Nigerian-American Journalist, Lola Ogunnaike, accompanied First Lady Michelle Obama during her recent trip to South Africa and Botswana. She documented the entire trip, and it will be aired on BET this Sunday, August 28th at 7:30pm.
It is a 30 minute-special about the trip: “Michelle Obama: Impact Africa”. Tune in and spread the word!
VIDEO: Snippet 2
Golden Icons Exclusive Interview with Lola Ogunnaike:
GOLDEN ICONS: YOU RECENTLY INTERVIEWED FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA DURING HER TRIP TO SOUTH AFRICA AND BOTSWANA. WHAT WAS THAT LIKE?
LOLA O: Interviewing Mrs. Obama was definitely one of the highlights of my professional career. Over the years, I’ve interviewed everyone from Oprah Winfrey and Sting to Jay-Z and Chinua Achebe. I even had the opportunity to interview White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers for CNN. Sitting in the East Wing at the White House interviewing Ms. Rogers was amazing and I really didn’t think it’d get much better than that. But being in Africa with the first black first lady, was absolutely incredible. The aim of her weeklong, goodwill mission to South Africa and Botswana in late June was to instill young people with the belief that they can make a difference in the world and that the success of the continent depends on them, as well as the education and empowerment of young women. Her schedule was crammed with museum and memorial visits, meetings with heads of state and the downtrodden, trips to community centers and local restaurants. Her speech before a crowd of nearly 2,000 at Regina Mundi, South Africa’s largest Catholic Church, left many in the audience so inspired they were moved to tears. Traveling with her motorcade took a bit of getting used to. Secret service men searched us every morning, giant security dogs sniffed through our bags and we were constantly running from event to event. I made the colossal mistake of only bringing high heels and no sneakers. My advice: always wear sensible shoes when you’re rolling with the First Lady.
GOLDEN ICONS: DESCRIBE WHAT IT WAS LIKE FOR YOU VISITING OTHER AFRICAN NATIONS OUTSIDE OF NIGERIA?
LOLA O: I love Nigeria, particularly Lagos. It’s fast paced, pulsating with energy and reminds me a lot of Manhattan, which is where I’ve lived for more than a decade. Cape Town was gorgeous and far more low key than Lagos. I can’t wait to visit again. Visiting the shanty towns in Soweto was heart breaking. One never gets used to seeing abject poverty. I was a bit freaked out by the monkeys running around the airport in Botswana. Certainly don’t see that in the US. Botswana is known for its beef and diamond exports. I had some great steak but, sadly, I left with no bling.
GOLDEN ICONS: HOW HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED?
LOLA O: Life hasn’t changed much yet. But I’m hoping this leads to many more exciting opportunities. I’ve interviewed the White House Social Secretary and the First Lady. Naturally, I’d welcome any chance to speak with President Obama.
GOLDEN ICONS: HOW DID YOUR HUSBAND REACT WHEN YOU TOLD HIM THE GOOD NEWS?
LOLA O: My husband is always incredibly supportive of me. I’m very lucky. He’s a proud Nigerian man so, of course, he thinks Mrs. Obama should’ve also visited Lagos and Abuja.
GOLDEN ICONS: YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS AT CNN?
LOLA O: That’s a tough question because I’ve had so many memorable moments at CNN. I am an avid reader and majored in English at the University of Virginia, so having an opportunity to interview one of my favorite authors Chinua Achebe was incredible. He was gracious enough to give me several hours of his time and I also shared a lovely lunch with him and his family. During my interview with another of my favorite authors, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, we talked so much we ran out of tape. And she asked me just as many questions as I asked her. She’d make a great journalist. Interviewing supermodel Iman was quite fun. She’s glamorous, no-nonsense and very funny. I also enjoyed my sit down at the White House with Social Secretary Desiree Rogers. She gave me a tour of the East Wing. The movie theater was fabulous!
Lola Ogunnaike & First Lady Michelle Obama