• Friday, July 19, 2024
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BusinessDay

On turning 60

On December 19, 2022, Eugenia Abu, one of Nigeria’s ace broadcast journalists, chose a special event – “60 for 60 – The Wisdom Conversation” to celebrate her 60th birthday. The idea was to gather 60 persons to discuss the subject matter “wisdom”

The question on everyone’s lips is, How does it feel to be 60? It is interesting what my answer is… I do not feel the weight of the age. I am grateful for good health, energy, good vibes and a sound mind. I feel alive more than ever before, more creative and certainly pretty agile. I feel like a 40-year-old.

I might in fact think of partaking in a marathon for the sixties and above. Who knows. It’s been a long time coming… one day drops at a time and it has gathered into a concrete consolidation, shaken together to become 60. It crept up on me when I was not looking at it. But I am grateful, thankful and blessed. When I turned 50, ten long years ago…I had said at a gathering of friends and family that 50 gives you fearlessness.

You can tell people in a polite manner but firmly that you are not going to be a people pleaser. This is when you can say to a friend who is a user…No, I can’t take you to the market now…I am busy and don’t feel an iota of embarrassment or discomfort. This is when you are fearless to pursue your dreams.

This is when you give yourself permission to love yourself, to buy that dress or jewellery you always were afraid to get for yourself because you felt a bit of discomfort – Junior wants a game – Your daughter wants to go to Summer camp – You promised your sister some money, etc. You go through life owing every self-entitled friend and relation.

I am thankful that I can lock up a consultancy in a New York minute, moderate events between cities and countries and still manage to find clothes that give me attitude for my journey ahead

At 60, you cut out people who just use and use you and begin to travel light. By 60 you have earned the right to now be self-entitled in a nice sort of way. While everyone was wondering where the party was in Abuja, I flew into Lagos for work on the 19th of October, the day I actually turned 60 for work.

Not a few friends and family were amazed. Yes…I am a working woman at 60, and I am having a ball. I am thankful that I can lock up a consultancy in a New York minute, moderate events between cities and countries and still manage to find clothes that give me attitude for my journey ahead.

I am so thankful for my family. They have held my hand through this journey. My spouse, my children, my siblings, my in-laws… cousins, nieces and colleagues as well as clients who have trusted me with sensitive and complex jobs. God has been kind.

I enjoy cooking, and have cooked up a storm over the years feeding family and friends with relish…yes, the cookery book is coming. I have travelled the world but there is still so much to see. 2023 may be about politics in Nigeria, and yes, I keep my eye on how things are going, but this 60 is about travelling to places yet uncharted…unconquered …

Antarctica, Latin America and African countries I have never been to. It’s about Island countries…Seychelles, Maldives, a villa by the sea on your own for two weeks…Zanzibar, Mombassa….live one’s life with relish and joy, and great food and the natures of the world.

Sixty is a great age to be…now more deliberate…less harried…more intentional…slow on purpose…quick because you want to. Now, you work for yourself… Boss, lady… gastronome and a lady who flies into Lagos for work on her 60th and goes straight for a 90 minutes relaxation massage and a Pedi Mani because she can. Then we can have the meeting later in the day. I am thankful to all those who have sent good wishes and all those threatening to abduct me to an unknown destination for a party….

And yes, as a judge on the National Maltina Teachers Award, we award the best teacher the N5 million prize annually and several other prizes for 2nd place, 3rd place and state winners across Nigeria, but the beauty is the look on a teacher’s face when his reward crystallises before his/her eyes. The walk of pride…the look of disbelief, then surprise…then joy and then contentment.

Read also: Fola Osibo releases autobiography – The Industrial Manager, at 78th birthday

This is one of the highlights of my year…and this is what has brought me to Lagos. And the cherry on the pie, the entire team for this activity led by Mrs Shade Morgan, corporate services director, feted me to a dinner in Lagos… Yumm…So where was I again…Oh yes… My friends in Lagos showed up….my brother Emma Amodu, Ali Baba the comedian extraordinaire and his lovely wife Mary… Olu Akanmu, and yes, the debonair, former minister of foreign affairs, Odein Ajumogobia and his charming wife, joined sister and friend of many years, wife of my big brother AVM Ombu, Mrs Viola Ombu …and while my sister Kate Henshaw planned to show…I am still looking for her between Abuja and Lagos in all her blockbuster movies on Netflix, on stage and other phenomenal platforms making us proud.

The notice was short so I could not reach out to many more friends and family in Lagos… sorry, it was dinner…before una eye yellow, you know….my page editor Victor, na just dinner….general laughter. But Shade and her team were phenomenal. Thank you so much. Great way to reward a working woman… and of course to Mr Abu who has ensured the lines on my face are not plenty, he joined us in Lagos… you are worthy of celebration.

No be say we no dey fight oh…but now mutual respect choke…and we are thankful for God’s hand in our lives, our children…the beauty of a singing bird in the morning and the setting sun. We are less rash…more patient. More grateful. Sixty sets you on an elder citizen journey but also gives you permission to be 16 again. I am writing more books…savouring good food….making my own choices and taking to the skies. I love it.…

These days, the children ask what I would eat. Do you want your feet massaged? Can I drive you somewhere… Do you want ice cream.… People celebrate you in unusual places. Broadcasting has been kind to me…so, a lot of times people thank me for my service in different ways…oh ma, I got this…you can’t pay for your meal, and many Uber drivers have recognised me and decided they can’t take money from me… the tears sting my eyes for the love my countrymen and women have showered on me for decades…I don’t take it for granted…Thank you. Still goes to show. With…service…hard work…

One can’t go wrong…I’m a living testimony…

Then, I walk into the reception of my hotel to a bouquet of flowers…my children have sent it from Abuja… The surprises never end…Sophie, Joseph and Pam, Chide, Oiza and Meyi and Donna…thank you…to all my siblings… Thank you…my staff…Doom, Kendra… Iveren, Sewuese, Helen, Tosin, and my thousands of adopted children and mentees worldwide…thank you…

I am thankful…grateful…blessed. We are 60 but our life has just begun…I feel the rising…God’s elevation…and I am here for it… Amen