Amina is one of my oldest friends. I’ve known her since we were in Uni and she was one of the people that made London feel like home; don’t think I’ve ever said thanks. So, thanks, Amina. She’s now a wife and mum and it has been very heartwarming to watch her handle it all.
(Quotes from me are in italics.)
1. What does your name mean to you?
My name is Amina and it means ‘someone who is protected from all that causes fear’. I want to say I am never afraid but that would be a lie. Everyone is afraid of who I am as a person. I love my name… not just because it’s a beautiful one, but also because of its history. Having the name Amina makes me feel like I am embedded in ancient history, one filled with warrior women who were noble and great leaders.
2. What’s your favorite childhood memory(ies)?
I was born in Northern Nigeria and lived there for about 7 years before my family moved down South. I remember climbing trees just to pluck fresh guavas and just being silly with my siblings. I also remember on some weekends my dad would take us all as a family to a family club and we would have lunch or watch a live band. On some occasions we even got to watch Sunny Ade and Lagbaja perform live.
3. What is the unique thing about growing up female and Nigerian?
Having to live in a society where women are constantly stereotyped… one where we are boxed in and expected to be certain things. As a girl/woman/female, society expects you to get married at a certain age, have children at a certain time. We are expected to be the ones to make sacrifices for our families, our children. Change our names. Expected to be the humble person in the relationship. I grew up watching women who bore female children be ridiculed – “Oh! Don’t worry, your next child will be a boy” they say. As female, we are automatically tagged the dispensable sex, the weaker one, the less important one…I realised we are living in a world where our lives have been lived for us even before we were born.
4. How have you tackled any of these unique challenges?
Speaking up when it matters!!! (and sometimes when it doesn’t) – just speak up! You don’t have to accept something just because someone said ‘Oh, this is the way it has always been.’ As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize things will remain as they are if our generation stays quiet… It starts by educating the next person – a brother, sister, a child, a parent who is stuck in the ways of the older generation, a friend…
5. What do you do professionally at the moment and why do you do it?
I currently work as an Operations Manager in a UK bank.
6. What was your trajectory? How did you get to this point?
I started off working in Customer service and that was so much fun while it lasted. It gave me the opportunity to have conversations with all sorts of people… and made me realize the world was truly bigger than how I viewed it. 15 months after my role in Customer Service, I decided it was time to change roles and that led to my current job role as an Operations Manager.
7. What are you passionate about? (cringe)
Poetry… Me writing poetry… It’s the one thing I do where I can transport myself to a place where I can truly be alone with my thoughts.
8. What are three lessons you’ve learned in the past year?
This is a hard question to answer…as last year was most likely one of my most challenging years ever as a person… However, I’ll try to pick 3 out of the many things I learned:
● There is never a perfect time to start – if you keep waiting, there is a chance you’ll never get the chance to start at all! Just go for it.
● It is ok to fail at something – as long as you get back up and try again.
● Giving back is everything – sometimes we dwell on our own ‘problems’, we forget there are other people out there who need a helping hand too.
9. Are you happy at the moment? What can you do to be happier?
Yes… this does not mean I don’t want to be happier….Do I love my life right now? Yes. Are there things I want to change? Yes. Am I trying to effect this change? Yes. Does that indirectly mean I am unhappy? Absolutely not! Why??? Because in life, I feel it is important to grow, to desire change, to push yourself beyond your personal limits… sometimes we get so comfortable that we forget what we are really worth.
10. Who inspires you? Why?
My son!!! I look at him everyday and I realize how free he is. He’s not afraid. He’s reaching milestones without wondering what’s going to happen next or what the next day will bring. He trusts me because even though he may not have a reason to – he knows I’ll do anything to keep him protected. I watch his young life and I realize he’s my muse. I see him and my mind begins to express itself with words that are full of rhythm and depth I didn’t even know I had 🙂 With him, I am learning each day…
11. What are you reading at the moment?
My current read is ‘The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu’. I bought this book a year ago, I have no idea why it has taken me this long to finally read it!
12. What would you say to the teenage you?
Life is not a pass through… you’ll always encounter set backs so never give up on your dreams.
13. What would you like your future self to remember/ keep about this season of your life?
Happiness is NEVER overrated – do what truly makes you happy…It is ok to put yourself first sometimes – it doesn’t mean you’re selfish.