“No matter where you come from, we all share the same struggles as human beings, and my beginning was no different” – Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce
Hawa Dauda is a sport journalist at the Mercury Radio. She is also an executive board member of the Sierra Leone Swimming, Diving and Water Polo Association, the founder of Slum Advocacy for Children, a founding member of the Sierra Leone Association of Women in Journalism, a member of the Sport Writers Association and the Media Head of Luawa Football Club. Hawa She has covered several international and local competitions as a sports reporter from Sierra Leone.
As impressive as Hawa’s resume looks, she was not always the successful sports journalist she is today. She hails from a very humble background being the last daughter of five children. Her father a retired army personnel and mother a petty trader. Hawa was born at the Murray Town Military Barracks and grew up at Robert Street. She attended the Samaria Primary School, followed by The Freetown Secondary School for Girls and Emans International School.
Quite often, society can be condescending of women in certain fields or walks of life, the sport industry is inclusive of this pattern. The status quo has been to a large extent stereotypically gender biased so much that most women have been left to only dream about what could have been. Hawa’s story could’ve been one of those that would have been in the “if ar bin know” category but whether by coincidence, luck or just her sheer passion and drive, her story took a turn for the better. Ms. Dauda, initially always wanted to be a fashion star and own a clothing line. Back in 2012, something happened that made the plot twist and her life was changed forever, on a sizzling sunny afternoon. The scorching heat of the mid day sun had led Hawa into a local restaurant. She was thirsty and famished and needed to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Seated at the corner of the restaurant, she listened in on a heated argument about a football match that she had been fortunate to watch and being the open minded and passionate person she is, she gave her on account of the match, which an elderly man in the restaurant found impressive. He then told Hawa that she had all it took to become a sports journalist and went on to extend a will of good gesture in the form of introducing Hawa to a Mr. Theophilus Gbenda of Culture Radio who gave her the platform to start practicing sport journalism. Two years later, in 2014, Hawa enrolled into the Institute of Business and Administration where she studied Journalism and Media Studies.
Being a sport journalist has not been a walk in the park for her either. She has been faced with her own share of its highs and lows. Hawa is very grateful that she has had the opportunity to travel and meet with different personalities all over the world. Journalism has expanded her mind and of course her network. She has also been privileged to be able to build a certain level of trust and respect for herself. People tend to treat her with a type of reverence on anything sport and take her opinion and analysis as something to rely on.
The lows have also manifested themselves in various ways, especially since most people will agree that we live in a largely misogynistic society. Sport and all its branches is regarded to be a male profession. Hawa has been caught up in many situations where men have tried to bully and intimidate her. There is also the issue where fans and officials will want to try and spoon-feed her reporting. In other instances they have tried to frame her analysis to best fit their own prejudice and bias and when that fails, they will resort to abuse and intimidation. On other days, she wished the salary of sport journalists in Sierra Leone will be worth the energy and time that’s invested in this field.
Despite the rollercoaster of being a female sport journalist, Hawa has held firm to her convictions, passion and grit for what she loves to do. Sport is what defines Hawa’s life and she keeps on doing whatever it takes to stay on top of her game. She exercises three days in a week, makes sure she eats more fruits and less protein and fatty foods, and takes care of her mental health. She is also a meticulous personality. She sets realistic goals and avoids procrastination in order to always be one step ahead.
Hawa Dauda is not perfect, but she is a woman who has made a life and living out of a profession that many women would only dream about. She inspires everyone, especially women to be willing to diversify their work and pursue their goals and heart desires with enthusiasm and grace. Because as W.E.B. Dubois puts it, “there is no force equal to a woman determined to rise”.