Sometime in April 2013, I had an interesting friendship experience that I may never forget until I’m 197 years old. You see, I have a weakness: my MEMORY. I hardly forget things. I remember things that happened when I was 18months old, 180months old and 18yrs old. On this particular day about 72 months ago, my definition of FRIENDSHIP was eternally readjusted.
Twas less than 10 days to the widely publicized maiden edition of Nigeria Photography Expo & Conference. We were expecting the likes of Joe McNally, Jide Alakija, Michael Grecco & Wale Ajao as part of the speakers that will be coming from outside Nigeria. I was a little taken aback as to the reception of the program and didn’t believe that many in the photography industry would believe it was possible to have such a platform whereby enthusiast & professionals could meet, network and learn.
It was my biggest leap of faith ever. My psychological mantra then was that if I bit more than I could chew, God would chew the rest for me. I seemed to have been wrong. I was almost N15 million in debt and it was looking like God could not even chew up to N2 million for me. I mean, what type of a God was that, I thought. I was yet to pay for the business-class ticket that will bring in Joe McNally. And I was beginning to get worried.
Putting the conference together had brought me to limelight and it seemed all of a sudden many people wanted to be associated with me while many others were upset with me for not slating them as one of the speakers of the conference. I was more surprised at the people that were upset with me than I was at the people that suddenly became my friends. I would eventually get to know more about one of the friends I got closer with.
A friend/senior colleague in the industry called me one night that April (2013). I could still remember the walls of the restroom I was in. I could still remember the blue drum where I would fetch water to flush the toilet. I could remember the….all those are inconsequential now. What matters is that I remembered the first question the “friend” at the other end of the phone posed: IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO TO HELP REGARDING THE CONFERENCE?
I was glad someone was offering to help. I was quick to mention that I had not gotten enough sponsorship funds to pay for Joe McNally’s ticket and the conference was less than 2 weeks away and I was afraid that…. My Oga at the top responded with a statement that made my heart sink even though it may have been intended otherwise: GOD IS YOUR STRENGTH. I didn’t understand. How dare you ask to help me and not offer to help me when I mentioned the area I needed help? How come he did not even explain that he did not have 2 kobo because he was as broke as I was and could not… Why did he even ask me if there was anything I needed help with? What hurt me the most was when he ended the call by telling me he just called to see how things were going.
I wished he had not called. But then again, I thank God he did. Over the years, I’ve since realized that your life tends to get attention when you’re doing something of great worth and value. People that aren’t close to you suddenly want to be associated with you. I once had a cousin who called me only to mutter words that left me in shock: SEUN PLS TALK TO THIS PERSON AND TELL THEM THAT WE’RE COUSINS BECAUSE HE’S ARGUING WITH ME THAT THE CONVENER OF NiPHEC IS NOT RELATED TO ME BY BLOOD.
People want to be your friends only when you’re doing great things. Especially if it aligns with their desired goals. Especially when they see that you’re in the news being celebrated for good things. And then I remembered how they wanted to make Jesus King just because He fed them with bread and fish. Bros J just escaped them cos He apparently knew their hearts well enough to know that they had selfish motives.
Over the years, I’ve learnt that the best of friends are not necessarily those that surface when I’m being celebrated. They’re not those that claim to be my cousin or my classmate in secondary school or my primary school teacher. Over the years, I’ve learnt that those that are my friends INDEED are those that stick out for me even in my trying times. I can’t forget the likes of TCROWN who donated her 1st salary so I could pay off some of the NiPHEC debts I eventually incurred. I can’t forget the likes of Femi Adewuyi, Ofure Akisanmi, Tolu Akisanmi, Toyin Biyi, Kikelomo Woleosho, Mosope, Tope Adeniyan, Bode Adeshina, Bukola Portharcourt, and a few more whose name seem to escape my memory now. I’m not saying that I’ve not enjoyed the support of BIG names out there, I’m just saying that my definition of FRIEND INDEED was altered that very day in April 2013.
Maybe I was also not a friend INDEED to many. To an extent that was true. But on that very night in 2013, I made an unconscious vow to be the definition of a friend INDEED to the best of my ability whenever a friend is INDEED in NEED of a friend INDEED.