Turning 28…and Not Repeating My Mistakes

Our founder wrote this to commemorate her birthday and from all of us at SHADES OF US, we want to wish her a wonderful birthday today. Happy Birthday Ramat! And it is here. On this day in 1989, a soon-to-be stubborn and pretty determined queen (read highly opinionated and motivated Zena-the-warrior-princess-like-woman) was born. She grew up to have three personalities, plenty baggage, lots of fire and achievements and a whole long list of things she plans to do until she is 75. But today, this oddly weird woman – AKA all three personalities of mine – is 28 today! Ramat, Remimah and Ada are older today! Whoot whoot. Let’s party and drink…and party and dance…and party…and party…and party. (PS: I am really not doing all that). On a serious note though, I never look forward to celebrating my birthdays and now more than ever, I am not in a celebratory mood. I am more of the celebrate-your-achievements kind of person. What I do is acknowledge that my new year starts on this day and honor my Creator for another year added to my life. This year, I am quite jaded turning 28. The last year took its toll on me and my spirit and I have become a little more subdued. I started 2016 with so much enthusiasm and optimism. While this wasn’t far from my character, I wanted to be quite different in 2016. I made plans to go to school, start a video log and podcast in expanding my platform, get a better job and generally turn my straits around. I believed I could do a whole lot if I only put my mind to it and gave it all I got. Did it work? Well, let me start from the bad parts. I knew I had to leave my old job because I needed to grow. Knowing this, I prepared for my exit by sending out applications to many media firm across the country. I sent hundreds of applications and crossed my fingers in anticipation. Soon enough, the invitations for interview started rolling in. I felt things changed for me when a company (whom I will not name because I will blast their grandmother in this post) reached out me up for an interview. Let me call them ‘Company A’. They were supposed to be a new media firm trying to set up in Nigeria and they needed on-air-personalities. The key players were Nigerian-Americans who were returning home to start a pan-African station to create content Nigeria and the United States of Trump; sorry, America. The founder was going to be in the country for one day to look at prospective employees and I was invited. On the date in question, I could not travel to Lagos so we did the interview over skype. I was grilled and to my credit, I was able to answer most of the questions to the best of my ability. When the interview was over, I was optimistic that I would get the job. A few more follow-up questions happened over the week via social media and finally, I got a letter of appointment. The letter shocked the socks off me. I was offered a position FAR BIGGER than the one I applied for with a salary that was a whopping 1500% increase on what I was earning in Yola! Yeah! I AM NOT EXAGGERATING THE FIGURE. You should have seen me dance! After reading the six page letter for a second time, the number of ‘Santa Maria’s I said should have been enough to bring back Mary from the dead (no offence dear Catholics). I was excited, revved up and thankful to God that my years of ‘chopping Kwakwa’ in Yola finally paid off. There was one catch though; work was to properly resume on June 5, 2016. That should have been my first clue that something was off about the company. But when you REALLY WANT something, you can be blinded by all reason. So I went to film school and kept applying for other jobs. The thing is, I got EVERY job I was interviewed for with the exception of Bellanaija (where I got something better than a job but that is a story for another day). Why didn’t I take the jobs as I waited for June 5? I felt their pay was ‘paltry’ in comparison to what ‘Company A’ had offered me. So here I was with a couple of employment letters that made me feel like my interview game was strong. I felt that my only option was to reject them. Though I was rejecting job offers, I kept sending out applications. Then May came and I rounded up film school. I returned to Yola to get my stuff and prepare for my new job. What a huge mistake that was. June came and I didn’t hear anything. I sent mails and didn’t get responses until the end of June. When I got the mail, I was told the Company was having ‘Licensing Issues’ and as soon as they worked it out, I will be in the know. I must admit that I was a bit naïve and didn’t see anything wrong; even though my friend told me they could have been a fake (read 419) company. I felt my friend didn’t know what she was talking about since I had vetoed the company online before taking the interview. Soon June became July and July became August. By this time, the number of openings in the media sector had dwindled which translated to fewer applications and even fewer invitations for interview. I started getting depressed. It was the 8thmonth of the year and I had not earned a salary since February. I am not business savvy so it meant that I had been dependent on family for ALL my needs; which was the first time in three years that that had happened. I hated depending on ANYONE and worse, I hated that feeling of

Happy Birthday Dad Uzzah Wado!

