Yearly Archives: 2018

Wani Olatunde

The theme of change continues, and my next guest is no stranger to it. Wani  Olatunde is a wedding and portrait  photographer based in Lagos, Nigeria. Not even into her 40s, Wani has had more than one major transformation and come up it would seem, grander than before.  This is what she had to say:

TDK Tell me about your early life?

I was born in Liberia, West Africa but grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. We moved to England when I was 12 years old where I attended school and university.  

TDK Do you recall how you felt having moved from Nigeria to England? Did you want this change?

WO It was scary – I  found out we were moving and not just going for a trip just before we travelled, so it was a lot to take in. Also discovering that my dad wouldn’t be coming with us as he was working in Nigeria. was a bit of a shock. It took about a year to settle in and find my rhythm. 

TDK. Having studied Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Sheffield University – how did the change to banking come about?

WO I only went into Engineering because my dad said I couldn’t do Psychology, which I really wanted to study – I liked Maths and Physics, so EE seemed like the obvious choice. But one semester in and I knew I never wanted to be an Engineer. After my 3 years, the thought of having to go into the world and become an engineer petrified me, so I applied for the Masters and did a banking internship during summer. I worked hard and got offered a full time position at the end of the program and after my Masters, I never looked back – lol. 

TDKI noticed that you also worked for Teathers. ( Icelandic Bank) did you see that crash coming?

WO I don’t think anyone saw us becoming civil servants in a matter of days. It was all quite surreal. 

TDK How did you prepare for the transition from the UK to being a newly married lady working in Lagos, Nigeria?

WO I had no idea how different Lagos would be as I hadn’t been back too often in the 15 years or so since we left, so I didn’t really prepare. It was more like a baptism of fire when I arrived in Lagos and learning to adjust to a new lifestyle. I always tell expats or repats that it takes about a year to settle down in Lagos – it’s a whole different mindset to get used to. 

TDKHow did the move into photography come about?

WO Like most photographers, it started as a hobby. I noticed that everyone in Lagos including my bosses in the bank all had side hustles and so I figured I could make photography mine. I did it for a couple of years on the side but when my first son was born, work made it difficult for me to be the type of mother I wanted to be so it was an easy decision to leave banking and pursue my passion while I looked after my son. Of course, I was fortunate that my husband supported this decision and I could afford to take the cut in pay – not everyone has that option. 

TDK Do you have 1 defining change/ moment that had an impact of your outlook on life?

WO Haha – I actually do. My crossroad! I was in South Africa for a year as part of a rotation program in the bank and my SA boss asked me to stay and for reasons I won’t go into here, I decided to go back to London to my old team. We actually had no idea how bad things were over there in London – this was 2008 – where the banking world basically fell apart and so I moved back to London. I was made redundant a week later, joined Landsbanki after a few weeks of looking and was made redundant 3 weeks later and then moved to Lagos a few months later. I do often wonder where I would have ended up if I had just stayed in SA – I guess I’ll never know. I have to believe and I actually do believe that everything that happens in my life is for a reason and I choose to have faith in God’s plan for my life – He sees the big picture while I only ever see a tiny piece at a time. So I guess it doesn’t really matter what choice I made at the end of the day as I’m right where I’m supposed to be. 🙂 

TDK. What is the biggest kick you get out of being a photographer?  Do the highs from that ever compare to that you may have had as a banker?

WO I love making people happy with my pictures – when clients talk about how amazing they look and felt or how people are going on about their pictures – that makes me very happy and makes all the hard work worth it. I love capturing beautiful moments and capturing people in ways they haven’t seen or thought about themselves. I like to help people, women specifically, connect with their inner beauty / diva / goddess. I love when people get emotional over my photography – then I truly feel like I have accomplished what I set out to. Lol – No, the highs do not compare to banking. Photography is my gift and my absolute passion. I am truly blessed to have discovered it when I did.  

TDK Do you keep a journal?

WO Not really – I used to but never really been consistent. 

TDK. What does change mean to you?

Something different – a new beginning. Not always welcome but sometimes very necessary. 

TDK What are you reading that I should be reading?

WO Essentialism by Greg McKeown – I read that a while back but I do recommend it to everyone. I struggle with finding balance – trying to be wife, mother and photographer and also carve out time for Wani, the person. I constantly feel like I’m failing in all departments and if only time would stop for like a week, I would be able to catch up on my life. So I found it a very interesting and helpful read in terms of learning how to simplify my life, being ok with saying “No” and choosing what I spend my limited time on. 

