Monday, 8 July 2019

‘WIDOWED NOT WITHERED!’ GOZIE, CREATING WINDOWS OUT OF WIDOWS




It was the public presentation of the book ‘Widowed Redefined’ and the official campaign launch of Widowed Not Withered held on July 7, 2019 at the Platinum Hall, Our Palace Event Center, Ikeja.
Keynote speaker, author and the Chairman 

It was an opportunity to show the world how Bar. Gozie aka the Soup Mama is changing the narratives and dealing with the stigmatization against widows by redefining the mind of ‘WIDOWS’ to become ‘WINDOWS’ of opportunity and helping them see that they have values and can move up forward to a higher and better next level. The Chairman of the day was Dr. Daniel Uzodinma Young, the Keynote Speaker was Mrs Ibukunoluwa Abiodun Awosika, The book was unveiled by Mrs Nkechi Harry-Ngonadi and yours truly Dr. Raphael James was the Book Review and I did justice to the book. I was made to understand that the book was handled by Chinonso Ogbogu and his team. The event had two comperes, male and female, the male was Mr Alfred Ononugbo while the female was Njideka Raleke-Obiora, who made me change my name to James Trillionia. There was also beautiful Lady Tara, who rendered some wonderful songs with her guitar. On ground for protocol, access and security was Bell Protocol & Security Services. Two photographers covered the event, Master Ikemsinachukwu - Nigeria’s youngest professional photographer and lady Vivian Nwobi.

Madam Modupe Ehirim doing the opening prayer

After the opening prayer that was performed by the delectable Madam Modupe Ehirim , guests were introduced and Lady Tara entertained the guests with her music. The MC read a brief profile of the author of the book, thus:

Barrister Gozie is an attorney, social entrepreneur, philanthropist, human rights advocate, public speaker and a change agent. She is the founder of SoupMama Igbotic Kitchen and the Executive Director of KONZ Consulting Ltd. She co-founded Healing Hearts Widows Support Foundation Inc with her husband Chief Emeka Udemezue where she works with her team to provide support, inspirations, mentoring and hope to widows and their children. She currently sits on the board of two international non—profits  organisations. In July 2016 her profile was read on the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington DC in recognition of her work with widows. She holds a Master of Laws degree in Human Rights Law from Queen Mary College, University of London.  She is an alumna of Gold Star of the US Department of State International  Visitors Leadership Program and a fellow of the Africa Leadership Institute of West Africa under the Aspen global leadership program. After her brief profile, she was called upon to give her welcome address,  the author who insisted she was not going to read from a typed script, but she had this to say:
 
Bar Gozie giving her welcome address

“It is my pleasure to welcome you all to the public presentation of my book, Widowhood Redefined!; thank you very much for finding time to be here with us today. I would like to extend a special welcome to our keynote speaker Chairman of First Bank, Mrs Ibukun Awoshika who will be speaking later on the program. Today is a very special day for me. As a child, I have always had special interest in helping widows; I fondly recall running errands for widows and helping the aged in doing their domestic chores. I always had a deep sense of accomplishment any time I helped a widow, the smile and laughter on their faces always made my day. But little did I know that God had a plan which came through in 2008. Eleven years ago, we registered Healing Hearts Widows Support Foundation in answering the call to bring succor to widows. As we moved from one community to the other, we touched the lives of widows and their children. And we sincerely thought we had done enough until I became a widow in 2013 and realized first hand the pains, troubles, rejection, despair, desertion, mockery, disappointments and challenges of widowhood beyond classroom theories and compassion which I had for the widows I helped as a kid. To the glory of God, I emerged stronger weathering every storm that came my way as a widow and also lifting those who may have lost interest in life and faith in God as a result of widowhood. However, I knew I could do more; I knew I can reach more widows and spread the message of hope and resilience if the limitation posed by distance is removed. I know that my personal experience, exposure and education can be of immense importance to the widow mother of Musa at Sabon gari Kano who does not know where she would get the next meal for her family. Another widow called Iya Kayode who lives in Ikole-Ekiti needs a message which will awaken the sleeping giant in her so that she can excel and give her kids the best life can offer; the same is applicable to mama Chidera who has been evicted from her matrimonial home in Onitsha by her brother-in-law because her husband is dead. These widows may be weighed down but they are certainly not withered nor finished. They may have lost every strength to live but with the right message and approach, they can become successful. This is the message of hope Widowhood Redefined! brings to all widows. Widowhood Redefined! aims to help widows of all creed, race, tongue and stature to rediscover themselves and their role in the society; it wants to give widows a new mental shift that will raise their quality of life and that of their children to dare and surmount all alps of challenges that may come their way. It is my firm hopes that this book will definitely change the concept of widowhood and make widows the pride of the society. I would be fulfilled when each copy of this book gets to a widow and change her life for the better; so, distinguished guests help me reach widows out there by getting this book across to them. And God will mightily bless you as you do so. I would not end this speech without acknowledging the support I received from individuals and organizations too numerous to mention in making the book and event, a reality. I appreciate your support and kindness. Thank you very much for coming once more and God bless you.”
Keynote speaker Chairman of First Bank, Mrs Ibukun Awoshika

