In the world of Media Journalism, Jennifer Ehidiamen has made a name for herself and beyond reasonable doubt she is truly talented and blessed. I am fortunate to be her friend on Facebook and she has allowed I AM A SLUCKER interview her.
Slucker: Let's meet you, Who is Jennifer Ehidiamen, What do you really do?
Jennifer: Thanks for the opportunity. I am a journalist, with keen interest in development journalism. I have flirted with a few other things in the past. But my keen interested really is in development journalism and public communication. I also have a strong passion for youth development. Of course a few people know me as a poet.
I write poems and have two published books-collection of poems- "In days to come" and "preserve my saltiness." I sometimes describe myself as a midwife (smiles). Not because I help women birth babies. The midwife angle of me is basically helping people innovate- I am never afraid to serve as a sidekick in pioneering and developing an idea and basically helping people build their ideas- especially ones that are in line with what interest me.
Slucker: What is it about making a difference that drives you? Why have you chosen this part ?
Jennifer: I think it is just knowing we all as individuals have a purpose here on earth. God created every man for a purpose. I'm driven by the desire to contribute positively and ensure I affect lives around me positively.
Slucker: Tell us about some of your write-ups and initiatives you have been involved with? Which has left the most indelible mark in your heart?
Jennifer: I write a lot of poems. I also volunteer a lot. I'm currently embracing adulthood and building a career in journalism and communications. My past experiences include volunteering with a youth group in Ebutte-Metta in Lagos, interning at Journalists Against AIDS (JAAIDS)Lagos, participating in a youth exchange program called Global Xchange which gave me my first exposure in youth work and international development.
During that period in 2005-2006, I volunteered with a team of other 16 young people (8 Nigerians and 8 British). We spent three months in Birmingham U.K and three months in Jos, Plateau state Nigeria. After that experience, I gained a better understanding on what career to pursue. Prior to all the volunteering experiences, I was just a normal but confuse teenager who was not satisfied with settling for the status quo. But as I continued to seek hands-on learning experience, I gained more skills that is today being useful in my day-to-day interaction and pursuits.
All these different experiences played a pivotal role in my life. One led to another at every point. It came with a lot of sacrifices here and there. Like spending money on books instead of clothes. And cutting down on social activities to read and learn things from a non-traditional approach. God has been gracious all through. Many people, both family, friends and mentors, have helped me seen the importance of self-development. Their support is remarkable. I currently work with Global Press Institute, where I'm trained to always produce high quality news content through investigative journalism. I have also worked with a couple of other media organizations in the past. It has been an exciting process of learning and unlearning.
Slucker: What hope do you see for the Nigerian youth? How do you intend to effectively keep making a difference?
Jennifer: Nigerian youth of today have a better chance of succeeding compared to the older generation. We are presented with unique opportunities to build our muscles and take initiative to tackle the many challenges our generation is facing. Instead of falling into the trap of blame-game, I would encourage the Nigerian youth to see the many challenges as stepping stones to better things. Take responsibility in being a doer- and be the change you want to see in the world.
Slucker: Tell us more about "Dis Generation" website. What is it all about?
Jennifer: "Dis Generation" is a blog www.youthmakingchange.blogspot.com that evolved with the weekly youth column of the same name, published in the Nation newspaper. Between January 2007 to January 2012, I served as a youth columnist, advocating for different issues affecting young Nigerians. It was like a youth voice in the print media. In order to ensure the upwardly-mobile youth had opportunity to read the weekly column, I cross posted the contents online. It still serves as an online portal where I share my opinion about different youth issues and also disseminate youth opportunities I come across.
Slucker: In 2010,you were awarded the LEAP Africa Nigerian Youth Leadership Award for "Outstanding Nigerian youth leader", What did it translate for you as a person and as a brand?
Jennifer: It was an honor to have been awarded with such an exciting award. I really did not expect it because the selection was very rigorous and there were many incredible youth leaders who were also shortlisted. The award was a recognition for contributing to youth development in Nigeria, through my little efforts.
It also has connected me with the LEAP Africa network and also with a lot of other young change-makers doing incredible work in Nigeria. LEAP Africa also provided support for different initiatives we embark on and still serve as a resource for us till date.
Slucker: Can you tell us the major challenges you had to face to come this far and are there still challenges for you? And how do you propose to overcome them?
Jennifer: Chai! Challenges are always there. It is always part of every growth process. It has been a process of making sacrifices, taking bold steps and learning to take responsibility at every point and not dwelling too much on pain and mistakes. Like I mentioned earlier on, I started out volunteering a lot with different people and organizations. It got to a point where I experience the "volunteer fatigue." People wanting to keep using your personal resources to push their cause. Some organization not wanting to pay you because they have always known you to be willing to volunteer.
I had to learn to negotiate. Money is important you know. Without appearing greedy, I had to learn to name a price for some of the services I offered. I also learn to say no to some opportunities. Saying no to great ideas is always hard. But if you want to focus and be more focused, you really have to learn to say no, even to beautiful ideas and opportunities.
Slucker: How do you relax,what are your hobbies?
Jennifer: I read and write alot. I also like to travel. And currently flirting with photography. One of my best boyfriends ignited a healthy movie/cinema culture a few years back, so I relax with movies too. Sometimes I hang out with my few close friends. BUT to be honest, I have been very poor at socializing these past two years. I have been so busy with school at NIJ Lagos and work. I am re-learning what it means to actually play hard, while working hard as well.I guess because the nature of my work is so exciting I forget there is really what is called "fun" outside a fun job.
Slucker: Are you currently in a relationship? How has it influenced who you are?
Jennifer: Yes o! I have been able to get this far because of some dynamic relationship I have learned to build over the years. I don't work hard at keeping a relationship because once we strike off on a good note, we just stick. I sometimes though just like to keep my own company, away from everyone. This does not mean I am reclusive. I just desperately needed this loneness in the past to help me find the me that I am today. But like they say, no man is an Island. I appreciate every man and woman, boy and girl who has and is impacting my life and will impact my life in future. I never take people for granted. I consciously try not to. I let go those who walk-away when they discover my imperfection (trust me, I'm not a straight T).
Slucker: Where do you intend to take who you are and what you represent say,in the next five years?
Jennifer: It is all in God's hands o. I will continue to be a person of integrity and purpose, by God's grace, making an impact in the field of International Journalism and Communication and mentoring young people at different capacity.
Slucker: What message do you have for the youths?
Jennifer: Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Strive for excellence. Don't be afraid to dream bigger, no matter your background or socio-economic status. People will not always believe in you- but if you believe in God who believes in you, you and your dream will fly. I have learned that failure is a good part of growth. If one way don't work, go back to the table and plan again before taking the next step. BUT never give up. And always remember to say "thank you," to those who impact your life-no man is self-made. Always ask for help and if people say no, don't take it personal. Continuously embrace opportunity to improve your skills. Be well informed. Information is key. Be yourself, it is a unique brand.
Slucker: What are you up to right now? what is next for you?
Jennifer: I'm currently working with Global Press Institute. I'm working with young girls in Ethiopia, training them on development communications.
Slucker: What's next??
Jennifer: It is a big secret. But trust me, its a good one. God is my biggest source!
Slucker: Thanks for your time dear.
Jennifer: You are most welcome