Biography Arne Doornebal. Tijnje, Netherlands, 05-02-1983
When your parents drag you to Africa at the age of eleven, it is likely that one day you will want to return there.
Visiting Africa as a child, Botswana and neighboring countries in this case, had a strong impact on me. After that, I just ‘had to’ return. That happened in 2004, after completing a bachelor’s degree in journalism in the city of Zwolle. I graduated at the school of journalism after two internships, one with the regional news station Flevoland TV and one at NCRV’s Netwerk, a program on national television.
I ended up in Bulaga, a village near Kampala. There I worked voluntarily at a small project. During this three-month period, my focus on Africa became stronger. Back in Holland, I moved to Amsterdam where I got a job at The Amsterdam Times, a newspaper for expatriates in the major cities. After half a year I moved to the other side of the office, where the editors of the Amsterdams Stadsblad were located. For about one year I worked for Amsterdam’s free city newspaper, focusing –among others- on immigration challenges in my neighborhood.
,High-quality supply will create demand for it.’ It is February 2007, the meeting room in Amsterdam is packed. Bram Vermeulen is speaking, a fast rising Dutch Africa correspondent for both the Dutch national TV and one of the main newspapers, NRC Handelsblad. Via a webcam he addresses the audience from Johannesburg. In the crowd were mainly people with an interest for Africa journalism.
That is strange, according to Vermeulen. He wonders how it is possible that all these people are in Amsterdam, while they should all come to Africa to become freelance journalists... It is not that difficult, he claims, since quality articles will always be sold. I am in the audience, and Vermeulen’s enthusiasm was the last push for me to do what I had been thinking of for a while.
Another important reason to take the step was my girlfriend from Uganda, since we agreed on trying to see how it could work out when we would actually be together for an unlimited period of time. On august 7th, 2007, I took the airplane to Entebbe.
The first few months were not easy, finding enough assignments was more difficult than I thought.
But when the first half a year passed, I slowly managed to get more work. When 2008 came, I started making more and more trips to neighboring countries. Step by step I started to understand the continent a bit better. Slowly I was getting the feeling that there are indeed enough opportunities here, to survive as a freelance journalist.