Favour Nwobodo: The Language Ninja
Living in a country that has 500 and a world with over 7000 plus languages, the language barrier can pose a huge problem. Technology has been applied to help us understand ourselves better but it isn’t quite there yet.
Have you ever thought of actually putting pen to paper and learning these languages, a herculean task? But this is not impossible.
The Guardian Life sits down with Favour Nwobodo, someone who has braved these dangerous waters to become a polyglot.
A not-so-little birdie told us you can speak up to 9 languages. That is quite impressive. Even more so is that you learnt it all in Nigeria. What is the story behind this?
My name is Favour Chisimdi Emerald Nwobodo popularly known as Empress and this is my story (chuckles).
One day, a neighbour brought a film to my house for me to watch, and it was a Korean drama. I never liked foreign films but something kept pushing, that was how the passion for languages came, within weeks of watching the film, I started learning some words, and with time and I enrolled in an online class to learn Korean. That was what opened me up to start learning other foreign languages like Filipino, Shona, Swahili, Spanish and Indonesian. I moved on to the top 3 languages (German, French, Chinese) last year. But then, watching those films actually drew me to learn their ways of life and all and it was so great knowing lots about some countries.
You are currently a student of Medical sciences. It must have been quite a surprise that you are very keen on the arts. How has the reception been?
(Laughs) Ever since my language story went viral, I have gotten so many comments both negative and positive. I personally wanted to go into medicine, not because of the money but I want to save lives. I found out that many people die in hospitals because of the language barrier, so one of my reasons for learning these languages is to solve linguistic problems in the health and business sector.
Were there obstacles to taking up any language?
Data was a problem as I usually ran out of it. Most of my class teachers tutor with podcasts and it drains a lot of data. Thanks to my friends who always supported me with data and airtime.
What barriers have being a polyglot broken for you?
A lot!! I have met lots of top personalities; I got lots of investors and sponsors for my linguistics brand (Empress Linguistics Services); many trusts and believe in my talents and some have not seen me; I have closed lots of deals with top companies in Nigeria even without a physical meeting, the list is endless! I have quite a number of students in my online language school too. When I tell people I’m 20, they are surprised at the heights I’ve attained. It is not an easy one.
The same birdie told us that you are a writer, a model, a brand ambassador…, the list is endless. How have you managed to juggle all of this and remain relevant?
I believe in the act of Multi-discipline, I grew up having lots of talents, and even when linguistics came in, I was still able to multi-task. I have a timer for everything— to me, every hour doesn’t come back and I work so hard to make proper use of my time. I’m a commercial model, a campus ambassador to Indomie Nigeria, a writer, and all—- I’m good at quite a lot.
What inspired your NGO, “save African children” and how have you kept it funded?
On my way back from school one afternoon, I met a young boy hawking sachet water under the hot sun, I bought his wares and asked him to go home, but seeing a young child out there hustling broke my heart. Getting home, I pondered on everything and that was how SAVE AFRICAN CHILDREN INITIATIVE was formed. I wanted to use the initiative to reach out to the less privileged in Africa but due to funds, most of my projects were done in a particular state and yes, it is self-funded.
Seeing people suffering has been something I never liked. I want to be a solution to many people’s problems, and I intend to eradicate poverty in the little way I can by hosting skill acquisition programs to help teach people many skills of which they can learn and earn.
What successes have “Save African Children” had?
So far, the only success we have is touching many lives in the East, we have made lots of people smile, SACI has touched lives. We were nominated for “The Future Awards Africa” last year but we lost. But we are going for it this year and we hope to win.