Waking up that Saturday morning was a struggle because I had attended a praise concert the night before and I was still feeling very sleepy. However, I had set my mind to attend the Dabira Women Conference because of the panelists that would be speaking.
The panelists were Nkechi Harry Ngonadi, Jodie and Adenike Oyetunde.
I came across Adenike on Instagram and I was shocked at her bubbly spirit and the first question that popped into my mind was, ‘who is this lady?’ and ‘how come she’s so happy despite having just one leg?’
I really can’t remember how I came across Nkechi but I was struck by her smile.
I wasn’t really familiar with Jodie until I read and wrote about her and her special son.
Until that Saturday, I didn’t think I appreciated these women enough, but by the end of their speeches on their pain and their journey to healing, my respect for them shot up.
When they were called to the podium, they catwalked with a smile plastered on their faces – a genuine smile, a smile that makes you think they’ve had it easy all their lives. So, I thought, going by how they looked, the dresses they wore and their lives as seen on social media, until they shared their stories.
I learnt so much from these women but two things stood out for me;
- It is NOT possible to go through life without facing one challenge or the other. Our challenges may differ, but, we ALL are going through one.
- We have the strength to tackle our challenges as given to us by God but our attitude towards it makes us an overcomer or a victim.
Nkechi Harry Ngonadi
Asides being a fashion entrepreneur, Nkechi is known to be a motivational speaker, encouraging her fans both online and offline. Her infectious smile, shooting out her lovely dimples hides so much that one thinks she’s immune to problems.
When asked how she dealt with bitterness as a result of the pain she went through, she burst into tears as memories of the past came rushing and for a moment, the hall was quiet.
Nkechi’s story confirmed the words, everyone has a story.
Telling the story of how she lost her mother at 6-years old, Nkechi explained that her pain was more emotional because as a child that needed love, she got it in the wrong places.
“It led to depression and suicide at a time but thank God for his mercies.”
As the 7th of eight children, Nkechi enjoyed love from her father and her elder siblings, sadly, 10 years later, she lost her dad too.
“10 years later, my dad died and it was so painful because he died in front of me. That day, I had taken permission to go to a party and he had granted me. While I was dressing up to go for the party, he had a visitor. Then, he stood up to get something and I was coming from my room when he just fell down and hit his head on the floor and my dad died immediately. For years, I felt guilty that if I had allowed him fall on me, he wouldn’t have died, because my dad was huge.”
On her search for parental love, she got pregnant for a maried man while in the university, “It was after I had gotten pregnant that my eyes opened. Don’t forget that all I wanted was to be loved. All my friends left me and many said that their parents asked them not to mingle with me again.”
10 years later, Nkechi lost her elder sister who was helping her to look after her daughter while she finished school. When Nkechi left for NYSC, she met a guy she liked but when he took her home, his mother refused because she was a single mom.
Her friends’s mum called her daughter a bastard, and threw her out of their home when she went on a short visit.
“Now, I have faced the pain of rejection, the loss of loved ones and from all of them, I never got closure because it was like going from one pain to another.There was a time that I almost lost my daughter. She had died before me and I had to beg heavens with tears. So, I have dealt with all kinds of pain and I never healed until I decided to finally hands up and let God. I revisited my past and forgave everyone who caused me pain.”
Joy Odiete Eseoghene-Jodie
Jodie’s story tells how we walk away from purpose because of our desires and it is only grace that brings us back.
A pastor’s daughter, her life revolved around the church. But when she got to the university, she decided to ‘have fun.’ She wanted to be a star, so, she went for the West African Idol, a singing competition, which introduced her to the music world. Shortly after that, she dropped her viral song, Kuchi Kuchi.
Despite the fame she got from this, she was not fulfilled. What gave her pursuit for fame a re-think, was when a friend in the industry told her that she had to either be fervent with God or the devil as there was no neutral ground, if she was serious about making it in the entertainment industry. That for Jodie, was a wakeup call.
She also spoke about how she got pregnant before her marriage. At a point, she became depressed.
“Depression is not something that should be taken lightly. It is real. You hear that some people kill themselves and you’re surprised at what made them do it. when I was depressed, I would go to one hotel, my partner knows the place and I would buy blade and start cutting myself,” it was that bad, she explained.
For Jodie, although she loves her son but it did not come immediately. At first, she asked God why she had to give birth to a special son but with time, she grew to love her son dearly and she is willing to take him through life. As the mom of an adorable boy with Lissencephaly and cerebral palsy, Jodie has been brave
Another challenge for Jodie was when she was sent packing from her husband’s house a week to her one year anniversary. According to her, while her things were being unpacked from the car, she did not shed a tear, but at night, when what happened dawned on her, she shed so much tear and this drew her near to God.
Now, Jodie says she has peace, irrespective of what she may have gone through or is going through.
Adenike shared the story of a woman, whose confidence grew out of her pain. At 20, she was diagnosed with cancer of the bone, osteosarcoma, and advised to go for amputation.
As the only child of her parents, who came at old age, many family members perceived her condition as a bad omen and avoided her like a plague. Through it all, she has become strong and isn’t bothered about what people think of her.
“Not everybody around me was good. We are not best friends doesn’t mean we are enemies. I have learnt to choose my battles,” she said, commenting on how nonchalant she is with negative people.
According to her, she’s so protective of her space and doesn’t allow negative people in it.
Contrary to people’s opinion, there is someone who is ready to marry her.