Workshop gives Togolese reporter new vision


Jerry Johnson from Togo is not usually a man of many words. He’s a sociologist by training and a photojournalist and interpreter by profession. He shared some of his initial impressions of the Storytelling Workshop with us in Cape Town:

“This workshop was a life changing workshop! It gave me a new vision and new perspectives of my journalist career. I did not know that in one week I would be empowered is such practical ways that after some days of training I will master the necessary skills to produce my own short documentary.

For years I’ve been unable to produce my own documentary because of lack of the necessary material and skills. During this one week workshop I was equipped with the material and the knowledge. This was awesome, beyond my expectations!”

“I started as a freelance photographer in 2002, and in 2005 I was assigned as a report photographer for a local Togolese newspaper. I worked with Jody Sanchez in the realization of “SOLD”, a documentary on Child Slavery in 2006. I am also the assigned Report Photographer for four Christian NGO’s working in the field of Child Care and Social Development in Togo.

I am also the Co-producer for the Radio Broadcast, “Jesus is Faithful” on the Zion Radio in Togo.”

*************************************************************************************       "Caseem"



Q - Jerry, you are trained as a sociologist. Why did you become a journalist?

"My passion for journalism was stirred up when in my teenage years I used to watch, “Envoyé Spécial”, a French Special Report broadcast, which was about journalists sent all around the world to report and investigate crucial issues such as wars, guerillas, drug traffic, mafia etc.

For me being journalist was the greater way of speaking out and exposing to the world, to situations and events that are hidden most of the time.

In 2006, when Jody Sanchez came to Togo for the realization of SOLD, she definitely shaped and convinced me on which kind of journalist I wanted to be: Special Reporter and Documentary producer.”

Q - During the workshop you recorded and edited a short documentary. How was the experience?

“It was challenging but worth it. I knew everything is possible with the necessary skills but I thought it would have taken me much more time. But after three days of training, I was able to go out (just for an hour) on an unknown field, made a contact, find a story, record it and edict my own short documentary. That was great!”

Q - What ideas do you have for new productions in the coming year?

“First of all, Togo and the West Costal African countries are facing crucial flooding problems which in my opinion are direct consequences of the global warming. I’m going to explore the lives of individuals and communities facing this problem and point out how this is affecting their lives and habits and how they’re struggling to stand and re-position their lives.

I want to make a comparative survey on this problem in different communities in Togo and if possible in some other countries such as Benin and Burkina Faso who are facing the same problems. I am still exploring ways to picture out the political situation and the need of reconciliation in Togo in ways that it can be made global and interesting for an international audience."

Africa, SocietyRichard Potts