|Awareness Woman for today Friday 19th May, 2006
Haja Kadi Iyatunde Johnson (nee Macauley) otherwise popularly known as Kadi Macauley is an outstanding woman of repute in her own right. This short in height but elegantly gorgeous woman came to popularity during Sierra Leone’s transition from a one party dictatorship via the NPRC Military ‘Juntarism’. Although the NPRC had stampeded democracy by the act of their April 29th Coup, they were supported by the vast majority of Sierra Leoneans at the time.
Her contributions to society as a whole during this period, within her domain of radio and television broadcast, consciously helped in the transformation drive of the regime of certain decadent societal norms that had been well established, much against the world accepted practice of accountability and transparency. I
t goes without saying that it was Haja Kadi Macauley (as she was then known) who helped break the neck of the culture of silence that had permeated the Sierra Leone society. Her Radio Programmes especially caused an unprecedented outburst from long suppressed voices of citizens who had long kept themselves sealed lipped. This outburst cut across a broad spectrum of society.
Kadi Macauley’s contribution in the "Ow Dae Go Dae Go" programme, which sought to highlight societal ills and in most instances provided tangible solutions, became the most popular radio and television talk show programme Sierra Leone had ever had at that point in time. This programme which was started on the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Station Radio on 24th September, 1992, was co-presented by Kadi Macauley and other notable radio broadcasters at the time which included Jonathan Jarrett, Daniel Morseray, and Vicky Neville whilst Mr. Albert Rogers was the Producer. But Kadi Macauley’s name became so outstanding and more related to the programme than the other contributors. According to her, it was because as she puts it, "My contributions at the time were focused, factual and in-depth."
Apart from this gifted journalistic acumen, Kadi notes further that the programme was aimed at highlighting a wide variety of issues affecting all spectre of Sierra Leonean life, which she maintains, "provided the opportunity for me to hit hard on such issues and events that were open to the public but had been taboo to criticize in an open forum".
Kadi Macauley however asserts that the programme "Ow dae go dae go" was arrived at after serious consultations with her co-presenters. She says, they had been mandated by the then government through the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Mr. Hindolo Trye to design a radio programme that will help to highlight the major hiccups in society for the government’s intervention.
Kadi Macauley therefore admits, "We sort of served as a mirror for government from where they could see the wrong sides of society. And I must state also that we served our purpose honestly." she stated. Continuing, Kadi Macauley stated that the programme had to be inquisitive, which was why it went to the extent of talking about filths in the backyards of people, corruption in both public and private places, immorality and the breakdown of family values etc. "This was all aimed at changing the attitudes of people from those bad ways which almost had become a norm and which had dwindled the spirit of patriotism in a lot of our compatriots," Kadi Macauley stated.
These targets by all indications were reached and the expected objective attained. Her name therefore became a symbol of scare to unscrupulous individuals in society. It was invoked in order to restraint the conduct of activities that were inimical to standard behaviour, anti social and anti developmental. People old and young will warn each other, "Ar go kerr you name to Kadi Macauley if you nor lef ?"
Kadi Iyatunde Macauley was born in Fourah Bay and she attended the Saint Phillips Primary School along Patton Street and the Government Model Secondary School along Circular Road, all in Freetown. She says, she developed interest for broadcasting from School, where she was the constant News Reader for the School’s Literary and Debating Society. Initially, she had preference for nursing but because she could not withstand the sight of blood or corpses, she chose broadcasting instead.
On whether she has any regrets for her choice of broadcast journalism, she responded, "I have found it to be very interesting and lively. It makes one very popular, especially when you are doing your stuff well to the liking of people. It also widens your horizon." She however notes, "Money does not come by, No way! You don’t get money, you only make a name." she stated.
Kadi Macauley started as a Broadcast Journalist with the state owned Radio/TV station, the SLBS in 1986. She has presented programmes such as Youth Magazine (TV), Health Talk (Radio in Krio), and News Reader (TV). She was also the Presenter of other popular programmes such as ‘Kabaslot & Kotuku’ and Woman to Woman.
Kadi Macauley has represented Sierra Leone in several international women conferences such as the Conference for African Women in Dakar, Senegal in 1994 and she was part of Sierra Leone’s delegation at the Beijing Conference for World Women in 1995 as an accredited Journalist.
Haja Kadi is a devout Muslim who performed her first pilgrimage to Mecca in 1995 and since then she has made nine such pilgrimages. She is a member of several outstanding associations in which she also holds reputable positions of trust including, the Federation of Sierra Leone Pilgrims Association of which she is presently an Agent, Sierra Leone Female Professional Drivers Association as Board Member and the Sierra Leone Passenger Welfare Association. Haja Mrs. Kadi Iyatunde Johnson is the wife of the late Alhaji Mubashir Johnson and they are blessed with two children, Bash Johnson and Haja Mariatu Kadi Johnson. Because of her inkling for social justice which she manifested through her programmes, she was appointed Justice of the Peace in 2000 by President Kabbah.
Presently, Haja Kadi is rarely heard in broadcasting because she says, she opted out of the ‘Ow dae go dae go’ programme because her life was threatened during the war period and that when the rebels came into Freetown on 6th January 1999, her house was burnt down and she and her children barely managed to escape. "That was all because of my being vociferous on issues that were considered secret," she said.
She however indicated that if she is called upon again by the authorities to present such a programme or anything similar to ‘Ow dae go dae go’ she is ready to undertake it "in the interest of the nation". Asked whether any such programme will gain popularity, she asserted, "Very well. I know what the people are thinking about and what government’s likely positions are on those issues. I will endeavour to present a fine mix of these issues which I am confident will attract the majority of people in this country," she ended.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.