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Spotlight on Lilian Madelemo, George Atkins Communications Award Winner, Uhuru FM, Tanzania

Lilian Madelemo has been a radio broadcaster since 2011, presenting news and entertainment programming at Uhuru FM in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Last year, she added to her growing repertoire by developing a farm program in collaboration with Farm Radio International.

The Swahili-language program called Kilimo Yakinifu (Efficient Farming) focused on new varieties of cassava and provided information to farmers about planting and harvesting techniques. She says the program even inspired her to start farming herself.

“I get more experience meeting with so many people and [there are] so many advantages learning from others,” she says.

The farmer program also helped build her confidence. The training she received from Farm Radio and the interviews she conducted with farmers and extension officers helped her learn many things about an industry that was new to her.

During the program, Ms. Madelemo visited farmers in their fields to learn how they have benefited from new varieties and planting methods. She made a special effort to speak to women farmers and used these interviews as vox pops in the program. She also wrote a Farmer Story [1] that was published on Barza Wire. This interaction with farmers in their fields was important for building trust and improving the program to meet farmers’ needs.

“The first time, people were not ready to give information because they don’t know me,” she says. “After talking to them and explaining what I’m doing, they understand me and they give me their time and they appreciate doing something with me.”

But it hasn’t been easy as a female journalist in Tanzania, says Ms. Madelemo. Before finding her current job at Uhuru FM, she faced sexual harassment when applying at a number of stations.

“After finishing college, it is hard for girls because when you go to the company to apply, [the men] like to approach you for sex and offer you a job,” she says.

But Ms. Madelemo’s strength and resilience ultimately landed her the job at Uhuru FM where she works with a supportive team she admires. Her dedication and enthusiasm shine, and she has become a role model for young female journalists.

“I wish for them to join this career because it’s so good. Some girls and women fear the many challenges, but through my programs, I try to get girls to talk and take action to do the job like me.”

For Ms. Madelemo, the George Atkins Communications Award is an opportunity to improve her skills as a broadcaster and further develop her programming to serve the needs of farming communities.

“I’m happy to know people understand me and what I’m doing through my job,” she says. “It encourages me and makes me have more confidence. Through this award, I know that people see what I’m doing—and it makes me want to continue to do things better.”