In the Spirit of the Ribbon Rouge #8 Theme: QUEEN!
I dedicate this post to my top 11 female influences.
The life and works of others can have profound impact on the way we view and live our lives. These women are those who I have been blessed to have in my life; some I have only ever watched on TV or read about…but they are all women who have inspired me to be even more of my authentic self.
1. My You Can Do All Things Influence
Kofoworola Olaosebikan: A.K.A my Mother/ Serial Entrepreneur/ Seamstress/ Scientist/ Teacher of 4 Children/ Fixer of random crises/ Ms. I Can Sell You Fire In Hell. I am probably very biased (and perhaps a little scared of what may happen if I do not give her this honor; we kids jokingly refer to my mother and her sisters and her female cousins as “The Mob” *laughing* You just don’t mess with these women). My siblings and I also have a running joke that if anyone ever approached my mum and says, “I need to buy a Space Shuttle; Do you sell Space Shuttles?”, My Mother will reply with a firm, “Of course Yes!” …and, in about 7 days, Mum will have a prosperous business dealing the best quality, safest Space Shuttles ever operated (very likely built in our backyard…but they will launch!). All jokes aside, my mother is truly the biggest female influence in my life. Outspoken, down to earth, can-do attitude, completely fearless, grab the world by the balls woman. I remember this beloved woman trying to teach me basic algebra…I was 7 years old the first session I remember she tried to get me to “solve for x”. I remember being confused as hell thinking, “How did x make its way into this?” “I just want to deal with numbers…why are alphabets suddenly in my maths?” She just carried on like this was a perfectly reasonable expectation, so I assumed all seven year olds solved for x too. It was from her that I learned, amongst many other things, that I can truly do anything I put my mind to. It is a very simple concept, yet I have grown to appreciate how difficult it is for many to grasp. Ideas are everything…Your mind and attitude are more important than your situation. My sister talks a little more about her here>> My Unfair Advantage
2. My Cause a Ruckus & Fight the Power Influence
Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti: Teacher/ Political Campaigner/ Women’s Rights Activist/ Traditional Aristocrat/ Doyen of Women’s Rights in Nigeria/ Lioness of Lisabi/ The Mother of Africa/Nigerian Suffragist/ Ms. The Best Sort of Trouble Maker! This woman gave us Fela, Beko and Olikoye all giants in their own rights…but I shall resist the urge to rabbit trail… I love women who stir things up, and, boy, did this woman stir things up! She caused the Egba high king, Oba Ademola II to relinquish his crown in 1949 at the end of her battle against arbitrary taxation practices which were discriminatory and applied unfairly to women at the time. Plus, she was one of the delegates who negotiated our independence. I’m inspired by her exploits, and her general disposition to life – that things should not stay the same in the face of opression…that you can rail against unfair authorities, and win. That when you challenge unfair authority figures, generations to come will benefit, and your sons will do the same 🙂 (I couldn’t help mentioning those sons again!)
3. My Shake Things Up & Do It Right Influence
Dora Akunyili: Pharmacist/ Visionary Leader/ Academic/ Governmental Administrator/ Public Health & Human Rights Activist/ Ms. Bullet-Proof. This woman picked on the big pot bellied old boys who got rich off counterfeit drugs and unsafe foods, and for her efforts she was rewarded with bullets through her head-tie. True Story. She took over Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control in 2001, and took on the daunting task of cleaning up house, setting up regulatory standards and implementing them. Despite the very real threat of death, she pursued her vision for change. I’m inspired by her life, knowing that changing the status quo will always create resistance, and if that change is important enough, it can be a deadly proposition. Opposition comes with the territory of vision and change; to lead is to ride out opposition.
Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh: Physician/ Life Saver/ Heroine/ Ms. Woman Who Shaped 2014! Not only did this female genius diagnose a patient who was lying about his condition, she did it in a country with no significant priors of the disease…it was an impressive work of diagnostic ingenuity to begin. Then, faced with pressures to release this first patient diagnosed with Ebola into the unknowing and severely unprepared Nigerian masses of over 170 million people, Dr. Adadevoh did the ethical thing. When no one was even looking, she chose to keep this patient away from the public and quarantined in her care to her personal detriment. 2014 would, without her intervention, have been the year the Ebola epidemic killed tens of thousands of Nigerians, and 2015 may have ushered even more disaster in its wake. She inspires me to believe that integrity is forever. Ethics transcends life itself; it is important to stand for what is right…Nigeria saved, she died.
