One Year Later
Since returning home from Philadelphia, what has been your most successful achievement or accomplishment related to leadership in civic engagement?
When I got there, I was just getting started with the project and since then I have been able to network and work with people working in psychiatry. Sometimes it is difficult if you are not able to make connections with the stakeholders. I have been able to help other young people understand how they can be part of the change. I was elected to the Mandela leadership board in Nigeria, where I have learned how to work with leaders. Either you are a leader yourself or you are a follower, but here I am leading other leaders. At first with this work, Covid-19 was initially a problem, but I have learned to see it as an opportunity. It has affected things because no one is looking to buy art, hospitals are not working well, etc. But I have learned to draw inspiration from within and asking others what they are doing to help me find more innovative ways of thinking. From that, I have two exhibitions coming up in October and December. Usually you don’t have time to create, but the pandemic has given me so much time to work on my artwork and has also made time for me to be able to be a mentor to a 13-year-old artist.
How have you engaged with fellow MWF alumni since returning home?
I have other MWF from my cohort engaging on social media and we keep in touch about what we are all up to and how we can collaborate. I met one fellow from 2018 at Drexel online and we are working on a collaboration in the next few months. She is also involved in healthcare and I am hoping to engage people creatively in outreach. I have also been working closely with Debbie on our projects, helping each other with our projects and talking about our energies and mentally helping each other.
Have you maintained contact with people from the Philadelphia area, if so, who and how?
I have been in contact with about 5 people regularly. One is an artist from Mural Arts and we tried to put in an application for reciprocal exchange but are now filling in the gaps and figuring out other ways to engage when not accepted. I have also been speaking with Marilou, including on a zoom call on leadership and innovation for the Mandela Fellows. I have been speaking with one woman working on environmental project that we were supposed to start in April, and another artist who was in Philly at the time but has since moved to Delaware, and she is also Nigerian.
What do you miss most about Philadelphia and Drexel?
I miss millennium hall! I loved that space, because that is where we all connected and it all started, I loved it so much. I miss 7- eleven and their chicken. Even the air. The air in Philly smells different. The gym, barns and noble, so much!
Talk about your 3 biggest take-aways from your time at Drexel and the Fellowship.
1- When you are faced with problems, you need to look within. I found most of my answers among the other fellows when I had problems of questions I was facing. We do not need the American answer, we need to leverage more the ideas that we have and look more to Africa to solve these problems.
2- The desire to sell did not show much in my work. Entrepreneurship can make it easy to be selfish but I have learned more to look at the impact that it has on those around you than the business of it. I now focus on how to use art to drive a message – you using what you think you know to solve that . The overall aim is to make society better.
3 – As young people we need to be more and more committed and involved in what goes on in our community. There are people who are not really concerned on policy and impact here and don’t want to contribute to the process. There needs to be more participation and we need to engage our law makers. The senator who came and we were able to ask questions and test him. You have to follow what the law
makers are doing and understand what policies and laws mean for the people, and challenge their laws and policies.
What would you pass on to future Drexel fellowship cohorts?
The world is not ever going to change until change happens to us as individuals, and when we stop seeing it a certain way. If I can work on myself, I can make change.
I want to use the practice of killing twins to make a statement on it with art. Even though it is a cultural practice, not all cultural practices are beneficial, and the killing of twins is one of those things. I got the idea of the wall murals in Philly – with a historical link and a piece of art that comments on it. This is a way to make a statement on something cultural.