Again, I would like to encourage someone this beautiful and breezy morning who is on the verge of giving up, calling it quits or generally about to settle for ‘no‘ in response to that thing that you are in dire need of. Begging God or any man or woman.
In my over 40 years of existence, I’ve on several occasions watched and witnessed as ‘no‘ eventually yielded its position to ‘yes.‘ As a matter of fact, that’s actually one of the most profound lessons that life has taught me.
See, the world has made me to understand that heaven has a way of conspiring to grant your heart desires. Or like my boss, Mr. Kunle Bakare, used to say, ‘The world steps aside for the man who knows where he’s headed.’
And a memorable example, if you permit me, will suffice here. It was my encounter with the hugely venerated former Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and one-time Chairman of Cadbury, Dr. Christopher Kolade.
As the Editor of Encomium Weekly, one of the persons I really, really wanted to interview was Kolade. And the reason is simple: all the top people I had interviewed then, from Prof. Pat Utomi to Mr. Tunde Lemo and so on, kept mentioning him as their role model. In fact, it was while taking my leave after one of those interviews that it occurred to me that an interview with ‘this mentor to many’ won’t also be a bad idea.
So, I set the machinery in motion. I was still juggling how to crack and accomplish that mission when days later I opened one of the dailies and saw an advert announcing that he would be coming to the Goldengate Restaurant, in Ikoyi, Lagos, to give a lecture and immediately filed it in both my memory and diary.
On the day of the lecture, and without any invitation, I arrived the venue very early; about an hour to the announced time, and of course well dressed. By the way, serious people rarely arrive events late. They are also mindful of their looks. But I digress.
About 30 minutes to kick off time, and from where I was sitting inside my car, I saw Kolade sauntering in, clutching what looked like a file, and unaccompanied. Instantly, I jumped down from my car, leveled up with him and despite repeated attempts to assist him with the file, as we made our ways to the lift en route to the hall, he refused.
Now inside the hall, and as he was looking for the engineer in charge to cue his paper and confirm that everything was okay, I unmasked my identity. Looking calm and collected, and in his always perfect diction, he said to me: ‘Young man, I’m here for a lecture and not to have an interview…’
As I tried to explain, he turned and faced the engineer who was engrossed and battling to get his lecture ready. Of course, I refused to leave. In fact, I just stood ‘kampe’ behind him. And when they were through, after nearly 15 minutes, he asked where he could wash his hands and I volunteered immediately to take him there.
Done with that, he came out again and met me still standing, arms akimbo, waiting for him at the entrance. Wearing what looked like a smile, for the first time since I started ‘troubling’ him and shaking his head, he said to me, again in a soothing voice: ‘This young man that will not take no for an answer, yes, what exactly do you say you want from me?’
I stammered: ‘An interview…very short…10/15 minutes would be okay.’ And then he said: ‘No…only 5 minutes…I’m here for something else, but your persistence is making me change my mind…’
Dear friends, the long and short of this story, like we say in Nigeria, is that the much sought-after interview finally held. Dr. Kolade’s ‘no’ eventually became ‘yes.’ And that was because I persisted. But beyond that, however, was that instead of the 5 minutes the great man had allocated to me, we ended up talking for about 30 minutes! Yes, most of the other guests arrived late and I couldn’t help maximizing that as well.
In conclusion, my dear friends once again , I pray that like me, your ‘no‘ will also become ‘yes’, but only when you persist and persevere; telling yourself, time and time again, that everything is possible to him that believes. And, of course, with God!
– Azuh is a journalist, bestselling author and and publisher of YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine