Once more, it’s my turn on Nature’s 365 Rotational Policy of Attention and for the first time in a long while, I wasn’t fretting or stuck up on what would form the content of Man In Progress (MIP). For the uninitiated, MIP is as simple as it gets – a year note; and as complex as it often gets – an annual commitment to scribing the eloquence of excellence.
This has been a year of fiery captions, new adventures, treading where angels fear to tread, and getting all the better for it.
For the content, I decided this time I would write for myself, that is significant because apart from MIP 1; the debut ‘album’ and the sophomore, every subsequent releases had been quite intense and less playful. The title and the art dictating the mood, though those are largely influenced by the kind of year I had.
The year of Long Walk to Freedom was one to quickly, quickly forget! Though what I wrote about largely guided me through the darkness, helped me remain sane and made me come out of it armed with more than enough experience to last me a lifetime.
This year’s been a great one by many standards and on all fronts, it has been a quantum leap towards Eldorado. With this 6th release, it’s only right that I should be non-topical, less intense and of course it starts form the title and the art.
The art typifies some of the things I love – white shirt, sunset, heights, and more especially a man walking with a very relaxed poise – like he’s the reservoir for thousands of litres of peace of mind. It’s only fitting because I’ve been ‘accused’ of always have the air of being at peace with everything and everyone around me.
I recently strolled lazily through the streets of Twitter one cold Saturday morning and I saw a ‘Sco pa tu ma naa’ (loosely translated into ‘what does this remind you of?’) post about University life and experiences. Thinking back, I think I had just about the best of it – I gave it all it took and I took all it gave, I wasn’t your regular student. Here’s a roll call…
A two-year run of Student Association posts, class rep positions, organized and taught tutorials, organized dinners, was a worker in my church fellowship, bagged a professional certification, got my first job in final year. Co-started PETRAN – a creative training school, established very loyal, intentional, consistent friendships spanning close to a decade now, had one beautiful relationship I once described her in Man In Progress, I as “cupid’s fine little arrow, deftly crafted for a purpose”.
Back-to-back two HOD Cups, back-to-back co-organized and compered/anchored The Academic Summit – a convocation of arguably the largest tertiary-based media event in Nigeria, compered in one, compered in a separate event, properly debuted into the writing scene with one of my most hair-raising single story till date – My Banana Island Girl, got published in a major newspaper daily, invited to several talk shows on radio stations, ati be be lo.
I really was primed to be the next Barack Obama, or so I thought. Carving my name in gold through public speaking, writing and social commentary; until ‘make the logo bigger’ people took me in the most vicious manner ever. With these men of the Night’s Watch, the dying oath is to keep getting better, there’s always a new software to learn; early mornings, late nights and whatnot. It’s a bottomless pit, laced with small chops, pizza, suya, cakes and a liru bit of Truffling.
Anyway, I’m lovin’ it!
I’m a sucker for long term consistency, if you know me well, you’d have heard me introduce my name with “consistency is key” or “long term consistency ridicules short term intensity”. To the best of my knowledge, I have lived every word of it every other day, even in areas where it’s laughable to others. Imagine eating the same breakfast for averagely 360 days in a year for the 6th year running? Having the same circle of friends for about 20 years? Keeping the same WhatsApp DP for 3 good years? Often, dynamism is necessary, but to Santi, consistency is imperative.
Santi? Was a nickname I got stuck with after a heroic display of superior logic.
I got into one of many intellectual arguments that day, after what seem like a while of back and forth over who had the agency of superior logic, I dropped a really kick ass point; I really can’t remember whatever it was but I remember it was a deal breaker, a novel KO my ‘opponent’ would never recover from. It was at that point pint sized Santi Carzola – a Spanish midfield maestro, was at the height of his career as a really skillful dribbler that year, not as popular as a Ronaldinho though, but he had his fair share of fame.
At the climax of winning the argument, Adeshina – one of the ‘Boys From T110‘ yelled, “e dey dribble argument like Santi Carzola!” The next bout of laughter that followed was thunderous. There! It stuck. Santi!
I didn’t realize how hard it had stuck until when I was in an exam hall and I heard someone whispering; “Santi, Santi, Santi, please number 4 and 7?!”
I looked back to see three utterly exasperated faces looking at me longingly.
I was thinking about how only the night before in a tutorial, I’d stressed that that part of the course be well studied because it’s a ‘sure banker’, when I heard “Santi, abi ki lo n pe e na? [Santi or whatever it is that they call you?] Pick up your stuff and come to the front!”
It was the invigilator that helped me decide which way the battle of morality vs humanity would go.
Years on, these battles would come in a slightly different covering, every inch feeling like the hand of Esau, but every sound still the voice of Jacob.
It’s the battle of wit versus craft.
The two sides of my creative self – writer and art director, often get into a battle of wit versus craft. I like to refer to both of them as Oluranti, the writer and Santi, the art director.
So I have a kick ass story idea, as Oluranti starts out to string the words together; Santi intrudes with a mental picture of how the cover art would look like – the fonts, colours and other design elements he’d use. Then it becomes a question of who can shout more, then it becomes more chaotic, so bad that in the end, nothing tangible gets done.
For one writing idea I had, I had to compulsively insist that it’s just text on white background, nothing more. I had a week-long series of poems I titled ‘For Her, By Her’ leading up to Women’s Day, highlighting that true discovery of the woman-self lies in emotional freedom. Tho’ there’s been calls for it to continue, I don’t think it’ll be coming back – it portrays me as an emotional cry-baby. Maybe Oluranti is, but SuperAkerele would rather walk barefoot on a broken-bottle-littered street first, before allowing anyone hoist that label over any of us.
In these wit vs craft bouts where SuperAkerele is an unbiased umpire, we often end up having a fitting artwork with a half-developed storyline. This is the reason why stories like Letter To My Unborn Son and Sex Life of a Lagos Mad Woman (a Sequel) are still in my drafts, because Oluranti would a rather have a solid story than a solid artwork.
But in Santi’s defense, nobody would even sip the best cognac from a dirty looking pitcher.
In this battle of wit versus craft it’s always a madhouse; in the end, after all that is said and done, there’s more said than done. I need help here with these two guys before I go bonkers.
SOS! Please send help!
I think where I’ve been taught the hardest of lessons this past one year has been on Cupid’s forte. After what seemed like a protracted misadventure, it is easy to turn off all receptors and kick in the heels in defeat – I tried to, but somehow I’m simply not cut from that defeatist fabric. I realized only had to be a whole lot more intentional than I ever was and more than anything, be properly guided by my ‘Big Sky Daddy’. From here onwards, it is Eldorado onwards for the man who God remembers for good.
With Cupid, I have come to realize that indeed vulnerability can be scary. It puts unbelievable weight on your shoulders and makes you take steps into the unknown – but that’s where the real magic is.
Once more, this year’s been a great one by many standards and on all fronts, it has been a quantum leap towards Eldorado.
Here’s to God – my chief muse and eternal support system.
Here’s to Oluwarantimi – my emotional side and witty writer, we’d overcome, eventuarry.
Here’s to Santi – my click-your-fingers-to-the-bone, ever relentless, insatiable art director.
Here’s to you reading this – figuring out this maze called life, may the odds be your favour.
Here’s to SuperAkerele – being purposeful in pursuit, owning his journey like the Man of the Year that he is.
And here’s to God again – my chief muse and eternal support system, whose Spirit leads me where my trust is without borders.