Thoughts On Becoming by Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama is known to many as a role model, a woman worthy of admiration and emulation but in her renowned memoir she becomes someone different, someone more close to home. Like a long lost beloved aunty that you finally get to meet in person after hearing many endearing stories. You finally get a chance to be in the presence of this beforehand-distant-greatness. Now you’re given a chance to take it all in and be enthralled anew but in a more realistic and lasting way because now you see things as they really are; bare of all the maskings of fame and acclaim. You realise she’s just like you with the same desires to be loved, make a difference and live a good life. It makes sense because she’s stark honest and because she’s honest, you also believe you can become.

In the beginning Michelle introduces us to her background and what it was like to grow up in the south side of Chicago, living in the top floor of the duplex that is her auntie’s home (her auntie who goes on to teach her to play the piano whilst unveiling the stubborn side to Michelle’s character) with her close knit nuclear family in a cluster of many family relations on both her mother and father’s side. We get the feel early on that her family is a close one and a strong source of support, be it from her older brother, who was a star kid all through school and paved the way for her in various ways most of which involved giving her social capital or her mother who stayed home to make sure meals were made when they got back from school and the home was in one piece or her father who she often spoke of like he was some kind of meta God balancing work and life seemlessly which made it all the more hard when we learn he dies from suffering Multiple Sclerosis for several years later in the book.

This great loss and another (of a dear friend) set the stage for deep introspection on the meaning and point of life for Michelle. She soon realizes she does not have much care for being a lawyer and in a courageous swerve veers into the scene of volunteering, community work and policy making. Here she finds more joy and fulfilment. Here she finds life worth living.

Finding love for Michelle was unexpected and quite fast paced. She describes her first impression of Barack as being unimpressive especially his lateness and smoking but all that is moved past in a blur as they begin to get to know each other. The realness of their love story doesn’t shield them from the challenges that plague regular couples though. And luckily for us, our aunty Michelle doesn’t shy away for talking about it all; infertility, insecurities, motherhood, conflict, therapy. This totally destroys the myth of perfect couples; and this is good for us. We see that all relationships require constant work the stay alive.

Barack’s venture into politics did not always appeal to Michelle but she was sold once she saw the potential of her husband to do some good. It became impossible to ignore that he could make a real difference. And he did didn’t he? Perhaps the most significant difference the American government has seen till date.

Becoming is the type of book you read when you’re between choices, when you don’t know what to do or when you know exactly what to do. It’s the right reading choice not because it provides all the answers but because it tells you a story, a story like yours and shows you that your own story is also being written, that you too are becoming. And maybe, just maybe that’s all we need to keep going.

Why You Should Watch UBA’s Traders Documentary Series

Indeed there is dignity in labour. That’s all I can say after taking my time to watch the four part documentary series curated by UBA on YouTube. In total it lasts about 30 to 40 minutes, each spanning a maximum of 10 minutes and I tell you it will be worth every second that you watch.

First of all, the cinematography is stellar, simply amazing. I don’t know who the videographer is, but I want to know. The work speaks for itself and to say it is excellent is an understatement so be rest assured that it will be a viewing pleasure for your eyes.

I like this documentary because it tells raw stories of men and women from different tribes across Nigeria who have made something of themselves through business. I’m not sure why these stories appeal to me. Maybe because it proves that Nigeria is not completely hopeless, that given some time, hardwork and dedication, everybody can make it.

I’ll talk about them in the order in which I watched them.

The Balogun Feature

The first tells the story of a young woman who came to Lagos with the hopes of starting a big business in the 80s. She soon realized she would have to start small, very small. But now she has her own brand of Ankara. She designs, produces and sells. Her products are beautiful and so is her story.

Watch here.

The Abeokuta Feature

The second is set in the ravishing city of Abeokuta. I have been to Abeokuta in Ogun State just once. It was nice seeing familiar places on film again. We are drawn into the story of a woman who has been into the Adire business since she can remember and has also managed to indoctrinate her children into this business as well. She expresses deep love for our culture and talks about the versatility and beauty of our material. Hers is lovely story, with even more lovely adire to feed your eyes.

Watch here.

The Alaba Market Feature

The third is the story of an igbo business man who started with buying and selling but has now grown so large to manufacturing and selling his own appliances with branches across the country. It all tends to sound like a fairytale but we don’t also fail to see that these individuals have paid the price whatever they seem to be enjoying at the moment and it was not always easy for them. They had to make sacrifices. We should all be prepared to take risks and make sacrifices to see result. There’s this one thing the man said that I dont think I’ll forget anytime soon; something along the lines of… people want to enjoy on Monday what they should wait for till Sunday. That is we should be paitent and give things time to grow and accumulate. There’s a lot to learn from these videos if you listen closely.

Watch here.

The Aba Feature

The fourth was the most surprising for me. It told the story of shoe makers. People who actually make shoes from scratch. Their work shed does not look like much but you’d be surprised with the variety, quality and quantity of shoes these people make, on a daily basis. My mind was blown.

Watch here.

UBA did a fantastic job putting this documentary together and I’m grateful they did as I’m sure you will be too when you watch it. Let’s have more of these, more stories of successes in our community. Inspiration is all around you, just open your eyes and be inspired. I know that there is a lot about our nation to make one sad but there is also a lot to inspire you, choose to be inspired.

Love & love—O