Life at SAE Student Series: Afolabi Abioye

07 May 2017



Life at SAE Student Series: Afolabi Abioye

07 May 2017

Nigerian student Afolabi Abioye is in his third and final year studying a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Film Production.

He also happens to be the in-house campus photographer.

We chat to Afolabi about life at SAE in Cape Town and what it is like studying in a foreign country. 

The first question that begs asking; coming from Nigeria what is your overall impression of South Africa.

Truthfully, I really did not know what to expect before I got to South Africa. So many rumours about South Africa were just coming my way. People really said some funny things about South Africa to me, while others gave me rules about how to keep myself safe. A funny one was that I should be sure to always get back home, latest 4pm, and lock myself indoors till morning.

But when I got here, South Africa was completely different. Cape Town is friendly, the people are nice and they sure do know how to party. I still will never get used to the cold though. 

Having made the mother city your home for now, would you ever consider relocating to Cape Town after you graduate?

Yes, I would definitely consider relocating to Cape Town if the opportunity arose. Cape Town is a beautiful city and I’ve met some really amazing people during my time here.

Pursuing your hobby of photography further by deciding to study film production; was this a lengthy decision that you pondered on or did it happen quite quickly?

I can’t say it happened so hastily. I actually had to think hard about the decision and whether it would be worth it. One thing I can say for sure is that my dad was very supportive of my decision. In fact, he influenced the decision and reassured me when doubts about everything started to creep in. So I’m very grateful to him in that regard. 

You chose SAE Institute in Cape Town. What factors informed this decision to pack your bags, move here and choose SAE Cape Town?

Can I say price? (laughs) No, I’m just kidding. When I started looking for a good school to study at, SAE came up from different sources. SAE is renowned worldwide, and I had two major options, Cape Town and Dubai. I guess I eventually narrowed down to Cape Town because of African values and it feels more like home. Plus where else am I supposed to get proper pap and chakalaka? Definitely not Dubai.

You’ve had the opportunity to meet artists such as Pharrell Williams, AKA and Tresor to name a few, all through your involvement with ancillary activities linked to SAE such as the Breathe Sunshine Music Conference and Bridges for Music; what is it about successful artists such as these guys that has left the biggest impression on you?

I think it’s all about work ethic. The fans and viewers only see the glamorous side of these artists’ lives. But the truth of the matter is these guys work harder than most people. They are constantly on the grind, doing one thing or the other. They rarely have the time to just chill or take long breaks. Anyone that is as successful as they are is working really hard. So I admire their work ethic. 

You are also the campus’ in-house photographer. How did you land the job?

(Laughs) Well that story I still remember. During my first year, which was back in 2015, Heather was having a chat with Madeegah [ex-student, since graduated] about an event happening at the school and asking if she was going to be able to take some pictures. Madeegah told her she would not be available. That’s when I stepped in, not like I was eavesdropping or anything. I told Heather I could take pictures for her if she wanted. Heather started to explain to me that she did not just want a random person holding a camera but someone who could actually take proper pictures.  I assured her I could do it and then she let me. The next day, I gave the edited pictures to her, and she was stunned, happy and excited. Right there, Heather told me the school would always be using me to cover their events, and I accepted.  


You are currently in your third year of study at SAE, on your way to completing your Bachelor of Arts in Film Production. Tell us a bit about the degree and how well you feel it equips one with the knowledge required to pursue a career in film once one graduates.

The degree is quite intensive. I have had to write a lot of essays over time, not without a whole lot of complaining. But I found out that while doing all these assignments, I had to do a lot of research, which meant I was learning a lot of stuff even while I was not in class. I feel SAE is great in the sense that what we learn is diversified. I’ve had the opportunity to learn editing, scriptwriting, cinematography, production design, documentary production, television media production, motion graphics and some visual effects. These different modules actually opened up my mind as to how broad film production is. 

Do you have very definite career goals once your studies are complete yet?

Yes, I do have things I plan to achieve once I’m done with my studies but I’m holding those cards close to my chest. I guess you’ll just have to wait and see them unravel. 


How much of your success in your studies do you think comes from natural aptitude and how much is down to plain hard work?

I can’t say it has anything to do with natural aptitude, I feel it all boils down to hard work. Previously, I had a tendency to procrastinate but I figured that about myself and found a way to counter all that. No matter how much natural aptitude you have, you still need to put in the work. A background in photography really helped me as well. 

One piece of advice you’d like to offer future/present SAE students?

Don’t get Masi angry…. (laughs)

If there’s anything I can tell them, it’s that they should get involved in different activities, especially outside school. What you learn in school will never be enough, so just keep busy.


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