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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, August 13, 2007

UP and On

Monday morning and in typical bipolar Lagos fashion, l have been raised from the lows of depression to near ecstatic highs of hope. I do believe it is these addictive extremes of beastly realities in quick edit flows with utterly beautiful possibilities that keep us going here.

A little story.
Walked into Emmy Collins shop on Awolowo road on Saturday to talk about his upcoming show and possible charity initiative. He detests the sight of children on the street and has an idea of what he can do to help. My first ever TV show was about street kids and l spent a couple of years picking them off the street before volunteering and raising awareness for orphanages so l guess l know the subject and in an hour we had streamlined Emmy's delightfully zany ideas (true to his nature) to something achievable in the immediate future with timelines for expansion. I had noticed the two young men who were with him before l came in. You couldn't ignore them, they were good looking, dressed in hip crisp white shirts and low slung non-brief revealing jeans. Their hair was in clean short locks and they had a polite air about them. Turns out one is a 20 year old aspiring designer, 3rd runner up at Ade Bakare's design competition and the other a 22 year old aspiring model. What stuck me was that given their powerful presence and good looks, they both seem so unsure and retiring.

Suddenly Emmy pips up, tell her yourself, Funmi is down to earth and will tell you as it is. So the 20 year old turns to me and without looking me in the eye whispers that he'll like to make me some clothes. Why l asked. Still looking anywhere but at me he says well, l know you can wear my designs well and will help me get it known. Ok l said but do you have capacity to produce the stock you will need to show once your work is known? No he said. Now a little background, this young man's work had been my favourite during the competition (l was a judge) but perhaps his creativity was a little too avant garde for our sensibilities. Earlier he had been talking about how he had started studying medicine but is now thinking of leaving Nigeria to study computer technology. I looked into his design book and his unschooled sketches where superb in the detail and creativity. I looked him in the eye and said, let me tell you this, from all l have seen and heard from you and perceived of you l can tell you are no medical doctor, computer technology is not rocket science and can be acquired as you go along. Unless you want to be a programmer or work with the science of it, l don't see why you want to go study that. Computers are tools not a destination. Now you whom l see here is bloody talented, gifted and creative imagine how much so if you let you mind loose and learn your talent. You need to go and study the art, science and business of design and fashion. You need to acquire the knowledge, skill and network for your obvious area of core strength and natural flow. Don't just make a few clothes and get publicity without deep content or knowledge in our usual Lagos e dey happen way o. Also, don't worry about people not getting you yet, they will eventually and remember Nigeria is your root but she is not your only or final destination. Be so bloody good that no one, whatever colour, creed or nationality can deny your abilities whatever else they may have a problem with. I saw him light up from within and look me in the eye for the first time. I then gave his aspiring model friend the number of a trust worthy model scout and they both left armed with information and a little more confident, a little more assured. I looked at Emmy and said, I am reminded of why I am here, we can't leave these young ones to the ignorant, superstitious, bigoted and undiagnosed demented.

Through out the weekend I talk as I tend to do with mothers and their children at cinemas and malls, taxi drivers, hawkers in traffic and young people hanging around and l am struck by the innate goodness of our people even as l can see the general limitations placed by poverty, ignorance as well as misinterpreted culture and religion. It is important that the few voices of reason keep at it, stay in the trenches and smoke out the enemy, the reward is immense, it is a more knowledgeable, freer, prosperous self-perfecting human society for our children and theirs.


Anonymous said...

Nigeria is a true diamond ! covered with so much debris, but you still see the shining potentials, and it`s about time we start to "clean up" and polish our treasure...

UndaCovaSista said...

I think the way you're trying to make a difference is very inspiring. More power to you...!

Afolabi said...

hmmn...our country really doesn't give most people the luxury to do what they really want to do. You have to fall into the labour bracket of either lawyer, engineer, banker and so on..I even heard you one time in an interview say you had always wanted to be a writer that would travel around places. Hence, our country doesn't offer us the support and resources to do what we really want to do. But, we all have to make sacrifices and hopefully merge what we aspire for and what nigeria's reality offers us.

Gbemi's Piece said...

You were at the right place at the right time. Those guys needed you. We still live in a time when people need to be reassured that they can develop their God-given talents (no matter what it is) and make a career of it. Enough of pushing kids to be lawyers, doctors, engineers and computer techies. It is annoying to know that people are wasting away at school studying things they'd much rather not just because their parents or our society approves. It's high time that people with creative gifts realized that it is okay for them to follow non-traditional paths. Good thing you were there to encourage that fellow to follow what seems dear to his heart.


you inspire me!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hello Funmi, great job you are doing. Personally, I think gone are the days when parents force try to live their own lives through their children. I grew up with a father who wanted me to become a chartered accountant but because I insisted and preferred to follow my own path, he used to tell me that I'll not amount to much. But guess what, I've forced him to eat his words by turning out a successful young woman who's very innovative within the marketing world. So, parents should just let their children be.

Anonymous said...

God bless you real good not only for being there but for also encouraging them.

This is because its one thing for you to identify talent and another for you to give hope that in all this uncertainty, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Funmi Iyanda said...

@ 36 inches, how are you babe? so what do you do for entertainment in these stay at home and hide from robbers/police days?
@january, well done!
@undacovasista, love the pic, pure attitude, you go (snaping my fingers over my head with a camp pout) gurl!