I can't exactly recall how I got to know of Oprah.
Growing up, I never saw any of her shows or even a photo of her. But I knew there was SOMEONE whose name was Oprah — from the way people spoke of her & constantly sang her praises. She was said to be an extraordinary talk show host who held down Television in America, who had a LOT of money and was an unapologetic, beautiful Black woman.
Now, I knew what a talkshow was. Believe it or not, I had seen the Tyra (Tyra Banks’s) show a few times when it was rebroadcast on local television. I think it used to be on Galaxy TV, Ibadan. I remember this because there used to be a Telenovela rebroadcast too — one that my mum and aunt wouldn't dare miss. I was in my pre-teens when I first saw the Tyra show and it didn't matter that she was a lady host — she was just so pretty and magnificent and super-amazing and really good at it!
When she (Tyra) spoke, though I couldn't catch half of what she said because of her accent (I mean, what average 12 year old in the mid-2000s has a solid grasp of the language well enough to understand every word that comes out of the mouth of an American?) But, I kinda vibed with it. I didn't care if I couldn't understand half of what she said sometimes. I just somehow understood her — the show, her lauding audience with the occasional standing ovations and basically, the whole essence of it all.
I don't want to come off a bit stereotypical and say I fell in love with media at that point. No. I won't be giving myself much credit that way. I am media. Always have been, always will be.
But I digress. This is about my personal moment with Oprah. Not about how I found my media calling and certainly not (entirely) about Tyra Banks.
Joining the Literary & Debate Society and later, the Press Club at my secondary school would then change things for me. We soon started preparing for debate competitions and had to come up with quotes from individuals — living or dead — who had attained a reasonable level of success in their chosen careers and made enormous contributions to humanity. Like you guessed, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr and of course, Oprah Winfrey were some of those people whose lives were placed on the spot.
I had started to know more about Oprah even though I still hadn't seen any of her shows yet. I did see a photo of her though and wondered how this woman, who was an African-American managed to get to the top and remain there. I'll admit I had no idea as to how deeply rooted Racism was (and still is) in America, but I knew it wouldn't have been easy. I mean, what happened to all the white people who 'owned' America? How did she manage to keep them away from her spot?
It. Gave. Me. Hope.
Then came the glorious India Arie song (where's she BTW?) - 'I Am Not My Hair'
Good hair means curls and waves
Bad hair means you look like a slave
At the turn of the century, it's time for us
To redefine who we be;
You can shave it off like a South African beauty
Or get in on lock like Bob Marley,
You can rock it straight like Oprah Winfrey..
There she was again. This Oprah woman. Mentioned in a song, alongside the Greats, with Akon featuring on it!
You know, now that I think about the importance of that song and how it discusses 'Blackness' by simply talking about black people hair on the surface while lowkey taking on a broader, deeper issue — coupled with the fact that I really found it relatable for reasons I couldn't explain at the time, might just have validated my recent thoughts of having sleeper 'activism' cells.
What is so interesting about this post is the fact that even after learning more about Oprah, even after seeing movies and shows she had executive-produced or starred in (or both,) I still hadn’t seen more than 5 episodes of the Oprah show. FYI, I didn’t see these episodes in entirety — only a few cuts uploaded on YouTube.
But now, I know Oprah. I know what she stands for. I know Gayle is her best friend. I know she’s really good friends with Ellen DeGeneres. I know she once gave out brand news cars to each member of her studio audience. I know she delivered a powerful speech at the 2018 Golden Globes. I know she's a blessing to this generation and the next, and the next and the next... Of course, you know how this ends.
What I didn't know, however, was that she was going to speak to me.
At least, not this soon. I'll tell you how.
I was at work yesterday trying to shoot a viral skit for a colleague. Somehow, we got caught up in the moment, switched to full-laughter mode and carelessly dropped the recording device.
It was my phone. The screen wouldn't respond. I was shook.
In between, ‘awws’ and ‘OMGs,’ I pulled back, trying not to over-think the whole situation. I mean, the economy is not exactly encouraging to warrant a walk-of-fame into the mobile store down the street to get another device. And if I just had to fix the screen, it sure as hell wouldn't be free.
But while these thoughts danced around in my head, I figured I had to get a hold of the situation and worry less. This wasn't going to ruin my day. I was going to laugh over funny Tiffany Haddish interviews on YouTube and then, get someone to fix the phone later.
From Tiffany Haddish, I rolled over to Yara Shahidi videos. Then, Jaden Smith, Ricky Martin and finally, Oprah.
The Universe brought me that video
It was the last edition of The Oprah Show after 25 years on air. She had been on for more than 4,500 days (episodes) and never missed a single show.
It was unbelievable but true.
And as one would expect, it was spectacular. Magical. Emotional. There she was, taking center stage in a gown that looked like it was made for just her. For a moment, I thought no one would rock that dress better. It was just appropriate — complete in its form.
Her trip down 'Oprah Show' memory lane produced some effortlessly powerful take-away messages that I personally needed to hear. I'm going to be sharing that with you too.
1. You're responsible for the type of energy you bring to a place (or a person) and that which you receive. You gotta kill them with so much love, care and kindness that all you have surrounding you is the same. When you give off positive, warm, optimistic, loving energy, you do not only effect lives for the better but also control the type of energy that gets into your space. Your positivity would eventually bring you more positivity and support from incredible sources.
What type of energy are you known to give?
2. You have to tell those you love, how much you love and appreciate them. People need to hear that they're loved and appreciated. Away from the gifts, the quality time, the kind gestures, your loved ones need to HEAR how much you do love and cherish them. You might not see how this works, but it does.
She says people want to be seen and heard. It's only natural. Yes, we do. At least, I know I do. We want to know that we're important. That we're special — just like Beyoncé. That we deserve all the love, care and attention. She says we need to tell people:
'I see you. I hear you. What you say, matters to me'
Some people only need a few words of validation to go out in the world and slay. Be the person to say those words.
3. Speaking of words, these ones reached the very depth of my soul:
'We often block our own blessings because we don't feel inherently good enough, or smart enough, or pretty enough, or worthy enough. You're worthy because you were born & because you're here. Your being here, your being alive makes worthiness, your birth right.' — Oprah Winfrey
These. Damn. Tears.
I honestly can't top that. I think trying to explain this is beyond me. It's not my place. She's said it all.
I have known Oprah for more than a decade now, aspired to level up to her achievements and hopefully surpass those achievements, just as I believe many young people also do. But last night, it was all different. Oprah spoke to me — in a 33 minute clip tagged 'Oprah Winfrey, Last Show' uploaded on YouTube about 4 years ago.
This just fuels my drive to always give nothing less but love. Besides, it takes a lot to hate. But love? It's natural. It's flawless. It's Light!
She also says, 'God is Love and God is Life.' See that? With nothing but love for the world and humanity, you continue to open yourself to God, take in His light and beam that light to the rest of the world.
I'm ending this post with another one of Oprah's words from that video. I hope you watch that clip too (if you haven't) and strive to be better:
'You, alone, are enough.'
And that, my dear, is the truth.