“Till we see you again next week, be the change you want to see”
Those were the words that first caught the attention of one of our United Kingdom LR Editors many years ago while she watched a television programme. Little did she know that those words and the person who said them would feature again some day in the course of her editing work.
Two months ago, a name was put forth to the editorial team to research and see if it ticked the requirement for featuring on LR. Guess what, all the research editors came back with positive and interesting feedback about the name. However, words cannot describe how we all felt when every one of us pointed out that in researching this name, we were impressed with the consistency with which the slogan “be the change you want to see” came up repeatedly.
Of course, this inspirational personality got the unanimous approval of all to be featured here; so here you go………
I was born in Lagos Nigeria where I also had my early educational years and later proceeded to complete a BSc. in Parasitology and Entomology from the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka also in Nigeria.
Growing up, I was a science student and was not too keen to be in the entertainment industry. However, in my 4th year in secondary school, I wrote and directed a play on HIV. This play was nominated ‘best play’ in the competition and I won the best director too. So started my first stage stint. As I got older, my aspirations in life metamorphosed. I always wanted to reach out to a lot of people and help make the changes I want to see in my society. However, it was to be acting on stage no more – it was going to be TV hosting. Perceiving Oprah Winfrey as an international mentor of mine and Funmi Iyanda of NTA (Nigerian Television Authority) New Dawn as my own home-grown inspiration, it was clear to me that I was still going to end up on some sort of stage, if not the traditional acting one.
In all those early years of self-discovery and deciding which particular “stage” I was going to end up on, I knew one thing for sure; that there is no short cut to being successful at anything one decides to do in life. This stemmed from the fact that from a very early age; I was brought up to understand that there is dignity in one’s labour. Hard work and focus in the right direction will always yield dividends. Nowadays, people are easily distracted by the mirage that is “easy gratification” and no longer believe in the value of hard work. The importance of finding a vision, then starting small and patiently growing daily to be the best one can be is key to success. The determination to go on despite all odds knocks every obstacle off one’s way.
These were the principles that made me spend every single spare minute I could find as a University student with the Delta State Television, producing and anchoring different programmes no matter how little the job looked or paid. I joined the NTA for my NYSC (National Youth Service Corps) because I understood the focus and further exposure that would give to me. This I would say is where the actual journey of lights, camera and action began.
Eventually, I found myself in AIT (African Independent Television), anchoring a business and financial programme. I have never once perceived my being in a male dominated industry as a problem. I have always mustered all the strength I could and gone after how to do a good job. It would be unfair not to acknowledge the reality of life that “the female stereotype” has not been a challenge. However, it is not something I ever dwell on. The anecdote I employ has been to work to be the best I can be, assert myself and remain confident. Many people male or female respect true excellence when they see it. So excel first, and then deal with the few “stereotypes” later – you may be surprised how your excellence can turn them (the sceptics) to converts and believers in true “female excellence”
So, to everyone out there, especially the young ones, my advice is “ be focused”. This is a deep phrase that no one should take with levity in today’s world. The world today is full of so much information and activities at the touch of a button, that one can easily get distracted. We have to filter the positive things we want in our space and apply them to our lives in a structured productive manner.
Over the remaining years of my life on earth, I wish to live my life as a role model and a mentor to many as others have been to me. It is for this reason, I have keen young persons work as interns with me. I will continue in the media industry but rest assured I will not be serotyped in a single role. I will continue to be an excellent team player working with and learning from others to be the best I can be in anything I do. Life is a journey which each of us embarks on with a myriad of visions. Whatever our vision, our world will be a better place when we each live our lives seeking to “be the change we want to see”.
Nancy Nnaji nee Illoh is a multiple-award winning Broadcaster, Presenter and Producer who produces and anchors the most watched, engaging financial and economic analytic show in not just Nigeria but on the African continent. The AIT (African Independent Television) Money Show now recently renamed Money Line, is not a show for the faint-hearted. It is where business and financial interviews are conducted live on air with some of Africa’s finest minds. Presidents, Governors, Ministers, Technocrats, Entrepreneurs, and the citizenry have all been hosted by Nancy and her team as she dissects the issues that affect African nations on her show. Former President of the African Development Bank Donald Kaberuka, Professor John Kuffor, Ex- President of Ghana, and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi the previous governor of Nigerian Central bank and current Emir of Kano are some of those who have graced her hot seat on stage.
This congenial moderator is also on the (NEDG) Nigerian Elections Debate Group, which is the body in charge of the Presidential debates in Nigeria.
She is also the go-to resource person for many international media outfits including the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) when they require expert and objective views on African nations in her area of expertise.
Despite all of these on her plate, Nancy is no stranger to philanthropy. She thrives on making ways to better the life of other around her.
Let us all hit the comments section and give life to our thoughts on how we can be the “change we each want to see”.