“A Week In The Life” is a weekly Zikoko series that explores the working-class struggles of Nigerians. It captures the very spirit of what it means to hustle in Nigeria and puts you in the shoes of the subject for a week.
The subject for today’s “A Week In The Life” is a doctor currently waiting for his youth service. He talks about choosing not to practice medicine, discovering his love for entertainment, and why he shows up every day.
On most days, I typically wake up by 8 am but I don’t stand up from the bed until 9 am. I’m currently in the phase between finishing my mandatory house job program and waiting for NYSC so I have some ‘free’ time. I say ‘free’ because the coronavirus and the lockdown are delaying me from going to NYSC camp. All I can do is wait patiently for the government to say something. Anything at all. Even if it’s that they cancelled the 3 weeks orientation camp so that I can just start NYSC and move on with my life. However, since they aren’t saying anything, I’m trying to make the best use of this period.
This period is depressing for me in two ways: Firstly, because there are no events happening, I can’t host shows. I can’t entertain and make people happy as I normally would. I’m a master of ceremonies and I enjoy making people happy and shutting down shows. Secondly, because of the lockdown, I can’t go for service, so this makes me feel stuck. To prevent idleness, I’ve gotten a remote job as a health consultant on an app. where I interact with patients and give health tips. I’ve also started hosting some radio and TV shows as an in-house doctor where I talk about common sports injuries. Additionally, I’ve also dived into content creation for my social media and Youtube channels.
Today, after sorting out food and running some errands, I’m going to focus on creating content for those channels. I plan to finish today but if I can’t, I’ll roll it over to tomorrow. Whatever happens, I must be done creating by Tuesday evening because Wednesdays through Fridays are for shooting videos. I really can’t wait to see what I come up with.
I didn’t finish creating content yesterday so I’m continuing today. Even though I appreciate that I have time to do what I love, I’m starting to consider getting a proper 9 -5. Only my remote job pays me a salary and that’s barely sustaining me these days. For now, the television and radio gigs I’m doing are mostly out of passion and not because of money. If it was because of the money, I’d have quit a long time ago.
I once swore that I could no longer practise clinical medicine but these days, as things are getting tighter, I’m starting to entertain the thought. In the past, when I hear anything clinically related, I’d just turn off like engine. When my classmates advertise locum jobs, I’d un-look. However, these days I find myself asking if I’m sure that I don’t need that extra ₦5,000. Now, I look at job opportunities and feel bad for not taking it. I just hope it doesn’t reach the stage where I’ll have to take one of these jobs because I have no interest at all. I need to shake off these thoughts and focus. Pre-COVID, I’d not have been bothered because I always had an event every other weekend and that made me enough money to keep pushing it.
I’m doubling down on creating my content plan today because tomorrow is shoot day. I have to make sure that everything is good to go. In the middle of this, I also plan to cook my favourite food of Jollof rice and white beans because, at the end of the day, I can’t kill myself.
I’m up early today because my show starts by 8:30 am. I have my bath, get ready, and quickly rush down to the radio station. My show ends by 9:30 am and once I’m done, I head over to shoot my videos. I work with a management team for the videos so they handle all the production and heavy lifting. After all the stress of the shooting is done, we take pictures, play games and just chill.
I’ve had an extremely productive day.
Today, I’m not going anywhere so that I can save my t-fare. Money is tight so I have to plan my outings well. I’m reminiscing about how much I miss being an M.C and t’s funny how I got started on this path.
In my final year of medical school, I was confused about what to do with my life so I started asking around. I was sure that I didn’t want clinical medicine but I didn’t know what I wanted. Luckily, I read a book by Teju Babyface – Secrets Of The Streets and that motivated me to explore this path. In the book, Teju listed characteristics of an MC and I fit the description perfectly. However, it was still not an easy journey because coming from my medical background to entertainment was hard. It was difficult to find people with a similar background. Thankfully, I met a mentor called Dr Hakeem who put me through. He took me around and taught me the ropes of the business and I’m forever indebted to him.
I’ll never forget the first big event I hosted which was a wedding. After a while doing free shows and ₦10,000 – ₦30,000 shows, I decided to shoot my shot and charge ₦100,000 for a wedding. In my mind, I was like they’d price me down to ₦30,000 and I’d still kill the show. I remember the groom saying that the price was too much but he could only afford ₦75,000. I put on a straight face along with big English. I was like “this is below my usual rate but because of the circumstance under which we met and who introduced you, I’ll do it. I consider you family.” But in my head, I was asking myself who sent me message. Immediately, the groom left like this, I called my mentor [Dr Hakeem] to cry on the phone that I had bitten more than I could chew. That I overpromised even though I’d never hosted a wedding alone before. He ended up calming me down and coaching me on what to do. From the day they paid my fee till the wedding, I couldn’t sleep because I kept on asking myself who sent me message. I’m sure that my blood pressure went up during that period.
To further worsen things, my final year medical exams were moved to the weekend of the wedding. Exams in medical school are split into one week of theory and one week of practical/oral exams. Initially, the wedding was supposed to be two days after my final exams and that’s why I took it. Then, exams got moved by a week so the wedding fell on the weekend after the theory exam and just before the practical exam.
I couldn’t sleep and I also couldn’t refund the money because I had spent it. It was like my village people were out to finally get me.
Somehow, I found a way to do it. Immediately after my last theory exam for that week[on a thursday], I started preparing for the wedding which was on that Saturday. I had barely one day to do all of the runnings. At the wedding, I was so scared because my mind kept on going back to my books. My mates were studying for exam while I was jumping up and down. I remember that I wore a grey suit that was soaked with sweat. Not from the jumping, but out of fear. At the end of the day, I did the wedding, killed it, and ran back to school to continue studying. To add to my win, I passed my exam in one sitting which also shocked a lot of people.
I learned a valuable lesson from that incident- If you don’t try some things, you’ll never know what can come out from it. You just need to be brave. I think that lesson is part of why I’m still pushing it during this period even though things are not so smooth.
All this thinking is exhausting, I’m going to spend the rest of the day doing what I truly love, which is sleeping. Tomorrow, I go again.
I’m on my way to the studio this morning. I have a show on T.V from 10 – 11 am. After that, I’m going on the radio by 11 am where I’m going to talk about sports injuries. I do all these because my end goal is to combine these skills into opening a media house focused on health communications. The space is relatively untapped and I hope to be a pioneer. Since I have no plans to leave the country, this is my way of showing up. I’m hopeful that everything will add up and by the time I’m forty, I’ll be close to achieving that reality.
It’s scary sometimes thinking about it because, at the end of the day, na money be fine bobo. All these things must translate to living a comfortable life. At least let me be able to sustain my family and plan. The world is moving away from certificates to talents – If I can keep putting in the hard work, taking short courses, creating relationships, and learning from people, I’m sure that it’ll pay off. It also helps that I am very fluid. I might have dreams that are in pillars but they are not fixed. If something comes up tomorrow and based on available information, I feel that’s the next step that’ll benefit me, I’ll dive into it.
For now, all I can do is control the present.
As at today, I’m just praying that the government re-opens event centres. Abeg, let events just come back. Even if they give me mic say make I stand for road dey shout. I go take am. I have missed events – That dressing up, looking good, having fun and collecting money. I’ve missed it so much and it has affected me.
I can’t wait for things to return to normal.