In our quest to tell the African science story in a structured, strategic and fulfilling manner laced with professionalism, we at MESHA gathered last weekend to review, evaluate and design a new five-year strategic plan to take us from now to 2022.
The three-day strategic meeting organized by our association, Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture in Kenya (MESHA) brought together a team of 12 communication and science journalism gurus drawn from the MESHA membership.
“We must deliver as MESHA,” began Aghan Daniel, our CEO, as we embarked on the three-day exercise. “We cannot get into the next five years with a name only, evidence of real work by members must grow and be a continuous trend. For this to happen, we must put all our minds and energy into this exercise,” added Aghan.
Being members of a trail blazer in African science journalism, we all got down to put in long hours for what would turn out to be a memorable though challenging exercise under the guidance of Mr. Edwins Saka, a hired consultant, who also led the 2012 – 2017 exercise five years ago in Nairobi.
“We are here to be innovative, to think of unusual and interesting ways of delivering the African science story,” said Ms. Lilian Mutengu of African Academy of Sciences while giving her opening remarks.
At this juncture, four of us, who were attending such a meeting for the first time felt a little intimidated and wondered whether we will withstand what appeared to be a rigorous and energetic exercise that lay before us.
Then came MESHA’s chair, Ms Violet Otindo, who said, “To those in here for the first time, please sit back and enjoy because at MESHA we want to make you a complete person who can look at his/her current situation and professionally analyze your strengths, your weaknesses, opportunities that lie ahead which perhaps you have never thought about and finally recognize the threats that could spoil the party for you at individual and at the association level.”
What was the process like? Our CEO, Aghan Daniel, fondly referred to as Captain, sent to all members a notice of the meeting and requested the 70 of us to undertake a strength, weakness, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis of MESHA. Thereafter, 12 of us were chosen using stringent criteria to travel out of Nairobi to Machakos (about 50km to the South of Nairobi) to lodge and work under closed doors. He then sent to us four documents which served as pre-reads to ensure that we all had a clear agenda and read from the same script to avoid irrelevancies during discussions.
As we sat at the hotel in Machakos, we read through our current Strategic Plan, analyzed it, and then discussed various organizations that we have worked with, concluded the exercise on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis of this giant network around the globe before we went to the other sections of the plan. We also developed a strategic matrix for each of our thematic areas.
As we left Machakos, we felt that the Captain had pushed us to the limit with his thought provoking interjections, sometimes making us feel as if we had done too little over the years but at the same time we appreciated his approach since we realized that we are capable of doing much more to become a model association in the continent.
As I write this blog piece, we are happy that the labors of our hands would soon give MESHA members and Africa a forward and realistic looking strategy, one full of innovative ideas to take science journalism in Africa to a new height.
Article by Thomas Bwire
Nairobi, Kenya – 31st July, 2017