SHE’S An award-winning documentary filmmaker who has interviewed some of the world’s top leaders and just last month made history by becoming the youngest person to be interviewed by Forbes magazine.
But Zuriel Oduwale maintains she is a regular 11-year-old girl who enjoys nothing more than to play her Nintendo Wii and board games with her family.
“I do all the usual things like go to the mall with my mum and sisters and ride my bike with my neighbours,” she says, although she is more than aware her life differs slightly from most girls her age. “I am in a home school-based curriculum, so that allows me to get ahead in my school work and then I have some time to travel for my extra curricular programmes like my Dream Up, Speak Up, Stand Up programme, or interviewing leaders for my documentaries.”
Touted as the next Oprah Winfrey, Zuriel is committed to rebranding Africa by showing the positive things about the continent, and campaigning for education for girls.
Some of the high-profile names Zuriel has enjoyed exclusive one-to-one time with include Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan and her personal favourite, Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson.
“She held my hands and prayed for me and then she put me on her lap to take official pictures with her, which was very different from all the other 13 presidents and prime ministers I have interviewed.”
Zuriel, which is Hebrew for ‘God is my Rock’, believes by leading by example, girls may be inspired by her journey and do the same. That, she believes, can show her peers and the world the need to educate the continent’s often forgotten girl child.
Zuriel’s vision for her Dream Up, Speak Up, Stand Up programme is to inspire girls to “accomplish their dreams like me” by using it as a platform to push the influential work she is doing around the globe.
When talk moves to the future of the 200 girls kidnapped by Islamic extremists in Nigeria last month, the 11-year-old said she was both “sad but relieved at the same time.”
She explains: “Sad because I can’t imagine being taken to some strange place by some strange people, but relieved because the whole world is talking about it so maybe something can now be done.”
Keen to prove age is nothing but a number, Zuriel wants to show parents – and the world – by “using me as an example, what their children can do”.
Zuriel began pursuing documentary-making and journalism when she was nine after entering a competition in the United States, where she resides with her Mauritian mother and Nigerian father and three siblings – two sisters and one brother. The competition asked applicants to produce a documentary “about a revolution or reaction in history”.
Read the full article at Rising Africa