Fadeke – Episode VIII

Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo

Fadeke was not happy with her performance at the event; she began to doubt her abilities and any future career in the entertainment industry. She felt that her path may not be music but medicine and that perhaps, that was the reason she had the fortune of studying medicine. She was disappointed with herself. Tade made concerted efforts to encourage and cheer her up but her mind seemed made up. She had resolved to channel all her energy into medicine. She studied hard for her test, became more serious with her course works and within a little space of time, she moved to the top five percentile of her class.

Fadeke totally withdrew from music, when she went back home Mrs Onifade noticed that the excitement Fadeke had for music had suddenly faded. She also noticed that Fadeke was withdrawn; she was no longer the excited little girl who giggled at every sound of music. She was both happy and sad about this new development, a part of her was happy and hoping that her indifference with music will help her focus better on her medical studies and in the long run, maybe she could fall in love with the idea of being a medical doctor. However, she was not happy with the lethargic Fadeke, music was a core part of her and the absence of music reminded Mrs. Onifade of the things she wished she had done rather than settled for the life she eventually settled for.  Mrs. Onifade decided to ask Fadeke why she had lost her love for music.

“Fadekemi, I hope all is fine. I noticed that you no longer sing as you used to, se ko si o? she asked, sincerely concerned.

“Mummy, there is no problem. I just think that music may not be the right career path for me” Fadeke responded.

“Ehn? How do you mean? Music makes you excited and very happy. I don’t like this new you o” Mrs. Onifade tried to look Fadeke in the eye, she knew if she could get Fadeke to look her in the eye, she would be able to tell for certain whether she was telling the truth or otherwise. She felt and knew that all was not well, but she could not exactly place her hand on what the issue was. “Fadekemi, so fun mi, kilo sele?

Fadeke began to cry when she saw that her mother was genuinely concerned. She realised that despite her many strange tendencies, her mother was truly interested in her overall state of affairs. She opened up to Mrs. Onifade and explained how she messed up at the biggest stage of her life and how there may never be a second chance. She explained all that Tade had done to encourage her and help her back to her feet, without much success. This was completely new to Mrs. Onifade, she was pleasantly happy that Fadeke had made such tremendous progress both in medical school and as a musician. She was also happy to hear about the young man Tade, whom her daughter was apparently very much in love with. She pulled Fadeke to herself, let her weep while telling her that she was good enough.

On her part, Mrs. Onifade began to appreciate Fadeke’s strength of character and became encouraged to push herself; maybe, just maybe she could still become a trained nurse.

***

Tade thought that Fadeke would eventually come around and that she only needed time and constant reassurance. However, months after months, Fadeke’s enthusiasm remained at ground zero. She told Tade of the conversation she had with her mum and how Mrs. Onifade had not stopped to talk about reigniting a career in nursing despite her age. Tade was happy that Mrs. Onifade was encouraged but was sad that Fadeke remained disinterested in her music career. He called Phebean and told her about the concert and Fadeke’s lack of interest in music thereafter. Phebean had a strong influence on Fadeke and because she had also experienced failure at different points in her career, she knew the right motivation Fadeke needed to get back on her feet. She paid Fadeke a visit; consoled her and told her to research on great legends in the music industry. She asked Fadeke to read their stories and how they also had bumpy rides in their early days but succeeded against all odds. Fadeke confided in her that she still loved music, only that she could not get over the fact that she failed in the spotlight.

Phebean insisted that all she needed to do was read about music icons, their epic failures and how they overcame such failures. Fadeke read about music greats who failed at first but picked up themselves. She was particularly impressed by the story of Elvis Presley who as a young singer was kicked out of the Grand Ole Opry, a weekly country-music stage concert in Nashville, Tennessee. He was told to stick to his day job of driving trucks but he did not allow that deter him, he continued until he made it big.  She realised that she must not let rejection and criticism get in her way as it was merely a part of the music business which must be handled positively. She began to understand she must learn from a “bad” situation and move on and that the only positive way to silence critics is to prove them wrong but first she needed to prove to herself that she was good enough.

Fadeke was inspired, she started to dream again, she resolved that the world was her oyster and she was going to write beautiful stories in the chapters of her life. From then onward, there was a drastic change in her outlook to life, she became aware that there was more to her, she activated this consciousness and continued to ace her exams.

In her 5th year in medical school, Fadeke started researching on musical therapy once again and thought to work on same as it fascinated her. She started to dream big and plan her life. One of the best decisions she made was leaving 360 degrees. When she left 360 degrees, she had more time to write more songs, do solo videos and she learn to play the guitar. Tade enjoyed watching her sing and play the guitar. He made a portrait of her playing the guitar which she loved very much and hung same proudly in her room.

Tade resumed posting clips of Fadeke’s solo songs on Instagram and the feedback was phenomenal. Her fans were still very much in love with her. This was a confidence booster; this time, she knew she was ready to take on the world.

 

Interpretations

se ko si o? – I hope all is well

so fun mi, kilo sele? – tell me, what the matter is

Fadeke: Episode VII

Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo

She resolved to combine her love for music with her need to make something out of medicine. She learnt to work efficiently, to focus her brain when a million other things are swirling in it.

