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Chude Jideonwo: At 30, Lala Akindoju is the Gift that keeps on Giving

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“My person is my person,” Kemi (Lala Akindoju, as the world knows her) told me yet again, a few weeks ago. “Whatever happens, that one is standard.”

There are some codes that underpin modern living, especially in a social media age. Certain mores that come from nowhere, but seem to dictate how we must behave, irrespective of our better natures.

Like, you know, should a single woman be best friends with a single man, especially when both are famous? Can she dare be so happy for him that she stands as his ‘best man’ when he gets married? Should she disregard the commitment so that ‘people will not talk’?

Or, you know, that silly rule that once people were a couple and are no more so, they can’t be  there for each other, they can’t ‘carry each other’s matter’ on their head. Because they may stand accused of, as Nigerians say, ‘over-do’.

“But you are my person,” Kemi would say to you when you worry about her. “People who truly care for each other have to stick together.”

The only thing that matters to her is heart. That she has so much of her heart to give to all those who are blessed to be in her circle, to those who she cares about. And for these ones, she will sacrifice time, energy, perception, money – anything.

That’s what makes her special. If she cares enough about it, she will give everything to it – no matter the cost.

The public sees this passion expressed in another way – it manifests in the intensity of her craft: her forceful professionalism, her outstanding talent, and the endless the dedication to her art.

The fact that she is very, very easily a pioneer in acting, even if she doesn’t get the full credit she richly deserves (though the AMVCA Trailblazer Award was a great start). Kemi, alongside Wole Oguntokun, Kenneth Uphopho and others, through strength of character and force of talent, pulled Nigeria and Nigerians to pay attention to the theatre – despite the fact that it, and Nigerians, gave so little in return.

It was enough that she was passionate about this, and so she would give her all to it, putting aside her Second Class Upper Insurance certificate from the University of Lagos, and she would put aside her Masters degree from the Pan Atlantic University.

Some people do it to be stars. Kemi does it because she loves it.

And all the people, and all the talent that she drives and pushes forward – at the Creative Industries Expo, or at the Lagos Theatre Festival, or at the Africa International Film Festival, or at The Future Awards Africa or at Ndani TV – will testify to her graciousness.

For many young women who want to be actors, she is a beacon. For many young men who have sought a leg in, she has been a rock. For those who prefer an enduring, lasting career over flavours of the month, she is a model. For many productions needing a woman of many talents, she has given of sacrifice. An entire industry finds Kemi at strategic points at strategic moments, oiling the wheel, driving the day, fulfilling dreams.

But it is to her friends, family and those who have been lucky to call her ally, that this glorious intensity is most precious – where there is a loyal, dedicated, passionate person, whose heart is only love.

As she turns 30 today, my wish for my ride-or-die friend and ally is that the past 30 years be only practice for the greatness that lies ahead.

And we pray that as she continues to grow in greatness and strength, that her grace continues to be refreshed from heaven – the grace to love, the grace to care, the grace of her single-minded commitment to others.

Happy birthday, Kemi.

Jideonwo is a storyteller, using the research and evidence on human flourishing to inspire new narratives about politics, markets, faith, identity and society in Africa. He is a co-founder of RED, which he ran for 13 years before stepping down in December 2017. One of its companies, StateCraft Inc. handled communication for the Muhammadu Buhari campaign in 2015 and has worked in elections in Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

18 Comments

  1. www.thelmathinks.com

    March 9, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Awwww, I hope I have friends that can speak of me this way ❤️. Never been friends with Kemi Akindoju but I’ve watched her right from Fountain primary school, Queens College and now, and even as a little child and a teen, she’d always had very strong character. I always thought she’d become something like an astrophysicist or a heart surgeon or something like that sha, she was the very book smart, efico type. But I guess she had other plans for herself. And Chude is so right about this one thing; many others do it for stardom, she obviously does it for the passion. Keep soaring lady!

  2. isaobi

    March 9, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    A worthy tribute to a hard working,loyal, highly professional and talented woman. God bless Kemi Lala ,as she celebrates her birthday.

