Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

I was at House on the Rock The Refuge today the 31st of August, a few hours before the ‘ember months’ broadcasts start flying around on Blackberry, Twitter, and Facebook. Miss me with that nonsense please. God bless you.

I digressed; church was many shades of amazing! To be honest, the only church that compares to HOTR for me is my home church, Hillsong. There’s something about the amount of care and preparation that goes into readying their services that makes it super exciting for me.

I was blessed by the testimonies, especially the lady whose sister God snatched from death, and the guy who now has two flexible, well-paying jobs. There was the single mom whose son has now come to Christ and is now in university and away from his rough friends, and yes, there was the guy who heard a word from Pastor Goodheart in 2001, ‘ran’ with it and has now received a mandate letter from the Federal Government to bring his 9-year-old dream to life! Exciting stuff, God is truly amazing!

And then Asu Ekiye took to the stage, and I couldn’t sit down! Yes! Yes! Yes! From the first song till his team left the stage, I was catapulted to several times in 2013 when my darling aunty Pat and I would play loud music on the days before she fell ill, and then days when she didn’t feel a lot of pain.

Sometimes, I would wake up to Yinka Ayefele, some other times it would be Kefee (of blessed memory), and then of course it would be Asu Ekiye blasting through the roof. How no one ever reported us for disturbance I don’t know, and you know how paper-thin walls can be in England.

It always annoyed me when she did that (because I have the craziest sleep patterns); she’d leave the music on (at its highest), and then open my door just so I’d hear her sing along to it. When I opened my eyes she’d say, “eye no go rotten” or “sleep no be death”. If I frowned, she’d say, “I just came to visit you o, you don’t know if I’m an angel”, and that would make me smile. I miss her to pieces.

And so when Asu Ekiye started to minister, I danced my heart out in honor of God, and in honor of my aunty. I flashed back to the times we’d play these Nigerian traditional tunes, and then I’d dance to show her the steps I’d put on during my traditional marriage (even when I wasn’t dating anyone). I remember asking to check if my bum was shaking or not. Lol!

I miss her. I miss her. Kai.

P:S – At this point I shut my moleskine and concentrated on the service. So I wouldn’t cry too much. :)

I haven’t been in my village for a good number of years, save the 24 hours I spent in 2010 for my sister’s traditional wedding (there’s got to be a separate chronicle for that someday)!

Anyway, so my cousin was getting married and I told myself that somehow my trip to see Momma would fall within that period. And it did.

The story about the trip to Asaba from Abuja is here; yep it’s the story about the ‘beggi beggi’ woman.

Cue Friday afternoon, and the 25 minutes drive to my village from Asaba; my father believes he’s from a town though, never says he’s from a village. :)

Occurred to us that apart from a 24 hour stint in 2010 when my sister had her traditional wedding – got in from London that morning, road trip to the village, met what I could of the traditional wedding and left the next morning – I’d not been in the village in at least five years so Daddy (Lord bless him) gave a running commentary of pretty much everything that had changed. ‘Changed’ here could mean it’d gotten better or completely gone South by the way.

I ended up tweeting some of the things he said… let’s go grab those off Twitter then.

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Was awesome seeing my uncles and aunts, and super awesome to just take a nice stroll around. People in the villages lead healthier/simpler lives than all of us town folk o, regardless of what privileges we thing we enjoy. For example, I had roasted corn and pear (oka n’ube) and the corn was harvested from a farm near by. Fresh, succulent, and soft!

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Yes Sir!!!

By the way, electricity was also a lot more constant than what we have in Asaba, no jokes. And I hear they are not saddled with bills (fixed or energy charges) that we town folk have to deal with either. Next thing y’all will hear I’ve relocated to my village o!

Before I forget, do you know where bitter kola comes from? So I was strolling with Uncle B (my favorite of all my father’s brothers), and he showed me this tree and told how bitter kola is derived. Plus he has lots of the ‘ugolo’ trees on his land, anyone want to bring us an export proposal?

Screenshot 2014-07-13 21.59.17And you know you’re in the village when your uncle stops a random stranger in the street and introduces you to them because you’re related!!
The evening, the morning, wedding day!

Got up early, did some work and then a bit of reading, and then prepped for my cousin’s wedding. She still didn’t know I was around, he he he.

