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Matilda Asante uncovered 6/19/2007
Matilda Asante has worked at Joy FM for almost as long as the station has been in existence. She joined as a reporter in 1999 and has since risen through the ranks to become the station’s news editor. In the process, she’s made a name for herself as one of Ghana’s leading journalists. The recent award she won for the station in the BBC Africa Radio awards is ample testimony to her work ethic and her professional values.
Her motivation is simple: to touch as man lives as possible and provide a voice for the voiceless. And the accolade she won for Joy FM in the BBC radio awards (Best on-air campaign) shows that she is not just interested in hitting politicians (and so-called big men) with rapid fire questions in hard-hitting interviews. The story that won the award was about a six-year-old girl who had been brutally raped by her grand father.

After telling the story in a very professional and sensitive manner, Matilda garnered her team into a campaign to raise funds to pay the little girl’s medical bills. It is worthy of note of that the girl’s story came to Matilda through Nana Oye Lithur, one of Ghana’s leading women’s rights advocates. According to Matilda, when Nana Oye heard the girl’s story retold on radio, she broke down in tears.

“If you saw the girl, your immediate concern would be how to get her help,” she says. “That was the number one consideration. In the bigger picture, there are several of those cases that go unreported and get no attention. We figured that would be a good launch pad and we ended up creating the awareness.” So winning an award was never on the plate but Matilda is more than happy that her good intention did not just raise money for Little Adjoa’s medical treatment but won her the biggest accolade in her career.

Matilda told JIVE that when she flew into Nairobi for the BBC awards ceremony she had no doubt that she was going to pick the plaque. When she did, she had to retell the story to the audience and that, she says, made her “very emotional.”

If you expect to see Matilda with a chip on her shoulder after receiving the award, think again. “It doesn’t change anything,” she says. “If anything at all, it places an even bigger responsibility on me to do better.”

As a journalist, one of Matilda’s frustrations has to do with the little commendation she and her colleagues get for all the hard work they put into telling people’s stories. So being able to make a difference in a person’s life is something she can’t ever get enough of.

Matilda’s achievements are all the more remarkable because she is one of very few women in Ghana to have risen through the ranks to the very top position most journalists aspire to -- being news editor. Despite the fact that she’s had to compete in a male-dominated field, Matilda doesn’t allow gender to interfere with her work. “I’ve never seen myself as a female,” she says. “I just look to myself as a professional and I share that with my colleagues in the newsroom. I just do what I have to do best and that’s it.”

In spite of the fact that she may come off as a tough person to deal with, Matilda says she doesn’t ever want to antagonize anyone. “It’s never about the person; it’s always about the issues.”

With Kwaku Sakyi Addo as one of the people she looks up to, it will be difficult for her to every go wrong. Believe it or not, Matilda describes herself as a very shy person and sometimes gets misrepresented as a snob or an unfriendly person. She believes that you should “respect the person, but never fear them”.


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