  3. Icey

    March 9, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    One strong woman. Happy Happy Birthday, I cannot forget Kemi’s excellent interpretation of her role in “The Wives”…..Tiger Boo…hehehe.

  4. Aibee

    March 9, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    I understand the need to extol the virtues of your ride or die paddy. I just do not get the need to re-write history or provide alternative facts. How on earth is Kemi a “pioneer in acting”? The acting that Taiwo Ajai Lycett, Olu Jacobs and co have been doing since before she was born is what she pioneered? Odiegwu.

    Happy birthday Lala. May your 30s be beautiful and feed into fulfilling40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and as many years as you wish.

    • Ese V

      March 10, 2017 at 12:44 pm

      Toh!
      I thought it was only me. saw “pioneer in acting” and stopped for a sec to scratch my head.

  5. Onyinye

    March 9, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Don’t be silly Albee. He made it clear what she pioneered – ra return to Theatre alongside Wole Oguntokun. Read up on your contemporary history. Happy birthday, Kemi jare

  6. AA

    March 9, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Wow..Beautiful young lady. Remember how we were all extras in the church scene in Tade Ogidan’s movie ‘out of bounds’ in the 90s. Humble beginnings. I wish you all the best

    • Lilly

      March 9, 2017 at 4:39 pm

      Humble what? This woman/lady is far from humble! A very rude, arrogant individual! Call me ‘Bad Belle’ but that changes absolutely nothing! She still exude nasty ass behaviors!

    • Simi

      March 12, 2017 at 4:22 am

      This isn’t true.

      It’s so outrageously true, that I don’t even feel the need to give reason.

    • Simi

      March 12, 2017 at 6:35 pm

      *outrageously untrue

    • D.k

      September 23, 2018 at 8:39 am

      This is NOT true. She is warm, down to earth and simple. I met her once at COPA lagos

  7. Fast cars

    March 9, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    This guy speaks about everyone like this. He exaggerates a lot.

    BN where is my comment on that funny Ynaija influential women list. What did y’all do with it

    Just cos i said Where is Nkechi Ezes name on that weak list. Some one that sold Nigerian weddings to the world singlehandedly. She has generated loads of revenue for the wedding industry in Nigeria. And as for asoebi bella, dont even get me started on her what she did for asoebi bella
    Is it cos she doesn’t exaggerate her achievements

    This Ynaija people just go on Instagram and pick the ones with the most followers and put God in every sentence and lie the most. That is literally what it takes to make their list.

    • Commodore

      March 10, 2017 at 9:03 pm

      H-, shut the f- up. Every single person on that list deserves to be there. Saying somebody sold Nigerian weddings to the world like the people on the list don’t all have great achievements of their own. If you have beef with Ynaija or Chude you can speak on that but don’t you DARE attempt to denigrate the hard work of those women. Stupid -.

  8. Nnamdi

    March 9, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    Wait first, if Chude fit write all this one about Kemi, wetin bros OC Ukeje go write na? Autobiography??

    • Puzzles

      March 9, 2017 at 5:07 pm

      Bros OC will not write anything in public because as Chude said above, people will talk

  9. Efomah Sylvester

    March 10, 2017 at 9:52 am

    I know Chude. I know Lala. There is no flattery in what I just read. It is the truth. Lala has no grey side, Her ceaseless care can mesmerize; it know no bounds.
    Happy Birthday Lala. Kudos Chude. Love you both lots.

  10. M

    March 10, 2017 at 10:09 am

    I know Lala very very well.and this exactly who she is. I pray she gets back all the love she gives. @lily she’s a very strict and no nonsense person, I’m sure you are not close to her that’s why you call her arrogant. Thank you Chude for writing this beautiful article, despite your history with her

  11. Tosin

    March 10, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    I can’t handle this level of sappiness, to be honest I didn’t finish, I just can’t…but Chude obviously can lol.
    Happy birthday, Miss Lady. Everything good. Amen.

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