Yesterday, the University of Westminster awarded Mo Abudu, founder and chief executive of EbonyLife Media, an honorary degree of Doctor of Arts, in recognition of her outstanding services to broadcasting and enterprise in Nigeria. The presentation was made during the university’s annual graduation ceremony at the prestigious Royal Festival Hall in London.
The broadcaster and filmmaker attended Westminster in 1993, when she completed a master’s degree in Manpower Studies. After successful careers as a corporate executive and human resources entrepreneur, Ms Abudu entered the world of media as the host and producer of Moments with Mo, the first pan-African talk show. In 2012, she went on to found EbonyLife TV, which has grown into a media group, encompassing movie production and global video-on-demand (VoD).
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Despite a challenging business environment, 2018 has been a landmark year for Mo Abudu, beginning in March with the announcement by Sony Pictures Television that they had struck a three-project production deal with EbonyLife. The media group celebrated its 5th anniversary in July with the launch of EbonyLife ON, its global VoD service.
In October, Mo was included in The Powerlist, the top 100 most influential people of African and Caribbean heritage in the UK, alongside Meghan Markle, Anthony Joshua and Lewis Hamilton. December marks the release of Chief Daddy, the fifth feature produced by EbonyLife Films, and Abudu will be hoping for a solid performance at the cinema box office, to close the year.
In her acceptance speech at the ceremony, an impassioned Mo spoke directly to the graduates from the School of Arts and School of Media and Communication. “the most important thing in life is to find your God-given purpose and passion – I mention God because I am a strong Christian and I truly believe he directs my every step. But going back to purpose – please find that thing you are passionate about, that you feel you were born to do. Then, spend every day planning and carrying out that purpose. It’s not always easy to find – but if you persevere, it will never fail you. When things get tough – and they will – just keep forging ahead – stay focused – be tenacious – and eventually your purpose will multiply and become unstoppable!”
According to the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Peter Bonfield, “Westminster University awards honorary degrees to those who have made outstanding contributions in their personal and professional lives.”
Abudu continues a proud tradition of accomplished Nigerians receiving honorary doctorates from prestigious universities abroad. These include Chinua Achebe, who received over 30 degrees from Harvard, Brown and other universities; Wole Soyinka (Yale, Harvard, Princeton); Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Yale); Chimamanda Adichie (Johns Hopkins, Edinburgh, London); Aliko Dangote (Coventry); David Oyelowo (South Bank).
The University of Westminster began its tradition of academic excellence in 1838, as Great Britain’s first polytechnic. It was created to demonstrate new technologies and inventions to the public, and played a significant role in the popularisation of science.
Fittingly, it was the venue for the first public moving picture show (movie) in the UK in 1896 and offered the first degree courses in Photographic Science, Photography and Media Studies in the 1960s and 1970s. Now with over 22,000 students spread over four central London campuses and thousands more in affiliates overseas, Westminster continues to be a leader in advanced education for architecture, law, languages and science, amongst other subjects.