Interview posted on 04 April 2023
Tuyeimo welcome to Namambe, I am excited to have you on the Show.
I came across your name both online and offline countless times which made me curious to learn more about you, since the contribution that you are making to society, figuratively speaking is as good as building a public road for all.
In addition, apart from delving into your personal history, I will ask you a number of questions about your last year’s visit to Kigali, Rwanda, a city that has outperformed Windhoek to become Africa’s cleanest city.
K: Well, let’s get started.
You have a beautiful African name Tuyeimo, I am surprised you don’t have a European name, what does Tuyeimo mean? And your surname sounds something like rain, am I correct. And by the way, are you baptized? LOL
T: My full name is Tuyeimo mouhamba waKalunga. (The surname Haidula is rain says my dad and his ancestral roots.)
I am baptizesd yes. At Oshali Parish in Ohangwena Region. I am ELCIN.
K: Well, let’s continue who is Tuyeimo Haidula? Where did you grow up (how many in the family), go to school, university etc. and are your parents still around and didn’t they want you to become a nurse or teacher at that time?
T: Tuyeimo is a health journalist with nine years’ experience, across print, wire agency and digital outlets across Namibia, South Africa, India and the United Kingdom. I have love for creative non-fiction and focuses on solutions-based, narrative journalism stories that showcase how people are solving – or are attempting to solve problems. This makes me a little different to most journalists in that way.
Outside of work Tuyeimo is a young girl from Ohainengena village in Ohangwena Region. She attended school at Ohainengena Junior Primary School which is approximately 16 km east of Eenhana town. My parents are both alive. They are educationalist. My father – Hafeni Haidula a retired teacher and mother Penehafo Haidula a retired inspector of education. They both diligently served the Namibian child with their love and passion for education.
I grew up at Ohainengena village and only moved to town in Grade 3 when I was admitted at Charles Anderson Primary School in Ongwediva, Oshana Region. I moved to Gabriel Taapopi Senior Secondary School for grade eight. A year later I moved to Oshigambo High School for grade nine. I completed my high school at Oshigambo and I was admitted at the University of Namibia for further studies. I enrolled for Media Studies and graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Print Media and English. I obtained another postgraduate diploma from Rhodes University in South Africa in Media Management.
We are six children and we all took different career paths. My parents never influenced what we should do. They supported my choice of being a journalist. My second choice was tour guider. I also have aspirations of being an actress as I did a lot of school dramas in my primary school years but I felt our industry in Namibia wouldn’t allow me to get very far. I have since loved being a journalist and wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
K: You have been in the media industry for some years now, what was your first job?
T: My first job was a gardener if that counts. Hahahaha. I was employed to water our school plants during the school holiday because I lived five minutes away from the school. It paid me well. N$300.
When I moved to Windhoek for university I became a car wash girl wearing bikinis to make some money. I retired from washing cars then I worked as a sub-editor for Campus News at the University of Namibia before finding an internship with the Youth Paper at The Namibian Newspaper.
K: Tell us in detail about your work experience and how did you find yourself in this challenging industry?
I have always loved writing. I loved telling stories. I just didn’t realise I would tell real-life events. Growing up, I kept a diary and I would jot down my daily events. At my high school (Oshigambo High School) we started a magazine and I was the editor. I then realized this is what I will pursue ay varsity. The rest is history. I have been writing professionally since 2011. I worked as a consultant at C4ADS and a correspondent at Citizen News Service as well as a freelance journalist for BBC Africa. In 2017 I did an internship at Bhekisisa in South Africa. I worked with the Bhekisisa team on compiling a sizamap that can help citizens’ access safe abortion. I am passionate about reporting on Human Rights issues and health threats. I am currently employed by Namibia Media Holdings under Namibian Sun Newspaper. I have worked with the BBC Africa, Bhekisisa, openDemocracy, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, The Namibian and Citizen News Service as well as the Global Health Strategies.
I recently participated in the One Young World Community and the Second International Conference on Public Health in Africa. I have also worked as a consultant in collaboration with Global Health Strategies, MSD to engage the Office of the First Lady, the health and the education ministers to discuss opportunities to scale up high-quality and comprehensive cervical cancer prevention and control efforts in Namibia. The aim is to share Merck’s commitment to working with global partners to address the elimination of cervical cancer and other HPV-related diseases globally, including in Namibia. Understand the current state of HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening in Namibia and any plan towards national comprehensive prevention and control of cervical cancer.