Dr. Uzzah Wado Founder Diplomat’s Centre, Kaduna It was the year 2006 and I was spiraling out of control. I had my life planned out but I was becoming more destructive to myself. My friend Jacob David invited me to church and that day, my life changed! Preaching that morning was Dr. Uzzah Wado. He talked on ‘Finding Your Purpose’ and I sat riveted to the pulpit. See, I had been going to church but it was more a social event than anything else. I honestly felt the pastors I had been under were mediocre and the image of GOD they portrayed wasn’t the view of GOD I had in my mind. The messages didn’t serve to improve my faith and I knew there had to be more about GOD! Dr. Uzzah teaching on Leadership So here I was listening to a different kind of message! It was intelligent, logical, knowledge-filled and very deep. My mind was blown! THIS was the message I had been waiting for! I went to Dad Uzzah’s house and he invited me into his library. I was impressed by the size of it and the number of books he had. I was however no longer surprised that his message was so intelligent. This man reads for Africa! He saw that I was with a book – a romantic fiction novel – and that was the first point of conversation. Dad asked about books I had read and asked if I had seen some of his. I was real, telling him I didn’t read Christian or motivational literature. He was good with that. Didn’t pronounce me a sinner or stuff like that. We continued to see and talk at least once every week. It became my free therapy session. I always left those meetings with a new book to read. Soon I was telling him about my dysfunctional family and my road to self-destruction. On one of such days, he got up from his seat to look for a book – which was unusual because he used to tell me to get the book for him – and when he saw what he was looking for, he pulled it out and gave to me. It was ‘Breaking the Cycle of Pain’ by Bishop T.D. Jakes. Dad Uzzah asked me to read it and come back for a discussion. Rev. Dr. Uzzah WadoDirectorInstitute for National Transformation (Abuja) That book took me through a whirlwind of pain, sadness, grief, anger and finally, change! That was the day I decided to be more focused on rebuilding me from the roots of my dysfunction. Dad stayed with me even when I got mad at him and left the relationship and deliberately disregarded him. He made sure he always prayed for me and advised me on many major decisions. It has been 10 years since I met Dr. Uzzah Wado and till tomorrow, he is still one of the biggest influences in my life. He taught me to be a purpose-driven woman, showed me that I was equal to the male version of my species, reminded me that I am like GOD and should strive to always represent MY KING and best of all, was my a good replica of JESUS to me. I am proud to know this man! Dad, as you celebrate your new age, I bless GOD for your life! I am thankful that you let GOD use you. If you hadn’t come into my life, I don’t know what could have happened. As such, I pray for much more wisdom for you, more knowledge, more understanding, more blessings, more power, more glory, more strength, more increase and more happiness in your life. I pray that your years will be graced with the joy you deserve and honored with the crowning glory that comes from serving GOD. I pray that your delight in your family grows and that your influence expands beyond your best imagination! I am proud of you dad! Love you plenty! Happy birthday Dr. Uzzah Wado! PS: Though not as often as before, I still got to him to ‘disturb’ him in his Library! When he sees me, he knows that the crazy person is around. Thank you Dad for accepting my quirks and craziness! The Uzzahs

Happy Birthday Frama!

Frama receiving the ‘BEST H.O.D AWARD’ at the House of Refuge International Workers Awad/Appreciation Night Frama Ambrose is someone I met in January 2013. I was introduced to him as one who would be joining the Protocol Unit of House of Refuge International Church, Yola. He was courteous, respectful and very willing to teach me the ropes of the department. In less than three months, he was made the Head of Department of the Protocol Unit and I was so HAPPY! No one was more suited to lead such a sensitive department. Making sure things are going smoothly Frama has the qualities of a leader – of a true leader – and that is why it was so easy to submit to him. You know I used to have to crazy temper tantrums and with just one word, I knew I had to keep myself in check. There was this thing that made us not want to disappoint Frama. Frama is Mr. Excellence himself. Being the protocol boss, he knew a bit about everything in church and a lot out of it. He is funny, very intelligent, sometimes sarcastic (guess you know why I like him) and very considerate! He was the only person I could discuss basketball with and you know I love my NBA franchises! The Ambroses; Frama, Yanuti and King Diego Jr. With his wife Yanuti (mama!), I found a family in Yola who had my back and to whom I could run to when I had problems. And when I did wrong, he would chastise me immediately and drop the issue. This made me become a better me. His desire for GOD and the things of GOD makes him a better man daily! I love the Ambrose family and I am so proud to have met Frama! Today, I celebrate him as he marks another birthday! Frama and Yanuti Ambrose Dear Frama, as you celebrate today, may GOD always bless you and your beautiful family, may HE keep you grounded in all you do, infusing you with more wisdom, knowledge and understanding and taking you from glory to better glory. Your style of leadership is to be emulated and I pray GOD makes you a shining example and influence for more and more young people. I pray that your son, King Diego Jr, sees the example of your influence and replicates it in his generation. I am so proud of you Frama! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Frama and Yanuti Ambrose

Happy Birthday Abe!