We got to church and I think the last time I was inside this particular church I was a child. As in child, child. Still looks beautiful though, wonder why we don’t invest in ‘protecting’ all these aged buildings. See potential tourist site o…

Took pictures with my uncles, and a selfie with uncle B!

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Went off to the reception, and things stood out for me so I tweeted (me and Twitter sha)…

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Na wa!

 

Eating, dancing, and gifting over, it was time to head back to Asaba, and I didn’t want to go.

Pertinent note from Daddy as we crossed the Niger Bridge and I wondered why people were risking life and limb to board buses on the bridge going into Asaba.

Apparently, if they board on the bridge, the trip costs N100 because it is classed as ‘local’ (because some people see the bridge as part of Delta) but if they board anywhere in Onitsha (even if it’s just before said bridge), it becomes an out-of-state trip and it goes up to N150, maybe even N200.

And that my darlings, is the story of my trip to the greatest village/town on earth!

 

 

PS – Written on the 11th (and completed on the 11th) of July.

Henry is deep. So deep. I don’t know what else to say. He’s been my friend for like 4, 5 years, and he’s just deep! Does he annoy me? Of course! You need to see us arguing debating stuff on Twitter. But there’s always something to be learned, and what’s a relationship if there’s no growth?

This is one piece in the entire series that resonated so much with me, it made me emotional.

The carnage caused by terrorism so far in 2014 is unprecedented. The insurgents have become even more brazen. They have made it look as if there is nothing security forces will try that will work. It has been harrowing.

While I walked to church this morning, with roads across and adjourning the church premises cordoned off with armed, anxious looking soldiers and policemen standing on guard at the entrances and at strategic positions, my mind did a very quick time travel to what life was about 5 years ago.

Sunday mornings were days of bliss, with everyone out dressed in gay attires, with smiles and expectation of a miracle from their God. There was no need for soldiers to be around, except maybe they came for Armed Forces Remembrance day thanksgiving. Police was around, in very few places, just to maintain law and order. Barricades in front of a church would have been seen as strange. There was peace then, relative peace. A kind of peace we took for granted and would do anything to have now.

We are at war.

The other day after the EMAB bomb blast at the end of June, I came across footage of what actually went down that fateful afternoon. The first thing that caught my eye on the video was a hand, lying lonely on the sidewalk, blown away from the wrist. I saw a girl, a “pure water” hawker. She couldn’t have been anything more than 15 years old. She was dead. Burnt with only her hair remaining. She died face down with her legs blown off. I also saw a man, badly burnt. So badly burnt all you could see was the blackened form of what used to be his body. Both of his legs had been blown off. He laid still. By the time the camera panned back to him, he was moving. He opened his eyes, tried to get up, he couldn’t. He looked down at his legs and collapsed again. He wasn’t dead, but I doubted if he knew where he was. I saw a lot of things I would rather not continue describing.

5 years ago, these kinds of things were alien. People don’t just get blown up by a car that a well dressed man parked in front of a shopping mall and walked away.

2014 has been gruesome.

A guy I used to do some work with, Emmanuel is still in hospital recuperating. He was a victim of the Nyanya bomb blast. He had only just got married 2 weeks earlier. We don’t know if he is ever going to walk again. He is only one of the lucky who are alive to tell their story from the two blasts that rocked Nyanya Motor Park.

The first half of 2014 made it evident that we can’t take peace and life for granted anymore. Every day we are told to avoid crowded places like markets, places of entertainment, places of worship, motor parks and bus stops. Places we didn’t need to think twice before going to in the past.

It is sobering that our lives now have to be remodeled so that we can at least have a chance to remain alive. We don’t know where the next bomb will go off. We don’t know what next the terrorists are planning, we don’t know if all of a sudden a bullet will whizz over our heads and hit the unfortunate man in front of us. We don’t even know if that unfortunate man will be us or our family member.

My name is Henry Okelue, Nigerian and a Public Servant; I miss the peace I used to know. I miss it so, so dearly.

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Olamide is one of those friends that I cannot do without. Does he drive me up the wall? Absolutely. Is he one of the closest friends I have on earth today who I can go to with anything and not feel judged or looked down on? Absolutely. Is he one to uphold his friends in prayer, with words of encouragement, with love, and with physical manifestations of that love? Yes Sir!