All these listed companies which I have worked for, I collaborated with them to focus on life-saving protection interventions directly targeting women and girls of reproductive age.
In my reporting career, I am a multiple award-winning journalist having won two awards in 2019 – the Community Journalism Award and the Health and Social Welfare Journalism Award with the Editors’ Forum of Namibia’s journalism awards.
As a health journalist I have seen how media in Namibia is grappling with the imperatives of transformation of the broadcasting channels on the continent and how media can play a more positive and facilitative role in deepening and nurturing a fragile democracy in Africa.
K: What would you describe as the main highlights of your career?
T: I could write an entire book but beyond the fact-checking, interviews, proof-reads and contacts book, the best moment was when I helped reunite a mother and her children whom she had abandoned because of poverty in Okankolo village in Oshikoto Region. After the story broke, Namibians from all walks of life chipped in to save the day. They built a proper structure for the children and provided food, utensils and all the other basics. The school-going children also received school uniforms. The regional council helped track down their mother and asked her to come back home and the gender ministry provided counselling services to the woman.
Also, my recent trip to Kigali for the 2nd International Conference on Public Health in Africa was breath-taking. The conference brought essential conversations about Africa to Africa – conversations on topics like pandemic preparedness, increasing local vaccine production, tackling infectious and non-communicable diseases and African leadership in health. Had me wanting to turn into a doctor journalist if that’s the word. My favourite part of the job is putting a narrative feature together. However, the difficult part is writing a story in a way that take the reader to the story and have them feel they are part of the experience, all while paying attention. The article can take over a week to produce which at times gets me in trouble because I work for a daily and I am supposed to produce two stories daily. Eventually, the hard work pays off and I have seen how these stories can change lives.
K: Is there something that you have learned from your career that has shaped your life for good?
T: Yes. In journalism you are only as good as your last story. You cannot live in past glory. It forces you to do better and improve in order to stay relevant. I apply this to my daily life, you snooze, you lose. Stay grinding to stay relevant. Journalism is a copying machine-what you put into it is what it will return to you. Feed it with averageness, and it will return the favour. Put in the work and feed it with brilliance, and it will give you the same.
K: What opportunities and challenges came your way as a media practitioner?
T: I will start with the opportunities because my life has never been the same. The job has allowed me to sit down and do interviews with people from all walks of life. This includes politicians. From the founding father of the Namibian nation Sam Nujoma, President Hage Geingob and First Lady Monica Geingos to former South African Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. As a woman journalist I was awarded an OSISA scholarship to study at Rhodes University’s Sol Plaatje Institute (SPI) for Media Leadership,
It was also while at Rhodes University that I got a chance to do an internship at Bhekisisa (the Mail and Guardian’s health reporting unit). I worked with the Bhekisisa team on compiling a sizamap that can help citizens’ access safe abortions. This has helped me see the need for more in‐depth reporting on human rights issues and health threats in Namibia, creating a market for investigated community stories. I will forever be indebted to the Bhekisisa team for helping me polish the way I write my narrative features.
The PGDip in Media Management taught me the importance of competitive advantage – as an individual and as an organisation.
Some of the challenges and struggles of the industry, particularly these years is increased digital proliferation and battling waves of disinformation, algorithms, engagement, media trust and ultimately revenue and sustainability.
In this turbulent operating environment, African journalism has to establish a new and innovative approach to news production. I would suggest solution-based or solution-focused journalism. These should be rigorous reports about how people are responding to social problems. The focus should be on stories that showcase how people are solving – or attempting to solve problems.
Secondly, African journalism should bridge the gap: promoting community development by enhancing and sustaining citizen journalism on the continent.
Gender dynamics remain a challenge in many newsrooms. This will include gender mainstreaming and media management of newsrooms. Newsroom leadership and management needs to have an equal presentation of men and women. It does not help to have one woman in the boardroom who will be outvoted by the number of men should she have an issue to raise. We also need to ensure that should an issue of sexual harassment from either sexes arise, there is a committee that can deliberate on the issue and make decisions moving forward.
K: Journalism often affords people the opportunity to travel and see different things and circumstances that said, what are some of the events that you won’t forget in your life as you travelled in Namibia and outside Namibia?
