Negussie Mengesha, a native of Ethiopia, is the director of VOA’s Africa Division. He came to the U.S. in 1981 from an impoverished refugee camp in East Sudan under the U.S. government’s resettlement program with one pair of pants, two shirts and 50 U.S. dollars in his pocket. He found a home in the Amharic Service of the Voice of America, where he served as a senior editor in 1982 and later became Service Chief of VOA Amharic and Central Africa services; Africa Division Program Manager; and finally the Africa Division Director in May of 2014.
The story of Negussie Mengesha, who saw and endured the atrocities of the Marxist military regime in post-emperor Ethiopia in mid-1970s, serves as a model for all those aspiring journalists who make personal sacrifices and endure harassment, persecution and repression because of their commitment to truth, democracy, and freedom of expression.
Negussie Mengesha oversees and directs the agency’s nearly 125 hours of weekly programming in 16 languages on radio, television, and digital platforms to the African continent - reaching nearly 51 million people weekly. He takes pride in saying that VOA is synonymous with the voice of truth, as many among the millions of its audience characterize VOA.
“The biggest challenge Africa faces today,” says Mr. Mengesha, “is the need to harness the energies of its youth, a large number of who lack proper education, adequate employment opportunities, and a sense of direction in their lives.” VOA’s Africa Division has undertaken several unique initiatives to address these challenges. One among several is creative programming on all media platforms in most of the eight Africa Division language services offering the youth an alternative to militancy and jihadist ideology.
One of his paramount goals is to win the hearts and minds of young Africans through creative, value-based, balanced, and diverse programming on multimedia platforms.