I love Olamide (lots and lots), and can I say congratulations on your engagement? She’s a gorgeous lady (in and out), and I wish you both all the joy possible.

I give you @RevDrCraig!

A few days ago I got a surprise call from a friend from school I hadn’t seen in many, many years. That call birthed this piece you now read.

This week I met up with that old acquaintance, a lady whose exceptional beauty back in high school made all the boys go gaga.  She was vacationing in the capital and wanted to know if I could show her around. After picking her up at Euston station, we went to Trafalgar Square, London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Madame Tussauds, Westfield Mall, and goofed around like tourists taking pictures of everything and anything that caught our fancy. As we caught up on the 15 years that had gone by, I couldn’t help but wonder where the ‘wow’ factor went. She was still quite good to look at, but the exquisite beauty she once had seemed to have faded away, or at least paled into a less blinding glare. For the first time since I’d known her, I actually saw who she was, talked to her, wasn’t carried away by her looks, and realized that there was more to her than was so obviously apparent. I wondered how many people, like me, had missed out on seeing a wonderful person simply because all we saw was ‘a fine face and a hot body’.

I really enjoyed spending the day with her and as I walked away from the platform at Euston, I pondered at the absurdity of our generation that ubiquitously employs beauty as the foremost yardstick in the selection of a potential mate. This absurdity was first made apparent to me when, after I announced my engagement a few months ago, an associate of mine clapped me jocularly on the back exclaiming, “You’ve done it bro! Congratulations! You have finally found a woman finer than you who has agreed to marry you”. You see, I met my fiancé last year, just when I was coming out of an extended period of deep self-reflection following a string of very bad decisions. For months, I had been acting out of character and ironically chasing after beauty, weaving in and out of fragile relationships with some of the most beautiful women I had ever met; tall, short, curvy, straight, dark and fair. It took falling in love with this one to make it clear to me that the true worth of a woman is vested, not in the beauty of her face, or the curves on her body, but in the depth of her soul.

When pictures of my fiancé and I emerged, the most frequent comments were those praising her beauty and what a beautiful couple we made. One friend asked jokingly, “Did you conduct a beauty pageant and then propose to the winner?” LOL! Sure, most of these comments were made in good faith and were not in the least bit intended to offend nor did it mean that those who made them were shallow or anything of that sort. They were merely commenting on what they saw weren’t they, admiring a beautiful couple that were sure to have a beautiful marriage? Maybe it was all harmless banter, simple admiration, and unveiled praise.

Unfortunately, the reverse might also be the case. I know this because I too was once stuck in that place where deep in my heart I held to a primitive notion that the more beautiful a couple are, the more likely it was that their marriage would succeed. Perhaps the Disney fairy tales of beautiful princesses and handsome princes that ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after had fatally tainted my view of reality?  I know for certain, that a handful of those reading this now also share this view I once held, for it seems to me that the Ovation wedding culture of the past, once the preserve of the super rich has trickled down and has become the BellaNaija wedding culture of today. It is no secret, however, that some of the most celebrated high-profile weddings of the most gorgeous couples do not even last a year!

So to answer Chioma’s question; “What have I learned?”

I have learnt again something that I should never have forgotten. It took talking to a woman whose beauty once mesmerised me to remind me of a truth I used to know; Indeed, Beauty fades but character is enduring.

To all the beautiful girls out there who have character but are only sought after for their looks, I apologize on behalf of all men. But remember, if that’s all you put on the table, then perhaps that’s all we are inclined to see.

My name is Olamide Craig. I am Nigerian.

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I’m horrible with writing about death, but then I guess everyone is, and at some point or the other in life, we will have to do things we’d much rather we didn’t. Even the death of an enemy leaves a sour taste, talk less of a friend, family member, or in this case, someone I really admired and would have been super privileged to meet.

I watched a TedTalk at the end of 2013 Mr. Dumor gave on reporting stories out of Africa, and he should know, he’s been the face of BBC’s Focus on Africa from the inception of the programme in 2012. Everyday. His talk was so funny! Beyond the laughs, I was totally smitten by his confidence, his eyes, alive with excitement and maybe mischief and I was upset when it ended.

