by Feyi Alufohai
During the summer of 2015, I interned at a local newspaper in Abuja, the federal capital of Nigeria. Before I take you any further, I should tell you a little about myself, and how I spent two months in Nigeria’s Capital.
My name is Omoihosen Alufohai but you can call me Feyi. I was born in Houston, Texas
but I spent most of my childhood in Lagos, Nigeria. The idea of working in Nigeria is nothing new to me but that didn’t stop me from being nervous.
Growing up in Lagos, everything was fast paced, overcrowded and loud. Picture it like this: Lagos is the New York city of Nigeria whereas Abuja is Washington D.C.. The difference in the cities is extremely visible and the difference between a Lagos-ian and an Abuja native is also extremely visible.
That being said, my first day my aim was to blend in and draw no attention to myself. The moment I walked into the office that plan went out the door. The employees were having a staff meeting and apparently I was late.
Here is what went through my head during that moment,
“Why am I standing here awkwardly? Find a seat!”
“Should I introduce myself or let them finish their meeting?”
“They probably think I am a spoilt brat that does not understand the importance of punctuality.”
While this was going through my head, the chief editor paused the meeting and with a smile, greeted me and introduced himself. They found a seat for me and placed it in towards the middle of the staff circle, so everyone could see me. To my relief, I was not late I was earlier than they expected. They tell their interns to come into the office on the first day after the staff meeting.
After I sat down and each newspaper employee gave a brief introduction about where they are from, job title, and how long they have been working in the journalism field. I was the last to go and when I was done, I looked around and all the faces across the room had a blank unreadable expression.
As usual I thought the worse,
“Did I say something offensive?”
“Do they think I am unqualified?”
“Do I have something on my teeth?”
While I was mid-thought the editor told me to repeat what I said because they could not understand my accent. I laughed nervously and they joined in. After all the laugher, I reintroduced myself, tried to relax and speak more with a Nigerian accent and they finally understood me. Growing up in Nigeria and schooling in the United States, I forgot I have acquired a little bit of an American accent and the staff could not understand what I was saying because I was speaking too fast. Once all the nerves and awkwardness went away I dived right into business and was assigned my first article and ready to take on this new journey.
It was an awkward start but two months later, I built bonds with hardworking journalists. It was refreshing to see people care so much about reporting the truth in a country, where corruption is evident and telling the truth is not always rewarded. I left with a lot of experience and a true appreciation for news reporting in Nigeria.
Link to my work done at the newspaper: