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22 Feb

A Look At Amanda Khoza’s Life of Following The President Around

Amanda Khoza is a 34 year old black woman who hails from Richards Bay in Kwa-Zulu Natal. She is the eldest of three children. Having studied a national diploma in journalism at the Durban University of Technology, Khoza works at the Sunday Times as a Presidency correspondent in the politics team.

Khoza, who happens to be spiritually gifted, describes herself as a very warm, bubbly person who lives an authentic and purpose-driven life.

“I go by the name of Nozizwe, I also do healing together with my profession of being a presidency correspondent. My job is to heal people on the one end and follow the president around and report on what he does in the office,” said Khoza.

Despite the amount of responsibility on Khoza’s shoulders, she does not partake in an overwhelming social life.

“I don’t have a lot of friends I try to keep to myself. I’m very happy with who I am and I value my space. I enjoy my quiet time and family time. If I could describe myself living in five words, I would say I am very driven, brave, very kind, loving and fun.

Khoza shares that she wasn’t gifted in numbers, so she didn’t do well in mathematics. The idea of journalism came via a career guidance session where someone told her about journalism.

“I was like, oh, okay, that sounds like fun. I never really wanted to spend the same day doing the same thing so I could never be like an accountant or have something structured. I knew that I wanted adventure and I loved helping people. That’s always been the core of why I do what I do is because I’ve just always wanted to help people

Khoza says that she should have known back when she was an intern that her journey was going to be a wild roller coaster ride for her.

“One of my first stories I got assaulted by a senior, this well-known politician on a golf course. And, uh, from there it’s just been like, you know, the rest is history.”

Despite the intuition that she was in for a helluva ride, Khoza never imagined she would be leading a title like hers.

“To be honest, I kind of did, but I didn’t think I’d get here at this age. I’m 34 and I always looked up to big journalists and I would watch them like presenting Mandela’s funeral and like big, big events in the country and how they were so composed and they were so confident.”

This feeling of greatness stuck to Khoza, and she gunned towards playing in the big field.

“When I got the call in 2020 for this job from one of the editors at the Sunday Times, my first thought was, I will never ever get an opportunity like this ever again. So I’d rather try my best to make it work or succeed at it rather than to have declined and then the chance doesn’t come again.”

Having started as a reporter in KZN working for various publications like Sunday Tribune, The Witness, as well as News 24, Khoza used to cover the former president Jacob Zuma often.

“I used to cover his weddings, his children’s weddings, I think I even remember being one of the journalists that did a tour of Nkandla homestead when that scandal broke out that they used multi millions of rands to renovate his private homestead. 

Little did Khoza know that the Sunday Times was watching and they would offer her this experience with President Cyril Ramaphosa. 

“Now I am focusing really in depth into the presidency, getting to know the man and getting to know the president himself as a man and actually taking the reader inside the presidency and how the presidency works.

“So it’s not only about the scandals around the president or the initiatives that the president has announced, it’s also to try and understand who are these people that are advising the president, how many people are involved, how does it work in the presidency, and what is it like to be the president? From my observations it’s a lot of work, I admit,” said Khoza.

Besides the perks, the opportunity to travel and meeting incredible people, Khoza admits that it has changed her life completely.

“It has been an honour and a privilege to serve my country this way and my ancestors and make my family proud. I remember to remain grounded no matter what happens,” said Khoza.

The journey, like many others, has not been a smooth ride without challenges.

“As a female journalist sometimes people will make advances at you hoping that they can sleep with you or try to bribe you, and I find it very difficult cause some of our male counterparts don’t have to do that so I find it very unfair. I am where I am because of my values and integrity and I’ve always been off the view that it’s not worth it. It’s not worth risking your morals. No story is worth your life,” Khoza said.

Despite the challenges, Khoza has always had the privilege of relying on senior journalists and mentors as sounding boards

What are the values that guide you?

“It doesn’t matter how small or big the story is, at work, I just have this thing that you must always, always give your best.”

“I am a woman of extreme integrity. I think I wouldn’t be doing the job that I’m doing if I didn’t possess that sort of value system to guide me. I’m always of the view that now that I work with the presidency, things that I do should never be second guessed or challenged.”

“I’m not saying that I don’t make mistakes. I do, but I’ve got serious ethics which play such a huge part in always knowing what is right. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how sensational the story is, mine is always that it must inform people and it must always be based on fact and it must be truthful.”

“As a journalist, you never know it all. You must never say you know it all because you don’t know it all. I’m open to learning and it’s important to give everybody the respect that they deserve when you are doing a story.”

What are your interests?

“I like jamming. I like reading. I love spending time with friends. I love cooking. My God, I love traveling all over the world. Spending time with my fiance. Those are the kind of people that keep me sane. Actually love being with my daughter when I can, catching a good movie, a good dinner with wine and friends.”

The gift of healing

 “It’s helped me to understand why I’m actually a journalist and that all of these years I was not just doing stories, but actually I was just preparing to solve a lot of problems that are not just going to be stories or going to be published.

“But now I understand that, I wasn’t walking alone and my ancestors would quickly go to a place or go to a person and a person would feel comfortable to speak to me. Now that I understand who I am and who the gift givers are, it all aligns with the work.

“I respect my job as a journalist very much because most of it is aligned to being in sangoma, which is you are constantly dealing with people’s lives and problems and issues trying to make sure that people align and make sense of their lives. Much like in journalism, people just want you to please sometimes just help them.

Sometimes you just want to reveal the truth. Sometimes people’s lives are stuck. Sometimes people’s lives are in danger. So it’s pretty much the same thing. 

What’s one thing you do in your journey differently? 

I don’t think I do anything differently. I think I was bold and courageous and I chose me and I chose my ancestors and I put myself first and I’m reaping the rewards for all of that. It’s not easy, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I love the woman that I’ve become. I love the healer that I am in the process of becoming. I also love journalism and I really respect my job.  

What are the three things you wish you knew earlier in your career?

I wish I understood that I had the gift much earlier. I think I could have avoided a lot of things that I went through that they were unnecessary to go through. That it’s okay to not fit in. It’s okay to be different. 

Talent is not enough, it needs a combination of perseverance and hard work. “I don’t think I’d be here if I didn’t dream or if I wasn’t ambitious. I’m glad I dream big cause I have achieved big as well, not necessarily financially, but I’m currently living my dream. This has been my dream. Like, I came to earth, this is what I did. And when I exit I’ll have no regrets.”

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