Top of the list New Year resolution for me was to actively push my talent and passion forward. I resolved to quit wishing, but rather deliberately put myself in situations where I could learn more about my skill, or connect with people in the industry. A friend Ada introduced me to “She Leads Africa” sometime last year. I vividly remember the Whatsapp message:
“Chisom follow these guys on Instagram and also subscribe to their news letter. They are really good on empowering career women.”
We both have similar interests in life and if she says something is good, I usually don’t doubt it. I gradually fell in love with She Leads Africa. Their dedication to women emancipation and empowerment, and also telling the story of successful African women was just simply contagious. Their feed revealed who was doing what, in my country and Africa at large, how I could improve my skills and channel my talent positively or a really insightful motivational quote to keep my confidence level high.
The build up to SLAY festival 2018 started on a steady rhythm, and gradually climaxed to a ‘must attend’ event in my head. The line up of keynote speakers were just too appealing to pass up on. To meet and interact with people such as Bonang Matheba, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Ink Eze, Yemisi Odusanya (Sisi Yemmie), Waje, Yele Bademosi, Okechukwu Ofili, Betty Irabor and a host of others, without bouncers and spicy PAs. It was not a chance I was willing to let go of.
After much contemplation and consultation with my bank account, I purchased my ticket. Few hours later I got a mail from the She Leads Africa team.
“Look at you, being all responsible and buying your ticket in advance. You’re doing amazing sweetie.”
This was immediately followed by a photo GIF of Cardi B, turning around to give me a wink. I smiled. I felt proud of myself. “I’m investing in my future”. I thought.
I’d like to fast forward through the hefty bouncers at the gate of TBS demanding in their deep baritone voice “Let me see your ticket”.
The queue was moving up gradually. It got to my turn and I just showed him my ticket on my phone and I was let through. I cannot come and die.
I took my time on the green carpet and flooded my phone and subsequently my timeline with pictures. Ada and I agreed to meet at the green carpet, that was the easiest meeting point – since neither of us had any intention of getting lost. We both signed up for the same classes. After another photo shoot session, we marched purposefully to the arts and culture stage.
We met Tuke Morgan, lifestyle blogger, saxophonist and our stage host introducing herself and prepping us for the excitement that the day will unfold. Trying to put us in the motherland mogul spirit, she informed us she had a branded slay festival tee-shirt to give away. All you had to do was give five reasons why you are here for the festival and all participants’ names will be written down for a raffle draw. Winner takes all.
I am proud to inform you that the winner after her eloquent speech and goody good luck was *clears throat* ME! That’s right! Talk about starting the day on a good foot.
The first session was centered on ‘Navigating the publishing industry successfully’ with Author Amara Okolo, Okechukwu Ofili chief executive officer, OkadaBooks and Azafi Omoluabi-Ogosi chief executive officer Parresia Publishers.
It was a super enlightening session especially for writers’ who have no idea about the business side of writing, opportunities in publishing in Nigeria and honing your talent to give you the best results. I was nodding vigorously and taking notes the whole time.
Up next was ‘Turning content into cash’ with food and lifestyle blogger Sisi Yemmie, actress and TV presenter Dolapo Oni Sijuwade and founder, AsoEbiBella Ink Eze. Everyone was sitting at the edge of their seats listening to wise words from these ladies. The best form of happiness in this world is doing what you love and getting paid for it. We listened to Dolapo talk about overcoming fear of witches in the village and posting her pregnancy series, Sisi Yemmie on making money from YouTube, Ink Eze on the gradual process that lead to AsoEbiBella. We learnt three key concepts about turning your content into cash;
Be good enough.
We had a few minutes of recess before South African media queen Bonang Matheba spoke to us about ‘Building a global African brand’.
Ada and I rushed to get food in our bellies. Our digestive systems were on over drive. Processing the priceless knowledge we were receiving required glucose. We also took time to look around, we got face tattoos from the BN style stand, checked out delicious food and new recipes at Maggi Nigeria stand, Alat by Wema booth, the fashion designers and their wares, we bought food and drinks and ambled our way back to listen to queen Bonang on building a global African brand.
Talk about a bold personality! She had our rapt attention the moment she walked up to the stage, till she was done! She was almost intimidating… intimidating in a good way. You just know you’re in the presence of someone special. She took us through her journey as a 15 year old with big dreams and how her mother helped shape and build her. I personally got three things from listening to Bonang;
If you’re not good at what you do, you don’t have any right to make demands.
Stall your distractions and feed your focus and it’s about how badly you want it.
Kill them with kindness and bury them with success.
My phone kept buzzing on my handbag, my mother hen sister was summoning me home, it was almost 7pm. I hurriedly sent her a text.
The next session was ‘Can you have it all’ with Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde. No way was I gonna leave before that. I sat quietly and listened. I forgot about my note pad and pen! There was no way I’m going to forget today. This woman represented the heart desire of more than half of African women. “very successful and still thriving career with a loving family’.
Like a mother she gently and carefully instructed us answering all of our questions. My love and respect for her grew when she said;
“With all my fame and ‘omosexy’, I no dey cut eye for my husband o. Always remember a man is the head of the home. No matter how ‘big or successful’ you become, your husband is the head of the home”.
I felt she needed to make this point clear because of how twisted and misunderstood the word and its meaning ‘feminist’ has been flying around. But that is a discussion for another day.
I was excited and still am excited at the opportunity to throw my voice amongst the women who stand unapologetically tall, represent women, motherhood and Africa. I am grateful for the opportunity that we, on our journey to becoming could witness their hard work turned glory first hand. Coming from a place where the ultimate goal for women is to give life and nurture and love, sometimes in unbearably harsh conditions, it gives such hope to sit amongst women who are breaking ice ceilings and learn.
We are no more only learning ‘be good, be submissive, give him a male child’. We are being told to go and make meaningful impact in our world. Our expertise and nurturing skills no longer ends in the kitchen.
Slay festival 2018 was a HIT.
Photo Credit: She Leads Africa