THE SATISFACTION OF IMPACT
In the course of my career, I have met many people; those who have impacted my life positively and those who have through sheer negativity, caused me pain and grief but who have somehow helped to make me wiser and stronger. I celebrate the traffic of people in, out and around my life because without the combined contributions, perhaps my life would have taken a totally different route. However, what gives me the most joy are the feedbacks and testimonies that I get from people who took advantage of an idea or advice that I gave them and used it to turn their lives around.
This is what gets me going.
It is what makes me forget any inconvenience and do my utmost to pour out my experiences, every nugget of wisdom and information that I have into willing ears – old and young. It is what compels me to put my thoughts down in books, take up tutoring and mentoring roles all around the world and accept invitations to certain events. It is because of people like Nnoti, a young man that I met about this time of the year ten years ago in a gathering of over 30 people in America, who took something major out of our discussion and held it like a mantra.
“There have been many frustrations and deep challenges along the way but you said something that always came back to my mind and pushed me to try harder.” Nnoti told me when we met again at an event in Dubai this year.
He looked vastly different from the young African man that I’d met in that group several years ago. Then, he had stood out not just because of his accent but because of his alarming dress sense and the hungry look in his eyes. He had won a seat in the class from a competition organised in his country. It was his first time in America and it was obvious that he wanted to make the most of his time there, not in sightseeing and carousing but in careful study of ideas and opportunities that he could leverage on to improve his standard of life and his environment. He had many lofty dreams and every day he had questions. He wanted to know everything in that 4-week space. I gave him as much encouragement as I could then and advised him to retain his mother tongue but polish up his grammar and image if he wanted to enjoy a seamless business relationship with the rest of the world.
So, when I met him in Dubai, at an event hosting very influential persons from different countries, I was struck by the physical changes in Nnoti. He looked confident, stylish and affluent. His thick accent had almost disappeared completely. It was no wonder that I didn’t recognise him initially. He was introduced by the organisers as a business tycoon, the CEO of a renowned international cruise/charter company and a player in the oil industry. I was surprised when he was called up for his speech and he started by paying fulsome compliments to me. He then reminded me of some words of advice, caution and encouragement that I’d given him when he was a part of that program years ago. He quoted the words that I’d said and told the audience how he applied those words to get to where he was.
I was elated. My energy was renewed literally.
There were many people who had been part of the program that year. Many of them had heard the same words but Nnoti had a purpose, an expectation, a desire … and the words made more meaning because they met with understanding and a willingness to take action.
I would end this article as I started; there is no challenge or situation that does not have elements that can discourage you or encourage you. The power is in your hands. As they say, you can make a message out of the mess or allow it to overwhelm you and mess up your life. Nnoti seemed like the most disadvantaged participant in that program but I believe that the statistics will be different now.
He’s invited me and my family to join him and a couple of his business associates aboard one of his yachts for Christmas but…. I may not take up the invitation due to duty calls at home, but I sure feel like a proud father knowing that I helped mould an impactful life like Nnoti’s.
Of course, some would be asking how I can deprive myself and my family of a free multi-country ocean cruise in this stressful time… and I love sailing too. Not to worry. The invitation was open ended so perhaps I will cruise the oceans sometime in the next year.
Fatherhood with Ibe
DEALING WITH PERSONAL LOSS (Part 2)
In the campus, the greatest forms of entertainment were musical concerts and beauty pageants. For those of us interested in the business side of entertainment, there was always a constant search for beautiful faces and interesting acts. I was in my final year and we were going to put together an entertainment event to remember. Already my team and I had a few companies and high net worth individuals ready to sponsor our beauty queens with mouth watering prizes. Many girls sent in their applications for a chance to participate. The day of the pre-selection of the contestants was a ceremony of sorts.
Almost at the end of the audition, a tall elegant ebony complexioned girl walked in apologising for her lateness. It was obvious that she stood out among the girls.
“This one is a sure winner,” one of the pageant organisers said in a low voice. “She has already won some smaller contests.”
“Who is she?” Another asked.
