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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, January 12, 2009

The faulty brain

The shrimp bounds (she doesn’t walk) into my study with the Buddha in tow, her wild head of hair dimming the bright shine of her eyes, as spinning on the spot, her words tumble out, comically repeated by the Buddha.
My brain is bad, it is killing me, really it is
I keep thinking and thinking and I cant explain it oh, ha it so …she dramatically drops on the floor making glugging sounds.
My friend, get up jo and stop the drama, what is the problem?
Promise you won’t laugh she says getting up in a bolt
I won’t
My brain is just thinking and thinking, (long pause)”how did we get here and what are we doing here”
You know mummy, here in the life, in the world.

So on my way to my local gym this morning I was thinking about that question, I am on familiar territory as I was only a little older than the shrimp when I became aware of my "beingness" and subsequently confused by its purpose. As we drove through the gate I saw an obituary notice for a friend I had not seen in a while, he died last week, I had not known he was dead.

Whilst labouring through my hamstring curls, I noticed a young man with perfectly honed body. Ordinarily I might have kept my distance as our appalling social ineptitude usually sees a number of men in these situation misread a casual hello as some kind of come on. But I can see from his perfect evenly cut proportions and demeanour that he was not a spoiled offspring of the rich (gym shape: Popeye’s cousin), or anal corporate (gym shape: what shape?) or indeed the rest of the rich and misguided (gym shape: advance stomach distension). Besides l have promised myself that this year l will stop being an insufferable social bore because I am second guessing the disturbed and the dysfunctional.

Are you an athlete?

He was. An hour later I had unearthed a potentially great story. His was the story of many a Nigerian athlete trying to achieve the extraordinary on sheer will power from competition to competition until he stumbled on a rich sport groupie (man after my heart) at an international competition who has decided to help him towards winning the world championship. This man paid for his gym membership, put him on an allowance to meet his training nutritional needs and is helping him secure a home nearer town so he stops the hellish commute for training.

The whole dialogue seethed with the anger borne of his frustration with the Nigerian sports authorities and older successful athlete until l reminded him of his good fortunes. I then asked him why he thought he is getting a break. He wasn’t sure so suggested that perhaps it is not just a chance for him to be great but a chance to learn greatness as a lot will depend on what he does with his success once achieved, otherwise in 15 years some young man will be slaving away in a run down stadium cursing him and his ilk also, a generational challenge unsolved.

We spoke at length and I was struck at how impressed he was by little things like a rather average gym, the ability to guarantee simple nutritional meals and proximity to training facilities. Little things that matter for an athlete’s success which have been fraudulently neglected since the times of father Tico (read your Nigerian sports history:-)) and indeed how easy it is to provide these things. I left the gym poorly exercised but with eyes burning with maniacal zeal at the potential not only to tell his story from this moment until he kisses that coveted gold medal on the middle podium at the world championship but also at the simple, cost effective idea l have dreamed up to support him and solve a pressing community need in Lagos. I had found the purpose for today.


Mimi said...

Very inspiring :)

Anonymous said...

And that is the purpose of life, making a differce everyday. Each day will present itself differently, How can you make a difference, if you do, then you know the reason why you are here, if you do not, then you keep asking that question. What is the purpose of life?

Ade, New York

empower yourself said...

Am greatly inspired by this piece. Its important t find the purpose fr each day. Then we can realy add value and have a sense of belonging. Thanks for drawing my attention to little things that count.

Oluyemi Adeosun

Anonymous said...

You know, the intro to this post should be a seperate post entirely? I dont know how to explain it, but it's so powerful in itself...many if developed a little bit further...we might just get a wonderful poem out of it.

I can recite it line by line after reading it just once.
Thank you F.I.

NigeriaPolitricks.com said...

the way you play with words leaves one breathless...very inspiring post, Funmi!