Recently, I was fortunate enough to celebrate with TW magazine as they turned four. Adesuwa Onyenokwe, the publisher and Kemi Ogunleye, the editor, decided to celebrate Nigerian women as they celebrated TW and so they created the Phoenix gala. First I attended the Champagne brunch; The chosen space, decor and all the style elements were just so and created a wonderful ambiance. The elegance of the venue and decor was however dwarfed by the beauty of the women there. However in spite of all the glamor and style, what really moved me was the concept of mentorship and celebrating each other.
I listened and watched women who I started hearing about way back when I was a girl in Queen’s college, women like Grace Alele Williams and more contemporary matriarchs like Joke Silva, who I must say, exudes grace. There were so many amazing women there and I was once again struck by how exceptional Nigerian women are.
Certainly it is not these stories that we hear most often, but the stories of blackberry babes and the like. Stories that paint Nigerian women only as foolish victims or money hungry villains. Since arriving in Lagos just a few weeks ago, every day has been a reminder that we are more. So much more.
Adesuwa said she wanted to do this through TW, because she wanted us to remember that we were walking in footsteps that were created before we came and to realize that others will also walk in those that we create as we blaze trails through this life. I applauded her loudly when she said this because it is true. I also applauded when Genevieve Nnaji, said that to be admired and recognized by men is nice, but when women do it, it is even more humbling, because we Nigerian women don’t often know how to appreciate each other. This is also true.
I was even more moved when Yewande Zacchaeus and Funke Bucknor-Obruthe were called to the stage and both of them, though business competitors were so graceful and giving to each other, modeling the spirit of collaboration that allows women to truly shine.
It was an amazing two days and it had me thinking. What would Nigeria be like, if we the women really learned how to celebrate and collaborate with each other? If we stopped competing and stepping on each other?
At that event, I walked in on to the purple carpet and for a minute, I didn’t see anyone I knew, however I saw a beautiful woman standing off to the side and I decided to walk up and say hello. I stuck my hand out, introduced myself and smiled. She smiled back and said hello, though she looked slightly taken aback. She later remarked to her friend who happened to know me about how shocking it was that I was so friendly.
But why not! Why can’t we in Lagos, let down our guards and be friendly to each other. extend a helping hand, cut through all the hate and appreciate each other for the wonderfully made creatures that we are. Why can’t we allow ourselves to be mentored or to mentor other younger ones? Why has the spirit of collaboration and co-operation died within us, replaced instead by competition and hateration? There is enough room in the sky for every star to shine. And just imagine how Nigeria would be, if everyone shone as brightly as they were born to…Just what would that look like.
This is a message of admonition and indeed encouragement. Today is a new day. And it brings with it, new mercies, new opportunities. If you are in a position of knowledge and opportunity, take someone under your wing today and help them learn to fly. If you are positioned to learn then reach out to someone and ask them to mentor you. A woman wrote me and said she had been at one of my events and felt uncomfortable among all the elite ladies and as such she didn’t stick around to say hello. I told her I wish she had, because we are all elite ladies and she would have been surprised at how open and friendly all these women were. We must be the change we wish to see in the world, to quote Ghandi. Today I pledge to be that change. Will you?
PS: Since my last article I have gotten numerous emails and requests for one on one coaching and so if I haven’t responded please forgive me, I plan to. I have even been inspired to open up my client list. However, I am teaching three classes that I know will be beneficial to some of the women that reached out to me and through the kind sponsorship of my personal network,I am able to offer a total of 6 free registrations (valued at N5000 each) to Lagos based BellaNaija readers. There are two spots in each class. The classes are being held in Ikoyi and below is a description and schedule for the free spaces:
Create your own silver lining: Honestly this is an important class for anyone who feels as if life has handed them a terrible set of circumstances or someone who is currently dealing with a painful situation. I have received emails from women in bad marriages, women who have unfortunate beginnings, but this class will not only inspire you, it will give you step by step strategies to turn your pain into your gain. Pain can be a tool to transform your life. Don’t hide it, don’t stuff it, come and learn how to own it and use it. Monday October 10th at 6:30pm.
Passion Spark: This class will show you how to identify your passion and purpose and then begin to create a plan to bring it to fruition. We were all born for a purpose, this class will inspire you to begin the process of shining. Tuesday October 11th at 10:30am
Write your own story: This class will open you up to see your life in a new way. If you don’t like where you are today, then consider everything up till now your prologue. It will help you take authority and responsibility for your life by asking questions in a writing workshop format, (like who is the main character in your story, if you think that you are where you are because some uncle in the village swung a chicken around at midnight, then guess what, he is the main character in your story), thereby empowering you to create the life you want. Wednesday October 12th at 6:30pm.
In order to be considered for these registration tickets, please leave a comment here (it can be generic) and also send me an email at [email protected], expressing why you desire to come and what class you will be attending. Based on the emails received, I will reach out immediately to the selected participants.
Ekene Onu is a lifestyle strategist currently in Lagos, Nigeria and she is holding a series of workshops for the next few weeks. You can get more information at www.refreshwithekene.eventbrite.com. Follow her on twitter @ekeneonline and you can find her on facebook.