The Iron Lady – Someone else was once known by that nickname. The first female leader of a major British political party and then the British Prime Minister, Margaret Hilda Thatcher. Like her, our own Iron Lady is known for her uncompromising politics and leadership style.
A public speaker, writer, politician, feminist and founder of the Mary Remarkable foundation, a Non-governmental Organization geared towards nation building and adding value to humanity, Miss Remarkable Mary Akpan carries herself with regal authority and sense of self-worth that belies her age.
Her philosophies, albeit a bit controversial, are ones that if shared by even a fraction of the population, would push the nation towards the point where all patriots wish it already was.
A final year student of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Uyo, Miss Remarkable actually started out as a saxophonist. (Funny right, I couldn’t believe it myself.) This was at about when she was thirteen. By age fifteen, she had discovered in herself a very rare gift. The ability to inspire. This, added to her intense desire to help the needy and a great disdain for injustice, pushed her slowly but surely towards the path she’s on now.
“I wanted to be a lawyer when I was younger,” our Iron lady confessed. (I don’t think that should surprise anyone really. Margaret Thatcher was a lawyer. Crazy right?)
This wasn’t just born out of a desire to correct injustice though. She had gotten fascinated with the uniform of the legal profession. The black skirts and white shirts. It held a special place in her heart. Unfortunately, however, that childhood dream never came to pass. She was not accepted into Law school when she tried.
“I just hate to see people suffer. I just hate to see people treated in a way that ought not to be so…” She’s quoted as saying in an interview in 2018.
“I’m fulfilling that dream (of less suffering and more justice). Not as a lawyer, as a humanist. As a philanthropist.”
After her effort to get into Law school had failed, she didn’t try much harder for it. Another path now called to her. One of public service. It’s the path she’s now on.
Before all of these began to happen, she was already establishing herself as a public speaker. One worth her weight in gold. She got her first big break during a birthday celebration for the Head Pastor of her church, Salvation Ministries. Pastor David Ibiyeome. (She doesn’t say when.) Getting a chance to get up on that big stage in a massive auditorium and deliver her piece shot her farther up than she’d expected to be at that stage.
As she went on, however, she began to realize something about life.
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” She repeats these words to herself and to everyone who cares to listen. They’re words she lives by.
Mary Remarkable Foundation was established and registered in 2015. It currently supplies rural areas with educational supplies and has twenty pupils (and counting) on full scholarships. The foundation also recently held a medical outreach which was able to care for 204 people. Sensitization programmes are also being held for young girls against teenage pregnancy.
The Foundation’s biggest project, however (as at the time of writing) is the building of two classroom blocks in Eastern Obolo L.G.A of Akwa Ibom state for internally displaced school children. These are massive projects for one so young, but she hasn’t been fazed in the least.
“My first challenge was not knowing how to. When I knew how to, the challenge I began to face was lack of funds. But then, I’m not desperate for anything. If I can do something, I’ll do it. If I cannot do it, I’ll stay back.”
And do something she has.
“One of the things I hope to do is make sure our educational system is of standard. Nigeria is where we are because of our educational system…
“If you look at developed countries today, it’s not that they have the resources more than we do. If you look at their educational system, the platform that educates their mind, that prepares them for the future, it is well equipped. So one of the things I hope to do through my NGO is to create more educational opportunities for young people.”
Miss Remarkable has gotten to speak at youth seminars all across Africa. In July 2018, she was invited by the United Nations to represent Nigeria at the International Human Rights Summit in New York. An opportunity she had worked hard to get. Failure to get a visa, however, stopped her from fulfilling a long time dream. After some time of sulking, she is now looking forward and has applied for the Mandela Washington Fellowship.
A proud self-proclaimed feminist who believes feminism is “a struggle for equal opportunities between the male and the female, politically, economically, socially and legally.” She believes that the view of feminism shared by the majority of the populace is warped and wrong.
“Feminism should be a fight for all humans. Not just women.”
She also believes that feminism should in no way affect submission in marriage as this is a God instituted institution.
Miss Mary loves animations. Listening to her talk about Coco and Moana, for instance, reminds you that in more ways than one, she still retains her childlike spirit. She is also very private and prefers to spend her “alone time” alone.
