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

Why We Love Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Rodham ClintonPicture: MISES INSTITUTE The first time I really took note of Hillary Rodham Clinton was when she was propelled to national (and international) ridicule by Bill Clinton’s affair in 1998. I was nine years old then and didn’t really understand politics. I was however very sad that Hillary Clinton had been publicly embarrassed by the scandal. I didn’t have access to the internet then but I followed every article that mentioned Hillary Clinton on the dailies. And even though I didn’t completely understand a lot of what I was reading, I grew fascinated with her. I learned that she wasn’t the typical woman of the 90s. She had a mind of her own, a drive that could rival most men and a desire that was as infectious as it was surprising. She was a lawyer, held strong political views that she was willing to work for and was actively fighting for children’s rights in her country. What was most impressive was that she was all of these before she even met Bill Clinton. The results of my research on Hillary and what I knew about Oprah Winfrey made me sit down – all 9 years old of me – to write out my life plans, the things I wanted to do and achieve and the person I wanted to be remembered for. I wrote these plans knowing that it wasn’t wrong for women to be intelligent, passionate or driven; things I was already displaying at that age. As I grew older, the strides Hillary made – in her law practice, humanitarian work and on the board of many committees – cemented my views about who I was meant to be. She was shattering glass ceilings way before it was a fitting catchphrase. What was most inspiring was her drive. She couldn’t be stopped for anything! Yes, she was less prominent during the time leading to the 1996 elections, but she didn’t stop pushing for the causes she was passionate about. From a driven lawyer, she became the first ‘First Lady’ to share her desire for elective post, campaign for that and win. But that was not the end for her. After serving for eight years in the US Senate, she announced that she was going to run for Presidency in 2008. I was so excited when I read this and even though I was a total fan of Barack Obama, I was happy that she dared to aspire for the highest post in one of the world’s greatest nations. And even though she didn’t get the Democratic Party nomination, she didn’t remain bitter. She joined forced with President Barack Obama as his Secretary of State. When she expressed her desire again for office in 2015, I was again inspired. She couldn’t be put down! And best of all, she wouldn’tbe put down. Never in my life have I prayed to be American more than at that time so I could vote for her; vote for a woman who refused to toe the line society tried to force down her throat. Hillary was more qualified than her husband when he ran for presidency but she waited. She was probably more experienced than President Barack Obama when he ran but again, she waited. You can imagine my pain when the time finally came and she had to face a racist, sexist, homophobic, misogynist, unintelligent, vile and inexperienced man! I honestly thought she had it in the bun. But alas, racism, James Comey, sexism, homophobia, Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, white supremacy and blatant tomfoolery would have none of that. In spite of her loss at the US Elections, I have never been more proud of a person like I am of Hillary. Hillary Clinton is a woman who has pushed for the things she believes in, giving her all – and then some – to her dreams, even when everything seemed against her. Many people wanted her to stand behind her husband, aspire for garden parties in the white house and be a beautiful potted plant. Most people couldn’t understand a woman who dared to have her own mind, her own dreams, her own vision and even her own sense of style. I mean, how dare Hillary think she can wear those pantsuits and three-inch heels and be president? Well, those people won! For now, anyway. Why was it so important for Hillary to win? Would she have been the first female president? No! We have African female presidents. Plus, I am Nigerian. How does it affect me? Well, it does! Many people have accused me of supporting Hillary Clinton only because she is a woman and I laugh because the reaction is typical.  I wanted her to win because she was the most qualified person for the position as a result of her extensive work in government and because she worked hard; even harder than most men have to. Nut more than that, and she daredto. I wanted her to win because I saw her policy plans and agreed with them. I wanted her to win because she had demonstrated better character for humanity and basic human rights than Trump has or will ever. Beyond that, I wanted her to win because she had her failings too and has learned from them. But no; she is a woman, so that was my only reason for supporting her (*shaking my head). It is worrisome however that most people would rather vote a bumbling unqualified man than a woman.  We get it; society has its tethering rope. Hillary may have lost this election but she has inspired me, and many people globally, to fight for what we believe in, to push for what we want and to stay the course, even if it takes forever. She may not get to be the first female president of the United States of America but her drive would make some woman the first. Many of the suffragettes didn’t get to see Hillary Clinton contest but their

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