My birthdays have always stirred something in me: excitement, fear, hope, anxiety, reflections. Last year, when I turned 26, the hopeful mood I was in
My birthdays have always stirred something in me: excitement, fear, hope, anxiety, reflections. Last year, when I turned 26, the hopeful mood I was in birthed my reflections in two separate articles to share with my fellow women followers. This year, one of my greatest motivators has been the evergreen Bola Ray, a Ghanaian household name in our media landscape. I’m yet to find someone privy to our music/media industry who isn’t inspired yet by his story. My Naija family might know him from his flagship “Ghana Meets Naija” annual concert.
As we entered my birth month, his 40th birthday celebrations became the biggest muse in crowing this milestone in my life. Bola might have turned 40, but you and I know his achievements thus far, could be spread beyond that number of years. As I reflected on my future plans, I couldn’t but go back every now and then to Bola. Below are some life lessons I’ve gathered from his entire career, and particularly, the “big deal” that was made of his 40th.
1. Own Your Age!
I said this last year when I turned 26, and I still maintain it! Own your age; male or female. Birthdays are one of the many mini-cycles of our lives that offer an opportunity to be both thankful for life and reflect on it. Unfortunately for us women, ageing is treated as a preventable disease and every step we take further away from our youth, is seen as a “misfortune” and not the blessing it really is, or should be. For instance, Bola’s 40th turned out to be a three-day celebration (see ghanacelebrities.com for photos and more). How many women in our personal and social circles gladly make such euphoria around their fortieth? By their mid-thirties, the pressure sinks in, and even if we should throw parties, the age attained is likely to be missing from the birthday cake.
No matter which stage you are at, there would always be more to be thankful for, than to be resentful of. It is easy to look on someone else’s life and see all the amazing things they’ve chalked for themselves and see nothing close to it in our own lives. I consider myself to be very strong-willed, but even I, have not hence escaped the “When are you getting married?,” “Do you have kids?” expectations people have upon finding out about my age. If for nothing at all, I want to use my birthday each year to encourage you to unlearn that bit about womanhood in our cultures for that, is the starting point to owning every other mundane phenomenon about our journey as women!
2. Be Intentional About Your Decisions/Choices
A few weeks ago, I shared an excerpt from our ongoing Women’s History Month series, “Reading Women.” It was a quote by Radio personality, Shamima Muslim as she shared her encounters with some of her favorite female authors. The quote reads; “Be a product of your choices, not a victim of your circumstances.” The message couldn’t be more self-explanatory. About three years ago when news broke of Bola Ray’s exit from Joy Fm and in extension, his bragging rights as the king of drive time radio shows in Ghana, many, like myself bemused at the ridiculousness, danger and ambitiousness of that move, especially when he wasn’t to be poached, but to begin a new, competing media brand, almost from scratch.. But fast forward to now, less than three years since that move, we can all testify how equally fulfilling its been for him, his family, and his team.
In a special interview with Kwame Sefa-Kayi on his birthday, Bola Ray revealed that, from the onset, he set up his mind to stay for 5 years on TV3’s “Music Music” show and 10 years at Joy Fm. I had to pause the recording and literally process that for some minutes. Like who does that? lol! When in essence, majority of his colleagues would most probably be looking to monopolize that position. But according to him, he first of all wanted to give others the opportunity to also shine and secondly, he wanted to “move on” to other endeavors. It was such a learning moment for me. I consider myself to be very “intentional” about what I want be it school, work, boys, clothes, shoes, food, etc. But that very moment, I learned I didn’t only have to plan, but I had to set time limits, deadlines, and stick to the plan. Ergo, when the time comes for you to move, move on!
3. Be strategic about your contacts, friends, acquaintances, business partners, etc.
I cannot even begin to list the brands and personalities Bola is involved with, either through his line of work, or friendships that have developed over the years. This 40th celebration obviously was the doing of an entire village of corporate bodies, powerful men (and women), and well wishers. Aside the “party” aspect of his birthday, you’d have to be crazy well-connected to be able to move swiftly in business like he’s been able to do in his career. Contacts are very necessary, and strategic contacts is a must for every serious-minded person. Forget about friends!
For most of us, the only thing holding us back are some friendships we are letting have strong holds on our movements. To a greater degree, for some of us, the many friendships/relationships we seem to be clinging on to, haven’t brought any unique improvements in any aspect of our life goals. So yes, maintain cordiality, but never feel bad about “moving on” and fraternizing with people who bring you closer to your goals. I have a lot of friends, and my boisterous personality seems to add on to them every single day. Nonetheless, there are certain contacts I don’t joke with – they are most critical to what I am today.
Be bold and chase after your dream enhancers. Ever since I made up my mind about feminism, I purposed to make my immediate circle my fellow feminist “sistas,” and they are people I learn from everyday. They directly or indirectly have impacted my knowledge and work in the field and nothing brings me joy than to recommend same for you: Surround yourself primarily with people whose daily lives and interactions with you impact your goals directly. It is very important.
4. Humility (Not the Ghanaian kind).
Bola Ray possess among many enviable qualities, humility. And it is a certain brand of humility riddled with stringent irony. His kind of humility is bold, it is daring, ambitious, relentless. His humility has a voice of its own and if it doesn’t speak for itself, it acts to show itself. His humility is the kind that should be preached to young Ghanaians, not the one that charges us to keep silent in the face of wrong; not to to be angry enough to change what we don’t like; and not to be even “honest” in showing our displeasure.
During his interview, Shatta Wale (self-proclaimed “king of dancehall” in Ghana) and Sarkodie (arguably Ghana’s most prominent rapper), both called in and even they, in their own kind of “awesome” melted at Bola’s feet. They both concurred, that they owed a huge part of their success to Bola’s and his “benevolence” in either expertise or contacts. Simultaneously, Kwame Sefa-Kayi dubiously managed to get Bola to come clean on the controversial “dismissal” of Nii Arday from his outfit, Star Fm. His unapologetic confirmation on the ordeal amazed and confused me at the same time! Bola’s strange combination of humility, grace and fierceness deserves to be written about. How does one pull that off so effortlessly? I hereby begin the bid to shadow him for his memoir. Ameeeeen!
5. Keep the dream alive (Be a product of your choices not a victim of your circumstances)
The party (parties) might have ended for his 40th birthday, but we all know this is just the beginning for team Bola! Just yesterday, pictures of what seemed like a new GhOne Tv branded mobile news production station circulated on my Facebook timeline. It only proves one thing: successful people never stop at one achievement. As a Ghanaian, it is an ethic I am picking up very consciously and cautiously, as it is in our nature to be very complacent with any significant achievement we chalk. They say life begins at forty for men but for team Bola, let’s replace “life” with “success.” Your dreams should never be exhaustible. Like Pastor Monroe said, we must rob the cemetery when its time for us to go there.
Happy 27th to me, and happy new age to you all!
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