Provoking Minds, Changing the Course of Society
By Juliet Mwangi
“I want to be remembered as the conscience of society. I’ve noticed nowadays people seem to have thrown humanity and boundaries away. There’s no longer right or wrong. I don’t want to hit them on the head by telling them what’s wrong and right. But I want to make people rethink and get things in order too. I want to write till policies change, to amplify the voice of the voiceless.”
This is the Legacy that the passionate Harriet James hopes to be remembered for in future writing circles. Drawing inspiration from sensational authors like Chimamanda Ngozi and Wole Soyinka for their ability to influence society to think and rethink, she too hopes to be an authority in provoking minds and changing the course of things in the society.
Motivated by the desire to get guidance for a book she is currently working on, she enrolled in the Write your Passion course offered by Writers Guild Kenya, where she got to network with like-minded peers and tap into the knowledge and wisdom of the course facilitators.
“Learning is continuous,” she says, “I can’t say I am perfect, but I work on improving.”
Harriet is a freelance writer who has worked in magazines and currently writes for the People Daily Newspaper. Although she authors a variety of feature stories, her baby as she fondly refers to it, is the travel column in the Travel wise section of the PD newspaper that runs on Thursdays and sometimes Saturdays. Once she begun to indulge in the subject, you could immediately begin to feel the passion radiating from her soul.
Here are some of the insights she shared with us when we picked her brain on the subject matter:
HJ: I travel a lot, or rather, used to before COVID so I have a travel column in the paper. I want that to be a mini baby of mine; changing travel, particularly in Africa. It’s not only about taking photos in luxurious places, but also bringing out the essence and transformations of places. It’s also about building up on different cultures.
What are some of the challenges you face in this journey especially since the travel segment hasn’t really been embraced in Kenya?
HJ: There are insufficient travel journalists, unlike with the other industries like the environmental, agricultural and health sectors. I want to push for their space because they (travel journalists) articulate on issues in the industry. Instead, establishments end up using socialites because they feel they have more impact with the public. But slowly I am changing this narrative, despite being mistaken for a socialite or seen as over enjoying the perks, instead of working.
Finances can also be difficult. I want to look for organizations that can support travel media. We’ll need it post COVID.
Well, all we can say is travel enthusiasts better watch that space! To enjoy some of Harriet’s personal writing, check out Harriet’s blog @http://harrietjamesworld.com/ and Instagram @harrietowalla