Former NAI guest gets top job in Buhari’s office

Nigerian writer and journalist Tolu Ogunlesi was last week appointed as President Buhari’s new social media specialist. With more than 220,000 followers on Twitter, he presumably has a talent for the job.

Many of us here at the Nordic Africa Institute still remember Tolu with warm hearts from the fall of 2008, which he spent with us in Uppsala as guest writer. It’s always great to see former co-workers and colleagues moving up in the world. And it seems Uppsala didn’t leave our friend Tolu untouched. “My fondness for Scandinavia started in 2008, courtesy of the Nordic Africa Institute”, he tweeted to us when we congratulated him to his new job.

In an article, entitled A sense of wonder, written for the travel section of the journal Words etc in 2009, he explains with both love and criticism how Scandinavia revealed its splendour and enchanting way of life to him as a young African writer “with itchy feet and a keen eye for detail”. Here we can read how Uppsala was his point of entry into “the Heart of Coldness”, as he refers to Scandinavia.

Here’s a quote:

One of my most memorable moments in Uppsala was spent wandering with a friend through the cemetery late one evening. It was a few days after All Saints Day, and many of the graves still bore burning lanterns. It was too dark to see the fumes from those lanterns, but I could easily imagine them rising into the air, carrying the mummified hopes and prayers of the long dead. It was so calm, so peaceful, that before my eyes “Requiescat In Pace” seized for itself new meaning. (Or perhaps merely reclaimed the purity of its original meaning.)

SOME FACTS about Tolu Ogunlesi

  • He was born in 1982 in Edinburgh to Nigerian parents.
  • He has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK, and a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
  • In 2004, aged 22, he made his author’s debut with the collection of poems, Listen to the geckos singing from a balcony (Bewrite Books, 2004).
  • He is a two-time CNN award winning journalist (2009 and 2013).
  • Before being appointed by President Buhari, he was working as a Strategic Communications Adviser to Nigeria’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment.

Sources: Wikipedia, Africa has the floor (page 72) and Ventures of Africa.

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