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Toba Aboyeji: Fighting the Lure of Inadequacy

Toba Aboyeji



Lupita-Nyongo-InStyle-April-2016-Cover-Photoshoot10As an aspiring wordsmith and a “Jambite” in speech and elocution, I was going through my learning video library last week when I came across this speech delivered by our own Lupita Nyogo. I was particularly enchanted by the weave of words and most of all mesmerised by how she fluently summarized the “ugly “phase of her life with the apt phrase seduction of inadequacies, I was going to write about that, but then a deeper discourse caught my attention.

Although I was captivated by her eloquence, I could not miss the glow in her face when she acknowledged how her mother constantly reminded her of how beautiful she was even when she thought and felt otherwise. For me, there was something about that glow and smile that resonated a deeper affection and appreciation beyond the bounds of verbal expression. I watched a few other of her speeches and yea, the expectation of the righteous was not cut short, Lupita hardly fails to acknowledge her mum with that glow of inexplicable gratitude.

Now, I have watched the movie 12 Years a Slave a couple of times; while I absolutely appreciate the immense talent and “A” game she brought on board, often times I wonder if that was enough to make her an instant hit and an Oscar winner at first appearance, (but then, shey this God chose to favour Olajumoke who didn’t even do as much).

I am an apostle of smart work, diligence, grit and excellence as key principles of success; however, taking a mental trip through my meditation, like Lupita’s accounts of her mum’s life changing words, I am forced to acknowledge that beyond physical efforts, one of the key game changers in a child’s life is positive parental influence via affirmation and spoken words

Whilst I was reminiscing on the Lupita’s story and her Mum’s influence, I remembered one of America’s foremost paediatric neurosurgeon, Dr Ben Carson. Growing up, Ben Carson was the dullest pupil in in his grade, he once told his mother that he lacked the power of imagination, However, his mum on refused to agree with him, she made him work extra hard and constantly told him that he could imagine and conquer impossible feats, in her words, “there is nothing other bright kids are doing that you cannot do, the only difference is that you can do it better.”

True to his Mama’s words and guidance, Ben Carson went on to become a genius graduating from Yale in flying colours and becoming world renowned professor. He rose to be the director of paediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital at age 33 and earned fame for his ground-breaking work separating conjoined twins.

He once wrote a biography of himself titled Gifted Hands, (a very good book to read) and one of the experiences that brings his story to life for me was a Mercedes Benz advert where he was pictured in his garage standing by his S-class and the Mercedes Benz company wrote “When they said Ben wouldn’t make it, he stood his ground, when they said he wouldn’t finish school he stood his ground, when he doubted himself his mom made him stand his ground. Today Dr Ben Carson is one of the world’s top paediatric neurosurgeons, and when he is not using his gifted hands to save lives, he’s driving his Mercedes” …Even Mercedes Benz acknowledged his mother’s influence in his rise to prominence.

Some years ago, I saw a movie that chronicled the life of Pastor E. A Adeboye, in the movie, his mother constantly told him that in his life, he will lead and have access to millions of people. I see a perfect correlation in his reality.

My friend Bayo(34), struggled to make a recovery from a bad start at the university, unfortunately, he still graduated with a third class(that was Pre- UK masters era when first class and 2/1 students were the toast of corporate Nigeria- story for another day). Distraught and out, he battled the thought of losing out in life but his mum told him to face his future with determination and doggedness and that first class students will work for him. Today, dude has about thirty-four (34) geeks and first class students on his payroll in his technology firm with annual turnover in billions of Naira.

Here are my thoughts on the matter:

• Beyond societal “prestige”, glam and the cool of status, Parenting is a much deeper calling, arguably the biggest assignment God will ever give a man and a woman and if well harnessed can be THE game changer between prominence and mediocrity, success and failure in a child’s life.

• As parents, we have the power to alter the trajectory of our children’s path, POSITIVELY or negatively (the ball is in our court)

• In retrospect, most of my contemporaries will agree with me that we grew up at a time where majority of African parents did not understand positive affirmation; a key tool of parenting and an arsenal to dismember the vile of ordinariness in a child. However, If you are still stuck in your growing experience, you may need to watch the movie Facing the Giants with focus on the character Larry Childers and his son David Childers –  that is just in case your child never comes across a Melvin B Thompson in the movie Great Debaters.

• If we can’t do the drill, please can we think twice about this baby mama’s game? Similarly, if you will be consumed with the mania of ascending to the echelon of your career at the expense of time and attention to raise sound kids, then you may want to consider the Orprah Winfrey’s option. (No disrespect intended and I apologise if that offends your senses)

• As a man, you have the responsibility to nurture your SEED, you will be a disgrace to your core if you cannot call out the greatness in your child especially the BOY child because you were an absent Father in the name of making a living. I recommend the movie titled courageous to bring this home.

