Wednesday, August 31, 2011

FISHING FOR THE FUTURE: Cyber tea with Jacob Nthoiwa

I was recently invited to Johannesburg to perform on behalf of a regional NGO, I set aside some down time and met with up a few of my Johannesburg based friends to do some catching up. I love traveling but I cant imagine raising my children anywhere but here, Botswana has her fair share of challenges but I think I'm genetically coded to keep coming back home. Still it doesn't really come as too much of a surprise that there are a number of Batswana are ‘out there’ doing good honest work and making a meal of the opportunities their self imposed vocational exile brings them. Jacob Kelebogile Nthoiwa is a Motswana business and technology journalist for ITWeb and is currently based in Sandton, Johannesburg. He pulls no punches when I ask him whats missing at home, why the need to seek opportunities elsewhere?

I believe our country still lacks journalist. When I say journalists I do not mean content farmers or people who gather and compile information. There are still a few journalists who question issues and investigate deeper into them so they can deliver informed news to the people. We also miss specialist journalists like business journalists, technology journalists, medical journalists, and financial journalists just to mention a few. What I have observed is that each and every journalist wants to go into entertainment or politics. Which leaves a big hole in the other sectors of Botswana economy.

Jacob has a BA in English from the University of Botswana and a Post Graduate Certificate in Financial Journalism from Wits University. He comes from a family of accountants from both his brothers, one a practitioner and the other an accountancy student, to his mother who is with the Auditor General here in Gaborone. His father a retired police officer now runs a small farm on the outskirts of Gaborone.We talk to him about how it all began

The beginning
I grew up basically in every part of Botswana. I was born in the mining town of Selibe Phikwe then shortly afterwards moved to my home village to stay with my grand mother. I later went back to Selibe Phikwe where I started my primary school then later Masunga. I moved to Francistown then went off to live in a small village near Selibe Phikwe called Semolale for a year where I finished off my primary school education. I later moved to Johannesburg to stay with an aunt, a fter that I went back to Francistown then Shakawe, Gumare and Maun. In 1999 I moved to Gaborone where I started my tertiary education the following year. The reason I moved so much is that my parents were always getting transferred to different parts of the country.

To teach or not to teach
After finishing my studies at the University of Botswana I couldn’t find work and by then I desperately wanted to be a writer. The market was clogged. I decided to find a job outside Botswana to avoid being a teacher as I studied Humanities and most of us who graduated there ended up doing PGDE and became teachers if we were not lucky to get into the corporate space. I was unlucky I couldn’t find a job in the corporate world. One day I decided to pack my bags and try my luck in Johannesburg and it actually paid off, within a couple of months I had a job.

Jozi now
Basically during the week I wake up at around 5am in the morning and start reading global news. I always want to know what has been happening around the globe while I was asleep. Then I go on to check my e-mails after that I attend to all the social media sites that I subscribe to. I then hit the gym and I am off to work. At work it is basically all about news gathering going to events and conducting interviews either face to face or telephonically. Then afterwards since it’s a daily, I write down the stories and submit them and do some brainstorming in preparation for the following day. During the day I check the news sites for the developments taking place around the world. I end my day by joining friends for a quick drink and dinner. I end my day with a dose of news then check and reply my e-mails and then I study because technology is an ever evolving industry and once you relax you are left behind. On weekends its basically relaxing and visiting friends and attending all the social functions that I get invited to.

5 year Ambition
I always wanted to be a full time novel writer. I am working on a couple of manuscripts hopefully by then I would be a published writer working on promoting my work. I also want to run an exchange programme for young Batswana writers in future in order to develop literacy in the country.

More on the missing
Our country still lacks public relations practitioners. These people can help sell our country so much. We need a career guidance strategy in the country, as well as institutions, which can deliver diverse courses. What shocked me the other day is that Botswana has so many people who studied fashion design, graphic design and there is nowhere these graduates are going to find employment, as we do not have clothing factories in the country. It is almost impossible for all of them or just 20% of them to run fashion houses as the population in the country is so small.

Gifts from the diaspora
Basically I will bring knowledge especially in the business side of media which I have learnt in Johannesburg and what I will learn in future. We should always travel and learn at every point of lives or we get left behind ...people should not rely on the government. We should go out there and we will actually see that our country has potential.

What I have noticed about people in our country is that we are not a reading nation. We should develop the culture of reading. It helps a lot because nowadays we cannot rely on word of mouth. There is so much information out there to be consumed and we should take advantage of it.

It comes as no surprise that with a job that has allowed him a fair bit of travel over the last couple of years Jacob is now considering a move even further afield either to "New York or London at the end of September. There might be offers in those two cities that I cannot reveal at the moment."

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