My friend. My Homie. My bestie. All one word but all applying to him; ABRAHAM IGOCHE ONCHE. Abe has been one of my ‘bestest’ friends in this world. He is a witty, crazy, nerdy and totally impossible person who has the greatest love for humanity. Abe is one of the best, albeit laziest, writer I know. LOL. Don’t be mad dearie. True genius takes its time right? LOL. His penmanship is brilliant and his ability to weave stories is something I envy. His works are expressed on his blog – ONELARGEXPREZZO. Abe has been one of my biggest pushers since he saw me doodle on Facebook. I always say my friend Charles pushed me start my blog but Abe prodded me to continue writing. This was at a time when I was drowning in confusion about the direction my life should take. He heard my voice even when it was not a voice. When I started my blog, he offered his services as editor and in doing so, helped me improve my writing greatly. Even when we fell out because of our different writing styles, he still made sure he helped with my blog. Abe went a bit further by investing in my dreams. I don’t just mean with his time and energy but with his money. You know someone has your back when they not only give you’re their time but also their money. Typical Nerd Behavior The love Abe has for humanity is something one should emulate. Unlike me who decided to put science on the back burner, Abe is doggedly interested in solving medical problems, thus improving the lifestyle of people. Yeah! He is a nerd like that! Oi! Don’t be mad! You know youz a nerd. LOL In the 7 years that I have known Abe, there hasn’t been a time when he couldn’t help me, when he didn’t show himself selfless, when he wasn’t willing to sacrifice for the people he calls friends and when he wasn’t giving his all to what he believed in. I am proud to be called his friend! Abe, you have taught me to respect people more, to learn to be peaceable (even though it is hard jare), to aspire and REACH for the stars, to be tenacious in the pursuit of my goals, to never give up even if the darkness seems to be shrouding me and best of all, to believe that I am worth it! Worth everything I desire! You have also taught me to be adventurous, to never be content with what I know and to be willing to unlearn or relearn what I know. For all this, I thank you for being in my life! You are awesome! Love you loads! As you add another year today, I pray that your wisdom grows a million times greater than you, that you are marked by GOD’s understanding, and that GOD blesses you indeed and unto at least 4 generations. I pray that your quest for good makes you leave a mark in the sands of time and that you are celebrated over and over. I pray that your happiness never runs dry and that your wealth transcends you even unto the fourth generation. Happy birthday my friend! You deserve to celebrate and be celebrated! Ps: Better bring all the goodies you possibly can when returning and hurry back jare! I don’t have anybody to trouble!

Happy Birthday T.S. Ralph!

When I started the New Year in January, I prayed to GOD to help me increase my sphere of influence by expanding my reach. I made a pledge to start a podcast and vlog, which would be an audio and visual representation of blog. It was easy to start the podcast but the vlog kept giving me problems! I didn’t know it was GOD’s way of making me wait for better. I met Tunde Raphael when I went to Royal Arts Academy. Tunde is a nice, awesome, superb and wonderful person. He puts the needs of others before his own. That is his personality! His work ethics is just brilliant! He expects the best, so HE GIVES HIS BEST! Even though he was already a good cinematographer, he knew there was always room to learn and improve himself. We would pore over movies and documentaries to improve our technical know-how about film/documentary making! He was, and is always ready to learn! In time, we became fast friends. I told him about my dreams and before you could say ‘Episode 1’, Tunde was in! He told me to pick a day so we can shoot the episodes of my vlog. In that moment, I knew my dreams were finally coming closer to reality! Since that time, we have struck a partnership that, I know, will take us great places! Tuned also taught me how to edit videos and I feel like I am now a well-rounded media person! If you know me, you know I can be a lot of trouble to work with. When I sit to edit my videos, I am reminded of how troublesome I was during shoots but Tunde never once lost his cool! He always maintained a calm that was impressive and of which I want to emulate. He has taught me to be a better presenter by simply being calm. For that, I cannot help but say I LOVE THIS DUDE! Tunde, as you mark another birthday anniversary, I pray that you are blessed indeed, that your territory will be increased beyond your best imagination, that wisdom will spring forth from you and understanding shall be your mark. I pray that you become excellent and reaching there, strive for better excellence! I pray that your voice will be heard in this generation and in generations to come! My desire is that, after a long, purpose-driven life, you will leave your legacy in the hearts of men and in the sands of time. As you believed in me and gave your time, energy, finances and knowledge to my dream, may GOD send helpers your way who would replicate what you have done to me a thousand folds! Know that you are loved my friend and partner! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TUNDE! PS: No even play with me! Better keep my cake oh! I no dey laugh! Ehen, bribe me oh…if not…I go expose your age! LOL!

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