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How Kenyan bracelet saved journalist Sharon Barang'a in Soweto slum, South Africa

Meet Sharon Barang'a a journalist who carries her Kenyan identity with pride.

CGTN journalist Sharon Barang'a during an interview at Pulse Kenya

In an exclusive interview with this writer, CGTN journalist Sharon Barang'a detailed her journey in the media, her wins, and her impact.

The interview also covered a story about how her Kenyan bracelet saved her from a situation that could have gone wrong in Soweto, South Africa, were it not for a fellow Kenyan woman who identified her nationality by the bracelet.

Sharon was plucked straight from the Catholic University of East Africa (CUEA) by the Nation Media Group.

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“They came to our school, gave us a talk, and then after the talk, we had to write an exam, which we did. I was selected to join the media lab program, a management training program for upcoming journalists. Then, after one year, I was fully engaged and joined the newsroom,” she said.

“If you’re in any learning institution and these opportunities come your way, 'usiende kulala ama kuwatch movie'. If you want to kickstart your career, then these are some of those opportunities that are brought on a silver platter,” she said.

At Nation Media Group, Sharon found her professional home for eight years, affectionately referring to it as the 'baba na mama' of her career.

However, in June 2020, she was among a barrage of journalists who were retrenched because the business was not doing well.

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A few months later, TV47 recognised her talent, bringing her on board as an education editor.

In June 2023, the international media house China Global Television Network (CGTN) beckoned, marking another significant transition in her illustrious career.

Working in local media houses, Sharon noted, often means an all-Kenyan team. However, stepping into the international media space means working with people from different countries. Workloads differ too – local media can be intense, while international houses offer a more balanced workload.

International exposure, better pay, and a broader audience are some perks of working in a global media house.

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Sharon's entry into education reporting was by chance, one that she grabbed with open arms. When a colleague from NTV who covered education stories left, Sharon saw an opportunity. Seizing it, she began reporting on education and children's stories, finding her niche.

Sharon's passion for storytelling, especially about children and education, didn't go unnoticed. She has received many awards, her first one being the best in Visual Reporting for Early Childhood Development award from the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).

This accolade opened doors to international fellowships, taking her on journeys to Switzerland and South Africa.

She is also an alumnus of the Mandela Washington Fellowship by the U.S. Department of State. Her stories on education and children have not only brought her global acclaim but have also been instrumental in her travels around the world.

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During a past visit to the Mandela House in Soweto, Sharon found herself lost in the slum at a time when xenophobic tensions were high in the country.

“I was scared of speaking out because there was some xenophobic tension, so I was thinking if I speak out, they can tell I am not South African. Because of that bracelet, another Kenyan lady spotted me, called me over, and helped me find my way back to my hotel,” Sharon recounted.

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In Kibra, during the Covid pandemic, Sharon encountered a cancer-stricken woman whose family had been without food for months and without painkillers for three months.

“This lady was suffering from cancer, and when I got there, they had not eaten as a family, and for like 3 months, she was not on painkillers. She was in a lot of pain, and this person's faith had not shifted from God.

“You talk to them, and the faith that they have, you're like, 'Oh my God,' and I've just been ranting to God the way I don't have bundles. So that shifted my mind. I was like, people are facing giant challenges out here, but their faith is steadfast,” she disclosed.

Sharon added, “Sometimes you do stories, and you go home, and you cry. Like, there's a kid I did a story on; this child passed. Some of these things at times have a toll on you.”

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Sharon Barang'a's story is more than just a tale of personal triumph; it's a narrative that highlights the evolving landscape of journalism, the importance of resilience, and the power of finding one's niche.

Her journey from a local newsroom to an international platform serves as an inspiration to journalists everywhere, reminding them of the impact they can make, both locally and globally.

Watch the full interview below

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Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or:

Email: news@pulselive.co.ke

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