Major-General (Dr.) Mrs. Aderonke Kale: Two-Star General/ Psychiatrist/ Ms. Boss Lady. It was in the year 1994, that she broke the record not only in Nigeria but in West Africa with her appointment as the first ever female Major General in the Nigerian Army. A truly awe-inspiring woman who by her life’s work challenged social norms/ expectations of women. Because of her achievement, I knew that if I wanted to be a physician, then that is what I’d be. If I wanted to be a Major General, then that is what I’d be. If I wanted to be a wife, then that is what I would be, and if I wanted to be all of the above, then … I think you’ve got the idea. True gender equity is still a fight, and women like Mrs. Aderonke seize opportunities and show us all that we can work together to erase these lines that separate us and poses one gender as superior to or stronger than the other. She shows us, women and men, that we can get out of our boxes…that I can not live my life as a stereotype.
6. My Most Successful Women in Africa Influence:
Mo Abudu: Talk show host/ TV producer/ Media personality/ Human Resources Management Consultant Entrepreneur/ Philanthropist/ Ms. Forbes. She founded Ebony Life Television, “Africa’s first Global Black Multi-Broadcast Entertainment Network”. This woman reminds me that success is in the grind; it is in the preparation that nobody sees, in the set backs and failures that you charge through unyielding. Success is in the idea, the passion, the people you surround yourself by, the preparation, the seized windows of opportunity and the persistence…this is how I’m influenced by my “Moments With Mo”
Funke Iyanda: Journalist/ Columnist/ Blogger/ Ms. Serial Social Entrepreneur. In her words, “Justice, equity and fairness are my idea of morality.” The Nigerian Television Authority shut down live broadcast of her show in 2004 for interviewing a gay man on live television. I am moved by dreamers and innovators… by people who see a vision beyond what everyone else sees and who passionately defend that dream as though it is today’s reality… who use what they have to accomplish more than we think is possible. Funmi represents our capacity to use our platforms small or large to unapologetically represent disenfranchised people and to help solve social problems. In her pursuits, marginalized people gained, from her ability to spur important conversations, as well as, from her ability to resourcefully create beneficial programming. She is inspiring because she is a face of gender advocacy and equity in diversity…She is that woman who spreads a message that ethnicity, religion, gender, class and sexuality are differences that do not in fact make one person superior to the other. She is the sort of philanthropist I aspire to, the type that not only raises funds for solutions, but strategically contributes ideas for real change too.
8. – 10. My Quitters are Winners Influence
Titi Sonuga, Bukky Kola Olaosebikan, & Chimamanda Adichie: Authors/ Social Entrepreneurs/ so many titles I really could fill up a page if I tried listing them all/ Ms. Do What You Actually Want. These three women, for me, represent a truth we do not talk about often, and an idea we do not teach often. It is very good to Quit! It is great to strategically quit. One quit being an engineer, the other quit being a business consultant, the other quit being a med school student. Each applied herself to what she truly enjoys and is great at. Their paths remind me to quit things that are not my passions, quit things that do not align with my purpose/core values, even quit things that do not make me happy. To live fearlessly and pursue my innate talents. To find out what I enjoy, and am good at that other people do not enjoy and other people aren’t good at…then do that instead.
11. My Art & Culture Transcends Time and Space Influence
Nike Davies – Okundaye: Batik & Textile Designer/Artists/ Cultural Preservationist. Ms. Yoruba Art Revival. I feel the older I get, the more curious I am about my Yoruba roots. I wonder what we could have been, if we were allowed to continue on our own original trajectories in Africa. What could our architecture have looked like? What would our elders/ monarchs look like? What gods would we believe in? Our clothing? I think it is important for our sense of self, that we Nigerians truly know who we are by appreciating where we started (our real unadulterated history)… I think it is important to forge our new identity in this context. This woman influences my thoughts on how art can be instrumental to sending political messages, providing for education, empowering communities. She inspires in me the notion of cultural preservation and its importance in forging true personal identity.
Who are your Queens?
to Ribbon Rouge #8 Now!