Contributed by: Onyeka Nwelue
Imet Tony Elumelu finally in New York. I didn’t think it was ideal to ask him to grant me one minute in Nigeria, because of his busy schedule and because so many people jostle for his attention as well. I was staying in Stamford in Connecticut with my friend. I had emailed Mr. Elumelu around 11am and after some minutes, he replied through the Research Associate of The Tony Elumelu Foundation, Ms Somachi Chris-Asoluka.
On getting to New York, there was traffic and I texted Ms Somachi if she was gracious enough to postpone my meeting by 10 minutes. I was at the reception of Four Seasons Hotel when Mr. Elumelu waltzed in, draped in black body-fit and black trousers. He looked very young and smiled all through. I went to introduce myself to him. At first, he was taken aback; he looked at me sternly and I could only smile because I knew what he was looking at: my clothes and hat and beads and rings. I introduced myself to him and he smiled again.
Mr. Elumelu spent quite some time with me, even though he was rushing out to somewhere. He is a man who understands what he wants. If Mr. Elumelu isn’t a feminist, I would be troubled, because it seems, from a documentary made on him that I have seen, that 80% of the people who head his companies are women. They have completely made his life beautiful. Where are the men at The Tony Elumelu Foundation? Maybe, there are a few.
But, that is the essence of living at the moment, where all songs have been rewritten to, It’s A Woman’s World. This is to say that Mr. Elumelu understands human predicament. Those who want to succeed must look up to Mr. Elumelu, but the painful part of it, is the fact that he has no book or even a film detailing his struggles. More so, we have read books and seen films on Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. If Mr. Elumelu wants me to keep admiring him, he must be able to share his pain, angst, obstacles with the younger generation, especially those whom is guidedly believe that his life has always been rosy and that everything has worked as planned.
Ms Parminder Vir, the Chief Executive Officer of The Tony Elumelu Foundation almost forfeited her meeting to speak with me on so many things. On a light and happy note, Ms Vir isn’t just a business woman; she is a creative with a very open mind. She understands what works and truly, the Foundation is blessed with her heading it. I think the fact that she creates, through the art of film, intensifies everything. I spent time talking about my work as a teacher with her. She was surprised to learn that I have been teaching free in different institutions and that alone gladdened her. I have always opined that no one truly finds money. The more we chase money, the more it keeps running. She understands this and this is where her beauty lies: understanding every situation.
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