In her first year at Medilag, Fadeke found music and medicine to be overwhelming and was smart enough to know that her grades may suffer if she didn’t focus on medicine; consequently, she decided to reduce her participation in 360 degrees. She limited her involvement to only participating in rehearsals twice a week but attending just one show in a month. She learnt how to manage her time better and limited the activities she participated in. She also realised that her workload as a medical student would only intensify. She resolved to combine her love for music with her need to make something out of medicine. She learnt to work efficiently, to focus her brain when a million other things are swirling in it. Her grades were impressive that first year and she was proud of herself. She stepped out of her comfort zone and understood what her limits were. Indeed, her first and second year in medical school was a learning curve for her, she became smarter and wiser. She felt at some point that perhaps she was giving up on her dreams, perhaps she ought to spend more time doing music than medicine, maybe she would have got her big break in music if she devoted more attention to music. Phebean had graduated and was among the rising artist in some Nigerian ‘Broadway styled’ shows. She kept in touch with Fadeke and often encouraged her that she was on track. Tade often reassured her that she was making progress. She had not missed her weekly rehearsals in two years and she remained the crowd’s favourite on campus and at shows outside the campus. The only snag was that she did not know how to grow her social media followership, as she had no time to play with.

During her third year, one of her professors spoke in passing about music therapy and she was fascinated by it, thus she became interested in it. Using the internet, she read all she could on music therapy and felt she had found the right combination for music and medicine. She was going to pursue knowledge in the field of music therapy. She considered that it should not be difficult for her to do so in view of her good background in music. She determined that she would carve a niche for herself as the first musician and music therapist in Nigeria.

By this time, Tade was already a big deal on social media and had received an offer to study Fine Art (Painting Major) at the Yaba College of Technology. Fadeke was very excited at the fact that he had progressed and found his way out of the dump under the Lende Bridge. He was an example of persistence and resilience. Yes, he had a little bit of luck to aid him but his talent created the path. They were both excited at the prospect of being close to each other. Tade was very popular both on campus and on the ‘Gram’ with many folks using his works as their display pictures on Twitter, Facebook and Blackberry Messenger. Although, he felt it was not necessary, Mr. Jimi encouraged him and insisted that he paid some tokens for the promotion of his pages on social media. It worked and his popularity continued to soar.

Fadeke and Tade were in love; they could not and did not hide it. It was evident to everyone who knew them. Their love was young and innocent. Fadeke was not so much into social media but she often heard what sounded like jealous whispers from her female classmates, she would hear them talk about his Instagram posts. Tade was a lover boy and would often write beautiful words, often described in millennial lingo as ‘mushy’ on Instagram or post some interesting picture of her with the caption “She brought light into my dark world”. His posts about her always had that statement; a mantra it was.

Tade decided to take over Fadeke’s social media accounts; he knew he had enough content to grow her social media accounts and felt bad he had not thought to do that all the while. He had several video recordings. The videos were mostly when she sang with only him as her audience. He noticed there was usually a confident edge in her voice whenever she sang to him. She was at ease with him and he needed to let the world see the beauty he was blessed with. So he began to post the videos on Instagram and Facebook. It was an instant success, people loved the videos and the invitation started coming in their trickles. Tade had on Mr. Jimi’s recommendation, appointed one of his friends as his manager. This again, proved to be a smart decision, as Smart Odey took charge of the promotion of Tade’s works. He was able to secure more corporate endorsement deals for Tade within two months of taking over management of Tade’s talent promotion.

****

With Smart Odey in charge, Tade had more time and he dedicated it to growing Fadeke’s social media platforms. He got one of his friends who was studying Industrial Graphics at Yabatech to edit most of Fadeke’s videos. He had learnt that with Instagram, when you are trying to grow a followership, good contents and consistency were keys to unlock the door. He consistently posted videos of Fadeke from his archives and gradually she began to garner followers and people started talking about her. The beauty of social media is in its cross-boundary propensities. People from all around the world saw the videos and commented on how good she was and why she needed to perform at the biggest concert in their area. Tade would respond on her behalf, thanking each person who commented. The picture that generated the most conversation was a picture of Fadeke in her laboratory coat detailing how much work she has to put into medicine and music. Many commented to say they were inspired, some congratulated her and others encouraged her. When Tade showed her the comments, she could not hold back her tears; there was just too much positive vibes from those comments. She was inspired and all fired up to make her dreams come true.

***

About two days later, Fadeke received an email inviting her for a show at the Tafewa Balewa Square, Lagos. The email listed several ‘A’ list artistes scheduled to perform, but the organisers wanted to also give young talents the opportunity to perform to a bigger audience. Tade was excited and encouraged Fadeke to accept the invite. The event was just three days away, when they checked their calendars, Fadeke had a test the next Monday whilst Tade was expected at an exhibition in Abuja. They had mixed feelings about it but Tade insisted that he would try to get back into Lagos as early as possible on the Saturday of the event. Tade responded to the email on her behalf and accepted the invite.

***

The show was the biggest live event Fadeke had ever attended. The Tafewa Balewa Square was occupied with thousands of music fans, all screaming and shouting at every turn. As the time inched closer to Fadeke’s performance, she became scared; she seemed to always have stage fright when she is performing at events that were like milestones in her career. It was similar to the fear she had at the restaurant at Victoria Island, she needed her friends. The only familiar face at the backstage was Jim, who was one time a member of 360 degrees.

