10K80 by Padma Yang June 22, 2021
Eno Oduok, recently graduated from the University of Houston, founded Naija Comm amid the pandemic in September 2020. Although still relatively new, Naija Comm is already a rapidly growing impact in the PR industry. Naija Comm is a safe space for new Nigerians in overlooked career fields.
In the Nigerian community, according to Oduok, there are fields that receive more recognition and praise than the others do; they are the non-traditional and ‘unpopular’ fields that tend to become unnoticed and disregarded.
As the first online community to celebrate, connect, and inspire new Nigerian creatives in non-traditional career paths specifically, Naija Comm delivers positive messages.
Naija Comm determines to fill up the void in the representation of Nigerians in non-traditional professions and to help Nigerian creatives demonstrate their voices and visions to the outside world.
Oduok was looking to join an online community that empowered Nigerians in PR or communications, but nothing ever came close.
The absence of relatable examples of Nigerians in the creative industry, according to Oduok, has an intricate relationship with the societal pressures within the Nigerian community. Older generations, for example, have always maintained skeptical views on jobs that are non-traditional.
Additionally, there is this constant pressure that younger Nigerians have been facing for being regarded as a ‘disappointment’ who walks a non-traditional career path.
Such realities motivated Oduok to create a platform to highlight the often ignored experiences in non-traditional careers. Oduok describes Naija Comm as “a space for Nigerians to be unapologetically themselves, embrace each other’s creativity, and continue impacting our community by breaking barriers and stigmas.”
“Naija Comm was created to break barriers and shift narratives within our community. To end the constant societal pressure to pursue a traditional career path. To emphasize the importance of representation, fulfill your purpose, and follow your dreams regardless of what anyone says.”Naija Comm
The lack of representation of POC at most workplaces is a well-reported fact.
Within the Black population, there is little to no representation of Nigerians in the creative job market. Professions such as PR, communications, arts, business, and so forth have received much smaller recognitions than traditional occupations such as lawyers, doctors, and scientists do.
There are only 8 percent Black people in the PR industry, and with an even smaller percentage of Nigerians within the category. Moreover, representations of male/female Nigerians in communications are still blank.
Oduok sees such prejudiced phenomena in her culture and intends to change the reality. That is part of the reason Oduok created Naija Comm. She wants to bring people who share similar career experiences together so they can connect with each other.
As a passionate storyteller, she amplifies the voices and stories of the overlooked creatives through Naija Comm.
Every career path should be given equal respect and attention. Societies and communities should not prioritize certain career paths over others.
Naija Comm presents posts and hosts virtual events that feature guest speakers such as entrepreneur and influencer King Paul; Black Girls Graduate founder Ashley Obasi; Bond Official founder and editor-in-chief Igee Okafor; Netflix Communications Manager Ebony Turner and many more.
The platform has received many endorsements from the featured creatives; They are grateful that Naija Comm has positively benefited their careers and rendered their non-traditional professions visible on social media. Oduok has made a groundbreaking accomplishment and left an empowering cultural impact on the Nigerian community.
Naija Comm is not just a platform for creatives; It is also an expansion of Oduok’s personality, belief, and working ethics. Oduok incorporate the ideas of authenticity, compassion, optimism, diligence, and perseverance into Naija Comm in the hope of helping others to grow and achieve their dreams.
“I think I make other people feel seen and heard. Growing up in this society, as a multicultural individual, a Black person specifically a Black woman, I know how it’s like firsthand to not feel seen or heard so naturally I make it a priority to show people that I see, feel and hear them.”Eno Oduok for The Color Confidential
Growing up as a first-generation Nigerian American in Houston, Texas, life was not just about being American. To Oduok, the manifestation of her Nigerian identity and culture is equally important.
Oduok may have created Naija Comm to fill in the gap missing in the Nigerian community at first, but the company’s social impact has become universal. Looking at Naija Comm from a non-Nigerian prospective, I see the company’s relatability to many other non-Nigerian communities and cultures.
The word “Naija,” as Nigerian Ikechukwu Richard Ogbowu comments, “is a term used to describe the land which we all strive to create for the future generation. It is the true Nigeria that we hope to build.”
Naija is a congregation of people with distinctive talents and unique characteristics. It is an expression of a sense of belonging. To Oduok and Naija Comm, it displays respect for roots and cultural heritage as well as wishes to inspire a generation of Nigerians that are truly confident, independent, and different.
Oduok’s suggestion for aspiring Nigerians who have been struggling is to stop second-guessing what they really want to do and to follow their passions.
As she says, “Life is short. Do what make you happy… Ask yourself, are you going to follow your dreams or someone else’s?”