For my thirtieth birthday, I have decided to write a thank you note to the people who have, in one way or another, helped me get as far as I have come in my work life.
I don’t have a specific reason for focusing most of my gratitude this year on my work life, other than the fact that I know, and have always known, how fortunate I am to have had so many surreal experiences that still leave me gasping, “I did that!”, half in disbelief, half in amazement, and completely awash in gratitude.
So, as I mark this birthday — the milestone that is the beginning of my thirtieth year, I wish to express my gratitude to the forces, seen and unseen, that have brought me here but especially these amazing people who have helped me on my way.
Working with the American Embassy was a dream job, especially for a fresh college graduate and for that I have Rosemary to thank, for encouraging me to send in my resumè, and Florence who was already there and put in a good word for me.
I have Manre to thank, without whom I would not have met and worked with Fadekemi. My time at EVA not only gave me a start in development work, but it also exposed me to parts of this country I would have never dared to go on my own. I grew up so much here and I am eternally thankful for both of these women for the opportunity.
I have the Stears Management Team to thank for granting me an opportunity to use my development degree. Particularly Michael, who I worked with extensively and from whom I learned many valuable lessons that have made me a better writer. Thank you all so much for the opportunity to write and to bear witness to the blossoming of this powerhouse on African data and data analysis.
In 2011, while handing my diploma on the podium of the Community Hall at the AUN Academy, Dr Ensign whispered that she loved my research paper so much. She had taught me Social Research Methods that semester and for my final project, I wrote about the economic benefits of educating Nigerian girls.
We met again in 2016, and this time, I was going to work with her. I do not exaggerate when I say that working with Dr Ensign has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my career. I mean, it was so great that she gets two paragraphs on this thank you note. I dare the Universe to send me more people like her, but until then (and after too, to be honest), I want to say thank you, Dr Ensign, for being such a light in my life and for teaching me how to inhabit the work environment without betraying my heart.
Verse, you are a sage of a man and I am blessed to have met you. Thank you for always having an encouraging word to say. Thank you for being a supportive big brother and a mentor.
MARY IGBAZUA! You are such a positive force. I have you to thank for where I am right now. I also have you to thank for Zanak and the gift that is Adewunmi. You, Mary, have impacted me on a more personal level than anyone else here mentioned and I want you to know that I am very thankful and I am excited to see soar because you are deserving and the world is brighter with you in it.
Ade, thank you for not taking no for an answer. Thank you for the opportunities, thank you for your friendship and I thank you so much for being such a generous person.
Rafee, I reached out to on a hunch and you were so kind and generous. I really am thankful for that. Thank you also for trusting that I would be useful to the work you and Oreva had started, and thank you both for inspiring and supporting me on my academia dreams.
Japari, I thank you for Celestine and this other opportunity that I cannot exactly speak on. You are like an angel in the shadows and I am happy you are there and I am honoured that you trust me and believe in my work.
Lastly, and certainly not the least, Celestine, thank you for my foray into the Nigerian tech space. Albeit a brief stint, I am glad it was with you and your team. Thank you also for being open and approachable.
Thank you all for the opportunities you have given me, directly and indirectly, to apply myself in productive ways and for believing that I can.
With so much admiration and gratitude, Martha