I wrote here a while back that I would do a post on the amazing people who inspire me, so in the spirit of sharing, here goes! So I decided to do a series of posts because putting them all in one post would result in one very long post that well, the length might chase y’all away. I am going to be drawing from my personal experience/ encounters with them and the virtues deposited in me. Note: This is not a biography. Why am I doing this? Other than to share these awesome people with you (don’t say I never gave you anything), I also want to celebrate the people who have (and are still) inspiring me to be and do better and also to remind myself that I too can aspire to greatness. So without further ado, let us begin…
It was on a hot night (well, every night is hot in Lagos) that a friend sent this e-banner to a group I belong to about some entrepreneurship class coming up. I had seen it and wanted to attend but I couldn’t afford it at the time and then I just forgot about it. Then he said we could attend for free. I was excited. There were three speakers and I had heard about just one of the speakers. I registered and on the day of the class, I almost didn’t go but boy, am I glad I did! The first speaker’s session was quite insightful, using her own business as a case study and then the second speaker as well, (which is the speaker I knew) did same but in a much more lighthearted manner.
Then the third speaker came up. She was this slim, bespectacled, light skinned lady, with an afro. She was dressed simply in a shirt, jeans and sneakers (you know those types that look like gloves for the feet? Yep). The first thing that struck me about her was her hair and those shoes and then her voice. She has one of those alto types of voices that isn’t too loud or tiny but not too deep. And then she went ahead to apologise, that she was just coming from a walk which they had scheduled on the same day of the training and she didn’t exactly have time to change. Then she delivered her talk. A talk that was powerful in its simplicity. The 45 or so minutes she spoke for was absolutely enlightening. She was like a fireball setting ablaze all the walls and standards I had erected in my heart. All my preconceived notions about following your dreams and building a business just came crumbling down like a house of cards. That was my first encounter with Adaora Mbelu-Dania and that was the first time I would ever hear someone introduce themselves as a “Creative Industrialist” (Mouthful eh?). An encounter that caused a shift in my mind, something I can’t explain but I haven’t been the same since that day in November 2016.
She had given us her social media handles and her email and I couldn’t wait to check them out and read up all I could about this woman who can open her mouth and with the simplest of words, cause something to shift in my mind. I haven’t had that many experiences like that. She must be something, I thought. And my, she was something and a bag of chips!(What? I like chips. Hehe). I couldn’t stop talking about her. I started
stalking following her Instagram, googled her and read everything I could about her. Because I needed to know how someone who was barely 30 years old could talk with so much wisdom flowing from such astounding experiences.
I met her again this year at a Comic Republic event and I walked up to say hi. Then she said,
“I know you. When you walked in, I knew that I had met you before.”
I don’t know why, but that made me smile. I went ahead to introduce myself and we talked for a bit. I still remember that conversation. It’s not every day you get the privilege to meet a person that inspires you and have a few minutes of uninterrupted conversation with them. One of the things I garnered from that conversation is that she is a very disciplined person who values that in others as well. (One of the things she said that day was: anybody can have talent, but do you have the discipline to do what it takes to make it matter?) It also struck me how easy it was to talk to her. She has no airs around her, what you see is what you get. She’s such a non-conformist (I’m beginning to think the best people are) and it shines through in her ideas, her appearance and all that she does.
I won’t write that I know everything there is to know about Adaora because I don’t (I have barely scratched the surface), but one of the things I know (which is clear to anyone who has eyes) and admire about her is her heart for people and this shines through everything that she does. That genuine desire to make someone else’s life better. That desire to inspire someone to aspire to do great things with the talents and skills that they have. That desire to want to instil the right values like discipline, hard work, integrity in the people she meets. All of these flow out of a deep understanding of who she is and the grace that is upon her life and she doesn’t take this for granted.
She is proof that you can do a lot of things and do them WELL. With all the projects she undertakes and all that she does, she makes it look easy, but I can’t imagine how much work goes down backstage. I look at her and realise that the road to ‘greatness’ is not paved with wishful thinking, it is hard work, tenacity and grit.
She embodies so much grace, wisdom, intelligence and her words are filled with so much insight that can only stem from having a relationship with God. And she tops it off with a kind heart. She helped me realise, even more than I ever did before, that I am not on this earth for myself alone. My life must matter. It must inspire someone else to want to be better and live their best life now. But before that, I need to be confident in who I am and what I am here for (that ever-elusive self-awareness can be attained). One of the many things I have learnt from her is that people are important. People matter and it’s important to value the people that you have around you.
I know she’s human and therefore flawed, but I see her as this incredible ball of light, illuminating and transforming everything in its path. She’s the real catalyst. If I am half the woman she is when I am 30, then that would be something.
Image via Facebook.