Favour Chigbo, a first-year mass communication student of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), is a public speaker and the winner of Inspire Africa’s 2021 The Orators contest. In this interview by KINGSLEY ALUMONA, she speaks about her oratory talent and the Orators contest.


Congratulations on winning the inspire Africa’s 2021 The Orators competition. When did you recognise that you are an orator? And how did you hone the skill?

My public-speaking experience dates back to my school days in kindergarten—from being the student selected to present the valedictory speech, down to making little recitations at church, it all began. With constant practice, making the most of whatever platform I get to express myself, I’ve been able to hone the skill.

How did you hear about the competition? And how did you manage to scale through to the final stage?

I got to know about the competition through a Facebook group. A friend of mine saw it and told me about it. Now, speaking of how I managed to scale through, resilience is one thing and God’s grace is another. I just kept on giving my best shots and God’s grace kept making my best shots enough.

How did you feel when you were announced as the winner of the competition? And how did your family feel about it too?

I had mixed feelings. I was stunned, surprised and excited at the same time. Stunned and surprised because a part of me was always feeling like I didn’t have all it takes to win. But, then, I was excited because it was a dream come true. My family members really couldn’t contain their joy when they heard the news. They felt so proud, and that made me so happy.

What three lessons did the competition teach you? And, how were you inspired by the experiences and advice of the judges of the competition?

Stating only three lessons is just for the sake of keeping things short, because I truly learnt a lot. From Mr Benjamin Wayo, I learnt about the rudiments of public speaking in the virtual world—one of which was focusing on ‘your friends in the lens.’ From Mrs Titi Ojo, I learnt how to use PowerPoint to make effective presentations. From Mr Chinedu Chidi, I learnt how logos (logic), pathos (emotion) and ethos (credibility) work together to infuse persuasion in your presentations. Their experiences and achievements, which they shared with us, inspired me to keep pushing, irrespective of the rejections or failures I may experience in my life’s journey.

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How do you think the experience from the competition would shape your education, career and future?

As a mass communication student, this competition would, no doubt, help me in many ways—in building my confidence level, and being geared up for impromptu speeches and inter-school debates. And, as we all know, public speaking is a skill of the future. And, I believe, having this opportunity to hone this skill puts me at an advantage.

If you were to be a judge in an oratory contest, explain the criteria you would use to produce the best orator in the contest.

One thing that stands out for me in oratory is your ability to infuse emotions in your speech. It’s said that people may forget what you say to them, but they would never forget how you made them feel. And that, for me, is what I believe makes you stand out as an orator.

If your speech is aggressive, infuse aggression in it and get people feeling angry. If it’s a topic that should get people emotional, let those emotions be felt. And you do this by paying attention to your vocal variety, facial expressions and gestures.

These are the things I would look out for if I were a judge in an oratory contest.

One of the impromptu topics you finalists spoke on was ‘What it means to be a Nigerian’. What were your major responses to this speech?

Amidst the perilous times we Nigerians have had to face, we still can’t completely ignore the fact that Nigeria is blessed. Needless to say, we may have failed in certain sectors as a nation but then, you ask yourself, “What nation hasn’t?”  The anger of Nigerians towards the lack of development is justified, but I believe that just as an individual ought to embrace their flaws and work on them, we should do same as a nation too.

Who are your three mentors when it comes public speaking and leadership? And why did you choose these three people?

Eric Thomas, who’s also known as ETTheHipHopPreacher, inspires me a lot because of the passion with which he speaks. He speaks with such confidence and power that influences you and drives you to action.

Chimamanda Adichie is just someone I love watching when she speaks. She speaks graciously while always wearing a smile, and she makes public speaking look so beautiful. The wisdom with which she speaks and the stories she tells are a few things that I strongly admire.

Nick Vujicic is another man that inspires me. His story and all he has been through motivates me and convinces me that I can do anything I set my mind to. Despite the fact he was born with a disability and he had every reason to feel bad towards life, he still chose to look on the bright side of life and to make the most of all he has been given. Now he’s a motivational speaker, giving people reasons to not give up on life.

What would you do with the N200,000 prize money that you won from the competition? Have you thought of setting up a humanitarian initiative or an NGO?

I’m grateful for the money I won, and no doubt I’d put it to good use. No, I haven’t really thought of setting up an NGO. Perhaps, in the future. But, for now, I’m just working on consistently contributing to bettering of our society by maximising whatever platform I get (school, church or the social media platforms).

What can you say about the organisers of the competition? And, in what ways would you support or work with Inspire African in the future?

Coming up with a programme like this is highly commendable, as it gives our young people an opportunity to express their hidden talents and gain exposure. It’s my prayer that God blesses them in all they do. I’d gladly support them by spreading the word, and telling people about their organisation and about whatever programmes they might be hosting in the future.

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What are your current plans as regards your education, work and career?

Being a student, one of my main goals is to graduate as a first-class student. But, in addition to that, I’ve decided that I won’t just get through school to graduate with only a certificate but to amass a wealth of experience for myself by engaging in activities or volunteer works that would prove helpful for me even after my graduation from school.

What advice do you have for young people, especially the female ones, who are aspiring to be like you?

Just one word―intentionality. I advice all young people, male and female, to be intentional with their lives. Being intentional makes you understand that you’re here on earth with an assignment that needs to be attended to urgently and not here to just ‘catch cruise’. Being intentional affects the way you speak, behave and the decisions you make. For me, intentionality is the key to a productive life.


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