Terry Atieno remembers her primary school days with nostalgia.
As a member of the drama club, she would dance and sing during the music festivals and her oratory skills endeared her to the audience.
She would soon complete high school and join university where she developed a passion for broadcast media. After interning at the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) and Ramogi FM, mostly sitting in for colleagues who were out on maternity leave, Terry knew she was called to be a broadcaster.
“I enjoyed the shows. I was not paid most of the time but I knew that I was shaping the person I wanted to be”, the jovial internet jokey says.
Her journey to Germany followed a thought that developed after she accidentally opened one of her colleague’s drawer during her internship at KBC between 2001 to 2005 and found a Deutsche Welle (DW) business card. She had seen several colleagues at KBC visit DW on exchange programs and she wanted to be part of it. In her determination, she sent an email to DW. Although her email went unanswered, her hope didn’t fizzle. Though she later joined the Kenya Television Network (KTN), she still held a burning desire to work at DW.
“Even when I was coming to Germany as an au pair, I told my friends that was going to work at DW”, she says with a wry smile on her face.
Terry came to Germany towards the end of 2005 as an Au pair, and as it is with common stereotypes and assumptions most of her peers encouraged her to get a German husband, or at the very least have get a child with a German live on welfare. However, Terry would not hear of it. She had two choices: return to Kenya or apply for Master’s degree in Media Studies, given that she had a significant command of the German language and a background in media.
“It was during the summer semester, and at that time entry to University was an uphill task”. She recalls. There were only three slots for foreign students in the masters programme, she came in the 7th position and was on the verge of returning to Kenya, when her host family got a lawyer to pursue her case.
She ended up getting a Bachelor course in law theology and social economics at the University of Hamburg.
With a media background, she knew that even after completion of her academic programme, she would find peace if she worked as a broadcaster. In Germany, this was not easy.
Being homesick and bored; she started with a digital camera. She would record herself and share the videos with friends.
Later she got a chance to volunteer with a Nigerian radio station in Hamburg, where she hosted a show titled, FurahiDay. On FurahiDay, she handled issues affecting Africans in Germany, some of which touch on her own personal experiences.
“I brought KBC and Ramogi FM to Germany. However, I had to mix different languages to reach my followers”.
With her camera and laptop, she grabbed the opportunity.
“I would change into different outfits during the show, record it on camera and share the videos online.”
Since the production equipment and content were hers, Terry owned the show and when she left the station, she carried her content to a new platform. Her brain child Proud Chocolate Radio was born.
After leaving the Nigerian radio station, she repackaged the FurahiDay show.
“It’s a platform to appreciate the Kenyan identity and showcase part of the Kenyan culture that is carried forth in the German society.”
Among her favourite shows on Proud Chocolate Radio is “Chai”, a cultural forum hosted together with her co-host and friend Pauline. On the show, Terry brews tea and makes mandazi and pancakes while engaging an online audience in conversations.
Her time at Ramogi FM, she says was something that gave her the push to go online and produce what she liked most.
“I liked dancing in the studio during my productions and I couldn’t help wondering, what would happen if what I was doing was broadcast live on TV”.
“Back then, everything was analogue and I couldn’t imagine the possibilities. The internet has made digital broadcasting easy, all one needs is a creative mind and a flow with words”, Terry adds.
So far, she is linking her productions on Instagram and her YouTube channel. Terry hopes to broaden her online presence in the digital media.
Terry Atieno is known to her viewers and listener as proud Terreisia, says she was born talkative and knew from an early age that she would be broadcaster. Although her mother thought she would be a teacher like her.
“There was the urge to crash the radio and see the little people with audible powerful voices that came from the radio. She writes on her website.” She was just a little girl with big dreams and an active imagination.
Even though, she could not understand what went on in the production process and how voices were projected over the airwaves at the time. That concept was later to be understood when she took on media studies.
Her online broadcast identity Proud Chocolate signifies the struggle that migrants go through in a new host countries. “Although many come from credible professions, they end up working in menial job regardless of academic and professional qualifications. “We need to stay proud of our identity”. She explains.
According to Terry, this is more to do with fear of trying out in competitive fields. Well, some of the young Kenyans came to Germany as Au pairs or social volunteers and are looking for an easier way to settle here.
Unlike other celebrities, Terry understands the importance of separating a between socialite image and professional approach on social media. She endeavours to tell the stories of Kenyans in the diaspora on her digital media platform.
At the moment, she says she is working on engaging partners that she can affiliate with, and get the financial boosts necessary to secure space to turn into a live studio.
Some of the people she has in mind to interview on her shows are health practitioners to talk about health issues that affect people in Africa, politicians to talk about issues on public policy.
She wants to encourage Kenyans who come abroad not to lose their vision and pursue their professional careers abroad, and not to end in a rat race that many immigrants get tangled in.
“I want to fight for Kenyans as well as other immigrants with qualifications to stand up and compete on the professional job market with Europeans abroad, to use their voices to impact on the society”.
A daughter to a teacher, Terry remembers her mother’s struggle and believes that even village girls can have dreams, and follow them to their full realization. She wants to take part of the Proud Chocolate venture back to Kenya. She is thinking of opening a small radio station in Kenya and help young media enthusiasts realize their dreams.
“Believe in yourself, accept yourself the way God created you, she calls out to audiences looking for a professional breakthrough. “I did not wait for someone to finance me, I first worked for the immigrant that station without even earning a euro for coffee. I believed that I was toiling towards realizing my vision, one day the struggle will become your glory”. She implores.
Terry recognized that African diasporas have similar problems ranging from dealing with pressures at home. “Many young people who come abroad stay on even if they don’t like it, because of the illusion of living an elitist life”.
There is also misplaced pride of creating a status quo, some young ladies have been forced to engage in interracial relationships, which sometimes are based on gaining status abroad. She explains.
Terry advices that while abroad, one needs to be self-cautious, many people have come here but instead ended up as refugees or asylum seekers. We can do better as Africans; we need to lift the bar, she advises.
You can find her on her website ProudChocolate.com.