• If you have single parents around you, especially single mums; as much as you can and within the bounds of reason and decency, don’t forget to lend a helping hand.

• The dynamics of living in a cosmopolitan Lagos and other mega cities across the world is complex; hence, time and attention to raise a child can be a luxury, however, in the midst of the tight schedule, there is a growing need to take charge of our children’s destinies and salvage them from the toxic influence of a vile aunty, a wounded lesson teacher, an abused maid, a frustrated nanny, a promiscuous driver, a lawless cook or a psychotic neighbour.

Back to the matter on the seduction of inadequacies, my friend just asked me “what will you say about those of us adult who grew up with, and are encumbered by the seduction of our inadequacies?” My answer: Consciously substitute the seduction of your inadequacies for the obsession of your adequacies (wish I can say more)

Remember, life is short, live it to the fullest. Make the best of seasons, love God, love your neighbour with the whole of your heart, leave no room for hate, keep hope alive. Your great life will happen.

Toba is a New Nigeria optimist who opines that the world can be a better place if we all play our little part in the big puzzle. He believes that a combination of God and self-governance is the panacea to life’s twisted journey.


  1. Ezra

    April 26, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    Awesome and well captured…


    April 26, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    If we can’t do the drill, please can we think twice about this baby mama’s game?…..Tell them!!!

  3. BlackBoy

    April 26, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    Very inspiring. Parenting is definitely not a feat for the Godless. God bless you Toba for being a blessing to our world.

  4. rosa

    April 26, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    Great write up, well captured.

  5. L Speaks

    April 26, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    Very deep and thought – provoking piece.Well thought out and written… is stuff we shoulď talk about more.Too many negatives in this world so a bright ray of hope that lets us know we are enough is priceless.Well done!!

  6. UKA

    April 26, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    So well written. You completely nailed it, and extremely applicable too.

  7. Anuoluwapo

    April 26, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    Spot On!!!
    Thank you Oloruntoba for this.
    God Bless you

    • ybbil

      April 26, 2016 at 5:11 pm

      Anu Aboyeji, I see you

    • Cornel

      April 27, 2017 at 6:00 am

      I sight u.

  8. Anuolwapo

    April 26, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    Spot On!!!
    Thank you so much for this piece
    God bless you

    • Mr Sky

      April 27, 2016 at 12:27 pm

      Nice write up bro, More of this…

    • Mr Sky

      April 27, 2016 at 12:28 pm

      Nice one bro, more of this…

  9. Stay blessed

    April 26, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    GOD bless you for this write up, you have definitely inspired and encouraged me. Thank you and once again GOD bless you.

  10. Toyendudu

    April 26, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Awesome write up!

  11. Precious

    April 26, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    I totally enjoyed reading this article. No matter the limitations we face, we can always rise and win. Thanks and God bless you.

  12. UGO

    April 26, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    Very well written article. Talking about the man nurturing his seed. My four year old son told my husband that a certain girl in his class said she will not be his friend. My hubby without missing a beat says, ‘there is more fish in the ocean ”. Lol . Words to leave by . I wouldnt have said that but it’s a nice little reminder for my son to move on swiftly and not cry over spilt milk.

  13. Dee

    April 26, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    Very nice

  14. Ajoke

    April 26, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    Nice talk, God bless u more.

  15. zzzzzzzzzzzzz

    April 26, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    Hi Toba nice piece good to see that you are doing really great and doing your bit to impact other positively. This is one of your class mates in ABU Zaria,


    April 26, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    Aptly put bro…are you sure of your Jambite status (lol)

  17. Adeniyi

    April 26, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    Nice one.

  18. Mrs Oke

    April 26, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    This is an awesome piece Toba and a great reminder for me to invest quality time, prayer and words into the life of my children. They are going to be a reflection of whatever they are exposed to and I owe it to God to play me part.

  19. Sobance

    April 26, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    Tobsie, nice write up. Kudos. More of this .

  20. Latox

    April 26, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    Nice 1 bro

  21. Uzo Emodi

    April 26, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    Tobi boo, looking dapper! Great write up by the way.

  22. mayowa soname

    April 26, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    TOBA,this is food for thought.thanks

  23. Martha Yusufu Ibrahim

    April 26, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    Hmm…. I just keep wondering if I would be a good parent! By the way, i wanted to ask; are people born with good parenting skills or are they made?

  24. Akintayo Akintola

    April 26, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    Good one Toba. Thumps up!

