I'm happy to announce the hire of two new International correspondents- Middle East correspondent Aya Batrawy and West Africa correspondent Emmanuel Akinwotu.
Emmanuel will be based in Lagos, Nigeria. Previously he covered the region as a correspondent for The Guardian, reporting on the political, economic and cultural life of one of the youngest populations in the world. His reporting has covered the popularity of cryptocurrencies in Nigeria to make money or avoid political repression, and the growing international dominance of African music, interviewing music stars from Angelique Kidjo to Tems, and charting the rise of the drill rap scene in Ghana, partly inspired by similar movements in Chicago, New York and London. He has reported how the challenges of insecurity, high unemployment and worsening effects of the climate crisis in the Sahel and wider region, have shaped ordinary life and upended governments. In 2020, he reported from major protests in Nigeria against police brutality that despite being violently suppressed, were a galvanizing moment for many young people seeking change. Before The Guardian, he worked as a correspondent for Agence France Presse news, working on misinformation and then as a general reporter on Nigeria, Ghana, Benin and Togo. Previous to that, he was a freelance reporter for The New York Times and other media. In 2018 he co-led a NYT investigation into how scores of Shia Muslim protesters were killed near the Nigerian capital, Abuja, by a special military unit directly answerable to Nigeria's president. He is a once proud and now fairly tortured Manchester United fan, waiting for the glory days to return, and he's also a fan of the Philadelphia 76ers. He was born in London and moved to Lagos in 2016, in reverse to the move his parents made when they left Nigeria for the UK in the 1980s. Emmanuel notes his dad has gone from concern about the merits of this decision, to taking full credit for it.
Aya is going to be based in Dubai. She comes to NPR from The Associated Press, where she has worked as an editor and a reporter for 11 years.
Aya's love of broadcast news, though, began at the University of South Florida. As an undergraduate, she volunteered at the local NPR affiliate in Tampa Bay, where she grew up. After two subsequent years in Washington, and a master's from London's School of Oriental and African Studies, she moved to Cairo, producing for Peter Kenyon and Deborah Amos, crisscrossing North Sinai in memorable adventures with both. She also freelanced for Voice of America, Pacifica Radio and PRI's The World.
Aya joined AP as an editor and reporter 11 years ago in Cairo, covering the Arab Spring uprisings, the rise and fall of the Muslim Brotherhood and the ensuing turmoil that ricocheted across the region.
Based in Dubai since 2013, she has reported on Persian Gulf tensions, led coverage on Islam's hajj pilgrimage from Mecca and examined efforts by oil producers to diversity their economies away from fossil fuels in a world grappling with climate change.
The weight of her coverage, however, has centered on the rise of Saudi Arabia's crown prince — his attempts at transforming the kingdom and centralizing power.
More recently, she's reported on global economic inequalities, inflation and the impact of Russia's war in Ukraine on food prices. She's also covered the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
When not listening to podcasts, she's trying to make it to barre class on time, keep up with royal news and source fresh pasta.
Both Aya and Emmanuel start their new jobs with NPR Nov. 7. Please give them a big welcome!!