Ronke Alao’s Burden of Freedom


The day had finally come when my stay at eloPhotos as an intern would come to an end. Six months had gone by like the breeze but not without an impact. It was just like yesterday when I started out as a young and innocent student, (I am still very much young and innocent). 

Six months of learning, meeting interesting people, improving my photography skills, learning some accounting skills, learning to work effectively in a male-dominated office and with a boss whose personality is shrouded in mystery. I almost felt I had to take a college course named, “Understanding Mr Seun”, to even begin to unravel the mystery. 

I once had my sister in-law ask me if I was going to “do freedom” at the end of my internship program. She was referring to the ceremony that typically holds when an apprentice finishes his/her training. Though it sounded amusing at the time, I think there is some truth to the fact that I have attained a level of freedom. 

Freedom from having to leave home 5.30am and engage in the undesirable rush for a vehicle to get to Ketu; freedom from having to ride in buses that are three-quarter-filled with green plantain instead of humans, (Buses from Ketu heading to Ogba do this to me); freedom from being the “chief accountant” at eloPhotos and dealing with colleagues that aren’t sometimes helpful when it comes to keeping the books; freedom from washing the eloPhotos restroom every week and whenever a ghost uses it without flushing. So many things to be free from but what does it really mean for me?

In life, I have come to learn that freedom in itself can come with its burden. The higher you go, the more responsibilities you have. A servant/slave doesn’t have to think much or worry. You have your tasks laid out for you. Nothing is left to the imagination so you just keep working. I was no slave at eloPhotos and I had to engage myself mentally and sometimes emotionally, to accomplish the tasks set before me but sailing out on the boat of “freedom” to run my own show makes me aware of this thing called the ‘Burden of freedom’. 

When I wake up at 5am on Monday morning and remember I don’t have to be at the office or struggle at the bus stop; when I realize that the clients I will be negotiating with henceforth, would not be eloPhotos’ clients but mine; when I realize what I now do with my waking moments is left to me and I can’t blame Mr Seun for encumbering me with tasks, thereby preventing me from reading or doing whatever or when there is no boss to reiterate the need for me to practice on my Camera. Yes, the burden of freedom stares me right in the face. Not that I don’t know what to do or how to move ahead in this phase of life. I do and perhaps that’s the challenge.  Not knowing what to do can be a beautiful comfort zone that I sometimes wish I was clueless. 

The burden of freedom; it is knowing that you are free and answer to no one yet your freedom compels you to want to be a servant who serves others and bring them to the light of God whether as a photographer or writer. It is knowing that, though you are free, you were purchased with a price and your life is not your own. You still answer to God Almighty, the one who wakes you every morning and keeps your heart pumping.  Also, it is knowing that my destiny is somewhat attached to someone else’s and I need to take action on why my creator put me on this planet.

As the Burden of Freedom stares me in the face, I refuse to shrink back knowing it’s a good kind of burden. One that propels me to be all I was made to be and touch the lives I was made to touch in this journey called life. As the congratulatory messages roll in and farewell tributes drip like honey, I say to myself, “Ronke, bask in the euphoria but not for long. There is work yet to be done”. 

Ronke Alao
Founder, Everywoman’s Heart
http://www.everywomansheart.com

Life Lessons From Van Damme & Volvo Trucks


By the time you’re through reading this and watching the 77 seconds video embedded within, over 10124 people would have been inspired to be the best at what they do.

It happened on November 16. As I logged unto the University of Internet to get my daily dose of inspirational education, I stumbled upon the 77 seconds video that Volvo Trucks did with Van Damme. I did not hesitate to click on the link and within one minute of watching it, I discovered that the teary gland in my eyes had resumed from their 5 month break; I was in tears.

Now, wait a minute before concluding that this Seun Akisanmi is too teary for your liking. You see, I’ve been on a recent journey to learn and digest as much information as possible that will help me in the pathway of destiny that has been set before me. Hence my reason for ensuring that I’m connected to an internet that will be a platform of continuous education for me. What stood out of the advert and jumped right into my face (hence causing the tears to burst out) was a lesson God had been impressing on my heart lately: the importance of being the best at what you do. Eventually if you’re diligent at harnessing the talents & gifts that has been entrusted into your life (and don’t you dare insult God by saying you don’t have any gifts/talents), eventually you will stand before kings and not mere men. Here was Van Damme, an actor that many of us have associated with martial arts fight scenes in movies in the 90s. What on earth is he doing associating himself with Volvo Trucks?

Apparently, there must have been a marketing meeting at Volvo trucks months ago when someone popped up a question: “Which brand can we associate our brand with that will ultimately help increase the sales of the latest edition of our trucks?” A few names popped up but Van Damme was concluded on for reasons only known to them. Perhaps it was because he happened to be one of the very few celebrity actors that could perform such a stunt. Perhaps because he doesn’t seem to have a notable stain on his image/brand. Either way, I’m sure Volvo Trucks is impressed at the amount of views the advertisement is getting now.

Consequently, I resolved to be consistent at whatever it is I’m doing now that many people might consider irrelevant (albeit they’re very relevant to my distant future). I resolve to keep writing, training and inspiring people to stand out and be the best at whatever they do (not just photography). Eventually, my seemingly tiny steps of dedication and commitment will get the attention and audience of the people/organization that matters. And although I might not be driving fine cars or using the latest photography gadgets now, theses steps of dedication will ultimately lead to me having to choose which company’s ambassadorship proposal I want to go with in 2020. It was almost as if all the years of practicing that particular stunt seems to be paying off for him now.

I was reminded of the poem I recited at a recently concluded Leadership Conference. I had written the poem (Corruption: Not an Option) approximately 9 years ago. I had even recited it about 5 times within the last 9 years. I eventually gave up on poetry because I felt it wasn’t bringing food to the table of my family of 4. After the recitation I did on November 6, I got a call from a gentleman who asked for my full name over the phone. He asked to see me in person and when I eventually saw him, I was thanked for being a blessing with the recitation and given an envelope that included a check that will put food on my family’s table for 6 months. YES, 6 months feeding allowance. In my heart I fainted when I saw the figure. I almost thought there must be a mistake somewhere. I was getting rewarded for a 5 minute poetry recitation (that took me 2 weeks to compose in October 2004) with an amount greater than what some wedding clients will pay eloPhotos for their wedding photography. I was shocked. I was in tears. And I was inspired to utilize to the greatest heights all the talents that has been entrusted within me.

And that is why I cried when I saw the Volvo Trucks commercial. I’ve watched it over 10 times in the last 3 days and each time, it moves me to inspirational tears. I will be the best at what I do. I will not just walk past on the sandy path of life, I will make a mark. I will not just be a photographer, father, friend, cinematographer, poet or son….I WILL ADD the word “INSPIRATIONAL” to all those roles. Enough of my babbling. Watch the video.