(A speech delivered at the Dinamica Public Speaking Club, University Of Ibadan. Onwukwe Chimdinma Adriel)


On the 22nd day of June, 2015, Four Nigerian Youths were honored at the “Queens Young Leader Awards”. They are : Isaiah Owolabi, Kelvin Ogholi, Nkechikwu Azinge, Oladipupo Ajiroba. (Age 18-29.)

According to a statement issued by the QYL, the awards are being given to the exceptional young people from across the Commonwealth.

When I saw this, the question that came to my mind was this : What exactly did they do? What extraordinary feat did they accomplish?

I mean they took selfies with DAVID BECKHAM and SHOOK HANDS WITH THE QUEEN!!! LORD!!!

Isaiah Owolabi co-founded HACEY Health Initiative, which helps disadvantaged women and children to lead healthy lives. In 2012, he also launched HANDS UP FOR HER, which promotes the rights of African girls.

Kelvin Ogholi co-founded UNFIRE a social enterprise that helps farmers with feeds from organic wastes.

Nkechikwu Azinge set up THE SICKLE CELL AID FOUNDATION after growing up with close family members who had the hereditary blood disorder.

Oladipupo Ajiroba, who grew up with bronchitis became conscious of pollution and set up the ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCACY AND MANAGEMENT INITIATIVE, which has engaged more than 10,000 volunteers in campaigns and workshops.

The way I see it, these 4 Nigerian Youths have made necessary preparations before the darkness engulfs them.

I agree to some extent because my day is still really bright. Very bright. And there’s a life I must live before it gets dark because when it gets dark, I will be caged.

Before it gets dark, I want to chase all my dreams, I may never be able to see them when it gets dark. I want to be fully prepared for the best and worst that life has to offer.

Before it gets dark, I want to experience life to the fullest. All of its craziness. All of its pain. All of its joy. All of its memories. We would all agree that nothing lasts forever.

I want to make good use of all opportunities I find. From the very mundane to the very extraordinary ones.
I want to acquire everything possible for my self. I want to travel round the world, sleep in Paris and wake up In America.

I want to EAT, PRAY AND LOVE before it gets dark. I want to fall deeply in love with my creator and love the way he does.
I want to love and be loved, not that shallow love that stops loving but the love that loves all imperfections. I want to give love and receive love in full.

Before it gets dark I want to crash through glass ceilings for my self and for everyone coming behind me.

There is a whole lot to do before it gets dark. And the point is when it gets dark it can get darker. It’s possible for things to get worse.

There are times when life throws grenades at us. Do we search for light in that darkness or do we sit down and wait for the darkness to overshadow us completely?

Just In case you get caught up in the darkness : Do. Not. Be. Afraid. This is because the light will always shine through the darkness.

Nkechikwu Azinge found light in her darkness when she set up the SICKLE CELL AID FOUNDATION after growing up with close family members who had the hereditary blood disorder.

Oladipupo Ajiroba found light in his darkness when he set up the ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCACY AND MANAGEMENT INITIATIVE that has engaged 10,000 volunteers in campaigns and workshop.

There are these things called Opportunities, they are everywhere. Seize Them!

I don’t know about you but before the age of 29 I want to do something profound – mundane or extraordinary but I want to TRY. I’m going to TRY.

(I will have two books published before the age of 29)

Use The Light Before It Gets Dark.


After I tweeted this and mentioned Nkechikwu Azinge, she replied!! Had to edit the post and insert the screenshot. Guess I'm one step away to SHAKING the Queen. 🙂


What Will It Take?

By Sanmi Abiodun

If I asked you to mention the three most influential people in the world today, you will probably mention President Obama of the United States, Queen Elizabeth of England and Ban Ki Moon of the United Nations. More than half of the 7 billion people in the world will be willing to do anything just to be in the same room with any of these three people, but less than one percent of the people in the world will ever get a chance to meet with the three of them. My friend and age mate, Dayo, has dined with the three of them, separately. He is one of the 1%.


What do you think it took for the Queen of England to have invited Dayo for lunch at the Buckingham palace? What do you think it took for Dayo to share jokes and take photos with the Secretary General of the United Nations? What do you think it will take for President Obama to call Dayo to sit on a committee for something he wants to do in Africa? What did it take?


Before I answer that question, let me tell you about someone else?

Think back to where you were at age 10. Primary six? JS 1? Studying for common entrance to get into Abadina or Federal Government College? Or maybe you were the posh one. You wanted to get into ISI. At that age, Zuriel Oduwole was on the pages of Forbes Magazine. Think back to where you were at age 12. That’s where she is now. The difference is that she has interviewed Presidents and Prime Ministers of 15 countries: President Uhuru Kenyatta, President Jerry Rawlings and John Kuffour, both of Ghana, Presidents of Jamaica, Mauritius, Tanzania, among others. She has interviewed Aliko Dangote, Venus and Serena Williams, Reverend Jesse Jackson. She is the youngest person ever to have produced a movie that was shown in a cinema at age 11. New Yorks Magazine Business Insider awarded her as the Most Powerful 11 year old in the world last year. What will it take for that to have been me?


