Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Letter To An Old School Friend: Zuriel is fourteen, Maya is fifteen; You are twenty.

     And so I met one of my old school friends last week when I travelled to Ibadan, and I asked him, ‘So what’s up, now?’ He looked at him and laughed.
     Now, I knew this guy to be a very ambitious guy (well, that was what I thought he was.) While we were in school, whenever I talked about writing, he would start talking about many other things that he too was involved in. There was a time he asked me why I write, and so I laughed and told him I write for so many reasons but most importantly to say what has been left unsaid, or said wrongly. Whenever I said this, this friend of mine would nod vigorously the way doctors nod during a seminar, or deacons while the pastor is preaching. 
     The guy would tell me he has plans. ‘I want to change things, Pal,’ he would say. ‘I want to make a difference. I have plans ooo…many plans,’ my dear friend would say. If you asked, what plans; he wouldn’t tell you anything specific. All that while we were in school.
     And so I met this same fellow in Ibadan last week. And we talked and talked and talked. He said he used to read my stories and articled on my blog and that he too would start writing and that I should write a novel…blah…blah…blah. When I finally got the chance to talk, I asked, ‘How far? What’s up?’ 
He knew what I meant and so he said, ‘Ah, don’t worry, Pal. Am taking things slowly….slooooowly. By the time am thirty, my name will be in the papers.’
     I did not get the chance to talk to the guy as I was in a hurry to get back to my town. And so I sent him a message and sent him the pictures of three young girls who were changing things and who were not yet thirty. And I wrote,

     ‘Look, guy, you are old enough. I think it’s high time you sat down and thought. This one that whenever we talk, you will be talking about invisible plans that we both know you don’t have. Sit down, think and act. If you really have a plan, and you really want to make an impact; then you can’t afford to wait till you are thirty. The other time we chatted on Facebook, you talked about Nigerian barriers. Buddy, there are no barriers except the ones you create yourself. There are people making impacts, influencing lives and doing something right where they are.
    Enough of excuses. The other time I sent some books on Computer Programming ('cause I know you're interested in that) to your mail. You haven't even replied my mail. I hope you won't be telling me that you forgot your password again. You don't forget your 2go password but you forget your Gmail password... I wonder ooo!
If you are still thinking that you are small or young or anything, I will prove you wrong. At the end of this message, you will see some photos. Those are photos of people that are already pursuing their goals and making impacts at a tender age.
    The first one is Zuriel Oduwole. (She even has the same surname with you...Lol). That girl is fourteen years old now. You see that? 14. That's your youngest brother's age. And she is making an impact. I spent a good number of hours watching her videos and interviews with some African presidents last week. (That's what you should be watching buddy, not some stupid 'How to make a girl like you' videos).      The girl is an Education Advocate, a writer and a filmmaker. The last time I checked, she is the youngest person ever to be profiled by Forbes. She is just fourteen and you are already growing beards and you are telling me that you are waiting till 2050 before you make the papers??? Think pal.
     You see that second girl? That's Maya Penn. She is fifteen. Is that not the age of that girl you said you were dating some two months ago? She started her own company at the age of eight. You see what am talking about that age is not an excuse? She is a philanthropist,an artist and a tech geek (just like you claim to be.) She had done two TEDtalks. (Of course you know TEDtalk. Unless you are trying to tell me that you have forgotten Chimamanda Adichie's We All Should Be Feminists that we both watch together).
     Am sure you know that third girl. That's Malala. There is no need for me to write a story about her before you know who she is and what she is doing.
     These girls didn't start yesterday or today. They have been working on their visions since they had it. It is just now that we are seeing the results of their hard work; now that their names are on Wikipedia and everywhere.
     And the fascinating thing about these girls is not that they are rich, or that they are making 'cool cash', or that they are travelling from Moscow to Malaysia; but that they are making an impact. They are living their dreams. Oduwole is an advocate for Education. Malala is an...well you know what Malala is, and Maya is a philanthropist.They making an impact. They are changing things. They are changing the way the world views females. Girls like Zuriel are changing the way the world views African...Nigerians. They are changing the way the world views Non-Europeans, and blacks especially.
     The last time we talked about Adichie, you were saying she is thiry-eight years old. Here are three people, one bearing the same surname as you do, that are not yet twenty ooo. Friend, the next time I 'stumble upon' you whether in Ibadan, (Don't worry am coming there next month) or anywhere, I don't want to hear stories. I want to hear what you're doing to really make the change we all used to talk about while in school. Start doing something buddy. Time waits for nobody. If you think you are not old enough, then am telling you that you are too old! Start living your dreams. Enough of dreaming and snoring 'falalaing' on the bed; start acting.
     My point is straight my friend. Do not see this as a criticism but as a challenge. You too start taking little little steps towards the achievement of your goals. I'm not saying I want to see your name in the papers tomorrow or next year. But you shouldn't be idle, pal. If you're really interested in the programming stuff we discussed and you want to make an impact through that, then start learning it. Familiarize yourself with the concepts of programming. Read about famous programmers. Start an online course or something. Make sure you are doing something that is taking you everyday a step closer to your dream. If you are reading just a single page from a programming book each day, then by the end of this year, you would have read over three hundred pages on programming. Isn't that cool? That way, you are doing something. You are impacting your generation already.

     Maya is fifteen. Zuriel is fourteen. My good friend you are twenty. Age is not an excuse. My regards to mum and your fifteen year old girlfriend (abi you don break up? God have mercy.) I pray you see this very soon, and give me a reply. 
     Hope to hear from you soon, Ben.
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