Greetings! Welcome to North of Lagos–a blog about living, studying and pursuing journalism in Nigeria. My name is Cara Harshman, but in Nigeria I go by Títílayò, my Yorùbá name. I am a 22-year-old senior atUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison and will be living in Ibadan, Nigeria–a city a couple hours north of metropolitan Lagos and 7 degrees north of the equator. I am leaving for Ibadan on September 8th, for a year to study the Yorùbá language, which I have been learning at UW for the past three years.
People always ask me why I chose to study Yorùbá out of all the languages. Why not Chinese or Arabic? The answer is multifaceted. Junior year of high school I traveled to Angola with a non-for-profit organization called RISE International, whose mission is to build schools and provide teacher training to rural villages. Traveling around Angola for a month with a group of 20 adults and a few students doing teacher training workshops twisted my world view and implanted me with a desire to return to Africa one day. I also realized I naturally picked up on Umbundu, the local language, pretty well. When I found myself signing up for classes at UW I was perplexed at what I wanted to study. An adviser told me about a program for first semester freshman that pre-schedules three interrelated classes with one small group of students–the idea is to make the transition from high school to college easier. They offered one called “The African Cultural Expedition” that really got my attention. I decided to forgo the intro psychology, political science and literature courses to take a Yoruba language class and a Yoruba culture class, knowing I would do something with the skills in the future.
Three short years later I find myself living in Yorubaland (aka southwest Nigeria) perfecting my language skills in its native country, working as a freelance journalist with this blog to establish a career as a reporter.
At UW, I am a journalism major with a certificate in African studies. I wrote for The Badger Herald for two years as a state reporter, city editor and dabbled in video production as the online content editor. I also worked as a software trainer, teaching the Adobe Creative Suite and video production softwares to UW students and staff.
I love taking pictures, cooking and baking delicious food, reading, meeting new people and seeing live music.
In ten years, I hope to be living in Africa as a reporter, writing articles and creating multimedia for an international news organization somewhere.