Stéphanie Zongo: Life made decisions for me, and I chose to accept them
Stéphanie Zongo is a young Burkinabé radio and television presenter. She hosts a programme called Jeunes Wakat pour Elles (Youth Time for Women).
Stéphanie Zongo, who has a master's degree in communication from the University of Ouagadougou, is charming, ambitious and driven. As a small child, she dreamed of working in genetics, which led her to choose a scientific baccalaureate, followed by a degree in medicine. Alongside this childhood dream, she also loved communication. After one year of medicine, she ultimately decided to change trajectory and study communication and journalism; a decision her family supported. Her parents helped immensely by being very understanding and attentive. "For them, it was a case of 'make a decision and get stuck in! If you want to follow this path, go ahead, we support you!'," she recalls.
"Life made decisions for me, and I chose to accept them," she confides. In 2009, during her first year of university, Stéphanie Zongo took the opportunity to present a programme on Radio Campus, the University of Ouagadougou's radio channel. And so, she began presenting, on a voluntary basis and with one of her classmates. The two friends initially presented the horoscope before launching their own programme: "Tendresse et Passion" (Tenderness and Passion). The programme was broadcast from 1–2pm, Monday–Friday.
A few years later, Stéphanie joined Radio Légende as an intern, before moving to Ouaga FM to present a holiday programme. She believes that educational entertainment is the best way to reach young people. In her own words: "We can have a laugh and learn something at the same time".
Journalist, entrepreneur and trainer
Her passion for presenting doesn't stop at radio. Having completed her studies, she got her first taste of television on Le Café, a programme on BF1, and really enjoyed it. "I had thought to myself that I'd like to give television a try, and then I was offered a photojournalism internship at BF1. I learnt a lot during that internship as I experienced all stages of production including vocal work, framing, editing and field work," she explains.
Working as a television and radio presenter has enabled her to discover a passion for hosting televised galas. She also has an entrepreneurial side, which helps her to promote Repère Magazine, an online professional and academic guidance platform. Adding yet another string to her bow, Stéphanie Zongo and her team have been organising a careers guidance forum since 2021.
Her motto: "Work shouldn't be a chore, you have to like what you do if you want to succeed."
Stéphanie is also known for being the host of Jeunes Wakat (Youth Time), which has recently been renamed Jeunes Wakat pour Elles (Youth Time for Women). This name change is intended to promote gender equality and encourage more women to participate in the programmes. She recalls that: "During the Jeunes Wakat programmes, it was always easier to get men on the air than women".
Stéphanie has identified a huge amount of issues encountered by women that need to be addressed, such as harassment and the taboo surrounding menstrual hygiene. She adds: "We need to talk about these things so that young people can take note and older people can share their experiences".
The host says she is happy to continue the Jeunes Wakat pour Elles adventure. "I had the opportunity to run a training session with the presenters of Voix des femmes (Female Voices), a programme produced by Challenge FM, which is the Nigerien equivalent of Jeunes Wakat pour Elles. I realised that we are all living in the Sahel, but we don't all live the same reality. Social pressures weigh heavier on women in Niger."
Some women refuse to express themselves for fear of how society will view them. Stéphanie Zongo thinks it's wrong for these same behaviours to repeat themselves, generation after generation.
Drawing inspiration from her peers such as Roland Batoua, Alpha O and even Oprah Winfrey, Stéphanie Zongo hopes to keep learning and further increase her career opportunities by becoming a French- and English-speaking bilingual presenter.