Work it Out – with Vivian: ‘Oriki’

It was Bicci Alli, the former Chairman of the Oyo State Board of Internal Revenue and the former Secretary to the Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue, who first brought the value of self-acknowledgement, self-recognition and self-praise to my subconscious mind.

I and my former boss paid him an official visit sometime in 2014, and somewhere in the middle of the conversations, he narrated how it was a culture in his home for him and his wife to recite ‘Oriki’ (eulogy) to each other, as early morning greetings.

Back then I felt it was something very commendable and admirable for married couples to do, but I never did comprehend or come to the realization of the power such practice holds, for the individual who eulogizes himself or herself, or the person to whom his or her eulogy is recited.

Have you seen the South African movie series, ‘IsiBaya’? How I love those Zulu clan praises Mkabayi always showers on Mpiyake Zungu her brother – Gwabini! Manzini! Geda, Ncwane, Ngankomo yase, Mahenyeni, Nyama kayishi, isha ngababhebhezeli, Wena owaphuma ngenoni emgodini, Sengwayo!

It was the power of those praises that practically raised him from the ‘dead’ during his ‘deliverance’ session after he was turned to a Zombie by his rival.

This is how ‘Orikis’ liberate our caged spirits, tell us exactly who we are, and the power that lies within us to accomplish more things in life.

Another movie that powerfully depicts the importance of self-acknowledgement and praise is the movie, ‘Riding with Sugar’ – on Netflix. It is a story of a teenage boy, Joshua, who comes from his war-torn country to South Africa as a refugee. Joshua dreams of winning a BMX cycling championship as a means to finding a better life, but fate intervenes in the form of an accident that shatters his knee. He is given shelter and a job by Mambo who houses refugee teenagers from all over Africa. 

As a periodic ceremony, Mambo would gather the boys together as though they were performing in an African festival. Each of the boys dressed like an African king, mock scepter in hand, would in turns so confidently take the stage and begin to proclaim who they are in a loud voice, with so much sense of self liberation, self-worth and self-belief.

“I am Dinura, a.k.a. Vetkoek, son of Chiqonio, from the Kikuyu tribe!

The rich and famous will eat from my hands;

And they will pay a pretty penny for my treats!”.

“I am Ambassador, son of Phumi of the Ashanti tribe! – the people who raise their hands in power as our continent rises out of the ashes! 

And I will rule!!!”.

“I am Sumiso, son of Sekayo of the Shona tribe;

The rusty nail that took my eye should have finished the job!

Cause I was blind, but now;

Now I can see!!!”.

Then Mambo recites his own ‘Oriki’:

“I am Orbert Mambo, father of this tribe! 

Son of Miniam, of the Shona tribe! 

Ha, I shine a light on the minds of the future!”.

On this particular night, Joshua, who had been badly injured, physically, psychologically and emotionally, full of fear, self-doubt, paranoia and hopelessness, stands in a corner watching the ceremony as the other boys, through their proclamations, remind themselves of the power and possibilities they carry within.

When Mambo sees him ‘watching from the shadows’, first Mambo exhorts him, “Son, step forward and be seen!”. 

Then goes on to ask him, “Who are you?”. But Joshua is unable to provide any coherent answer to this question.

Then Mambo tells Joshua to close his eyes so he could look/ feel within, and truly see / acknowledge who he really is.

After moments of self-reflection, Joshua releases himself from his self struggles and exclaims, “I am Joshua! Son of Hondo of the Samenika tribe!”. At this, the other boys and Mambo all start chanting “Praise Joshua! Praise Joshua! Praise Joshua!” then Joshua opens his mouth and lets out a loud cry – a cry of liberation, of the realization of the possibilities that lie within and which could only probably manifest if he himself proclaims it first!

So dear woman, 

I exhort you today, “Step forward and be seen!”. 

“Never hide in the shadows”. “Never let the world silence you!”. “Never let your own fears limit you!”

And while you are stepping forward, I ask you, “Who are you?”

It took me six years to realize the healing and propelling power in a message that was given to me in 2014 – to always recite my own Oriki and come to terms everyday with the power and possibilities that lie within me.

For if I carry the Spirit of God most high within me, then I cannot be helpless; I am most certainly not helpless; and I cannot say, “I have nothing, I know nobody, nobody will fight for me, nobody will help me”.

For I am Vivian Chigozie-Nmonwu;

Daughter of the Most-High God!

Under 40 wife of 16 years;

Mother of 4 excellent children of equal number of sexes, first child almost leaving secondary school!

Under 40 CEO of Vi-M Professional Solutions; the most innovative and technology inclined professional services firm of Nigerian origin;

Trustee at the MSME Crowd Funding Foundation, operators of Nigeria’s first Crowd Funding platform for supporting Micro, Small and Medium Businesses in Nigeria/ Africa;

Ex-manager at Deloitte Nigeria;

First ever consultant to be engaged (under the auspices of Vi-M Professional Solutions) by the Federal Inland Revenue Service to teach tax on a national newspaper;

Pioneered the compilation of Nigerian tax laws in a mobile app;

Pioneered a tax app that calculates VAT, WHT and PAYE;

Pioneered, Nigeria’s first crowdfunding platform for MSMEs;

Helped many businesses set up their accounting systems;

Pioneered the practice of tax accounting under the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in Nigeria, with team at the Deloitte IFRS Faculty and UK Centre of Excellence;

Pioneered Transfer Pricing in Nigeria with team at Deloitte;

Pioneered ‘InsideTax’ weekly newspaper publications at Deloitte;

Developed KPIs and appraisal forms for all staff below the manager level in the tax function of Deloitte Nigeria;

Consulted for hundreds of large, medium, small and micro businesses, including high net-worth individuals and non-residents;

Trained thousands of MSMEs on tax and accounting systems/ solutions – at the MSME Crowd Funding Foundation, on radio and in partnership with the Lagos Catholic Archdiocese;

Trained over 300 tax officials at FIRS and LIRS on International Financial Reporting Standards and tax accounting;

Won professional awards and recognitions, for innovation and excellent work;

Was part of the team that recruited Permanent Secretaries for Lagos State Government in 2020.

And I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!!!

Dear woman, 

I exhort you again today, “Step forward and be seen!”. 

Then look inwards and answer me: “Who are you?”.

corporate women, Women & Work, women in business, work life

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