Inauguration Week Through My Eyes!

I had decided I wanted to get a full sense of the experience of the inauguration of the Governor of Ekiti state Dr John Kayode Fayemi and the First lady Bisi Adeleye Fayemi. I had never been to the inauguration of a Governor and this one was close to my heart for many reasons, so I planned to stay the full week and attend as many of the events on the programme that I could survive! As I packed every fancy gown I had in the UK, my daughters went back and took things out (I am not a light traveller). When I would look in my cases, I would find various changes. Sometimes I got mad, other times I figured they knew I was too excited to be thinking clearly. So I set off a few days prior to the event. I arrived in Abuja, met up with my husband for a few days who had been painfully familiar with my exuberance and chatter leading up to this day. As I unpacked and re-packed a new set of grab which was more relevant with the environment and occasion, he would walk past and glance at the swelling of the bags and keep walking. I was eventually ready and set off. I flew to Akure and drove to Ekiti.

Monday Oct 15th, Book Launch

Inspired lecture by the inimitable Poet, Intellectual, academic, humanitarian, Professor Niyi Osundare. He reminded the people of Ekiti who they were, and who they had become over the past four years, and who and where they needed to return to. He warned of the danger and evil machinations of a demagogue. As he gave a description of the workings of the mind of a demagogue I forgot where we were and thought he was describing The President of the US Donald Trump. The name and place was different but the hat and shoes fit; the behaviours of demagogues are identifiable anywhere!

Tuesday Oct 16th, INAUGURATION DAY!

Set alarm for 7am. Typically it didn’t go off! So I was off to a panicked start. Then I got a call telling me there was a slight change to my pick up and travelling logistics. I took a deep breath and gave myself a quick talking to. This is possibly going to be an unpredictable week, definitely an unpredictable day. This is not my turf; I’m out of my comfort zone so get ready for the ride! (I had no idea what was in store!). Won’t go into all the details, don’t think I can fit it in , but trust me when I say the day was an adventure, exciting, nail biting but worth every minute of the roller coaster ride. The swearing in morning was uplifting, sobering and joyful in equal measure.

In the afternoon reception I somehow unknowingly wandering around ended up on the table of the Governor and First lady. When I glanced and realised where I was, I awkwardly asked the Governor if I was at the right place as I sought to excuse myself.  I was aware I knew the first lady but she was not in view and I couldn’t possibly be meant to be sitting beside the Governor. He smiled and in his customary gentle soft spoken manner said I was in the right place, so I relaxed. Well that was short lived! Within the twinkle of an eye I felt my seat rocking and inching forward, sideways…I was on another ride! Throngs of people appeared out of nowhere and all were making a beehive towards the Governor and the First Lady who I was sitting beside…I was obviously in the wrong seat!

As I looked at the faces of the people desperately trying to make a connection with Governor and First lady, as well as those in the larger crowd; what I saw were a variety of emotions. There were eyes that shone like those of a child in total awe. Other faces looked over run with jubilation and excitement, others looked shell shocked. Some looked exonerated and others unbelieving. I wondered what the First lady was feeling, thinking in the midst of the cacophony and blinding lights of the paparazzi. So I leaned over and asked her. ‘Erelu, does it all feel real to you yet? She paused briefly and said ‘NO, you may have to pinch me’. I replied this is the real deal. You made the call, the people heard and they responded. It suddenly got serious. You’re on!

From where I was sitting I knew it was real from the stern and grim glances I was getting from the security personnel surrounding The First Lady. I might have been sitting next to her but I was very mindful not to make any sudden moves that could be misinterpreted. I kept thinking…my daughters will love this story when I get back. Wasn’t too sure I could say the same about my husband but I was having fun! Then as the music got louder and the beats more frenetic I glanced at the First Lady who is known to love to dance and I thought of the Gloria Estefan lyrics that says, ‘the beat’s gonna get you’. Her body started swaying and she was up and off to dance with a flurry of people in tow. The female security of the first lady are gorgeous women, makeup and hair nicely attended to but don’t get it twisted, they are as fierce as their male counterparts!

Wednesday Oct 17th, Town Hall Meetings

More excitement and an air of expectation, mixed with a sense of victory in the air. The Ekiti people have come to see and reclaim their brother, son, uncle, father, their Governor. There is a sense that they are wanting him to wipe away the nightmare of the past four years. For some there might be the realisation they had made a mistake and they are being given another chance (how lucky could they be?). For some they don’t care they just want and expect the Governor to make it all better, to play all roles they project unto him. Erelu is revered and celebrated with near hysteria.

As the people strain to hear everything their newly elected Governor says, it is clear many are fearful of the part they might knowingly or inadvertently played in the debacle of the last election. Those that went all out of their way to champion lies and false stories, those that were heartbroken at the loss of the last election; they were all out there in the crowd. It would be hard to differentiate and apportion what story to whom. I was thinking it would probably be even more difficult to manage unrealistic expectations.  As the faces and expressions morphed from trepidation to uncertainty, there was also renewed vigour and determination by many to be part of the new dawn that is Ekitikete.

