I am taking a break from my usual blogging to introduce you to a friend who lives in Africa. She is an amazing woman and fellow believer Who has navigated single motherhood as well as a continent change all at a very young age. Victoria is a news anchor/reporter for NTV Kenya.
My daughter and I had the privilege of spending some time with Victoria and her daughter during their most recent visit to the States. I hope her candid answers give you some new insight. She symbolizes hope and stability in her generation.
1. You have spent your life living between Kenya and the East Coast of the U.S. What should American women really appreciate that they take for granted?
It’s funny I was just watching a clip this week, where an Italian movie director was explaining why he decided to take on a film that had to do with someone achieving the American dream. And he said, “Americans can’t really appreciate the American dream. It takes someone from the outside to show how great it is.” American women and people by extension don’t realise how blessed they are to be just that….American. As much as people, may have their reservations about ‘Uncle Sam’ and how ‘he’ runs affairs on American soil and abroad, at the end of it all, America really is the greatest country in the world. Having experienced life in Africa and the US, I have appreciated the simple fact that things just work in America, from government, to delivery of basic services like healthcare and electricity. These are fundamental aspects of running a country that we’re still trying to get right in Africa.
2. What do you want African women to understand about American women that seems to be a misperception?
American women have to really work. The fact that there is a lot of convenience in the US, doesn’t mean that life is a walk in the park. If you’re an American mom, for instance, you don’t have the luxury of a house help, who can babysit the kids and clean the house, while you’re at work. Having to work at 9 to 5 and come home to a messy house, hungry kids and husband, is a test of the wills. African women, primarily in the growing middle class, have the luxury of having help at an affordable price, to take care of everything from cooking to grocery shopping and picking up kids from school.
3. You recently took a trip back to the States after a 5 year period in Kenya. What was the biggest change you noticed since you left in 2010?
Honestly, not a thing in terms of the aesthetics. Streets and places were the same. The only disheartening thing for me, was to see how many people were losing their jobs in the Atlantic City area, after a few casinos closed down. You could sense people’s morale was low and there was a lot of uncertainty, because it was affecting other sectors like education, with many teachers losing their jobs. It made me appreciate the opportunities I had back home in Kenya.
4. Who are women in business and/or in the field of journalism who have greatly influenced your career?
Two women in particular. One is Christian Amanpour for her bravery to report from volatile locations. She risked her life to get the story and get help for many. The other is Oprah Winfrey, who got Americans and people around the world talking and thinking critically about issues affecting them. Her show was an inspiration to many and still is.
5. How has your faith altered the way you do your job?
I go to work everyday, not to just work, but to make an impact. My faith has made me aware of the platform I have and how I can use it to make a difference. It has also helped me stand for my beliefs and go against the status quo unashamedly. There is a perception that people in the media have no room for God. My stand to be open about my walk with God has spoken volumes to youth in Kenya, who tend to look up to people in the media. Upholding my faith has showed them that God is still very relevant in your life, no matter how successful you get.
6. What is your favorite bible verse?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
7. What advice would you have for a young believer who desires to go into the news/media field?
Know why you are in the media because it is a powerful platform. If you don’t have a strong agenda to make an impact, someone will give you one very quickly. Understand the responsibility you have to the public and don’t get distracted by the need to build a brand. Remember if God has called you to the field, it is for a reason. Find out what it is and execute.
8. As a reporter you have covered many stories. What incident/event have you covered that impacted you the most?
Several have impacted me. Most recently, I covered the Garissa University College attack, where over 140 students were killed. We were stationed at the morgue and saw some of the bodies of the victims and it angered me to see how young they were. Most came from poor families, who gave up practically everything to give their children a chance to pursue higher education. They were the last hope for their families to have better lives, and in a matter of hours their lives were snuffed out by ruthless terrorists.
9. You have been verbal about being a single parent. What is your biggest challenge when the demands of your job are so high?
Time with my daughter has been the hardest thing to come by. My schedule is so demanding and keeps me away from home most of the week. I have had to maximise on the limited time I have with her, even if it means taking her to school in the morning, to have that hour in the car. Parenting is not easy and spend less time with your child makes it that much harder, however I thank God for the support system I have in my family, who step in when I’m not around.
10. What encouragement do you have for other single (or pregnant and about to be single) parents?
God never leaves. Ever. I know we hear it in church and read it in the Bible, but He is there. He can be everything you are not to your child that is why you need to develop a close relationship with God. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Him guiding me and working on me to be a better parent.
11. What is your vision for your new prime time show Victorias Lounge.
I want to create a platform that would bring the conversations people have on their kitchen tables and in their living rooms into the open. I want people to come on and be candid about their experiences, with the hope that someone watching would be encouraged, inspired and even challenged.
12. Can American/Canadian women access your show on the internet?
Yes, previous shows are on my network’s (NTV Kenya) YouTube Channel. All they have to do is type ‘Victoria’s Lounge’ in the search bar. https://www.youtube.com/user/NTVKenya Happy viewing and God bless.