Day 23: Mallam Sawyerr

*Camera switches on, director gives a thumbs up*
Good day ladies and gentlemen!
You’re welcome to the “News at 9 with The Board” (or 3 am if you’re in the time zone I’m in at the moment. Who reads news at 3 am right? Bear with us). I’m the Mallam, here in the studio. In today’s edition, we will present the year 2015 in review, so grab yourself a nice cool drink and get comfy in that chair; because you’re in for a long ride.

First, the headlines:

  • Graduation.
  • Death is a bitch.
  • We’re gerrin bigger and gerrin bigger.
  • Family in unfamiliar places.
  • Dancing with the Bars
  • Look Mama, we’re winning!
  • Follow the ladder
  • Economic Sector – Job hunting is a full time job.
  • Financial Sector – 2015: The Year of the Bears.
  • Weather Report – Cloudy with a chance of Bae

And now, the news in full.
On May 2nd, our boss Mallam Sawyerr (forthwith referred to as The Boss), finally acquired a “Master’s in Natural Resources and Environment” degree; with a focus in Sustainable Systems (particularly energy systems) from the world renowned University of Michigan. With this achievement, he becomes a true Michigan Wolverine and joins the prestigious group of individuals who are part of the largest alumni network of any single university in the world. Certainly one of the brightest moments in a year full of a lot of gloom.

The members of The Board were of course on hand to witness the momentous occasion. The Boss had the following to say when we interviewed him.

“These four semesters collective have been the most difficult period in my life, till date. But they’ve also held some of the most beautiful memories as well. There were times I asked myself whether leaving my job and taking the risk to come here was a smart move. Times I thought about all the debt incurred to get this degree, it seemed like it was a huge step back rather than forward. But taking that short walk to freedom on that stage, and remembering all I’ve learnt and accomplished since August 2013, I know it was the right move.”

The commencement ceremony itself was an amazing one. Being surrounded by classmates, friends and loved ones (two of them even flying in from out of town) was a joyful time. We were particularly impressed when the Dean of the School of Natural Resources and Environment singled out The Boss by his full first name, and asked him if she should end the ceremony with a rap. Of course he obliged her, and the rest is history. She will not be receiving a Grammy for that performance.

Death is a bitch:
This year has been one that’s been marked by death in almost every quarter. Mummy Tobi lost to cancer in February (making last Christmas’ trip home even more special, because of the visit to Ibadan and the quality time spent with her). Iredia passing in June, so suddenly and unexpectedly. Same thing with Niggydip in October. Then finally Samantha in November. The boss’ view on death has always been unconventional, but even he acknowledges the great loss of these incredibly wonderful people. May their souls continue to rest in peace.

We’re gerrin bigger and gerrin bigger:
On July 4th, our longest standing partner-in-crime and mentor of life, The Boss’ egbon “Sanusi” finally got married to his long time sweetheart Juliet (no, his name is not Romeo). In so doing, he gave us our first “direct” Igbo in-laws. And not just from anywhere, but from Imo State. And not just from anywhere in Imo State, but from Mbaise. Unfortunately The Board couldn’t make it down for the event, but we were there in spirit.

Less than a week later, the niece population doubled, with the birth of the beautiful bundle of joy, Tosin. The fact that she has her late grandfather’s cheeky and slightly mischievous smile makes her even more adorable. We cannot wait till we finally go “Down Under” to see her and the rest of the family.

Family in unfamiliar places:
Speaking of family, few things are more wonderful than realizing that certain friends are actually family from different parents. This has been a life-long blessing for The Boss over the years, and God has continued to let that river flow. Here in Ann Arbor, in Canton, in Jackson, in Chicago, in New York, in Boston, in DC, in England and of course back home in Nigeria; the blessings of friends that have your back, even when you didn’t want anyone to know you needed people behind you, have been immense. Friends that love you immensely, and you know your life would be incomplete without them in it. This is a shout-out to everyone who was there this year, even if all you were was a bubble in a phone. To all of you, even the ones who might not read this post, God bless you more than you could ever ask or think.

Dancing with the Bars:
This year, The Boss took his dancing to a whole other level. Attending international Salsa congresses in Chicago and Boston; being part of a concept video; performing at several events in two different states; going social dancing in the 5 different cities visited this summer (usually in bars and night clubs, but also outdoor and at concerts); and finally joining the teaching team at Ann Arbor Dance revolution. It’s been an amazing journey not just for dancing as a favorite pastime, but rediscovering a passion and love for Yoruba culture because of the immense influence it has on Latin dancing. In fact, the boss is considering teaching Salsa lessons whenever he eventually moves back to Nigeria.

