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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

And Doris Floored Me

It was a usual Thursday morning, frenzied, bloody minded, not shifting grounds in her desire to grind me to pulp. My brain is fried and I’m assimilating nothing as l mechanically drop my daughter off at school, catch up on the news and read my show research materials whilst going through the usual mind bungling traffic to the studio. Everything that could go wrong did, from lights to cameras and late egotistical guests. I’m exhausted and wondering why l still do this show when the director calls out; cue her! I go into autopilot and begin to do the show. It was a show about the Liberian refugees who are returning home. My first encounter with Liberian refugees was a lady and her nine-year-old daughter whom my father took into our dingy flat in 1987. The Jehovah’s witnesses were supporting other witness refugees so we had to share our meagre resources with them. It was tough going but the little girl was so lovable and would entertain us with eerily realistic sounds of machine guns. As a callow youth myself l never realised the kind of horrors that poor child had witnessed to develop such a skill. My mind absently registers this as l read the show brief which did not include Doris, however l always look for stories that highlight the issue so l concentrated less on the officials and began to talk to Doris.

Slowly an incredible story emerged. As Doris began to talk l was transfixed by her bearing, she was neatly dressed and self contained radiating a humble human dignity that was attractive to me.

In halting tones she told a story of how her entire family including parents, siblings and a daughter was killed during the war, how her husband was killed in their hideout and how she ran with a four-month pregnancy until she was rescued by ECOMOG soldiers who put her on a ship to Nigeria.

In Nigeria, she squatted from place to place and worked as a street sweeper, dishwasher and street hawker finally ending up selling food under a bridge. She spoke about being taken advantage of by men and sleeping out on the street until she got to the stage where she is now sharing a room with another lady and selling pure water (water in little sachets). Through this, she managed to put her daughter born in Nigeria through private school such that the gifted child is in the middle class command secondary school in lbadan.

Through the story, she spoke with stoic assurance underlined with a tinge of sadness and l sat there humbled by this little woman. Then she dropped the clincher! She had in fact left a two-year-old daughter in Liberia in 1989 when she ran. Recently she got news that the daughter was alive in Guinea and she was saving money to go and find her daughter.

My heart broke and so did my tear ducts. I struggled with tears on TV as l promised that l will help her find her daughter, whatever it takes l will. As l hugged her and wrapped that show up, l nodded at the universe for the reminder. This is why l do the show.


Anonymous said...

and that is why i watch ur show....
this is really funmi iyanda's blog right?

not to come off as a suck-up or anything but ur one person i totally admire and ur write-up's(i've been following them-not stalking u o!)...inspire me to want to become a better writer...i even collect them..

ur show..i try not to miss it..at one point i was addicted.

nice blog..would definately bookmark it.
am so excited....

good job though with the show...a huge fan!

Anonymous said...

This may be selfish but I will go ahead and say it anyway.

Your show has to a large extent gone beyond you, it is now the conscience of many middle aged persons the role model to the young ones and a voice of truth for those who otherwise may not be heard.

Looking forward to watching this one.

Bella Naija said...

Wow that was really touching
Sometimes as Nigerians we forget the horrors occuring in various African countries yet we can give a blow by blow acount of what is happening in the US...its sad

Anyway, thanks for highlighting the individual struggles and experiences. I hope it inspires a search for knowledge and action!

Anonymous said...

Funmi, it's always amazing to me when we step outside of our realities to see what others have gone through. It gives us perspective and the courage to keep on keeping on and to be thankful! Thx. for sharing excerpts from the show. I hope the woman gets to reunite with her daughter.

Anonymous said...

hello Fummi
i watcheed this show and i cried ! yes i really cried !
i was really moved when u said you'll go with her to find her daughter . pls go and lets have the feedback
God Bless you !!!

Anonymous said...

people like you have tremendous power thrust into your care. i'm proud of what you choose to do with it.


Anonymous said...

Sis Funmi,

I saw the clip of your show on you tube last night and broke down into tears as well as this woman told her story. I appreciate your showing the plight of fellow Africans who have been ravaged by war. Its a Liberian story but it could very well be a Nigerian story if our politicians do not get their acts together in the next twenty years.


PS: Are we going to be able to watch your entire show on the internet anytime soon?

Anonymous said...

WAOH! NTA is crap. Why should they cut of new dawn just like that to show some Gov.'s declaration, that's no national event yet. Do they get to show the episode over again?

