Exceptional Strides of a Young Nigerian

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Godbless Eduviere writes on the extraordinary strides of a very young and vibrant Nigerian, Antoinette-Rita Okeyemi, a Law graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science whose show of brilliance and creativity have paved the way for her globally

There’s no doubt that Nigeria has the finest talents in the whole world hence we are found in every part of the world and in notable positions for our knowledge, academic excellence and creative talents in various endeavours. Thus, one great and fascinating example includes a very young and vibrant barrister, Antoinette-Rita Okeyemi.

Okeyemi, who started writing poetry and songs at the age of six, is a Law graduate of the prestigious London School of Economics and Political Science. She obtained her LL.M master of Law from the University of Chicago Law School, and has been called to the Bar of England and Wales. She is also a Civil and Commercial Law Mediator, and has been recognised widely for her academic excellence, passion, uniqueness and creativity.

The great lawyer, author, poet, songwriter, musician and empowerment speaker is a proud Nigerian, who said, “Even though I was born in London, I am very proud that Nigeria blood flows through my veins”.

Okeyemi discovered her talent for writing at age six. “Actually, when I was in primary school, my teachers gave me a certificate that says Antoinette-Rita is a great writer. So when I took the certificate back home and showed my mum, my mum thought I had good handwriting but it was later on that she realised that I can write poetry, songs, and music”, she said.

When she was at the age of 12, she was actually invited to the Young Poetry Award held in Florida, in America and she won and from there her mother realised that she has the gift of writing and can write her own books. Realising her potential, Okeyemi started taking all over the world with her love for poetry and for writing.

Her first book which she titled ‘Purple And Blue-Inspirational Poems’ was released in 2008, before her 18th birthday and her second book which she titled ‘Blue Ocean’ was released in October 2011 and launched in London by former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obansanjo who wrote the foreword to the Blue Ocean.

She also released her third book, which she titled ‘Stella-Her Journey And Her Legacy’, which is the first biography of late Mrs. Stella Obasanjo, to mark 10 years since she passed on. “I was really honoured to be given that kind of privilege to write about her because nobody has ever written about her. This is the first book on her life and it came as a surprise knowing that there’s no one out there who has written about her, so my book is very original. It’s a book of reference that people can go to read and learn about her and also look at their lives and see how they too can shape their lives around the way Mummy Stella Obasanjo also shaped her life”, she added.

She resounded that there is no right or wrong when it comes to writing because writing is your expression. “As an artist, you are the painter, molder and the potter and it’s up to you to be able to create whatever you want to create. And if you are in a particular mood of feeling or a particular emotion, or you want to talk about your friends, your family, love, religion or God, just write”, she added.

The astonishing, hard working young lady who is currently working on a journal said, “I flipped back to my journal, and I realised what I did but it’s not just about knowing what I did but also knowing that I have a flare for writing ”, she added.

Speaking of her source of inspiration, she said her mother is her source of inspiration for writing. “I will call her Mama barrister because I am a barrister”, she proudly continued, “She is just a faithful woman of God, a woman of wisdom, and a blessing to others who does not let the circumstances surrounding her to hinder her ability to help people”, she added.

“I am a success story because of my mother, she is the one who has made so many sacrifices for me to be who I am today. Without God using her as a person to be my mother, I wouldn’t be who I am today”, she said.

The circumstances surrounding the condition of Okeyemi’s mother prompted her to cause a change in the so-called stigma that is attached to disability to make a change for her people, Nigeria. She said, “I really have to make a change for my people. To let them see that there’s more than someone’s disability; there’s ability behind one’s disability. My Mum is my biggest source of inspiration, despite her disability”.

The heavily gifted writer and barrister spoke quite well and proudly about her beautiful mother and her unique potentials as well. She seems to have derived lots of strengths from her, which also helps her in her carrier as a barrister, poet, empowerment speaker and a singer.