She preaches sexual purity and, according to her, she has never dated. That would seem surprising to most (I can’t lie, it does to me) but at twenty two, she believes she is still in the process of finding herself. She believes relationships are for when that process is complete for both parties involved. According to her, relationships are not for fun. They are for people who are getting ready to build a life together. This, along with abstinence is what she teaches to young people. Most in the 21st century may not agree with her, but this writer does. Completely.
Our Iron Lady has risen through adversity, in a Third World country filled with injustice, ineffective administration, and unequal opportunities. She has stood head and shoulders above her peers. Will her star keep shining even brighter?
Maybe one day our Iron Lady will reach heights unimaginable. Heights that the great Margaret Thatcher only dreamed of. The whole world watches and waits.
Uyo Hosts Maiden Google BizFest in Southern Nigeria
Google’s Business Festival popularly referred to as BizFest will be staged for the first time in the South-South geopolitical region of Nigeria and the third time in the West African country on Thursday.
Previous editions have been held in Lagos State and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The event which is powered by Google’s Business Group (GBG) brings together Executives, Investors, Founders, Developers, Intrapreneurs and Entrepreneurs under one roof to learn and understand how to solve business problems using digital tools and latest technologies.
According to the organizers, the event will feature a Business Clinic, provide participants with the opportunity to network and get exposed to different technologies owned by Google while various sessions handled by seasoned experts will take centre-stage.
Some of the speakers confirmed for the event include:
Chidi Nwaogu is a serial internet entrepreneur, computer programmer, two time recipient of OD Young Person of the Month and first place winner of the OD impact challenge 20118.
He started his entrepreneurial journey at the age of 16 with the creation of 9ja Boi interactive, a video game development company.
Chidi would be speaking at #BizFest19Uyo on the Topic: “How to build a thriving Tech Business with little to no external funding”.
Nsikak Thompson is an Android Developer currently leading Android teams at StartHubTech & Alta Labs. He is also co-leading a community of Google developers in Uyo, Akwa Ibom, Nigeria.
He has worked on team and individual development projects to deliver secure, robust and usable products.
At #BizFest19Uyo, he would be speaking on “Digital Transition- Mobile First”, which would cover why business owners should consider making their online businesses more mobile-friendly.
The event is expected to commence at 9:00 am.
Pen Pushers Wrap up Patrick Albert’s 6-year NUJ Tenure with Victory [PHOTOS]
Pen Pushers provided a deserving end for the outgoing Akwa Ibom State Nigeria Union of Journalist’s Chairman, Elder Patrick Albert with a 1-0 victory over Champions Breweries FC in a valedictory match at the Uyo Township Stadium on Monday.
Champion Breweries began the encounter with business-like determination, dominating play for the first ten minutes and had the Pen Pushers defending resiliently to foil series of attack by the beer brewing side.
A moment of carelessness by Champions Breweries backline gifted the Pen Pushers the only goal of the game as The Ink’s Ubong Inyang lashed perfectly on a fine ball from the left to beat the opponent’s goalie before Centre Referee Zechariah signaled the end of the first half.
In the second half, the Pen Pushers motivated by their lead pushed for the second goal of the game but had their efforts foiled including a penalty taken by Ubong Inyang which hit the left top corner of the woodwork with Breweries’ Goalie rooted to the centre.
The opponents were revived by the miss and terribly pursued an equalizer but the resoluteness and desire of the Pen Pushers to ensure Patrick Albert’s tenure ended on a victorious note maintained the score line and gave the media administrator and his family (present to watch the game) a perfect bow.
Mfon Patrick Proves Technical Acumen
Meanwhile, Pen Pushers Head Coach, Mfon Patrick managed the team to their second victory since their emergence. Earlier this year, the pen Pushers had emerged victorious over their learned colleagues, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) FC. The Media Manager of Akwa United proved his tactical acumen by choosing a formidable starting XI that repaid the faith he reposed in them.
Excel FM’s Kufre Carter was a second-half substitute but largely failed to justify his inclusion. Abuja based Aniekan Udofia, Media Aide to Onofiok Luke, member representing Etinan Federal Constituency in the National House of Assembly was left on the bench while Comfort FM’s Raymond Ita and Radio Nigeria’s Samuel Maurice watched from the stands.
Sweet Father, I no go forget you
Captain of the side, Bassey Ibiatisuho, a Sports Presenter on Planet FM shocked fans after the game with the writings on his undershirt which read, “Happy Birthday Daddy!
According to his facebook timeline, Bassey’s Dad was birthed in and clocked 68 today.