Unfortunately, Tade arrived at the Muritala Mohammed Airport very late as his flight was delayed for hours. For some reason, there was a serious traffic at Ikeja which further delayed him. Phebean was in Warri for another event so she could not come to lend her support to Fadeke. She wished she appointed a manager as Tade had once suggested. At the time, she felt it was not yet time but at that moment, she wished there was someone around who could give her a hug and tell she could do it.

She explained her predicament to Jim and he suggested that there was a fix, a very quick fix for the problem. When she asked what the fix was, he gave her a small nylon foil containing some white substances. Fadeke immediately knew what it was and her mind told her otherwise, but something else told her she needed it if she hoped to perform to the billing that night. Her mind went quickly to many of the stories she had heard from Tade about the wreck that the white substance and Indian hemp had done to the boys under the Lende Bridge. She saw his eyes of disapproval and then handed the foil back to Jim. No, she was better than that, she told him.  Instead, she called Tade and his voice was the calm she needed. Tade told her she had just won another battle and that she was ready. By this time, he was on the third mainland bridge in a moving traffic.

****

Fadeke took the big stage, she sang with all her energy but the reaction of the audience was cold. Disappointment was written all over their faces. She had flopped! Tade got to TBS just as the next artiste was introduced. Fadeke was given two VIP tickets, one of which was with him, so he got in very quickly. He ran to the backstage and after some hassle with the bouncers, he was allowed in. He found Fadeke in a corner, he eyes were blood stain from tears, he pulled her to himself without saying any word; he knew that was all she needed!

The City Circle – Much Ado About Jollof

MUCH ADO ABOUT JOLLOF….

I spent the festive period in the kitchen. And we did not travel to the village o! Anyways, my mom who sat and watched while I cooked most of the time tried to engage me in the usual marriage conversation (single ladies, raise your hand if you had this conversation during the holidays)

She started. “We need to teach you how to cook other delicacies apart from Jollof rice, you know what they say about the way to a man’s heart, how are you going to find a man with only jollo…”

“Mom, abeg abeg we? Who is “we”? ….”I didn’t let her finish.

I had a mental picture of me on the mainroad with a bowl of Jollof rice in hand, searching for a man and it made me hiss. You see, my mom does not cook. That chore has been shared unequally between my dad and I since I can remember. He likes to cook and I have to cook when he is not around. I am only happy to cook when I am called upon to make Jollof rice which I think sums up enough culinary prowess to grant me passage into any man’s heart. (Yes I said it. My Jollof rice is badt like that).

I found my talent for Jollof rice in 2010 but quickly abandoned it in favour of vegetable soup. Now that I think of it, I don’t know what my mom was talking about. I can cook other things too… anyways, back to Jollof. With the media frenzy and constant hype of the staple food, I had to tap back into my Jollof talent and our love affair’s waxing stronger every day. There are so many hush hush secrets and methods to the art of Jollof rice preparation. And there is the constant pressure to surpass the success of your previous pot of rice. So most days, ladies (and gentlemen like my dad) are on the internet, Tv, searching for ways to enhance our Jollof cooking skills. Because you cannot carry last in this Jollof race. If you sleep on the bicycle for too long, you’ll find yourself making Ghanaian Jollof (no shade intended) in a Lagos home. One day you will wake up and the Jollof ship has sailed….it is that serious. The number of brands churning out “Jollof rice spice” nowadays… because once the shopper passes by a shelf and sees “spice for Jol…” gold niyen.

Wherever you find a pot (or plate) of orange rice, there’s a hash tag for husband/wife material (mostly 100 yards) beside it. So many memes for “when bae makes Jollof rice” and there’s the ongoing battle between two countries over this rice.

Jollof is the cheat in this “way to a man’s heart” struggle. If it comes down to “the cooking skills or no husband”, do not even fret. Just take a crash course on Jollof and you’re in… Jollof to the rescue!  There is no inappropriate occasion to cook and eat Jollof Rice.

She is economically friendly. Jollof does not discriminate. Snails, chicken, panla and sardine can play together with Jollof. She can sit with you at Iya Ijebu and Radisson Blu. Jollof has friends in high places.She is popular with Tech entrepreneurs, world class billionaires, (ask Mark Zuckerberg), oil tycoons…nobody is immune or allergic to Jollof rice (I dare you!)  Jollof has class and standards. You cannot treat her anyhow or she will tarnish your culinary image. Jollof is the mistress that has turned to family. She has her own day (August 22). She is the queen of rice. Period.

I wonder who told this Orange rice that she can be / cause all these things. Who elevated Jollof Rice? (Taste buds. duh!). Who is attaching all this importance to Jollof? How can we just let Jollof waltz into our lives and take over like this? Where did this Jollof craze start from?

Fadeke: Episode VI

Fadeke resumed at the University of Lagos. She introduced Phebean to her mother during her matriculation ceremony. Mrs. Onifade noticed that Phebean paid particular attention to Fadeke so she pleaded with Phebean to help keep an eye on her. She told Phebean about the challenges she had with Fadeke regarding her choice of career. Phebean responded that it was important that Fadeke does what she loves, she however promised to keep an eye on Fadeke.