TDK Who do you know that I should know.

WO Lol – my two sons, Eli and Levi. They are sunshine in little people form. I thank God for them every single day and there is no dark cloud that they can’t help me break through. I am truly blessed to be their mother. 

 

Wani’s work can be seen on instagram  @waniolatundephotog.

You can contact her at wani@waniolatunde.com

Funso Adegbola

Funso Adegbola is the Executive Director and CEO of Vale College Ibadan Nigeria.  Interestingly she is the daughter of 2 lawyers, a lawyer herself and the mother of two lawyers.   She was recently given an award by the French Government for services to academia  and in her own words, despite having reached these heights in her life, she is a work in progress with the best days yet to come.  Having met Funso recently I was really impressed and inspired by her apparent devotion towards education and mentoring young people to fulfil their potential.  This is what she had to say when we spoke  

TDK: Tell me about your early life.

My early life was idyllic- I grew up in a close-knit and loving family home. Both my parents ( Bola and Atinuke ige) were lawyers and I was their 1st child and only daughter. My parents were intentionally committed  and I grew up with a lot of love, positivity and a healthy self- esteem. I passed the secondary school  entrance exams with  flying colours at the age of 8+. I started Form 1 at age 9yrs and 2 weeks.

TDK Tell me about your early career.

I graduated from Essex University in 1983,with a degree specialising in Modern Languages-French, Spanish and Linguistics. I then went on to  study law at the University  of Bristol  and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1987.  As was customary I served my National Youth  Service  in Oyo State and worked in my father’s chambers  Bola Ige and Co until 1994 when I founded The Vale College- a private Christian-based, co-educational, boarding and day secondary school in Ibadan, Nigeria.

TDK: How and why did you go into education?

I wanted to make a difference in secondary school education. I had a great and successful educational sojourn  that started Nigeria and continued in the UK over a period of 12 years and I wanted to give back all which God and my parents had given to me – the very best holistic education possible. Whilst working as a barrister at my Father’s law practice, I was an active member of my old school Alumni, and I found  that there were numerous complaints about the standard of education the girls were receiving therefore, I  volunteered by giving French and English tutorials to students in my lunch break,

TDK: Did you keep a diary as a child?

My dad was a wordsmith he and my teachers quickly identified my gift for self-expression. My first diary was a 5th birthday gift from my Dad.and I would record my activities daily. At 13, I got a diary with a padlock so I started writing more confidential events and thoughts. I also used to write stories and poems by then so I got Journals as well as diaries from then. When I finished School Certificate in Nigeria, I went to Westonbirt School in Gloucestershire, there I kept my diary and journal daily and more faithfully. On Sunday afternoons we had letter-writing time and I would fill at least 2 aerogramme letters every week- my journal and diary being my ‘aide memoire’ and also to set academic and achievement goals for myself.

TDK: Do you still keep journals?

In fact I keep several which I fill simultaneously. In some I write my goals- spiritual, relational, professional and material/physical goals. Others I write my life’s lessons and my a-ha moments! Lol!  I must also not forget my gratitude journal I also keep prayer journals where I record my prayer points and I look back on them for testimonies of God’s faithfulness and goodness in my life and family. Of course this is all assisted by my love of stationery, and not being able to resist a lovely leather bound book or two. 

TDK:What are the benefits of keeping a journal?

It helps me to express myself, vent my emotions and plan for the future. I also use it as a tool for self-assessment and evaluation. Also many of my life’s goals are first committed in writing and it becomes a covenant between me and God. Seeing the actual physical manifestation of these goals is exhilarating, especially when I go back and see the date when I first recorded the thought, goal and plan in my journal.

TDK: Tell me about the recent award you received from the French Government.

I was given the award of Chevalier de L’Ordre des Palmes Academiques  for my outstanding contribution to French language and culture. I am the first Nigerian to get this French national honour. I studied French, lived and worked in 2 Parisian Secondary schools from 1981-1982 there I discovered my passion for young people. I am the current President of the Alliance Francaise in Ibadan. The Consul-General of the French Embassy decorated me with the medal on 20th January 2016.

TDK: What is the greatest Lesson you have Learnt?

