It’s the eve of my 25th birthday, and the fact that I am that young, or that old, is a surprise to many depending on how I have portrayed myself to them. Through different social media platforms, I relate and interact with people of different cultures, languages, religions and status and I have come to realize that while we know so much about one another, depending on how open each has decided to be, there’s still so much we don’t know about the person at the other end of the connection.
So I decided to take time out, using the occasion of my 25th birthday as an excuse, to write about 25 things my friends, especially those I know through social networks, probably do not know about me. They are random, and they are trivial, or maybe not…….
1. My full name is Ogunyemi Olaitan Bukola Akande, I was born on July 1st, 1987.
2. I wasn’t born in a hospital; I was born in a church! Mum had her ante-natal at Jericho Hospital, Ibadan but when time came for her to deliver she didn’t have the N6 that the hospital usually bills for deliveries. So she went to CAC Oke-Iyanu, aka CAC Obadare at Sango, Ibadan, and put to bed there.
3. I walked at 9 months. My hair was unusually long at birth that our neighbours nicknamed me ‘Joshua’. I look very feminine, even till now, especially when I let my hair grow long.
4. I was very stingy as a child and cried a lot. Only my mum and my eldest brother could back or pet me. I cried so much as a child our landlord then nicknamed me ‘keroro’.
5. I speak and write Yoruba almost as well as I do English, and I dislike, passionately, people who can’t write and or speak their local language, especially if they grew up in their locality.
6. I wasn’t given any Christian name, none at all. So I adopted one: ZERUBBABEL. Why Zerubbabel?
7. I hawked for about 7 years (1993 – 2000), whatever you can think of: iced water, fairly used clothes, bags, shoes, food…..
8. Hawking taught me so much about life, endurance, sacrifice and survival. I have fond memories of those years; I had fun and learnt so much, I got exposed to and related with different people. Walking all over town for several hours everyday with loads on my head brought out the resilience in me that has helped me cope with life’s challenges.
9. I dropped out of school for a year due to lack of funds (2001/2002).
10. During that drop-out year I read the complete works of Williams Shakespeare (the original archaic English version) all his plays and poems, EVERYTHING.
11. Also during that drop-out year, I wrote my first book (unpublished and lost): an adaptation of Late Wale Ogunyemi’s play, Obaluaye.
12. I have read at least 2/3 of all books published under Chinua Achebe’s African Writer’s Series initiative. I read most of them during my Junior Secondary School days and I would tell my friends about South Africa, Kenya, Ghana etc as if I had been there.
13. The first time I entered a proper library, I was 15 (2002). My eldest brother took me to Osun State Library, Oshogbo. I asked him if anyone had read all the books in the world, he said it’s impossible for anyone to do that, so I decided I’d be the first person to read ALL the books in the world.
14. I started using the internet in 2002. That’s pretty early for someone who grew up in Oshogbo; I was the first person in my school to have an email address.
15. I studied Biochemistry, not Medicine, not History, not English and no, not Literature.
16. Sometime in 1997 out of boredom, I took my mums Yoruba bible and read it from Genesis to Revelation before the end of that year. I read the English bible in 2006 from start to finish. I read the book of Proverbs every month.
17. I have written to Barack Obama 8 times, I am yet to get a reply.
18. I was shortlisted for Shell Scholarship in my First Year at the University (2005) alongside about 9000 other Nigerian students. We were asked to write an aptitude test to determine those that’ll finally be given the scholarship. My centre was a school at VI, Lagos, and that was my first time of going to Lagos! On the exam day, a Saturday, before the exam started I saw a group of UNILAG students treating GMAT questions so I joined them, I didn’t even know what GMAT was, I had never heard of it. I had one of the highest sores in that test. Check Guardian, Punch and Comet of July 4th, 5th and 6th 2006 respectively.
19. I used to read in my sleep. During my First and Second year at the University, I had a reading partner, I confided in her but she didn’t believe. That time I usually wake up knowing two to three pages that I haven’t read in my textbook, it’s almost as if someone reads them to me in my sleep. I have since lost the gift.
20. I have written an average of 500 words per day between January 2012 and now.
21. I am not a nerd. I AM NOT A NERD OKAY!! I know Kanye West is going out with Kim K, and I think Beyonce is sexy. I am very reserved but I am not nerdy, and some people won’t even agree with the reserved part, so I guess it’s all about perspective. Did I tell you I won’t be fulfilled until I watch Man United play at Old Trafford?
22. My aim in life is to influence lives, as many as possible, towards positive possibilities.
23. I used to be a very good, very good dancer. I could do all those Sunny Ade dance moves back then and later started miming Michael Jackson. Now I can’t dance to save my life.
24. The greatest influence in my life, apart from God, is my eldest brother.
25. Have you read The Gospel According To Saint Farouk? Here’s the gist: I had it up in my head on Monday, 4th June and I wanted to type it the following day, but I travelled to Ife on DanaCrashAction assignment and was too tired to type when I got back. So I typed it between 8am and 9am on Wednesday, 6th June and went back to sleep. I woke up at 10am, feeling depressed, posted it on omojuwa.com at a few minutes past 10, read it and saw some typos and grammatical errors, so I trashed the blogpost in anger and deleted the file on my desktop. I went back to sleep, woke around 12 noon and something told me the piece wasn’t as bad as I thought, so I retrieved it from the recycle bin and reposted it on omojuwa.com some minutes after 12. It went viral the following day and I gained over 1000 followers before Friday.
Ogunyemi Bukola (@zebbook)