Mohamed Saleh: a liaison between communities
Mohamed Saleh, 25 years old, based in Nouakchott, is a multi-talented journalist with Sahel TV. Calm, hard-working and a theatre and cinema fan, he is skilled when it comes to storyboarding, filming and editing footage. And that's not all: above all, he is a calming figure within his media outlet and the wider public in Mauritania.
Profile by Emmanuel de Solère Stintzy.
Mohamed Salah. Mohamed Saleh. Just one letter different and yet the Egyptian international star and the reserved Mauritanian journalist seem worlds apart. Mohamed Saleh laughs at this: "He is Salah and I'm Saleh! Lots of people ask me why our names are so similar. It's just a coincidence, although I do also love football!"
And the comparisons don't stop there. Both have a real team spirit. "Mohamed Saleh has an invaluable human influence on a team. Possessing journalistic and human curiosity, he is also a welcoming liaison between other Mauritanian communities. By listening to everyone in society, he won a project competition thanks to his original idea," explains David Solon, his coach under the CFI Afri'Kibaaru project.
As a male Arab-speaking journalist, Mohamed has chosen to use this production as an opportunity to give a voice to the few women from various communities who dare to do "men's jobs". Awa Seydou Traoré, a journalist and coach for the competition winners in Mauritania, supported him in creating this production: "Mohamed is always listening. He loves to learn and innovate. To carry out his report, he first observed, then studied his subject in depth by speaking in particular about socio-cultural barriers".
When asked about winning this competition, the young journalist says he feels "proud, but also scared that he would not be good enough".
Television, theatre, cinema
But where does this unswerving respect and modesty come from? "I grew up in Trarza (Editor's note: a region in the south-west of Mauritania) before moving to Nouakchott with my family. I was raised in a conservative society characterised by sobriety and wisdom. And these are qualities that I hold dear. I am quite calm, reserved and patient, even when working under pressure," Mohamed Saleh explains.
Ahmedoubaba Sid'ahmed M'beirick, his cousin, adds: "As a child, Mohamed was kind, funny and clever. Even back then, he loved watching television and writing, but we never thought he would become a journalist. In Nouakchott, at school and college, he started to take an interest in cultural associations".
Once a polymath, always a polymath! Mohamed Saleh recalls: "In the capital, I was quickly drawn to the marvels of television that I discovered! I started to copy journalists. Thanks to the theatre, I learned about scriptwriting and communicating with the public. And as for the cinema, it was my gateway to the media. It's where I learnt about filming and photography, and how to make films and documentaries".
After obtaining a degree in Arabic theatre and dramatic writing, Mohamed Saleh started attending theatre festivals in Mauritania and the United Arab Emirates, writing scripts and filming series, and launched his career as a journalist.
In 2017, he joined Sahel TV as an intern. His first task was to produce a programme for young people, before joining the news department as an editor. Adept at filming, adding his voice, using computer graphics, editing... A real gem for his managers...
"Whether I'm there or not, Mohamed Saleh gives it his all. He has ideas for his programmes and reports that are drawn from his experience in theatre and cinema, but he does use an outline, he doesn't just improvise. Thanks to the Afri'Kibaaru project, he has been able to move ahead within his organisation. I advise other journalists to follow his example and spend more time on constructing their reports," explains Dr Mohamed Fadel Ahmed Val, Chief Executive Officer at Sahel TV.
Sahel. Saleh. Just a couple of shifted letters apart, and yet just like the natural environment of the region, which constitutes the border between the arid desert and humid savannahs, Mohamed knows how to forge links between people.
In ten years…
Television, cinema or theatre journalism? Don't ask a polymath to pick just one future!
"These areas are not mutually exclusive, they complement each other," says Mohamed Saleh, before going on to reveal a slight preference: "I really like journalism. In ten years, I hope to have developed in this field". David Solon, his coach in CFI's Afri'Kibaaru project, sees a great future for him "in less news-based formats, such as long-format magazine articles in which he can tell his stories and give a voice to people, because he really listens to society".
Awa Seydou Traoré, a journalist and coach for the competition winners in Mauritania, sees Mohamed "as a big reporter, with Al Jazeera, maybe? Why not? Or maybe he will still be working in cinema, too". Dr Mohamed Fadel Ahmed Val, Chief Executive Officer at Sahel TV, also sees his brilliant employee pursuing a dual career: "Mohamed Saleh will be a leader! Maybe he'll be a documentary producer for TV and cinema, a manager of a production company, or a programming director. He is reliable enough and has the skills to do it: not all journalists can lead people like him". It is up to him, a passionate screenwriter, to write his own professional future...