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Our Monday Morning Superstar! BellaNaija Reader Toba Aboyeji is Celebrating Atoke’s Birthday in the Sweetest Way

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Happy birthday Atoke!!

When BellaNaija writer Atoke announced that she’d be dropping the “pen” for her weekly Atoke Monday Morning Banter quite a number of hearts were broken.

Celebrating her birthday today, we received a very sweet article from one of her ardent readers and fan.

Written by Toba Aboyeji, the article shares a personal glimpse into the life of Atoke and shows just how impactful her weekly column has been in the past 3 years.

***

Amazing, independent, fun, committed, enigmatic and deep; these words best describe one of the most incredible gifts God fashioned for the world on a day like this. As I write this, I am trying to caption the concept; call it an ode, a tribute, an open letter or even as one of my friends succinctly put it, “famzing”….all I know is that you deserve to have a place in the Hall of Fame.

I am definitely struggling to find the right adjective that aptly captures the over one hundred shades of emotions that engulfed my mortal and innermost being as I read your farewell article on Monday Morning Banter last week. You just eliminated one of my Monday rituals without consulting the gods, all in the name of moving forward??? My first thought was  “Chaii…How dare you?” but as I read through, my indignation quickly turned to happiness for you as it became clear that  this would be one of those curves you have always negotiated on your path to greatness.

As I scrolled down and read the comments, the love and emotion from the AMMB movement was almost palpable, my levator anguli oris did not have a choice but to co-operate with other muscles on my face to break into successive marathon of smiles that warmed my heart. (I guess we will understand why at the end of this). One of the comments that stood out for me was the call for a send-forth party for you because you definitely deserve to have one.

When I was coming back from church on Sunday, I was going through a mental list of upcoming birthdays for the week and I remembered that it is your day today, so I decided  to do my own send-forth by celebrating you with my rookie writing skills that I have always promised you that I will  develop someday.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? (I promise not to tell any embarrassing stories…not!) October 7,1995  I had just resumed my Senior Secondary School at the urbane school where you attended. The bulk of the students were from above average and wealthy homes, needless to say the “forming” associated with  “my papa get money pass your papa’’ was prevalent. This particular day was the Founders Day; it was a day we all looked forward to. In a way, it was a mini-Christmas day; it was a day to flaunt your brand new clothes, ‘puncture your innocence’, explore your juvenile instincts and party till mama calls. Amidst the pomp and pageantry that occasioned the day, I caught a glimpse of you; you stood out in a special way with your low haircut (remember… hahaha) there was a lot that was refreshing about your demeanour…some sort of “elegant shyness”

I soon realized you were the youngest in my set, (Hahaha, see me feeling like an ancient of days) and you rolled with only one friend (you know who). You were in ‘A’ class, the preferred science class for the brightest students, where the head boy and the head girl always emerged from; and I was in D class, the dumping ground for repeaters and transferred students in the Arts and Social Sciences like me. In the parlance of our real world, we possibly belonged to different social classes… well I guess.

You can then imagine my pleasant surprise when you opted to leave your highly dignified A class to our highly degraded D class after a year  (Talk about one of the curves synonymous with your exit from the Monday Morning Banter to face life head-on).  That was good news for me sha as I finally struck that friendship from our angle ninety back bench team (Bode, Iyabo and the rest of us)

I soon got to know you and realised that even though you held your cards close to your chest and had a mind of your own, you were straightforward, candid, honest; an enigmatic open book.

One episode I can never forget now is the day I said something that made you cry, (okay, one embarrassing story). Funny enough, I cannot  remember exactly what I said, but I remember I was not sorry at that moment  because I didn’t think I had hurt you. I remember speaking with Seun (Basin road alumni), later that night and she made me realize why you may have cried. I felt so bad afterwards and decided from then on, to hold you in a special place in my heart till date and beyond.  In my defence, I was just a proud and immature teenager at the time, that was why I never said I was sorry, but now that I have journeyed the mountains, the valleys and the seas from “boys 2 men”, let me be the gentleman and formally say that I am sorry for whatever it was then.

Casting a retrospective glance, I can go on  and on to articulate good memories in knowing you – how you  always called the NITEL land line to wish me happy birthday. The day you mentioned your brother’s passing to me, the mix of pain and faith you resonated over the phone. Our series of intellectually stimulating chats in the early days of BBM and hey, you know I am still more than grateful for the first set of kitchen items you donated to my new bachelor apartment when I was just moving in.

I remember in the early days of Monday Banter; you used to forward the link to your BBM contacts. On one of those days, you had written an all-time hit on BellaNaija on your man crush, “Banky doubliyou”. {Click here if you missed it} I had forwarded this to my contact list, and a friend who had seen the article earlier in the day decided to talk about it. As our conversation progressed, she claimed I was ‘’famzing’’ that I know you. It was just then that the reality dawned on me; your sacrifice was paying off, you were gradually on your way to becoming all that you were born to be, you were going to be a celebrity writer.

