Okikiola Afolabi


I ought to be better than I was. I can be better than I have been. I must be better than I am. I will be better. Through out the span of my quite long life* on planet earth, my one-word mantra has being ‘better’. You can always be better than you are presently. You can always inspire others to be better too. I grew up a little girl with big words, faithful that I can change my story, my family’s and the story of the world around me for better.

I used to tutor and mentor three girls that live in our community. I was a little girl teaching little girls to become better in all aspects of their life. Among the three, there was one who did not have plans of furthering her education after secondary school because it was her family tradition. I cannot say I was able to successfully convince her to go to college or the university but I know she became willing to change the narrative for herself and her family. Now the girls are older and in senior secondary school and even though I was only a minute factor in their education, I feel proud every time I see the young ladies they have become. I still pass along books for them to read, words of advice and a gigantic heart-warming smile whenever I see them.

I currently mentor and tutor three beautiful little ladies. They are my younger sisters, all vibrant and growing. From listening to their dreams about dancing, coding, modelling, traveling the world and helping other people, I have come to believe my responsibility also lies in helping them grow in all areas; to provide them with knowledge and opportunities no matter how little. I believe that to have leaders that will contribute to the development of the society at large, you have to raise them from when they are young. You must water and provide nourishment for that young tree right from the start if you want it to provide you shade in the future.

I also recently reached out to three of my childhood friends, created a Whatsapp group for us and we are all working on becoming The Smart Ladies who aim to be emotionally, physically, financially stable by reading books carrying out mini projects, to later spread our wings to other individuals in the society.

‘I ought, I can, I must, and I will’, the pledge of the school I attended for my kindergarten years that was successfully carved in my heart still remains a pledge for me. I ought to do everything to make myself and the world around me better, I can do a lot to help myself and the world around me become better, I must do all I can to help myself and the world around me become better and so help me God I will’.

* The writer considers herself quite old even though she is currently in her late teenage years.