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Meet Azeezah Hashim, an influential African radio presenter. Through this interview, we’ll see how young female presenters in Africa are emerging and thriving.
At only 22, the smart, fearless and talented Azeezah co-hosts the most listened to breakfast show by young people on NRG Radio. Her sphere of influence is so great it can change a culture, a society and the whole world.
The radio and TV presenter and corporate MC has broken a handful of records, and she’s a powerful force for dignity and hope. Hashim has been scaling the heights and it is not hard to tell that the future of radio in Africa is female. She says, the secret is to work, work, work.
A unique soul with a voice, style and attitude all unapologetically her own, she spoke to Raphael Obonyo about her passions. The interview is as follows:
Raphael Obonyo: Who is Azeezah?
Azeezah Hashim: I am a student at the University of Nairobi, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Currently, I’m a radio presenter at NRG, a radio station that broadcasts from Kenya’s urban cities. Focused on engaging, entertaining, informing and inspiring, this Urban Contemporary Hit radio station, which embraced digital technology for a multi-platform experience, presents a programming that combines music and entertainment. I co-host one of the most popular breakfast shows. Also, I’m a TV presenter, an MCEE and influencer.
Obonyo: Tell us about your journey as a female radio presenter.
Hashim: I grew up in Majengo, one of the low-income neighborhoods in Kenya. My parents knew the importance of education, and made every effort to afford me education. Because of my fairly good performance at the elementary and high school, my parents wanted me to pursue medicine. At first they were surprised when I shared with them my passion for radio, and interest to build a career in journalism. My mum supported me when I made the decision to pursue journalism instead of medicine. I took part in a number of auditions until I landed an opportunity at NRG radio. At NRG, I was put straight on the breakfast show.
Obonyo: As a female radio presenter how have you approached your work?
Hashim: Interestingly, I’m too focused on work stuff, I don’t even have time to do anything else. I’m happy doing what I love doing — being on radio. My career is my purpose, and it feels like a happy place. Also, I value my family and my Islamic faith — they keep me sane and grounded.
My approach has been to develop confidence through thorough preparation that include research and sourcing for information and knowledge. I strongly believe, to be an outstanding radio presenter, you need to know what you talk about, have a good understanding of diverse issues, and endeavor to learn from other people.
It’s kind of amazing to go through life knowing that there are people out there who are just loyal to you. You should be loyal too with the quality of content that you churn out to them on radio — I do my best.
Obonyo: Are there aspects with which you struggled?
Hashim: The industry is extremely competitive, and one has to keep working hard and giving your all. Also, it is important to take care of yourself. I’ve come to realize that you need to take good care of yourself because your mental health depends on it.
Obonyo: What are you really good at?
Hashim: The things that keep me alive and passionate is being creative and malleable. With every radio show, I’m making something new, and that’s the thing I really enjoy and love about myself, especially being on radio.
Obonyo: What is your secret, as a successful female radio presenter in Africa?
Hashim: You have to work hard, be diverse in terms of talent, ideas and topics that you can tackle, and strategically align yourself with people that can take you higher. Most importantly, to succeed you need to take control of your life by being you.
Obonyo: What distinguishes most successful young female presenters from their peers?
Hashim: Never rest, never settle, keep aspiring and keep working hard. The secrets of successful female radio presenters in Africa, four behaviors set them apart: hardworking, efficient, nimble and energizing.
Obonyo: What can you tell other girls in Africa who aspire to be on radio?
Hashim: Do more than you do — it is possible. You can achieve what you set your mind to, Be confident. Be authentic, be who you are — do what you do and do not let other people’s opinions deter you from whatever it is that you want to be doing. Don’t let the noise, hate and discouragement get to you. Think like a lady and act like a lady. Always remember it is in you. Be good at what you do and don’t fear.
The future is female – does that apply to radio especially in Africa? The future is here – that is why Azeezah is co-hosting one of the most popular radio breakfast shows.
Raphael Obonyo is a public policy analyst and writer who has served as a consultant with the United Nations and the World Bank. An alumnus of Duke University, he has authored and co-authored numerous books, including “Conversations About the Youth in Kenya.” Obonyo is a TEDx fellow and has won various awards.