  25. Olope

    April 26, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    Nice one Toba. But I don’t understand the need for the “special” dedication to the male child, as suggested in the excerpt below. A father’s nurturing is very vital in a girl child’s life. It more than likely detrmines the kinds of relationships, if any, she gets into with boys, the type of treatment she expects and accepts from boys, how she competes with male counterparts in the workforce, … Nigerians (focusing on the people I know) need to stop placing more value on a male child over a female child.

    Excerpt in contention:
    As a man, you have the responsibility to nurture your SEED, you will be a disgrace to your core if you cannot call out the greatness in your child especially the BOY child because you were an absent Father in the name of making a living.

  26. Lex Luthor

    April 26, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    I am inspired by this. Thank You!

  27. Buki Adebayo

    April 26, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Well done Toba…Nice piece.Thought provoking.

  28. doyinawolola...

    April 26, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    This is great!
    I am blessed, touched and so proud of you brother.

  29. Kayjay

    April 26, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    Our parents didn’t know better but we do. Let us learn from their mistakes and do better with our children

  30. Yomi

    April 26, 2016 at 11:06 pm

    Very well said! We must keep speaking up until we see our desired change. Good one bro

  31. chioma

    April 26, 2016 at 11:42 pm

    Scintillating! Captivating…..

  32. Tosin

    April 27, 2016 at 1:43 am

    – good books can be a great influence.

    – i don’t think that baby mama’ing belongs in this article. it actually takes a village to raise a child, the idea that it takes two – one man one woman both biological parents – is … new and imperfect. leave baby mamas and baby daddies alone…many ways to skin a cat.

  33. Tolu

    April 27, 2016 at 7:23 am

    Tot provoking piece! Nice one.

  34. wale aboyeji

    April 27, 2016 at 7:46 am

    great and thought provoking.Proud of you toba.God bless you.

  35. Sarah

    April 27, 2016 at 7:50 am

    This is good. Good Parenting is too important and in short supply. So is the empowerment and genuine words of encouragement. Toba you are fantastic!

  36. Aare Ogunmefun

    April 27, 2016 at 9:56 am

    Excellent is the word for your article. My reservation is on special emphasis on the boy child,I have a boy and girl and my instinct tells me they deserve equal attention

  37. Mr Sky

    April 27, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Nice write up bro, More of this…

  38. Mr Sky

    April 27, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    Nice one bro, more of this

  39. Jemimah

    April 27, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    Well written article!It is lucid with organic unity in its structure……

  40. Adejoke

    April 28, 2016 at 4:42 am

    Hummm,well written, May God give us the Grace to bring up our children positively in the right way of the Lord. Nice one Bro

  41. Uche ofoma

    April 28, 2016 at 6:17 am

    Wow! Wow! Wow! I am truly truly inspired. Thank you for a wonderful write -up, so so real and true. God bless you toba

  42. Olayemi

    May 1, 2016 at 4:56 am

    Thanks for this amazing write-up. Looking back, I am here only by God’s grace. He really is the reason I am who I am today.
    You recommended lovely movies 🙂

  43. ozioma

    May 2, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    Nice one Tee.

  44. Olusegun Dada

    May 3, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    This is a thought provoking piece and a timely call on all adults, not just parents, to take responsibility for raising themselves well first, as a way to raising responsible children in the nearest future. life will be a lot better if all children grow up into responsible adults.
    Thank you Toba for this great work!

  45. Omotee

    May 4, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    Yeah I agree with you. The focus on a male child can be quite….inadequate, for want of a better word. It might be interpreted as saying a man is responsible to his male child alone. But I know that’s not what you mean. Maybe a more general term would pass your message across better.
    Great job nonetheless. Good read.

  46. Jydiel

    May 4, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    very thoughtful piece… Thanks

  47. Abimbola Ayanda

    May 4, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Mr. Toba Aboyeji, I would like to say you are blessed, a one in billions kind of person.
    You obviously took time to write this and I must say it is well done and one can perceive your passion and genuineness from your words.
    I am proud to be one of your greatest fans and I look forward to your next and your next, next ,next and even more next articles.
    No doubt we are meeting at the top where we belong.

  48. Ade Adesokan

    May 4, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    Brilliant piece Toba! Captures it all!

  49. Toba Odu

    May 5, 2016 at 10:10 am

    Nice piece Toba. Congrats. It can only get better

  50. coniby

    May 7, 2016 at 4:49 am

    Excellent Piece,very balanced and thought provoking.I read the who is training our Men piece and I guess a comment questioning focus on men birthed this article
    I am learning that one of the most priceless investment in a child’s life is time.Positive Time
    God bless you

  51. Olajumoke

    May 11, 2016 at 6:25 am

    I really love this. Well done Toba. Parenting is a prviledge and a powerful tool to bring out the best in those given to us by God

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