When I was finished my final year of high school, I was devastated! I would pass out of high school but end up staying at home because I could not afford to go to the tertiary level. I passed grade 12 in 2002, and my mom managed to send me to a computer course and a driving school. She was trying her best to make something of me. In 2007 a family friend gave me a pamphlet for the Amazwi School of Media Arts, a journalism school for girls in South Africa. I had never wanted to be a journalist, but I was tired of sitting at home doing nothing. I thought, let me try. And, because I tried, I was one of the fifteen ladies who passed the interview.
Some months after being accepted as one of the journalist in training, I received more good news. I found out that I was four months pregnant. I was happy and shocked that I didn’t know all along that I was expecting. In the last two months of my pregnancy, I was struggling to cope with it all, and I could not go to school any more.ï¿½ I did eventually finish, though.
Now as a full-time writer and a mother I sometimes feel guilty that I don’t spent much time with my son. I love my son, but I also love writing, which sometimes is surprising to me because I never thought I wanted to be a journalist, but now I enjoy being a writer.
In 2008, after I finished the year-long program, Maggie Messit, founder of Amazwi, invited me to come and be one of the five intern journalists for the Amazwi Villager newspaper, my local community newspaper. I have been writing since February for the Amazwi Villager.ï¿½ Sometimes it is simple and sometimes it is very hard because people don’t allow me to interview them. I never thought other people would recognize my work, but I was wrong. Mrs. Messitt, Maggie’s mom, sent me an email in April after reading my article about taverns that are next to schools. She said that even in America they are having the same problem and that my article is great. I was happy to hear that.
One day we all applied for the Vodacom Journalist of the Year competition. Winners were scheduled to be announced on 13 October. The morning after, I deleted the message that Vodacom sent to me to confirm that they received my application.ï¿½ Only a few minutes later, my colleague screamed, telling me that I have won the competition. I could not believe it. I had to go and see the announcement myself on the internet, only to find that indeed I had won. I was very happy. I have made my family proud.
I entered the competition just because I wanted the people who judge to know my name, to maybe recognize it later when I have more experience. I thought, because I was still learning and because I was technically still an intern, I didn’t have a chance. But I was wrong! I won being new on this job of journalism, which makes me proud.
Linky Matsieï¿½is a reporter with The Amazwi Villager, a newspaper written by rural African female journalists of Sotho and Shangaan descent and distributed in their home communities within the lowveld region of South Africa. Amazwi, a non-profit organization, publishes the Villager monthly. To read more, visit: www.amazwivillager.org