An incident struck me when I was in primary school, I was at the gate of my school waiting for my dad to pick me up when I saw a young girl whose face was familiar in my neighborhood, she walked pass hawking some goods and I tried to wave but you could see the sadness on her face. This was properly the beginning of critical inquiry for me, Why wasn’t she in school? Recalling similar incidents too, I further asked, why do I see so much unfairness? Was there anything that can be done about such? Who is responsible for making changes? Is it the government as I saw in newspaper? Community leaders? Who?
Reflecting on the probable response to these questions, I found a bit in my upbringing, my father was an ex-policeman, who encouraged self-organization when the community we lived in was experiencing high security challenges such as robbery, looting and the likes. The men and women came to our house for meetings and discussed probable solutions such as doing household shifts for night watch, acquiring safety ammunitions, security training among other things. This got me thinking about community-based solution and leadership, if they had waited for the government to provide patrol cars for police officers and relied on them to provide security, we would have incurred so many damages and loss of lives.
My mum is also very influential to the values I hold dear; she is strong, diligent and multifaceted. She makes our house welcoming for such community meetings, any other home functions and at the same time, she excels as a businessperson, caring mother and attentive wife. She makes me see in a beautiful light that leadership is not gender limiting and. In fact, my parents brought me and my outstanding brother (who is now a medical doctor) with the same amount of love and our differences were uniquely celebrated.
At a juncture in my life, I began seeking God about concerning purpose, and the question what do you live for? Was at the core of my heart. I became very aware of a purposeful lifestyle and found my vision statement in Isaiah 61:1-3. This has been a driving force even in the face of counteracting situations and opposition; it can be referred to as spirited leadership, when one has a deep conviction in the existence of a higher authority and as a constant source of inner strength, direction and courage irrespective of the storms. I ended up with a deep sense that I cannot change my entire world but by God’s grace, I will contribute my quota and overtime Banner Unto Nations Foundation was birthed .
Going back to one of the questions, who is responsible? The body system comes to mind for me, every part has a function. Everyone from individuals, to communities and the government has a role to play. For sustainable change to occur, it must cut across all levels. Relatively, I learned a lot as a child from the community based solution because it speaks volume about the power of collaboration. We all have to come together and fulfill our parts, which is the essence of collaborative leadership. More so, I remember a proverbial statement from my home tribe “Omode gbon agba gbon lafi da ile-ife”. Contextually, this means in order for us to get to our destination, we need the wisdom of the young and old to build. Meanwhile, I will add that, we need a world where males, females, the young and old can celebrate each other’s uniqueness and still explore our common grounds to build a better and sustainable world. In addition, despite the terrible things happening in our fast changing world, we need to hold on to the deep conviction that ‘light’ ‘good’ always prevail.