alone.

In my opinion, it's important to surround ourselves with positive people who will encourage and motivate us. When faced with obstacles, it's essential to learn from them, rise above them and continue fighting until we achieve our goals. I am a testament to this, and I believe that with determination and perseverance, anyone can achieve their dreams. Let's unite and show the world the strength of women.

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