Priscilla Nwikpo was born in Nigeria but she went to the UK at age 13. She studied Law after high school in the UK but currently doing great in the media in the last five years. She’s among leading female voices on political issues in the UK. She’s interested in Nigerian,UK and African Politics. Speaking with Sunday Sun recently, she talked about practicing journalism as a black person in England, teenage years abroad and lots more.
After studying Law, how did you become a broadcaster?
I started with a magazine. It was Nigeria’s 50th anniversary in the UK and I was part of the committee here in the UK organizing the event for the community. In the process of that, I met a man that presented a paper on Nigeria. So, I asked if I could publish his speech and he obliged me. When I told him I have published it, he said he had been looking for me. He wanted me to be part of his radio show to speak on Nigerian politics. I declined the offer at first but he insisted I came to the studio. I was there and listened to them speaking. I joined the discussion. That was in 2010 and ever since, I haven’t stopped talking about Nigerian politics. In 2011, Ben TV asked me to help them create a magazine program based on my experience. In 2011, the same gentleman I was doing the radio programme with wondered, “Why don’t we do what we do on radio on TV”. I said no way. Here in the radio studio, nobody gets to see me, I can come here in my flat shoes and go away but if I should come on TV, I have nowhere to hide. The conversation went on for three weeks but in church one day, a guest preacher said you are sitting here under the sound of my voice, God is saying it’s your time, there’s no place to hide. At the end of the service, I knew the message was for me. That was how I began on TV commenting on politics.
Can you recall your first experience on TV and how it has been since?
My first interview was in 2011. I was shaken the entire day. When the camera zoomed in, I was so nervous. As far as I was concerned, it was awful. But surprisingly, people called to tell me the interview was really good. That I asked all the right questions in the right areas. For me, it was a terrible day emotionally but according to others it went well. I had to accept their analysis of my performance. For this short time I have been in the media, I have been so privileged. I have been invited to do two exclusives at No 10, Downing Street where the prime minister resides.
They don’t permit cameras there but this occasion they permitted me to record the Prime Minister’s Easter event. Another event was the Black History Month, which is marked every October. I was invited to do an exclusive too. There were other black journalists there, they spoke with the Prime Minister in a group but I had a one on one with him. I have also done some works with the United Nations Industrial Organization. I was invited by the then DG of UNIDO to Abuja. They did their first launch of Sustainable Energy in Abuja and I was invited to their conference in Vienna last year.
During Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in Nigeria, I interviewed 10 governors. I’ve also interviewed the Ghanaian president, ministers in Ghana, OBJ, presidents of Guinea and Rwanda as well as Dr Jacob Zuma. I have been blessed at these stages of my career in the media.
What’s your assessment of journalism in the UK?
It’s interesting. For those of us who are from African and Caribbean background, I wouldn’t say it’s something that has been easy to do within the mainstream TV. Black channels like Ben TV, OTV, VOX Africa and AIT really opened the door and changed the way we black people practise journalism. For instance, there’s no way the BBC would have time for me, because I wouldn’t have fitted into their structure. Right now, we have an influx of black faces on TV in the UK. I’m seeing this happening more this year than in the time past. It’s not an easy place to practice journalism as a black person but it’s getting better.
What do you like about your job?
It’s the opportunities my job presents, the people that I meet. My experience? You could be one minute in the presence of ministers of different African countries and perhaps some captains of industry and if you go to another event, same day or a day after, you meet Africa’s richest man, different presidents and so on. Journalism is a completely different world to the world of the Law. In Law, it depends on who your clientele is, you are engaged with your clients or your colleagues but in the media, you have no idea who is going to be in front of you the next minute. You go from the very ordinary person in the street to very important people.
What was your childhood like?
I grew up in Port Harcourt and it was fun. I was there till the age of 13. I come from a very big family. My parents were already in England. My father came first when I was three years old and mother came later. I lived with my aunts and uncle. When I got to the UK, life was so different. In Nigeria, when you wake up and pass someone in the street you say good morning. Over here, you say good morning and nobody answers. After a while, I got it that you don’t say good morning to a stranger. It’s a strange thing to do abroad. In school, my English teacher always told me that for somebody who is just coming from Africa my English is very good. I never understood what she meant.
The way we learnt English here is completely different. The way we speak is completely different. My classmates asked me if I have ever seen a lift? I told them we do have lifts in Nigeria. They tell me they see Africa on TV and it’s horrible. I tell them I have never seen that Africa they see on TV. I do tell them that Nigeria, where I come from is different. Whatever is happening in Ethiopia is different from the Africa I come from. I inform them that I used to have a driver that drove me to school and here in England, I took the bus to school. People washed my clothes and cooked for us back in Nigeria but in the UK there’s no such thing. I was educating them and they were educating me.
You are a single mum. Do you intend to give marriage a shot?
Like every woman or every girl, you want to marry. If it happens, fabulous. If it doesn’t, I don’t think it will be the end of the world. I look forward to it, if it happens one day.
How do you start your day?
First thing I do when I wake up in the morning is to have my private moment with God. Then I shower and make sure my face is ready for the day. It’s funny, because before I got into TV, my makeup was not a big deal, it was just compact powder.
But now, it’s a different ballgame. I do use a makeup artist but I like to keep my makeup very simple. I don’t want to look too far away from myself. My makeup has to be on because I could step out to the studio anytime. You may also get phone calls from other channels like Arise, etc to come and comment on XYZ. I make sure my face is made-up and I have the right clothes for that day ready. I drop something extra in the car before I leave home but I must take my coffee. I’m addicted to it. I’m trying to be on a diet at the moment. I’m trying to reduce my carbohydrate intake. I don’t like to overfeed, I like to be a woman, but being skinny is not my goal though I know the camera makes me look extra big.
What’s your style as a broadcaster?
I like to be comfortable. I learnt that being on TV, I need to wear brighter clothes. In the world of Law, we tend to have grey and black. When I first started broadcasting, I was doing a lot of that and everybody wondered what was wrong with me.
Currently, I’m moving towards our African styling in my dressing. I want to promote African fashion. That’s what I’m doing.