The first few weeks were totally exciting for Fadeke. It was fun exploring campus and meeting new people. She was also officially inducted into the 360 Degrees music group. She was surprised to find out that 360 degrees was very popular on campus. She performed with the group at different ‘fresher’s welcome’ events on campus, she soon became the crowd’s favourite and the name Fadeke became a so popular on campus within two weeks. Phebean noticed that Fadeke was getting carried away by her rapid rise to fame and she took it upon herself to ensure that Fadeke had her head in the right place.

Phebean had grown very fond of Fadeke and had nicknamed her ‘Queen F’. “Queen F, sit down and let me tell you somethings that will help you get out of this place alive” Phebean said. “I know that you want to be a big star but right now you need to set your priorities right okay?”

“Ok. Is there something I’m doing wrong” Fadeke honestly asked.

“No, but you are young and full of energy which must be properly channelled so that you don’t derail. I’m taking personal responsibility for you because I was the one that introduced you to this group and your mother instructed me to keep an eye on you. You have a lot of prospect but you need to know how to manage this new found life. Medical school is not a joke. So you will need to channel all your energies into both music and medicine. I don’t want you to lose sight of the reason you are here, your academics should be your top priority. That is why your mother sent you here and nothing less than excellent grades will do” Phebean advised.

“Medicine is not really my thing. This is just for my mum, you know. All I want to do is Music” Fadeke responded.

“I know and you have said that to me several times. But, listen girl, life can sometimes be funny such that the thing you are pursuing may not happen. I know it’s good to have positive vibes always but have you ever asked yourself what you will do if music fails? Phebean asked.

“Not really. I always think that music will happen” Fadeke said.

Phebean gave Fadeke a long look and asked “So what if it does not happen as you expected?

“Errm…. I don’t know. I have never thought about it” Fadeke responded.

“You should think about it. Take medicine very seriously. Try and surprise yourself. Break new barriers, you can succeed in medicine and in music. But I would not watch you play away your time here on campus. I’ve got my eyes on you”

“Thank you Phebean. I’m very grateful”

****

Acting on the advice he got from Phebean, Tade quickly became serious with his Facebook account. He also opened Twitter and Instagram accounts. His followership on Facebook began to increase at a fast rate, people liked and commented on pictures of his artworks and he began to receive instructions from people to make one artwork or the other for them. He also met with the curator of a popular art exhibition in Lagos who encouraged him to bring his art works to the exhibitions.  Mr. Jimi, a senior management staff of one of the telecommunications giants who attended the exhibitions saw Tade’s works and was very impressed with the quality of his works. He asked to speak with the artist and was surprised at his age.

“Your works are beautiful. Where did you learn to paint so beautifully? Mr. Jimi asked him.

“Thank you Sir” Tade beamed and then continued “I grew up in Ogbomosho. We had a neighbour who was an artist and painter. I would often go to his workshop after school and watch him as he painted or drew. He encouraged me and that was how I started. But I have learnt most of the things I know on my own”.

“That is quite impressive. Your future is bright!  Mr. Jimi said cheerfully.

“Thank you” Tade responded beaming with pride.

The telecommunications company where Mr. Jimi worked had some advert series which promoted young people with talents in music, entertainment, arts and culture. The adverts typically ran on television, radio, newspaper. The adverts series was loved by customers and often trend on social media for days. Mr. Jimi arranged for Tade to feature in the next series of the adverts. Within a short while, Tade’s popularity began to soar, with his Twitter and Instagram accounts receiving several followers on daily basis.

Tade and Fadeke were constantly speaking throughout her first semester, she was excited at the progress Tade was making and insisted that if he continued that way, he would be able to sponsor himself or even receive a scholarship for his university education. She also encouraged Tade to buckle up on physics so he could make good grades in his senior secondary school examination, which was just a term away.

They still kept their friendship away from Mrs. Onifade. They knew she would not approve because of Tade’s background. Against their initial fears, distance was not stopping them; they were quietly growing together, as best buddies, cheering each other on.

 

The City Circle with Aunty Rose

The Voicemail situation

I am not sure if I want a lot of pidgin or strictly “queens English”, whether I want to be informal or formal. But I do know that the purpose of this blog is to rub minds on daily real life struggles and relationships.

I have thought about the structure of this column for months. After wrestling with myself for an appropriate name (I eventually opened two blogs since I could not decide so one day, I might introduce you to the second one), I battled with the form and tone of the blog. I am not sure if I want a lot of pidgin or strictly “queens English”, whether I want to be informal or formal. But I do know that the purpose of this blog is to rub minds on daily real life struggles and relationships. I also know that there is no set structure for talking about all those things. So instead of putting it off further, I am just going to start blogging today and hope that you help me with it along the way. After all, this blog is about you my dear reader. So welcome to the City Circle (excited much!). A little mind hub where we can unwind from all the political and economic struggles that plague our days in the city and talk about other mundane (or not) issues that are being overwhelmed by all the “seriousness” out there. Today, I am thinking about the “voicemail situation”………………

