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

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