Remember November

“Remember Remember, the fifth of November…”

It will be difficult for me to forget a single day of November – what a packed month.

On the night of the fifth, for example, I was preparing to go on a reporting trip to Tapachula, southern Mexico, where thousands of migrants from Central America, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean are currently stranded. It’s no thanks to Mexico’s renewed immigration enforcements – an attempt by the country to avoid trade sanctions from the US.

It was an emotional journey for me. So many people were without food or shelter. They’re camping in tents. To get to Mexico, they had passed through a jungle where flash floods, wild animals and armed thieves had ended the lives of friends and family. There were so many children, and I still hear them wailing from hunger and the scorching heat.

A child sits in front of the Mexican immigration office in Tapachula

The reporting trip came to an end too soon for me. I wanted to extend it and stay a few more days, but I needed to be at a hostile environment training program organised by the incredible IWMF team.

So off I went to Phoenix, Arizona, after resting for a couple of days in Boston. I arrived with some 15 other female journalists, all very experienced and talented. I bonded with them all right and by the end of the training, we had a tough time saying goodbye.

Badass female journos at IWMF HEFAT in Phoenix

We were trained on a variety of topics, from first aid basics to weapon types. My favourite part of the week-long training was the self-defence classes. I feel so empowered with the knowledge that if someone attacks me, on or off the field, I can fight back.

Me, kicking ass.

I also tremendously enjoyed the digital security class facilitated by the brilliant Harlo H. If you didn’t know, there are all sorts of weird default settings on your social media channels that you need to be paying some serious attention to. I encourage you to check out IWMF’s website for some of their other programs AND APPLY! (Seriously, female journos, get on that!)

The last two weeks of November were just as eventful. Between typing out my stories from Mexico and transitioning back into my life as a student of Harvard/MIT, I got announced as the winner of The Future Awards Prize for Journalism.

The Future Awards, as we call it, is a prestigious annual award ceremony celebrating young Nigerians leaders in agriculture, technology, journalism, fashion, social innovation, advocacy, and so on. Two of the most respected female journalists in Nigeria awarded my prize, and although it was sad that I couldn’t meet them in person, a close friend stood in for me (Thanks Derin!).

It was the perfect segue into Thanksgiving week. I celebrated the holidays with my new friends – the Khan family. Maysoon (middle left) and I both write for The Boston Globe and have become good buddies. We finished off the wonderful week with a trip to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. There, we saw the Ancient Nubia Now exhibition, showcasing treasures found in what was mistaken for Ancient Egypt, over a hundred years ago.

With the Khan girls for Thanksgiving (Maysoon is second right)

The museum acknowledges that there were a lot of mistakes made and that this exhibition would contribute to recognizing the Nubia of Sudan as one of the birthplaces of modern humans. While I welcomed that effort, I also wondered why these treasures were simply not returned to Sudan – surely that would be a most welcoming gesture by the people.

In any case, there are more pressing things to worry about like winter. A snowstorm is rolling into Boston today, the forecast says, and I am off to buy me yet another coat.

Adiós amigos!