Haddy Ndure is bringing African success stories to a global audience and has in the recent past interviewed everyone from vice presidents to gender activists and scientists. The British-Gambian journalist speaks to Alagie Manneh on her journey into journalism, celebrating African brilliance and her passion for education.
Alagie: You are one of the most visible and respected African voices in the diaspora. What is your personal and professional background?
HN: That is very kind, thank you. I was raised by my grandmother in The Gambia and lived there for the first twelve years of my life. From as far back as I can recall, I had a vision of being a teacher. I remember being about six or seven years old and holding a stick to my cousins after school, forcing them to read the alphabet from a blackboard. This vision later transformed into wanting to be a journalist in my adult life, and I pursued it. By the time I was 11 years old, I read the National news in The Gambia during Children’s Day of Broadcasting and I remember quite vividly the editors inviting me to work for GRTS after high school. I told them I was going to work for the BBC and of course, this later became a reality.
What prompted you to come up with your interview series, Stories from the Continent?
I knew that I wanted to be a part of increasing representation in the media and I also wanted to celebrate Africa and Africans. I remember searching for “inspirational black women” years ago for an article I was writing at work, and all that came up were websites from black history month. I thought to myself, ‘I want to do something about this.’ As a young woman, I am always fighting for representation. I do this in my work, in the stories I cover, the people I interview, and the articles I write, but this is still not enough. There are many stories we haven’t heard from Africa, stories that so many men and women need to hear and see. Too often we don’t tell each other how brilliant we are and celebrate that brilliance. That’s how and why Stories from the Continent was born. To simply celebrate and highlight African success stories and increase our representation in the media. I describe it as the perfect marriage of my heritage to my passion, interest, and intrigues. My sincere gratitude to Aunty Fatu Camara for her contribution to making the show a success, and helping me reach a much bigger audience than I would perhaps have had on my own. I was introduced to Aunty Fatu early last year, and I later approached her for partnership and support to execute the idea on her platform. She welcomed me on The Fatu Network, has remained supportive throughout and the rest is history. Also, enormous thanks to Mansour my producer and a very good friend who introduced me to Aunty Fatu.
You started your show with critical acclaim and a wide audience among Gambians and Africans all over the world. What are your favorite and most compelling stories from your interviews?
I make it a point to choose guests that have a story to share. Stories we can all learn from. Every interview I have done, I leave-taking a wealth of knowledge with me. I know my audience does too.
And do you also feel that that is some sort of a humbling experience for you?
It is a humbling experience to see that by being myself, asking the right questions and, allowing my guests to share their experiences, I can educate, inform, entertain, and to a certain extent, influence, keeps me going. I’ve always had this natural affinity with my people and want to be part of their education, development, and empowerment. I see that same spirit and energy from my guests. They are all exceedingly successful in what they do but find it imperative to share their knowledge and make an impact in the Continent. I respect that. So whenever people tell me they enjoy the show and learned a huge amount from my guests, my response is “me too!”
Looking ahead to 2022, what type of stories would you like international news outlets to cover about Africa?
I would like to see more balanced reporting coming out of International outlets in regards to the Continent. As a journalist, I know that bad news sells and dominates the headlines all over the world. Africa is not singled out for that. But I think many of us living abroad are exhausted about the misrepresentation and underrepresentation of Africa in the news not because it is inaccurate, but because it is imbalanced. Of course, the slums exist, but the smart cities do too.
However, inasmuch as I wish mainstream news would give us some balance, my belief is we are solely responsible for making that change and using our voices to tell our stories.
You have been consistent with your show, regularly coming on-air every weekend but you seem to have taken a break. What’s going on?
The initial plan was to take a short break over the Christmas period. During which, I did some reflection and decided I want a different look and feel for the show. I promise to be back and better over the summer.
The Gambia managed to boot out a twenty-two-year-old dictatorship. What is your assessment of Adama Barrow’s government 4 years later?
Until very recently, I have always insisted on being apolitical. Over the years, and, through doing the show, this resistance to politics and inviting politicians on the show has softened. In terms of Gambian politics, I am incredibly pleased to see and witness the youth’s work and involvement in politics. 2016 was a very emotional journey and fight that as a nation we all went through together. Since then, the political environment has heightened, we are seeing more interest and freedom of speech. I believe a new day is on the horizon.
Lately, some bright and educated Gambians from the diaspora like Prof. Muhammadou Kah, Dr. Jainaba, Betty Marong among few others have returned home to serve their motherland Gambia. Would you consider a similar move if the opportunity arises?
I believe the key to any country’s development and future is in having citizens who are willing to serve, whether on the ground or from abroad. The greatest gift I want to give my country will be through education. This can happen in a myriad of ways, but I am sure it will happen In Shaa Allah. Right now, I am grateful for where I am and making the best of every single opportunity that continues to be brought my way.