Aminata Kane's passion and inquisitiveness pays off
French-speaking journalist Aminata Kane has made her mark and become editor-in-chief at TVM, Mauritania's number one public television channel, at just 33 years of age. Profile of an outgoing journalist by Emmanuel de Solère Stintzy.
Even as a child, she attracted media attention. "As a very unruly child who wanted to know everything, I asked a lot of questions in the run up to the elections. I even appeared on France24 when I was 13!" Aminata Kane reminisces with a smile. She was asked what she thought about women's participation in democracy in Mauritania. She answered "Women must assert themselves and get involved in associations so that they can fully play their part and ensure they don't get left behind."
Watching this video twenty years later, Aminata forces a laugh: "Nothing has changed! I would say the same thing now. It's the reason why I am heavily involved in a network of Mauritanian journalists who are working to eliminate violence against women and girls." Fatimata, her older sister, is not surprised: "Journalism and communication are in her blood. Aminata was a very joyful and chatty little girl, who was inquisitive and really loved public speaking and debates."
In 2023, as part of the Afri'Kibaaru project, Aminata Kane returned to France Médias Monde on a month-long placement with RFI in Dakar. She was just as inquisitive as ever: "Not only did I learn a great deal about new tools, such as data journalism, and how to produce content in Pulaar, my native language, I also learnt about discipline and strict compliance with ethical rules. I no longer censor myself when I'm reporting. Even though I work in a public media outlet, I do everything I can to provide balanced information."
Spurred on by her mother
Aminata Kane has been the editor-in-chief at TVM (Television of Mauritania) since 2023. However, she had to fight to get there. "Our mother (Editor's note: deceased in 2021) was an executive at the Mauritanian Ministry for Women's Affairs and one of our country's first feminists. She helped us to achieve our goals, but we never felt pressured," explains Fatimata. Aminata underlines the importance of her mother's support: "Our mother trained as a teacher and fought for the education, independence and development of girls. Today, we have more opportunities, but we still face striking inequalities and a constant struggle!" Holding firm to her belief that men and women complement one another, Aminata Kane therefore continues to never back down.
In 2013, before her appointment as editor-in-chief, she obtained a business and administration degree (at ISI-Komunik in Nouakchott) and sat a test at TVM. Yedaly Fall, who is now advisor to the director general of TVM, still remembers it clearly ten years on: "I quickly recognised that she had great potential. She was ambitious, dynamic and loved our profession. As a journalist for the French-speaking newsroom, she quickly understood the Arabic-speaking reporter who had been in the field. And when she presents the news, she has this extraordinary ability to navigate through the hubbub of announcements that don't always make it to air!"
Versatility and perseverance
As far as Aminata is concerned, there's no competition between presenting and being out in the field: "I wanted to make my mark at TVM, but presenting and the obligation to 'put some make-up on and sit down' never appealed to me. On the other hand, I've always enjoyed reporting, the signature style of those who want to bring about change."
Thanks to her passion, versatility and perseverance, Aminata Kane became editor-in-chief at TVM in April 2023, ten years after joining the media outlet, at just 33 years of age. She views this achievement as "an accolade after years of hard work". All of this took place in "a friendly atmosphere where everyone knows who's who and we learn to respect one another".
Yedaly Fall appreciates Aminata's "approachability", even if he believes her outgoing nature sometimes leads her to neglect her work a little.
As outgoing as her late grandmother whose nickname she shares, "Mamie" appears, in any case, to be in the same frame of mind as she was when she was 13 years old: "I still love learning. Even discussions, like those which took place during the Afri'Kibaaru training sessions, deepen our understanding and simplify our work, enabling us to cover societal issues without causing offence."
In ten years…
Journalism or communications? Fatimata Kane believes her little sister could go in either direction: "In ten years, I'd like her to go into international journalism to gain experience and then come back and train young people, especially women. She could also have her own communications company."
Yedaly Fall, advisor to the director general of TVM, also sees communications in Aminata's future, specifically a career as a "contact person for international development organisations active in Mauritania".
David Solon, her coach during CFI's Afri'Kibaaru project, disagrees: "Aminata loves journalism and will stay in the profession! I hope she gets further editorial opportunities that allow her to spread her wings and put all her knowledge into practice."
The current editor-in-chief of TVM herself confirms this: "Lots of people advise me to go into communications, but I'd rather go into solutions journalism to make my own small contribution to women's development and growth."
This desire could well give rise to a collaborative project with other female journalists, but "Mamie" is too superstitious to say anything more on that for now. She concludes with a final chuckle: "Maybe we'll speak again in a few weeks' time..."