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!!!