Mo Abudu, a 50 year-old Nigerian media entrepreneur and talk show host, is the founder of Ebony Life TV, a fast-growing black African multi-broadcast entertainment network, which showcases informative and entertaining programmes that portray Africa at its best. Abudu, who has been described by international news outlets as ‘Africa’s Africa’, is keen in her resolve to rewrite Africa’s story. And it’s time you took notice. In a recent email interview, she recounts her entrepreneurial journey and reflects on the lessons she has learned along the way.
You are the host of ‘Moments with Mo’, one of the most successful syndicated talk shows on African regional television. And now you run an African television network. Walk me through your journey as a media entrepreneur
My passion to help change the narrative about Africa began to grow as far back as when I was a teenager living in the UK, schooling in Tunbridge Wells in Kent, a town that had just a few blacks at the time. As I have said many times in the past, here, I had to learn to stand up for myself, to defend my identity and my race in an environment where you continually got asked the most ridiculous and mind-boggling questions like
“Do you guys live in trees and holes in Africa?” “Do you guys dance around fires?” “What do you eat for breakfast?” Very ignorant questions.
Those sort of questions could either make or break your spirit but I was very determined that I was going to stay strong.
This kind of afro-pessimism simply fuelled a burning, deep-seated desire in my subconscious to one day help to rewrite the African story; to get people to talk about the issues that affect our society and to tell the African narrative in a contemporary and interesting way; to change the perception the world had of us; to let the world know that in spite of our challenges as a developing continent.
“Africans are not a bunch of savages but mostly a breed of gifted and remarkable people.”
So, after my education and a flourishing modelling career in the UK, I returned to Nigeria in my late twenties. My children had reached their teens; I had begun enjoying a successful career as Head of Human Resources and Administration for oil giant, Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited (ExxonMobil).
Moments with Mo was born out of the vision to build and project a new, stronger, more independent and more confident Africa; an Africa that speaks for itself; that celebrates its people and achievements and solves its own problems.I had taken about 5 pilots of my talk show to them back then but they were all rejected and eventually, one was accepted.
And even at that point, I was told they were not going to commission, that they were only going to license, which means they would buy the content from you at an agreed price. So I was told to go and look for sponsors, which I did, and the rest, as they say, is history.