Our guest today, Nejat Adem Beshir, is working for the development of children and women. Nejat is a journalist, an author, an administrator, and a tutor.
- Please, introduce yourself.
After I did my military service as a member of the 13th round, I studied Journalism and Mass Communication at the Eritrean Institute of Technology at Mai- Nefhi. After graduation, I served at the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students, in the Department of Culture and News as a writer for the eriyouth.com website for two years.
Now I am working at PFDJ’s Cultural Affairs Office as an administrator and coordinator in national festivals. I also write targeting the youth, in general, and students, in particular. My current job opened up opportunities for me to work with experienced artists. Since 2017 I have been involved in the production of musicals for Independence Day celebrations and was one of the film scriptwriters of ‘Georgio,’ a television serial that was broadcast on Eri- TV for three years. Before I took up my present job, I also worked as a teacher.
- I heard you used to write articles for Hadas Ertra, the national daily Tigrigna newspaper
Yes, I did. For 10 years, from 2009 to 2019, I wrote articles as a freelance in the “voice of women,” a column dedicated to women’s issues. I went in person to submit my first article, and it got published two days later. When I was later offered to be a columnist, I was excited because I like to engage with women’s and teenagers’ issues. I used the column to express my beliefs and address women’s and teenagers’ issues that are not often given credence by society or are considered taboos.
Overall, the column served as a forum to help women and men understand each other more easily and give them tips on how to lead their lives.
- What did you gain from writing articles?
When you write, you don’t just throw things at your audience; you, too, learn a lot of things. I believe a writer should initially read his surroundings and enrich his understanding by doing some research, consulting books, and surfing the Internet to be appealing to his audience. By doing this I learn a lot of things more easily.
- I always see you with a book in your hand.
Just as a person can’t live without oxygen, I don’t also think I can live without books. I’ve been reading since middle school. I used to read everything I could find around me, mostly fiction and journals. The year 2000 is when I really got into reading and began to realize the importance of reading books on a variety of fields such as history, politics, psychology, and philosophy that help you understand yourself, others, your surrounding, and the world better. Since I’ve been reading books I consider can help me to grow as a person.
- How many books have you read so far?
Every time I read I just concentrate on the ideas I can glean from my interaction with the text. Frankly, I can’t remember how many specifically, but I am sure they are more than a thousand.
- What do you think about today’s generation in regard to reading books?
It’s very sad. Today’s generation prefers watching videos, most of which don’t help in the development of their knowledge.
- Why did you shift from journalism to art?
I earned a diploma in journalism and always wanted to upgrade it to a degree. But when I was assigned to PFDJ’s Cultural Affairs Office, I changed my mind and decided to take classes in literature at SMAP Institute. After studying for two years, I got an advanced diploma and started to be involved more in art.
- Now that you have stopped working as a journalist, how do you plan to pursue your passion for writing?
As I grow as a person, my interest in children and women also grows. Even if I want to stop I can’t. There’s no question that working in the same field for a long period of time allows you to hone your skills and be very good at what you do. But I believe that it may also be good to take a break and come back with new angles or ways of communicating with your targeted audience. Today’s generation is more comfortable with audio-visual media than printed materials, and I plan to use such resources that are available around me to communicate with them, children, and the youth.
- Tell us a little bit about the film “Giorgio”.
When my crew and I agreed to make a television serial that reflects the life of Eritreans in the country (countryside and city) and abroad, we came up with Giorgio, a character who grew up in a countryside and left for America, where he lived for almost 50 years. When Giorgio came back to his homeland, he encountered a lot of problems that he hadn’t foreseen.
- What do you think about our society’s view of women?
Respecting the right of women is not a questionable fact because women mean “half of the society”. This is because it has been proven that a woman is not only fertile but also a producer. With the presence of a woman in any type of work, more flavor is added to it. It is a fact because she has the power of giving life to everything she touches.
I would say it has shown a remarkable improvement though more needs to be done. For instance, in terms of art, as there is no one who could describe a woman, her emotions, and her perspectives better than herself, I wish to see more female authors and film directors do the work in the first person.
I believe that the few who don’t recognize gender equality will come to their senses when they realize that regardless of gender everyone has their own unique capacity to work for the development of our nation.
- Have you had any opportunity to travel and attend events in relation to your job?
Yes, I have. In 2012, I went to Japan for the “Women and Child Health Management” meeting, in 2018 to China for the “Young African Leaders” summit, and in 2019 to Addis Ababa to participate in the “African Youth” program.
- What are your future plans?
I intend to disseminate my written work in the form of a talk show on social media. The focus will be on children and women and will involve successful women who will be giving presentations on issues that concern women, giving opportunities for the audience to participate.
I also plan to form a team of women involved in art so that they can produce their own works in their own language.
- Anything else you’d like to say at last?
Society should understand that working for the rights of women is creating the opportunity to grow together. We all should give a hand to women, and mothers in our society.
Women should understand that the improvement of a person’s life begins with an improvement in their self-concept. So, they should value themselves as subjects, not objects.
If we want to change or contribute to the development of our country and the world, we should change ourselves first. And to do this we should never cease to learn and empower ourselves.
- Thanks again, Nejat. Wish you success!