T: In Namibia my trip to Ekoka village in Ohangwena Region visiting the San people adapt to subsistence farming as a way of life. My trips to Terrace Bay as well, although I went there for leisure I ended up doing a story on the locals and the fishing. An absolute wonderful experience. Outside the country is the trip to Nairobi, Kenya I was on an investigative training with BBC Africa. My trip to Rwanda’s Kigali and the trip to Manchester city in England was totally unforgettable. I got a chance to see Old Trafford and see Ronaldo playing in person.
K: This brings us to the second part of the interview which is your visit to Kigali, which is now dubbed Africa’s cleanest city? I have seen photos and some video clips that you have taken last year when you visited Kigali. What was your first impression when you landed in Kigali?
T: Wow. What a clean place! This is what I thought over and over. I couldn’t believe it. I was so curious I couldn’t wait to confirm if they were really cleanest and deserved to take the tittle from us. Can you believe they do not even allow you to leave the airport with your wrapped bags? They remove the plastic there and then. They have people to help you on arrival unwrap the bag. This they said is to avoid littering as visitors might throw the plastics around which were banned from use in 2008 to protect the environment.
K: Do you agree with the statement that Windhoek has indeed lost the title of Africa’s cleanest city to Kigali? If so, what do you think Kigali is doing differently from Windhoek as far as keeping the city clean and attractive?
T: Yes, I do. Kigali is unbelievably clean. I believe one of the reasons for the country’s cleanliness is the ban of the use of plastic bags. You will not see a single plastic floating and littering the place. I was also impressed that the hotels have strictly placed dustbins with recycling signs in the rooms and around the buildings to make it easier for guests to separate waste. I have seen little to none plastic packaging materials.
After a chat with the locals on how I am not spotting even a sweet wrapper on the floor, they say they are so used to it that the thought of littering does not even cross their minds. This they termed collective national efforts to keep the city clean and ultimately the country. Rwanda’s streets are safe and clean definitely due to a combination of efforts. They also visibly have people cleaning the streets and making sure the plants along the road are watered, and properly shaped. The locals also said the country has a national cleaning campaign which takes place on the last Saturday every month. Communities come together and clean up their neighbourhoods.
K: In your view, is there a chance for Windhoek to reclaim the title in the near future?
T: Yes. All is not lost. It will however take a lot of team effort and hard work to pull it off. The residents have to be willing to work together with council. Council needs to come up with stricter measures which should be correctly implemented so the city is kept clean.
K: From what I read about trips to Kigali, visitors would include a trip to the Kigali Genocide Memorial at Gisozi in their itinerary because this site serves to educate people about the genocide which claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people. I did see a photo that you have taken there, therefore I would like you to give your views on what comes to mind after visiting this site.
T: I believe people can overcome it all. If the people of Rwanda can now be united and hold hands working together, its inspiring to watch. Being a Namibian and knowing how we celebrate our Independence on 21 March because we have people whose blood waters our freedom reminds me why we should not take our peace and stability for granted. Visiting the memorial, I could not even have comprehended how the surviving families of these people get to feel.
After visiting the memorial, I began to understand why there is heavy police presence in the streets of Kigali. And one is scanned when entering any building. Even the shops and pharmacies. The Genocide Memorial comprises of exhibitions, memorial gardens and an educational video before taking the tour around the building. It was build as a place of remembrance for survivors and it also serves as education for the young, and for visitors to the country.
K: How do you describe the Rwandese people in general and do they speak some of our languages in Namibia?
T: They are very friendly people. They all greet you and ask how your night was. And it seems its across board. I have experienced it at all the hotels I have been to during my time there.
K: If you are given money to change two things in Namibia, what is that you will change and why?
T: I will build a cancer center for children in northern Namibia. I think early detection can save the lives of these children and not rob Namibia of future leaders who could transform the country. An outreach and awareness on cancer is lacking in the rural areas.
Improve safe homes for children and GBV victims. If we can have a conducive environment for people to live with healthy set ups and less mental gymnastic, we will have a productive society.
K: Do you have something that you wished to have done if life could be reversed?
T: No. I think life is a journey and mine has been panning out really well. I am excited about what the future holds and can’t wait to see myself achieve more of my dreams. Maybe even become President.
K: Is there something that you would like to share with our readers?
T: At times, the stories I do remind me of the lack of humanity and empathy amongst us. A broken community. Shattered and destroyed by their own. Let’s do better in building strong, healthy nations. Together we shall overcome. Covid-19 has shown us this.
Thank you very much for your time and insight as well as for sharing some of your photos below.