Emmanuel Mogaji is a faculty member of the University of Greenwich in the United Kingdom. The Ekiti State, Efon-Alaye-born university teacher is one of the thousands of Nigerians plying their professional trade across the world. With a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of Lagos, he moved to the UK in search of a second degree in 2008 at the University of Bedfordshire, the same university where he eventually got his PhD in 2015. The Advertising and Marketing Communications Researcher had a chat with Rasheed Adebiyi on his career trajectory and love for Nigeria. Here are the excerpts.
Tekedia: Could you tell us the story of your journey to the UK?
Emmanuel Mogaji: I came to the Uk to study my Master Degree and after Master Degree, i stayed back to work and i went in for my PhD studies and since then I have actually been here. I came in through education route, that’s why I have been here. Well, the journey so far, I can say it has been fine. I did my first degree in the University of Lagos. I have a first degree in Architecture. I finished in 2006. I served in 2007 and finished national service in 2008. I came to the UK to do my Masters. The year of the journey to the UK was 2008. It was in September to be specific. I had a background in Architecture but because I could not afford to do a Masters degree in Architecture in the UK because it was quite professional, quite expensive, I had to do something Art related. Something still Creative, so I did Art and Design with Internet Technology and from there I was able to work in a small advertising agency and then I did my Ph.D in Advertising and Marketing Communications.
Tekedia: I saw an interesting career trajectory in your profile. You moved from Architecture to Art & Design and then Advertising and Marketing Communications. What motivated that? How easy was it to go through that lane?
Emmanuel Mogaji: The shift has not been bad. I have always loved creative ideas. Since I couldn’t do my Masters in Architecture, I had to do something creative which was art and design. Then I worked in an advertising agency where I developed interest in marketing communications and then a PhD which looks at banks’ marketing communications after the 2008 global financial crisis and now I research it.
Tekedia: What was the feeling that defined the day you arrived in the UK?
Emmanuel Mogaji: I arrived in the UK with a friend of mine, we both came to the same university to do our Masters degree. So, it was quite easy to find our way around but I think what was most daunting was trying to find the transportation. Yes, I think because we were coming down from Heathrow, we had to get the train, the underground then try to get to St. Pancreas and then to where we were going. I came in September, so, it was not that very bad in terms of weather. We didn’t really feel anything about the weather. So, I think the most daunting thing was the transportation, trying to find your way around while still carrying the travelling bags and all those things, but we got to where we were going finally. I would say it was a feeling of excitement like feeling of at last, we got here safely thank God. Since I had a friend with me, it made it quite easy for me to be relaxed and to go along very fine. So, I think it was a feeling of excitement, a feeling of happiness. A feeling of what would happen next.
Tekedia: So, after the Master’s programme, you went for a PhD. What did it take you to navigate the UK higher education terrain?
Emmanuel Mogaji: I think what it took me was actually recognizing the fact that I was in a new environment and that I needed to take responsibility for my learning especially when you know where you are coming from, the cost and the fact that you needed to juggle things around. You still want to make sure you put in more effort into your academics and pass. So, I think it was me taking responsibility for my knowledge, asking questions, meeting people like interacting and knowing how they went about it.
Tekedia: What were the issues you encountered and how did you surmount them?
Emmanuel Mogaji: I think the main issue was more of time management. You might think you have got a free time to do everything but you know assignment were due. You know you need to go and work, you need to do some other things. So, I think the main issue was how to manage my time but I think I was able to do that by recognizing the fact that I can plan things. I knew when to read. I knew when I was going to classes. I knew when I needed to go and work and also having people around you to motivate you as well. You know you were not on your own. You could get support. People shared ideas and were just making sure you know what to do.
Tekedia: You have transited from studentship to lecturing. What are those systemic things that you think make higher education in the UK different from anywhere else, especially, a developing country like Nigeria?
Emmanuel Mogaji: I think the main issues here are assessment and student engagement. Assessment is not to make you fail but to test your knowledge and see how much knowledge you have acquired. Also there are different level of engagement between the staff and student. Members of staff knows they should support their students. This is just beyond class room but looking after their welfare.
Tekedia: How does relating with your colleagues on campus like?
Emmanuel Mogaji: Here at Greenwich, it’s been fine. I guess may be because it’s London. Everyone seems welcoming.
Tekedia: Is there anything you miss about Nigeria?
Emmanuel Mogaji: I guess what I miss more about Nigeria is the community, the vibe and the bustling. I will say I miss excitement of life in Nigeria, the engagement with people, the buying and selling in the market. I mean the interaction and even the street food.
Tekedia: What is your general perception about the way issues in Nigeria are covered by international media?
Emmanuel Mogaji: I think we can’t control what the media say about Nigeria. We just have to create our own narratives. I like what Neflix and Nollywood are doing in that direction. The foreign media may choose to show the bad part of Nigeria, the fraud and the corruption. But with the movies and creative output from Nollywood/Netflix partnership, there is a new narrative about Nigeria. They show the good sides about Nigeria. They tell our story. But most importantly, Nigerians should keep doing good.
Tekedia: Any hope of a return soon or a project in Nigeria?
Emmanuel Mogaji: I have plans to return to Nigeria, especially to work with a university, albeit on a part time basis as a visiting professor. Through that, I hope to contribute my own quota.
Tekedia: Thank you for your time.
Emmanuel Mogaji: It is my pleasure.