On Desire

Sandro Botticelli: fresco of St. Augustine
St. Augustine, fresco by Sandro Botticelli, 1480; in the Church of Ognissanti, Florence.
PicturesNow/UIG/age fotostock
I wonder what it is about desire
that swivels within layers of layers.
I unfold and unfold but I find more layers.
I contemplate upon these layers 
but I find unfolding questions.
Were I to put into words what I see,
I would remain stuck in a standstill.
Yet desire ravages on the inside,
yearning to be expressed.
I lay me down in silence 
and stillness of thought.
I hold onto what I do not see.
I say to myself,
I will wait for you.

By Emmanuel Johnson

Growing Up Nigerian in Diaspora – Interview with Olaoluwa Dada

Identity is a key interest of mine, and unsurprisingly, a theme I like to discuss with people. In this interview, I discuss with Olaoluwa, who shares her personal experience of growing up in the UK. We also discuss issues of belonging in everyday life and more. Click on the link below to watch our discussion.


Persevering With Research

Though most days feel like a blur presently, it does not feel so long ago since I started my PhD study. For readers who may not know, my PhD research is on Nigerian Student Experience, and I currently explore themes of identity, belonging and performance among Nigerian students.

Now, back to my short post!

2020 was a difficult year for me, because I lost track of my work-rhythm and had to fight to find a new rhythm of productivity. I had difficulties reading, writing and understanding; I struggled to find any kind of mental clarity to process my thoughts succinctly.

In that season of struggle, I learned it was important to turn up consistently and try to push my research forward with every ounce of energy I did not have, despite the challenges I faced. I ‘did not have’ any energy because I felt incredibly drained in the process, but I made progress, with continuous effort. I have to thank my amazing family, supervisors, pastor and friends for their support, because their time, counsel and love made (and continue to make) a huge difference to my wellbeing, stability and productivity.

I am currently in my third year of study, and I wish to express how incredibly thankful I am, for the privilege I have to do what I do. I am thankful to have ideas and abilities worthy of use, and I am thankful to research on a subject I enjoy so much!

I am learning, still, to persevere and turn up persistently; I am learning to live by faith and not fear; I am learning to remain grateful and give thanks to God in all situations.

Letter to Self VI

Dear Emmanuel

It is nice to write my sixth letter to you on your birthday. It is such an interesting experience to read your thoughts and observe patterns and changes as time goes by.

I wish to congratulate you on reaching your third year of PhD study. 2020 has not been the most straightforward of years, but you have tried consistently to move forward in life.

As I read your last letter, I noticed how focused you were on keeping its content ‘professional’, by focusing primarily on your PhD and film. Though they are great feats, I would like to highlight this time around that, your thoughts have been dominated recently with the fight back in Nigeria against evil and injustice. You have been concerned about how you can make a contribution to this fight.

While you may not have all answers right now, and may feel sometimes that you are making no real contribution, you are learning to remain present in the moment, and not let it catch you idle.

Because of events you have witnessed this year, it has grown more apparent to you, that the future is always uncertain. Nevertheless, you have learned as well that uncertainty is no reason for fear. I have no idea what I would write you next year, but it is okay too that I do not know. 

God be with you always and happy 26th.

With love,


Deconstructing Faith


Faith is a topic of interest for myself and many others. I was interested in bringing people from different cultural and religious backgrounds to discuss this. Represented in this discussion are Irish, Greek, British, Indonesian and Nigerian nationalities. And Christian, Muslim, Atheist and Agnostic beliefs.

This discussion features perspectives from David Adeola, Dionysios Deligiannis, Mabel Alkali, Farhana Lunat, Anna Hetherington, Andi Rusyaidi, Lanaire Aderemi and Emmanuel Johnson.

Please see links below to stream our download or audio discussion.




PhD Research Profile


I’m Emmanuel Johnson. I am a Cultural thinker, filmmaker, Christian and Poet. I am a 2nd year PhD student at Global Learning: Education and Attainment (GLEA). My research explores lived experiences of international students, using themes of faith, identity, belonging and performance as key focal points into this phenomenon. This shall make the basis for this written post.

It all started in Abuja, Nigeria for me, which is where I was born – on 12 November 1994. Being a PhD student at 24 years of age means I get called both young and ‘old’, depending on who I speak to. I find that very interesting!

Though I was born in Abuja, my family left the city only a few months later, as we relocated to Lagos, Nigeria. We spent a couple of years there and moved again to Uyo, Nigeria, which is also my ancestral city (where both of my parents and their great-grand parents and more hail from). In 2012, at the age of 17, I made my own relocation to Cambridge, UK, for University foundation study at EF Cambridge. I was enrolled in an international school with students from over 60 countries. A year later at 18 years of age, I started studying Media and Communications at Coventry University. Through this course, I started to learn that ‘things aren’t really as they appear to be in the world’. These experiences of sojourn, and their consequent sub-experiences, kick-started something that would later become very relevant to me, which is ‘the reality of internationalisation’.

The reality of internationalisation has become personalised to me. From my experience, this reality entails: not really having a physical/tangible sense of ‘home’ which is fixed, to hold onto; always being in a state which sees you missing someone who is physically elsewhere; being seen as ‘different’ by those of similar national and ethnic origin as you, or seeing your nation and/or ethnicity differently, because of your experience of internationalisation.

These experiences and more raise internal questions such as: where is home? Who am I becoming? And, what do my added experiences and knowledge mean for me, as I continue to navigate the society around me. My research attempts to deconstruct these questions.