Article written by Riyah Abdul on Dele Momodu’s The Pendulum
I am super excited to be a guest columnist on the globally popular Pendulum column, regularly written by the prose stylist famously known as Chief Dele Momodu, who is easily the most popular and highly revered Nigerian personality in my dear country Ghana. He has always been someone I looked up to. His story inspires me so much, having to share my story here on his page thus means the world to me. Chief is someone that is very much at home in Ghana and known by even “tro tro” drivers (just like danfo drivers in Nigeria).
Chief knows Ghana more than the average Ghanaian, having traversed the length and breath of the country. I have it on good authority that he has travelled to all the regions of Ghana. He has been friends with every Ghanaian president since Jerry John Rawlings of blessed memory. It is difficult to find anyone more Pan African than him. He is an avowed Nkrumahist, who inspired his Pan-Africanism. Through his Ovation international magazine, he has succeeded in bringing Ghanaians and Nigerians much closer than ever before. For me, he remains Nigeria’s Ambassador plentipotianry.
Whenever I bought an Ovation magazine, I was always fascinated by the lifestyle of Nigerians and wished to not only interact with them but to live amongst them one day. Before I continue, let me say unequivocally that journalism has always been my passion.
From a very young age, I had always wanted my voice to be heard as well as to air my opinions freely. I studied journalism and mass communications in Sikkim manipal University in Ghana. While I was in school
I wondered what it is like to be like the great Dele Momodu who motivated me in ways that he cannot even imagine. I had been very acquainted with the Ovation magazine from a very young age, and truths be told, he contributed to the reason why I decided to pursue a career in journalism. In fact, I can attribute my reason for moving to Nigeria to the way Nigerians and Nigeria were being potrayed in the magazine. Whenever I buy an Ovation magazine till this day, I am always fascinated by the lifestyle of Nigerians and most importantly how it is presented through Ovation magazine.
While I was in school, I already started “the small madam show” because of how smallish I am. The show did so well that every Friday the Dean of the school and my course mates will gather in the hall and wait for me to start the show. That was when I knew I had a future in journalism. “The small madam show” highlighted the everyday challenges of students on campus, and trust me at the end of every semester the show would always scoop an award.
I graduated from school with so much belief in myself, I knew I could conquer the media world, and I said I am small and mighty, Ghana media is not ready for me! It was quite easy for me because I got a job at the first station I went for auditions. I got immediate appointment as a presenter on Metro Tv, my joy knew no bounds I was super excited that the world was ready to hear and see me. Working with Metro tv was life changing for me. I ended up as more than a presenter, Metro tv taught me how to edit, produce, direct and write. I worked there for eight years and trust me, those eight years were years I will never forget, eight years of hard work, dedication, sleepless nights and prayers.
After eight years of hard work, I decided to leave. I knew I had to leave Ghana because I knew was ready to conquer and explore the world. I had served and worked in several capacities in media in Ghana, but now I wanted more, and I was ready to take on new opportunities and diversify. I knew that on my journey to becoming much greater, I needed to go beyond the shores of Ghana. Ghana media had been good to me, but the quest for more conquests became stronger by each passing day. I made one of the best and toughest decisions of my life, I sent in my resignation letter to Metro Tv. Indeed, It came as a surprise to them but as hard as that was, there was this very strong feeling in my guts, and that was how I knew I was on the right path.
Having realized that I needed to leave Ghana, I was saddled with another decision to make – Leave Ghana for where?
After leaving Metro Tv, I stayed home for about two months just thinking, planning and restrategizing, I mean, whatever made me leave Metro Tv, had to be good and worth my while. Now, I had two places in my mind; Nigeria and South Africa. After so much deliberation I decided to pick Nigeria. Nigeria and Ghana are two West African countries that are closely knitted, if twitter people are not arguing on whose Jollof rice is the best, the argument is probably on who has the best artistes (no bias, but having lived in Nigeria for a while, I can bodly say that Ghana Jollof rice tastes way better). On a lighter note, Nigeria and Ghana have such close relationship, and it is also close to home, although, I was worried for a tad bit, following the bad press that comes with Nigeria; Boko Haram insurgency, the killings and kidnappings, bandits here and there to mention a few. All these scared me to my marrows, but considering the Nigerian media space and how rich they are in entertainment, popculture and even music, I decided to move to Nigeria.