My sister just marked her 29th birthday last month. When I called her to wish her well, she sounded very sober for a birthday girl. I didn’t have to probe too much before I found out why. My sister thinks that she has entered “voicemail” in the marriage department. After consoling her and getting her to cheer up, I hung up the phone feeling sober myself. As if we had exchanged moods. My sister has tried the Yoruba demons, Igbo patriots, and Arab monies. No luck. She has a good job, her own apartment, a small car that she’s managing and she dresses well.  Oh, and my sister can cook! She has very good manners. Make e no be like say I just dey blow her trumpet because say she be my sister. The point I am trying to make is that there are many reasonable and well packaged ladies out there that cannot find reasonable men to marry. To answer those that will comment here later to say that she should reduce her standards and consider poor people; it is one thing to not be financially stable at the moment with prospects and another to just be a throwback with no ambitions. And if you are a reasonable Nigerian guy with prospects that is willing to marry and move into her tiny flat with her, biko drop your email address in d comment section. Lol.

Ladies get in here! What can we do about this “voicemail” situation? There are so many desperate men and women out there. So many scams. It affects the married women too! Because person no go fit chop belefull for front of hungry lion o! (na me talk dat one. lol). What is the way forward?

Let me know what you think.

Ps: of course it is a really long post. It is, after all the first blog post (not that the subsequent ones would be a lot shorter seeing as I blog from the heart and this blog is sort of structure-free).

Please feel free to send your stories, experiences and topics you want to discuss to auntyrose16@gmail.com. I promise not to use your name if you do not want me to.

Fadeke: Episode V

 

Fadeke began to attend shows more often at Liberty Park. She made efforts to talk to some of the performing groups and met one of the dancers in 360 Degrees, a campus musical and dancing group. She spoke with Phebean, 360 Degree’s best dancer who was much older than her. From her reception of Fadeke one could tell that she really liked Fadeke. They had a lengthy conversation regarding Fadeke’s dreams and how best to achieve them while studying medicine at the same time.

‘If you believe that you have what it takes to make it to the stage, you will have to take chances and grab any opportunity that life throws your way. Just wait; the right opportunity will come along if you just wait’. Phebean explained to Fadeke.

“How did you become a dancer? What inspired you” Fadeke inquired.

“I have always been fascinated by dances in musical videos and I knew my body was very flexible. When I gained admission into the University, a friend who used to be a member of 360 degrees encouraged me to start taking dancing classes. He introduced me to 360 degrees and I started going with them for shows. First, I only helped out with costumes. Fortunately, luck smiled on me one day when one of the group’s dancer was sick and I was pulled in as a replacement for her. I took that chance with all I got and the rest, they say is history”.

“So what do I need to do?” Fadeke asked.

“Don’t worry, I will introduce you to the top guys at 360 degrees, they will like you. You are resuming on campus in September right?  Phebean inquired.

“Yes. I believe so. I wrote the post UTME last month and I’m waiting for the admission list, resumption is in September”.

“Great, that is just a month away. So you can join us on campus right away” Phebean promised to speak with the team lead of 360 degrees. “We perform here every Friday, so make sure you are here next Friday and I will introduce you to the guys.”

“Thank you” Fadeke said with excitement.

“You are welcome dear. I have to go now. Take my phone number, you can call me up anytime” Fadeke took Phebean’s number. Phebean hugged her and left. “See you next week” she said.

*****

The next Friday, Phebean introduced Fadeke to the 360 degrees team as she had promised. Gabriel, the team lead of the group told her that she would have to do her best to prove that she could be allowed to come on stage. He explained that regardless of the talent, no one in the group got to the stage without great effort, each person had to put and always put their best foot forward. If she proved herself, she would be given a microphone. Just like Phebean, she was handed costumes duties the first Friday she joined the group. She selected the costume for each member and helped arrange them after the show. That first evening, she watched them rehearse and saw that Gabriel was a very firm and disciplined leader.

‘Look Blackie, you need to raise the tenor, I was unable to pick you out from the rest. If you don’t get it right, you will not perform this night. So stay apart and get it right. I give you 10 minutes’ He said to one of the members.

“Uncle, what is that? He shouted at another, who apparently looked much older than he was. “Don’t get me started oh”. He said.

Fadeke watched and it began to dawn on her that talent, raw talent was never enough. She would need discipline and consistency.

****

“Hey girl” she heard Phebean call to her.

“Hi Phebean” Fadeke called the name shyly. Phebean had insisted that her name was Phebean and not Aunty Phebean. Fadeke’s Yoruba inclinations needed to adjust to that.

“I have an invite to perform somewhere on the Island tomorrow. Will you like to come?”

“What time is the event? My mum may not let me go out on two consecutive nights.”

“Nah. It is at 2pm, so not to worry”

“Okay. I will ask her for permission. Hopefully she’ll agree”

“Great, let me know. I will send you the address and cover your transportation cost”

****

On Saturday, Fadeke was woken up by the jubilant noise of her mother. Her mother had received a call from one of her friends who worked at the University. The admission list was released on Friday evening and Fadeke was accepted for Medicine. Fadeke was excited. Unlike her mother, her excitement was not at the prospect of studying medicine. Her excitement was at the prospect of moving away from home, the prospect of joining 360 degrees fully, and the freedom to attend more shows and other similar events. Fadeke and her mother were both jubilant; jubilant for different reasons!

