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Atoke’s Monday Morning Banter: Ordinary Person, Extraordinary Life




Usually when someone dies, we find ourselves in a reflective mood. We laud their achievements and mourn their loss with a certain intensity which slowly fades away as other things happen. Life goes on. Those who have died have gone; we, who are alive are left to keep running the race. And as such, we return to the normalcy of our lives – bickering, name calling, the endless hustle continues. How often do we come back to that moment of reflection and actively making a conscious effort to make our time here count?

Yesterday, I watched a biopic on the life of Stephen Hawking. (Please check him out on the internet if you don’t know who he is). The first time I heard about Stephen Hawking was when he appeared on an episode of Big Bang Theory. He is some super duper quantum physicist of whom Sheldon was in awe. After that episode, I went online and read up on him. Here was a genius who was living in a body that had slowly depreciated as a result of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). He was diagnosed in his 20s and he is now 72. Which means he has lived with this condition for most of his life. He described it as living with the shadow of death hovering over him every day for the past 50 years. However, it didn’t stop him from taking giant strides in life.

Stephen Hawking’s work has been ground breaking in the world of science. Now, the part that completely floored me was this. Hawking had just signed a deal for his book “A Brief History of Time” when he fell ill. He had a serious case of pneumonia and as a result of this, he lost what was left of his ability to speak. He was gutted that he wouldn’t be able to finish his book. This was the book where he planned to break down quantum physics and the cosmology of the earth to the lay man; and here he was unable to communicate. Luckily, some tech geniuses at Silicon Valley developed some software to recognize his facial muscles and help translate it into words.

A Brief History of Time has sold over 8 million copies worldwide since it first went into print.

The story of Stephen Hawking left me with a very powerful message. At a time when the world is celebrating the successes of Madiba and the life he lived, I’m sitting here at my desk thinking. Two great men. Two different sides of the globe. Two different life stories. One powerful message.

“Ordinary Person. Extraordinary Life”

Hawking is not dead but his life’s work has had a lot of impact on me. His attitude to life and his mindset with regards living with the cards he was dealt. The more his body failed him, the more acute his mind became. What he lacked in physical capacity, he made up for with a resolution of mind.

If we can all think that we are ordinary people, with a goal of living extraordinary lives, the world will be such an amazing place for our children. In that which you think is mundane, if you strive for excellence at all times, you’d be a shining light – a beacon of hope.

You don’t have to have all the money in the world, or have two functioning legs. Heck, you might even be living with a terminal disease. Remember, at all times… Ordinary Person. Extraordinary Life.

Have a fabulous week ahead. Don’t forget to smile and make someone smile too. It’s in the little things that we find joy. It’s how we pay it forward.

Peace, love & cupcakes.

Photo Credit:

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website for more information.


  1. Vanessa

    December 9, 2013 at 9:36 am

    interesting piece.

  2. anonymous

    December 9, 2013 at 9:47 am

    u spoke 2 me cos have just started getting tired of this work i give all my energy 2 and they promote other people and i had just started thinking what is this race all about.but today i have hope not in my job,but in pursuing that biz idea i have had 4 awhile now..thank you

  3. TA

    December 9, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Stephen Hawking hmmm,the same man who said the ‘existence of God was not necessary to explain the origin of the universe’ …and I had to ask myself ‘Can a book exist without an author? ‘There is no God’ says Stephen Hawking,so how does one explain the grand design of the Universe which Hawking himself acknowledged (and no,evolution and all its various theories do not explain it? More like saying a house has no builder.
    Have a great week y’all. 😉

    • Me

      December 9, 2013 at 11:06 am

      That is a controversial topic. I hope it doesn’t divert the message Atoke was trying to pass.

    • chydee

      December 9, 2013 at 11:47 am

      My reservations as well… But I get atoke’s point though

    • Abana

      December 9, 2013 at 11:53 am

      That should not detract from the fact that he has contributed immensely to science! Belief in God is not a passport to an extraordinary life, no? It is a passport to eternal life.

    • asgrl

      December 9, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      How do i assign a gazillion likes to this comment!! Dayum!

    • Wooooo

      December 9, 2013 at 3:23 pm

      It is. People who are mentally impaired can be healed by God. Also, you cannot compare whta could have been in the time of Adam and Eve to now when people are operating with limited talents. If you believe in God, it is the first step to a super duper life BUT YOU HAVE TO DO YOUR PART TO KEEP UP WITH THE UNLIMITED GRACE.

    • Wooooo

      December 9, 2013 at 3:31 pm

      There is no point in working hard and not being able to enjoy it. Jump in Hawaii, skate in Switzerland and twist to Azonto in Ikoyi. Health helps to enjoy money.

    • Ebundetan

      December 9, 2013 at 11:51 pm

      Ur head is there!!!

  4. Mandy

    December 9, 2013 at 10:55 am

    @TA u do speak ‘d pure lang’, don’t u? Reminds me of yday’s WT

    • Hilda

      December 9, 2013 at 5:02 pm

      I speak the pure language!!!
      which cong?

    • TA

      December 9, 2013 at 5:15 pm

      @ Mandy,yes I do. 🙂

  5. Peaches

    December 9, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Thank you T.A for sharing that about Stephen Hawking…

  6. Me

    December 9, 2013 at 11:05 am

    Inspiring! This piece spoke directly to me.

  7. Modella

    December 9, 2013 at 11:53 am is better to die celebrated than not!

  8. Chee

    December 9, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    @ Mandy,I think he does,evolution or creationism cannot explain creation!

