OUR BLACK HISTORY MONTH CELEBRATIONS AT THE UK HOUSE OF PARLIAMENT, HOW IT ALL STARTED FROM THE GIFT OF A SPLIT SECOND
One of the most fascinating revelations in Life is that it can sometimes take just a split second for great breakthroughs to unfold.
There have been periods at different stages in my life where all it took was a smile, a firm handshake or a reassuring statement to attract a new moment that eventually developed into a success story.
My journey of organizing The Black History Celebrations at The UK House of Parliament started from one of those funny split seconds that I will never forget.
I will never forget the very first time I met MP Alok Sharma, I had been invited to The UK House of Parliament by a friend of mine, Cecily Mugo from Kenya, who was launching one of her books at an inspirational women empowerment event and at the time, I was a Radio presenter and producer for an African Inspirational talk show in Reading called AFRICA4U,
I had only been a Radio presenter for two years and I was attracting a strong following of new audiences from African communities in Europe and around the world.
My first ever award was “NIGERIAN RADIO PRESENTER OF THE YEAR IN EUROPE” awarded at the time by NEA (NIGERIAN EUROPEAN AWARDS).
I had been really looking forward to Cecilys book launch as I had not caught up with her for ages; I also imagined it would be a perfect opportunity to conduct some audio interviews at Parliament
Cecily had a natural gift for organizing inspirational events and as expected, there was a good turn out on the day and some amazing speakers. .
It was my very first time at The Uk house of Parliament, it was an overwhelming feeling and I wondered to myself, would I ever get the opportunity to organise an event here one day.
My thoughts were interrupted by a composed gentleman who gracefully approached the podium, there was something profound and reassuring about this gentleman and aS he began to speak, I found out why.
MP Alok Sharma held the microphone firmly, his eyes were filled with a passion that was warm and profound.
He spoke about how important IT was for communities to work together and gave examples of how many migrants were making a difference to communities in The UK every day, And then he said something that immediately caught my attention, I remember those words till this day “If you ever have any ideas that you want to share with me, I am here to help, so please approach me directly”
As he finished his speech, he commended Cecily for putting a great event together and then began to leave the room, I quickly began to follow him, I simply had no ideas in my head at the time, but something just told me “Tony – stop this man and talk to him”
I was also expecting he would be approached by a crowd of people after the speech, but to my surprise, I was the only one.
I caught up with him in the corridors and introduced myself as a Radio presenter for an African inspirational talk show in Reading, it felt easy to talk with him and since I had not come up with any ideas, I simply asked him if he would like to come on my radio show as a guest.
He then asked me to send him an email so that we could slot in a convenient date
When I got home that evening, I sent MP Sharma an email and he got back to me a couple of days later to say that he would be happy to come on my radio show on the 21st of July 2013
I had only been a Radio presenter for two years and I had built a listening audience from scratch with a following in very many countries, little did I know at the time that these were the early days of my brand.
I was inspired to become a Radio presenter when I got to meet the late Jamaican Radio legend- Derrick Kirk Anthony who took Lagos by storm whilst working at Smooth FM in Lagos, Mr Anthony previously worked for Choice FM in London.
I was looking forward to my Radio show with MP Alok Sharma, I had already interviewed many famous Africans in The UK, Each evening I would ponder on thoughts and ideas to share with MP Alok, my mind was always racing, and it never stopped.
And then one day, it came to me while at work, I thought to myself, what it would take to organise A Black History Event at The UK House of Parliament.
As each day passed by, I kept on thinking of the idea of A Black History month celebrations at The UK House of Parliament, already I had interviewed Black historians, famous community leaders and inspirational achievers on my show and began to imagine how the House of Parliament would be a great platform for community achievers, historians and the youth to network, share knowledge and become empowered by inspirational game changers of society.
On the 21st of July 2013, MP Sharma was a guest on my radio show in Reading and coincidentally, my sister and her husband were visiting from the states at the time and so they also came to the radio studio in Reading and met MP Sharma and we all took pictures together.
I interviewed MP Sharma for an hour on local politics, community cohesion, the importance of nation building and many other community matters.
My sister and her husband listened to the live interview from the reception in the studio, it was a memorable day.
As MP Alok was about to leave the studio, I popped the question that had plagued my mind for days
“Alok” I said, I would like to organize A Black History month event at The up House of Parliament because I believe that with the brand I have created on my radio show, it will surely go places.
He fell quiet, and starred at me for a few moments, give me a few days to think about it he said and we left it at that.
A few days later, I received an email from MP Alok saying that he was happy to sponsor a room space for a black History Month event in parliament for Wednesday the 30th of October 2013
And that was how it all started.
Sometimes a split second is all it takes for great moments to unfold.
Sometimes all it might take is being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes it take a smile, a firm handshake, a statement or doing or saying something out of the ordinary.
But at all times, we always need to persevere, work hard, go the extra mile and express our purpose through our actions.
Have you been trying so hard to get the ideal job of your dreams? Well keep trying – it just takes a split second
Are you worried that you are getting older and you still have not found your soul mate, well, it is never too late -keep trying – it just takes a split second
Is business slow and things not going as well as you wished- stay positive,adapt new strategies and audience keep trying – it just takes a split second
Do you sometimes feel as if you have come to the end of the road? STAND UP, BE PASSIONATE AND PERSEVERE keep trying – it just takes a split second
It still surprises many people when I tell them that my journey has been filled with many challenges, failures and moments of doubt, good things do not come easy, but the art of passion and a thirst for life flows naturally
I am still on a journey, trying to make the most of split seconds as the gift of each day unfolds and my prayer is that we all make the most of split seconds that lie before our very eyes , find our purpose and let the world hear our story