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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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Monday, July 30, 2007

For the silent Great and Good amongst us

It's the last day of my periodic, self imposed news fast and as expected l am getting more angry as l do my quick glance (most of the writing is unreadable) through the papers. From the horror stories and opinions to the horrific journalism, there is little respite for the rising temperature behind my ears. So Alams walks free and some pseudo university is imposing a mandatory pregnancy and HIV test as a condition to collecting degrees post graduation! I am frowning fiercely when the shrimp saunters into my study and noticing an alien object amongst her knick knacks (pictures, painting, letters, songs) on my wall, pull down the offending picture. I watched her face as curiosity turned to awe and then a grimace. "Mummy look, this man must be a fake man". Why do you think so l asked. Look at his body, how can a body be like this and look at all these things (veins) on his body, he is a fake man she declared with certainty. No darling says l, this is not a fake man, he is an athlete they are called body builders and they do a lot of training and disciplined eating to be like this.

Ohhh, she exclaims in wonder, can girls do this too? Certainly l said, in fact there are many girls who do it. At this point l show her pictures and stories online of body builders. At the end she exclaims, cool mummy can l do this too? If you want to l said but the problem is your body is naturally androgynous and might not be able to attain such proportions without drugs, which are bad for you. What means that, she says mischievously. Oh common miss you and l know you have outgrown the "what means that" stage so try again. Okay mummy what do you mean? I said your body is naturally long and lean and you might be better off as a long distance runner, tennis player or high jumper, if you force your body, you will need drugs and drugs can make you sick and even kill you. Okay mama, she says now looking at Muritala Idowu with newfound admiration and respect. In 10 minutes, we went from
ignorance driven fear and distrust to knowledge based respect.

Last Thursday Chimamanda Adichie joined myself and the other ladies on the women's panel edition of the show to interview the frankly awe inspiring Muritala. He told of the sort of immense discipline required to not only build and maintain that body but three months to competition the will required to step up on a quelling diet and exercise regime. To understand his motivation perhaps one need to know his background. This is a naturally muscular young man who as a carpentry apprentice in Ajegunle and Amukoko started bodybuilding with the flywheels of abandoned cars. His journey from Amukoko, through escaping the gangs and crime of Ajegunle to self training at the national stadium, to enrolment at the institute of sports (sans much formal education) to gym instructor at proflex, to competitive body building and eventual top 10 of the Mr. Universe competition (Gov Arnold's starting point) is a tremendous awe inspiring story. He currently lives in Belgium and competes around the world holding titles such as top 10 Mr. Universe: Mumbai India 2003; top 5 European winner: St. Petersburg, Russia 2003; Winner Heracles Super Cup International; Best Belgian Bodybuilder 2003-2004. His goal is to win Mr. Olympus.

As l returned to the papers and continued to read more stories of the true fake men and women in Nigeria in the papers from the vainglorious to the criminal and the cacophony of sycophantic voices propping them up. I pay a silent homage to the likes of Muritala in different areas of life in Nigeria who against all odds achieve the truly extraordinary. I am also happy to be in a position to show young minds, starting with my own shrimp, the ability to recognize the difference. It is going to be a great week.

This week l am reading Baldesar Castiglione's HOW TO ACHIEVE TRUE GREATNESS.

A little video clip of the interview with Muritala Idowu will be
available on New Dawn Videos from Thursday and pod cast of a one on one with him on this blog in two weeks.


pumping! said...

Inspiring. You know in all these chaos of our country, we still dey represent jo.
We just have to look for the muscles in us and bulid it up until the result are so great, it seems too good to be true as the shrimp thought.

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to detract from Mr Idowu's efforts and accomplishments, as both are impressive, but it is clear, very clear, that he uses the same sort of drugs that you warned "shrimp about. He will deny it, of course, but I doubt there is even a single bodybuilder at the level at which he competes that does not use "illegal" anabolic supplements.

Funmi Iyanda said...

@patrice, l know what you mean but l have deep abiding faith in people and always choose to give the benefit of truth unless there is non circumstancial evidence to the contrary. Yes there is a lot of drug use in sports and body building is particularly guilty but there are atheletes who go au naturel still and unless l have proof otherwise l will believe mr Idowu. After all it is not true that every Nigerian man is a 419ner, every Nigerian woman a prostitute and everbody in government is a thief. In fact these are the issues l will raise with him in the pod cast which l will upload.

NigeriaPolitricks.com said...

In as much as I try to struggle with my conscience on this one, I think Shrimp was spot on; this guy is fake; looking at it in the context that body building is synonymous with drugs and steroids; but I could be wrong, who are we to judge?! Beats me!!
As per the HIV thingy, good innovative concept in making people get tested, but it shouldn't be conditional. And what happens if a student turns out positive for HIV test? I think more efforts should be geared towards treatment and fighting the stereotypes associated with HIV scourge and of course, less than mundane ways of getting tested.

Asabe said...

I am with you on Mr. Muritala Idowu whether dem say na fake or not, he makes me more "prouder" to be a Nigerian and even more so cos he could have decided to use those beautiful muscles of his for something negative but he chose not to. I am even "prouder" cos he is still hanging on there with the rest of us as a proud naija & representing us in a postive way abroad. It is so annoying to me when foreign countries are quick to claim what is ours thats good and then they do not talk about them but are even quicker to tell the world lies about our country come to think of it wetin dem dey do for my country if e no good.

Naija always quick to condemn their own and praise others(foreigner)enhen! who does body building and does not use one form of drugs or the other afterall in the just concluded tour de france(bicyle races)it has been bedeviled by one drug scandal or the other, na who dey talk about that one. Wuo!(see) Mr. Muritala Idowu carry go fly the flag well. Wishing you more than the best as your strive to get to the perk of your career & we (me & Funmi) dey pray for you.
N/B Remember you no be any European O! i no no wetin dem mean by that one.

lolaojiks said...

You post truly inspiring stories.

Please keep it up

Copido said...

I hate that body...too much muscle can be irritating. Sorry....