Thursday Feb 02, 2023

Olanrewaju Gbenga-Martins

Olanrewaju. Gbenga. Martins.


That was the first thing everyone noticed about her- all her names were male names. Rather convenient for when she needed to get things done by proxy. Or when she needed to slip in and out of offices unnoticed.
That lady was is of the best things to happen to me. I met her on 13th February 2013, just on the corridor of ground floor. I flirted hopelessly trying to snatch her attention from Tolu Adetomiwa. And I succeeded. Funny, my first words to her were “hey, you’re really pretty”. Of course i mentally kicked myself for such a stupid thing but she didn’t notice.
I didn’t think very much about that encounter until I met her with Pastor Deji at the Old Auditorium (we went to get our wi-fi passwords). I recognized her as the pretty girl from the other night. We fell into a conversation about how the flesh tends to wrestle with the spirit. I was thrilled- the girl didn’t have just a pretty body but a beautiful spirit as well.
In a short while, we’d grown closer than I’d expect. along with our friends Dumebi, Kingson, Peace and Kenechi, we began morning devotions at the Chapel of Hope. The devotions were a pivotal part of my day. Never in my life before that time had I kept consistent prayer times. I grew spiritually. The prayers we prayed as a group received quick answers. Even down to the prayers about NYSC.
With Lanre, I learned time management. The time we spent together was fun- i laughed and laughed a lot. There were lots of stories to be told, lots of questions asked, lots of “what-if”s tossed around. But with Lanre there was time for everything. I learned to set study targets and beat them. I learned to set deadlines for personal projects and group projects. I remember when Lanre had a speaking engagement and we had to plan weeks ahead- from openers to tactics, to dressing and all of that.

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You see, that’s part of the Lanre Charm. She LISTENS when people talk. At first I used to think it was an act- surely no one listens with that amount of concentration. It was when she started reminding me of the things I did or said some months ago that I realised she was paying attention.

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From Lanre, I learned perception. She sometimes refused to tell me some things because she was sure I should be perceptive enough to know. People today marvel at how I know some things they didn’t tell me. Thank Lanre for forcing me to learn that. If she could I’m sure she may have written the book “HANDLING WOMEN for the clueless men”.
Studying for bar finals happened to be one of the most gruelling periods of my life. We had to constantly encourage ourselves. People were falling sick, people were scared they wouldn’t do well. But I learned from that lady that you could turn fear into positive energy. Let the fear of failure become energy to succeed!
In November 2013, I fell in love with a long time friend; or should I say re-fell? Well, Lanre was my wingman. she even went with me one day to see this new babe.
And Lanre was absolutely wonderful at call to bar. She was on the planning and execution committee- she helped to label the name cards, to rally the caterers. At some point she got up and took over serving! If you knew Lanre you’d understand that events are her thing- from Chapel of Hope to Clasfon to Winners.

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Lanre was posted to Benue State for NYSC. She’d always wanted Lagos or somewhere in the West. She even had the opportunity to redeploy. But Because in her case it’d involve feigning illness or pregnancy, she decided to skip. She said to me “It cannot be for nothing that God keeps sending me out of my comfort zone. First he sent me to Enugu even though I had people that could have ‘worked’ my posting to Abuja as I wanted. Now to Benue. I’m going to stay here and find out what God has in store for me”.
We were talking recently and she said to me “I wonder why I wanted Lagos so bad. The kind of people I’ve met- they’re so LOADED that I wonder why they’re here and not in Lagos or Port Harcourt or Abuja. The things I’ve learned in this service year alone…I’m sure I wouldn’t have learnt them if I was in Lagos”. WOW.
I feel like I’m holding back a lot of this story; but it’s hard to tell it without giving out personal details.
To Lanre, my friend, wingman, movie buddy, co-conspirator, prayer partner…a somebody who I love like myself…
Happy Birthday, Darling.


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