Africa is Calling: Four Professional British Women Return to Their Roots

How these leaders found career fulfillment in their homeland

Susan Younis (Photo: Younis)

Have you ever yearned to do something bold, pack up, jump on a plane and start over somewhere new? With a burgeoning population in excess of 1 billion, the lure of Africa has become a magnet for professionals in the diaspora. In a quest to start over in a new, stimulating environment, women are seizing opportunities to pursue their careers on the African continent. Four women, born, raised and based in Britain, discovered their ancestral homelands presented life-changing opportunities. Susan Younis, Elvina Quaison, Margaret Kadi and Cathy Phiri explain how the call of Africa became too loud to ignore.

SUSAN YOUNIS: Short-Term Opportunity Turns Into Long-Term Adventure

“Moving to Nigeria happened by accident,” Susan Younis says. “I had been working at MTV in London for six years when I decided to freelance. I was just about to finish a contract when I received a call from MTV Africa asking me to shoot a series in Nigeria. The rest is history.”

A dual British and Nigerian citizen, Younis was born in Lagos and moved to the UK with her parents when she was four. After carving a successful career in TV production in London, Younis accepted the invitation to go back to Nigeria and eventually relocated to Lagos.

Younis ultimately became responsible for MTV Nigeria’s flagship show and was promoted to senior producer earlier this year, overseeing production for the entire MTV BASE network. Her new role required her to relocate again, this time to MTV’s head office in Johannesburg, South Africa.

While her salary now extends further, Younis has experienced difficulties. “The infrastructure in Nigeria is not stable,” Younis says. “Basic things like sending large files on e-mail can be laborious and frustrating.”

However, she feels fortunate to be working with so many diverse and talented people. “The key benefits are the opportunities to work creatively in this booming market. It’s been a blessing to be part of such a huge movement,” Younis says. “I predict that African music will make the transition to the Western market in due course. Being a part of that is a great feeling.”

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  • Cay Moore

    Congratulations Octavia for securing this role with Black Enterprise. Very informative article.

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  • Catherine Gilhooly

    Really interesting article. I never really thought about people moving from the UK to get fresh opportunities in Africa. You hear so much about the Far East but Africa doesn’t get good press in terms of business and entrepreneurship. The stories of these women helps to challenge assumptions.

  • Greg

    Africa needs you!! The opportunities in Africa are boundless. We need more people finding which country their skills best fit. The more skilled diaspora who move home the more we can continue to develop. If anyone wants a good read of why this works look no further than Dambisa Moyo – Dead Aid. You don’t need to be from Africa either, I moved to Botswana having never visited before…

  • Reena D

    This article reminded me of the beauty of taking risks as a strong woman. These amazing entrepreneurs are courageous. It’s commendable they relocated to a land they are not as familiar with, but yet were open to build their roots and foundation to enhance the local economy. Thanks so much for sharing Octavia!

  • Evan P

    I love this article. It is really inspiring to me that these women are taking experiences and skills to a countries that could use help. They are taking risks by moving from their familiar and comfortable lives, but I think they’ll pay off by opening up these women to new opportunities and experiences. Great article.

  • Juliet Jackman

    Well done Octavia, really interesting and inspiring article. I didn’t want the article to end.

  • Yvonne Ndege

    Great piece by Octavia Goredema. But I believe the moves these women made were not just based on emotion, or sentiment. The cost of living is far less in Africa than it is in Europe or the US. The quality of life is also much higher. And Africa’s economies are some of the fastest growing in the world.

  • Arianna O’Dell

    Great piece. I look forward to reading more by Octavia!

  • RuthY

    Wow…this is a very inspiring article. It’s great to see young African’s going back to help build Africa.

  • Aimee B.

    Thank you for sharing this beautifully written collection of inspiring stories!

  • janice means

    Thank you for sharing this beautifully written story,it was inspriring with good imformation,thanks for sharing.

  • Ronke Ige

    Great article, I look forward to reading many more from Octavia. Well done to all the ladies who relocated too… couldn’t have been easy having lived in the UK for most of your lives, very admirable. I wish each of you all the best! x