One-on-One with NTV’s Yassin Juma: Exclusive Interview
Opride.com: First off, Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. And may I convey to you the enormous gratitude and good will of Oromo people for the superb job that you have done in making the “Inside Rebel Territory” Documentary. Nothing but the truth the way your job demands. Thank you sir!
Opride.com – To start us off, Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and the work you do?
Yassin Juma: I am a Senior TV Correspondent for NTV, which is part of the Nation Media Group, the largest media organization in East and Central Africa. I report mostly on major conflicts in Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda. In Kenya, people associate my name with the War in Somalia which I extensively covered throughout the last six years. Some call me a war junkie but that is my passion.
I almost got killed in Mogadishu twice but time and again I find myself returning back just to keep the Somali story alive. The world has thrown this country to the dogs and as a Journalist I feel I have a duty to keep the world informed of the suffering in Somalia. I have a lot of interest in covering refugees and immigrants and I suppose that’s where the OLF idea grew. Perhaps now many Oromo people know about NTV. I could talk volumes about myself but let us just say am a Kenyan Journalist (not Somali or Oromo as was rumored).
Opride.com – How do you assess the growth of independent African media today? And why do you think some African leaders are so adamantly opposed to the thriving of independent voices?
Y.J: I believe there are better days ahead of us for the African media and we have a long way to go. But in some African countries like Kenya and South Africa, journalists enjoy freedom of press to a great extent compared to the likes of Ethiopia. In Kenya, citizens can criticize the president or government. Equally, opposition groups and civil societies have every right to be heard. Reportedly and sadly enough that is not the case in Ethiopia.
But I believe it’s a process, European countries or the so called developed world have gone through this stage before fully practicing democracy.
To answer the second part of your question, I think many African leaders are afraid of independent voices because in most cases they came to power through a coup, rigged elections or inherited the seat of power through a dynasty. And not many have a clean record as leaders and the more they cling to power the lesser the chances for the media to know the skeletons in their cupboards. They say absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Opride.com – Before we dive into the making of “Inside the Rebel Territory” and the rift it has created since, you mention that it took you three years to get permission from the OLF, why did you decide to venture into an unknown territory to tell the tales of Oromo Liberation Front?
— to be continued