Pardon my silence this past week. I was working on my vision 2020 for Isioma Style Report. I love what I do here, but if we are going to take this site to new heights, well, it will start with a vision. So yes, I took an entire week to work on my vision. It is simple really, its my tagline and something that I truly believe that I can do no matter how long it takes and here is why. Africa has over 1 billion people. No one and I mean know one speaks to the interests, whether its in fashion or design or eCommerce or even employment of Africa’s people as key partners in the global fashion industry. Isiomastyle is poised to do that and so much more by 2020. It will take a lot of hard work and sleepless night, but lords knows that I am well prepared to do so, thanks to the team of people I am working now to assemble. They are architects, neurologists in the making with a killer artistic side waiting to flourish (Hi Ada and thanks for the image of Liya), people in the school of business, psychology and yes even PhD students. By the will of God, we are going to use this platform to begin to tell a different story about Africa’s strength, our sense of collective agency, the spaces where we flourish and the things that matter most to us. If only I could share, then you would truly get what I am saying. But then that would be stupid of me, because I know that there are people who visit this site daily to steal my ideas with no credit (you know who you are). So pardon me, but I am not ready to share. One thing I do know, is that God willing, I am poised to change the discussion on Africa. I don’t know how long it will take, but it will come to fruition one day as long as God is my witness. I have to keep invoking God, because the vision is beyond me and it will take supernatural powers for it to come to pass. The only supernatural being I know is God.
I grew up in a fairly large town in Lagos, in a space where I was allowed to dream and make some choices for myself. It was in this town that I spoke my mother’s tongue and played with sand building things I never even knew existed. My childhood was fairly simple, but it also taught me death. I knew from a very young age that something you love can be gone in a twinkle of an eye and so it is extremely crucial to guard the things you love with all your heart. We called her MamaOcha and she was a woman worth knowing. To be in her presence was to feel loved, never mind that it may come in the form of old Abacha (the cassava and coconut in water) sitting in a bowl underneath her bed, or Oha soup cooked with her little green stove. I would learn about me, my strength, the power within me from this woman, because if she never persevered, I won’t be here today. They say you never forget the very day when as a girl, you discover that the blood gushing from between your legs are a sign of fertility. I owe my experience to Mama Ocha. I don’t take it lightly, but I am here today because of her. It would also take Mama Ocha, 20 years, 20 long years before she gave birth to her first child so much so that her middle name when translated from Igbo to English means “WHOEVER THOUGHT THAT JULIANA WOULD GIVE BIRTH TO A CHILD.” See mother and child together, years later and see if you can recognize the stylish little bow-legged girl in a lace frill dress below.
See stories like this are all that I need to get by because everything I may currently be going through now, is so little in comparison to what Mama Ocha probably went through. She was the first wife with no child. Do you know what that means in Igbo land? Some of you may know, but in case it’s not clear, it meant that her husband, who was a titled man, had to marry another woman so that his legacy would remain intact. He married 2 more wives. Mama Ocha watched as they given birth to about 10 children and she helped to raise everyone of them as if they where her own. When I think of this, I am reminded by the verse in Jeremiah 29, verse 4-7, verse 7 in particular says to; ‘Seek the welfare of the city where God has sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.” This verse personifies Mama Ocha’s life to the fullest. She did not grumble or fight with the other wives, in fact they were best of friends till the end, often relying on her daily for advice. She never ever gave up on her hope of one day giving birth to a child. This hope would one day come to pass, although it took 20 years in the making.
I share all this with you because I know what is in me and I know what I am capable of doing. It will take time, hopefully not 20 years, but even if it does, the end result will be worth it as Isioma’s Style Report will be recognized and celebrated at “the voice of African Fashion.” So my question to you today is: what’s your vision 2020 for the things you love to do?