THE UNCLEAR CLARITY – Chapter 4
Whatever your hands find to do is more than enough for the season you are currently in so do it well, but don’t be satisfied with doing what you have well, be committed to building yourself as well because most of the time, the knowledge you need to do what you do now is not enough for what the future requires. You’ve used your past to prepare for now, use your now to prepare for a future you desire even when it’s unexpected, and remember to do it well as well.- Abidemi ‘Babaolowo’ Oderinlo.
The nugget above has little or nothing to do with this chapter of my diary, but let me sound like Aristotle as usual, “he no dey pass like that”.
One thing I’ve noticed overtime is that when I take a break from academic learning for some time, it’s always a struggle getting back into the routine, but there is no time that I have had a reason to learn something new that it had become mission impossible. I love reading, and I read almost everything I see in print, including my own writings and sometimes, I wonder what I was thinking when I penned my thoughts the way I did when I read them. My reading habit was very bad, so bad back then that my “Mai Suya” friend in Ilupeju noticed it enough to always ask me before tearing through the paper he wants to use to wrap suya for me. He will be like “oga make he cut am abi I still dey read am for paper” and I’ll just smile and give him the go-ahead, or sometimes I take the page I’m reading so that I can finish the story. Other times, I just ignore and let him wrap things up because in the end, the suya is always “importanter”. I don’t just read, I read meaning into everything because I believe writers created this world as we see it. Without writing, nothing will be re-experienced and knowledge will not be created. Do I need to tell you that writing is not just text? Writing is every form of art you’ve seen… painting, sculpting etc. Everything that naturally exist was writing by God with words, the leaves and trees, the fine print on the skin of every being, the palm of your hands and everything that God and man has created is a form of writing.
Well! I remember the most interesting signage I’ve ever read in my entire life; it was at the Knowledge Village in Dubai. The signage was the marker for the designated smoking area and the sign simply read “Smoking Helps You Loose Weight, One Lung At A Time”. I wasn’t a smoker, I had only stumbled on it during the outdoor shoot of “CHESS”, the short movie we shot at SAE Dubai, and the message stuck harder than the popular chants of “smoking kills” or “smokers are liable to die young”, that signage for me was the most creative piece of conscious information I have ever read my whole life, and I still see it in my head every time I see anyone smoking cigarettes today. I’m sure the sign did not stop any smoker from smoking, but it was point creative enough, targeted, weighty, witty and it carried a direct message. The signage had so much clarity that reverberated, just like the message of the boss at the beginning of our Solution Media and Infotech Journey; clear and simple, weighty and targeted.
When we began, it was at the dining table our boss with eighteen staffers squeezing around the table as we listen to the clear and definite plan of the company, all written down in his head like Jesus and we like the disciples at the table with him. We listened as he wrote his desire to build and project the brand as a local company that offers the very apex of world class entertainment solution and services with state-of-the-art equipment, and refined expertise that will put the Nigeria Entertainment industry on a new pedestal for the rest of the world to see in exciting quality through Solution Media, the company that we now carry and represent. His aspiration and objectives were presented in the most enchanting way and without ambiguity, the tools required were already being provided and access to the expertise required to make it all work was being provisioned as well. Like I indicated before, the high-end cameras and production equipment we used during the training belong to the company already, with more on the way and there were more trainings ahead, the goal was visible to the blind, and meaningful to the deaf mute. The boss in his regal, towering physique presented it all as a man that will lead the charge from the front and he did, detailing all and it was as clear and direct as the message on that signage so I fell for it. Trust me, it was almost impossible not become spell bound listening to him, but not without noticing signs that it was all for his own good pleasure which was perfect. Ultimately, that is why we all do everything we all do to succeed I guess?
The video production arm was only a bite of the apple, there was studio and live sound production in the work, digital print, show light, lasers for entertainment and mixed multimedia services for indoor and out events and event support services. Although IT Management and Support was a core function, it was secondary to me because Laser x Multimedia for entertainment was my core interested, but I was an integral part of everything and I had formed a ring around all the different identities of the company, and made it work together with the team. Getting back to Lagos from Dubai was coming back to work and learn as we moved straight from the airport to classes at Orange Academy in Maryland, Lagos. Laser wasn’t new to indoor and outdoor entertain around the world, but programmable laser x multimedia was new, and totally alien to the Nigeria and perhaps, Africa’s entertainment space. The implementation of the new system required 3D animation, Visual Effects and more so naturally, I went to work.