Fadeke shared the news with Tade. He was excited and sad at the same time. He was sad that his time with Fadeke may be over. He had heard stories from the boys at school about what happens at universities, he had heard several ‘October rush’ stories and he knew that his chances of a lasting friendship with Fadeke may have ended but he refused to let that affect him. He was truly excited and happy for her.

Given her mother’s excitement, it was not difficult to get her to approve Fadeke’s attendance of Phebean’s show that Saturday. She invited Tade who said he had no transport money. She agreed to pay for their transportation cost.

The event was at a restaurant in Victoria Island. The restaurant, a five star restaurant was tastefully furnished with contemporary Art designs from all over Africa. It was also famous for its contemporary African Cuisine nestled with the tasteful designs of rich African art and culture. The event was a birthday party which the celebrant had invited Phebean to perform at as part of the program for the celebrations. Fadeke told Phebean about her admission and they both screamed in excitement.

“Yaay!  We will finally be able to hook up. That is awesome” Phebean exclaimed.

Fadeke also introduced Tade to Phebean. Phebean asked if Tade was also due at the University in September. Tade responded in the negative. They got talking and Tade told her that he was good with brushes and pencils. Phebean told him that he needed to take his talent seriously and he could use social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to post and market his artworks, that way, he may find  people to patronise his works.

****

“Fadeke, will you sing while I dance? The initial plan was to dance to music played by the DJ but now that you are here. This is an opportunity” Phebean said.

“No. I’m not prepared. I cannot do it” Fadeke said.

“Remember what I told you about opportunities? Never let go of opportunities without exploiting them” Phebean said with a scowl on her face.

Fadeke looked at Tade, who nodded and said “You can do it.”

Fadeke looked around the Restaurant, people were talking in groups while sipping from their wine glasses, the looks were friendly and at that moment, she began to think that just maybe this was the start she needed.

Fadeke took a deep breathe, released it and asked “what type of songs do you want me to sing?

“Yes” Phebean and Tade exclaimed simultaneously.

When Fadeke climbed the elevated platform used as the stage, she gripped the microphone really hard. It almost dropped off because her hands were trembling. She tried to sing but her voice refused to make any sound. She was so scared. Suddenly, the faces at the restaurant did not look as friendly as they looked before she mounted the stage.

At that point, Phebean took the microphone from her, gave her a warm hug and told the small audience “My young friend here has a beautiful voice, and has some very nice lyrics she composed herself. She is only 17 but trust me, she is good, she’s just scared. Will you help me encourage her?” everyone at the restaurant clapped and shouted “You can do it.”

Phebean returned the microphone to Fadeke while mouthing the words “You can do it.”

Fadeke took the microphone and gradually found her voice with each renewed shout of “you can do it”.

Phebean danced so beautifully to her melodies but Fadeke was the victor, the victor of her own fears; for the first time she handled a real microphone, facing a real audience whose faces said it all; we love you!!!

 

Fadeke: Episode IV

She struggled hard to believe that Fadeke could be so callous to make such decision without letting her know and then pretend like nothing happened when asked. She felt that it was heedless for Fadeke to behave the way she did.

Mrs. Onifade often carried out routine clean-up of the apartment, when she entered Fadeke’s room to do some cleanings. She discovered Fadeke’s prank as she found the application slip for the Jamb examination on Fadeke’s table. When she saw it, she was riled. She struggled hard to believe that Fadeke could be so callous to make such decision without letting her know and then pretend like nothing happened. She felt that it was heedless for Fadeke to behave the way she did. She immediately confronted Fadeke.

“Are you out of your senses?  Why did you register Psychology instead of medicine? Her mother queried angrily.

Frightened Fadeke stammered “I, I, I thought Psychology is fine, it is in the medical field”

Mrs Onifade retorted with rage in her voice “don’t you dare. Do I look like a fool? So, I don’t know the difference between psychology and medicine abi? I don’t blame you, it is my fault, I should not have trusted you to do this on your own” there was no hiding place for Fadeke, her mother was infuriated. She felt her mother’s anger was unjustified. Fadeke believed she had the right to choose her career path.

“Mummy, I have said this many times, I don’t want to be a doctor? Fadeke responded with a hint of bitterness in her voice.

“You don’t want to be a Medical Doctor? is that why you deceived me ehn? Your future is bright, you this girl study to become a doctor. Iro ni, orin ni sha. Is it this music that will put food on your table?

“Yes, Mummy, with music I will do well, and fame and money will come, even better than a Medical Doctor” Fadeke responded sharply.

“Look I will not sit down here and let you ‘spoil’ your future sogbo? A ngba omo adiye lowo iku, oni won je ohun lo atan lo je. Nko ti o ye o poju eleyi to ye o.  You will change that course, you have no choice, you just have to.”

Fadeke looked at her mother with teary eyes and blurted out “I don’t understand why you are trying to force me to do what I will probably regret. Why do you want me to live your dreams?” She ran out of the houses crying profusely.

