RSS Feed (xml)

Powered By

Skin Design:
Free Blogger Skins

Powered by Blogger

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Two Conversions of Kunle Awosiyan

By Dennis D. Muhumuza

The story of Kunle Awosiyan is close to the fairly tale of the "ugly duckling" except that he found his true identity in journalism whereas the former found it by looking at his reflection in the water.

Armed with a Higher National Diploma in Applied Chemistry, Kunle, who is Nigerian, left the Polytechnic Ibadan in 1994 with the ambition of becoming Africa's best laboratory technologist and piling his house with gold—for that is what it would take to add practical value to his first name, which means, "a house of wealth."

The then 24-year-old landed his dream job immediately, but in two years, discovered he had made the wrong decision. The sociable Kunle found lab life difficult.

"I wanted to blame my autocratic boss who always stood on our necks but I decided I was in a wrong career altogether," he says in a heavy West African accent. "I wanted a job that would give me joy and freedom as a human being."

God knows exactly what we need before we even ask Him (Matthew 6:8). Kunle, who in 1989 had abandoned his Muslim faith to follow Jesus Christ, knows this well. For when he was on the verge of resigning from his laboratory job, Punch, Nigeria's most widely read newspaper, with a daily circulation of over 500,000 copies, advertised for a science writer.

Kunle got the job, and so began his metamorphosis from chemist to journalist. Without rudimentary training in media, he burned the midnight oil, studying award-winning articles. Soon, he was rolling with the punches so much that the colleagues that had dismissed him for his lack of formal training in journalism swallowed their skepticism and gave him respect as a Punch swan. For Kunle, "journalism is freedom."

Six years later he crossed over to the Nigerian Tribune, the oldest surviving private publication that touts itself as "Nigeria's most informative newspaper."

"I joined it because it was established by a respected political sage, Chief Obefemi Awolowo, who is seen as the saviour of the south western people," Kunle says.

At the Tribune Kunle won the prestigious Bourvita Education Reporter of the Year award. Kunle's winning entry was about homeless boys trying to earn some money from handcrafts so they can return to school.

"Winning an award I never planned to win remains the highest moment of my journalism career this far," he says brightly. "That's the greatest happiness I've ever had!"

Published by on Thursday, January 19, 2012 

Dennis D. Muhumuza is a writer for the Daily Monitor in Kampala, Uganda, and a 2012 WJI African Workshop participant.