AUTHOR AND YOUNGEST PERSON IN THE OFFICE OF THE VICE-PRESIDENT, AMARA OKOLO ON FACING THE FIRE
Amara Okolo is an interesting hybrid. She is a lawyer, painter, photographer, author and now, communications specialist in the office of the Vice President. Her life hasn’t been all dandy though, in fact in the past few years, saying she’s had a rough time would be putting it light. Her novels, Black Sparkle Romance and her second book, a collection of short stories, Son of Man by Parresia Publishers (2016) have won several acclaimed prizes. She was amongst the participants of the 2015 Farafina Workshop by Chimamanda Adichie. In 2017, her short story “The Colour of Teeth” was so well received that it was translated to Spanish by Afribuku.
I first took an interest in her when I read an essay in which she highlighted the physical and emotional abuse her mother had to tolerate before eventually gathering the strength to leave her marriage. Her mother had passed 3 weeks before she wrote the essay due to injuries stemming from the abuse.
On meeting her, I found that she came across much softer than I expected making it easy for one to forget that she was in fact, a warrior. She had so many experiences to speak about due to her life as a lawyer and her inate need to help the needy. Her achievements are so Impressive for a 29 year old to have garnered in her lifetime. In our conversation, she shared with me how quitting her job for 5 years to look after her ill mom. In that period, she was able to make the works of her hands work for her. She wrote, she litigated as a free lance lawyer and worked as a communications specialist for several clients. She spoke of how she had several instances where she was out of money and would beg the doctors to give her pills for free as she feared losing her mom due to her inability to provide. A particular scenario which she described, stood out for me.
She spoke of the day before her mother passing, she had rushed her mother to the hospital with her laying unconscious in the taxi, to admit her, the hospital would require N100,000 and she had N10,000 in her account. She knelt to pray, yelling at God to change the situation around. Her mother’s pension which hadn’t been paid in months, was suddenly in the bank account that had been previously been empty. Talk about miracles! Her mother would still pass but she wouldn’t repeatedly blame herself for not being able to afford the care that she needed.
Her rise from difficulty and challenges to being placed in a role that many vie for is admirable.
When asked her 3 keys to staying motivated through all her hurdles…
She was once diagnosed with depression and her spirituality helped her through.
I wanted to die and I would have to take sleeping tablets to go to bed. So I picked up the pills one day and all I could think was, I wanted peace and I wanted to be free.
The holy spirit was what stopped her. She spoke of how she felt a stillness inside of her and an assurance that this could not be the end. She thought of her mother sleeping in the next room and it dawned on her how she would be alone if anything had to happen to her, she thought of the people she’d seen at the hospital clutching and fighting for their dear lives and how ungrateful she would be that the gift that others cherish is the same one, she so badly wanted to be rid of. She fell on her knees asking God to forgive her and at that point she knew she had no other option but to face the fire!
She knew that she had a bright future.
I want to share parts of me with people.
Miss Okolo knew that she wanted to still be alive to give back to her community. She had been a part of so many sad stories, that she needed to be part of the good. She wanted to give someone else a fighting chance so she knew she had to stay motivated for that to happen.
She never let herself lose hope. She was persistent about feeding her faith through the word.
If you want to learn more about growing your faith, click here.
Now, she dedicates her time to writing speeches for the president, writing in her spare time and taking photos (she’s a photographer too). Her life is one to be admired as she is the definition of using the stones that are thrown at you to build a mansion. Her work continues to speak for her and everyone wants her on their team. She’s that rose that continues to peek through despite the horns that have surrounded her. Let her story inspire you today.