Mercy Kambura wanted to be a nurse. So she put nursing as her first choice on her college entrance paperwork. Kenyan high school graduates are asked to list four options from which placement service officials will select as they decide what each student will study. As her fourth option, she threw in linguistics. To her surprise and dismay, the placement officials selected linguistics. “What can I do with this degree?” she wondered.
It wasn’t until she started working at Timazi, a Christian magazine for high school students, that she realized how much she enjoyed writing and magazine publishing. Finally, the path chosen for her was starting to make sense.
“I love the life of a magazine,” Mercy told MTI. “Magazine articles outlive the moment you write them. I will look at magazines from the past and they can still be relevant.” Mercy found her wings as a writer, but God had even more in store.
“I enjoy writing,“ Mercy said, “But, I don’t enjoy editing as much.” However, in early 2019 she was hired as editor of AfriGO magazine, a mission magazine encouraging Africans to become missionaries. “I knew I needed to learn more about editing for magazines.”
She had heard about Magazine Training International as a subeditor at Timazi. So, she went to MTI’s website and began reading the resources on editing she found there. Later that year, she was able to travel to Cote d’Ivoire and participate in the Introduction to Magazine Publishing conference.
“I loved it!” Mercy said about her time at the conference. She learned valuable lessons that help in her work as an editor.
“I feel more productive because of the knowledge I have,” she said. “It has given me direction for my editing and writing. I know what I’m doing with each article. I often wonder, ‘what was I doing before MTI?’”
She is also more confident about design after learning more about magazine design at the conference. “Before, I would just leave the design to the designers,” she said. But now she is able to give more design direction for articles and encourage the use of typography as a graphic element. “It has made AfriGO more versatile.”
Mercy is working on developing a new magazine for youth called Himiza, Swahili for “encourage.” She started a Facebook page called Himiza Scribes and changed her blog to the same name (www.himizascribes.com). The coronavirus pandemic stalled her plans for the new venture, but she is hoping to be able to launch the magazine after the pandemic ends. Meanwhile, she has developed a reading club in her local area to encourage a love of reading among young people, her target audience for the magazine.
Mercy’s journey as a writer, editor, and magazine publisher may have started as an “accident,” but now she has found her voice and is answering the calling God gave her.