Move Back to Nigeria is a series on BellaNaija which aims to encourage young and not-so-young professionals in the diaspora who are trying to make the decision of whether to move back to Nigeria. In collaboration with the brilliant team at MoveBackToNigeria.com, we hope to bring you regular interviews with individuals who have successfully made the leap, so you can learn from their experiences and make a success of your move back.
Hello, I’m Anne Arts, a creative and artistic individual with a strong journalistic background.
Journalism is what I started out doing at age 15 and one of my biggest achievements (which I’m very proud of) was having my article published in a newspaper at the age of 16. I have a strong passion for travel, media & marketing and Nigerian affairs.
I currently work as the Content Manager for Start-up Company called Travelden, It’s an online travel agency that specialises in cheap flights. I work with the marketing team and handle everything content related; so that includes blogging consistently, keeping our social media pages active with fresh updates, coming up with creative ideas and assisting in marketing campaigns.
Sounds Interesting! Where did you grow up?
I grew up with my dad in London, he made my childhood so much fun. He would take my sister and I out to the West End on the weekends and buy us lots of gifts. He always made sure that I never lacked and I always had everything I wanted. He’s the one who actually got me into journalism in the first place. He would bring newspapers home every day and I read them. He was also very interested in the news and I would watch it with him so I kind of just developed a habit and interest in the news.
Christmas time and the summer holidays were also an exciting time for me too because sometimes I got to visit and stay with my cousins for the break.
Thank you. Please walk us through your educational background.
I schooled in Hackney, East London and went to a North London college. I was always very interested in the arts and studied subjects that propelled me to think and write creatively.
I wanted to get away from home in my late teens so I moved outside of London for university and graduated from the University of the Creative Arts with a degree in Journalism. Going to university was my decision but I went mainly because my parents wanted me to and not because I wanted to spend another 3 years studying but I believe it was a good decision to make.
When you’re coming from a Nigerian household, you’re expected to excel academically, so that was my main reason for going. I’m more of a creative and crafty person than an academic so I personally went just to experience the freedom and everything that came with being an independent young adult.
I think university is important but many students graduate and find it difficult to get employed due to their lack of experience. So, in as much as a university degree is a good thing to have, experience is what really helps.
What did you do after University?
I was very fortunate to have been offered a job as a reporter and copywriter with Hackney Council a few months before my graduation. It was a part time job writing for a newspaper. That was my first real paid industry job. It started off as an unpaid internship for 3 months and they offered me a job after that. The flexibility of the job gave me the opportunity to work on my own personal projects.
Prior to that, I had gained work experience with local and international magazines and also with Vox Africa TV. I always knew what I wanted in life and I consistently write out a plan and do everything in my power to reach my goals; it usually works out too.
I specifically planned to start getting experience through volunteering and internships all through university and even before that because I knew it would really help me when it came to seeking employment. I don’t regret working for free. It’s given me invaluable experience and without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
When did you start thinking about moving to Nigeria and how did you know the time was right?
I started thinking about moving to Nigeria in 2014 when I was in my second year of university. My best friends and I used to do a lot of music journalism work and our niche was Afrobeats and Nigerian lifestyle. We were really crazy about Nigeria and wanted to live there, especially because our peers and family members who were already there seemed to be enjoying it so much. I’m a big fan of nollywood too, so I guess I was just attracted to the lifestyle and what I had seen and heard about it.
I’ve always felt the need to be in Nigeria with one of my main reasons being to be able to give back to the country and invest in it with the skills and experience I’ve gained abroad. I think Nigeria would benefit more if more Africans in diaspora moved back home to build the country with what they’ve gotten from other countries.
I knew the time was right after I had graduated from university and visited Nigeria for the first time as an adult. I hadn’t been there since I was a toddler. During my trip, (although I only stayed for 11 days) I fell in love with Nigeria and didn’t want to leave. When I landed back in London, things weren’t the same anymore. So three months after, when Travelden offered me a job, I accepted it and booked my flight to Lagos straight after.
Very Bold move. And what was it like during the first few months of being back?
My first few months in Nigeria were good and it still is now. I live with my mum and siblings so I’m well looked after, I feel privileged to have the kind of support system that I do. Nothing really bothered me when I first came apart from the terrible power situation and mosquitos everywhere. Believe it or not but those are the only two things that annoy me about Nigeria. I pretty much block out everything else that most Nigerians tends to complain about and just adapt. Complaining probably won’t solve anything unless you take action against it.
Do you see yourself working as a photo journalist in Nigeria?
When I’m not working, I spend time writing and taking photos of Nigeria. Writing is my hobby. However, I don’t see myself working as a photo-journalist in Nigeria because I have other interests and plans that I want to nurture at the moment. I’m really passionate about content marketing and social media right now.
So, are you back in Nigeria for good?
I’m in Nigeria for good; for life. Nigeria is where I want to build my future. I will always love London. It’s a fantastic city and I definitely will visit as much as possible and travel around the world but for now, Nigeria is where I like to call home.
What do you do for fun/relaxation in Lagos?
For now, I generally just spend quality time with my loved ones. If I do go out then it’s either to see friends or family but I would like to get out more. For fun and relaxation, I go to the salon or shopping mall. Surulere shopping mall is my favourite place to go and I like to eat out too. My life is pretty simple, but I like that way of life.
Do you have any advice for prospective returnees?
Have a plan and work towards it. Do what works for you and don’t limit yourself.
If you have family you can stay with and they are willing to accommodate you and you have a job waiting for you then moving to Nigeria may be easier. I would not have moved here unless I had these things in place.