I told myself that I would meet him in the New Year, and even though I didn’t immediately have a plan to do that, I purposed to try.

On the evening of the 17th, I was chatting with a much older friend of mine, and Komla came on. I mentioned I was a massive fan and I wanted to meet him, and this friend said they’d been in the same class at Harvard and sure, he’d facilitate an introduction the next morning. I was super excited, and the only thing that stopped me from insisting on an introduction there and then was the fact that it was a little late, and I was literally on my way home.

And then about midday the next day, I saw on Twitter that Komla Dumor had passed. What??? “Cruel jokers”, I thought, racing to BBC’s website to prove they were wrong. BBC didn’t carry it immediately, but staff were already tweeting condolence messages.

Just like that, he was gone. Aged 41, Komla Dumor passed of a suspected heart attack. One day on TV, gone the next day. The uncertainty that this life is.

I grieved like I had lost a personal friend – because it was yet another reminder that life is short, and we must do whatever we need to do as soon as we can. Grieved all the way to Instagram.

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And so today, exactly six months after, somehow I can now write and bid him farewell, hope he’s in a better place, and tell him he was a shining light for us young uns.

More importantly, I pray for God’s great comfort on his family.

Rest in peace Komla Dumor.

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Back to the girls and out of Nigeria, we’re off to The Netherlands and a guest post from Paulien Boone, a super amazing lady I met in May! Before I talk about her successfully coordinating 70 delegates from three continents for the Hope XXL Summit (think applications, visas, travel, etc), can I just say she has a new initiative called the Paris Declaration? Check on it!

By the way, The Hague is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been to, and I can’t wait for the next opportunity to go back!

My name is Paulien Boone, I am Dutch and I work for a nonprofit in The Netherlands. In the first half of 2014 I learned that I have a voice.

The year 2014 started off pretty great: I won a national essay writing contest on fundraising. The essay had to be about connecting with donors, and to my great surprise I won the contest and was awarded the title of “Young Fundraising Talent 2014”. This award did not bring about a big change in my life as a fundraiser for nonprofits, but it did make me realize something else: I love to write.

Even before the start of 2014 I had already registered my own website, the Paris Declaration, which is designed to help readers get the most out of their time on earth and change the world in the process. This is something I’m really passionate about, because I believe that it is possible to have a wonderful life, apply your talents and change the world at the same time.

This belief is not something I developed overnight. It is directly linked to the experiences I’ve had so far, with (mostly young) people deciding to become changemakers. It’s amazing to see what happens when someone discovers new talents while working on something they believe in. They grow as a person and as a changemaker, and it makes a big impact on their lives and on the people around them.

Unlocking this potential is something I want to contribute to, and something I want to learn more about by writing about it and connecting with others.

One of the highlights of the year so far was a couple of days during which I got to do exactly that: connect with an international group of amazing, talented and inspiring young people. They were all participating in a conference I organized in The Hague (Chioma took part as well!). This group confirmed the famous saying to me: our similarities are far greater than our differences. It inspired me to continue building the Paris Declaration to support them and many others. It also gave me the courage to launch it and commit to writing a new article every week. The inspiration brought about by this experience is something I’m truly grateful for.

I’m super excited about the second half of the year, which will be all about supporting readers with valuable content and offering an online home to all changemakers out there. The first six months of 2014 were dedicated to starting up, and now, at halftime, I can reflect and conclude that I can’t wait to grow further. Bring on the rest of the year, I’m ready!

Paulien

Gorgeous!!!

Thank you so much Paulien!

 

 

One of the reasons why I love the #31Days31Writers series is because somehow it provides a mash-up of cultures, ethnicities, and people doing the most diverse things! This month is the most diverse yet, and you should look forward to voices from just about every continent there is! SPeaking of which, I need more guys to come through with their pieces! Want to get involved? Email dfairygodsister(at)yahoo(dot)com and I’ll be in touch!

