Africa: My 25-years Experience in the Air is Blissful
Call Joy Ogbego at 12 pm and she replies in a sleepy voice; flying the international circuit, she gets in late. When she calls you back, it’s 5pm and she’s ready with her lipstick in place to fly the domestic circuit. After 25 years of a life in the air.
She’s kind. She’s generous. She always has a sense of gratitude towards life, which is a wonderful quality.’ So, it’s not surprising that she is very popular in the aviation sector. Her moniker, ‘Mama J’ is what she’s known as but her real name is Joy Ogbego.
Her blog started in 2015 has 100,000 plus members who actively contribute articles and information. She began blogging when the airline she was working with had its AOC suspended due to some operational issues. ‘So I was at home, not working and thinking of what to do next. One day I got talking with a colleague about what next. Later that night he called me back and said, “Joy you know I have been thinking about our discussion.
Why not start an Aviation blog? This is an area nobody has delved into in Nigeria. Since this is an industry you have been in all along, why not start something related? You have all it takes.” He paid for the domain name and hosting and the rest is history.’
To many, the perfectly coiffed and immaculate airline crew have it all – striding confidently and elegantly through international airports and being able to picnic at the Eiffel Tower one week and then be on safari in Kenya the next, all the while staying in five-star luxury hotels. It’s not all that it’s cracked up to be but comes with a lot of responsibilities, certifications and endless training in everything from etiquettes to safety assurance.
Joy is a thorough and principled person who has paid her dues in the sector with many pursers (senior cabin attendants) having trained with her. “It’s been a remarkable 25-year journey for me in the aviation industry in Nigeria. I started my flying career with defunct Okada Airlines in 1992. From Okada, I joined Associated Airlines in 2000. In April 2005 I joined Virgin Nigeria. When Virgin Nigeria closed shop, I joined the startup team for Discovery Airlines in November 2012.
I am a sum of many parts now. I would say I am a blogger, an aviation enthusiast, Cabin Crew member, Line Trainer, Cabin Crew Manager, Performance Manager, Line Manager, Customer Relationship Manager, Cabin Crew Recruiter, Script Writer, a coach and an actress.”
On Her Childhood and Early Influences
Ogbebo was born in Edo State, the daughter of a teacher. “They were very young when I was born,” she says. ‘It was wonderful growing up with them. They were loving, communicative, warm – everything you would want in parents.” It was an idyllic childhood. I have a diploma in Social Work from the University of Benin and a degree in Mass Communication from Delta State University.
On Getting Started
‘’I used to act on radio|TV at the Edo Broadcasting Service and I did stage plays as well. I wrote songs and drama scripts, however, I had to discard those because my dad discouraged me.’ As a teacher, my dad preached education and saw others as distractions. It was a very aggressive thing to be telling your kid in the 1980’s – to go and find a career and be independent but Nigerian parents are wired that way. I didn’t get it first.
Then I started travelling, and I understood. I got a job as an air hostess with the defunct Okada air in 1992 and I was bitten by the travelling bug. The world was my oyster as traveling opened me up to a world of unending opportunities, I met people, I saw and experienced cities first-hand, believe me, there was no dull moment. It was the perfect time to be there. Then I realised I wanted to be here and it became more than a career, it became a passion.”