Each week, frayintermedia highlights a journalist doing good work on the continent and honours them as our #FaveOfTheWeek. Meet 22-year-old Nigerian journalist, blogger and researcher Angel Nduka-Nwosu who is passionate about reporting women and girls’ issues, particularly sexism and gender-based violence. She is the co-founder of As Equals Africa, a media advocacy group that aims to support African feminist writers and creatives. She also launched the #SayHerNameNigeria protest, mobilising protests against the rape and harassment of women by Nigerian police across cities in Nigeria and internationally.
Q: How did you become a journalist?
A: My dad is a journalist and I always knew I wanted to be a storyteller. But along the way, I thought I was going to be a lawyer. Well, for some reason I realised that law didn’t cut it for me. I then discovered a Nigerian-American journalist, Chika Oduah who I found to be a very inspiring woman. And so I thought, okay, I’m going to be a journalist just like my father is. He used to take me on his field trips to interview people. I really liked the kind of power that came with journalism, especially as a woman.
Before I went to university, there were people already telling me that ‘don’t be a journalist because you will not be able to take care of your family, men don’t like women who are journalists ‘because they are loud’.
So, I told myself, even though I knew I wanted to be one, I’d need to cut these things away from my head.
I went in to study English, my thoughts were maybe I’ll just work in an NGO or something unrelated. But I decided to become a journalist because of Kiki Mordi, who is like a mentor to me. I saw the amount of power that came with her owning her voice and her story “Sex for Grades”.
But it was until last year when I started my internship with a Nigerian media house and I saw the job title ‘reporter’ that I felt I’m a journalist now. Before then, for my final year, I was already doing research work, interviewing people anonymously for BBC and I thought this is my dream work.
I want to tell stories, you know, I love telling stories and journalism is the avenue that you know I feel most comfortable in.
Q: What draws you to tell stories about women’s issues?
A: I think the answer should be self-evident. I’m a woman, but it’s not self-evident because even some women are enablers of patriarchy. What draws me to women’s issues, sexism and GBV journalism are because I think if I don’t tell my own story in life, If I don’t centre myself in life, if I’m not proactive about talking about myself in life, in death, there’s an even greater chance of being erased.
So even women who are intentional about documenting themselves when they are still alive, there’s still a chance of their stories being misinterpreted, how much more when they die? What happens to the woman who doesn’t intentionally talk about herself, put herself out there? I’m somebody who, even in any country like Nigeria where things are very pessimistic, strongly believes in the power of the media and the power of words.
I’ve seen how an article published by a woman, radio shows more people are able to speak up about certain issues and this has informed behaviours and practices. There are people who, due to awareness and sensitisation, were able to realise that female genital mutilation is not normal, they knew that these things are wrong because they can see the far-reaching effects. However, having a human story, having someone report and saying this is what is going on and cause them to stop. With GBV there’s so much to be done when it comes to gender-based violence because it’s so .
I really care about women; I really care about us. If we don’t tell our own stories then no one else will and it’s imperative that we start conversations particularly with young women because conversations are the first step to even mobilizing as feminists or as women’s advocates.
Q: What story should African journalists be telling more?
A: I would like to see more stories about women. I know there are already stories about women, but the angle in which these stories are told is where I’d like to see the change.
I want to see African journalists in particular tell stories that do not glorify bad behaviour of past African leaders just because they did something good at some point.
I would also like to see African journalists on the continent being more intentional about bridging the gap between Africans on the continent and Africans in the diaspora, both children of descendants of slaves and children of those who emigrated there need to be more harmonious.
Q: What makes an exceptional journalist?
A: Somebody who can tell stories in a very humane way, somebody who does not just tell the story and go. Someone who in their writing or their reporting is able to offer solutions.
I would believe in solution-based journalism, telling stories in a human way, and especially if you’re writing or women’s issues. As a woman journalist, since you have the experience, I believe in journalism we should open and offer a solution.
So for me, a good journalist is somebody who is able to get to the heart of the story and inspire people to create change.
Q: Despite the challenge, why do you continue to be a journalist?
A: I believe in the power of words, so even if I’m not reporting, I still write, I still edit and I’m a researcher as well. My whole life is about words and storytelling. I think it’s literally because it’s my calling. You know you can’t run away from something that you’re called to do. You always find your way back to it.
When I read somebody read a message from somebody who says, ‘oh Angel, this article you wrote is so nice. I hadn’t seen this angle before, now I’ve decided to do this and this and that’.
Being able to inspire that change is one of the major reasons why I’m still a journalist and being able to know that you have the ability to cause positive change.