Fellow Elites, today is our day, when we shall seize the God-given liberty and opportunity to celebrate and toast a young lady whose mistake was not forgiven by man but was still elevated and catapulted to fame and success. It is obvious that the ways of God are different from the ways of humans. We all love to pontificate as if we are all holy and perfect, but no one is. Every one of us suffers from one foible, weakness, egocentricity or the other. But if God can forgive our sins what stops us from replicating the same privilege to our fellow human being. Indeed, that is the injunction of most holy books. To err is human, to forgive is divine as Alexander Pope famously said in his poem, An Essay on Criticism!
Anyway. My sermon is quite simple today. And I won’t bore you with too much detail. My subject matter is no other than a beautifully effervescent, ebullient lady, Ms Erica Nlewedim, popularly known as Erica, who made some costly mistakes inside the Big Brother Naija House last year and was booted out ignominiously! It was a cataclysmic fall from the pinnacle of the temple to the rocky bottom of the abyss! Every onlooker expected her to be smashed into smithereens except some of us who truly know how God works mysteriously and miraculously.
Initially, I didn’t really know much about that particular edition of Big Brother Naija. I had been busy with other things, particularly my Instagram Live interview shows, and I had paid no attention to the current Big Brother Naija show. It was the call from my friend Terry Waya that aroused my interest. His son Kiddwaya was in the house and he solicited my media support. I was only too happy to lend my support since I also knew the young man quite well when he was growing up. I had not seen him when he became an adult. I expected that he would grow into an upstanding young man and the images of him and the character he presented in the Big Brother House justified my high hopes and expectations of him. As I watched the show, I knew Kiddwaya had grown up to become a handsome, intelligent and affable young man. I became hooked on the show and realised that several of my friends were also quite keen on it. Then one thing led to another and we discovered that Kiddwaya seemed to have fallen headlong in love with one ravishingly beautiful, but overly complicated housemate called Erica or Baby G. The feeling was clearly mutual, and the lovebirds could be seen demonstrating their affection for each other whenever they could.
Then tragedy struck and Erica was mercilessly expelled for a transgression which brought out her frail, fragile and highly charged emotional personality! Everybody makes a mistake, especially when under the influence of alcohol and Erica was definitely inebriated that day. The fault was not hers alone though. It seemed that the other Housemates dd not actually look out for her welfare on that day and allowed things to deteriorate to the extent that they did. Ordinarily, that would have been it for me. However, I read all kinds of ugly comments and was deeply troubled about a young soul that may soon be totally destroyed and completely obliterated simply because she was much misunderstood and deeply maligned. I knew I had to step in urgently because I dislike and detest unfairness and injustice! Sooner than later, her boyfriend Kiddwaya was evicted in what seemed a well coordinated conspiracy in the House which made me redouble my efforts to support Erica and ensure that her participation and unfortunate exit were not in vain.
While contemplating on how to reach her, other well-meaning Nigerians contacted me offering to help her. They were sympathetic whilst appreciating that rules were rules and that Erica had broken a few ground rules that sad day. Of particular interest was the case of a top government official in Abuja, Mrs FS, who chose to remain eternally anonymous. She laid out elaborate plans for Erica in a bid to ensure that her star which had shone brightly was not dimmed. There were several others who felt the same way and Erica had become a winner, even before the show itself ended. Is God not so wonderful? I somehow discovered that Funke Kuti was Erica’s godmother. Funke’s Mum is my well-respected neighbour. So, it was eventually easy for all three of us to connect. That was the beginning of my blistering wholesale support for Erica.
Let me fast forward a bit. I suffered collateral damages on account of my effrontery to liberate a lady I never knew from a mental meltdown. I had no other motive than to save a soul. I knew that she needed to be encouraged rather than be vilified and crucified. In lending my voice and support for Erica’s advancement, I never disparaged any other Housemate. It is not in my character and it is not the Ovation way. We applaud, celebrate and promote. Sadly, and seriously, we live in the age of intolerance, in which someone’s enemy must automatically become yours as well. Unfortunately, no one can bully me out of my principled position. My family was worried about the ceaseless plethora of attacks on my person by kids I could easily have grandfathered. My wife called from London belching fire. She could not understand why I was not relenting in my support despite the vociferously fearsome attacks I was being subjected to. That even got me more steadfastly fastidious and totally determined to fight Erica’s corner since I knew my soul was clean towards this girl. In the end, Erica has been vindicated, the enormous respect, admiration and adoration that she commands and engenders have made it all worthwhile. I pray some people will fight for our own children in their days of tribulations.
Today, I’m extremely proud of my stubbornness and undaunting spirit. The reason our country is in this monumental mess is because we always allow evil people to gain the upper hand due to our meekness and squeamishness! We easily cave in under societal pressure and fearmongering. I draw my strength from the gift of clairvoyance and ability to stand on the truth even if everyone would think I’m stupid. And I even expect no appreciation whatsoever from the beneficiary. Whatever I do, I do for God because HE has touched my heart to do so. I seek no personal gain. I’m sure God will bless me beyond my asking once my motives are pure, which they always are.
