Who’s That Girl? In conversation with Ore Ogunbiyi

In an interview with Abigail Smith, Girl Talk speaks to Ore Ogunbiyi, president of ACS, about her new podcast Lightbulb Moments, about speaking up as a black woman in Cambridge, and about creating that perfect insta.

Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Ore Ogunbiyi, I am a final year HSPS Student at Jesus. I’m also president of the African Caribbean Society (ACS), which is my baby, my pride and joy. I’m really into everything African politics and everything race politics.

You’ve recently launched your new podcast, Lightbulb moments — why did you start it?

I find that especially in Cambridge, but elsewhere too, I have lots of incredible, abstract conversations. And I always come to the end of these conversations and my mind’s boggling, and I want everyone to hear that, and everyone to have that feeling of being mind-blown. I thought about how I was going to bring people into these conversations, how am I going to share something I love. These conversations are too important for them to die the second I have them.


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Lightbulb Moments: Conversations Millenials Should Be Having

Did you have any worries when you started the podcasts?

I had quite a few! I was concerned I would run out of content, so I made myself a list of 30 topics before I started. But I was also concerned that just because these are topics I’m interested in, what’s that to say that other people will be interested. But I realised that the fact I’m having these conversations means there’s always at least someone out there who’s going to want to listen.

I was also concerned that my topics would be very skewed to things just concerning my identity; about me being black, about me being Nigerian, about me being a woman. But for me, overcoming that was realising that that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There are a lot of people who won’t have an insight into what my life is like as a black, Nigerian woman, who is living in the UK but also living in Nigeria. When I recently wrote my article about being black in Cambridge, a lot of people who hadn’t had that experience were still interested in it.

I was going to ask you about this! Your article went viral: what was that like? Were there any downsides?

100%. When you’re at somewhere like Cambridge, and you’re a black woman who tries to put themselves out there and engage in activism, you become hyper-visible. I remember coming back to college this term, and wondering if people were looking at me weirdly because now they know that I’m the person who wrote that article about the challenges of my experience. You can’t hide or blend into the background when you’re a black woman here. But then, I reached a point where I realised I didn’t care about what people thought of me: that’s their problem and not mine.

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The Varsity article which went viral

Why is it so important for women, and particularly black women, to have a platform in Cambridge?

It’s so important: especially being Nigerian sometimes it can be seen as ‘Why are you standing up and talking about this? Why are you being so loud? Why are you so angry for?’ But recognising that your opinions are valid; that people care about what you have to say. There might be people waiting for you to say something, people who rely on you speaking up about something. It’s important because there are a lot of other black girls out there who will see people like you speaking up, and you can encourage them. Also, it’s important to purposefully go against the grain, against people who want us to be quiet. If we don’t speak up who will?

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Ore speaking at the ACS Access Conference last year

Are there any issues you wouldn’t want to discuss on your podcast?

Pretty much anything is on the table, because I want to get the conversations going. I did say right in my introduction that I’m not working with any racists, any sexists — I just don’t see the need for it. However sometimes, there are people that have opposing views that I do try and bring up, and explain why I do not agree with them, or why that kind of view is not welcome in this space. But I think anything can be political, and anything can be relevant: we need to step away from this ‘its not that deep’ culture.

Who is your podcast aimed at?

So its full title is ‘Lightbulb Moments — Conversations Millennials should be having’, so I do tend the conversations towards millennials. We try to keep it accessible and relaxed in its approach, but also I try and talk about things that are relevant to our futures, and how we think about our futures. I have a lot more hope in young people; we’re still at a very formative stage, I have a lot of hope in how we can change. That’s also why I have a lot of different guests because everyone’s different experience of a topic is relevant. But also, my mum absolutely loves it and keeps telling all her friends about what she’s learning, which is really cute. So although it’s aimed at young people, it really is for anyone.

Speaking of guests, who would your absolute dream guest be?

The Vice-President of Nigeria, Professor Osinbajo. I’m giving myself two years and by then I have to make it happen. He is one of my favourite people in terms of how we share very similar views in terms of what Nigeria’s future could look like. He’s incredibly clever; he’s not giving up on Nigeria, and he’s one of the people who give me hope about Nigeria. When I was a child he was also a pastor at my church, so I also look up to him spiritually.

Which podcast are you most proud of so far, and which are you most excited still to do?

The one I’m most proud of so far is my most popular one, on Patriarchy and Capitalism. I had a lot of people message me about that episode just because they had not thought about the extent to which patriarchy is embedded in capitalism. Also because my guest was someone who I had contributed to his journey to becoming a feminist, and he acknowledges he’s still learning.

I’m most looking forward to the one I’m actually recording next weekend, which is on corruption. It’s something I’m really passionate about. I went to an Africa summit at LSE and learnt a lot about the way we conceptualise corruption and the way we use it to cripple how we view African countries. Without giving too much away, I think it’s really problematic the way that we see corruption as being endemic in some countries, while in other countries we’ll call it something different. We need to get rid of these tropes that some countries are just destined to be corrupt forever when that’s a lie.

Speaking of the future, what is your plan for yourself?

So I have a little summer job with the BBC, which is exciting, and hopefully, a media outlet will just keep me, because then what if Lightbulb Moments ended up on the radio? That would be incredible. I’ve also applied to do a masters in journalism in New York, which I would really like because broadcast journalism is something I’m really interested in. Just some kind of platform where I could talk about politics, and these kinds of topics. It’s all about deconstructing false narratives and changing the narratives for some of the world’s most oppressed people, who just don’t tend to have a fair say in popular discourse.

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The kind of magic you can expect on Ore’s instagram

A final question for our readers: your Instagram is amazing. Can you share your wisdom on creating the perfect insta?

So I kind of get a cheat on the follower count, because I have my uni friends, my friends in Nigeria, my friends from school in England, so I’m kind of living this triple life. In terms of the perfect shot, I would say:
–  Lighting
–  Don’t overdo the hashtags
– Peak times — Sunday afternoon is very underrated, everyone’s hungover from Saturday night.
That’s the secret recipe.

Lightbulb Moments is available for free download here, and the next episode will be available this Saturday. Applications for the ACS committee open soon!

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