By Christy Anyanwu
Like most people around the world, who survived the worst of 2020, which rolled away three days ago, some Nigerian celebrities are hoping to use the opportunity offered by the New Year to restart the drive to achieve goals stalled by the disruptions and lockdown brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the 2021 clock already running, some notable celebrities who spoke with Sunday Sun gave peek at their goals for the New Year. They also recalled the losses they incurred and the lessons they learnt from the pains and difficulties of the immediate past year as well as their 2021 expectations.
“The year 2020 is the year we cannot forget in a hurry, but I thank God for my life and my family lives,” a popular Yoruba traditional music artiste, Salawa Abeni said, recalling the horrible experience she passed through as a result of the lockdown imposed by the government, to drastically curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
“There was no money, no work as an artiste and nothing was coming forth as regards income. As we were recuperating from lockdown (I had performed in two shows), then EndSars protests crept in and caused us more problems.”
With the arrival of new year, Abeni said:” For 2021, I have committed and handed over myself, my family, children and everyone close to me to Almighty Allah. I went through hell in 2020, I don’t know about other people, but it was not an easy year for me. I thank Almighty God that I’m alive.”
Artistic dancer and Managing Director of Africa Shrine, Yeni Anikulapo-Kuti, is still bothered by the news about the resurgence of COVID-19, which devastated businesses in the past year.
“I had to spend the money I saved for years in 2020,” Yeni lamented, adding that “we had to pay salaries, we tried to keep business running without working. We have a large number of employees. It was a bad year. When we thought we could just recover some of the money we were locked down again. 2020 was a horrible year. But I thank God for life. I lost my partner and brother who I was very close to. You are scared to answer phone calls because there is one bad news of losing someone.
“In 2021, I’m just prayerful. The messages I’m getting about Coronavirus in Nigeria are very scary. We can only hope and pray for the best in 2021.”
The expression, “new normal” was introduced into the global lexicon last year. One person that embraced the reality of it is the immediate past President, Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN), Funmi Ajila-Ladipo, who, in a phone chat with Sunday Sun, enthused that “2020 was a challenging year” but it also helped to unveil her hidden talent.
Ajila explained: “”At the same time, it was a blessed year for me. When you look at all the circumstances, when you look at how many people did not make it, I just don’t have any other choice than to say God has been faithful. Business was slow, people didn’t buy clothes because there were no activities but as designers, we were able to venture into new areas: making mask and uniforms amid the uncertainty and the confusion. It was an eye opener, I realized there was a lot of strength built in me to go into something new.
“During the lockdown, I went from waste to wealth. I was using practically every empty bottle in the house to create something decorative. I was doing a bit of gardening. I went into snail farming in my garden. I was able to make tyre chairs. My creative ability came out in the pandemic. Most of the times, when you are in the place of silence, a lonely place, the strength and the ability that you have comes out, most especially when you are ready to think. In 2020, nobody knew that everything will be on hold like that but come to think of it, nothing is permanent, nothing is certain, the only thing that is permanent is the grace of God and the favour of God upon our lives. I pray that 2021 will be a blessed year.”
Leading marketer of alternative health herbal products and Chief Executive of Quincy Herbal Slimmers, Quincy Olasumbo Ayodele, was not spared by the massive challenges that COVID-19 unleashed on Nigeria and the whole world.
Recalling the horrific experience, Ayodele said: “I didn’t plan what I saw in 2020. I wasn’t expecting it. I never knew that something would lock us down for a whole year. Coronavirus came, we were under lockdown for several months, and my businesses were closed down because we couldn’t consult with patients in order to comply with COVID-19 protocols. I had to quickly plan how we would survive and how the patients would survive. God helped us to open a new integrated wellness clinic in Ikoyi, Lagos, during the lockdown and I thank God for that. I believe God wants to teach us a lesson by bringing COVID-19.
“God used that period to humble a lot of us. But I give God all the glory, honour and adoration. The Minister for State for Health called some of us, the practitioners of traditional medicine that we should go and look for cure for the virus .My daughter and I (who is the MD of Quincy Herbals,) we started researching into the medicinal plants that we already knew and to the glory of God, we made the remedy for coronavirus. It stops the symptoms of the virus. The cough, malaria, feverish feeling and other symptoms associated with Coronavirus to the glory of God.
“My two daughters were stuck in the United States for four months, they could not come home because the airports were closed in US and in Nigeria. The Federal Government brought them home safely and they were quarantined in Abuja for 14 days. To the glory of God none of my daughters got COVID-19. They were given first class treatment in Abuja. We thank the government for that.
“COVID-19 has forced all Nigerians to appreciate nature and we the natural medicine practioners are available now for everyone to benefit from the treatment that God has given us the knowledge to treat using medicinal plants. In the midst of coronavirus pandemic I was able to travel to the US and I came back safely without contracting the virus when 2,000 people were dying every day in the United States.”
On her plans for the New Year that has arrived, Ayodele said: “In 2021, we intend to expand our reach. Branching out to Abuja, Ghana and other African countries. We came out with bottled water making factory during the pandemic and Quincy Water will be ready in year 2021.”
With her feet now planted in 2021, after happily crossing over into the New Year, Princess Latifat Momodu, the Olokun Ambassador and designer, joyfully said: “I wave good bye to COVID-19”, noting that 2020 was year that tasked individuals almost to the breaking point. But somehow, she managed to maintain normal life by keeping in touch with people through digital connections.
«In 2021, I wave good bye to Coronavirus and I pray that God takes control of our nation, violence against women, insecurity, sexual violence and harassment, kidnapping and such vices should come to an end. I also pray that peace and unity should reign in Nigeria so that I can operate smoothly,» the passionate promoter of Yoruba culture said.
Despite the resurgence of COVID-19 as confirmed by epidemiological data from the Nigerian Centres for Diseases Control, NCDC, Professor of International Law, Ademola Bass, said that there is hope that 2021 will be a year of great upliftment.
His words: “For me, 2020 was a year that nature decided to virally remind the whole of humanity of its much around-ness. While one felt daunted by many years unleashents, it was a huge beckon to learn, so may lessons about human follies and the transient nature of our tenancy on this earth. I hope 2021 will be a year of great upliftment.”