The popular Charles with the trending #MonologueChallenge on Instagram was the lead instructor for the 3D and Visual Effects training, while Eny (can’t remember his surname) presented himself as the Chief Imagination Officer was for the creative thinking part of the course and he did a good job at his job. The training was tri-parted and it began with the ideation classes, followed with learning how to use different tools to turn the ideas into visuals, and rounded with presenting the visuals to the world. We started off with familiarizing ourselves with the tools like “Cinema 4D” (C4D) for creating 3D objects and animation, “After Effects” (AE) for visual effect and compositing. I was familiar with AE and not C4D but C4D was just another software, and I got a hang of the basics in no time. For weeks unending, I resumed at the office, went for the training at Orange and returned to the office to cater to my duties, before rounding the day off with my colleagues in toll. The laser programming and design training was scheduled already and we received documents, as well as study materials that we could use in preparation for the training so I spend my time at, and off work either working on assignments from Orange, or getting a hang of the laser equipment and training ahead, meaning every hour of the day that I was awake was committed to work and I enjoyed it.
As soon as some of our production equipment arrived, we share the specs with Charles and his team and their excitement was way more than the I’d have imagined. They apparently knew more about the equipment and were shocked anyone will invest so much in buying stuffs like a full Davinci Resolve console hardware setup for colouring, or a Phantom Flex but it didn’t really matter to me, all I was in for was seeing everything come together to create the envisioned results. Classes were fun, and the most memorable class for me was a particular session we had with Eny on generating original ideas from real life events with the abstract to create exciting experiences. After going through the drill, he suggested that we use weddings as our hypothesis for creating specific ideas. To achieve the task, he requested that each person come up with the most abstract item that represents a union that a wedding cake can be modelled after, and every member of the class came up with almost regular items until it got to my turn and I suggested a “bolt and nut” styled cake. My suggestion struck a chord and he asked me to defend it so I stood up and explained the similarities, how they both represent the coming together of two different entities made out of the same material to hold a thing together working as a unit, and the idea became the crust of our learning for the day until we rounded up the training and headed back to the office. Somehow, that conversation got to the office and before I knew, “Bolt n Nut” became a thing like “High Impact Entertainment”, and was immediately being considered to be used as the theme for a family reality show. The conversation around that went on and on in the office, but it never really went beyond the curves.
Like a few more ideas after it, “Bolt n Nut” never became a thing but it stuck with us for a while. In another week, we were done with Orange Academy and I was classified “Extra Hot” on the diploma I received for the training. With Orange out of the way, we moved faster with setting up and defining the company functionally as a team, and since the office was operating from our boss’ home. we literally took over the ground floor of his duplex and relegated him to the upper wing, only the kitchen was still his property on ground. I had the editing MacPro set up at the bar of the living room, the Davinci Resolve console was rigged into the now former storage room and a whole lot of things were shifted in different directions. Before we returned from our maiden trip to Dubai, Abel had begun the design of a payroll system using Microsoft Access, created email accounts for all staff and together the registered hosting and together, we ramped up a system that handled the process for the HR personnel. A lot of things were happening at once, not more than we could handle so we kept things cool while the software and engineering team kept preparing for the laser experience in the background, looking forward to the training that was scheduled for Germany later in the year. I practically worked with every department day and night when required, making sure that everything was rolling while we await the arrival of the big guns.