The Sports Presenter was commended by the NUJ Chairman for his role in the emergence of the team.
More to come…
Bonero Cakes And The Rise Of Cakemania
When an Electrical Engineering graduate becomes a Cakemaker, sparks are bound to fly. I thought I had seen cakes until I saw Bonero’s. Mr. Unyime Bassey is the owner and CEO of Bonero cakes.
A graduate of the department of Electrical Electronics engineering of the University of Uyo, he is a perfect example of the saying that what you study in the University doesn’t necessarily determine what you’ll do for a living. Hailing from Ibiono Ibom L.G.A of Akwa Ibom state, he started making cakes in 2009, immediately after secondary school. An errand boy for his mother who is a “hobby baker,” he delivered his first cake in 2012, a year after he’d started the University.
When asked in a recent interview with Samuel Maurice about how he ended up diving into cakes, he replied.
“Did I dive into cakes? I’d like to say I dived into engineering. If I knew (then) what I know now, I think I would be doing cakes all my life. I love engineering of course. Engineering is creative, amazing, but I love cakes, not just because of money. It’s kind of a passion to me because I create stuff with my hands and I make people happy everyday of my life… So I didn’t dive into cakes. I went into the industry because of passion and that’s what has kept me.”
Being the futuristic, forward-thinking person he is, he already saw himself delivering thousands of beautiful, tasty cakes, hosting amazing shows and empowering people when he was still an amateur who didn’t even have enough money to purchase an electric oven. This characteristic in himself is what he wishes to see in many others.
Bonero wasn’t always his first choice for a company name. In fact, it wasn’t even an original nickname. It had been given to his elder brother in secondary school. When he got admitted into the same school, it automatically got transferred to him.
J Bonero (Junior Bonero) everyone called him. A name that stuck (without the J of course) long after he’d left secondary school. As an amateur baker without any real company or even a hope of one, every cake he made and delivered was automatically tagged a Bonero cake.
And so when he tried to start a company with the name 007 Cakes (due to his love for fast cars and the James Bond movies) after it had become obvious to him that he had a future in cakes, he couldn’t. No one would let him. Bonero cakes had already become a brand. So in the end, he gave in and went with it.
“The motto of our company is Bringing Thrills To Your Taste,” he likes to say. A motto that everyone that has ever seen and tasted his work agrees is well deserved.
Bonero cakes didn’t start without it’s challenges. It had its fair share of ditches and pitfalls. (Maybe even a little more than its fair share.) The first of these was family.
Who becomes a baker when their school fees is paid for them to be an engineer instead?
The family didn’t like the idea of combining baking and school at all. They felt (and correctly so) that baking would become a big distraction. Over time however, passion shined through and the family, seeing this, finally had peace.
Another challenge was what the young CEO termed “The Nigerian Factor.”
“Power supply, bad roads…” he went on to explain.
“So you do a very cool cake and it spoils on the road. Just because you’re leaving the house to go outside, your cake is gone. You know? So, bad roads, light. I didn’t have an oven so I had to bake with my stove. It’s a long story, trust me. But I tell my students that I delivered a lot of wedding cakes with a stove. Bakers out there, you understand what I’m trying to say. Where you’re trying to bake a five-tier cake, and you’re baking one after the other with a stove. So a stove would take four to five hours to bake one big tier of the cake. Meanwhile, somebody else has spent three hours to bake (the same cake).”
He talked about a lack of workspace early in the business, and the experience of being looked down on due to his age and seeming inexperience.
“Pricing also was a problem,” he said, “because you walking in and pricing (haggling over) the cake, telling this guy, the cake is a hundred and twenty thousand (naira) and they look at your shoes.
“‘Are you going to take sixty thousand (naira)?’
“Ok. I’ll take it. So those were major challenges for us.”
He went on to share one of his most devastating experiences in the cakemaking business.
“I had this cake, a very huge cake. And uhm, I finished the cake. I think I worked on that cake on my birthday so it was exciting for me. That was in 2016. So I worked on that cake on my birthday, so you can imagine that friends will be calling, text messages will be rolling in as you’re working, so it was fun. Trust me, I loved it. But after doing that cake, I realized the next day, the cake couldn’t come out of my room. First disaster. It couldn’t come out of the room. I would either (have to) break the door or start afresh… So the next day I worked afresh on that cake. Now the next day, after working, uhm, that was a Thursday (first cake), Friday morning, we reworked the cake. Saturday was delivery and on the way to deliver that cake, I had an accident because of the bad road. So some parts of the cake fell off and so I had to go to work the cake again at the wedding venue.”
