A Generation of strong women
A letter to Ngozi Okonjo Iweala
I write these letters to two strong women who have influenced who I am and who I am becoming over the coming weeks.
To the power house of finance and economics, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala.
It is a pleasure to be writing to you, at this age and in this particular stage of my life. I waited long enough for this perfect time, having fully understood the implication of this both to my present self and my future self.
Let me start by saying how much I adore your attire-promoting Nigeria both at home and abroad. You inspire me to embrace my cultural roots in language and dressing, even though I’m not particularly cultural (given my upbringing and all). Thank you!
You’re Phenomenal! You must have heard this an infinite number of times. You must have received a lot of acclaim for all you are, including your zeal, ingenuity, flair, and elegance. Your type comes in a box.
I don’t intend for this letter to be one of many flattery and empty words. Nevertheless, I feel I might not be able to say what hasn’t already being said. However, I will speak from my heart.
I first began observing you when I was 14 or thereabout- you and the late Mrs. Dora Akuyili, the information minister at the time.
Homage and Respect to the Late Dora Akuyili
I admired you (and continue to admire you) because you gave (and continue to give) me hope that women can attain positions of power.
At the time, I thought glasses were the signature of brilliant people, therefore I wanted to wear them like you. I desired to match your brilliance, something I still strive to do. Thank you for igniting a child’s interest in leadership.
Sadly (or perhaps not) myopia set in, and I had to start wearing glasses.
I had no idea that life was directing me in your direction. I’m an Economics Hons graduate, just like you, and I have an unquenchable desire to work at the World Bank.
I’ve been told that I have bold dreams, which is true. But after witnessing what you have accomplished, I can’t help but feel that my goals are meager.
You have achieved several firsts at an incredible young age, including the first woman to hold the position of Finance Minister of Nigeria for two terms, the first woman to serve as Director General of the World Trade Organization, and the first African to do so.
Thank you for removing the fear of daring to be a woman with a powerful presence. I may not have accomplished any firsts at this age and stage of my life, however resting on your shoulders, I will achieve my first soonest.
Phew! It feels great not to be embarrassed typing this or feeling undeserving of success.
In a nation that is consider corrupt, you have put up a valiant fight to end corruption. Being on the side of integrity has cost you personally; it has even hurt you, but you have persevered.
Although I haven’t read any of your works, I believe they are all a reflection of your intelligence and excellence. I’m eager to read, reread, and put the ones that are applicable into practice.
You did a great job of raising two wonderful kids who excel in their own areas. The persons your children have become, I can see the guiding influence of you and your spouse. Thank you for nurturing their talents and encouraging their passions. In an age where parents were choosing careers for their children, thank you for being different.
I end my flattery with this- Don’t stop being great- give us (who are watching you) an energy to match. Keep at excellence till your last breath.
I hope an opportunity is opened someday to have this conversation.
“Many daughters have done nobly, and well [with the strength of character that is steadfast in goodness], But you [Ngozi] excel them all.”
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