AS the public expects and deserves prompt, accurate and objective information, what rightly describes a dexterous journalist is his ability to dedicate his life to reporting the news no matter what risks he may attract.
By all manners of descriptions, the above avowal precisely paints a picture of who Charles Kizigha (CK) was. CK, as the fallen journo was fondly referred to by his colleagues in the fourth estate exemplified this to core.
Kizigha (72), who had worked for the Daily News and Sunday News for about 40 years, breathed his last in Dar es Salaam on Saturday after a long illness.
The media guru will be laid to rest this Friday at Kondo cemetery in the country’s commercial city, according to Mr Isaac Mruma, Chairman of the organizing committee for the burial ceremony.
The Managing Director of the Tanzania Standard (Newspapers) Limited (TSN), Ms Tuma Abdallah, eulogized the fallen media pundit as a father, brother and journalism coach to many people whom he worked with. She said CK distinguished himself as a worthy investigative journalist who often crafted transformative articles.
“His stories always hit the headlines, he would rarely write stories about conferences or events. He has left a mark worth it to the media fraternity,” Ms Tuma eulogised. She added; “He was a news editor, sub editor at different occasions but kept on writing exclusive and investigative stories despite the risk of dealing with such articles.
Above all, Kizigha was a friend, smart, jovial and supportive fellow with full of jokes, a person who hated poverty and advocated for a good life,” she described the late CK.
The TSN boss revealed that the state-owned media company planned to engage Kizigha to groom cub reporters on what it entails to cover exclusive and investigative stories, unfortunately he fell sick shortly after retirement, derailing the plan.
Mr Chabby Barasa, former journalist at the ‘Daily News’ and Sunday News, described the late Kizigha as industrious and incisive journalist who adeptly wrote exclusive and insightful stories.
“Having been neighbours before, I came to know the other face of CK, a cordial and kind-hearted man,” he recalled.
Retired Daily News Editor, Ms Pudenciana Temba paid glowing tributes to Kizigha, saying he devoted time and efforts to train young reporters to know what to do to become prolific.
“He was the best coach during our time. Besides, he was a believer of time management, he was the first to arrive at the office….and he was the last one to leave the office, those who worked during his time, have the time Pude. Pude, who happened to be close to the late Kizigha’s family, added: “CK was a good family man and a responsible father.”
During his lifetime, the late Kizigha was a specialized investigative journalist who uncovered several corruption scandals. Mr Mboneko Munyaga, a veteran journalist, who had worked with Kizigha at TSN, defined CK as one of a handful trail blazers who joined the then Tanganyika Standard Newspapers Ltd, when it was still a “Whites” only field.
“And, over the years, a stellar career record became famous and a master of breaking news stories,” he noted. Former Editor with the Daily News, Mr Sukhdev Chhatbar noted; “Kizigha was among those veteran journalists who received me at the Daily News when I finished my secondary education and always encouraged me in my quest to become a top-notch journalist.
He was among those who encouraged me to go for higher studies and was extremely delighted when I finished my MA in Journalism.
He was also among the first ones to congratulate me when I finished my Diploma in Journalism as I was the first from the TSN to be sent to the Tanzania School of Journalism through the newspaper’s sponsorship.”
Apart from being a journalist, CK was a good footballer, in fact, a talented striker who made the goalkeepers panic when he approached the goal. In his biography, he states “I was also a good photographer; I had a passion for capturing events and keeping them in pictures.
At first, I did it for free using the school camera. I had a German teacher who noticed my passion and started guiding me more on this passion. After spending time learning and listening to the teacher, I decided to buy mine.”
Born on October 10, 1950, Kizigha went to Lyamungo Secondary school, Moshi and attended courses in journalism in France, UK and Belgium. He joined the Standard newspapers in 1970. The Standard was nationalised.
The then President, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere issued an editorial charter that outlined the new role of the newspaper as an independent medium of communication.
“The President’s Charter kept us safe, and in fact, the government loved what we did because it also wanted to eliminate evils within the state. It was a job that not only gave me a reason to move on but also respect my colleagues and the nation as well,” reads the late Kizigha biography.
He attributed the qualities and merits of hard work as the virtues learnt from his grandfather, Mzee Shadrack Kangero Mziray. In his life story, the late Kizigha shared the secrets to his success as an investigative journalist as passion, follow-up, daring, time management, knowing who and how to approach, maintaining confidentiality, establishing and keeping contacts, listening skill, using alternative ways to get a story, reading, meditating, establishing the facts and humanising stories.