After she rushed out of the house, Mrs. Onifade sunk into a chair, tired and exasperated. Before long, she began to cry for the past she wished she could have created and the future that seem evasive and elusive to achieve at her age. She had undertaken a Nursing Education program out of frustration, after three years of waiting for admission into the University to study Nursing. Her plan was to proceed to study for a Nursing degree after her National Certificate Examination but she lost focus of that dream after she got married. It was not that the marriage in itself was the hindrance but she on her own lost focus and got carried away with other matters.  She could not understand why Fadeke would not be interested in pursuing such a noble and interesting profession.

Later that day, Mrs Onifade sat Fadeke down and told her the reasons why she desired medicine for Fadeke.

“Nothing will make me prouder. I agree that it is a partially selfish decision because I want to be called ‘Mummy Doctor’.  This decision is however out of sincere love for you”

Fadeke then explained that her dream was to become a well-respected and best-selling musician. Mrs. Onifade reasoned that it was wrong for her to insist that Fadeke study medicine, even though her intention was good but the end result may not be favourable. Despite this, she thought to still to push the idea further.

“Mummy, I love you so much and as much as I want to make you happy, I want to do the right thing for me. I know people say that I act older than my age and that you give me too much freedom. I know that many of my classmates are going to read law, or medicine, or engineering, but for most, it will not be what they really want to be. They will simply be living their parent’s dreams and not theirs. Fadeke urged her mother “please let me choose my path, please. I promise I would not disappoint you”

“Fadekemi, try to understand. I really do not think that music is the path for you. And let us even assume that it is the path, how do you intend to do pursue your dreams? Go to music school? How many musicians and artistes studied at music schools? So why not study medicine so that you can always have something to fall back on, in case music fails. Mrs. Onifade said, in a bid to persuade Fadeke.

After much tears, Fadeke reluctantly agreed to change her application to Medicine. In return, her mother agreed to let her attend more concerts and be free to participate in any of them.

—–

After she wrote her final senior school examination, Fadeke and Tade’s usual love-meet could no longer continue as it used to. Having graduated from St. Agnes, Fadeke had full access to a phone her mother had bought for her as her last birthday present. Mrs. Onifade had insisted that she would only have full access to the phone after her exams. Tade also bought a cheap Techno phone from the little savings he had. They would speak on the phone for as long as they could afford. Sometimes, Fadeke would creep into her mother’s room to take her phone so they could use her call credit to continue their conversation. Half the conversation was usually Tade listening to Fadeke sing. Tade would critique the songs as much as his understanding could comprehend. Just simple “I don’t think that line makes sense” or “why not add this?  Although there were little rain drops, they helped Fadeke improve. She was always excited to sing for him and to him. She looked forward to it every day.

Fadeke informed Tade of the conversation that ensued between herself and her mother over the phone. Tade responded “I agree with her. Don’t get me wrong, I think you have a good voice and that you will make a good artiste but what if it does not work? What will you fall back on?” Tade asked Fadeke.

“I have agreed to change the course but deep within my heart, I know that I won’t do well.” Fadeke whispered to her phone.

“I don’t think you should say that. I think you are one of the smartest people I know” Tade responded.

“Hmmn! I hear you o, keep flattering me. Well, the good part is I have negotiated for me to be able to perform at shows. So I have to start looking for shows where I can get to sing. Will you accompany me to Liberty Park tomorrow evening?”

“Of course” Tade replied.

Apart from the calls, they found a location close to Fadeke’s house where they could sit and talk. It was on one of those occasions that Tade came out clean and told Fadeke his story after much persuasion.

He told her that there was no chance of him ever attending a tertiary institution and that St. Johns was the final stop for his education. He also told her that he depleted all his savings on call credits and that she may have to do most of the callings going forward. Fadeke was deeply touched by the efforts he made to stay close to her. She hugged him and cried on his neck.

“What will I do without you? I will miss you when I go to the University” she whispered. She looked at him with teary eyes and continued “You must pass your WAEC examination, something can happen. I can get my mummy to support you. You cannot give up after secondary school. Please?”

“Number 1, she does not even know me, number two, she has enough on her hand, you are handful” Tade teased.

“I’m serious” Fadeke said with a straight face.

Tade looked at her and maintained the gaze for a while, heaved and responded “I can only be hopeful, I can only be hopeful”.

“Yes” she said excited at her victory in the mind game. “But I will still miss you though” she poked him.

“Me too” he said shyly.

Interpretations

Iro ni, orin ni sha – All you do is sing, everytime!

A ngba omo adiye lowo iku, oni won je ohun lo atan lo je – We tried to save the chicks from death, its only concern was that we prevented it from finding food at dunghill.

 Nko ti o ye o poju eleyi to ye o – Your ignorance far outweighs your knowledge

Enyioma Madubuike: The Nigerian legal profession: An exodus of young talent?

A lot has been said about millennials-that demographic of confused young people generally accepted as born between the early 1980s and early 2000s- about how we desire instant feedback, about how impatient we are; about how easily it is to distract us.

