I’ve Always Struggled With My Identity — Man Like Seni

June 20, 2021

What does it mean to be a man? Surely, it’s not one thing. It’s a series of little moments that add up. Man Like is a weekly Zikoko series documenting these moments to see how it adds up. It’s a series for men by men, talking about men’s issues. We try to understand what it means to “be a man” from the perspective of the subject of the week.


Today’s Man Like is Seni Oremodu, a 27-year old digital marketer. He talks about how his mother’s death and secondary school experiences made him lose his faith and interest in religion and dealing with an identity crisis.

What did you see yourself doing when you were younger?

I wanted to be a pastor. Everyone thought I was going to be a pastor. Then I started asking questions about religion no one could answer. I moved on to science. I wanted to be a nuclear scientist, but Nigeria has a way of narrowing the scope of your dreams. I opted to study chemical engineering instead. When I was 18, I visited a friend and met someone making beats. I picked up an interest in music production, and I made beats to make extra money in uni. In 300-level, I teamed up with a drummer friend and formed a boy band named Publiq.

When I graduated, someone asked me to manage a couple of social media accounts because my tweets were funny. I had no idea how to manage accounts. I flopped my way through that job, so I took courses in digital marketing to learn it. Digital marketing wasn’t what I had in mind since I studied chemical engineering, but when I get involved with a topic, I become completely obsessed with it. That’s what happened with digital marketing. I worked as a digital marketer for a couple of years. Now, I’m the head of growth at Onboardly, a startup.

Wow. That’s quite the professional journey. Tell me all about losing your religion.

Ah. Well. I grew up in Port Harcourt. I wasn’t aware at the time, but we were poor. I couldn’t afford certain things, but my parents did their best to provide. I only realised that I wasn’t in the same social class as other kids when they showed off toys in school.

My mom died when I was 12 and that sent me down a spiral.  Answers were not forthcoming when I asked questions, I read the entire bible, and it did little to satisfy me. I went on to read books about atheism by authors like Richard Dawkins, and I think it was in my teenage years that I swung into my agnosticism. 

When I got into secondary school, which was a military school in Uyo, I completely disconnected from religion due to the abuse and bullying.

Wow.

My dad sent me to a military school because he had the idea that it would make me stronger. I was beaten every day. It was so bad that the junior students used to fantasise about how they would beat juniors when they were promoted. 

Did it make me stronger? In a twisted way, yes. For example, I’m not afraid of soldiers. They beat us every day, so I don’t feel threatened when a soldier comes on the scene.

Did it affect your relationship with your dad?

I love my dad. I’m a lot like him. Because I was young when I lost my mother, my father’s character was heavily imprinted on me. He’s a very funny guy, and I got my sense of humour from him. I also got a lot of my morality from my dad. He used to make us do morning devotion every day, we always learnt something new. 

I inherited his just-do-it attitude, and I’m really proud of that. He had a fixation on ensuring my siblings and I learnt the multiplication table. He forced us to learn it by heart, claiming that if we knew the table, math would be easy. True to form, math and chemistry became my favourite subjects, hence my obsession with nuclear science and later, chemical engineering. He made me understand that it’s not too late to chase anything that interests you. To him, when you stop experiencing new things is when you stop living. He actually went back to school six years ago to study law, at 62 years old. He’s due to be called to the bar this year. 

He also taught me to be responsible. During my IT in 300-level, I was working in an oil company in Port Harcourt. My dad called one day and advised me to save up my money. When I was to resume 400-level, I asked my dad for money to pay my school fees. He laughed and said, “What did you think I was telling you to save for?” I paid my final year fees from my pocket.

LMAO. Who had the biggest impact on your idea of masculinity?

I’ve always struggled with my identity, having been born to Yoruba and Rivers parents. On one hand, I am a Rivers boy who spent my formative years in Port Harcourt, but I never really acclimatised because I was an indoorsy child. On the other hand, I’m a Yoruba boy in Lagos who can’t speak Yoruba. People often want to put me in a box and when I don’t fit neatly into any one, they’re not quite sure what to do with me. 

I was still unsure of my identity when it was time for university. Then I met my cousin, Niggydip in UNILAG. He was the older brother I never had. He’s the one who advised me to study chemical engineering instead of electrical engineering, given my mathematical talents. He always looked out for me and made sure I was fine in school. He actually introduced me to puns. He took me under his wings, took me to shows and concerts while I was in school. He’s the kind of guy to make sure everyone around him was taken care of. I looked up to him for everything and actively tried to model my life after his.

In my final year in uni, he had a cardiac arrest while he was out jogging and slumped. Bystanders, instead of helping him, robbed him of his personal effects instead. I cried. I also missed his burial. On the day of his funeral, I had an exam scheduled. I rushed through the exams to try to make the ceremony, but I was too late.

I’m sorry man. How did you deal with that?

You learn to move on.  Life just has a way of going on, no matter how heavy the grief is in your heart. You grieve until you can talk about the person without breaking down every time. Life just has a way of going on, no matter how heavy the grief is in your heart. I learnt to move with the times because one minute, people are consoling you for your loss, the next, they’re back to tweeting about Lai Mohammed. 

My support system also helped me get through it. 

I’m glad. What are you looking forward to?

