Monday, May 15, 2006

Living Your Dreams

I was tired today at work and swore that I would come home and crash right into my bed. Of course, I had a sneaky feeling that things would not play out quite like that - least of all, because I'm a night person.

I was watching Today's Woman with Adesuwa Oyenokwe and felt compelled to write something about her. She's featured regularly in a lot of magazines and newspapers here, so I read about the wonderful work that she's been doing over the years in media and for empowering women (ok, that word is so over-used, I need to dig out my thesaraus and find suitable alternatives).

Her show this evening featured a young woman (I think her name is Bolanle Makanju) who ministers to young prostitutes. While some of the prostitutes are touched by her interest in them, many more regard her with scepticsm and try to take advantage of her kindness. Adesuwa pointed out that as a single 31-year old woman, her work was probably affecting her chances of getting married (sadly in Nigeria this is probably true). Bolanle was unperturbed and expressed a belief that things would happen as ordained by God.

Bolanle is so obviously doing something that matters to her. It might present some inconveniences in her life, but those appear to be nothing compared to the sense of fulfillment that her work gives her. And how many people can say the same? Going to a job that you might be indifferent to or even hate just because it's too hard to get out of that comfort zone is something that so many do.

Adesuwa Oyenokwe is another example of someone doing what she loves. And she has been at it for a long time with the meagre financial security that comes with a job at the National Television Authority (NTA). My sister, who worked with her for a while, talked about the exhorbitant fees independent producers have to pay to the TV stations (NTA is a big example) to buy air-time for their shows. To make things worse, the station reduces the show's advert time making it harder for them to pay for their air-time by selling advertising space. And then even worse, the station charges far less for their own advert spaces than they allow independent producers to charge for theirs. To me, it looks like they are saying that they don't want any shows on their network that aren't made by them, which is crazy. These other (non-NTA produced) shows like Today's Woman and New Dawn add so much diversity to a network that used to be in such stasis.

To persist in the struggle against what are obviously really didfficult working conditions is incredibly laudable. The work and achievements of women like Adesuwa O. and Funmi Iyanda are pretty well-known, but there are so many others like Bolanle Makanju whose work hasn't or will never garner so much attention. Yet they continue to pursue their passions.

7 comments:

Everchange said...

It definitely is inspiring when you see someone doing work she loves. This is my biggest beef with how we are raised. We're expected to do what brings us wealth and what is logical concerning the subjects we are good in. If I followed those rules, right now I would be one suicidal economist.

Anonymous said...

Charity work is very important but too often in Nigeria, we tend to push forward religion even more than the intended charity duties. I believe most prostitute will have a change if heart if handled by secular charities as against religious ones - that said, I'm not against the religion-based charities in any sense just thinking more about the people that need help, which in this case are the prostitutes.

Anonymous said...

I agree totally with you anon. A friend told me about how they went to distribute food to the destitute from their christian fellowship and as they distributed the food, they were also preaching the gospel. At which point one of the people threw the food in their face and ask them if they are wanting to safe souls or feed souls. My friend was appalled by this and said they were ungrateful. The guy reminder them that they are giving food all the time by the Hari Krishna and some moslem organisations without any preaching. Told them that he is already a christian, he just needed feeding.

i think when people give it should not be with conditions. Otherwise they are no better than western donors with their 'tied aid'.

Ore said...

Hmm, you raise some good issues (both 'anon's). I can see your point and also where the Christian charity might be coming from.

As a Christian, you're urged to spread the gospel. However, the way you do this differs greatly from person to person or from group to group. Your method of sharing the gospel, I believe, should also depend on the people you want to share your message with. I happen to know many people who would absolutely resent any form of proselytizing and sometimes I think you have to respect that.

I also think that as a Christian or Muslim or whatever faith you follow, your actions should speak much louder than your words. And so, if people are encouraged by what they see, they will hopefully express an interest in finding out more about your faith. That's always been my approach.

Everchange: I think you are right, though that way of thinking might slowly be changing. I know a lot of people following very non-traditional career paths. And even those who now have support from their families, might not always have had it. Often, it takes success (financial or social recognition) to lead to a change of heart. And, well, maybe in that respect, you can say that very little is changing, because Nigerians have always respected success.

Everchange said...

The 2nd Anon's story is so crazy. It is true that christians who take an interest in caring for the poor often tie it to "witnessing". If I had been there when that incident happened, I would be so ashamed. I hope they learned a valuable lesson. Christians like to think that they are the only good caring people in the world, and it is so not true!

Bankole said...

I do agree with anonymous1 about the religious and secular charities issue. A much as GOd and religion are an important conversion factor in these issues, it is sometimes taken too important. Some of these religious charities expect instant conversion from sinner to saint without accommodation for the many shortcomings of man.
Nice Blog Ore.
Keep It Up.

Ore said...

Thank you, Bankole.