As a young baker, experiences like those were not so uncommon but each new one came with a lesson.
His favorite cake he says, was his sister’s wedding cake. Made in April 2016, it was an eleven tier beautiful monstrosity of about 4.5 inches per tier, with three cake separators of about 5.5 inches each. He poured his heart and soul into it, he says, and the smile on his sister’s face was worth all the painstaking hours he spent on it.
He tried to make the cake again for an exhibition but gave up at tier number eight. According to him “passion finished.”
Even though she was family, he treated her as a client and made sure the work was perfect. He does this with all of his family members who commission him to bake them a cake. (He does show a little favoritism though with the price when it’s family but then, who doesn’t?)
Cakemania 2018, a cake show/contest the baker himself hosted which featured a congregation of bakers old and new, experienced and inexperienced, amateur and professional. It was born of a desire to bridge the gap between wannabe bakers and those already established in the field.
In Mr Bassey’s own words,
“Cakemania was as a result of what I passed through in the cake industry. I was a very young guy. I am a young person still, but imagine when I started 6 years ago, I was way younger. And I faced a whole lot… So Cakemania came as a result of the things I passed through when I started. People didn’t believe in me. People didn’t believe I could deliver. Why? They’re not seeing me do stuff. They’re not seeing me do gigs, because of course I didn’t have a platform.
“How will you see that I can do a ten tier cake when you don’t give me the contract? So, Cakemania came as a result of me trying to bring these young guys and putting them on a platform to showcase that they can do it. And also Cakemania came as a result of trying to bring mentorship to these younger guys. One of the reasons I suffered was because I lacked mentorship.”
Mr Bassey did eventually get a mentor. Mr Eso Effiong Eso. Someone he looks up to a lot. Who always has something to say to him with each step he climbs, up the cake industry.
“Bonero cakes gave birth to Cakemania. But Cakemania, by God’s grace, has been able to stand on its own and is its own brand. Cakemania is now promoting Bonero cakes even if Bonero cakes is the father to Cakemania. Both of them are okay together and there can never be a conflict.”
Cakemania has had its own challenges. In addition to a lack of belief in the project, there was also a lack of support. Over four million naira was spent on the show and so funding was also a challenge. Sponsors ( one of whom was Mr Bassey’s mother) contributed a great deal to offset the bills that would otherwise have proved an insurmountable obstruction.
Another challenge faced was the problem of pledgers backing out of the show two days, a day, even thirty minutes to the event. Some that actually showed up compromised in some degree. Some more than others.
Even with all of these, the show was an amazing success with contest winners going home with huge sums as well as cake mixers.
A few tweaks would be needed to make the next edition in 2019 an even greater success. Before this though, a VIP dinner/magazine launch has already been scheduled for the 5th of October 2019. This is to appreciate sponsors, participants and supporters as well as help promote Cakemania’s across Nigeria.
Another thing Cakemania 2019 promises to do is show off even younger bakers (kids and teen bakers). “Big bakers” will also be brought in to train the young, inexperienced and amateur ones.
When asked if he wasn’t bothered about the fact that he was raising and training future competition, Mr Bassey, classy as ever, revealed a lot more about his personality with his reply.
“I can never stay in my comfort zone. I hate it. When I do (stay in my comfort zone) I feel like I’m sleeping. Like I’m sleeping on top of a bicycle (that’s moving). So, I see it more as a healthy competition. In fact, my dream is to see these guys do better.”
What stands Bonero Out?
Even with a lack of big expensive gadgets (at least for now), Unyime Bassey has shown himself to be someone who can thrive. One who seduces the eyes and stimulates the imagination with an exciting array of colours, designs, and concepts. This has caused people all over Uyo and Akwa Ibom in general, to fall over themselves, gawking at his masterpieces. To put it simply, everyone is just in love with Bonero right now.
The rise of Bonero is a story of triumph over adversity. Of a willingness to give up so much for a dream. The story of an ability to entice the world with sights that dazzle and tastes that titillate. The rise of Cakemania is looking like it will take a parallel path.
How far can this young man go?
How high can he climb?
From what this writer has seen so far, the limit looks high up in the heavens. And reaching it doesn’t look at all impossible.
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