My Inspiration Wall

Photo by ATC Comm Photo from Pexels I remember walking into a radio station in Abuja for an interview. When I got to the green – or waiting – room, I was pleasantly surprised by the surrounding wall that had pictures of many icons on it; Martin Luther King, Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Fela and a host of others. As I basked in memories of the work each person had contributed to humanity, I began to notice something that gradually dropped the smile from my face; there was hardly any woman on that wall. I wondered if the owner didn’t think there were women worthy of being on his wall; women whose contribution to humanity helped shaped the world as it is today; women who deserved to be seen. I wanted to be mad, but I reined it in. It was his wall after all and he could do whatever he wanted with it. Before I left the station however, I promised myself that when I set up my office, I was going to have a wall dedicated to women who had inspired me to contribute to humanity. I would call it my ‘inspiration wall’. A little over a year after I made that promise to myself, I created my ‘office’ space in my home. I dedicated a wall for my icons and then carefully curated the women I wanted to go up on it. By the time I was done, I had about twenty-four women I wanted to put up. With the space in my home, I could only put up fifteen without making the wall look…too much. Again, I started trimming down my list of inspiring women. When I finally got my 15, I sought pictures of them that captured the essence I felt connected me to them in the first place. So…I present you my inspiration wall. They are categorized into the following: 1.     My Biggest Inspiration: This is the topmost row of the pictures on the wall. It has me, Enigbe Ochekliye, Sadiya Ochekliye, Oprah Winfrey and Beyoncé Knowles. I need to put this out there. My mother – Hajiya Hauwa Umar – should be the first person on this row…or even at the very top of it. She taught me resilience and was the first person who showed me what it meant to be a feminist; even though at that point, I didn’t know the word and today, my mother wouldn’t accept the title. One of the biggest lessons I remember from my mother was when she called me and told me to never ask a man for money to get him a birthday present. I was about 8 years old then. What she was saying was, don’t be dependent on a man for the things you need. Make your own money so you can take care of yourself and your family. When people say I work hard, best believe that it is because I have such an innate sense of pride and a burning need to never be dependent on anyone, and especially not on any man. But my mother is also a conservative Muslim who doesn’t believe that pictures should be hung on the wall. So I am respecting her wishes but, you can imagine her hanging somewhere at the top of the pictures. My sisters – Enigbe and Sadiya – are constantly inspiring me with their dedication to acquiring more knowledge, understanding and innovation. Enigbe is one of the most intelligent women I know. If we grew up in a ‘sensible’ country, she would probably be working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) now. Sadiya is such an empath. She is so loving and caring that it is infectious. The way she relates to those of us that are her family members, her friends, her acquaintances and strangers is worth emulating. They inspire me to be better, to always leave room for more because there is always more I can do with myself and for my interaction with people. Oprah was the first black woman I saw that showed me we could be anything we wanted to be. She was such powerful and influential trailblazer. She rose in the ranks because she gave 100% of herself…and then some. It was because of Oprah that I knew I wanted to do media. I didn’t know what area I wanted to go into because I was still so sure I was going to be a neurosurgeon but somehow, I felt… ‘if Oprah can do it all, I can do it all’. And then I met Beyoncé. Singer with Destiny’s Child, energetic spirit and oh so so dedicated to her craft. When I say met, I don’t mean in person…even though it is on my bucket list. Being introduced to how much work went into putting out her music or the up-tempo videos or even the magnificent live performances, caused me to fall in love with her. Who was this woman? Why didn’t she seem to stop? How could she keep going with so much energy and fire? I felt like she was my soul sister. And I don’t need to say it…but I will. Beyoncé is one of my all-time favorite artists in the world. And then, there is me. I am one of my biggest inspirations. I work hard, I give my best to whatever it is that I do, I open myself to learning and contributing to my society and I am a good person; even if I say so myself. In the past, I never would have said this. In fact, up until recently, I used to think it was conceited to say good things about one’s self. But I have come to the realization that I am a work-in-progress. I make mistakes, I do bad things sometimes, I am downright horrible at other times…but all these, all of these things, do not negate the fact that I am a good person. If anything, it emphasizes it. I have grown in

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