Is knowing I’m a blessed and highly favoured child of God. He loves and cares for me with an everlasting love and carries me in his never-ending arms delivering me from ALL my afflictions. My joy and strength is in Him.

TDK: What are you learning now?

I am a work in progress, my best days are ahead of me. Life is a journey and not a destination. When I was younger I tended to focus only on the outcome but with experience and  as my son always encourages me to enjoy the moments that make up the journey too. Carpe el diem- seize the day!

TDK: How has Failure shaped your Life?

The first time I failed anything was in Form 3, when my grades fell below average. I was to progress to the next class on trial but my parents insisted I should repeat. I cried for days but my parents encouraged me that I am not a failure and this was just an opportunity to improve myself. With Hindsight I know that i learnt further insights into what I was good at and I am grateful that this was learnt early.  From then onwards, I saw failures as stepping-stones and not obstacles as an opportunity to learn how to do better the next time.

TDK: Who do you know whom I should know?

The Lord Jesus Christ, have a growing relationship with him.

TDK: What have you read that I should read?

I read a lot of personal improvement, management and business books and magazines. I also like reading autobiographies. I loved reading Valorie Burton’s ‘Successful women think differently’ and have shared it with many girlfriends and colleagues

TDK: What have you done that I should do?

Nothing that I can think of as I believe we all have different journeys, purpose and life paths. However, I attended a Women in Leadership Course at the Harvard Business School which I will highly recommend. 

TDK: Tell me about he most life changing event in your life

The most life-changing events in my life are deaths of my loved ones. My immediate younger brother died in his sleep, 6weeks before his 31st birthday. My father was assassinated in his Ibadan home and my mother died of a broken heart, 16 months after my dad’s murder!, 

These  deaths affected me deeply. I went through the gamut of emotions, anger, bitterness and even hatred. It made me depressed and melancholic. Getting over the depression took some time but I have been helped by my faith and trust in God as well as the deep love and outstanding support of family and friends. It has helped me to value relationships even more and also to comfort and counsel others who are bereaved. I am over the worst now and I thank God for His healing balm of Gilead.

TDK: Which of your achievements are you most proud of?

My proudest achievements must be raising 2 successful children and hundreds of non-biological children at The Vale College and The Vale Tutorial College- as well as several students, including physically challenged who I give scholarships up to university level.

Jose Goncalves

To see Jose Goncalves  who I talked to about change teaching at his Zumba class, is to witness him in his zone of genius leading everyone to a mad frenzy of excitement. The deliberate changing of tempo in the class, can pretty much be likened to how Jose has changed several times in order to better himself and find happiness. Here is what he had to say when we caught up recently. 

TDK Tell me tell me about your early life: where was it when did you move etc  what is it that prompted you to come and live in England did something change 

JG: My parents who are Portuguese moved to Venezuela in search of a better life for my brothers and sisters, I was the happy accident that came along a few years later. I was a spoiled child  and not only by my parents ,brothers and sister but by a lot of members of my family also neighbours and family friends. 

Growing up was alright, but  as far back as I can remember I knew I liked boys. I wasn’t a popular kid at school I always liked to play with girls because I thought girl played nice but boys were playing football and other manly sports.

I had a hard time in primary and secondary school because I was bullied a lot for being gay or being too feminine so basically I hated it, and didn’t want to go to school most of the time. I wasn’t the brightest kid and I had lots of frustrations for not knowing why I liked boys and not girls it seemed wrong and I felt it wasn’t normal as if I had some sort of condition. This was made harder  being from Portuguese descendants  lots of family drama and everyone has an opinion about each others lives etc

I dropped out of school in my  second year of secondary school because I hated it and started to work full time with my dad till I realised I wanted more from my life and my future.  My parents were really strict, so I decided to stay  working  but finish my secondary school on Saturday only classes, and hopefully go to university  this was by far the best decision ever.  I have made good friends and my life started to change accepting myself more and I started to open up with my friends and tell them I was gay it was a big deal I was scared I was going to be judged, but it was fine then told my sister and she was very supportive.  With me being the happy accident, my sister effectively raised me, so it was like having two mums,  I guess my mum being an older mum, did not have the same energy as my sister. I am very close to her  and we always did things together and I would often stay at her home and look after the kids, my nieces and nephews that I love dearly as if they are my own kids. 

I finally finished my secondary school and straight away I enrolled in a University to study Administration and Tourism which was hard to finish because I had to work in my dad’s business and study in the evenings 6-10pm it was the only way as my dad wouldn’t allow me to study only, I had to work.

