What a great day, I shouted from my bed around 6:30am in room 202 of the world’s only 7 star hotel; Burj Al Arab, Dubai United Arab Emirate. I wonder how all my nights on earth could have been if I have to the opportunity to sleep in this luxurious apartment. May be that was why I woke up late…smiles. I am so excited and I see it as a great privilege not to only lodge here, but to meet and network with the who’s who of the world. It’s Friday 6th March 2020, I thank God for bringing me thus far, and all in my mind is my presentation today at the Gulf Photo Plus Conference for the next two days. I am also eager to meet my mentor; Mr Seun Akisanmi, who is a Guest Speaker and would be speaking on “The Business of Photography”
As I prayed, my phone rings; picking my phone during prayers isn’t an option so I waited patiently till my prayers ended only to check after to see that my wife was the caller! Apparently, she thought I had forgotten my duty of calling her every morning – I never can! The view from this magnificent building overwhelmed me that I forgot to call her early. Although, she does not like it when I travel for long especially for my documentary projects, she supports and loves my works. I quickly pick my phone to call her back; with great enthusiasm, she calls me by my pet name and I smile, calling hers too.
My wife reports about how our twins passed excellently in their last examination and I cannot but congratulate her for her motherly supervision. My project tour has taken me away from home for 2 months now. In fact, she describes how proud she was when Taiwo won the award category of the Overall Best student in Science and Kenny; the Most Creative Art student in their school’s annual award day. It gladdened me to hear that. Without hesitation, I told her about the referral I got. It was the portrait I took Magaret Chan, the former Director General of the World Health Organization at the World Economic Forum annual meeting some years back that attracted and made their Executive Board to invite to cover this 2020 annual meeting. It took quite a while for my wife to remember the experience I had during the shoot because she knows I have quite a huge portfolio of dignitaries.
Interestingly, I had a research on the nature and weather of the whole continent of Asia that had to be submitted to the National Geographic Magazine by the end of April. Although, I had traveled to about seven countries in Asia sometimes last year, I could not continue because of the cold temperature at the mountainous far North of Burma, South East Asia that really affected my health. Therefore, I had to finish up my conference here and quickly travel to Cambodia and Cyprus, which I didn’t forget to tell my wife. I had also been granted by the Prime Minister of Lebanon to take the pictures of the hills and people they want to put in their new 500 Lebanese pound currency, marking their 77th year of Independence from France.
I had been so engrossed in talking to my wife till I noticed the time was 8:14 am. Wow! I had to end the call in the midst of the conversation in order to prepare for my presentation which was scheduled for 11:00am. It was time to check my mail. I get loads and loads of mails on a minute basis that it gives me quite an ache having to check these mails one to another. The moment I opened the mail, my attention was drawn to a particular mail. I had received a mail by the largest photography and imaging show; PhotoPlus International Conference + Expo in North America, if not the world. I’ve been asked to be one of the Keynote Speakers in that year’s October conference. Apparently, they’ve would have seen my works on Al Jazeera recently about “The Beautiful Drug Addict”, the documentary about the Columbian women. I took the portraits of teenagers and women into drugs and their involvement in drugs and crime, in the view to attract humanitarian intervention.
Consequently, another mail that got my attention was the one from the World Health Organization which was inviting me to become one of their Ambassadors in Africa. Wow! This to me was a great opportunity indeed. In fact, this to me is a dream come true; to be a Diplomat of internationally recognized organization. Actually, this may have been as a result of the documentary I did in the remote areas of Ogun state, Nigeria and Mindanao village in Mozambique about “Combating Child Hunger” in 2007.
At 10:30am, dressed up and ready for the D-day and at my door step is one of the organizers of GPP, Dubai conference. Opening the door, I found out that there are also about four protocols to guard me through the elevator. I never know I am this so influential in Dubai too. Sir, we have a limousine ready for you downstairs and it’s going to be a 5 minutes drive to the event centre, the organizer said. 5-minutes limousine drive! In my mind, I thought this would have been an over-pampering technique for not paying my Speech fee. Arriving at centre, seeing the welcoming team gives me another perspective about my life. This is an ovation I never received in my entirely life thus far. My presence attracting the press around the world, with flash lights on me here and there, I stepped to the red carpet for a couple of interviews. I try to imagine the numbers of cameras with burst mode towards me. Looking ahead to seeing my most humble mentor, Mr. Seun Akisanmi, with his customized designer jacket coming down from his BMW 9 Series, I marveled at such the huge crowd that rushed at him despite the Guards, Police Officers and Security Experts around him. I quickly rounded up my interview to meet him. Very elated meeting me as a Guest Speaker too, he cracked a joke and we laughed together as we walked inside together.
The peak of it all was that the award category as “The Photographer of the Year”. As the nominees were called, I panic and as eventually my name was called, I stood up in enthusiasm to receive my award. After the whole event, I was taken back to my luxurious room. I stood at the mirror to magnify my creator for such a great privilege of this achievement. Thanks to the people that helped me thus far; Pastor Sam Adeyemi, Pastor Bola Odutola, Rev’d Folajimi Sadiq, Mr. Seun Akisanmi, my family and most beautiful wife.