2022 Birthday: Paths are made by Walking

Ayọ̀délé Ìbíyẹmí
4 min readOct 12, 2022

“I got my things and left”

That sentence is one of the finest opening lines in the history of African literature. It is from Dambudzo Marechera’s House of Hunger. Since I encountered those lines in 2013, I have not stopped thinking about it. I still don’t know much about life, but I have concluded that mobility is central to the human experience. Mobility is a complex concept because it can take many forms and everyone’s journey is specific. I have watched many of my friends move from naughty teenager to parents. I have watched my grandfather transit from an active businessman who likes to speed in his Mercedes Benz to an old frail septuagenarian who moves around slowly as he tries to get enough exercise in his house. I have also moved through curveball after curveball, and I am still in a transitory stage, but certain principles have guided my transition. Every birthday, I put my jumbled thoughts together to mark the milestone and record my life.

i. Everything Good will Come

First, I am very sure that I will be fine, no matter what happens. The critical side of me tries to fight that idealism and positivity but I just cannot shake it off. I have Jesus Christ; I will be fine! My grandfather is one of the biggest influences in my life and one of the things he says is “Bí a kò lọ, a kò níí dé. (If we don’t go, we can’t return.)” He encourages mobility in many forms, and I did a short piece on some of his sayings in 2016. You can read it here.

Mo l’Olorun leyin, mo b’Oluwa duro, okan mi bale, kin ikan ko ni se m

ii. Consistency is key

So I still do not feel fully confident to call myself a writer but I do some writing. Writing is what has gotten me where I am now, it is what gives me the most joy. Knowing that writing is what I want to do with my life is the first step, the second and most important step is to do the actual writing. A Yoruba proverb guides my understanding of this: Ìgbín kì í tẹnu mọ́gi kó má gùn ún. (The snail will not fasten onto a tree and fail to climb it.) I recently concluded that my favorite piece of writing is profiles. I love it when people learn new information about certain important figures from my writing. I was recently at a restaurant and the owner showed me a screenshot of an essay I wrote. He knew my name from my payment and when he tried to learn about Orlando Owoh, one of the most visible essays he saw had my name as the author. He was excited that one of his patrons did the essay, but I was more excited that my writing went somewhere without me having to push it.

I wrote what I consider a good profile of nationalist, feminist, and controversial precolonial figure, Adunni Oluwole. I also reintroduced Hubert Ogunde to the public with my profile of him which emphasized his role in Nigeria’s nationalist movement, his relationship with Obafemi Awolowo and his place as the father of Nigerian theatre. My tribute to Rachel Oniga traced her breakout role as a poor widow in Tade Ogidan’s Owo Blow to her final role as a wealthy widow in A Naija Christmas. I recently wrote a profile of Femi Osofisan who I consider one of Africa’s most important living intellectuals. I do other kinds of writing, but I am most gratified when I write profiles. I don’t know where or when my interest in history and profiles started but as a campus journalist with Icons News Agency, I introduced a weekly profile column called Icon of the Week, I tried to copy Brandon Stanton before he became so big by doing Humans of OAU. Good times! I am grateful for clarity, and I am fully convinced that it can only get better.

Chief Peter Fatomilola and I in 2012. 10 whole years ago!

iii. Owó máa tán, Èèyàn ló máa kù

One of the wise sayings from social media which translates loosely as “money will be exhausted, only humans will remain.” Money is very important, but it is also ephemeral in the grand scheme of things. I have learnt to always put certain important things like health, friendship, family, love, and peace above money. Money can be made easily by the grace and mercy of God but some of those things cannot be recovered if lost.

iv. In praise of soft landings.

As humans move, there is a need for guides and helpers at every junction. At every stage of my life, I have benefited from the kindness of many people, and I am grateful for them. I acknowledge soft landings; I praise them and I do all I can to pass it down. PS: Many times, the help might not come from the expected people but it will come. The grand organizer of all helps is God and He always comes through.

“See what the Lord has done”

v. A cloud of witnesses

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”

-Hebrews 12:1

I am surrounded by people; siblings, parents, friends, colleagues, mentors and collaborators who just want me to do well so I honor them by giving life my best. The thought of them also helps me to not misbehave because I know I am accountable to them.

I love you Lord, for your mercies never fail me

Birthday Wishlist:

Just one thing: By faith, accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. Send me a message if you’d like to.