On Friday, May 5, 2023, Dr. Monica Chadha and Dr. Jeannine Relly hosted a group of international journalists from Africa at the School of Journalism. The journalists are invited to the United States through the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program and their program was arranged by the Meridian International Center.
Bios of the visiting journalists are listed below:
The Democratic Republic of Congo
Elysee Odia is a professional journalist who has worked for broadcast media for over 15 years. She is also the founder of a communication agency that manages the independent online news website Yabisonews.cd. Prior to that, she was a major contributor to Top Congo, the most popular radio station in Kinshasa, where she acted as a prominent women’s advocate, hosting debates involving women leaders from all sectors of society focused on critical women’s issues. Her time at Top Congo helped raise public awareness of the status of women in a male-dominated society. Ms. Odia is a firm believer in the role of social media as a leverage of democracy and good governance. She often encourages her more than 200,000 Twitter followers to embrace critical thinking when commenting on the key challenges facing the DRC. She has a BS in Journalism from Institut Facultaire des Sciences de Communication et de l’Information (IFASIC).
Malik Sullemana is a long-term employee of the second largest daily print paper in the country. A legacy state-owned newspaper, The Ghanaian Times has a reputation for strong reporting, fact-checking, and professional ethics, but, with the national government under budget constraints, it will need to be financially self-sufficient to thrive in Ghana’s dynamic media context where it competes with newer, for-profit outlets. Mr. Sullemana writes articles, investigative pieces and op/eds on a wide swath of subjects, including crime and justice, economy, climate change, food security, energy, agriculture, terrorism, peace, and migration. He also crafts and edits press releases for publication, supervises and edits stories written by interns and national service personnel, and follows credible leads on social media for breaking news for the online portal. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from the Ghana Institute of Journalism.
Sira Bathily has worked her way up at the national broadcaster Office of Radio and Television of Mali (ORTM), going from reporter to anchor and now head of the section in charge of investigation and debates. Prior to her work with ORTM, she was a radio news presenter and debate moderator for the community radio and podcast outlet Studio Tamani. Her presence at the head of investigation and debates at ORTM allows her the editorial position to create more diversity and inclusiveness among reporters and news coverage. Her position is important for maintaining freedom of the press as well as ensuring topics of interest to the public are covered or investigated. In response to growing complaints by the political opposition over the lack of access to public television, Ms. Bathily took steps in 2018 to hold contradictory debates between the regime and the opposition on topic of general interest. This move contributed to an increase in ORTM’s audience and changed viewer perception that it is the mouthpiece of the government. In 2019, during a time of major disinformation circulating on social media that was undermining the peace process and exacerbating violent conflict in central Mali, Ms. Bathily initiated, produced, and hosted debates and talk shows that culminated in parliament enacting a bill regulating free speech on social networks. She is equally impactful in supporting women and diverse views, including producing a television magazine program on female rice farmers and a show on Mali’s National Inclusive Dialogue. She holds a Higher Diploma in Journalism from Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar.
In less than ten years of experience, Ms. Awa Traore went from junior reporter with no journalism background to Editor-in-Chief of Nouvel Horizon, one of the top three print outlets in Mali. Since taking on that role, she has worked tirelessly to change the look and content of the newspaper to be on par with leading newspapers in the country. In a media environment characterized by lax journalistic standards, she has increased the credibility of Nouvel Horizon as an outlet that checks its facts and tries to undertake real investigative journalism. She has supported the opinion writers of the paper to allow them to express views that are unpopular with the Malian authorities. Ms. Traore holds a license in management from Paris 8 University Vincennes-Saint-Denis.
Olugbenga Adanikin is head of investigations and fact checker with the International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR). The ICIR is an independent news agency that focuses on investigative reporting. Its stories are usually published by major Nigerian print and online newspapers giving them wide reach. Apart from initiating and writing investigative reports he also coordinates freedom of information requests for the ICIR. This is usually a painstaking endeavor because the government is typically resistant to freedom of information (FOI) requests, but ICIR is one of a few media outlets that through persistence and effort has succeeded in getting responses. When the organization started a fact checking section, Mr. Adanikin was instrumental to strengthening and building it up. Prior to his work with ICIT, he was a reporter for The Nation newspaper and a stringer for the African Development Bank. He holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Mass Communication from the National Open University of Nigeria and a Higher National Diploma in Mass Communication from Moshood Abiola Polytechnic. He is a member of Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), and Africa Resilience Network (ARN).
Babatunde Olawuwo is a broadcast journalist and general manager at West Midlands Communications, a radio network comprising Splash 105.5 FM Ibadan; Lagelu 96.7 FM Ibadan; and Splash 106.7 FM Abeokuta. In his capacity as general manager responsible for managing the multifaceted operations of the radio network, Mr. Olawuwo provides leadership for a team of 167 radio hosts, reporters, news editors, program producers, and digital media content creators for all three stations. In addition to coordinating the editorial policy for the media group, he co-hosts the network’s flagship political and current affairs program Splash Rendezvous, where he interviews business leaders, policymakers, and legislators as well as presidential and gubernatorial candidates. He came up through the station, having previously served as a Current Affairs Producer and Head of the Sports Desk. He holds a Higher National Diploma in Mass Communications from Ibadan Polytechnic.
Samba Diamanka reports for the national daily newspaper Le Soleil from the southern part of Senegal which is affected by the ongoing Casamance crisis (a conflict between Senegal’s government and a regional independence movement). As such, he carries reports and investigation pieces on the Casamance crisis and its economic and social impacts. He is also the co-founder of the online investigative newspaper L’Enquete. Mr. Diamanka is well known for his writing style, in-depth reports, interviews, and analysis of politics, education, culture, and society. He has a Masters in Communication from the Center for the Study of Information Sciences and Technologies.
Ayanda Melansi is a radio producer for the number one radio station in Africa, Ukhozi FM based in the province of KwaZulu-Natal with eight million listeners per week. She has been with the public broadcaster for four years, producing weekday primetime slots. Her current show which she produces has more than 3.2 million listeners per week and is one of the influential radio programs among women and young people in the province. She addresses issues that directly affect communities, such as HIV, upskilling women in rural areas, gender equality, and social inclusion. Prior to her work with Ukhozi FM, Ms. Melansi was Head of News at Classic FM and a journalist and producer at Gagasi FM. She has Certificates in Journalism for Communicators and Feature Writing from the University of Witwatersrand.
Waakhe Murye works as a freelance journalist for Voice of America (VOA) and Agence France-Presse, focusing on economic, political, social, humanitarian, climate change, and environmental protection stories to educate the public through traditional media reporting and investigative journalism. Mr. Murye previously worked with the Gurtong Trust as Central Equatoria State Correspondent and with the Juba Post newspaper, which has since closed. He has participated in journalism certificate trainings from VOA in Juba; Nile Basin Initiative in Addis Ababa, Kigali, and Khartoum; and Media in Cooperation and Transition in Khartoum. Mr. Murye is a member of the Union of Journalists of South Sudan and the Eastern Africa Media Network.
Zmorda Dalhoumi is the Managing Editor of the economic section of the Arabic daily Al Maghreb, one of Tunisia’s leading Arabic newspapers. Ms. Dalhoumi covers economic issues and reports closely on the U.S.-Tunisian economic partnership. Previously she was Managing Editor of the economic section for Assabah newspaper. Ms. Dalhoumi has a BA in Journalism from the Institute of Journalism and Information Sciences (IPSI).