  9. Theresa

    December 9, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    @Mandy, yea.. yday’s WT talked about creation and evolution. Good to have someone else that reflects on what we learn.

    • Hilda

      December 9, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      which cong u at?

    • TA

      December 9, 2013 at 5:13 pm

      @ Theresa and Hilda,pleased to meet you both. 🙂

  10. sisimacy

    December 9, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    I get what you are trying to say.but seriously,Hawkings???

  11. Theresa

    December 9, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Very true words. We can have ordinary lives, ordinary jobs, ordinary families, … ordinary everything. Our attitude of being the best and excelling at every task is what transforms it to extraordinary. Thanks Atoke for this reminder.

    For all those fixated on Stephen Hawkings, please understand where Atoke is coming from. Don’t miss the relevance of her message over whether Hawkings believes in God or not. That’s not the point please. Thanks 🙂

  12. jgeorge

    December 9, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    i’m so inspired..Thanks for sharing

  13. CHIKA

    December 9, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Eye opener, inspiring, courage, we can all excel no matter the odds against us!

  14. Thor

    December 9, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    People are fools sha.
    How is Hawkings beliefs even relevant to this article?
    It is about a person who has risen above the challenges life gave him and has hit great heights.
    The man is an inspiration to what can be done no matter the obstacles.
    Atoke nice piece.

    • TA

      December 9, 2013 at 5:08 pm

      @ Thor the ‘wise one’,my comment is just my 2 kobo take on Hawking’s disbelief in God which he is very vocal about. The man’s beliefs are a
      part of who he is,much like Nelson Mandela’s anti-apartheid stance is very much part of who he is remembered as. You could have made your point without the insult.

  15. Thor

    December 9, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    People are fools sha.
    How is Hawkings beliefs even relevant to this article?
    It is about a person who has risen above the challenges life gave him and has hit great heights.
    The man is an inspiration to what can be done no matter the obstacles.
    Atoke nice piece.

  16. Dolapo

    December 9, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    This is too deep for me.

  17. Product of public Education

    December 9, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Why cursing….people are entitled to their opinion.

    Abeg BN when are we getting our own vouchers o!!!! Since your platform is not a one man show so I know or feel you can’t dash out million as others dey do. We go collect top-up vouchers n tinz pple for abroad won’t mind Tesco, M&S, Wal-Mart…..vouchers abi na coupon some they call am. Merry Xmas in advance…abi compliment of the season all join. 🙂

  18. M.h

    December 9, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    @thor that’s rude! Every Individual is entitled to his or her opinion, and what they have said is a statement of fact.
    So why insult them??!

  19. zsa zsa

    December 9, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    We always have to bring religious sentiments where it doesn’t belong.
    Stephen Hawking does not believe in God, and SO?!?!
    The folks that believe in God and scream his name at given opportunity, do they live extra ordinary lives as Atoke was trying to illustrate?
    Please lets focus on the point BEING make your time here on earth count for something, no matter the obstacles, regardless of your spiritual beliefs.

    • Don Draper of Mad Men

      December 9, 2013 at 7:24 pm


      Nigerians are just a bunch of religious fanatics! Does he being an atheist nullify whatever impact he made on this earth?

      I hope you all know the inventor of Microsoft Office is Agnostic/atheist and the maker of apple was a buddhist before he dided. Make una stop to dey use Microsoft Office and iphone/ipad now. Hypocrites! Iranu!

  20. Thor

    December 9, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    What facts have they mentioned and what is its relevance? It is my opinion that it was a foolish post.
    As you said we are all allowed opinions abi?
    It just winds me up how religion is brought into everything and I am losing patience with it.

  21. Ade

    December 9, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    Psalm 14 verse 1: The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”

    Matthew 16:25-27: For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

  22. frances

    December 9, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    Ordinary person,extraordinary life..My mantra right now.God help me.

  23. slice

    December 10, 2013 at 2:55 am

    “Ordinary Person. Extraordinary Life” well said.

  24. alice

    December 10, 2013 at 11:56 am

    I’ve gotten wat’s for me in this article n i’m moving on… well done Atoke

  25. estee

    December 11, 2013 at 12:53 am


  26. teetee

    December 11, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Extraordinary life according to human definition
    I totally understand that these Great men have helped the world,science in great ways But if you believe in God,which i do and im glad to say it…it doesnt count in the eyes of God..Gods not gonna ask you how many books you wrote,how many patents you created,whats did you invent on earth,No my people! he will ask us about the great Commission of Preaching the gospel he gave to us,The ministry of Reconciliation
    I totally understand Atokes message,im just saying All these things are wonderful but if your not living an “extraordinary life” in Gods definition according to his word..then i dont know!

  27. Amiphat

    December 13, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    @ZsaZsa and @Don Draper 3 gbosas for you both. It’s so funny how people let their petty prejudices show when they realise they know ‘something’ about a person that makes them uncomfortable. If Atoke had not mentioned his name, but the fact that he was a brilliant man who had impacted the world as a whole, there would be no sermons here.

    It’s one of the reasons Nigeria and it’s quota system cannot progress – we hire people and allocate cut off marks based on where a person is from as against his skills or the content of his character.

    How does what a man worships or whether he worships at all affect the fact that he is good, intelligent, inspirational, kind, thoughtful…. I could go on, but I won’t .

    Atoke, no vex jare – we have read, digested and shall go forth and do our bit.

    Awon Holy BellaNigerians – when una die come back, please come tell us what your ‘holiness’ did for you. If you can’t come back and do that and non of us ( you included) has seen God or lay solitary claim to him, kindly read without prejudice!!!!!!!

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