Mistura Adebusola Salaudeen is an emerging scholar from Nigeria who just bagged a PhD from Hong Kong Baptist University in Hong Kong. She shared her PhD journey and stay in Hong Kong with AC. Here are the excerpts
AC: Congratulations on your recent feat of achieving a PhD. Could you please tell us about yourself?
MS: My name is Dr Mistura Adebusola Salaudeen. I am from Ikare-Akoko, Ondo State, Nigeria. I had my first degree in Mass Communication at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Nigeria. I completed my Master’s degree at the Department of Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. And I have just completed my doctoral programme at the School of Communication and Film, Hong Kong Baptist University. Before venturing into academic research, I worked for a few years as a journalist and a news reporter. Currently, I’m a communication researcher with specific research interest in media and journalism studies, international communication, public diplomacy, soft power, Sino-US-African relations.
AC: From Adekunle Ajasin University to the University of Ibadan and then to Hong Kong Baptist University, how could you describe the academic journey?
MS: Well, my academic journey has been rather interesting, yet challenging, much like every other aspects of life. I earnestly desired to pursue my master’s degree immediately after the completion of my bachelor’s degree, however, I could not do so due to financial constraints. So, I worked as an English teacher in a secondary school in Benin City for three years to raise enough money to pursue my master’s degree. Eventually, when I began my programme, I juggled my academics alongside a full-time job as a news reporter for an online media firm.
I must say that it was during my master’s programme I developed a keen interest in the academia and communication research. I was particularly fascinated about the multiperspectivity of communication phenomena, the reliability of the communication channels, and how they are pertinent to every aspect of human existence and societal functionality. Thus, I worked really hard to balance my very demanding job and my equally time-consuming academics. I recall that many times, I would close from work late in the evenings and head straight to CLA to work on my thesis over-night; I would then head back to my office the next morning without sleeping a wink, without a good meal, and without a change of clothes.
Thankfully, I graduated with a distinction and began applying for international PhD scholarships. A fully funded scholarship was my only hope of actually pursuing a PhD degree, as I had no financial resources to embark on a self-sponsored one, both locally and internationally. After a few unsuccessful applications at some international universities, I was fortunately, awarded the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme (HKPFS) to pursue my PhD studies at Hong Kong Baptist University.
AC: What one thing do you enjoy most in Hong Kong? How were you able to cope with the cultural and language differences?
MS: Hong Kong is a very vibrant and progressive city and there are so many things I love about it, from the food, to the music, to the movies, to the art, and culture. But what I appreciate most about Hong Kong is its effectively functional systems (education, transportation, tourism, health care, economic, etc.) which makes life conducive for its citizens and residents. Personally, it was not tough coping with the cultural differences as I did not experience too much culture shock. Hong Kongers share some similar cultural values with Nigeria, especially in aspects such as respect for elders, dignity of labour, strong family values, among others. The language barrier, however, posed a bit of a challenge as majority of locals spoke more Cantonese than English. At first, I found it difficult to communicate with locals but with time, I picked up tit bits of Cantonese (though I have still not qualified as a basic speaker) which I used to pass across my message. I still find it difficult conversing with a non-English speaking local. However, the medium of instruction in all the universities here is English so there is no language barrier in the academic community.
AC: What was the focus of your PhD research and what were the insights from the study?
MS: My doctoral thesis examined the efficacy of China’s soft power in Africa. Drawing on bodies of literature from social psychology, public diplomacy, and communication studies, I investigated how cognitive, affective, and behavioural intentions of Nigerians towards China are influenced by the persuasive strategies (soft power instruments) employed by China in the continent and by media exposure to Sino-African-related information.
Findings reveal that Nigerians’ attitudes and behavioural intentions towards China are multidimensional and majorly predicted by their personal experience (engagement with China’s presence) and their second-hand experience (exposure to China-related news in local media), rather than by the intensity or tenacity of China’s diplomatic efforts and strategies in the country. Evidence from the thesis also expose the inadequacies of China’s soft power strategies in Africa as its projected international message of mutualism and partnership is counteracted by its perceived practices exploitation and neo-colonialism.
AC: Moving forward, where do you intend to transit between academics and the industry?
MS: Well, presently, I intend developing a career in the academia, focusing on teaching and research. Perhaps in the foreseeable future if an opportunity to transition into the industry presents itself, it will be welcome.
AC: What is your advice for the teeming population of young men and women who intend to follow your path?
MS: My first advice for young scholars looking to venture in the academia is to tow their own path and not someone else’s. It is easy to lose oneself trying to be like somebody else. Hence, it is more profitable to look within, find your own research niche, and work steadily to pursue your research interests. Secondly, it is important for budding academics to understand that a thriving career in the academe requires a whole lot of hard work, resilience, and consistency. Most importantly, young scholars should ensure they develop a good work-life balance. Research can be tasking and tedious, but it can be managed with a great social life and an excellent spiritual connection, after all, God should be at the centre of it all! Given that I am still a young scholar myself, these are the recommendations I try to live by.
AC: Thank you for your time
MS: My pleasure.