Volume 5 Number 1
Out of the Gossip Column
01 January 1992

My life was not satisfying but I felt it would get better once I got to the top. My feelings of fear and insecurity were but a price to pay on my way up.

I went into journalism not because of a burning love for the profession, as I made my editors believe, but because I felt it was the only way I could become famous and rich.

Growing up in an environment where material wealth was all-important, I felt that wealth and fame were the only means by which my generation would rise above the corruption and poverty so evident in our society today. I also felt this was the way to make my family, whom I love very much, proud of me.

So, immediately after completing my compulsory year with the National Youth Service Corps, I marched into the biggest newspaper in Nigeria. With my aggressive belief in my great potential I convinced them to hire me, and I soon proved myself. I had a nose for the malicious stories that people love to read - usually negative and sensational items about the rich and famous. I also had a knack for exposing famous people's secrets. I got my stories by `crawling' the most exclusive night clubs.

I felt I would stand out if I did not conform to accepted norms. I even nursed the ambition of starting my own magazine, convinced that I would be famous enough to raise the necessary sponsorship whenever I wanted.

I produced the stories that sold magazines and, within 18 months of starting, I was in great demand. At the same time I advocated liberal sexual attitudes and gathered a following of confused young women. My life was not satisfying but I felt it would get better once I got to the top. My feelings of fear and insecurity were but a price to pay on my way up.

Out of curiosity, I attended a 'Creators of Peace' meeting organized by women at the Moral Re-Armament centre in Lagos. Though I intended to spend about an hour there, I ended up staying the whole day. If the ideas discussed had not been so spontaneous, I would have sworn that I was being got at personally.

For the first time, I began to wonder if I would ever be free. Responsibility' took on a new meaning. The issues were so great that I regretted attending the meeting.

Feelings of guilt started disturbing my vision - I saw how my victims felt and did not like what I saw. I decided I could no longer practise my usual kind of journalism. I started filling my weekends with more constructive activities than nightclubbing. It was not easy. My editors could not reconcile the new me with the person they used to know. One of my publishers said I was `no longer promising'. Eventually I realized that I had to resign if I intended to start afresh.

As time went on, I decided to make a conscious attempt to live straight. I knew that I would never go back to who I was.

Now I have a job as deputy editor of a smaller newspaper. It used to have a page three nude but I began to realize how derogatory and rude it was to womanhood. Through a persistent struggle, everyone now realizes that we don't need it and it has been dropped. The result is that more mature people are beginning to read us each week.

I also have more satisfying friendships. I have started liking the `new me' after almost a year of self-loathing. I realize that self-worth comes from inside and not necessarily from other people's assessment of you. This, for me, was the first taste of freedom.

Currently I am writing and producing a musical with three other young Nigerian women. We intend to take it round Nigeria with the hope of challenging young people to be more responsible for their country and their future.

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