“After realizing that readers were interested in my stories, I decided to become an investigative journalist. I discovered that there were a lot of evils in the government and I vowed to reveal them so they could be wiped out. In his bio, Kizigha says there is a big difference between a journalist and a good journalist.
“A journalist writes just to fulfill his or her duty as a journalist, while a good journalist adds something unique to his/her writings -VALUE. Works by good journalists consist of information of value to readers/audiences.,” he says.
He further says: “Something of value requires valuable time too. If you want to be a good journalist, understand that it takes time to get to the gist of a story,” writes CK, noting that some news stories took him days, months, and even years to follow up. “A valuable news story is effectively followed up… I divide follow-ups in two ways.
One; is making a serious and in-depth follow-up on a story you are covering. Two; is ensuring that after the story is published, another is born and must be followed up. How can that be achieved?
By digging deep and making close follow-up on news stories before publishing them. In the army, there are no chances of negligence or mistakes.
One slight mistake could cost lives or even worse. It’s so easy to defame or credit something/someone when you are a journalist. Don’t just wind up meeting the deadline.
That’s the work of amateur journalists, journalists without a Why. Professional journalists usually make critical follow-up and analysis of a story until they satisfy themselves with what they have.
There isn’t a job in this world where you won’t find challenges. Each career has got its challenges; the difference lies in the type of challenges. In journalism, the greatest challenges one might get are threats.
If you are a good journalist, one whose work has value, indeed you may hear some people telling you that what you are doing is dangerous for your life or family. But I tell you, prosperity comes from why you are doing.
Don’t fear the threats because if you do, the fear will be doing your work, instead of you doing the work of eliminating fear from the public.
Be confident. A fearful Journalist always ends up getting casual news stories, stories of less value. Do not be afraid of creating enmity because it’s inevitable.
Alongside your working line, you will create enemies but the enmity isn’t a big deal as long as you are getting God’s work done.”
SOME OF THE INVESTIGATIVE STORIES HE COVERED Firstly, several years back, citizens of Korogwe suffered severe health problems after using water from Korogwe River.
Kizigha got the report and immediately sensed that something wasn’t right because the Korogwe citizens had used water from the same river for decades and never got sick.
He sensed many hidden facts and vowed to reveal them, travelled to Korogwe so that he could do the investigations effectively. Upon arrival there, he started an investigation by interviewing all citizens who got infected after using the water.
“After persistent and hard work, I finally got a lead; one that made me discover that some people, whose names I spare, had poured pesticides into the river.
Big names were involved, but were I supposed to keep quiet and let them go free! No. Not on my watch, I was a journalist, and my work was always reporting the truth.
I wrote a very good and detailed news story, and after it had been published by the Daily News the culprits responsible were apprehended and justice was served.
I have shared a congratulations letter I received after the culprits were arrested. Another experience of the daring case is when I dared to find out the real reason behind the misprinted notes in Tanzania,” excerpts from his bio memoir.
MISPRINTED NOTES CIRCULATION Several years back, Tanzanians witnessed misprinted notes circulating. Some of the cash was printed upside down, others disarranged, others folded, but all in all, they were of no quality to be used as mediums of exchange. The late Kizigha waited for no one to tell him to check into the matter, got to work.
After investigating, he found out that all notes used in Tanzania were previously printed in France by a company called De la Rue and brought to Tanzania.
Some big names in the Bank of Tanzania decided not to print cash in France anymore, rather they went to print in German in a company that wasn’t qualified, and as a result, the notes were misprinted and poorly printed.
He wrote down a detailed news story, and after it appeared in the Daily News, those who were responsible for the negligence were taken to court, and justice was served. Another scenario that he shared is that of 1995 whereby business persons exempted themselves from paying taxes.
That year, he came across a hint that many people, especially business persons, exempted themselves from paying taxes. He slowly and intelligently began an investigation, while being careful. After a long time of critical and intensive investigation, he came to prove that a big number of giant business persons in Tanzania had escaped paying taxes for a very long time.
He knew that writing the article and printing it was a big risk, but as president J. F Kennedy once said, “We choose to go to the moon not because it’s simple, but because it’s hard”.
The late Kizigha gave the foregoing three examples to encourage youngsters not to fear reporting the truth. You may hide the truth and let it hurt millions of people for years, or you may speak it and stay blessed for generations. Fear is just an illusion preventing you from giving out your best shot.
The first thing you must eliminate after deciding to step into the journalism field is fear. Fear and journalism don’t work together. They never will.