I met Erica only once when she visited our home for a live interview session on Instagram, my favourite social media platform. I discovered a daughter figure and accepted her warts and all. I had no doubts that she will travel far and achieve her voluptuously gargantuan dreams, if she can keep her head screwed to her neck and stay focused. I predicted she would unite Africa powerfully. She is a leader and in her own inimitable way and a veritable role model. Her enemies went into a rage and another round of tirades after the interview. It was all for nought. A star was born. If in doubt, please watch how Africa will celebrate her today. Erica has become an unstoppable phenomenon not because she’s the most beautiful woman, the most brilliant scholar, the most eloquent speaker but just because God likes to help lift up the downtrodden who has been kicked wickedly and unremittingly in the mud like a leather football.
Hate or love her, Erica’s time has come. Please, rise, and join me in giving Erica a standing ovation and toast to her health, longevity and prosperity as she celebrates her 27th birthday today. Remember to keep her in your prayers because she still has many bridges to cross, successfully by the grace of God…
Good Night Chief Mrs Stella Shola Alex-Duduyemi
This life. I was tremendously busy in Port Harcourt this week when the news came in, like a thief in the night, in the now familiar fashion. “I have not yet confirmed but someone told me Mrs Duduyemi has passed on to glory!”, my friend thundered. I told him I had not heard or possibly that in the whole bedlam surrounding her passing, no one would have remembered to call me. I prayed it would turn out to be one of those cranky rumours and that there was still a lot of life left in the old Amazon.
I left everything I was doing and started working the phones. I knew the right contact to call who would confirm my worst fears. I dared not call Daddy, the Asiwaju of Ife, Chief Alex Duduyemi lest the story turned out to be true and we would both end up inconsolable. I therefore called her daughter, Mrs Funmi Ajose-Adeogun but she either did not pick her call when it rang, or her phone was permanently engaged when it didn’t. I started to believe that indeed, the worst had happened. Then I called Chief Alex-Duduyemi’s eldest daughter Lulu, who told me that the story was true and asked me to hold on for Daddy, which had been my worst nightmare scenario. However, Chief Duduyemi put on a brave face and was quite reflective and sombre. He made things easier for me and I offered my condolences and prayers to the beautiful family I can confidently call mine.
I have been richly blessed in my life with many wonderful benefactors. The Alex-Duduyemis have been of a rare breed and extremely kind to me. Daddy and Mummy were always there for my wife, Mobolaji and I. They always encouraged our marriage to succeed through their occasional lectures and admonitions, they blessed our business by several miraculous interventions when things seemed dire.
The last time I saw Chief Mrs Stella Shola Alex-Duduyemi was August last year as we prepared for the 85th birthday celebration of Daddy. Ovation International was saddled with the honour and responsibility of managing some technological operations to mark the occasion. Mummy looked frail but her spirit was high, and her voice was as nice and sonorous as ever. She was happy to see me and vice versa. Like the selfless and loving person that she was, Mummy practically sacrificed the celebration of her 80th birthday about three weeks later for her darling husband’s 85th.
Ovation International had produced a special edition on Daddy’s 85th birthday in which the famous couple disclosed their love stories and how they met and got married. According to Daddy: “There was a party hosted by Chief Yinka Rhodes and her elder sister who was married to late Chief Yinka Rhodes was there. He was my friend, and we were both lawyers.
“When she came from England before heading to Law School, Chief Rhodes and his wife held a party for her, and I was invited. That was the time I met her. We danced together, and that was the beginning. I went and met her parents. I used to drive her to and from law school. That was how the whole thing started and it worked out very well…”
Mummy also spoke about the month of mega celebrations in the family: “August is a very significant month in this family, it is a time for great celebration. My grandchild will be celebrating, my daughter will be celebrating, of course my husband will be marking his 85th and I will be 80 on the 29th. We thank God for every-thing he has done for this family.
“Regarding my husband, Asiwaju Oyekunle Aremu Alex-Duduyemi. This is something difficult for me to do because he has so many good points, and I don’t want him to be even more swollen-headed than he is.”
She continued, “he dresses like a peacock, I used to call him my catalogue boy, but you can’t call an 85-year-old man a boy anymore. So, from now, he is my peacock. Prophetically, she said I pray that God will continue to bless him with good health, you can see that he is very strong, and has many more years.” Her wish was that “may God keep us safe to continue to enjoy ourselves for a long, long time…” This was not to be as the end came a few days ago for Chief Mrs Stella Shola Alex-Duduyemi and the sun set for a beautiful, loving, devoted and doting wife and mother.
May her soul Rest in Perfect Peace…