The University of Lagos is widely regarded as the University of First Choice, which parades students with the biggest swag, while some students choose to get carried away with the swag and other transitory things, some other students choose to stay focus and strive to achieve a name for themselves. Tolu George (400-Level Finance) spoke to some UNILAG students who are active in business and their motivation, challenges, passion among others.
It is not uncommon to see youths especially students these days involved in all sorts of atrocities ranging from smoking, drinking, partying and taking hard drugs to being call girls, sex slaves for people old enough to be their parents.
Unconfirmed reports say that these girls are taken to the houses of politicians and top class in the society, where they sometimes entertain the politicians by dancing naked or even sleeping with themselves to the pleasure of these politicians.
Internet scamming popularly called yahoo yahoo is also not a new phenomenon amongst students in the campuses as students now engage in it as a ‘legitimate’ source of livelihood, students who do not have the courage to engage in yahoo yahoo resort to scamming their parents of varying amounts of money, some raise the fees by a margin over and above 100%, some collect monies for non-existent textbooks, while some even go as far as lying against the school authorities all in the name of extorting their parents.
Ask any graduating student what his/her plans are after school and most of them will give the cliché reply of wanting to work in an oil company or telecommunications company even when they have obviously not acquired the skills necessary for working in such companies.
Some students have however chosen to set themselves apart, they’ve decided not to follow the norm, for these students there is obviously no time for engaging in activities like smoking, taking hard drugs, involving in internet scams, sex slavery and a host of other vices. These set of students cannot wait for a government that has so far not lived up to its promise of providing jobs for the people, these set of students do not also want to join the band wagon of undergraduates strutting the streets looking for jobs from place to place.
They would rather be employers of labour than being employees.
For Taiwo, 20, photography is life, “if it wasn’t photography I don’t know what I would have been,” she said. Taiwo said further ‘as a lady I should be spending my money on shoes, clothes and even bags, but I would rather spend my money on buying a very good camera.”
Taiwo, a student of the department of finance decided to start photography during the 6 months Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike. Rather than sit at home and whine over the strike she decided to go to a photography school to learn about professional photography, “my brother really encouraged me during the long ASUU strike not to just sit at home but to do something with my life,” she said. ‘I did not even think that I would take photography as a career but my brother kept on encouraging me and telling me that I would make a good photographer and today I can confidently stand and say that I don’t think I am a liability to anyone.”
For Olumide Olagoke, it is a passion for entertainment. Olumide claimed to be the first comedian to make a vice chancellor (professor Bahaman Bello) dance on stage.
On his passion for comedy, he said “I am talented and passionate about comedy and I am very sure that I would succeed in this game.’’
Yomi, a makeup artist cum fashion designer says fashion designing comes from within for him. “It was a dream at first and then I followed it through,” he said.
Koje brands, Yomi fashion label was launched in 2012, after he had undergone full and rigorous training to be a fashion designer.
When he started the business in 2012, he was making little or nothing. “I would sew clothes practically on credit for people and they would pay me months later.” That didn’t deter him, all he was building back then was his brand and by the time he had done a lot of free clothes and people started to know him, he could now explain to them that they had to be pay before services.
Tobechi and Braid’s new life health initiative seems to be moving at the speed of light despite the struggles and challenges they face. Tobechi, a graduate of Biochemistry and overall team leader started the New Life Health Initiative back in 2012, before Tamuno Braid keyed into the idea and later decided to join in the business. The New life health initiative started because of the need to make people aware of the many health diseases they face when they do not exercise or take good care of their bodies.
As much as the initiative is a passion for both of them they also want to be financially free, Braid said he never wanted to follow the norm. “I knew that if I had followed the normal pattern of finishing school and then looking for a job, I may not really be free financially, I just wanted something different and I think this initiative has so far proved to be it,”
Braid, a 400 level student of accounting says the drive to know more pushes and keeps him in the business.
Olumide said he likes to work with his audience as he draws inspiration from them, “I also draw inspiration from the things I see.”
Taiwo’s inspiration however comes from nature and the environment. She also checks some of her previous photo shoots and works of some great photographers to draw inspiration.
For Braid’s, his inspiration and driving force stems from the fact that he never wants to be so old and weak, “I want to be 100 years and still be able to walk the end of my street unaided.” Braid, thus tries as much as possible to influence people with his thoughts and believe so that they too can grow old and healthy just like he hopes to age.
