Saturday, March 17, 2018

My YALI Experience

My YALI RLC Story.

Rotimi's official YALI passport
I had applied to the Regional Leadership Centre (RLC) twice before now and I have also applied to the Mandela Washington Fellowship of the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI). I was certain I was done applying after my second RLC application because I made it to the interview but I didn't get past that. I was tired of writing applications sending it out to friends and colleagues to proofread and what have you.

I kept seeing the application for this cohort I got into but I  didn't want to apply. Then one beautiful day Adaeze, my sweet friend from secondary school sent me the application, I still ignored it.

Well let's say after a few days, I reluctantly applied again. This time I made the interviews again but not just that I got in like I made it to the grand finale.

Many thanks to my sweet friend Samirah, she guided me greatly during the interview.

Chidinma, Rotimi and Esther at the opening ceremony
From L-R
Well after I got in, I took part in an intensive two weeks online training and testing, before joining other 128 Africans from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote D'Ivoire, the Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Nigeria. My first day was quite hectic from packing and unpacking and getting accustomed to the weather in Topo, Badagry, Lagos, Nigeria.

By the second day, a few participants knew my name and it was fun pronouncing other people's names and trying to learn a line or two from their native language. It was so great interacting and networking, putting faces to the names from the online platform and the WhatsApp group.

The third day was on Monday which was for proper work and we had the honour of meeting Mr Kappo A.K.A Action Man, he made us crack up as much as he made us do our work. He came in with a stern look and left smiling like we were too.

The fourth, fifth, sixth and up until the twenty-first day went by so fast. The days went by so fast I can assure you that we wished it was the first day, I sometimes thought I was in space.

Rotimi doing her thing
I met incredible, talented, determined, courageous, charismatic, empathetic, go-getters to name a few from all works of life, from different states, regions, countries of West Africa. It was amazing how everyone left their differences and embraced a common goal to become an African leader. The sentiments were all gone, there was no fight over Nigerian Jollof or Ghanaian Jollof even though the Gambians say they own Jollof. It was very peaceful and a great bonding experience for us all.

Sharing my fun experience from RLC would not be enough so I would share my learning experience briefly.  One of the profound things I have in my head right now is the importance of unity, to never give up and never assume anyone is useless. I have also learnt not to react to situations rather I should act, these were some lessons from some video clips we watched on the first workday

Dr Uwem Akangsom taught us on Leadership and Accountability and it was awesome as you would have guessed the take away from his lesson are countless but I will drop these few, no leader can do it all alone, leverage on each others strength, there's strength in numbers. As a leader, you must teach, coach and should never feel frustrated because your followers don't have the skills you have. Update yourself on academics or whatever it is as knowledge and skills learned become obsolete after 5 years so never stop learning. Learn as much as you can, you never know when that knowledge will come in handy. Never stroll onto the big stage always prepare for it, because it will surely come.
Ajebo photobombed us, Elliot

We had another course on Ethical Leadership by Dr Haruna Abdul, the highlights were
1. In leadership, morality is magnified
2. If you know it is not ethical then don't do it.
3. Leaders have a set of core values they publicly commit to and live by always.
4. Leaders are role models in terms of both words and actions
5. Ethical leaders have respect for and serve others, they are just, honest and help build the community.

For the Business and Entrepreneurship track, the one I signed up for, we had two amazing lecturers Dr Pascal Brenya and Dr Olayiwola Oladapo. They ensured we knew the why, how and what of our businesses. This helped us as a team and as individuals to know what we were offering, how we were doing what we were doing and most importantly why we were in business. We realized what stage of entrepreneurship development process we were. Things we should do before we launched our product, the assessments to be done and so much more. It was awesome I must say. I liked the interlude during classes to play games to test our focus and sometimes we danced. I will do Business and Entrepreneurship track again with these instructors if I could.

We had groups for our poster presentation which was focused on issues and solutions affecting Africa, then we were grouped in teams for our tracks for presentation/pitching, we also had another team for simulation this was based on unemployment in the countries represented, I was a Cameroonian for a day or two.

With my bestie, Adenike
It was awesome how I had different group members across the board like I was not in the same group with the someone else, different group/team meant a different face. My business and entrepreneurship track came third for the pitching.

After all is said and done I Oluwarotimi have decided to make my life better, to make Nigeria better, to make Africa better and eventually make the world a better place.

Now the onus is on you what would you do better henceforth.

Rotimi and Flora from Togo
Rotimi and Abdul from Burkina Faso

Cherlene and Rotimi
Ekene, Ifeankandu and Rotimi

Valere from Cote D'Ivoire and Rotimi

Epeti from Cameroon and Rotimi
(I tied her gele, and mine as well)

On my way to class one of those days

Ekene (President YALI RLC Nigeria Cohort 4) & Rotimi

Chidinma et Rotimi

Rotimi repping Nigeria

Some members of Business and Entrepreneurship track

Gbenga from Nigeria, Dority from Liberia, Blaise from Burkina Faso
 and Rotimi from Nigeria
 (Group 9 members) Poster Presentation
From L-R

ICT Issues in Africa, (group 9) poster presentation

Peace Itimi and Rotimi

Funke and Rotimi

Funmi and Rotimi

Rotimi and Chika

Victor, Rotimi, Chidinma and Chigozie
From L-R

Rotimi and Joy

Valentine, Rotimi and Chigozie
From L-R

Fatou (I tied her gele) and Rotimi

Jennifer, Rotimi and Emmanuela
From L-R

Lovelyn, Deyemi, Esther, Emmanuel, Ejike, Rotimi and Mary
From L-R

Michael, Ejike, Cecilia, Rotimi

Rotimi at the Badagry Slave Museum
Patience, Kumba, Rotimi and Funmi at the entrance of
the first storey building in Nigeria

Rotimi, Patience and Chinenye at the Bible room in
the first storey Building in Nigeria
Rotimi and Kent at the entrance of the
first Storey building in Nigeria
Rotimi on a horse, Abigail from Ghana at
the background.

Tosin, Bukola, Rotimi, Elliot, Emmanuel
From L-R and F-B

Rotimi et Chika

Monique et Dr Pascal et Rotimi at Songhai farms

Rotimi from Nigeria, Marie from Cote D'Ivoire, Epeti from Cameroon,
 Miguel from Nigeria and Isatu from the Gambia
Group 5, Business and Entrepreneurship track team members

Ayo and Rotimi

Rotimi in her Cameroonian Toghu outfit and
Dumebi in his Burkina Faso outfit.

Abigail, Odunayo and Rotimi,
the ladies are wearing the traditional
Cameroonian Toghu outfit.

Rotimi et Chinenye
Abuja vs Lagos

Geraldine from Liberia repping the Gambia,
Rotimi from Nigeria repping Cameroon and
Jocinta from Liberia repping Nigeria

Angeline from Liberia, Rotimi and Chinenye from Nigeria

Patience, Rotimi and Matthew striking a pose with
 men from the Nigeria Military

Francia, Nonso, Dumebi and Rotimi, my wingmen

Ahmed, Rotimi, Chika and Ayo at the closing ceremony
From L-R
With my sweetheart and smallie Busayo.

Elizabeth, Tosin, Ahmed, Rotimi and Ayo
From L-R

We photo-bombed the photo session of the Ghana team

Rita, Tosin, Rotimi and Funmi at the closing
From L-R