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Wednesday, 05 Jun 2013

Journalist’s road to Damascus experience

By Boni Odinga

For this year’s Media Council of Kenya TV Reporter of the Year, Asha Mwilu, journalism is a calling. Asha is a fast rising journalist with knack for telling unique stories.  Her road to Damascus and conversion to journalism happened following a tragedy; the 1998 bombing of the Nairobi US embassy, where she lost her father Abdallah Mwilu.

She was disgusted at how the event was covered by journalists who pestered her bereaved family asking insensitive questions.

Asha has always been determined to tell stories differently and avoid the hustle and bustle, pick and dump way of telling stories. For her the haranguing her family underwent during the bombing ordeal cruelly rubbed salt into injury.

Her journey to journalism started in primary school at Mountain View Academy where she joined the journalism club. The quest continued at St. George’s Secondary School where she was appointed chair of the journalism club.

She capped her education with a degree in journalism from the United States International University. But her curiosity was not quenched and her endeavor to understand human behavior made her enroll for a degree course in Sociology at the University of Nairobi.

So has the KTN journalist made a difference? “My rage has been quenched a bit but largely I have understood the pressures journalists go through in order to get their stories,” she says.

One of her most memorable stories was that of a boy who was being used to beg on the streets by a man claiming to be his father. The hapless child with rashes all over his body was put on display next to notice that he had HIV.  Aisha’s story helped rescue the boy who apparently had been kidnapped and had acquired tuberculosis.

Another capper was Armies of the underworld feature that documented the life cycle of goons-for-hire political gangs that sprout every political high season. This is the story that earned her the MCK award.

For Asha the newsroom is an adrenaline rush whenever a story breaks and all that pandemonium keeps her inspired. She however laments that journalists have to give their all sacrificing a lot and have not time to stop and smell the flowers.

Asha is a news junkie who always finds herself calling the office even during annual leave or off days to give them leads to stories while keeping a Hawkeye on all TV channels.

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