The keynote speaker for the day was Mrs Ibukunoluwa Abiodun Awosika was the next person to take the microphone after a brief of her citation was read. We were told that she is the Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria, the third child of seven children, born in Ibadan, she attended St. Pauls African Church Primary School, Lagos and Methodist Girls' High School, Yaba respectively before she proceeded to the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) where she graduated with a B.Sc in Chemistry. She holds post graduate and MBA certificates upon the completion of several business programmes at the Lagos Business School and IESE Business School. She did her NYSC compulsory service, as an audit trainee at Akintola Williams & Co. upon her love for architecture before she left for Alibert Nigeria Ltd. as showroom manager. In her quest to be independent, she established a furniture manufacturing company called Quebees Limited in 1989 before it evolved into The Chair Centre Limited and later SOKOA Chair Centre Limited following a venture merge with SOKOA S.A and Guaranty Trust Bank in 2004. A fellow of the African Leadership Initiative and Aspen Global Leadership Network, she is a member of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, member of the board of Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Fund and former Chairperson, Board of Trustees of Women in Management, Business and Public Service. In 2011, she co-founded the Afterschool Graduate Development Centre, a career centre established in order to checkmate the high rate of unemployment in Nigeria. On September 7, 2015, she became the first woman to be appointed Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria following the resignation of Prince Ajibola Afonja. She is a member of IESE's International Advisory Board (IAB). She also sits on the board of Digital Jewel Limited and Cadbury Nig Plc. In 2008, Ibukun was among five Nigerian entrepreneurs who appeared in the first African version of the Dragon's Den. She also hosts a T.V programme called Business His Way. She is also an author and has won dozens of awards including: FATE Model Entrepreneur Award of The Year 2007; International Women Society Golden Heart Award 2008; International Women Entrepreneurial Challenge Award 2015 among many others. She is married to Abiodun Awosika with children.
The Keynote speaker, receiving her appreciation award
The Keynote speaker, got an appreciation award and a standing ovation when she was done with the crowd, she challenged every woman to give expression to the divinely deposited talents and abilities inside of them, which shouldn’t die because they are married. In other words, she emphasized the need for women to live their dreams. She told the women never to forget that ‘Before marriage they existed and even after marriage they will still exist and they don't need to pause their life, because they married or because they are in a relationship. She told the men among the crowd that when you are discussing widowhood and speaking out your perspectives, that they should remember that it could be their wife, their daughter or even their sister. She went on to state that the quality of the help a man will get in the day of trouble, is dependent on the quality of helper the man allowed to emerge and nurture from the wife. Any man who tries to stifle his wife’s innate abilities is not doing the wife but doing himself. If a man becomes powerless, maybe he lost his job or something goes wrong, his wife may not be able to help if she is not well prepared for that before then. She told us that ‘A woman who is not empowered to live her dreams, even if she is not widowed, would lack the capacity to take up the challenge of caring for the home, if for any reason the man is incapacitated, loses his job, or business or kick the bucket. "Your wife, husband, children will not be an excuse for you not fulfilling your purpose."
Dr Raphael James reviewing the book

