December 6, 2020

AfricaTopForum

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Celebrating milestones in a pandemic

6 min read

What does it mean to celebrate memorable moments in this year of the pandemic? Newly-marrieds, young people joining first jobs and new mums share their stories with OMOLOLA AFOLABI and BUKOLA OLAJIDE

This year, in a way, is a thief. It has robbed millions around the world of opportunities to celebrate. No thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, whose second wave is rippling like a violent wave across nations. But amid all this gloom and doom, many have reasons to celebrate, thus mocking the pandemic.

Before the pandemic broke out, Oluwalonikinmayo Adedeji, a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, was getting set to marry.

“It was difficult making up my mind to finally get settled.  I thought 2020 was already gone that the wedding should be postponed until next year but when my hubby landed a job with a multinational company in Lagos, I figured, maybe there is a silver lining behind the dark clouds”, she said with glee.

A prudent and financially savvy person, Adedeji and her hubby, Josh Ipaye, were able to save some money to fast track her wedding preparations.

Ipaye said: “I was about giving up on my application and shifting every plan to 2021 as I thought that this year was too depressing for any progress to be made, but here I am, I landed a well-paying job and am newly wedded.”

Like Adedeji, Queendaline Obechina also got married during the pandemic in Sapele, Delta State.

“COVID-19 hasn’t been completely devastating actually; although my business suffered a little bit but the fact that I was able to get my marital dreams accomplished is enough solace as I know that with divine support and support from my hubby, I know the business would bounce back.”

Mrs. Olaoluwa Femi-Adeboye, a new bride, welcomed her first child during the lockdown. According to her, she had mixed feelings of excitement and nervousness. Her young family had just relocated into a bigger apartment at the time of the lockdown and she faced some challenges such as combining morning sickness, incessant tiredness with work and home care. In addition, she missed about two months of antenatal and purchased baby things during weekdays due to the curfew on markets on Saturdays.

One of the creative means people have beaten the pandemic at its game is through the Zoom and Free conference calls  platform. Before the lockdown, these Apps were not popular but became the last resort for many to share their experiences with the world. This was the experience of the family of Mrs. Victoria Olofin whose brother-in-law had the christening of his baby on zoom. Prior to that time, the family had been wondering how to share in the joy of celebrating the new born in Canada. But thanks to the App, the family had 100% presence throughout the ceremony.

Social media generally, contributed immensely to the success of many events. For example, some schools organised and held the graduation ceremonies for their student via the Facebook live and Youtube. The preparation involved seemed the same with a physical event which required the renting of halls/space, decorating the space to host the limited number of 20 persons at a go. Some celebrations included virtual games played by everyone and shared menus of homemade or takeout food that everyone can enjoy at the same time. One of the institutions which had her virtual convocation on Youtube was Redeemer’s University. Mrs.  Ibukun Awosika, the Chairperson, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, was the keynote speaker who delivered her lecture on “Agriculture, Entrepreneurship and Youth Empowerment”. In her address, she mentioned the need for social innovators to emerge in third world nations to develop economically viable ideas that will bring development to all sectors of their nations. “If you create the right solutions through your ideation process, you will get the right support to make the idea a success,” she reiterated.

• Ademilua
• Ademilua

Miss Adekemi Ademilua, who recently bagged a Master’s degree in Theatre Arts (Acting) from Redeemer’s University, Ede Osun State, relayed her experience: “After my Bachelor’s degree in 2017, I decided to further my education as soon as I finished my national youth service. Though I had doubts and negative interferences from some persons, I’m glad that I finished my course gallantly in spite of the pandemic.”

While many businesses folded up, some thrived in the season. For Mr. Tolulope Baiyewu, opening a new photography studio was a long-awaited feat achieved. Leaving a familiar and comfortable environment for a new terrain to spread his tentacles was a major risk for him. Having started the plans last year and secured the apartment, logistics and operations couldn’t commence due to the pandemic and this almost took him off balance. However, he focused more on sensitising his client base on the new location via social media platforms and bulk sms. As soon as the lockdown was eased, the business eventually kicked off mid 2020 officially. According to him “If I knew in clear terms how 2020 will turn out, I would have planned things better. I might have imported face masks and hand sanitisers ahead or just plan for a whole year of vacation.”

In fact, the year sounded a warning to people who took pride in their jobs that there is no job security anywhere as many employees were laid off their jobs. Prior to the year, Mrs. Aanuoluwapo Odesanya was joggling between her 9-5 job, starting a radio show and caring for her home. This seemed a herculean task until she decided to resign from her job to focus on the radio show idea. Thanks to the lockdown that gave her more time to reflect on ideas for content creation. With the support of her husband and her church’s studio manager, the idea became reality in June. Her weekly family show now addresses issues in the society and is blessing lives in the process.

“It’s been a smooth ride talking about family life but not so easy putting the contents together. However, I’m happy that my gift found expression during the lockdown. When you know your purpose, take risks towards achieving it. Do it afraid. Remember, that you can’t hand over your job to your children,” she added.

• Oghomienor PHOTO: PRECIOUS APPAREL

For Precious Humprey Oghomienor, a young woman who believes in personal development, she was able to complete three online courses in fashion design amid the pandemic. According to her, “in my opinion, Nigerian designs are recycled and I know I must acquire international knowledge to scale up my expertise in the fashion industry. As a mentor to several fashion designers online, I had to create more time to practise what I’m being taught too so I can replicate the same results and improve on it creatively.” The determination to not fail as a family woman while running an active fashion academy has kept her going. “Life is a risk so take risks that will pay you in the long run. No excuse is good enough to keep you away from doing what you love. Be the best version of yourself daily,” she said.

Muneer Yaqub, a graduate of Utman Danfodiyo University, got a PhD scholarship in Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Texas after his first degree in Microbiology in Sokoto.

“Applying for this scholarship was very tedious. I do not know how I got the motivation even in spite of the pandemic and all, but right now, I have been able to start the classes, although entirely online as we use zoom and Microsoft teams to access the classes, I will be resuming physically next year as soon as it is safe to travel and all bans have been lifted.

“This remains the biggest accomplishment of my life, as COVID-19 remains the biggest pandemic I’ve ever experienced as well.”

27-year-old Elizabeth Adeyemo got her PhD scholarship at the University of Notre Dame during the pandemic.

“My plan was to get my doctorate before 30,but nevertheless, I’m grateful for the opportunity. The rigour of academic work has strengthened me so much that I didn’t even feel bugged down by the pandemic. Although I would say I got the right support from family and friends but the bottom line is that I was able to use the pandemic which would have been a stumbling block as a stepping stone. I didn’t get dissuaded,” she said.