Excerpt from The Boss’ memoirs
“More so than last year, dance has kept me going this year. There have been some REALLY dark moments where but for my faith in God and the joy I get when I’m out dancing, I would have been intensely depressed. The opportunity to get lost in the music and let it dictate my movements, to connect with a partner on a physical, mental and emotional level on the dance floor, are experiences I wish everybody can have. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Look Mama, we’re winning! :
In April, The Boss took part in his first ever partner dance competition. It was a Bachata competition and with only about 4 hours of actual meeting time with Michelle to decide on music, choreography and perfect the routine, they won. The opportunity to compete and win with one of the best individual dancers he’s ever met, and someone who is well on her way to become a professional Latin dancer is something that will never be forgotten.

Then there was the 5th edition of the Summer Institute on Sustainability and Energy (SISE) organized by the University of Chicago at Illinois; a yearly event where, undergrads, grad students, researchers and industry professionals from all over the US gather for a fortnight in a bid to develop more energy professionals. A totally worthwhile experience, not only because of the great networking opportunity it presents, but because of the knowledge and the ability to employ several skill sets. The story of how The Boss’ team won first place in the final group research project is one that will be told around camp fires for generations to come.
Author’s note: You can check out the website here.

Follow the ladder:
Excerpts from The Boss’ memoirs.
“My Christian walk was at an all-time low this year. For a period I was VERY disciplined with reading my Bible, but all of that crumbled from like July. However, regardless of how deep in a rut I fell this year, how many bad habits I picked up again, I’m exceedingly grateful to God that I’m part of the Harvest Mission Community Church here in Ann Arbor. To have a spiritual family that you know loves God, and as a result LOVES you as you are while challenging you to be more like Christ, has been a huge pillar of support. I’ve learnt so much about how much deeper my walk of faith can be, even in everyday things. Also, my understanding of love has been pushed beyond the borders I gave it. I know I can be better. I know I will be better. And God has given me all I need to draw closer to Him.”

And now I’ll turn it over to Nocturnal for the Economic Sector report.

Job hunting is a full time job:
Yup. Job hunting sucks. You’d think that earning a degree from a world class institution in a field that holds a lot of promise would make finding a job less of a crap shoot, right? Well you thought wrong. It’s been 7 months since graduation, and well, let’s just say a PhD in dealing with job rejection and being ignored by organizations because you’re an international student, might be an actual degree at this point.

But beyond the days of disappointment, despair, and frustration is a hope that “God who brought us thus far, will not forsake us”. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and a glorious testimony shall it be. Can I get an amen somebody? Besides, the joblessness has given me LOTS of free time to catch up on comics, anime and manga.

Next is The Shadow with the Financial Sector report

2015: The Year of the Bears
Basically, that’s fancy financial jargon for saying The Boss was broke AF this year. Never in his entire life, not even during NYSC, were things this bad. It has been a HUGE lesson in humility and learning to ask for help. It’s also been a lesson in realizing that there will be times in your life where you will reach out to people because you need help and they’ll say no. And it’s not because they don’t want to help, but because they can’t. Not forgetting the continued teaching that “God is your source”. Not your salary, or your family, or your friends; those are merely streams that God uses. There will be times those streams will dry up. There will be VERY hard days. But God remains faithful in spite of the difficult circumstances, and believing in Him is the only way to stay positive.

And now here’s Sawyerr with the Weather Report.

Cloudy with a chance of Bae.
Yes folks, it does indeed seem like a dreary proposition here. Climate change is affecting everything, even relationship statuses. After his first heart break last year, The Boss had to go through a period of healing and refreshing. In fact, he almost swore off love (LAWL. As if that mush ball could ever really do so). But thank the heavens, he found reasons not to. Now, don’t get it twisted, he’s still single – single to stupor – but there’s a person who’s shown him that he can actually have feelings for someone again and let her know it without his heart being used to play Baba Ijebu. So maybe when the clouds of uncertainty do disperse, maybe the light of Bae might actually shine through and warm his heart again.

Author’s note: I know you’re reading this. Thank you for helping, even without knowing you were. You weren’t seized this year, but that’s a course I’ll willingly carry over; failure is not an option to be considered.

That’s the weather report folks. Back to you Mallam.

Well, there you have it folks. We originally would have called the theme for this year’s review The Great Depression. But the process of writing has actually shown that even though there have been MANY dark days, there have also been ones that have been immensely bright. So here’s to an amazing 2016. May it be the best year yet!

That’s all folks!

*camera pans to montage*


This brightened my day. A lot.

Mallam Sawyerr

is a well known troll. He's also a lover of dance who is passionate about sustainability and energy.


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