I want to transform my country, says City Review’s Janefer after accolade

I want to transform my country, says City Review’s Janefer after accolade
Keji Janefer of The City Review second from right was among those awarded for outstanding peace coverage (photo credit: courtesy)

The news bombarded beyond her imagination as she stood tall as the only lady among the worthy male contenders in pursuit of journalistic excellence.

Dressed in her casual jeans and red top, communicating her athletic physique; Keji Janefer walked majestically to the podium as she served a grin to the audience to claim her dummy cheque.

She had just finished second in the Peace Journalism Award category and was among the best three scribes in a sea of numberless contenders. Her clamour to report on the country’s grapples with lasting peace had won acclaim.

 “As the only lady among men who won the award, I feel empowered. I feel that women and young ladies can also do something,’’ said Keji Jenifer, who currently reports for The City Review.

She added, “It gives me the courage to continue to report more positively on the situation in our country to give hope to the community and encouraging leaders to make informed decisions that benefit the community.”

Within three years of career practice, the 30-year-old won the CoMNeTTSS 2021 Peace Journalism competition alongside two other journalists.

This is an encouragement that gives Keji more inspiration to continue building hope among vulnerable communities through positive and accurate reporting on community peace initiatives in South Sudan.

After receiving the award, Keji promised to ensure every community in the war-ravaged country coexists peacefully and is able to learn to resolve their differences at the local level before escalating into violence. She plans to do this through her conflict sentinel reporting skills.

Making input count

“Majority of people in South Sudan believe peace can only be brought by the politicians but my peace talks about local community peace initiative. Some communities themselves are making efforts to manage conflict within the community- which is a positive thing that needs to be encouraged to inspire other communities to the same for peace to prevail in the country,” she revealed.

“This is the role journalists should undertake to change the perception of the community rather than focusing on negative incidents. Though negative things are happening, how we as journalists let decision-makers make positive and informed decisions to change the situation, is what matters,” she said. 

As a journalist just getting her grip in the industry, Keji was yet to believe she came second in the highly contested race on Wednesday, September 29 in the capital, Juba with over 45 competitors, among them journalists with over 10 years experience. 

“It is always said no gain without pain, that is exactly what we did to get the awards. I have experience of three years and there are people with experience of 10 years and more. So, life is all about commitment and that is exactly what I think though I didn’t expect to win,” 

“I thank the CoMNeTTSS for transparency and fairness in the process. Whatever we are doing [in the field] people are watching us and the kind of work we do. How it contributes to building or destroying community’s social fabric,” she said.

Keji—who has experience in both broadcast and print media—began her career with the state-owned SSBC in 2019 before becoming the only reporter for No 1 Citizens newspaper between 2019 and 2020. In 2020, Keji worked for another newspaper that collapsed shortly and rendered her jobless for several months before joining the City Review Newspapers in 2021.

“I did not intend to be a journalist [because] I wanted to pursue a career in Banking and Accounting but I failed to meet the requirements. I went for Commination and Public Relations that has made me become a journalist,” said Keji “I love the career and I won’t leave it despite challenges.”

However, the journalist called on the authorities and public to avail information to her and their colleagues to make their work of informing and educating society easy. 

“As everyone says the only hope for us is peace in South Sudan. The politicians’ talk of the implementation of the peace, showing their commitments that they are willing for peace, as media this is our work to disseminate what everyone says,” she urged.

“I call on the leaders and the public to avail information we journalists need to carry out our duties. Accessing information is challenging and it makes work difficult for us.” Keji said.