“I’m ready to have the freedom to do the stories I want. I’m ready to have a little bit more autonomy and lead my own life. I speak to my girls about leading their own lives — it feels like the right time for me to lead my own. Being an anchor is fun, it’s glamorous, but it’s very much controlled by other people. I’m ready to have my own say in where I go next.”
Those were the words of popular news anchor and reporter, Isha Sesay, according to whatweseee.com.
She is leaving CNN after 13 years. “I’ve been at CNN for 13 years, it’s the end of a huge chapter” she said. “It’s been such a tremendous time, such an eventful 13 years — I feel like I grew up working there. I showed up as a 30-year-old in 2005, with two suitcases and a one-year contract — I’ve managed to make that last 13 years! It’s been amazing, I’ve been married when I was there, divorced when I was there, it’s all happened.”
According to her, she wants to focus on those stories that western media seem to have kicked aside or focusing less on. One of them is the Chibok girls saga.
Her words: “I’m writing a book about the Chibok girls, it’s being released in May 2019. It really speaks to where my head is at, currently — a lot more coverage about Africa, a lot more work on the continent, and a lot more focus on young girls. That’s what I’m about right now.”
The Chibok girls refer to the 276 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok, Borno, by Boko Haram in 2014. Sesay was in Nigeria to cover the story but she regrets that after the huge focus on it by the media in 2014, the media has since moved on to other things. Many of the girls are still in captivity.
“It’s personal to me for many reasons — if it wasn’t for the lottery of life, I could have been born in a place like Chibok. I could have not had the exposure and education that I have had. For me, these girls mean a lot more than just a headline,” she added.
Sesay’s frustrations would not have been so much if the media, moving on to other things, actually focused on other things happening across the globe. It emerged that she is not the only one who has noticed the media’s obsession for Donald Trump. In fact many think CNN is now so much about Trump.
She explained: “It’s all so Trump-focused. He sucked all of the oxygen out of the room. The media is following that lead to the exclusion of almost everything else, in a meaningful way. For me, personally, it’s not what I want to spend all my time doing.
“After a while, I want to do more coverage of the Ebola outbreak, of the elections in Liberia, or any number of things that are happening. I’m ready to take control of what I’m talking about.”
She also said: “I want to put a focus on Africa in the way I wish all international media would cover Africa. Now it’s either underreported or not reported with the right nuance and context. I’m going to turn my attention to being one in this new army of people who are moving into this space, who are representing Africa in a new way.”
Sesay who is born to Sierra Leonean parents, has a nonprofit organisation called W.E. Can Lead, which focuses on girls and issues affecting them like teenage pregnancy, early marriage due to poverty, lack of education, and many more.
Apart from books, non-profits, and the production projects in the offing, Sesay is also teaming up with Misan Harriman, founder of What We Seee. “Quite simply, Isha is a kindred spirit to the WWS brand,” Harriman says. “Through our partnership, we plan to make content that truly deserves to be seen.”