Her greatest influences in her career, she said is God, her heart, family, and friends and of course, her fellow Nigerians. She added by saying that when she sees the struggles that Nigerians go through, she just feel that there’s more she can do and that’s why she is actually coming back to do her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Nigeria so that she can contribute to the economy of the country and to the socio-economic welfare as well as to be a voice to the voiceless and hope for the hopeless.

No doubt, the young and beautiful writer who is heavily bagged in wisdom does not only have dreams for people but also the drive to see her dreams come true. Thus, when THISDAY reporter asked about the challenges of combining poetry, law and music, she said, “I wouldn’t say that there are challenges because if you have a passion for something and if you love doing what you are doing, that is success”. Indeed, for the young barrister, writer, singer, and empowerment speaker, passion has been the drive.

Still speaking on challenges, she added by saying, “Everything complements each other. As a barrister, being a writer helps on how to write my arguments and submissions to persuade the court, my opponent and the jury. More so, being a poet, an author, musician and an empowerment speaker helps me with my oral and inter-personal skills so everything together compliments each other”, she professionally added.

Okeyemi started coming to Nigeria at the age of 11 and by the time she became a teenager, she realised that she can do something for Nigeria but it wasn’t until she finished her Masters in Law at the University of Chicago Law School that she realised that she can actually come back to Nigeria for her NYSC to make a revolution for her people.

Apart from all these unique potentials of the great lawyer, singer and writer, Okeyemi said, “I understand my language very well and I can cook delicious Nigerian food as well because my Mum, who is a true Yoruba woman thought me”.

The amazing empowerment speaker, author and poet appreciated that Nigeria is beautiful. “I came back to do my National Youth Service Corps and also do Law School here in Nigeria, knowing that by taking these basic steps, one day it’s going to be for the better and I will be able to make a difference”, she added.

Comprehensively, Okeyemi’s mother was her eye-opener and role model as they both have same passion, dreams, and purposes towards Nigeria and the world at large. “My Mum has a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) for disabled people both registered here in Nigeria and in UK. With my role as a lawyer and as an empowerment speaker, I want to be able to utilise what I have. My ability and my talents so that I can help people realise that there are disabled people in this country who are starving, begging, they don’t have shoes on their feet and been seen as outcast and it’s not right because they are human beings and God loves them. So my coming back now and realising that I really love my country, is down to my mother, to the fact that I know my language and culture, and the fact that God actually opened my eyes”, she said.

Speaking of her achievements so far, Okeyemi said she has won so many international awards, and even in Nigeria. Her extraordinary intelligence and amazing talents have driven her far beyond expectations that she even have encounter with prestigious people like His Excellency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Queen of England who has also written to her, Prime Minister of United Kingdom, David Cameron during her 21th birthday, ambassadors around the world and many more. Apart from above listed, she also won the honorary award of the celebration of women’s history, Miss Africa USA organisation as the outstanding young women leaders in a series of weekly inspirational journals.

As for her music, she said, “I have recorded tracks and demo and there is no reason for me to stop writing and I know that God will continue to grease my elbow in order for my mother’s hard work not to be in vain.

Speaking on how art can be used to heal the world and make it a better place, she said, for one to paint a picture or write a story, it comes from within you through your emotion. You can feel and emphasise with people. Therefore, you can put yourself in other people’s position and in their own mind and know what they are going through as you can sense and feel their pains because you can write about pain in papers or even draw about pain in a Canvas.

“Art is a very valuable tool and it fascinate to the people whether you are drawing a picture of somebody, or you make a stature of something and then, people can look and say it looks beautiful but there are stories behind every creative work that inspires artists to do what they do.”

Okeyemi has done so much so far for Nigeria. She has a poetry workshop in Ayetoro in Ogun State. “I really want to encourage the masses and children because they are our future generation of mutants”, she said. She gave them books and told them that she will be there for them. She is indeed a woman of great esteem, whose desires are not only to encourage youths with her great works but also to effect change in the lives of many, especially in Nigeria.

Such a distinguished and heavily gifted young lady with greater passion for the less-privileged, orphans and the world at large is a great seed that should be emulated, commended and recognised time after time for her good works and dreams she has cultivated for this great nation, Nigeria.