Nigeria Diary: Meet the Press

Journalism can impact the course of world history in a myriad of ways.  And here in Lagos, I am meeting dozens of journalists who are committed to changing the course of their nation – for the better.

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In the past week, as part of our Find Your Edge Leadership and Communication program, I have had the privilege of conducting journalist training sessions at The Nation, the number two newspaper in all of Nigeria, and at TVC News, the first 24-hour news network covering the continent and emphasizes its news-gathering distinction with the tag-line, “Through African Eyes.”

The participant journalists from TVC News Africa
The participant journalists from TVC News Africa

My hands-on training takes real stories in the headlines and calls on journalists to completely re-think them.  We analyze sourcing methods and verification.  We examine how to report from breaking news scenes. We consider ways to add context and perspective.  We drill on honing writing skills to become precise and powerful.

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Overall, the standard of journalism I have seen so far, has a way to go.  Many print articles I read meander and don’t ask officials the obvious follow-up questions.   I’ve watched lack-luster reporters and anchors who appear only blandly interested in the stories they are covering.

But these groups I have worked with are different. They are eager to sharpen their skills and push themselves and frankly, in this environment, assume the possible risks.

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Like Evelyn, one reporter I worked with – who has been doggedly uncovering injustices for years – which have now evoked enough awareness and outcry that she tells me some officials want to meet with her to talk about ways to craft policy change.

And Mark, the radio broadcaster who shared with me at the end of our session how he is now inspired to not only read the news, but to consider the hopes, dreams and fears of his listeners and to seek ways to provide context around stories to help them better understand ramifications.

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Journalism isn’t a career you enter thinking you’re going to make a lot of money.  Our wealth comes from telling real stories that make a difference.

In every society it’s the same. For journalists to build credibility and deliver value, they have to learn to be watchdogs, not lapdogs.

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The people I have met appear earnest and eager.  They are authorities in their business; the people who can influence others to join the cause. To become leaders, not just writers and readers.

Reporting live from Lagos, Nigeria. I’m Gina London. Now back to you.

Copyright 2014 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

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Guest blog series “Travel Memories” #8 – Olumo Rock, Nigeria

Greetings fellow travelers! If you’re ready for an adventure, you’ve come to the right place!  Last time we took you to Bulgaria and today, join me as we go to Nigeria.

Today’s guest blog is from radio personality, speaking coach and, I’m happy to say, my new friend – Ayo Owodunni.  

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When he is not busy co-hosting his dynamic and fresh morning radio program from Nigeria’s capital city, Lagos, Ayo loves to travel and explore locations that make his country unique. 

Now, then, let’s marvel together at Olumo Rock – a place that once protected warriors, and which in turn, recently needed protection itself. 

Here’s Ayo: 

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A safe haven for those who looked beyond its majestic beauty and focused, instead, on its strength and protective power, Olumo Rock is located in Abeokuta, Nigeria, about 60 miles north of Lagos.

Abeokuta literally means “Under the Rock.”  The natural fortress may have protected a variety of people over the centuries, but it was during the 19th century, as it served as refuge for the Egba tribe during a series of tribal wars, that its protective qualities are most known for.

The Egba land warriors discovered Olumo and realized the enormous heaping pile of boulders naturally provided them the perfect strategic place. The wide flat top of the rock gave the warriors a fighting advantage, not to mention a great view of enemies below.

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It was so strategic, in fact, that the Egba warriors lived on Olumo for more than three years.  Lookout and living space, the rocks reportedly even served as a place to bury their dead.  It seemed nature had designed a unique citadel for the Egbas to help them survive.

The wars eventually came to an end and the Egbas climbed down, settled into the valley and established the town with the name forever honoring the rock: Abeokuta.

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Till today, the Egbas prides themselves in their rich history and their tribe-saving rock.

As a child, I visited Olumo Rock, but admit I was never fascinated by its significance.  I was more interested in using it as my natural playground, than learning its dramatic role in history.  But, as I grew older and did more research on my country, I came to discover more about the historical site and have since fallen in love with the rock and its warrior-filled story.

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Sadly, however, one of the biggest frustrations I’ve also come to discover about my country is its lack of conviction in preserving historical landmarks: from media reports about the dire state of the first prime minister’s burial site, to the deteriorated condition of Badagry Slave Port (used to ship out slaves from Nigeria to the western world – where I was shocked by the horrible state of the museum with broken windows, uncared for artifacts and untended lawns outside), national monuments had become national embarrassments.

Following suit, a few years ago, Olumo Rock faced similar neglect until the federal government decided to step in and finally turned it into the treasured monument it is today.

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For me, Olumo Rock is a reminder that the universe will always conspire to give you your heart’s desire.

But we must do our part as well. Olumo Rock, which once saved people, has now been saved by people.

Thank you, so much, Ayo, for an inspiring story of an inspiring place.  

Where do you go for inspiration?  A natural wonder? A church, temple or synagogue? Your backyard?  Share your story as a comment here or write a longer essay to me at GinaLondon@gmail.com 

I’ll happily post it!  And if you’re looking for inspiration, I’m also happy to remind you that “Because I’m Small Now and You Love Me” – a book of wondrous conversations and adventures – is available on Amazon.com – With nearly two dozen rave reviews already, I’m sure you’ll love it too!

Ciao, tutti! Till next time,

Baci, Gina