OLAJUMOKE ORISAGUNA: FROM ‘BREAD’ TO BREAKTHROUGH!
Kenneth Copeland said, “You are not what the world says you are, you are what the word says you are” It is vividly true from the ‘slum to stardom’ story of Olajumoke that we are beautifully, awesomely, fearfully and wonderfully made. William Shakespeare once said in one of his famous plays (Julius Caesar), “Men at some time are masters of their fates; the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.” When you know your worth, no one can make you feel worthless. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself. If you don’t find your place in life, you will be displaced. Almost three thousand years ago, Israel’s richest king, King Solomon, gave a controversial and unconventional path to wealth. The richest king that ever lived once said, “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
One Spring, over hundred and fifty years ago, a young and handsome man named James was employed by a rich American farmer, Worthy Taylor, to work on his farm and also assist him in other household chores. The farmer knew nothing much about the boy except that his name was James, but he gave him a job. James spent the winter cutting stove wood, bringing in the cows and making himself generally useful. He ate in the kitchen and slept in the hayloft. Before the summer was over, James had fallen in love with Taylor’s daughter, though the master liked the boy and his work, he was compelled to dispense with his services because James had fallen irredeemably in love with his beautiful daughter. The farmer hated and abhorred the idea of his daughter marrying a mere farm-hand coupled with the fact that he had no money, no name, and very poor prospects. Thirty-five years passed before Taylor one day pulled down his farmstead to make way for a new one. On the rafters above the hayloft he discovered that his former help had carved his full name. His name? James A. Garfield. He was then the president of the United States! James Garfield eventually became the 20th President of the United States of America. A man who was thought to be a nonentity and unworthy of a rich man’s daughter eventually became the most powerful man on earth. Taylor lost the opportunity of becoming the father-In-law to the President but more sympathetically made his daughter lose forever the opportunity of ever becoming the First Lady of the United States.
Don’t define people by where they are, you never know where God is taking them to! One of the mysteries of life is in how we find fame in the unlikeliest of places and situations. The geometric rise of Olajumoke Orisaguna from the slum of Agege in the city Lagos to international limelight sounds like one of the fairy tale stories in fictional books. It has been a mixed form of reaction from many Nigerians, while some have fumed bitterly about her sudden rise to fame, some embraced it totally as an act of God while others in their ‘lazy mode’ have coveted a similitude of jumoke’s fortune. Some few weeks ago, no search engines would have recognized the name “Orisaguna”, infact the closest response would have been the word ‘error’ or probably suggest a more popular alternative for the search. Surprisingly, as at the time I was writing this piece, a tap of the name “Orisaguna” on Google brought up 671,000 inexhaustible results! Olajumoke woke up on that fateful day like any other, she strapped a tray loaded with bread and walked the streets of Agege like she always did and to her, it was just like any other day but in the placing of divine arrangement, her casual act of walking and hawking eventually became her straight walk into fame and glory. At a time of deep economic and financial struggle, a woman found her own ‘break’ in the midst of dwindling national fortune. There are special encounters that are divinely orchestrated to abruptly and precipitously skyrocket men from complete obscurity to lofty and unimaginable heights. Such was the meeting between T.Y Bello and Olajumoke.
Olajumoke was a trained hair stylist from Ire in Osun State while her husband works as a sliding door installer in the same village. Life in Osun state was full of struggle and unprofitable labour to the extent that she couldn’t afford the ceremonial passing out ritual commonly referred to as ‘freedom’ to start her own salon. At the invitation of a friend in Lagos, she decided to give hawking of bread a trial. Leaving behind her husband and her 5-year-old child, she decided to face another phase of her life with her 14-month-old daughter strapped behind her back. Working tediously from 2.30pm to 11.00pm everyday selling bread to eke out a living, Jumoke ended up virtually every day making less than $20, with a meagre and paltry profit of around $1. A vivid description was given by T.Y Bello of how the 27- year old bread seller literally walked into the ‘Hall of Fame’, the renowned photographer captioned it a ‘phenomenal story’ of being at the right place at the right time. T.Y Bello was taking photos of Nigerian-born British musician, Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu, popularly known as Tinie Tempah in Nigeria recently when a woman selling bread happened to unintentionally walked into her shot: “She seemed a little confused, some people were asking her to walk past really quickly, others were asking her to stay, she was just in limbo. I asked if it is okay to take her photograph and she nodded Ok. I didn’t think I made a great image, but once I posted the shots on social media, interest in Jumoke exploded. When the photographs landed for the first time on social media, everyone immediately thought she was a model. No one believed she just walked past. It occurred to me that if everyone thought she should be a model then maybe she should be one, then the search for her began”
Olajumoke was full of joy and tears as her magical breakthrough seemingly looks unreal, but nevertheless managed to speak during an interview with CNN’s Stephanie Busari, “I never expected that this could ever happen to me. My friends have told me they saw me on T.V and they are really happy. My parents cannot believe their own child can become such a success. They are happy.” Olajumoke, who is said to have little or no knowledge of English Language, has been offered admission to study proficiency in English Grammar and Communication, and One-on-One Total Personality Development at Poise Graduate Finishing Academy. With the guidance and help of T.Y, Olajumoke has scored some modelling contracts, a luxury home and a fully paid scholarship to complete her education. Stanbic IBTC under the Stanbic IBTC Education Trust Fund has offered to pay for her two children (Precious and Grace) aged five and one, until University age. She has become the new face of Payporte and some other top corporate brands.
Man is a product of encounters and God will only raise men through men. T.Y Bello saw her when she was still invincible to the world. We all need someone at every junction of our lives to help us rediscover our self-image and identity in moments of crisis. The greatest treasure of life is the gift of people that will never give up on us regardless of any situation; people that will inspire a healthy self-image in us. T.Y has a special gift that we seldom find in many people, she has a way of seeing the beauty in others. What a monumental beauty that would have been wasted if T.Y Bello was unable to see a model in the bread seller!
“The sign of a beautiful person is that they always see beauty in others.”-Omar Suleiman
I really want to use this platform in reaching out to the youths. Don’t ever allow your condition to determine your destination and if you have ‘bought’ that lie that you’ll never amount to anything, the truth is that: YOUR LIFE IS BIG – far bigger than you’ve ever imagined! Steve jobs once said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” On that fateful day, so many voices tried to shout her out of stardom but she stood her ground and took that photoshot that eventually shot her to prominence and limelight. If she had listened to those voices that were asking her to leave the scene, she would have forever remained a bread seller! My personal advice to Olajumoke is to focus more on building her character and attitude than revelling in her sudden rise to fame.
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