Sometimes on a Wednesday in July 2011, I got a call from the office after work that I should come to the office the next day with my passport and I did. I had thought it was the beginning of the preparation for the training that was scheduled for September in Germany but I was wrong, our boss was going on a pre-training inspection of the laser entertainment equipment he ordered and decided I was to go with him on the trip and along with three others, making it a team of five. I was at GTBank the next day to get my statement of account, and a temporary ID was made for us with the name of the Engineering company of the boss since that was the identity he used when he established contact with German supplier during their first meeting, and the name of the company had already been used in preparing the invitation letters for the planned visit. Yes! My name was already on the invitation letter and I didn’t even know it, and a visa interview appointment had already been booked at the German Embassy in Lagos for the Monday of the following week. By Sunday we all assembled at the house/office, prepared our application document with the travel agent “Ronke” who also happen to be Dayo’s sister, slept over at house and moved very early to Walter Carrington in VI for the scheduled visa application interview. I spent a good part of the night reading up more about what we’ve acquired from Lobo, racking up the technical details and preparing as if I was going to write an examination in the morning. I rocked the “Sacoor Brothers blazer” I was gifted in Dubai to the visa interview because he insisted that we dress corporate, and two weeks later, the visas were out.
The Visa interview was actually an interesting experience. After the initial “Gra Gra” by one particular gatekeeper that confirms appointments at the entrance, we queued in as required, and for undisclosed security reasons, we had to deposit our phones at the entrance before proceeding to the waiting area for the interview itself. Interviews were done in sessions depending on the reservation made, and the fees were collected at the embassy as at then, apparently because online payment processes weren’t trusted yet in Nigeria. We got the tallies and sat down in groups, those scheduled for the afternoon sessions were kept in another waiting area within the embassy while we that were scheduled for the morning filed in. We waited for over an hour before it got to our turn, and my boss went in first, followed by the ladies and I took the last spot as arranged. When I got to the interview point and submitted my documents through the glass partition, the young, dark, fine lady went through the documents and practically just fished out my statement of account and returned it back to me with the comment “I don’t think they’ll want to see that since you’re not the one paying for the trip” and we both laughed at the same time because the dub was heavy and denting aka evident. She asked me “why do you want to go on this trip” and I answered her with “it’s actually not a want, I actually need to because the technology we already acquired is new to the Nigerian market, we need to have a full understanding of the system because we are not planning to bring in expatriates to run it when it arrives in Nigeria”, she agreed with me a nod, collected my passport, gave me the stud of a document she filled and simply said “that’s what you’ll use to pick up your passport in two weeks, you can go now”. In my head I was like “wait, so all the jargons that I’ve been reading about the laser tech is inside my pocket”? God no go shame us!
During these times, the only thing I did that wasn’t all about learning or working was the 50th birthday of our MD. I wasn’t part of the planning but I was part of the plan. We snuck a brand-new Ford sedan into his compound while he was in church with his family for the birthday thanksgiving service, and we rolled the day into a real full blown party. The party was well attended, even my cousin from Abeokuta was in attendance and that was unexpected for me but not a surprise. Remember I told you my boss was a politician? Well, my cousin Ademola was also a politician and he’d served with him during his stint as the Chairman of Abeokuta South LGA so he was invited and we all merry together. At some point during the party, the boss came to where we were seated and doled out cash to all of his staff so that we can go join the fun, spray the celebrant and we did, but that was about the only time it happened to all of us although it happened a couple of more times at different events. Work resumed the next day and I drowned myself in the whole of it, loosing myself and becoming so much of the business that it practically became my new identity amongst friends and foes.
Drowning myself totally in work and totally forgetting myself at the beginning was easy, because I was running with the picture that was written in my head and mind with words, and the actions that followed painted it so well that I could almost hold unto it. Like a lady in love, a young man in fantasia, I saw only what can be achieved, and was ready to abandon myself to get it done because in achieving it, I would have created a new me that knew no limit, I only forgot that loosing me to create the dream of another will never birth a new me unless our dreams and aspiration aligns. A dream is always subject to the whims of the dreamer, and it will only come alive and live for as long as the dreamer deem it fit to live or choose to shape and keep it alive. How I wish I had listened to the Aristotle advice I gave at the beginning of this chapter, maybe I would have become better for both and not only let loose and loss myself to everything. But in the end, I became better for myself so I have no regrets because everything made me better in the end.
I am Abidemi ‘Babaolowo’ Oderinlo