As the Governor speaks to his people, he reassures them, soothes them, he is jocular and they in return nod their heads up and down passionately agreeing.  He tells of the parable of the cracks in the wall that allowed lizards to enter. He encourages them that by closing ranks they can keep the lizards out or at least minimize the numbers this time. They equally shake their heads side to side in condemnation of the mistakes make by all and to any potential hampering to his tenure this time around. Yes they are ready for change. But can they handle what will be required to make those changes and any disappointment which there ultimately will be. Time will tell. Now is the time for celebration.

They look on with a new found respect. JKF has remained constant, a man firm in his beliefs, true to himself and his commitments. He is also a man prepared to listen to what his people say they want differently. In line with this he breaks into dance and the crowd are beside themselves with adoration.

From an outsider looking in it is clear Ekiti people are a proud people, a highly intelligent people, and a people with a sense of entitlement even bordering on a tinge of arrogance. Why not if it will raise the level of excellence and achievement for Ekiti and its people?

Thursday Oct 18th Inter-faith Thanksgiving Service

This was for me by far the best event of the week. While I loved the pomp and circumstance of the Inauguration and it thrilled me to no end to see the culmination of all the hard word come to fruition, this day fed my spirit and filled my heart with hope on another level. It was unique in its set up and even more impactful in its delivery by those charged with the duties to bring a meaningful message.

I have always had a love affair with the Arabic language. To me it has a beauty in its sound and it sounds deeply prayerful and divine in my ears. So I am always receptive to hearing it. The pastor gave an impassioned sermon which reverberated throughout the room. The Imam spoke about the similarities, even literal translations of verses in the Koran and Bible. I thought it was remarkable and what is missing in religion today. These men speak the truth. The Imam implored people to challenge their stereotypes and examine the senselessness of hating one religion or the other when they all speak about love, sometimes verbatim. I loved it! I thought his talk should be recorded and played nationally. He wasn’t trying to score points or trying to laud one religion over the other,

It’s hard to get across the power and impact of seeing clerics, imams, pastors, and various religious persuasions all sitting in my opinion comfortably, peacefully together. Some looked on and I was one, in anticipation as to how it was going to work without anyone feeling left out or complaining of not being given equal time. The truth of the matter is that when people come together with the intention of being open and wanting to share a common humanity, preaching love, tolerance and inclusion, things just fall into place. For me this day elevated the week to another level!

Friday Oct 19th… Couldn’t get out of bed!

 

Saturday Oct 20th, Arts, Culture and Talent Fair

Ekiti displayed its finest artistry.  I even managed to forget about my normal terror of Eguns (masquerades) I actually walked along side one of them for half a second then remembered my fear and moved quickly along. Don’t know how I did it but walked the grounds of the Pavillion with the First lady inspecting all the wonderful art and tasting the famous Ekiti agbado (roasted corn) and other Ekiti delicacies…yum.

Then the First Lady went up to the podium to address the people and as she spoke, out of nowhere, with the skies clear and the sun shining a pseudo Tornado just erupted in one corner within the grounds of the pavilion where the event was taking place. It literally felt as if it was dropped in from nowhere…hmmm. I’m sure scientists might be able to explain what elements came together in a matter of seconds to create the force and power of this strange phenomenon. It created some damage of stalls and pots of food were over turned. Obviously people felt uneasy and startled but their First Lady assured them the pavilion was sanctified and all was well. They believed her and we continued dancing to what one of the older announcers called puff puff…he meant hip hop

Sunday Oct 21st, Thanksgiving Service and Reception

The church was packed inside and outside. A wonderful way to end an amazing week, there was so much to be thankful for. We then went on to the reception where people’s plates and cups runneth over!

I hope I was able to bring a flavour of some of the week to you. I know many of you were there in spirit. We felt you!

Ekitikete: The Restoration Begins

 

Gloria Ogunbadejo writes a weekly column for Punch Newspaper. She is a Psychotherapist, a life coach, a holistic counsellor and an ordained Minister. She can be reached at Gloria@AboveWhispers.com

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8 Responses to Inauguration Week Through My Eyes!

  1. Fola Richie-Adewusi October 24, 2018 at 9:51 am

    Wow!! Well captured!! Well done Auntie Gloria!

    Reply
  2. Femi Diipo October 24, 2018 at 10:53 am

    Wow!!! What a week. Such an impeccable narration, I could almost feel myself there and basking in all the merriment and jubilations. My state, Ekiti is going to be great again. What a happy thought

    Reply
  3. Veronica Imaseun October 24, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    I feel left out ooooooo. I love this, and ma, well done. You are very good friend. I can feel the joy from here.

    Reply
  4. shina dideolu October 24, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    we should have pictures o. We need to see you rock.

    Reply
  5. OBO Omoboriowo October 24, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    It must have been a thorough week for you. If you aren’t a politician, you cannot understand the extent at which things are done. I am happy for the New Governor and Erelu. I am sure Ekiti will be better again.

    Reply
  6. Victor Udoh October 25, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    This is succinct and engaging. Thank you ma for going to represent Above Whispers Chapter. Lool

    Reply
  7. Jeannette Akua Eno October 29, 2018 at 10:33 pm

    Excellent Gloria!! Thanks for making the occasion so real for us. God bless Governor Fayemi, Erelu and family.

    Reply
  8. Olakunle Olajide November 13, 2018 at 8:35 pm

    This is beautiful. Reading the story from your point of view felt so interesting.

    Reply

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