Sunday Dec 04, 2022

Taking Risks (or my 23rd Birthday Speech

Today was probably the most boring day of 2013. I just sat there, answered calls, killed my battery twice, played 3D military games and Car racing games. I just smiled at my screen and loved the people that were putting me up on their Dps and stuff… and I later had dinner with Owanatei Max-Harry. Not your exciting birthday is it?
It’s one year since my last speech of the sort.

I remember the backlash of comments on the title (Bros over…erm, cutlasses). And I remember the high feeling that followed me for the next 4 days or so. I remember trying to keep faithfully to my birthday resolutions, and I remember trying to feel more grown up seeing that I’d achieved double-digit age (22). I remember talking about my hopes of getting fatter and taller- I am pleased to announce that I did get taller (added 3 inches), weigh more (70kg up from 67) and wake up earlier than i dreamed possible. Thank you for your moral support! 

In the course of the year, I read books about cultivating the presence of God, about being led by the Holy spirit, about being a leader. I had the opportunity to serve on the leadership of my Church choir…I did see that when people are dedicated to a cause that God has blessed, wonders will follow. I learned the value of integrity- making a promise and keeping to my word. I learned the value of obedience even when no one was looking.

It was a year of learning to accept people for who they are. Up till now, my friends were all church-going, devoted people who had leadership roles wherever they went. I think God taught me a big lesson by bringing irreligious, agnostic, atheistic people my way. The arguments opened my eyes to the truth that I’m not the only one seeking God; and that everybody has problems. I met people addicted to drugs, addicted to sex and all manner of things. I was revolted at first- squeaky me even talking with such people. But I learned that that was the life Jesus lived- dining with hookers, visiting corrupt politicians and lawyers. I learned that the only way the light I carry can have much effect…is right in the middle of thick darkness.

In the last year, my human side was awakened. I’ve been so blessed that I began to forget what it’s like to go hungry not because I can’t choose what to eat, but because I don’t have what to eat. I lost friends last year, Rejoice Kurtong (of the everlasting smile), Blessing Luka (who I was talking with a day before the accident), Mary Nwachukwu, Dorcas, ThankGod John, Lawrence Oyeyemi and lately, Ugochi Peace Mbakwe (a.k.a Mama Ebuka). Before this time, I was numb to the news of death; but I have learned that the rain falls both on the good and the bad.

In the last year, I have widened the scope of my music- many of you know me as Peter Rock/PeterPentecost. I love rock, metal, metalcore and screamo, all very extreme forms of music; but have learned that I will never grow if I stay stuck just that- so I expanded my vocabulary to neo-soul (TD Jakes), Black Gospel (Hezekiah Walker, Marvin Sapp, Youthful praise, James Fortune and the host of them). This year I started my foray into Jazz Music, listening to Earl Klugh, Chick Corea, George Benson and Kenny G (and Bez) too. I tell the truth and lie not- it has improved my bass playing.

In this year, I learned that some of the things that may have been cute when I was younger, will look simply stupid and irresponsible. Like the time when I was 16, I wore pyjamas to school at 10pm because someone said I couldn’t do it. Or when I wore shorts on a bus all the way from gwagwalada to Bingham university (in my defence they were combat 3/4s). I also learned that my writing would be judged by people who knew nothing about me, therefore I must strive to divorce my work of sentiments (and focus more on the logical). To this effect I got closer to people whose writing I totally admire- Ugo “Quixotic” , Chimaobi Mmeje and Ofem Efa-Banks, Henry Anyaeji to mention a few.I learned that I was fast becoming a man of my own- no longer covered by the faith or reputation of my parents, but quickly building my own. I would no longer be seen as “Mr Ademu-Eteh’s Son” but as “that young man over there”. Therefore the things I want to be known for must take root in the choices I make now.

And that brings me to the next thing. I’ve always considered myself a gentle person. Laugh all you want. But I wonder if any of you can point to when you saw me angry, or fight or scream at people. I thought that was because I was nice…it occurred to me I was simply being a coward. Over the years I’d accepted crappy service, rude staff, I’ve actually allowed myself to get cheated. Because I hate confrontations…or more truthfully, I’m scared of confrontations. I’ve lost job opportunities simply because I was too timid to ask; I’ve passed up on going out with awesome girls because I was too afraid of the reaction when I pitched my bid. I’ve stayed stuck within the same oppressive cycles because I was too afraid of what life would be like if something new started.

But one day it occurred to me that life would not just hand things to me- I had to PUSH, to FIGHT for them. I’m not in any way denying the place of God in making things happen; but the seed won’t plant, water, and harvest itself no matter how much fertiliser God put in the soil. I said to myself,

“you’re young. this is the best time to make all the foolish mistakes, because you can recover. So what if you lose in business now? is it not better to learn that lesson now than in 10 years?”

So slowly, I began to ASK for what I wanted and to refuse what I didn’t. I stepped out of my car in traffic one day, and talked to the traffic cop who was holding up traffic, and surprisingly traffic cleared. Once my bank debited me (20k!) and instead of waving it off like I normally do, I complained immediately, continuously and even threatened to close my account before it was restored. Once I paid for a data plan (and my data curiously stopped working for a whole month)- I wrote MTN and after they hemmed and hawed for a week I sent a strongly-worded letter, threatening to sue them; within 1 minute they replied, looked into the matter and compensated me with unlimited internet for a while.

I took the risk to let go of a girl I’d dreamed of for 3 years- it hurt, It bit, it made me withdraw from society. I had to literally install an app to hide all her messages and calls until I was okay. I locked people out, and for the first 3 weeks of law school I didn’t make any friends (weird isn’t it?). But that step freed my mind from mental stress I didn’t even know I was carrying. I began adding weight, looking far more attractive (you can dispute that if you like).

I took the risk of schooling in Enugu, a city where I knew no one, where I’d never stayed more than 30 minutes in my life. It was cut off from Abuja and its fineries, from Lagos and its exoticism, Port Harcourt and its….ummmm, whatever they have there. It has paid off so far- a quiet environment to study, beautiful scenery and lecturers that make you feel like the exam has already been written JI took the risk to get close to people- Dumebi, Owanatei, Faith, Emily, Fola, Kenechi, Lanre, Kingson, Peace and others; and that risk paid off. For in the midst of this dry land called Agbani, I found people with a passion for God and a zest for life; I found people that talking about spiritual things did not seem awkward!

And in the middle of this risk, I met a certain pretty, awesome girl 😀 I took the risk to fall in love. I took the risk to tell her about it (okay I wasn’t direct!). I wrote her a story that ran into 36 pages (single-spaced); it had photos and background music ;). Taking that risk is probably the best risk I’ve taken all year; because in her I found a lot more than I bargained for.

I’m taking my time to detail this process for two reasons; first to let you know how awesome I really am (lol) and SERIOUSLY to touch one or two timid souls out there. The truth is as long as you sit paralysed by the fear of the unknown, constantly analysing but NEVER doing anything…you will lose millions of opportunities, opportunities I’m sure you’ll NEVER get back. If you take the risk to get something done, you MAY fail, you MAY succeed…but if you fold your arms waiting for manna to fall, you WILL fail!

Wake up!!!! Take the risk!!

Thank you for your time, and thank you all who made this day a wonderful day for me. Sorry if i don’t reply ALL the texts, but you’re far too kind!


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