Next to take over the microphone was my humble self for the book review, I started by recalling the story of how I started the CRIMMD FREE SKILLL ACQUISITION CENTER FOR WOMEN in Idimu and how we have managed to train on daily bases over 5000 women in different skills in the last 3 years then I went into the review proper, this is my review of the book:
“The author, while trying to make her readers understand why she embarked on this project introduced herself thus: “I am a widow but I am not withered” the book captured my interest and in 6 hours amidst my busy schedule, I was done with it, I tried to stop but the connections from one chapter to the other kept me captivated.  From her narration she wrote for widows, I am not a widow and I got carried away reading it, so I will tell you one secret, the book is meant for all, widows, widower, married couple, singles and searching, singles tired of searching, it is motivational from chapter to chapter. You know the best way to motivate others is to share your personal experience with them and that is what Gozie did in ”Widowhood redefined!”. Her chapter one and two I felt like she was in my office telling me her own story, as I read, I heard her voice, as she told me how she lost her mum in 1979 and all she went through not giving up and not looking back, how JAMB dealt with her and how she gave JAMB a sweet revenge, she told us how she met with the man who became her best friend, her husband and father of her children and she also told us the sad event of January 11, 2013. Reading through the book, one is made to feel strong and motivated rather than feel pity for the author as she narrated how she faced the reality of life after January 11, 2013, how she moved on, how she managed to climb up on the ladder of life while holding it for others at the same time to climb. To her being a widow was never the end, she kept the fire burning even hotter. The author also took us through a 4 ways self-esteem building patterns, she talked about Practicing self-love, thinking right, looking good and smelling good like the roses always; she encouraged her readers to always step into the sunshine and to set goals and make sure they come to pass. She added some Bible quotations here and there to spice the book up and to help readers to nurture their spiritualties.  Sincerely, after reading this book, I beg to disagree with the author, she noted that this book is all about helping widows break out of their limiting thoughts patterns and behaviors, I will rather say that this book is all about helping mankind break out of their limiting thoughts patterns and behaviors. The ‘I can do it spirit’ just believe in you and go for it. This book, will inspire you, provoke you, educate you and equip you to break loose and see not just widowhood but challenges in life not as a time for you to turn off your light but a time to brace up and live your best self. I recommend this book to all and sundry, it is quite motivational and very educative; it is a book that will change your life positively, if only you can read it.”

my commendation handshake from Mrs. Ibukun Awosika
Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, the Keynote Speaker, before she left the venue, walked over to my table and said to me: “I love your review, brief and straight to the point and you captured all that you needed to capture.”



Unveiling of the book by Mrs Nkechi Harry-Ngonadi and her supporters


There was a crowed capacity of about 150 people made up of the likes of Modupe Ehirim, Salt Essien-Nelson, Amb Unyime-Ivy King, Chinyere Anokwuru, Princess Ify Chukwudolue Nkechinyelu Ebenebe, Chigozie Onuzuliike, Amanda Ezekwe Sam-Wobo, Chichi Eriobu, Juliet Chioma Ezeigwe Ifedy, Dilichukwu Al, Ifedy, Chisom Udemezue Njideka Raleke-Obiora Emmanuel Bountiful Lilian Nnamdi Wasiu, Chichi Eriobu, Henry Essien Nelson, Amb Oluebubechukwu Sharon James, Uloma Naomi James

  
A section of the crowd 

Lady Tara doing her thing on the guitar

official campaign launch of Widowed Not Withered! by Salt Essien-Nelson and her team 

Two young authors in the house, Uloma Naomi James and Amb  Oluebube Sharon James 

Amb Unyime-Ivy King and her team

Madam Nkechinyelu Ebenebe, Bar Gozie and her daughter Engr Chisom Udemezue

Madam Chinyere Anokwuru, Princess Ify Chukwudolue

Bar Gozie and her daughter Engr Chisom Udemezue

Gozie described the event thus: “The love I experienced here brought tears to my eyes” meanwhile the train is set to move to Enugu and 17 other countries that have opened up for ‘WIDOWED NOT WITHERED! by Bar Gozie to do her book tour.

‘Widowed Redefined’
Photo credit: to 14 year old Nigeria's youngest professional Photographer Master Ikemsinachukwu Jordan James 







Read More »