Last week, I wrote about my thoughts on being an African and how I would love for my children to learn about their Africaness when I do have them. As you see, I do not yet have children of my own but I am already preparing for the future. I’ve selected some probable names. That would do for now.
Well, talking about my African heroes, I met one of them last week in the most interesting of circumstances. They say big things come in small packages and so truly is this hero of mine.
Standing more than five feet seven inches tall or there about with hair the colour of grey, he is one man that has seen it all and in the course of a brilliant career as a public servant has wined and dined with the high and mighty all over the world.
Notwithstanding his small size, he left a tremendous physical impact on me when I shook his hands. I was forced to grimace at the firmness of his grip when he held me. I had to commend him on him on that.
Like I wrote last week, dreams do come true. And no one has it happened to more than me. Here I was standing in a room packed full of seasoned diplomats, reputable public servants and private business owners awaiting the arrival of such an accomplished fellow. It never occurred to me that I would meet such a person this early in my life. But meet him I did and we even exchanged a few words.
I tried to get him to grant me an interview but he excused himself referring to a busy schedule. I had told him of how his life has inspired and keeps inspiring young people like me to wanting to live above mediocrity. He, like a man who hears such remarks all the time, nodded in a practical manner. I was awed by his mien. He looked so much at home in the presence of an ordinary citizen as he would be in the presence of the American President or the Saudi King.
I was drawn to him. I put forth the question. “Sir, can I get to interview you so you can tell young people about how it was you made it this far?’’, I asked.
He looked me in the eyes, genuinely, and said, ‘’well you know my schedule makes me to travel all the time so I cannot really stay in one place’’.
I was shattered. Disappointed. In my mind I had already started to think of my great fortune. Not only would it have been a big hit getting an interview with the man but just the thought of hearing him tell story would have made an everlasting impression on so many young people who aspire to his kind of greatness.
My disappointment was only for a moment though as the sincerity in his voice soothed every pain, I dipped my free hand into my pocket and brought out my card. I gave it to him and he collected it. I asked if he would be kind enough to give me a call some day soon when he would be opportuned to grant me an audience. He said he would. I thanked him and left to return to my place allowing him to respond to other guest.
One of the organizers of the event who had already told me he hardly grant any press audience walks up to me and commends me on my bravery. I told him that there is no harm in trying and that being a journo has taught me to never imagine impossibilities. He pats me on the back. The party comes to an end.
I see my hero walk away with his wife beside him. I walk out alone into the cold. I flip open my mobile phone and dial home.
‘’Did you know whose hand I just shook? You guess’’, I tell my friend just then realizing the enormity of what had just happened to me. I walk into the car, taller than my six feet one inch frame.
As the car made its way home, all I could think of was, how cool would it be if Mr. Kofi Annan has one of his aides call me for an in-depth interview. I know that dreams do come true. I’m waiting.
Graduate of University of Lagos and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife. Chief Editor, Goal.com Nigeria edition. Former Online Editor and West African Correspondent based in Ghana for TELL Magazine, Lagos. Alumnus International Institute of Journalism (INWENT), Berlin; Reuters Foundation and Agence France Presse (AFP) Foundation. Photographs published in USAToday, BBC Focus on Africa magazine, AllAfrica.com, The Guardian, ThisDay, The Punch, Showbiz and Daily Graphic (Ghana). Photos exhibited in Krakow, Poland. Nominee Journalist of the year at The Future Awards, Nigeria 2010.