Starting out as an anonymous blogger who just wanted to write about mundane topics, the founder of the Diary of a Naija Girl (DANG) Network, has over the years built a brand that is known for its unbiased opinion pieces, conveyed in the most honest and relatable ways possible. She is a champion for women, and her YouTube channel, DANG Network, acts as a safe haven for women who are willing to share their experiences unashamedly and without judgment. In an interview with VIVIENNE BELONWU, she shares her views on feminism, the need for women to constantly speak out and her plans for unveiling the face behind the brand.
You started out as an anonymous blogger and have remained consistent. Why did you choose anonymity?
Being anonymous wasn’t the intention. I started my blog and never saw the need to put my picture up. However, I did put up my picture four years ago but it just didn’t feel right at the time so I deleted it.
What were your earliest challenges when you first started out as a blogger?
Hmm… I’m not sure I can term this a challenge but when I first started, I wasn’t taken seriously. Like, who blogs anonymously these days? Coupled [with the fact that] it wasn’t gossip [blogging] too. It’s also funny that people didn’t really want to see my face or care to, they just didn’t understand the anonymity. Now, it’s crazy the extent at which people will go to find me, it’s quite intriguing.
Do you ever feel like you are missing out on the perks of being a public blogger?
Many People have told me this but I’m a firm believer in delayed gratification. I’m very patient when it comes to my business and money is always the last thing on my mind. The first thing is to create value and then returns will follow. It’s funny that I’m anonymous but we got two major brands to sponsor our masterclass and many others have worked with us on the blog too. I believe there’s a time for everything, so in time, the right things will fall in place.
You have an impressive followership, how were you able to leverage on social media as a tool to create awareness for your brand?
Social media is a powerful tool. When people try to blow it off as something simple, I let them know it’s because they are yet to benefit from this new age media. I have leveraged on social media by being different; being myself 100% and carefully picking the audience I want by the content I put out. Gossip sells and I hate gossip so I talk about the things that interest me. I like to tell stories, so I tell mine and others. I also took advantage of the fact that people respond to you in seconds, which gives you the opportunity to make changes or to keep doing what you’re doing. This way, people get to know the brand for what it stands for and there could never be any confusion as to the things we represent.
You launched a YouTube channel, DANG Network, where women are encouraged to speak their truth on delicate issues ranging from domestic violence to mental health challenges and surrogacy. The turnout is quite huge considering the number of views in such a short space of time. What inspired you to kick start the channel?
I used to be so angry at the vast amount of shaming when it came to women. It felt like we were created to be subdued and when we refuse, we will be further subdued by being shamed into silence. I jokingly tell my friends that I’m shameless because my mother (God rest her soul) taught me to speak out, ask questions and never to be ashamed when I haven’t done anything wrong. I grew up feeling this way only to become exposed to more people and realise that people are ashamed to tell their testimony of growth and triumph because of how society will perceive them. No one deserves to be silenced. Women on this side of the world have gone through too much and I felt like I owe it to myself and young women to stop that train of shame. The more women speak out, the more other women speak out and then it becomes more acceptable. Our children will grow up in a society where they can speak their truth, get help or inspire others to know they are not alone.
Some people argue that your channel poses a bad influence on younger women in that it gives them a false ideology about marriage and submission as opposed to the society’s perceived standard concerning the role of women in their homes? What are your thoughts on that?
I want those people to tell me to my face that society’s standards concerning the role of women in marriages has done much good. Who society epp? The “society” we talk about are men who are afraid their patriarchy will soon come to an end or women who hate change. The DANG platform is changing the narrative and whether society likes it or not, women are beginning to feel powerful again. A woman can love and respect her husband without being subdued or subjected to a [life as a] higher grade servant. I believe that marriage is such a powerful union so much so that if both sexes are allowed to live their true potentials, there’ll be less divorces and more happy unions. We were created equal but different and in our differences lies our powers. Not allowing one’s sex to use this difference for the betterment of herself, her family and the society is a sin.
Some people believe that feminism has been hijacked and now, there exists a blurry line between the assumptions on feminism and who a feminist really is. In your opinion, who is a feminist?
Feminism has been hijacked, so has Islam by extremists and Christianity by fake pastors. Does that change them from what they truly are? For this reason, let’s not lose focus on what Feminism stands for: the inclusion of women in everything and [every space] they deserve to be in; the fight for us to be heard, seen, respected and given what is due to us as humans.
The paedophilia rate in Nigeria is quite alarming; do you think the media is effective in playing a role as an information provider and speaking out against this inadequacy?
Inadequacy is putting it mildly. The rate at which paedophilia thrives in Nigeria is point blank ridiculous. I think the media is putting out information but not speaking out against it. Just recently, some media house called a 14-year-old the “sweetheart” of a 70-something year-old man. I must be honest, even though DANG is speaking out against it as much as we can and few other platforms as well, I don’t think any of us are doing enough. This question has made me realise we’re all not doing enough to speak out against it.
What are your future plans for DANG network? Do you see it catering to a global audience?
Yes! I sometimes have anxiety attacks when I go back and read our plans. I’m like “Hey God!!! Na me go do all of these?” then I panic, close the book and get back to work. You must refer to this interview when it happens though, DANG Network will take the Nigerian narrative to the world and our storytelling will make people talk more about Nigeria.
At the time of publishing this interview, Ife Agoro, popularly known as Diary of a Naija Girl, has now revealed her face.