In these times of confinement, many television personalities are taping from home and finding new ways to engage with audiences dealing with stress and anxiety. With its hilarious Corona Conspiracy Theories, Trevor Noah’s Daily Social Distancing Show is, in some ways, bringing more intimacy to our lockdown weeknights than the studio show we were used to, when our favorite South African comedian was taped in front of a live audience in Manhattan’s West Side.
Another new show we love for its humor and insight is Home with Isha Sesay. It’s a live one-hour daily digital news show committed to filling the information gap about the spread of the coronavirus in Africa. With live reports and analysis from political leaders, public health experts, journalists, innovators, commentators, aid workers and celebrities, each show builds a real time picture of what is happening in the various African countries, the differing responses to COVID-19 and the wide-ranging impact of this pandemic. Recent guests have included the Eritrean-Canadian model and sommelier Grace Mahary, the British-Nigerian actor and producer Tony Okyngbowa, and Pierre Thiam, our favorite New York Senegalese chef and restaurateur.
Holding it all together with wit and charisma is Isha herself. A force of nature who has been blunt, throughout her two-decade career as a journalist, about the need to put African issues at the forefront of global media coverage, she is best known as an anchor and correspondent for CNN International who was also a frequent guest on Anderson Cooper 360°. Raised in London until she was 7, she moved to Sierra Leone with her parents before returning to the UK at age 16. She started her journalism career at the BBC after graduating from Trinity College, Cambridge.
After she left CNN in 2018, Isha became very active with W. E. Can Lead (Women Everywhere Can Lead), a non-profit known for its Girls’ Empowerment Clubs, meaning safe spaces that are created for girls to convene and learn critical life skills (such as financial literacy, critical thinking and good health practices), build self-esteem, self-awareness, and develop leadership skills that will enable them to be confident, influential decision-makers among their peers, households, communities and even country.
2019 was a very active hear for Isha, where she went from sitting down for conversations with Michelle Obama in Paris and Amsterdam arena settings during her I am Becoming tour in April, to speaking onstage in New York during Global Citizen Presents Global Goal Live in September, to launching her new Rouse live events venture in Marrakech in November. The events of 2020 have put an end to that frantic travel schedule, with the rapid spread of the coronavirus in African communities on both sides of the Atlantic creating a new sense of urgency. At a time when fear is surging and many are simply focused on what is happening within their own nations, here comes a show driven by a desire to deepen understanding, strengthen community and elevate compassion.
“I didn’t see the information gap at first,” Isha said to TRUE Africa during an interview yesterday. “But after a week of my LA lockdown and binge watching the news day and night, it was suddenly obvious to me that the story of Africa’s battle with the novel coronavirus is not on the agenda of most global news organizations. Home with Isha Sesay is my attempt at filling the gap in the coverage of this crisis. Every day on the show, I set out to separate fact from fiction for my viewers and bring them a complete picture of how this pandemic is affecting Africa… my home. Our story deserves to be told fully, with complexity, nuance and compassion—and I’m done with waiting for other people to do it.”