Titilope Sonuga is an award winning poet, writer and performer who has graced stages across Nigeria and internationally. She took an interest in poetry at the age 13 and has since attained multiple prestigious recognitions and awards for it. She was the winner of the 2011 Canadian Authors’ Association Emerging Writer Award for her first collection of poems, Down To Earth. Her spoken word album Mother Tongue was released in 2013 followed by a second collection of poetry, Abscess, in 2014. She performed alongside renowned poets Sonia Sanchez, Jayne Cortez, Yusef Komunyakaa and others, at the first spoken word showcase of the Achebe Colloquium on Africa at Brown University. Her poetry also afforded her a meeting with the late poet and activist, Maya Angelou. She was a speaker at Tedx Edmonton in 2014.
Titilope is currently the ambassador for Intel® She Will Connect, an initiative of Intel Corporation to bridge the Internet’s gender gap by connecting millions of girls and women to opportunities through technology.
Titilope was the first poet to appear at a Nigerian presidential inauguration ceremony, performing at the May 2015 inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari. She’s also an actress haven played “Eki” in the NdaniTV hit television series Gidi Up, which airs across Africa.
Titilope has a B.Sc. in civil engineering with professional experience of a little over 5 years.
5 Practical Lesson We Can Learn From Titilope Sonuga
Be Conscious About Your Work
Titilope once said “Inspiration is an interesting thing. It often comes in the most unexpected places. I’m inspired by love, I’m inspired by watching a group of women tell their truth, I’m inspired by the things people are not saying when they are speaking, by body language and the way our eyes cannot tell a lie. I’m inspired by heartache and hurt, as much as I’m inspired by romance and joy. I’m constantly living out experiences while simultaneously thinking about how to write about it. “
This for me applies not just to writing but any chosen field or endeavor. No matter what you do, in fulfilling purpose, you need inspiration to constantly push boundaries and do great things. One of the most authentic ways to find inspiration by taking a cue from your experiences, One of my favorite poems by Titi is “Becoming”; in it she spoke about her personal journey to womanhood and it was a hit! People love what they can personally identify with, and trust me, your experiences are not foreign to everyone in the world.
Want to write a book? Looking for a cause to devote your life to? Just pay attention to your experiences. Your life’s journey has multiple treasures embedded within.
Talent Is Like A Muscle, You Still Need To Exercise It
Titilope while advising anyone trying to follow the creative path said “Go for it. Read read read as much as you can. Get to know other artists in the field that your interested in and begin to refine your own voice. Take on as many opportunities to learn as possible. Talent is like a muscle you still need to exercise it. No one is above learning.”
Being naturally good at something doesn’t make you the best at it. The goal should be to be your best. Your raw talent is great and admirable; now make it world class through learning and practice.
ALL The Dots Will Connect
Titilope’s Intel She Will Connect ambassadorship came about because of her background as an engineer and the potential to use her work as an artist as a conduit for the She Will Connect message. According to her “The intent is to bridge the online gender gap for women and girls by exposing them to training and opportunities in STEM fields, but to accompany that with an empowering personal message through my lived experience and my art. The two things go hand in hand with this project.”
Having the backing from Intel to put on the first Becoming was wonderful
You know that scripture that says ALL things work together for good? It is soooooo true. All the dots in your life’s map, including the ones marked by “mistake” will all be woven neatly into your life’s masterpiece. I mean what’s the correlation between poetry and civil engineering? It might have made more sense for her to study arts in the university and go on straight to poetry skipping the unfulfilled career in engineering part but then how would she have become the brand ambassador for a multinational? There is no such thing as a useless experiences girl. Selah
Place Value On Your Work
During an interview, Titilope was asked what mistake she has made and what she learnt from the experience. She said “It’s difficult sometimes as an artist to convince yourself and others of what your work is worth. It’s such a fine line between staying humble and being able to tell people exactly what you want and refusing to back down. I have done far too much free work and accepted far too little for something I pour my whole heart into.
Learning to say no is something I am still constantly struggling with, but I’ve learnt that if accepting an opportunity doesn’t feed my spirit, doesn’t offer a level of exposure that will open multiple new doors and doesn’t put food on my table, then I have to walk away.”
Place value on your work. Understand it is work and so your efforts must be duly compensated. God says that your talents are meant to yield returns (see the parable of the talents in the bible). Not every time “osho-free”
Take Your Time, Listen
According to Titi “Everyone’s path is different. I don’t think there is a firm set of rules you can follow that lead to instant success. I would say, don’t make any decisions in a hurry. Take your time and do as much research as you can so you learn from other people’s mistakes. There are going to be a lot of opinions around you, learn to listen very closely to your own instincts.”
Hold on, re-read it until it sinks in.
Here are some extra tips just because I love you guys.
Titilope at an interview was asked what she considers the most important element of running your career as a successful personal brand. She said;
“Everyday is a learning process for me, some days are harder than others. If I could break it into 5 points I would say:
- Know exactly who you are and be consistent in that voice.
- Drive yourself. Seek out ways to constantly get up and go, learn something new, improve on something old.
- Ask for what you’re worth. Everytime.
- Shake off the paralysis that comes with comparing yourself to others. Run your own race.
- Surround yourself with people who are also passionately chasing after their dreams. They will inspire you, their energy will rub off on you. “
Titilope has an air of peacefulness and contentment in herself which is an integral part of the “Thresh Woman”. We love that she is walking in her purpose fiercely and gracefully at the same time. You can visit Titilope’s website here
I would love to hear from you, what was your most striking lesson? And lesson learnt outside this? Please share it in the comment box below. As usual don’t forget to pay it forward by sharing with someone else.
This post was culled from the Thresh woman WCW Column. The ThreshWoman WCW is a column I manage with the goal to celebrate and encourage the successes of women all around the world while inspiring other women to chase their dreams fiercely.