Back to the comments on your farewell post, I reflect on the chronicles of your career pursuit (as best known to me) viz -a -viz the ovation from your audience. My take is simple, YOU DESERVE THE MOMENT. Yours is an epic story of a fierce night struggle that broke into a morning dance at dawn. In the kind of society that brought us up with so many parents that favoured their agenda over their children’s talents, gifts, abilities, skills and interest, only very few people had the audacity to follow your path and dare to live their dream. Having realized that you were not cut out for the sciences, you took that leap of faith and switched to the arts. I particularly remember how you had to opt for a later start compared to ALL your secondary school classmates at the University to study Law, and finally switching from Law to become a Writer.

You confronted the odds, you were true to yourself and today you have built up on the dividends of a deliberate pursuit of your purpose in line with your essence.  May I please re-echo my thoughts on your farewell to the Morning Banter……….. Thank you for using your talent to positively affect your circle of influence, thank you for making our Monday reading worth it, thank you for making us laugh, thank you for stimulating our intellect, and I speak from my heart when I say  thank you for inspiring me and making me believe.

Why the long write up? Your life has taught me two succinct life lessons:

  1. Do NOT  be afraid to confront to all barriers in the pursuit of your purpose (In Paula White’s voice “you will not conquer what you cannot confront’’)
  2. Do NOT be afraid to bow out and move on, especially when the ovation is the loudest

So as I navigate the through the realities of this cosmos, I hold on to these lessons as I deal with my most ferocious monste…FEAR

A Sage once said to me that, the older you grow, the narrower your circle of friends become;  but remember that there are some beautiful ones you should hold dear to your heart no matter what. I absolutely agree that there will always be those special friends that remain close to your heart regardless of the distance.

The few you can always start from where you stopped even if you haven’t spoken them in years.

Those outstanding people whose struggle and victories in life spur you on to bigger things.

The rare breeds that make your heart glow with fond thoughts.

The distinguished class of people you call extraordinary, exceptional, and great.

Such is my friend and sister A-T-O-K-E. You are indeed a quintessence of the fine balance between the cosmopolitan chic with a conservative twist.

A special gift of God to this world.

An epitome of cerebral innocence.

An embodiment of depth.

A most beautiful soul in and out.

A rare gem, a jolly good darling, a free and fun spirit.

God knew I would need one of such friends as you and He made our paths cross.

This is one of the reasons I choose to celebrate you today. Now, it is time to stand up for the Champion!

Happy Birthday Girlfriend!

38 Comments

  1. Somebody

    October 27, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    **APPLAUSE**

    Happy birthday Atoke. You are indeed a rare gem

    • Damilola

      October 27, 2015 at 6:43 pm

      Happy birthday, Atoke. Yours is a day before mine. Life is about growth, and moving forward, bcos there’s still so much ahead to conquer. Good luck on your next endeavors. Your future is a bright one.

  2. 'Miss Tanko

    October 27, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    A special write – up for a special person.Happy birthday!!!

  3. sisi alero

    October 27, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    WOW! GOOSEBUMPS……Awesome write up, Toba!! i can imagine the standing ovation and resounding cheers at the end of that beautiful tribute and i willingly join you in celebrating her. Such beautiful words and imagery, ATOKE is truly special and blessed to have such a good friend. Well done!

  4. Bisi

    October 27, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    Beautiful words from Mr Toba Aboyeji and an accolade to OUR SISTER A-T-OK-E … Your Monday morning banters definately made Monday morning more beautiful and something to look forward to. Kudos to you. Greater Heights. Cheers

  5. notanutelllalover

    October 27, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    A well-written piece. Dear writer, thank you for helping us get to know our Atoke a little more. Dear Atoke, happy birthday. I pray that as you add another year, God’s favour will never cease in your life. As you have made our Mondays eventful and more easier to get through, God will make the next years of your life the very best.
    God bless you

  6. sally

    October 27, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    HBD Atoke…….i miss your post!!!!!

  7. Leah

    October 27, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    Happy Birthday!!!

  8. Opsy

    October 27, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    This post right here is… everything!!!
    Happy Birthday Atoke… it’ll only get better…
    Toba, that was nicely written 🙂

  9. Weather

    October 27, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    Awww Atoke! Happy birthday! May you move on to greater things. May you conquer with ease anything that poses as ‘mountain’ on your path. Have an amazing new year dear!

  10. PACE

    October 27, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Happy Birthday Atoke, wishing you the very best of every good thing in life. I’ve read your write-ups quite a number of times and I’ve always been impressed and constantly look forward to reading the next piece from you. Your diction, play of words and all the things that make up a good piece are always top notch. Keep up the good work.

  11. Tolusworld

    October 27, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    What a beautiful write-up Toba. I don’t really know Atoke but from your emotion laden article, I can deduce the extent of her influence on her readers. I agree with you that one should not be afraid to bow out especially when the ovation is the loudest. I wish her good luck in her future endeavors.

  12. Rrrrrrr

    October 27, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    Happy Birthday Atoke, will miss you

  13. ElessarisEllendil

    October 27, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    The feels ??????

    Happy Birthday Atoke! Many more years

    Toba just had to go make a grown man cry.

