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Onomarie Uriri Honours Chude Jideonwo as He Turns 30! “A Birthday Tribute to the King of Misfits”



The first time I saw Chude Jideonwo, he was on television; a fifteen year-old boy talking about a new book he had just written and published titled ‘My Father’s Knickers.

I was very annoyed, for no reason other than the fact that this boy-man person was so self-assured and talked so seriously about things I didn’t know about. He didn’t look like an ‘aje-butter,’ didn’t have that crisp accent that would suggest he came from abroad, so why did he appear to be so smart?
“Who does this boy think he is? And what type of name is Chude sef?” I thought furiously to myself.
I disliked him on principle.

You see, like Chude, I was also fifteen years old; but unlike him, I was currently in the faffing-around-colour-my-hair-blonde-and-go-shopping-at-Collectibles stage of my life. I didn’t know who I was, wasn’t overly concerned about who I wanted to be in future, and certainly had not published a book. So, of course I didn’t like him. But I kept watching the show and listened to this boy run, what I had quickly decided was his very sharp mouth.
Towards the end of the show, the presenter asked how people could contact him, biro poised in hand, I was prepared to write down a telephone number (NITEL anyone?), when surprisingly, Chude rattled off a yahoo email address.
Eyes widening in shock, I stopped. You see, it was the year 2000, and you either had to be very cool, or very “janded”, or a combination of both to have an email. Reluctantly, I decided that maybe this Chude boy was not so annoying after all. I wrote down the email address in my secondary school slum book, and promptly forgot about it. But it was one of the major reasons why I paid 500 naira then, at a cyber café to open my own yahoo email account.
In subsequent years, I would see more of Chude; as the co-presenter with Livi Ajuonuma on a show on NTA Channel 10, as a co-presenter with Gina Harry on MBI, as a columnist in the Tempo magazine my mum used to buy then, and as the Marxist-looking, Ankara-wearing boy at the University of Lagos, where we both attended. I never said hi, (I still didn’t like him), but a grudging respect and awareness bloomed.

Fast forward to 2007, in local parlance, “somehow-somehow,” Chude and I met, and we eventually became good friends. Rather ironic isn’t it? But that’s not the point.

Those who have met Chude and interacted closely with him will attest to these three things: meeting Chude will confuse, challenge and eventually change you. Confuse you, because he’s thinking/doing a zillion and one things at the same time, and it’s hard to keep up. While you’re in 2015, I can assure you, that Chude has already scoped out 2045. Challenge you because, he never allows you to peacefully exist in a state of inertia or ordinariness. If you have a hidden skill or talent that you are leaving to waste, you can be sure that Chude will sniff it out and ensure you put it to good use. Change you because, though he is a prodigy, and by extension, naturally impatient,

Chude is one of the most compassionate, large-hearted people I’ve ever known. He may come across as an activist to some, the consummate and serial entrepreneur to others, but deep inside, he has the true soul of an artist, the one who understands what it means to be a misfit, and the one who dreams big dreams that are scary and motivating all at once.

Chude comes to mind whenever I read this world famous quote from the late Steve Jobs:

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

So today, as he turns 30 – I wish Chude a very hearty and happy birthday. I wish him many more years of laughter, love, joy, peace, happiness and progress – the kind that is divinely given. The pressed-down, shaken together and running over kind.
On behalf of other misfits and rebels, we will keep looking at him and use him, sometimes as a compass to guide us, to lead us, and to make us remember that if we are crazy enough to think we can change the world, we actually can. Keep shining CJ!

Francesca is the Head of Communications for West Africa at Uber. A Public Relations and Communications expert with 11+ years’ experience spanning corporate relations, corporate reputation management, event architecture, media management and content development, Francesca has worked on a broad range of projects and accounts, providing strategic communication and media engagement strategy for a variety of Fortune 500 companies, social impact organizations, and start-ups. She is also the Founder of Leading Ladies Africa; a women empowerment non-profit that celebrates the lives of African women, and promotes leadership, diversity and gender inclusion. Follow her @zanyfran on Twitter and Instagram Running in Heels is a (safe) place where we can have honest, heartfelt, “no-frills” conversations about being career women (and men) in the workplace.