“It was my friend Halimatu who first told me about my mother’s pregnancy. We were playing yar charapke in the backyard of our house, the wind flapping our hijabs against our tiny frames. Where our house ended, another started, so that it seemed like we were enclosed in one big house that was our village. It was the period of transition from the harmattan to the rainy season.”
-PORTALS by Hauwa Mohammed
Life is filled with many periods of transition, and because of this, we sometimes do not know which event marks the beginning of a transformative experience. For Hauwa Mohammed, the WeNaija Literary Contest marked one such transformative transition, one that she could have missed had she given in to the doubt that plagues many writers and creatives.
When Hauwa decided to participate in the contest, her intention was to write a short story that portrayed the vision of a healthier Nigeria. Unfortunately, the words would not pour out, and Hauwa settled for a flash fiction piece with which she captured the minds of the WeNaija team. Hauwa’s piece earned her an internship spot at one of the leading media houses in the country, and one year later, we spoke to Hauwa about this experience.
As a creative writer, the work at AriseTV Nigeria came with its own unique challenges for Hauwa, who not only had to navigate the murky waters of earning the trust of her superiors and seeking their mentorship, but also getting recognised in a pool of many other interns who were just as talented. In a world where the media carries so much power and the mistake of an intern could potentially lead to the spread of fake news, damage the context of an original piece of content, or worse lead to litigation, it is no surprise that many of the people Hauwa had to work with were very guarded and careful about letting an intern in on the job.
But for our WeNaija finalist, there was a lot of determination to learn and grit in reserve. Hauwa was able to prove her worth within the organisation causing superiors to trust her with minor assignments. Learning the basics of reporting, Hauwa started to create stories on her own, editing, and working with video editors to create quality news-worthy pieces. Writing news stories was not a walk in the park even for a creative writer, it was a lot of work. Yet, Hauwa would not stop at merely reporting, which was her main role at Arise TV, she also went the extra mile to learn the basics of teleprompting for live presentations. For Hauwa, it was about being a valuable part of the many moving pieces of TV production.
With the help of her supervisors, Frances Ore and Suleman Suleman, Hauwa emerged from AriseTV after six months, having learned a great deal about reporting and the inner workings of a media house. But the most important lessons for Hauwa were the lifelong lessons about putting in good work all the time and working in a diverse team of individuals, and most importantly getting the validation that she could work in a renowned media organisation on her own merit.
Not only has Portals opened a world of opportunities for Hauwa to explore her skills and talents within the TV industry, this story is also an indelible part of the WeNaija body of work, with which the Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund is driving its vision towards a healthier Nigeria.