Royalty in the newsroom

Oleosi Kgosi
ALL ROUNDER: Bokani King

The king that became a media queen

From her very first taste of the media industry, job shadowing at the Daily News as a shy but inquisitive secondary school student, Bokani King was hooked on the noble profession.

Since then, then 32-year-old all-rounder has established herself as one of the standout stars of the local media fraternity, winning several awards and gaining international recognition for her work.

As well as a deep love for Tourism, King is driven by issues of gender and is a leading voice for women in news as well as marginalized groups in society.

This week The Voice’s OLEOSI KGOSI caught up with the renowned journo to unfold her incredible story…

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Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us. Kindly tell us a bit about yourself and your occupation?

My name is Bokani King.

I am a multi-award-winning journalist, an award-winning entrepreneur and a communications and social media expert.

Royalty in the newsroom

I am currently the Chairperson of the Women in News Botswana Alumni chapter as well and a board member of Women in Tourism Botswana.

I am the co-founder of Inklusive Voices: a Digital platform using solutions reporting to elevate voices of marginalized groups and everyone who needs a platform to share their stories.

Royalty in the newsroom

What I can say about myself is that I love helping people and I love advocating for people who are marginalized or overlooked.

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Through my work, I am an advocate for people with disabilities and gender-based violence, women, children and gender issues.

Where did you draw inspiration from?

I did my job shadowing at Daily News in 2004 when I was 14, I was asked to continue but because of school commitments, I could not.

I freelanced for The Voice newspaper in 2008.

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I used to watch Debora Patta on 3rd Degree on eTV and was inspired by her boldness and told myself that I would also one day be on television dissecting issues and holding people accountable.

You also have your own media establishment, King On Media – tell us a bit more about this?

King On Media is a company I started in 2020, just before Covid hit. I had a great vision for it but my plans were derailed by the pandemic – however, I managed to use my network to build a client base during that time.

It is a communications all-rounder agency which offers public relations, digital/social media marketing, consulting, photography and videography services, communications and marketing strategies and event management amongst other things.

We also do campaigns which are part of my passion projects, one of which earned us a Men & Boys for Gender Equality Anti GBV award under the Best Media house category.

We also work with some NGOs pro bono as a way of giving back to the community, helping them address their different needs.

Generally, how has the company been received in the industry?

The reception hasn’t been that great, this is a competitive industry and I am a small fish with limited connections and limited resources but I do try my best to promote King On Media.

So far, the clients we have worked with are really happy.

Some of their recommendations and advice have helped us stay on our feet and I’m grateful for each and every one of them.

My close family and some of my friends have also been quite supportive; they show love and support as if it is their own company!

What are your aspirations in terms of developing King On Media?

I inspire to be a great leader and to be successful so, in everything I do, I think about the long-term benefits, consequences and how that would play a role in the success of my business and my brand.

I read so that I know what has worked for other people and see if that will work for me as well as what mistakes to avoid.

As much as I am a student I am also a teacher so I learn and I teach those that I work with and guide them on how to do things in a way that will benefit the business and themselves.

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I believe that success is a team accomplishment, I like to win and I like to see my team and clients win as well.

My learning is not for my own benefit but for me to teach those I work with so that we can all work towards building a bigger brand that is King On Media.

Brilliant! Tell us about your role as Executive Board Member for Women in Tourism Botswana.

I specialize in publicity and public relations for the organisation.

I joined because of my passion for the tourism industry.

I used to run the Travel & Tourism section of Echo newspaper and felt there was more that could be done in the industry especially since Covid was limiting and crippling the tourism industry.

I have been a board member since March 2021.

One of the highlights of my tenure is that I spearheaded the successful Women in Tourism Botswana High Tea Symposium, which we host every last Saturday of International Women’s month in March and that is what is currently keeping me busy.

What are your individual achievements?

I just completed a course last week on Cases in Gender Equality and I received an A+ for that.

I was honored to be a speaker at the African Women in Media Conference 2021, where I presented on implementing gender policies in African newsrooms.

Because of that talk, I was featured in their magazine late last year.

To add, an article I wrote on Gender Based Violence compounding challenges faced by people with disabilities was featured on the Gender Links South Africa website as part of the 16 Days of Activism against GBV news series in 2021, which gave my work exposure to not only the country but the region as well and I consider it a blessing to have been selected.

Last but not least I was nominated as the Women In News Botswana Alumni Chapter last year.

And a very huge milestone for me was King On Media receiving its first international client late last year.

Aside from the award scooped by King On Media, I received three MISA awards, which are: Best Adolescent Reporter, Best SGC Radio and Best SDG Reporter.

Being an all-rounder, which medium do you enjoy most?

I should probably say radio or social media because I work for a radio station and I am primarily focused on social media but maybe enjoyed print/blogs, television, radio and social media in that order.

What is your standout moment in the media industry?

The tourism assignments are always memorable because I get to explore different cultures and different parts of the world.

I did a tour of some provinces in South Africa at the invitation of South African Tourism and it was a magical experience because it taught me a lot about what we as a nation need to do to diversify our tourism offerings.

I went paragliding at Signal Hill, zip lining at Magoebaskloof Canopy Tours and explored Cape Town and Polokwane as a 1st class tourist.

I toured the Okavango Delta as a 1st class tourist courtesy of Botswana Tourism, explored the dunes and explored our local cultures, those sit at the top of my memories list.

What challenges do you face in your line of work and how do you overcome them?

By virtue of being a woman in a male dominated or male run industry, it is already a challenge to breakthrough.

As much as this tends to be trivialized as playing victim, this is the reality.

Women are undervalued in newsrooms so we have to work twice as hard to be seen and heard and I have never shied away from that opportunity to be heard.

Safety of female journalists especially in the field is something we are yet to address as an industry, I haven’t figured out how to overcome that challenge yet!

What role do you play in empowering women in media, especially upcoming ones?

I am always open to mentoring women who want to join the industry.

I love to see women win.

I am a self-appointed counsellor for some of the women I am close to in the industry.

I majored in Psychology in varsity, and I feel I can put the theory and skills to good use.

I am also passionate about policy change in the media industry because there are a lot of challenges women face such as unequal pay, sexual harassment and gender-based violence amongst others.

So, together with some of my fellow women in the industry, we are working towards advocating for the creation of gender and sexual harassment policies in the industry as these will protect women and make them feel safer to partake in the industry because there is a lot of potential out there.

What does your 2023 look like?

Very bright and busy.

I had taken a break from volunteer work but this is the year I get back into it and make a bigger difference.

Hopefully there will be more awards to win this year, or rather let me speak it into existence: 2023 looks like more awards and bigger career moves, travelling and a growth for my business.

Besides chasing headlines and deadlines, what else do you do?

I run my business and I am a student of life.

My life is a bit bland of late: I go to work then go home to play the role of super mom with parenting my son.

How do you balance having a family and a hectic career?

I play so many roles with the businesses or companies that I work with so there are days when I work all day and night and it gets overwhelming.

I do, however, have a strict no-work-after-hours and an on-weekends policy unless it is urgent.

I believe in dedicating time to family because a lot of the time, they keep you sane.

So spending time with the people you love should always be at the top of the priority list.

Finally, Thank God It’s Friday, what will you be up to this weekend?

I am hanging out with my colleagues for a bit.

We did not have team end-of-year party last year so we are hanging out at one of the spots that recently opened up at CBD, or we’ll find a nice place somewhere around town.

I also have a Women in Tourism board meeting tomorrow.

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