Dozie is a friend on Twitter who saw my call for entries and was super gracious to not only indicate interest in the project, but also sent in his piece on time! Thank you! From his piece he appears to be a serious-minded, eyes-on-the-ball kind of person… 

The phrase “may you live in interesting times” has never been more apt for me than at this time in my life, never mind the purported origin of the phrase.  I have been back in Nigeria for two years and each day takes on its own character!  My name is Dozie Okpalaobieri, I am Nigerian and I am the Special Assistant on Energy to the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance.  So for one, the activities in the power sector keeps me busy among other work that I do.

Every day is a learning experience and I dare say, if I had to rephrase, I would say I have learned three major things….We work long hours, meeting with people, ferreting out facts and figures and cranking out briefs and one very important lesson is need to take a break, look after my health and get some rest.  It is certainly easy to keep running on adrenaline, ignoring the headache and curing that obnoxious malaria with yet another dose of Coartem.  As I once learned, seeing the doctor may just be as important as that malaria may indeed be Typhoid and in addition to medication, rest is a must.  It is important that despite pushing ourselves to the limit, we need to recharge our batteries to enable us come back and continue the work.

I have also learned that I cannot please everybody at work and at home even though there is a balance somewhere there and lastly, especially given my experience in the last 18 months, never believe everything you read in the newspapers.  It is always amazing to see something you worked on, reported in a distorted way or with some assumptions that make no sense whatsoever.

Having said that, I am certainly grateful for family, for their support and their patience in the face of my late nights at work and for friends who continually provide support but challenge us in the face of our policies we come up with.  They are also important in making us stay grounded and enable us to understand how others perceive and understand the impact of our work.  I am of course grateful for my direct colleagues and others who help to contribute to responsible development in this country of ours.

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Ladies, do you want to find out if he’s single?

 

I am currently concerned about two things – the security situation in the country and politicians whose verbal diarrhea does not bode well for political discourse.  So for the second half of the year, I look forward to an improved security environment and hope that the politics of the 2015 election does not have a negative impact on citizens.  Generally, I would hope that we can continue to get results and move this nation forward.

Have you been following my movement? Lo. I’ve been called Jeremiah (I don’t get it), Mrs Ajala (smh), and a host of other names. SMH again!

By the way, I’m in Abuja! Whoop! Always a blessing to see my nephew! Quick, somewhat uneventful trip to be honest, nothing out of the ordinary (have to chip in though that Discovery Air is brilliant), except that I will/can never understand why people go all out with their dressing/makeup for flights. Especially the night flights, where the basic idea is to board and sleep, not like day flights allow for parties or board meetings if you get my drift. I don’t get it!

When I travel I like to be so comfortable I’ve formed the habit of not even wearing belts so there are less things to take off when passing security and so nothing ‘holds me while I’m sleeping. If it’s not winter I’ll most likely be wearing slippers, again so I don’t have to wrangle with my shoes.

Now even though I know everyone isn’t me (or like me), it never fails to amuse me when I see babes dressed to the nines, heels and all! Anyway, according to one of my friends, ‘you never know where you will find love (or work) and you must be ready’. Of course she is consistently guilty!

Anyway, I’m in Abuja, weeks after my super fabulous birthday! As always I’m grateful for safe travels, for a roof over my head, and the privileges I have. God is so good to me!

Now quick update on my giveaway (I must be the worst person you have seen do a giveaway, sigh), I sent off these six books to Ivy Ben,

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and the Message Bible to @eBunite.

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@eBunite sent that photo via Twitter, and then emailed to say thank you but I haven’t heard a sound from Ivy Ben. Did I ask for too much in saying winners should send a photo of their items when they receive them?

It is a tad funny/disrespectful for me because I sent a number of emails that have so far received no replies. The transport company however confirmed to me that the books were claimed, so let’s just leave it at that. These things happen, ey?

Moving quickly to update number two, the remaining winners were (((LIST))). Now, that I’m around again I can send off the books by Scott Hempling to the winners so please email an address, full name and contact number and your preferred transport company soon as you can to dfairygodsister(at)yahoo(dot)com!

For the winners of “Democracy and prebendalism in Nigeria: Critical interpretations. Edited by Adebanwi and Obadare”, and “Rewire: Digital cosmopolitans in the age of connection by Ethan Zuckerman’, I’ve got really bad news.

The donor wasn’t able to send them in to me, had some issues with logistics. He sent these two as a replacement though, and both of you (Lade and Dede) are welcome to them. Again, please email your details so I can send them out!

