Mila Stephanie Malavoloneke is a 23 years old Angolan, masters student of Maritime Law and Commerce at the university of Kwazulu Natal, and a Law graduate from the university of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.
Mila is responsible for creating the first youth communications outline in the Southern African country of Angola. A platform called Jovens da Banda “youths of Angola” that started as a blog, when she was 17, became a online portal and this year gained a physical version distributed by domestic airlines throughout the country. She leads a group of more than 40 writers all Angolan youngsters distributed all across the world.
The magazine was created to share success stories of young Angolans that despite difficulties are in a bid to make social change. In a recent interview to an Angolan newspaper, Novo Jornal, Mila said: ” The conventional media offers us idols but we need role models, people like us that are fighting the same battles that we are, and this is what Jovens da Banda is offering to our readers”.
Despite the Law degree, Mila is a young journalist herself that started writting at the age of 17 motivated by the journalistic vein she got from her father. “I wanted to write, it was in me, however, I did not find anyone from my age range doing the same, I didn’t know where to start”. So Mila turned into the only online portal that gave her a chance at the time, club-k, “I knew the editor and he gave me a chance, I was and I still am very glad he did so, however the portal was highly political and my message did not get across, I wanted to be read by young people, instead I was being read by people of older age groups that expected way too much from a 17 year old”. Disappointed Mila almost thought of quitting but was motivated by a friend who advised her to open her own blog as a way to “control her audience”. “In my blog I spoke about young Angolans making a difference during a time where the older generation underestimated us immensely”, she says.
The blog became a success and she soon saw the necessity of having more people writing for it. She invited 7 friends, all of which became today, young references in the Angolan society. After the success of the blog, the youngsters decided yet to take another step and open a portal. “It was particularly difficulty because I was a law student and I did not have money to run a portal by myself so my only option was to look for a business partner”, and so she did, Mila found a business partner ready to help financially with the costs of the portal while she would put the labour work. Through social media she made a video introducing her project to other Angolans and asking them to join. The tactic worked and two years later, the portal grew into a physical magazine and a radio show, once a week in one of the country’s main radio station where the same objectives are broadcast to a bigger audience. “I understand that not all people have access to our magazine due to various reasons nevertheless radios are accessible even in the rural areas where I wish to inspire those youngsters that probably think there is no way to make it out of there”.
Jovens da Banda, the magazine, this year reached the milestone of 50 000 people accessing its page in a day and according to the project leader the goal is to increase those numbers. “We changed our aim, we started by only broadcasting success stories of young Angolans but I understand that we need to break barriers and reach the African continent. Unfortunately the conventional media is not an ally and leaves, even us Africans, under the impression that our neighbours are undeveloped, this in turn does not allow for a proper diffusion of experiences”. Therefore although Jovens da Banda, the print magazine, is only focused on young Angolan success stories, the portal is turned into African success stories that will help in changing this perception and teach young Angolans to think and look outside of the box. “We are forced to find for role models out of Africa, when there is so much to absorb here and I want to change that”, says Mila.