It was a blinding moment and I was benumbed and immobile for all of one minute. My name had just been announced as the most inspiring woman in Nigeria from amongst four other formidable nominees, namely Amina Azubair, Joke Silva, Chimamanda Adichie, and Abike Dabiri, all of them my friends. It was surreal when the international fabric manufacturers Vlisco nominated us all as role models for Nigeria.
Joke Silva, thespian extraordinaire, apart from running an acting school and is a mentor to many young actors and actresses, recently got appointed MD of the Kwara State film village.
Abike Dabiri-Erewa, broadcaster, legislator and humanitarian, was a former colleague at the NTA and now holds her own at the National Assembly as the chairman, Diaspora Committee in the House of Representatives. She was until recently the chairman of Media at the House of Representatives.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the youngest of the pack, has continued to break the mould, reach for the skies with her books already being translated into many world languages. Her third book, Americanah, is out this month.
And, of course, there was yours truly.
And so it was that there was one month on the net to vote for which of these women inspires you the most. Two weeks ago I wrote on this page that my fans should take to the internet if they believed I had inspired them enough, and if not they should vote for any of the women that appear on the page. I encouraged everyone to get a vote in, and as it so happens, your vote counted and overall I was declared “the one with the most votes”. Please note my words, “the one with the most votes”, not “the winner”. This is so because once we were picked out as nominees, I knew that they had picked women who stand tall in their fields, are courageous at all times and have inspired a countless number of people in the Nigerian stratosphere and across the world.
Take Joke, for example. You can imagine the number of men and women whom she has brought to the acting profession because of her outstanding performance time and again. She is formidable both on screen and on stage. Then there are those who have met her whose lives she has touched.
As for Abike, she has continued to soar at the National Assembly, passionate about Nigeria, deploying her experiences and adding value. Before then her social service was apparent in her Newsline assignment on NTA, fishing out parents of lost children and showcasing special cases that needed attention.
Amina Azubair, development expert and a woman whose passion for education and the girl-child is unassailable. Her work at Millennium Development Goals as senior special assistant to Nigeria’s president positioned her as a woman to watch. Engaging, cerebral, Amina is currently a top adviser to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon because of her antecedents and her work for fast-tracking Nigeria towards the MDGs.
And Chimamanda: what can one say about a young woman who has arrived on the scene, old and wise? There are so many people who started writing fiction because of Chimamanda’s choice of career. Winning several awards to the bargain, she continues to push the boundaries.
I want to believe that I was nominated by Vlisco as one of the nominees perhaps because of my many years on television with engaging interviews, documentaries and producing and presenting NTA Network News over the years. There are many young people who come to see me because they want to be broadcasters as a result of watching me do my work. Above all of this, I think my work in mentoring young persons and teaching 7-14-year-olds, teaching them how to write in an annual summer book camp which I facilitate, must have counted as well in addition to the mentoring programme for young men and women which is a passion.
In the end, anyone of the nominees could have picked up the position as lead role model. It was by votes and indeed anyone of us could have taken it. I had told my staff the week before that anyone who takes it takes it on behalf of all of us.
I want to congratulate all my friends nominated by Vlisco for this incredible women’s month. I congratulate Vlisco for celebrating women whom they believe have made a difference. And to all those who voted for any of us, thank you for voting, for celebrating us. As for the award of Vlisco most inspiring woman 2013, I dedicate it to all the nominees, to all Nigerians, to all those who voted, to my family and friends. Without God, I do not exist.