Sharon Barang’a: I’m torn between Uhuru and Kagwe
She’s another gem from Nairobi’s Eastlands. She wanted to be either a pilot or a lawyer, but eventually found love in the fourth estate.
Meet former NTV reporter Sharon Barang’a, a journalist par excellence.
In a recent interview with the Nation, Barang’a reminisced growing up in Buruburu and her journey to the newsroom.
“I was brought up in a middle-class family. My childhood was full of fun; typical experience. I have two brothers, and I’m the first-born,” she offers.
So, how did she end up in the media?
“I was very good at Physics and Geography. I knew I could make a good pilot; I’m still fascinated with the aviation industry but I’m not the type of person who would just sit and read a lot of books. One of my cousins told me, ‘if you want to become a lawyer, you will have to read a lot’. Four years in university, then School of Law. That’s not my thing. So, I opted for journalism,” she says.
In the seven years she has been in the media industry, Barang’a is proud to have worked on stories that have positively impacted thousands of people.
“I have done stories that still fascinate me. One of them is of the Makonde, a community in Coast. They have lived in Kenya since the 1920s but they were never recognised as citizens. It was sort of modern day slavery. They were not allowed to have identification cards, they could not open bank accounts and they could not be employed. A year later (after the story), they were recognised as Kenyans,” she says.
That story hit the nail on the head and jolted the authorities into recognising the long forgotten Makonde community.
Barang’a made up her mind to be a journalist while in high school. After her KCSE exams, she joined Tangaza University, a constituent college of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa.
When she was about to complete her Bachelor of Arts in Social Communication, a team from the Nation Media Group journalism training programme, the Media Lab, visited their campus.
“The Nation Media Group Media Lab team gave us a talk, then exams. I was called after a few weeks and told that I had been shortlisted for the oral interview. I did an aptitude test and I made it through,” she recalls.
At NTV, Barang’a covered education and children stories. In 2017, she received the Mandela Washington Fellowship, which is funded by the US Department of State. The previous year she was among the winners of the ICFJ’s early childhood development reporting contest.
When she’s not chasing stories, Barang’a runs Uriel’s Mission, a foundation she co-foundered with gospel musician David Muthengi alias Holy Dave.
“We provide educational materials, such as books and pencils to children in marginalised areas. I love children. I was once a Sunday school teacher; it’s inborn. I find myself getting along with children,” she says.
She has had the opportunity to travel all over the world in the line of duty, and Israel remains her favourite destination.
“The only city that I have not been to in Israel is Tel Aviv. It’s a great country. Entering Israel by bus from Egypt was a great experience; I really loved it. Future husband, if you are reading this, Israel will be the best honeymoon destination,” Barang’a says with a chuckle.
CRUSH ON UHURU
So, is there a man in her life?
“I have had a huge crush on President Uhuru Kenyatta, but for now, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe is the real deal. I am attracted to intelligence, confidence and he (Health CS) embodies that,” she says, bursting out in laughter.
However, dating hasn’t been fun for her. She once walked under the scorching sun along Uhuru Highway to meet her man.
“There’s a guy who once offered to take me out. So, I prepared myself, then he told me to meet him somewhere. Have you walked along Nairobi Railways? It was a bad experience,” she recalls.
That is what ended their relationship.