“One Essy Oseme, a year two Medical student.” Another supplied.
On the day of the pageant, it was obvious from the very first outing that the audience preferred Essy Oseme and it was no surprise when she was crowned as winner. She really looked stunning. I was surprised when she turned to me after the ceremony and asked if I remembered her.
Truly, she looked vaguely familiar but I could not recollect any meeting.
“We were neighbours at GRA, Benin before my family moved.” She said.
I still couldn’t piece everything together.
“My full name is Esohe Oseme.” She prompted further.
Immediately, the image of a young girl clinging tightly to her mother as she sobbed at her sister’s graveside flashed on my mind. This is Esohe, late Etinosa’s little sister, I wondered?
“It’s been a while. I don’t think I saw any of you after…after….” I stuttered a bit. I didn’t know how she would react at the mention of her late sister’s name.
“After Eti’s burial? It’s okay, Ibe. You can say her name. Her death hit us hard but we are learning to live again.”
“I’m sorry. It was a terrible time for your family and everyone in the area.”
“Yes. She was just nineteen years old but she touched many lives positively. It was as if the joy had been sucked out of our family following her death but we are getting on again.”
“How is your Mum?” I asked. The day of Eti’s interment, the woman looked as if she was losing her mind or her life, whichever came first. When they moved out of the GRA and later sold or leased out their house, neighbours understood.
“My mum is doing well. She’s a lot more reserved and introspective than she used to be when we lived in Benin. We now live in Warri and I think the new environment helped everyone.”
“I’m glad to see you after all these while, Esohe.” I murmured.
“It’s Essy now.” She replied with a smile. I smiled too; the little girl was trying to be funky.
“I understand you are a medical student.” I noted and watched her face dim a little.
“Yes. Do you know that I was the only one at home the day my sister died? She was bleeding everywhere and I was just there holding her and calling for help that never came. The security house was too far for the guards to hear me and I didn’t want to leave my sister. She died in my arms. I felt so helpless and hopeless.”
“You were just a kid.” I said hotly. “What could you do?”
“Well, I am training so that no one will die so helplessly under my watch.” She said with finality.
I communicated off and on with Essy as she went successfully through her medical studies and became a doctor at a teaching hospital. She was obviously a fantastic doctor because although she had no private clinic, patients were said to troupe to her home for better medical attention. She later got married, but after five years and no child, the marriage broke down and Essy moved to USA to reside. She joined Doctors Anonymous Worldwide and went all over the world offering humanitarian services, doing her utmost to be sure that no one died from lack of quick medical attention.
“I was born for this.” She told me one day, laughing over the phone. “Being ready and available to help is the most satisfying feeling in the world.”
Essy’s compassion for patients took her around the world. She was remarkable.
Two weeks ago, I got a call from an old buddy back in college.
“Are you in Nigeria or here in the US?” He asked me.
I laughed before responding. I thought it was his usual nag about how I go round the world thrice every month.
“Neither, Fred, I am in London.” I replied.
“Oh! I thought you’ll be around for Essy’s carol this weekend.” He said gruffly.
“Which Essy is that and what type of carol?” I asked.
“Oh, you know Essy, beauty queen and doctor extraordinaire.” He sighed and I felt a chill blow over me.
“What happened to her?” I asked. Fred sighed again.
“Well she died last week. She was driving home after a work call when she saw an accident victim on the highway in Maryland. In her usual way, she parked her car, called for an ambulance and rushed over to assist the victim. Just then, a drunken driver came crashing down the road and rammed into them. The ambulance got there about three minutes later but not early enough for Essy and the victim. They both died before getting to the hospital.”
My mind was all over the place; back in time to Eti’s sad demise, through the years of Essy’s humanitarian service to mankind and then alarm at the impact the news would have on Essy’s aged mother.
There is plan to bring her body to Nigeria for interment. I hope I will find the courage and the strength to pay a tribute to a lady that turned her pain into a purpose.
Once again, I will end this painful narrative by expressing my heartfelt condolence to everyone that has endured the pain of losing a loved one. May God grant you strength for each new day.