“Call her the media superwoman of Ghana and you will not be far from it. A multi- talented broadcaster, public speaker, social entrepreneur and a bilingual compere, Anita Erskine with over 20 years experience in Ghana’s competitive strategic communication industry, developed a deep passion for media growth in Africa and women empowerment. She was a moderator on the Future of Media in West Africa at the Red Media summit which held over the weekend in Nigeria. She also delivered a speech on Role of media in shaping the gender equality movement at the African Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum few weeks back in Lagos. ENCOMIUM Weekly caught up with the award winning TV host and she spoke on family, career and exploits.”
Is your upbringing part of why you grew up to be a strong woman?
I think it’s fair to say that, plus life experiences. I believe the kind of people you meet and the kind of mistakes I made, and the number of times I fell, trying to do one thing and failing at it. But I grew up in a home that when you fail, you are encouraged to get up again. So, today I will say my confidence and persona, like you said being a strong woman, is as a result of many trials and errors and also as a result of asking a lot of questions. I ‘m very conversational, as you can see and so I love to ask questions, especially those who I believe they have been there before me. The advice, the word, the experience they share with me, have really kind of helped me to know better who and what I want to be. So, it’s a mix and it is nice.
Being in media and vastly travelled when it comes to exposure, how will you compare the media in Africa and abroad?
In Africa, we are just discovering many things. Our eyes are opened to the possibilities. Let’s be fair, America has been there longer than us, a 100 years or whatever it is. Canada, all these countries and continents, have been there much longer than us. They’ve made their own mistakes. Now, when you come to the continent of Africa, everything we are doing is fresh and new. And yes, we are blessed with individuals who have lived in other parts of the world. So, they bring their knowledge here. So I think we are now at the point that we are learning how to be a lot more informed, learning how to research more, learning how to take risks even with our story telling and news reporting. We are learning the power of speech, learning how to express ourselves better. We are also learning how we could be doing so much in the media landscape. Maybe 20 years ago, I’m sure when you turn on the TV, you see a lot of news and one or two musical programmes and one or two locally developed soap operas. Now, you turn on the TV, you see a little bit of news, talk shows, music, reality TV show, current affairs, you know. We are also learning that, there is so much we can take advantage of, from our culture, our tradition, our people. So, I will say that, we as Africans and everywhere else is the experience. We are on the journey to becoming this big power house within so many industries or within the landscape of so many industries. When I worked in Canada, everything was so organized as per what my predecessors experienced and lot of the things they had done in terms of radio and television, I had never done or never seen. So, for me, it was a training ground. Coming down, I realized that I may be one of the few people who had the opportunity to see outside of Ghana.
Is that one of the reasons you are so passionate about women empowerment?
Let’s face it, thanks to where I’ve been or seen professionally. I’ve been able to explore my strength, I’ve been able to explore my passion, and I only say I’m still starting, but I have been able to see fantastic things and bring out really who I am without feeling sorry about it. Thanks to my education, I’m educated, so there are so many conversations I can have, and I’m well travelled, and seen many cultures. So, I tell people that imagine if more women had that opportunity to be educated. Imagine if more women had enough opportunity to interface with people with different cultures. How rich will our continent be?
What is your philosophy towards your job?
Pardon me, I would rather make it, what is my philosophy of life if I can. My philosophy towards life is, you can dream as much as possible, anybody can dream. But the space between the dream and the reality is effort. I used to think success means awards and when you are being called a lot for jobs and the like. But then I realized that success is an internal feeling. The feeling you get when you are happy with the work you do. The feeling you get when people thank you for the impact your work has made on them. The feeling you get when you work on a project you believe is not just benefitting you or not just about your personal skills, design or talent. But they are designed to support other people.
What will you say is your greatest strength and weakness?
My greatest weakness is that I like everything to work according to plan. My greatest strength is my deep desire to succeed. And that allows me never to be perturbed when the door closes on my face.
What’s your advice for career women struggling with their jobs and trying to keep the home front?
First, you can have everything you want, but you just cannot have it all at the same time. When you have so many commitments, family, work, external family, you literally have to itemize your priority on that list. Some women are willing to take the four and rise, you can’t judge them. So, women are willing to take all with their corporate life and rise with the family, you can’t fault them either. But the bottomline is where ever you may find yourself, you need to create that list of priority.
How will you describe an average Nigerian? Knowing you have been there a couple of times.
An average Nigerian as for the ones I’ve met, are forceful, Nigerians are big dreamers and I love them for that fact. I’m yet to hear a Nigerian who will say to me; Anita, this thing you cannot do it. Nigerians know how to fight for what they believe in. and you see, that power is something someone might dim fit that; oh, Nigerians are too aggressive. It is not aggressiveness; it is knowing what you want and willing to fight to the very end.