Is there a gradual exodus of young people from the legal profession? I really do not have access to authoritative facts and figures but I am beginning to notice a trend among colleagues in the legal profession today. “Enyioma, I am thinking of resigning from my chambers, I want to be a blogger. I have always had a passion for writing”. Enyioma, I am running a freelance business strategy project on the side and I may leave my job soon. Enyioma, I left my job last year, I have a digital marketing business I am running now and Sanmi, our law school roommate now has a cool bakery. Having just resigned from one of Nigeria’s top commercial law firms myself, I wonder if this trend of young lawyers exiting firms for other projects is one about which the legal profession in Nigeria should be worried.

A lot has been said about millennials-that demographic of confused young people generally accepted as born between the early 1980s and early 2000s- about how we desire instant feedback, about how impatient we are; about how easily it is to distract us. It is a demographic considered so troublesome that there is a multi-million dollar consulting industry out specializing in how to handle millennials, in schools, in the workplace and in government. It appears therefore that the rising trend of young lawyers pursuing other projects after going through a minimum of six years training is part of the worrisome symptoms of the typical Millennials’ penchant for rebellion.

While, this may be a large part of a plausible explanation, one wonders if this trend is not an indictment of the profession and the entirety of its structure. I make bold to say that with the peculiar structure of the legal profession as it stands today, it may continue to witness a decline in the number of young people willing to pursue a lifelong career as lawyers.  I will highlight a few reasons why I hold this belief.

  1. The length of training: Anyone who knows me knows how I have come to detest a system that takes six whole years to train a single lawyer in the theoretical aspects of a profession which is largely practical. The inadequacies of the Nigerian educational system which prioritizes tests and exams over discovery, and hands on experience will require another essay. The legal profession can actually do more to encourage an early exposure of law students to issues they will encounter in real practice as soon as possible to avoid the disappointment one feels as a lawyer when in your first year you realise most of your time in school was a waste because you have to learn an entire new set of skills
  2. Competing options: For many, whose main motivation for the practice of the profession is money, the information age has thrown up a new set of career options capable of providing enviable financial benefits with relatively less rigour and time requirements. Let’s face it, a few decades ago there was no blogging, digital marketing, programming and such other careers available to young people and so accounting, law, engineering and such traditional professions were considered the elite professions because they provided comparably better packages in prestige and money compared to other available careers at the time. Today, apart from the emergence of information age related careers, other options that were not as lucrative in years past are now more popular as a result of increased information and access. It is no more taboo for example for young people to pursue careers in music, sports and comedy.

    Nigerian Law School, Lagos

    Nigerian Law School, Lagos

  3. The life of a young Nigerian lawyer: The early years of practice are expected to be strenuous for any lawyer all over the world. In Nigeria however, the strain of working long excruciating hours, is accompanied by the emotional harangue of bosses who believe they have done you a favour by hiring you- a mentality carried over from a past where the boss was the master and the employee was the servant; and the ridiculous salaries paid at the end of the month which is incapable of sustaining a young commuting lawyer for a month. The fact that one goes through six years of learning to be treated in this way is enough disillusionment for many young people; and with other options available there are enough ships to jump into
  4. The eroding credibility of the profession: One of the attractions of the legal profession especially for young impressionable minds is its position as a symbol of probity and virtue. Unfortunately, the profession has been battered in recent years from tales of incompetence to publicized news of corruption from the bar to the very top of the bench. Our courts have lost a lot of credibility and it has rubbed off on how young people view the profession. By staining its pristine cloak, the profession gives young lawyers one more reason to not associate with it.
  5. Dreams change: A lot of young people are young lawyers because it was considered a great thing to be. Prodded by parents and the society, they aimed to be called “barristers” with little or oftentimes misguided understanding of what the profession entails. However, upon becoming lawyers, the reality of the profession becomes a far cry from the dreams of youth and one is often faced with either remolding expectations or dreaming new dreams. More young people are choosing today to shoot for new horizons instead of managing the false pretenses of old ones.
  6. Career mobility: It has become accepted that the days when it was fashionable to work for an employer for a decade has gone. Young people prefer to be able to change environments and gather a mix of experiences through their work lifetimes. Even more, young people are beginning to desire changing their careers as often as they can before they die. The legal profession requires six years of training for a life of practice. With increased access to knowledge, young people are more likely to prefer fluidity to monotony.
  7. Doors of opportunity: Despite all that has been said about legal education, there is no doubt that it positions a young lawyer for more opportunities that his counterparts. This means that apart from openings in law practice, lawyers are more favoured in handling duties like administration, organization, advocacy and leadership. This makes it easy for a lawyer who grows dissatisfied with his practices to branch out into other field where his training is valued and considered relevant
  8. The Rules: The legal profession is a very conservative profession steeped in tradition and rules religiously protected by a well regimented structure. The millennial is one for fluidity, adaptability, speed and efficiency. He will continuously be at loggerheads with a profession which prides itself more in its ability to enforce its own rules than in its tenacity to reform it.

 

A lot has been written about the impatience and entitlement of millennials. However, businesses and industries all over the world are not just complaining, they are adapting. Hopefully, the Nigerian legal profession finds a way of reinventing itself to ensure it continues to attract and keep young motivated talent. If this is not done, trickles become torrents and the profession might find itself on the lower rung of preferences of young Nigerians in the nearest future.

 

Enyioma combines his knowledge of philosophy with an in-depth understanding of how law works. He is constantly in search of new and interesting pursuits.