It took me an entire year before I watched Al Jazeera because of the criticism and reviews it received when the television station was launched.
Critics said that Al Jazeera was sensationalist and gave a lot of coverage to militant groups. But when I eventually tuned in, I discovered that the opposite was in fact true, and now I'm hooked.
Though it has an Arab perspective, Al Jazeera covers news without any bias and it also airs conflicts that were not previously shown. As a non-Muslim African, I easily identify with the station. It does not talk down to Africa, rather it seeks to find the voice of the African people.
The channel's approach to issues is unapologetic and it gives a voice to under-reported places across the world. It stands shoulder to shoulder with CNN and the BBC with the best broadcasting talent such as David Frost and Darren Jordan.
Al Jazeera is always the first to break African stories, before CNN, BBC and Sky. For example, I was highly impressed with the station's coverage of the ANC conference in Polokwane. It covered all sides, without being malicious and self-serving like the BBC and CNN, which are always at pains to explain a world they do not understand.
Al Jazeera respects all views. People such as Hamas leaders who are unlikely to be heard on other Western channels do get coverage on Al Jazeera. This shows that the station does not push certain agendas, but spells out situations honestly.
Unlike other stations, Africa is also given priority and Al Jazeera is also not reluctant to criticise any government.