It seems only fitting to end this truly inspiring series by turning the camera the other way, so to speak. It’s time for Moyin to answer her own questions, and answer them she does; we just may have saved the best for last. Moyin tweets from @thatmoyin.
1. What does your name mean to you?
My name is MoyinOluwa Oluwakiite- I praise God. God does not fail.
My parents wanted me for a long time before they got me. So they gave me a name that reflected how grateful they were/ are for me. A name that reinforces their hope and trust in God. They gave me a name they hoped would reflect on my life; that would steer my course in life. They gave me a name that would serve as a reminder as the years go by of my status and the status of God.
At some point my names were combined to form one- MoyinOluwatikiite- I praise the God that does not fail. And it has been instructive, this name. I look at it and remember the promise. In the hard times, I have remembered the one who does not fail and I have found peace and contentment.
2. What’s your favorite childhood memory(ies)?
My dad used to make me notebooks out of leftover exam sheets from the training center he worked at. I would fill the pages with homework or my stories. I remember sitting in the living room and just writing the afternoon away. I also remember stealing adult books (like Stephen King books, get your mind out of the gutter) from my parent’s bookshelves and reading them. My favorite memory of all is getting the mic from the MC and bursting out into song at my younger sister’s naming. Childhood was fun. I miss it.
3. What is the unique thing about growing up female and Nigerian?
Man, where do I start? I think the thing that strikes me most about being female in Nigeria is the fact that no one believes you have a voice. Your opinions don’t count and you are basically treated as a second class citizen. As a family of all girl children, we’ve had to deal with the comments. ‘Ahn ahn won’t you people try again for boy’. As if we don’t exist. As if we don’t matter. As if we are not valid.
I think about Elo’s story Shapes whenever I think about being female in Nigeria. You are expected to bend. Bend to greet. Bend your opinions. Bend your expectations. Bend your career. Bend. Bend. Bend.
4. How have you tackled any of these unique challenges?
I think in many ways, having a feminist mum has been instrumental in shaping me. I’ve always been vocal in calling the people around me out. If someone says something problematic, I call them out. I think I’ve calmed down in recent years because I cannot come and die. When someone says something problematic and they are willing to listen to me, I speak. Twitter has also been good for this. This way I can go on my long rants about sexism without someone trying to speak over me.
Because of my career path, comments like: ‘aren’t you getting too advanced for any man that wants to marry you’? are frequently said to me. And it just grinds my gears. I call them out on it A LOT.
I refuse to bend.
5. What do you do professionally at the moment and why do you do it?
I’m a Doctoral Researcher studying Medical and Microbial Biotechnology. I like research and I’ve always wanted to be a doctor. When I realised I couldn’t stand blood, I decided to go for the next best thing. Kidding. I’ve always wanted to do something in Science and I love the subject I’m studying. I’m also interested in disruptive business and technology. The hope is that I get to a point where I can combine all three into something I love.
6. What was your trajectory? How did you get to this point?
Well, I studied Biochemistry and Biotechnology for my Undergrad and Masters. Then I went on to work a few different jobs. Teaching, Management Consulting and Medical Records. Then I decided I actually wanted to do Research full time.
7. What are you passionate about? (cringe)
I’m passionate about authenticity and fostering connections with people. I want to see people living their best lives without discrimination or prejudice. I want people to be in real relationships where they can share their stories and learn from people. I want people to ‘do life’ with their friends and family- sharing their ups and downs. I believe that life is not worth living if you don’t have people to live it with.
I’m also passionate about mental health and illness. I want to help people understand that mental health is such a huge part of health itself. People around us are struggling every day to get up and put a face on. We all need to be softer and gentler with each other.
8. What are three lessons you’ve learned in the past year?
Friendships end. Nothing bad needs to have happened for a friendship to end. If it has served its time, let go.
It is not weakness to ask for help. Not asking for help is a sign of pride. And pride will only let you down. Friendships are reinforced in giving and receiving help.
Listen to your feelings and emotions. Feel them, don’t evade them or eat/ drink them away. They will be there waiting when the hangover has passed. They always find a way to catch up with you. Lean into them and get to know what they’re trying to tell you about yourself.
9. Are you happy at the moment? What can you do to be happier?
This is such a hard question. No, I am not happy at the moment. But happiness is such a vague term for me that I don’t know if I can ever be happy. But what can I do to be happier, maybe have better habits and a more scheduled life.
10. Who inspires you? Why?
So many people inspire me. My mum, for the way she’s juggled everything and not been afraid to pioneer in so many things in her career. I am also inspired by people who I can see have overcome a barrier and are living their life on their own terms. People like T.Y. Bello and Asa, who I’ve watched step into their space in the world and not been afraid. Most importantly, I’m inspired by my friends, who I’ve watched go after their dreams.
11. What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading Andrew Solomon’s ‘The Noonday Demon: an Atlas of Depression’. It’s a massive book and it’ll take me ages to finish it.
12. What would you say to the teenage you?
Not everyone feels this way. Talk to someone. Make the effort with your friends, they will be there for you when no one else can. Get your head out of the books sometimes- there’s more to life than academics. Your body is fine, enjoy it. It will change so much in the next couple of years.
13. What would you like your future self to remember/ keep about this season of your life?
You asked for what you wanted and you got it. You fought for your right to be healthy. You survived by taking it one step at a time. You can do anything.
‘Allow yourself morning.’ – Bassey Ikpi