Making such a decision required a huge sacrifice, I sold my car, and with the little amount I had, I bought a ticket and flew into the most talked about city, Lagos Nigeria.
There is this statement they make in Nigeria, that if you can survive in Nigeria, you can survive anywhere else in the world. this statement is very true because Lagos is not for the faint hearted, if you’re not smart, Lagosians will forcefully teach you how to be.
On getting into Nigeria, everything I saw on Ovation magazine was true, I mean Nigerians are warm and happy people, in fact, some of the early tales I heard about Nigerians were either fictional or hyperbolic. Nigerians are lovely, very accommodating and supportive. They can make lemonades out of lemons, they like to party, they love to dress up like everyday is Christmas; trust me, their fashion sense is out of this world! And I loved it, I made a deliberate effort to attend their parties and shows and I just loved their tradition. The Nigerian food is exceptionally varied, delicious and flamboyant. I could eat Eba everyday of the week with almost any type of soup, please, don’t blame me, the food is super delicious. The culture, which is the one thing I would probably never get used to, is the hustle and bustle. It always appear to me like everyone is rushing somewhere or something is chasing them. I believe in working hard and smart. I needed to remind myself of the primary reason I left Ghana to come to Nigeria, so my case would not be of someone who came to Lagos to count bridges. I had crossed too many before I got here.
Now the real life started happening, challenges began. For me, one of the challenges I faced in my heydays in Nigeria was due to the fact that the media is very big and highly populated. The faces in the media are absolutely beautiful and talented, and it would take more than a pretty face to make a mark in the sands of time. I knew I needed to stand up somehow, but `how` that was going to happen was my immediate problem.
I got a job that brought out my remarkabkle side. They were my family; News Central Tv. News Central Tv was tailor-made for me. It is a Pan African Television located in Nigeria that is very inclusive. So whether you are from East Africa or South Africa you are welcome, Ghana or Nigeria, Zimbabwe or Senegal, you are very welcome. I was employed as a broadcaster, and this was where my journey in Nigeria media industry began officially.
Being a presenter in a pan African tv station was quite challenging for me, especially pronouncing Ghanaian names to now pronouncing names of Africans from various parts of Africa. I tried my best as a newscaster for one month till I decided to switch back to lifestyle, because they knew this was my forte. A show was created for me called “E central”. This is where I have exclusives with celebrities and entertainers, and then we talk about things happening in the entertainment industry in Africa, it was live every 5pm, the show had me conduct and interact with lots of celebrities in Africa. The show gave me all I needed to push my career as a solo presenter.
I also hosted and covered so many events and red carpets, one of them happened to be the Headies awards 2020. I realized that in the media industry in Nigeria, you have to be very best, and you continually have to keep learning. You cannot say you are a Tv presenter and not try out event hosting. If you want to go far, be a jack of all trades and a master of all.
Having worked in News Central Tv for two years, I decided to push my own production company RA productions. This was a beginning of a new era for me. I started embarking on interviews with various politicians and celebrities. This was the breaking point for me as a journalist. So, I embarked on my first solo interviews with Chief Dele Momodu who later introduced me to Senator Dino Melaye. The Senator talked about his life and political ambition. We spoke about the perception Nigerians have about him. This kicked up my love for interviews. Still on my production, I had an interview with the current minister of Transport, The Right Honorable Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, a very insightful interview as we spoke about the future of Nigerian youths.
Speaking to Chief Dele Momodu was super exciting for me. His story was very captivating, one thing I learnt from him was never stop pushing he opened up on how he started Ovation International in 1996 while he was still in exile. He has been able to maintain Ovation International for over a quarter of a century and has wisely upgraded it to include social media platforms. It is certainly one of Africa’s most popular lifestyle journals.
Being in Nigeria has been an eye opener for me. I have learnt that nothing is unachievable or impossible once you put your mind to it. Every dream is valid and you just have to be fearless in chasing that dream. There is nothing impossible under the once you have the idea in mind you can as well execute it, with patience, hard work, the grace of God and persistence.
I look up to so many people in the industry, but one woman who pushes me to be better and do more is Mo Abudu. I love the fact that just like me, she is a go-getter. I look at her, and I am too sure that this small girl from Ghana will go places.