Before you convince yourself that these two people were born special, let me quickly inform you that Dayo used to hawk on the streets of Lagos. He lost his father at the age of 11 and his mother was poor. So, what has it taken?

They say success happens when opportunity meets preparation. There will always be opportunities, but will you ever be prepared? Nigerians have been shitting in public for decades; shot puts, flowing water, road side, and for the “too blessed to be stressed ones”, the tantalizers or bank toilets, but that shit was all it took for Otunba Ghaddafi to generate millions in naira when he started installing mobile toilets. Shit was all it took.


Nigerians need food every day, need clothes every day, need water, air, hope, education, power for their phone, something to mark the last page they read in a book or something to shock the door that won’t stop closing. That door that won’t stop closing was all it took for Farrah Gray at the age of 9, as he picked stones by the way side, painted them and sold them as door stoppers till he became a millionaire in dollars by selling things that you and I will have stepped on or even kicked on the road. What will it take for me?

I don’t remember much of my childhood, but I remember my Nursery two classmate reporting me to my mother, ‘Sanmi’s mummy, see, Sanmi can sleep too much. He can even sleep on the swing’. I always believed that he lied against me until recently when I slept off on an okada. Sleeping is not a problem because it allows us dream, but that exactly is our problem because we never get to the point of waking up from the dream to actually make it come alive. We make plans, nurture them, dream about them but because we sleep too much, our plans always remain as dreams.


Dayo had the excuse of his father’s death at the age of 11. Otunba Ghadaffi had the excuse of what his friends will say about him doing shit business. I’ve had the excuse that my secondary school mates graduated from University 3 years before me. But in my few lucid moments, I remember that when names are to be written in ink or in gold, when our graves are dug and tributes are to be said, when a roll call of the world’s passengers is being taken, what will I have gathered? Very good excuses or very good achievements?


I guess it is  the ‘question-mark’ sign of this great continent that makes Africa prone to so many questions – asked and unasked….

To answer the question, “Can Africa lead again?” we must first ask ourselves, “Was Africa leading before?” Or more pointedly, “Has Africa led before?”

Our answers, and the reasons for these answers, will be varied.

Africa as at the early 15th/16th century was growing at a pace equal with its growth and civilization. Perhaps this growth might have differed greatly from that of the Western world, but no two civilizations are ever alike. Similar. But not alike. And Africa on its own was progressing effectively.

Until, colonization and the mad scramble for African territories began and countries in Africa were forced to assimilate and adapt to civilizations foreign from its own. And so began Africa’s decent and decline, a state we have been in ever since.

And now, the topic posed questions the ability of this falling continent to rise to the place it once was several years ago.

I have provided three propositions with which to answer this;


1. Yes

2. No

3. Maybe


First, yes, Africa can lead again. Because logic demands that a state once attained and lost is more likely to be reached again than not.

Yes, because if as Africans living in Africa we have no hope to rise up from the ash heap we have fallen into, then we should have no hope to live at all.

And yes, because prejudice aside, Africa has everything it takes and it will take to bring itself back to the position it once attained.

But then again, no, Africa can’t lead again. Because everyone knows it is nearly impossible to gain that which has been lost. For it is easier to tear down than it is to build.

No, because the idea of Africa leading the world again can seem like a dream especially when successful leadership in countries within Africa still seems farfetched.

And no, because after years of suffering through slavery, oppression, colonization and mental degradation, the African mentality has suffered a shift grossly different from that which our forefathers had that caused them to rule effectively and helped place Africa on the map in the first place.

We have been tainted with the poison that comes from Westernization and the bondage of colonization, and these are bad combinations for a people trying to get back to a state they once were that had been void of these things.

 And finally, maybe. Because who knows if our shortcomings might just turn into our strengths? Then all the things wrong with Africa leading again might just be what we need to take back our place on the world stage.

Maybe, because our leaders might just get it right and serve as an example even for leaders worldwide.

And maybe, the fact that what was once built so grand has now been torn down, is just what we need to build again and even more impressive than before because we have experience on our side now.

And so, whichever you choose, one thing is clear. It’s going to be a long road to recovery. One that has to be a gradual, deliberate progression to reclaim our heritage.

It’ll begin with a belief in ourselves. A mental reorientation and freedom from inferiority to the Western world and from hopelessness in the Africa continent. A belief in the power we yield as Africans and pride in being black-skinned and kinky-haired individuals.

It begins with a dependence on our natural resources and strengths rather than our societal or individual weaknesses. And a closer look at and appreciation for our natural resources and way of life, which in all honesty has always been the envy of the Western world and those that don’t have them.

It will be a slow, painful process and there is no guarantee we will succeed. But like climbers facing the steep slopes of dangerous mountain, the aim is to take it one step at a time with the top of the mountain as the goal and motivation.

And eventually, maybe, we can begin to see the cloudy peaks of possibility of our Africa leading the world again.

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