2020: Nípa ìfé Olùgbàlà

Bumping in 2020 would not be an erasure of the past that I grappled with till the end of 2019. This is why we need to be sober about the flip of the calendar as old habits hardly change overnight, the old issues never die. It requires intentionality that accompanies discipline to flip the script of human behaviours and the emerging context, as humans, we know not of.

I came into the year, furious with deep betrayal. I was really sad that while I tried all to protect my name — a family name — and keep my family away from evil people who hunted for our downfall in their wake, my own blood was wandering away into the limitless pit called forex trading. It ended in tears. I wrapped myself up in that couch, sobbing loudly, the last time I did of such volume — the passing of my father.

I would think this would be lowest of the lows but this was a foretaste of the year that would choose its path without alarm bells. One might even miss the footprints of 1918 Spanish flu and its debilitating effect in history considering how World Wars have been promoted as the highest levels of human destruction. Well, Spanish flu infected over 500m people, with at least 17 million deaths. It would take another century for a pandemic of such proportion to infect the world.

It is hard to take stock of this year with the rounds of tragedies that engulfed the world. I came into the US on March 11, with only my laptop bag after a rushed exit, with plans to leave in 4 weeks after the birth of my daughter, Adesuwa. What a beautiful moment. I would not leave the US till today. I take the little graces of these times being the longest unbroken stretch with my family with so much joy and reflection. After trips to the United Kingdom, South Africa & Ghana, all fitted into 72 days, I would not enter a plane after that trip to the US. The favourite sound — “Cabin crew, prepare for landing” — now a distant echo. The universe begged for rest. I also had to take mine.

All I am left with is gratitude — that breath still passes through nostrils and that life can still cut a meaning while we march on. Everyone around seems to have lost something or someone but who are we- pencils like Wale Adenuga Productions would remind us. We keep faith in abiding grace.

For the little I was able to do with my team — BudgIT expanding to Sierra Leone, Ghana and Liberia, the incredible support of Jamie Drummond & Hamzat Lawal to explore a pan-African project, the unending development of Kwerty that left me with huge lessons, being part of a Swiss-based civic startup (Restate) and the good health of those around me — I seek gratitude. I am thankful for my wife and daughters, brothers, sisters, friends and colleagues. Mó mò l’ore.

I have my seasons of regrets. All that stock market boom left me without hitching on the wagon. Well, the crypto market is also on a bang but the gyrations of the market do not even have my visible hand in it. I held tight to the little I owned, haunted by the fleeting nature of the market that I saw crumble early in the year. I will take the lessons and be bold again.

I want to do more on measurement — writing down goals, tracking expenses with vigour, crafting diet and exercise plans, and standing firm and present with loved ones and being there for those we call friends and family. These require discipline, a trait that I have to remind myself as a series of deliberate and timely habits. I might have crafted a detailed Excel sheet to measure but who knows what 2021 bring? The beautiful curve balls that projected into straight lines — passing of my father, the coming of my second daughter and her amazing growth, a world in a lockdown with nowhere to go — are all testament of growth and reminder of the words of the Good Lord: be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

We can only trust in the abiding faith of the Almighty, and also draw strength from the sober hymn that reflects the times, that Nipa ife Olugbala (by the timeless Love of God), all will be well.

Nigba ife Olugbala,
Ki yo si nkan
Oju rere Re ki pada
Ki yo si nkan
Owon l’Eje to wo wa san
Pipe ledidi oor’ofe
Agbara lowo to n gba ni
Ko le si nkan

All the Glory: God

Friend of the Year: Niyi Agunloye (because an old friend is forever a friend and reminds us that loyalty is timeless)

New Friend of the Year: Tito Aderoju(We met on the #FixPolitics project and despite the age gap, I marvel at her simplicity and energy)

Book of the Year: Factfulness by Hans Rosling (A gift from the Gates Foundation’s Goalkeepers event. I had a very poor reading culture in 2020)

Tweep of the Year: @Feminist_co (their work to provide support to young Nigerians that found their voice against the brutality of police oppression is incredible)

Person of the Year: Chikwe Ihekweazu (Leading an under-resourced agency with the mission to coordinate Nigeria’s response to a pandemic is worthy of praise. The commitment of daily data is really welcome)

The happiest Moment of the Year: A visit to Downing Street in January. Beautiful.

The saddest day of the Year: The publication of a coerced story from brother. A very low moment.

Song of the Year: The Blessing — Kari Jobe, Elevation Worship, Cody Carnes

Bible Verse: If we are faithless, He remains faithful [true to His word and His righteous character], for He cannot deny Himself. (2 Timothy 2:13)

God's Unfinished Sketch. Policy & Data Wonk. BudgIT Lead. Ashoka, Aspen Voices & Knight Innovation Fellow

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