Yomi, who interestingly loved mathematics when he was much younger, said he gets his inspiration from nature, movies and children and also sometimes from within. According to him, “I don’t have to be in a quiet place to draw inspiration; I could be in a noisy place and still be drawing my designs.”
Its tough says Olumide, “There are times when I have to miss classes because of this job
Yomi tries to follow the principle of priority, as for him, school should come first at least for now, he also tries as much as possible to stay focused.
Braid, who is also a teacher, agrees with Olumide that balancing school with ones passion may be tough. ’There are times I have to miss classes because of the training we regularly go for to equip ourselves”
Braid however says that he has no choice but to balance the two as this his passion and must give it what it takes. Taiwo agrees with Yomi as she also says setting priorities right has helped her so much in balancing school with photography.
For Olumide, a 300 level student of human kinetics and education, the major challenge is finance. “I tell you it is not easy, having to finance myself and also my younger brothers is tough but I am sure I will pull through.”
On the other hand, Braid’s challenge; is that, people don’t yet understand the importance of taking good care of their body. “There have been times we were walked out of offices by security men after presenting our proposal.”
For Taiwo, a street photographer, a challenge is having to combine school with photography and the fact that some of the jobs she gets are usually during exams or test. Another challenge to her is that most people want to take free photographs. “People think everything comes cheap and free,” she said.
A major challenge to Yomi, was that the fact that didn’t have so much money when he started, so he had to struggle and also the fact that he was coming newly into the industry proved at that time, too big for him to climb. “I wasn’t really known so I had to do clothes for free just to convince people that they should give me a shot.”
Benefits so far
Yomi, who said he has made clothes for Denrele Edun, Praiz Adejo, Efe Tommy and other notable acts acknowledges that meeting people has really been a great benefit for him, ’I have a very large client base right now and this has really opened a lot of doors for me”. The fact that Yomi owns his own business and that he can also call himself an entrepreneur also gives him internal joy. Taiwo benefits so far are also meeting people. ’oh I have met a whole lot of great people through this photography’ she said. ‘The fact that people acknowledge our efforts and appreciate us makes me feel good and know that the whole concept is not a waste of time and efforts’ said Braid. He said some companies even go ahead to incorporate their advice into their organization plan and that gives him joy. Comedy has so far been of great benefit to Olumide, as with comedy he has been able to feed himself without depending on anybody. “I can now pay my own fees and also pay my brothers fees. The fact that people can call me from a place as far as India also gives me joy and happiness and makes me look with bright hope at the future.”
Support from parents
For Taiwo, her parents and family have been her pillar of support, without them she would not have made it this big in photography, “my family has been my backbone, the fact that they believe in me even more than I believe in myself has given me the confidence to continue in this line’ She said. Taiwo, who says that her brother bought her first camera, adds that her family keeps on encouraging her and putting her back on the right track anytime she loses focus. Olumide’s mother however did not support him in the beginning, ’The first time my mum saw me on the Television she was so happy and asked if it was comedy that took me to that stage and when I answered in the affirmative she was really glad and started raining blessings upon blessings upon my head, then I knew I had her support.”
Yomi also found it hard to get his parents support in the beginning. ‘It was tough’. He says, ’my mum is a disciplinarian so there were so many rules. But eventually I won her support because she saw that I was making progress and started giving me some leverage.”
Braid however has not told his parents of his involvement in the business, according to him he wants to make it a surprise package for them; he is however sure that if he tells them they will give him his full support.
Dreams and Aspirations
Taiwo, a lover of Aisha Kuta and her works said she would like to be the greatest woman photographer of all time. She also hopes that in the nearest future, some of her works would have been on world exhibitions. “I just want to be a popular photographer, I want people to really like my works,” she added.
Braid dreams of working together with Dorothy to have a wellness centers across the nation where people can come to and seeks advice as to how to manage their health. “you can’t have all these information and keep it to yourself,” he said.
Yomi said, he just wants to be fulfilled. “In the fashion industry you can’t afford to dream to a point as things change every now and then. I am not going to say I want to have 10houses or several clothing lines, I just want to be fulfilled,” he said.
For Olumide, who also runs a small foundation called, Mc day foundation, his greatest dream is be to the world greatest philanthropist; ‘I want to be the richest comedian on earth and I also want to be able to impact people, because I know it’s not really about how much you have but how much you can give out.”
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