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Final update – there’s two copies of the book by Scott Hempling (Nonye has the first copy), and the first two people to email me their details gets it!

Everyone else who didn’t win something, I’ve got another giveaway in the offing (and I promise it won’t take this long) so stay tuned!

Finally (I mean it this time), there are still slots open for people who want to join the #31Days31Writers project for July! You need to reach me at dfairygodsister(at)yahoo(dot)com while there are still spaces! Get in touch already! If you don’t know what it’s about, there’s some information here.

I don’t live in Borno. Never been either, and the two people I know from there, are resident in Abuja. I have friends who live in/around Nyanya though. The blast on the 14th? Could have been any one of them but that’s not the point.

The 200+ girls missing from Government Girls’ Secondary School Chibok have parents, brothers, sisters, maybe even boyfriends and/or husbands who are looking for them, who are distraught because not only is our military not sure how many girls were taken in the first place, they seem to be clueless on how to get them back.

The sheer inequality in the way disasters are handled in this country is the reason why I’m joining a peaceful march tomorrow. The parents are alone, no empathy or visit from our leaders, no words of comfort, nothing that says, ‘we feel your pain”. Nothing.

The 28th of April (yesterday) made it two weeks since these girls were snatched from their dormitories (Lord only knows why the school wasn’t shut down like all the others but let’s not go there) and we don’t know where they are – if they are still alive, what horrors they must have been exposed to – how many of them have been sold, raped, beaten, used for rituals, we do not know.

Bring back our girls

As someone on Twitter said yesterday, “two weeks, over 200 girls, no tampons, toothbrushes or change of lingerie” – disgraceful. Even more disgraceful is that there is no sense of urgency with the way this disaster is being handled. A meeting of all the joint chiefs and governors that degenerated into a “we invited them but they didn’t come” vs a “we weren’t invited” argument? Really? We’re playing politics with lives?

I speak to my folks at least three times a week (AT LEAST), and no, I am not an only child. I must salute the courage, the resilience, and the ability to absorb pain that the parents of these girls have shown cos I know mine would have passed on from the trauma. What would your parents do if they didn’t know where you were? For two weeks? And it didn’t look like anyone was seriously looking for you?

If you’re in Abuja, please join us tomorrow at the Unity Fountain (opposite the Hilton) as we march to The Presidency to respectfully ask that someone find the balls to bring our girls back.

Time is 3pm – 8pm (please ask today for permission to close early tomorrow). We’re wearing red in solidarity (but please wear whatever you’re comfortable in).

At some point, we need to go past the comforts of ranting on Facebook and Twitter, and put actions where our keypads are.
Youth are the leaders of tomorrow? Well 200+ of them are missing.

See you tomorrow.

#BringBackOurGirls

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It’s been a while I had an entrepreneur on the blog, and so when I sent @IamuzayAp a message on Instagram and he graciously said he’d give me a few minutes, I was thrilled!

Yusuf Abubakar (Mr Tumi) is a computer engineer, designer, stylist, personal shopper, and a serial entrepreneur. He is a watch ambassador at Ritmo Mundo, and you can find a bit more about him here.

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Ready? Let’s do it!

FGS: First off, thanks for taking the time to chat, and at such short notice! I was going to make the meet and greet you had in London, say hello personally, but I was reminded last-minute of another engagement and there was no way I could merge the two.

Yusuf: The pleasure is mine, we had the event on a short notice so I wouldn’t fault you on that ha, but your keen interest is much appreciated.

FGS: Welcome to the 3, 2, 1 series! Let’s start with your Skype profile message which says, “when I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single talent left….” What does that quote mean to you?

Yusuf: it basically means using all the talents we have on earth to the best of our ability based on the fact that when we go back to the creator we won’t need any of those. I want my talent to be part of my access to paradise by helping as many people as I can and doing the best with whatever I have on this earth.

FGS: What are these talents you speak of? Put differently, what gets you out of bed every morning?

