How did you start working at RTBC?

I applied — haha! 

Okay, I got recommended to write the piece on Wikipedia editors in Africa, and while at it, a friend (not knowing I was in contact with RTBC) sent me a link to the job vacancy because he knew I wrote solutions stories. So I applied and got the job. 

How has the pandemic affected you personally, and your country? How has your life changed in the last 15 months?

I’d answer for myself. It has ruined my routines. I barely make food, I’m apprehensive towards hanging out with friends and I’ve moved towards introversion. But there are also positives, especially in terms of work. I’ve moved from a freelancer who’s constantly at the mercy of editors to a journalist with a work routine. 

What is one cheerful thing you will bring out of the pandemic? A reckoning? An object? A new friend? Something else?

A reckoning that I can make things happen. 

What African music makes you want to make some cheerful noise?

Highlife, in its different variations. Ghanaian and Nigerian. Absolute gems! 

What’s the lifestyle of Lagos like? It’s a growing city, I know. 

Lagos is dynamic and full of energy. It’s characterized by a core young, bubbling population. True to innovation, it’s also one of the startup powerhouses of Africa. 

What are the three main things you’d like your audience to understand about Nigeria or Lagos? 

I’ll go with Lagos. 1) It’s stressful. 2) It’s filled with opportunities. 3) Lagosians love to party, especially on Saturdays. It’s called owambe — a large party that is usually lavish and flamboyant featuring colorful attires, savory meals and the best music. 

owambe
Women dressed for an owambe. Credit: Miles Sabin / Flickr

What do you think people outside Africa (and particularly in Western industrialized nations) generally misunderstand about Africa and its many cultures, histories, people, etc.?

It’s that, aside from being a continent, Africa is many things. You have to be super specific while talking about Africa. Are you musing over the serenity that is Cape Coast in Ghana? Or are you keen on the innovation-driven Nairobi, Kenya? Or you want to know more about the political instability in the horn of Africa? Generalization often kills the chance to learn or hold a proper conversation about the continent. 

What is one aspect of Nigeria’s government you think more countries should try to emulate?

tolu olasoji

I couldn’t come up with a thing I feel is worth emulating — maybe I’m too familiar with the anomalies of this government — so I reached out to my Ghanaian friend. He told me, if anything, he’d want Ghana to adopt Nigeria’s federal system of government but none of its personnel. It’s that bad! 

How do you deal with the oil company mess in Nigeria and can they be pushed harder with a global focus?

When one thinks of the human implication of the oil company mess, it’s disheartening. Here’s a recent story that touches on how it discriminately affects women in the Niger Delta. To be pushed harder, the Nigerian government has to acknowledge their role in this and start the process for one of the world’s biggest clean-ups, which would take a lot of years. One would think in the era of advocacy for a cleaner environment that’d be possible, but never take chances with the Nigerian government. Do they really care about it? 

I’ve just finished The Girl with the Louding Voice about a young woman in Nigeria. I’m wondering what the political situation is there and whether you would mind pointing me towards some resources that will help me learn more about it. 

At the moment, the government is cracking down on dissenting voices, which brings into question the legitimacy of its democracy. The latest is a ban on Twitter, a great resource for the country’s political situation. Twitter represents a huge demography of the current administration’s critics. 

Also, any literary work set in Nigeria would reflect the political situation, be it pre-colonial, colonial or post-colonial. Nothing much has changed. Also, you’d find resourceful pieces on Western and pan-African publications. 

If you could have lunch with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?

Anyone who’s got a good vibe and loves great music, really. 

What’s your favorite Beyoncé song? 

It’d be between “Best Thing I Never Had,” “Halo” and “Love on Top.”

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