  14. Ada Nnewi

    October 27, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    Happy Birthday Atoke!

  15. iceicebaby

    October 27, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    Happy birthday ATOKE. Have an awesome year.

  16. SeunSeun

    October 27, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    Seun 10.00PM Oct 26 : Atoke Happy Birthday
    Atoke 10.:01PM Oct 26: Haha, its too early
    She only accepted my wishes when I said it again this morning. Atoke mi does not take more than she can chew, not even a birthday wish 2 hours before the time …lol

    Thanks Toba for that post, and what did you say that made her cry? I relayed it to you years ago, but at the moment, I don’t even remember running that errand…hahaha, no clue what it was, inbox me, I need to crack my ribs.

    My dear Atoke, do have a blast!! Thanks for making those good old times fun. More fun to come sisi mi…lol

    • Atoke

      Atoke

      October 27, 2015 at 6:31 pm

      Hahaha Basin road connect! Thanks darling

  17. zee

    October 27, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    Happy birthday, Atoke!

  18. Mz Socially Awkward...

    October 27, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    *Joining @Somebody above to give that applause*

    … and the young man claims not to be a writer… *side-eying Toba with affection*.

    Happy, fabulous birthday to our dearest Atoks and undisputed gem of Ogbomosho land! For some of us who thought our brief glimpse into your mind on Monday mornings (and during those rare Thursday hot topic gists) told us everything there was about you, we were very wrong. Toba’s celebration of you today tells us how much we underestimated the force of woman you’ve been determined to be from the start. And we are proud to follow him and famz you “bilcos” your determination and spirit will take you far (since it “haff” already “take” you into our hearts, without us even realizing when the invasion happened…).

    Enjoy every single moment of your special day, luv, may the Good Lord give you His Favour to chest the coming year with and I pray for your gifts, talents and heart’s desires to make a way for you like never before. And yes oh, me I will say it whether you like it or not – I pray that the love you deserve will find you as well, for good… xx

  19. Atoke

    Atoke

    October 27, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    Thanks to everyone for their good wishes.

  20. Aderonke

    October 27, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    happy birthday Ronkus aka Atoke

  21. Bonike

    October 27, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    Happy birthday Atoke. God bless you richly.

  22. Bonike

    October 27, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    Toba, great write up. Thanks for sharing.

  23. DuffyDarl

    October 27, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    Happy birthday, dearest Atoke. May you be blessed always.

  24. Fade to black

    October 27, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    Happy birthday!

  25. Tincan

    October 27, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    Awwwww, happy birthday girl. Hope you’ve had a wonderful day? Much love from the cold xx

  26. Chinma Eke

    October 27, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    Happy bdae Atoke! llnp!

  27. Truth

    October 27, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    Happy birthday, I was not online last week. And came on line today and have been scrolling thru all of Yesterday’s posts on BN. So Atoke Monday morning banter’s will no longer be on BN. I must say that you are such an articulate writer. I always learnt a thing or two from your weekly posts. In fact the quality of your work speaks volumes. I dont know u , but I have felt so much connection with several of your posts. And I join in the celebration of all that you stand for , Happy birthday Atoke. All the best in your future endeavours.

  28. Suwa

    October 27, 2015 at 10:36 pm

    Happy birthday to a rare personality! Thank you for being an inspiration to me Atoke. Plenty hugs

  29. Toby Nwazor

    October 28, 2015 at 5:18 am

    Happy birthday Atoke.

    Yeah I remember the bankidoubliyou post and the sequel. I was impressed that banky came to BN and granted your wish. I kept looking at the picture trying to determine who among them is Atoke. Haha.

    I really wish you are not leaving, but then it is for a good purpose. I wish you the best of luck.

    That was a wonderful post Toba. You did a great job, nobody could have constructed it in a better way. Kudos

  30. aaewhy

    October 28, 2015 at 7:19 am

    Happy birthday Atoke God bless you. Nice write up Toba

  31. Glowing Sapphire

    October 28, 2015 at 9:56 am

    Happy Birthday Atoke!
    Freely you received, freely you’ve given. God speed dear. Cheers!

  32. tolu

    October 28, 2015 at 10:28 am

    happy belated birthday atoke

  33. deedee

    October 28, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    Happy belated birthday Atoke dearie

  34. Adaeze Writes

    October 28, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    Happy Birthday dear Atoke! You rock!

  35. Bobosteke & Lara Bian

    November 1, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    Late for the party but birthday wishes do not expire. Hope you enjoyed yourself, Lovie. I’m glad you were able to let AMMB go (pls don’t shoot me). You have so much to offer. This was only one of them.
    Salut.

  36. Olope

    April 26, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    Aww… How sweet! Ronke/Atoke came across as a friendly, shy, yet no-nonsense kinda girl, indeed. I have read her quietly and smiled, never commenting. Starting from her Enoreda days.

    Toba ooooooo……. I see that all your days of devouring those novels paid off. Nice write up. You have always been loyal to your friends, and I wish you the best. May all your heart desires come to be.

    I see Seun (I am assuming it is Seun A*, given the Basin connect references). Memories…

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