Exclusive: Shiksha Arora – Surviving Westgate terror and my journalism career
What started out as a fun thing to do to pass time after losing her job in 2020 has now become a brand that has earned her popularity among netizens. KBC News anchor Shiksha Arora or better known as the dancing news anchor says there is more to her than what meets the eye.
She talks about her journey as a Microbiologist who ended up being a journalist and surviving a Terror attack.
My name is Shiksha Arora, I am a vibrant bold person who believes in doing what I dream of and always doing something out of the box. Be it creativity in terms of dancing or being a news anchor that is not your usual stereotype news anchor that people see, serious, smart and rigid that is not who I am.
I believe in being someone who can do anything they want when they put their minds to it, so I am a dancing anchor who likes doing things with passion. A lot of people think that just because I am Indian then that is why I am a natural at dancing.
But that is not necessarily the case, personally if you asked me Indians are the worst dancers, I mean if you I’ve them a step and the beat comes on they will move their shoulders but that is it. Not all Indians are good dancers it’s a myth just like not all Indians eat chili.
Being a journalist was not what I wanted for a career, I wanted to be a researcher and do all things science, I have always been intrigued by little organisms that is why I studied Microbiology for my undergraduate. Along the way I got a job at radio Africa and it is here that I realized what my true passion is, that is being a story teller and creating awareness.
I however had to finish my Microbiology studies to get my degree so I did that and then went for my Masters in Broadcast journalism, TV being my focal point. After realizing my passion, I wanted to do it right by studying everything about media.
I think of myself as a people’s person, I love to perform, I have always been a dancer, I have been dancing since I was four years old so I have always been on stage but at the time I did not know that I wanted to pursue art in this manner in the form of journalism.
Watch the full interview below:
Being a radio presenter made me know how long a minute is, because for radio you have to talk a lot. Sometimes when I was on air and I have just talked for 30 seconds, I fall short of words and start to wonder what else am I going to talk about. There is a lot of planning involved in being a radio presenter, I can tell you for free being on radio is harder than being on TV.
I am blessed that my career took off immediately as a News anchor at K24, but then Covid-19 happened and I lost my job.
This was a very emotional period for me because just when people were starting to know me as a news anchor, my numbers were up, I was going popularity on social media then everything comes tumbling down.
I did not have a plan B, I could not even fall back to dancing because there were no performance due to the Covid-19 restrictions.
But then I realised that Social Media is one of the most powerful tools, at the beginning I was not doing much, I would just post short videos of myself as a distraction to myself and all my fans from the dire situation that was there thanks to the pandemic.
People liked my content online and my numbers just started growing. So I started being very intentional with the kind of content I produce.
Do not think I did not go through the motions of losing a job, I was very depressed, I started feeling anxiety, I went through this phase of bouts of panic, like I wake up and have a panic attack. I am one person who is not used to being free, I do not know what to do when I have so much time in my hands. I was so used to routine and this was taken away from me, so I ended up being so disoriented. But I am grateful for my family they helped me get through it.
It is very interesting being a female news anchor, do you in the beginning when I was fresh out of my postgraduate school and just got my first job news anchoring I received a lot of backlash. First there was the impression that because I am light skinned and beautiful is the reason why I got the job.
I remember one Twitter troll that said, “this one is just a pretty face with a nice body and all she does is show her les and dance,” I responded saying, “and you forgot that she also has a Master’s degree.” The tweet went viral.
Colourism is still a big problem in the media industry, for example if I was in an audition with someone who is darker than me and they did not get a job, this person would feel that maybe one of the reasons they did not get the job is because of their skin colour. But on the upside we have made some serious growth in terms of inclusion.
The most difficult story I have ever done was the Dusit terror attack, and remember I was at the Westgate attack. I was called in to cover it for seven hours, talking about something that I have lived before was not easy. It was very traumatic and difficult. Talking about the people who passed away the injuries that had been sustained and giving details about the terrorist and how they launched their attack.
I am a victim of a terrorist attack, I was at Westgate Mall, when the attack happened I was trapped in the mall for like two hours, I was there with my colleagues from East FM, Ruhila Adatia one of my colleagues unfortunately did not make it.
The terrorist threw a grenade at us but it did not go off and the grenade was 100 meters from where I was, and I was with a group of children and parents because we were at the East FM cooking competition. This was happening at the rooftop where we were very much exposed.
I was with Ruhila Adatia before she passed on, and I remember when it happened everyone scattered. I had to undergo therapy for that every time I hear something loud I get scared and start panic. It took me a year before I was able to go to any mall.