I loved university; I made lots of friends and I managed to graduate with a job placement but being gay in a mainly macho culture was very hard and I had to behave in a ‘manly’ manner so I didn’t see myself living in Venezuela, it wasn’t for me so I decided to move to Portugal, I was 21Years old when I landed in Madeira my parents Island and I thought to myself what is this??? I was in shock it was too rural and the island agricultural life meant  the teenagers moved abroad because there was no work, I managed to get a job after 3 month which was in the city and I had to work long hours… I wasn’t happy there I didn’t like the life, it was too slow and culturally very challenging I never stopped being in this catering job cleaning tables, washing plates etc. I keep looking for a job in shops but not successful.

A friend of mine told me about a course that the european community that sponsors people to get trained to became a professional waiter which I did and they paid for food transport and a salary that wasn’t much but to get paid for studying was not so bad meet new people I was kind of getting to the idea of maybe living in here its not so bad.

 

I always dreamt of living in England I used to watch TV  and educational programs from England and I used to love it, the idea of  living in a country that snows was the coolest thing. So with that in mind and being only  3hours away from the UK,  after 11 months in Madeira I decided to move here, another shock to system! I moved here in November landed and 5pm it was dark  and I thought to myself  ‘what is this? The weather, culture people’s behaviour was all a shock to me, but deep inside I felt good and for once in my life felt  I was in the right place… it wasn’t easy but my life journey was only beginning..  

TDK What are the major defining changes you have experienced?

JG Those  I have had experienced from my family cultural views and way of being gay and  living in a latin culture and my own personal life experience and all the challange I have encounter on my path.

But I have become stronger and I know what I want and where I want to be, and I am a big dreamer!

TDK Tell me about your early working career?

 

JG I have worked from early age from around 14Years old my parents were very strict 

and always showed me that I had to work for what I want. nothing come easy for me.

I have always worked with the public from catering to shop assistant to office work, and I still think I have not found my dream job, and I am still searching

TDK.Why Zumba? how did that begin?

JG Mario’s sister in law was always talking about how much she loved Zumba, that it was fun and based on Latin American Music and dance. Mario and I did not think anymore about it, but then we started going to the gym nearly everyday ( after we got happy and fat lol) I saw the advert for Zumba fitness and a couple of days later we come to the class at the gym and we were so happy to listen to the music  and the instructor was really fun. After the class she asked me if I was an instructor and I said no, she said you should become one but no way I wanted to become one as I never thought about it….then  we did another class at the gym with another instructor and again she thought I was an instructor and told to become one she could guide me through etc.. and again I said no but she went behind my back and  told Mario to book me in as she knew I could be a great instructor and I still said no, But Mario enrolled me on the course and I went to the course still thinking I am not going to teach but here I am  6yrs later and I love it.  

TDK Where do you see it going now, that there are new forms of dance type group exercises emerging?

JG I am still teaching and trying to maintain my class and keeping it fun and challenging, it is hard to keep people coming thru the door but I work hard to make everyone enjoying exercise and wanting to come back, Zumba as a brand are always reinventing and bring out new forms of exercise to keep us instructors motivated and the public keep coming back.  Many different exercise programmes have come and gone, but Zumba is still going strong after 18 years. There will always be new dance programs coming up to motivate the public.

TDK Are you planning to take this up? 

JG At this point I am happy with my Zumba program, I wouldn’t say I would never join another dance program but for the time being i am saying no.

TDK.Did you like sports at school

JG I didn’t like physical education, only a few things like volleyball or running that was about it. 

TDK Do you keep a journal?

JG I used to when I was younger but then I gave up! there is no time to sit and write about

life as it is better to get out there and live it.

TDK.what are you reading that I should be reading?

JG The truth plain and simple! .

TDK Who do you know that I should know?

JG My wonderful partner, my best friend and boyfriend Mario

TDK:What does change mean to you?

JG: I like change, change is a  challenge,  it makes you  come out of the comfort zone we sometimes set ourselves in, changes are always good.

TDK:If there is one thing about your life that you could change what would it be?

JG That I could have been there for my nieces and nephews in the most needed moments.

 

Jose is currently running his  Zumba Class at Chalk Hills Academy, Luton  Wednesdays 7:30pm  Details at zumba.com

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