God’s Blessings In My Backyard

What did you do on the morning of Monday May 26th?

I was, as Steve Babaeko puts it, beach bumming in Mauritius, while you were either at work, in a boring status meeting, in traffic or in class. Sorry.

Just like my Barbados debut in 2007, the trip to the Island of Mauritius was an official assignment. After seeing me speak to young Public Relations practitioners at a PRCAN Workshop in Lagos, Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, who is the Secretary-General of the Africa Public Relations Association simply said: ‘you must come and speak at APRA’.

Once I accepted the offer and started researching Mauritius, I knew I would do more than ‘speak’ in this country of 1.3 million people. First: I planned an 8-day trip for a three-day conference. Then, the more I found out about the sun, beaches, sand, women and the stunning beauty of Port Louis, the more I made mental notes of what to do before and after the APRA Confer

Now, if you want to know how the conference went, or see excerpts from my session, please search for #APRAMauritius2014 on Twitter or Facebook and check the video HERE

ATG speaking at APRA Mauritius 2014

But if you want to know where to spend your next vacation; or, as I’ve told the two other BHM participants at the conference, Mariam and Anita, if your boyfriend is really serious about proposing, then one of his top options should be during a beach-front candle lit dinner at Le Meridien IIe Maurice.

The beaches are busy during the day, with fun activities like Parasailing, which my colleagues tried and failed to get me to do. Then at night, the restaurants stretch out almost to the banks, with tables for two, ready to treat loved up couples to the envy of other guests.

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It’s an art – right from the airport you see this is a nation that knows where its bread is buttered. Not anything out of the ordinary like the Dubai Airport, but Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport is so breathtaking you’ll almost curse MMIA. Every citizen you engage with – driver, waitress, shop attendant – has fond stories to tell, while making sure you have no reason to complain.

You’ll really need to go deep inside town, to see the down side of this country. Rough driving, a couple of dirty streets, signs of poverty, and crowding. Even then, the ubiquitous beaches lure and seduce you to focus on something else. You’ll encounter visitors like the gentlemen from Bangladesh who sold me life-saving Noodles after days of leaves and soup, who told me they’re having a helluva time.

I’ve been back since June 4. But I’m still wondering how come so many of us know London and America like the palm of our hands, but we know next to nothing about God’s blessings scattered in our backyard?

And one can’t help but wonder, how Nigeria…oh, well, not ranting about Nigeria today!

Conference opportunity or not- my next trip will be to Zanzibar. Now, Google that one!


Happy 5th anniversary Sodium

The message from my friend Abisoye Fagade shocked me at first. Then it made me break into a dance.

‘Ayeni I just got your gift this morning. It wouldn’t have come at a better time than today, the exact day that Sodium is 5 years. It’s been a serious struggle but God has remained faithful. Thanks for being a positive part of my story…’

Five years is a long time in the life of any organisation., especially in an unstable, peculiarly challenging environment like Nigeria.  So while I’m not one to throw a flimsy party, I understand the importance of celebrating this milestone.

And I’m impressed with the manner of celebration Fagade and his team have chosen: going all out to reinvent themselves and their organisation, and launching new offerings that should shape the future of our entire industry.

The Marathon continues…


Dying suddenly

I had drinks and popcorn with my dad on May 8, 2013. It was a cool Sunday evening. I mixed cocktails for my siblings, we talked politics, argued a bit, as the kids jumped here and there. After the rendezvous at my sister’s Gbagada-Lagos home, goodbyes were said and I headed home around 10PM.

Less than three hours later, he was gone.

No loss is easy. But I suspect it’s easier to understand when someone passes on after an accident, some sort of previously diagnosed illness or as a result of an identified condition.

But to die ‘just like that’, as in the case of the Nollywood icon Amaka Igwe who passed on minutes after having dinner with her husband in Enugu, is what confounds even the deepest of men.

Or, as was with Irikefe Don-Momoh, the popular singer who went into a coma for 15 days then passed away after collapsing while on a domestic US flight. This minute she’s hopping from Lagos to America. She’s promoting new singles and performing all over. The next she’s slumping and dying.

This minute we’re pushing and planning for tomorrow. Then we’re no more. Suddenly.

It’s not even like candles in the wind. Because, with candles, you can light the fire again and continue the glow. You can rekindle again and again until the wick tells you it’s over.

It’s like the wind itself.

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