Joy Isi Bewaji, who is the Managing Director at Happenings Radio, and also the Managing Editor at Happenings Magazine, is a writer, lifestyle editor, presenter, publicist, author and playwright. Her most recent play, ‘The Story of My Vagina’ was presented in December by the Crown Troupe of Africa.
Joy Ehonwa had 10 questions for JIB, who is also the convener of The Conversation, a bi-monthly event tackling issues of gender equality, patriarchy and abuse.
CN: What have been the thrills and challenges of pioneering internet radio in Nigeria?
We started a project we believed in; but in Nigeria, there are many factors that stand in the way – from idea to execution, the road is thorny. I find Nigeria to be regressive in every form.
CN: In addition to running Happenings Radio, you also manage Happenings Magazine. What do you enjoy most about the work you do as a media entrepreneur?
The opportunity to think out of the box as often as is required. Creating content is fun; the real challenge is competing in a saturated market. There’s a “billionaire” in this industry, and if you look at that level of success, you can easily sink into a pit. So I will say the opportunity to wake up every morning and do something great, conquer your own limitations, that’s enjoyable.
CN: To what extent would you say school prepared you for your career?
School in Nigeria is really a big joke. There are no facilities for formal education. I came out of tertiary institution, and to fit into a career, I had to self-train. Everything I apply to my career and life in general, I deliberately set out to learn. I have no valuable academic testimony to give. School had very little to offer. Nigerian education is structured to fail. And you can see the consequences every day around you.
CN: What led you to start The Conversation?
Social and cultural norms had to be questioned. I wanted to understand my society and why we do what we do. There is a lot of learning and un-learning I believed the society needed. So I presented a forum where we could have the conversation.
CN: You spoke on African Feminism at Harvard University last year. What were the most memorable parts of that experience for you?
I had a room of white, Asian and African people. I had a 60-year-old white woman who told me my energy could light up the whole of Africa. They were transfixed at the stories I told. I was glad it happened.
CN: What do you consider to be the best career decision you have ever made?
I don’t think I’ve made it yet. I sincerely want to take a long break from a segment of the media and explore other segments. The opportunities are not available, so I am going to try to create it.
CN: You’ve authored a couple of books. What inspired them and who are they targeted at?
I try to appeal to an upwardly mobile audience. I try to fit my work into their leisure time.
CN: What is your favourite travel destination?
Manhattan! Definitely. The city speaks to my endless energy.
CN: Which books have really made an impact on you, and which ones are you looking forward to reading?
I have over 20 books I am yet to read. I smell the pages every morning and this routine excites me. I’m super busy, but there should always be time to read. I am hoping I’d be rich enough soon to take a month trip out of familiar territory and form new friendships with literature.
CN: What’s the one piece of advice every career woman needs to hear?
Do it the way it makes you happy. Protect your work. Treasure your brand.