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Yusuf: Funny but I don’t see my self as being talented, I only get told I am.. I have been involved in a lot of things all my life. Let’s start from my secondary school days when I came up with a month-long campaign to adopt a class project and my mates laughed at it. The idea was to get parents to adopt classrooms and distribute laptops, tiles, electric blackboards, etc. I pitched the idea to parents on visiting day because it was a boarding school. At the time I calculated that a class would be transformed for about 5million or so. Before I left the school we had almost 7 classes out of twelve adopted and that’s excluding staff room and other facilities!

I have always tried to initiate things on my own; from a promotional event company, to working with a radio station in Leicester. Then I came up with my brand as a university project in 2011 – I love sketching. I may not be as good as I was anymore but that was my starting point of designs.

FGS: Incredible! Tell us about your brand. After the university project, were you totally convinced building a label was what you wanted to do, or was there a turning point moment?

Yusuf: I made a design for our entrepreneurship module and when I posted it online, my mates went crazy for the shoes. It wasn’t even any good based on the quality but they went ballistic so I registered my company immediately!

I got Leon Best to wear my jacket; he was with Newcastle and we were supposed to do a project together; he plays for Blackburn Rovers now. However, Ivory Coast play Tiote Check Ismael of Newcastle United saw my design, liked it, got in touch, and now we’re working together.

FGS: Speaking of football and footballers, how was that connection born?

Yusuf: To be honest I don’t know, I think if your work is good people will come through. I say hard work spotlights the character of people; some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.

FGS: Question 3 – If you had three wishes that you were sure would be granted, what would you ask for?

Yusuf: Hmmm. First, I’d wish that Nigerians and Nigerian companies embraced their own, supported other ventures besides music.

Second, I’d wish for checks. Africa has great designers but no product checks, no material checks, size charts, nothing. We need to focus on that.

Finally, I’d want to see bigger companies sponsoring African brands in Europe and supporting their standalone shops like the Christian Dior’s, LV’s, Bottega Veneta’s, Margiela’s, Gucci’s, etc.

FGS:  Awesome!  Looks like it’s all about the brand and the fashion for you; I notice you didn’t even have a private/personal wish!

Yusuf: Ha ha, I thought we were speaking just about the brand.

FGS: Nope, I’m interested not only in the brand, but the person behind it!

Yusuf: My personal wish would be for everyone to be successful… and that one day they could have my statue at Madame Tussauds.

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FGS: Ha ha ha! How many working hours do you have in your day?

Yusuf: To be quite honest I have exceeded my limit but let’s say about 17-19hours.

FGS: out of 24? Or are you one of the select few that have 30 hours in their day? What’s a typical day like?

Yusuf: I don’t think I ever have a typical day o. I could be checking what Forbes is saying or doing a Data Flow Diagram of an app I am working on or maybe I want to travel to a vintage city with a lot of English or any cultural history.

FGS: Question 2 – what are two things that an upcoming fashion designer needs to have to succeed in the business?

Yusuf: Business plan, supportive friends, inspiring environment, finance, work on retail outlet or if you can do it yourself fine, deliver well and deliver great

FGS: Lol, Yusuf I said two o! Do you have a ready to wear collection or you stick to bespoke outfits/couture?

Yusuf: All my stuff is ready to wear. We have our products in Cannes stores at the moment and we’re working on other places. Plus, I’m very easy to contact.

FGS: Cool. What was your biggest challenge with starting the brand?

Yusuf: Finance, support and knowing your target market. Then you need a feasible plan and measurable deliverables.

FGS: So did you have a pot of money when you started out?

Yusuf: nope I just had better networking. if I had a pot of money, my secretary would probably be doing this interview (lol). Truth is everyone has different strategy but money is king we all know this. I’ve been very fortunate.

FGS: I totally understand. It also means I should be grateful you don’t have a pot of money (yet)… Lol. Where’s the place of family in your business?

Yusuf: Family? I like to be discrete with that; I try not to mix them at all

FGS: I understand about that too. Final question. What is the one thing in the world you cannot do without?

Yusuf: wow… let’s say my Laptop, power, Internet; gadgets in general to be honest.

FGS: Lol, Yusuf, I said ONE thing!

Yusuf: Am I safe then to say technology?

FGS: Ha ha ha, that’s a sly answer, but it will do! Thank you so much Yusuf for chatting with me today, I really appreciate it!

Yusuf: The honor is mine, much appreciated dear!

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