Because I didn’t grow up around a lot of money, I’ve been a content person. I can be stingy to myself. My career gradually went on an upward trajectory, and I started making more money but didn’t have much to spend money on. I’ve decided that I work too hard to deny myself things, so I’m trying to learn to buy things for myself and give myself treats like vacations. Like my dad, I believe the moment you stop experiencing things is when you start dying, so I intend to experience as much as I can. I want to travel and find things that I enjoy. 

Check back every Sunday by 12 pm for new stories in the Man Like series. If you’d like to be featured or you know anyone that would be perfect for this, kindly send an email.

Are you a man who would like to be interviewed for a Zikoko article? Fill this form and we’ll be in your inbox quicker than you can say “Man Dem.”

Olufemi Fadahunsi

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

August 26, 2020

Many people seem to have different ideas of what it means to be a man. Here’s our own addition to that list: 1) If you can’t fight off armed robbers. Without any weapon. 2) If you can’t kill a snake. Using only your hands. 3) If you can’t cheat quietly. Why must you always confess […]

March 23, 2021

Men, who are often considered the wreckers of relationships, are rarely considered as victims of heartbreak. I spoke to four Nigerian men about their experiences. Here’s what they had to say. Bayo, 27 I’m always the one getting broken up with, so I have plenty of break up stories. The first one dumped me for […]

July 15, 2020

Money is a universal thing binding all of us. Whether young or old. Just how different is our outlook towards money the older we get? Especially as men. Let’s get into it: 1) Attitude towards savings: 20s: I’ll save when I have money. 30s: I’ll save when I have more money. 2) Retirement: 20s: I’ll […]

February 28, 2021

What does it mean to be a man? Surely, it’s not one thing. It’s a series of little moments that add up. “Man Like” is a weekly Zikoko series documenting these moments to see how it adds up. It’s a series for men by men, talking about men’s issues. We try to understand what it means […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

July 31, 2021

Angel, one of the resident Gen-Z’s in the ongoing Big Brother Nigeria has shown us that beyond being self-aware, she is also very funny. Here are a few times Angel has shown us that she is one of the top 5 funny women in Nigeria. 1. She being a generous and accomodating side chick. 2. […]

July 31, 2021

Here are 9 quizzes for Geography experts. If you’re truly one, you shouldn’t have any problem acing them. 1. QUIZ: Only Smart Nigerians Can Score 20/25 On This A-Z Geography Quiz How many Nigerian cities and states do you know from A-Z? Get up to 20 on this quiz to prove you’re smart. N.B: The answer […]

July 31, 2021

Sex Life is an anonymous Zikoko weekly series that explores the pleasures, frustrations and excitement of sex in the lives of Nigerians. TW: Sexual Abuse. The subject of today’s Sex Life is a 28-year-old heterosexual woman who talks about hating condoms and how all that changed after an STD and two pregnancies.   What was your […]

July 31, 2021

Truth or Dare can be a fun game to play whether you’re hanging in with friends or you’re playing drinking games. However, it can get old really quick if you don’t have the right questions or dare. So we put together a couple of truth or dare questions to ask a guy at the next […]

Recommended Quizzes

December 11, 2019

In the past month, we’ve made quizzes that guessed the last time you had sex, how many people you’ve slept with, and just how good you are in bed. For our latest attempt, we will use your taste in Nigerian music from the 2010s to ascertain what you’re like in bed. Take to find out:

how tall are you
March 11, 2020

Did your parents give you enough beans when you were growing up? If they did, then you’re probably around 6’0″ and above. Either way, we created a quiz that can guess your current height (pretty accurately, if we do say so ourselves). Take to see if we nailed it:

January 2, 2020

Do you have even a single romantic bone in your body? Well, if you’re not sure about just how sweet and thoughtful you can be to someone you love, that’s what this quiz is here to answer. 11 Quizzes For Nigerians Who Are Ready To Marry  Are you ready to marry? Take these quizzes.

November 25, 2019

We already guessed how many people you’ve slept with, and y’all were out here denying the truth. Anyway, we won’t hold that against you. This time, however, we’ve created a quiz that predicts who you’ll sleep with next — so you can either prepare or try (unsuccessfully) to prevent it. So, take and see:

More from Man Dem

July 31, 2021

Truth or Dare can be a fun game to play whether you’re hanging in with friends or you’re playing drinking games. However, it can get old really quick if you don’t have the right questions or dare. So we put together a couple of truth or dare questions to ask a guy at the next […]

July 29, 2021

Modern day beauty standards sets a high bar for what society considers attractive. Anything outside the small box is considered unappealing, without consideration for the emotional and mental well-being of people living in those bodies. I met Tayo* through a comment he left on a Zikoko Instagram post about fatphobia, as he had gone through […]

July 26, 2021

Evil Nigerian women are like little devils, roaming around, looking for whom to devour. Thanks to Momsy’s prayers, you have managed not to fall into the grasp of evil Nigerian women. If you have, my condolences to you. May affliction not rise a second time. If it had already risen a second time, you need […]

July 12, 2021

If you date Nigerian men, here are some of the kinds you might enter into a relationship with or have already been in a relationship with. 1) Oedipus complex This kind of man only dates women who look like, talk like and act like his mother. Whenever you hang out, he brings his mother into […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X