Moody Crab said...

Wow! Thats all I can say...WOW!!

Keep up the good work!!

Anonymous said...

I've never seen your show, but have become quite addicted to your blogs.
You must consider yourself very lucky to have a job that arouses a people's conscience and feeds their moral awareness. Your message today is that charity begins at home, so I'll look forward to your blog on finding Doris' little girl in Guinea someday soon. Good luck!

funmi said...

@ exschoolnerd, yes it is me in scary cyber world putting a tentative foot forward. thanks...huge thanks.

@gbeborun of Lagos, yes dey will yank the show at any excuse and that l am still on air is a miracle. One day l will write the story of NEW DAWN. A confession, l am not sure how much longer before they finally yank it all off, remember it was daily. what you can be sure is that they cant shut me up.
BTW, do you know each of those LIVE broadcasts cost between 20 and 50 million naira, some have booked six. where pray tell is the money coming from and how else will they recoup their "investment"?

@ anonymous, toluNYC-:), yes, one day you will be able to see the show on the internet and on satellite and terrestrial sydication through Africa. l cant tell you how tough it is to get support to do what l need to do but l know that in time the universe will deliver it. in the space between l continue to acquire the knowledge, wisdom and values required.

Anonymous said...

I am humbled by Doris' tale of her life experiences.... makes me more appreciative of the love of my family and life's comforts I've been taking for granted. I realise that I actually should be grateful for my lot in life so far. As usual Funmi, you've delivered it the way only you have been wired by God to do all these wonderful things you do. Thanks. Meanwhile, is there no way you can stop NTA from cutting off your show to air some "liar" aspirant?

Ms. May said...

Angel.....that is what you are. Good luck reuniting Doris and her daughter. I am coming home soon and I look forward to catching one of your shows on TV.

Anonymous said...

Brought a tear to my eye. I am glad that you are concerned with her plight. Good luck!

laspapi said...

the things we take for granted. Just when you think you have it soooo bad, you hear a story like that of this refugee lady.
Had occasion to visit the refugee camp at Oru-Ijebu because of a course I took. Her story is one of many. Man's inhumanity to man is apparent everywhere.

Jennifer A. said...

Awww mennn...wow, you won't go unrewarded in all that u do. I cry very easily though, so I didn't finish watching the show...but God bless u and keep it up!

Jennifer A. said...

Awww mennn...wow, you won't go unrewarded in all that u do. I cry very easily though, so I didn't finish watching the show...but God bless u and keep it up!

Anonymous said...

wow, i was led to you through a friend and at the time, i didnt even know who you were, i googled u up and read stuff about u, saw the blog and fell in love, its a good thing ure doing and keep doing it ! Youre an inspiration for us young ppl, not to say ure old o ...God bless!


i am humbled is all i can say.there i was this morning thinking of ways to "warn" my mum to get off my back.and somewhere out there in the world is a young lady who hasnt seen her mum in years,and im sure she would do anything to have her mum harass her and stress her as mothers do. damn...things we take for granted,its unbelievable.please i dont know how you intend to do it,but it would make a happy ending for the mum and daughter to be reunited.and let us know how it goes,i will be praying to God to help you help them.
have a lovely day.

The Life of a Stranger called me said...

wow - you have a fan now.

goodness paul said...

Aunty Funmi,
i know that i an the greatest fan of u and ur show...time will tell.i personally watched the show and at the end of it i said to my self "funmi is indeed a true definition of what it means to be wealty,of it means to be rich" why? cos true riches is not in how much u have in ur bank account,it is not in how many cars are packed in ones garage but in how many people u are able to reach out to.and as i sat back in the siiting room,i couldnt help but wisper asilent prayer for u and forDoris.God will bless u indeed.i was particularly moved by Doris story,infact no one in my house could hold back the tears.as she spoke about the wars,it took me back memory lane..to an experience i had in Enugu,where my family and i once lived.there was a time armed robbre consistantly disturbed our area and i cant explain how the sounds of the guns made me feel.it is a hunting experience.the sounds of the guns hunted me for a very long time,it is such a crippling experience. not to talk of one like Doris who lived,dined and breathed gun shots..it must have been an eternal nightmare for her.she is indeed a woman of courage,wit strenght of character that should be celebrated.i wish her well.u are doing an amazing work,Aunty Funmi.