Mrs. Anike Agbaje Williams is Africa’s first woman broadcaster, she started out with Western Nigeria Television, the first television station in Africa in 1959 and worked as a newscaster, producer, presenter and administrator before she retired 35 years later.
Popularly known as Africa’s First Lady of the Tube, Mrs. Anike is said to have worked hard to educate, inform, entertain and sustain the legacy of Chief Obafemi Awolowo who established the WNTV as a ‘‘surrogate teacher’’.
In an interview with Amina Alhassan for Daily Trust, the woman described as one of the pioneer African television broadcasters, shared how she became the first face of television in Africa.
It’s a very interesting story. I was sitting in my house with my husband when a permanent secretary in the ministry of information called me and said they wanted to start a new television station in Africa and he wanted me to go for the interview. I was reluctant and he insisted that I go for the interview. In fact, he said he was ordering me to go and I had no option than to go for the interview.
The day of the interview there were so many people that were being interviewed but I was the only woman amongst all. The others were all men, I was called in for the interview and at the end of the interview the panel that interviewed me rose to shake hands with me and congratulated me. I was surprised and they said that I should not be, that I did very well and were amazed by my responses to the questions asked.
They then told me that they wanted to start training as soon as possible. They then asked when I would like to start the job and I told them in a week’s time and it was a deal.
When I got out all the men in the waiting room were anxious to know what happened and I told them. I then told them that I was surprised that they did not ask me one question and I felt I shouldn’t tell them anything because they did not ask. Then I was married and expecting a baby, I was four months pregnant. But no one seemed to be concerned if I was married or expectant.
The men all laughed and thought that was a loose end on my part because for them there was no way an expectant mother would be given the job. But as God would have it, I was selected for the training but still unknown to them that I was pregnant.
When we started the training which was taking place from morning to evening every day for a month, it was stressful for me. After a training session one day, someone came up to me and shook hands with me and said they liked my performance and they would like me to be the first face on television as they were starting television very soon.
While he saying so I collapsed and was rushed to the hospital. I was in the hospital for a number of days. After I recovered I started my job and the first job that was given to me was to sign on the station, which I did and handed over. And that was how I became the face of television in Africa.