Leadership journey starts with bold vision, and is usually triggered by exposure to great female mentors who have led and are leading the way, leaving doors open for other competent women to come through.
This are the motive of Amb Olamide Davies who passionately believes that women are a treasure trove of possibilities, further encouraged the womanhood to begin to view the Leadership Series as a historic call to women everywhere to identify and take up leading roles in the community, corporate, public sector and various organizations.
The Ogun State Ambassador for Culture and Tourism, a founder of Miss Africa Tri-State beauty pageant and Commissioner at the office of The Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, United States of America USA in an exclusive interview with African Development Magazine speaks about her experience, challenges, lifestyle and humanitarian activities…….
Can you tell us briefly about yourself, your family and educational background?
My Name is Hon. Amb Olamide Davies Talabi. Proudly from Ogun State, Nigeria. I finished my Primary and Secondary school back in Nigeria before relocating to the United States twenty years ago. I am a graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting.
Who influenced you the most in life and why?
My mom is one of the strongest women I know. Not because she is my mom, but because of her strength even when situations looked blank. She has so much influence in the kind of woman that I have grown up to be.
What motivated you to start the Miss Africa Tri-State beauty pageant?
My motivation came partly from my experience and a need for it at the time. I started off my career in modeling twenty years ago. This exposed me to the world of fashion, beauty and glamour. Years later I yearned for something more rewarding in terms of humanity.
I wanted to give back to the community that has been so good to me. Many ideas came to my mind, at the end of the day I decided to establish a non-profit organization that will not only give back but also mentor the younger ones. Hence the pageant creation.
Can you tell us what The African Tri-State means?
The Tri State in this region of the USA means the State of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. These were the first States that we started the pageant participation with now the pageant participation is in all States in the USA.
What are the challenges you faced while doing this, how did you overcome them and what are the success story?
We don’t have much challenges with the pageant aside sponsorship which is a major setback for most African events here in the USA. But, with time more sponsors now believe in the brand.
We are proud of what we represent. So many success stories. It is a thing of pride to see a relatively shy girl blossom into an enterprising young woman with her own beauty supply line within a span of two years. As an organization, we have successfully sent over 40,000 products across Africa and supported good causes here in the USA.
As a Honourable commissioner at the office of the Mayor of Newark, and you were appointed as the Ogun State Ambassador for Culture and Tourism, how were you able to manage both positions concurrently?
I have been able to manage my two appointments by being discipline. There is time for everything, if it is not in my schedule, if it doesn’t add anything to my portfolio or my family life, I barely have time for it.
You were part of delegates that empower, educate and advocate policies that affects the Nigerian Americans in the USA, Don’t you think of spreading the tentacles to Nigeria system?
Yes, I am the Chairperson of the organization NAPAC – NJ. This is an organization that advocates, empower and engage Nigerian Americans to influence policies affecting us in the USA. We have so many success stories to our influence in the USA which people are benefiting from now.
Even though I live in the USA, my mind is also with our dear Nigeria. Why not? If those in Nigeria are willing and welcoming to our ideas and thoughts.
Nigeria as a country is very good in policy formulation, but implementation has always been the problem. How can Nigeria get out of the woods in implementing policies?
By getting the right people to be in the strong room. Iron sharpens iron rod. Even the Bible says don’t be hearers alone but doers too. What is the point of policy creation without good implementation? The major problem that I see is the ” Elite clique”. There are some people that think Nigeria is their family property whether they know how to do the job or not. These people need to be replaced by competent hands.
Tourism is recognized as a big industry worldwide which is a key sector of development in several countries and a major source of income but its crawling in Nigeria, what’s your take on this as an Ambassador?
Many countries rely on Tourism around the world. Nigeria is waking up to the hidden benefit of Tourism and I am personally happy about our progress today.
Some years ago, I shared my proposal with a very high placed person in the Government on how we can advance Tourism in Nigeria, how I can support with my connections here and all. We started the talk, everything was going fine then I was cut off.
Two months later, they started my proposal without me and guess what? It was a total mess. The media had a good laugh off it. There are so many youths even in Nigeria that have great ideas but once they labour hard to bring it out, the political bigwigs run away with it with no thank you. We need to reach out to our youths, you will be surprised at the beautiful ideas hidden in them.
Do you think the federal government should establish an institution for cultural activities as a means for people who are multi-talented, gifted and beginners?
I will support 100% because our culture is so rich that if we spend just a little more time to explore it the benefit will be good in many ways. The youths are ready, reach out to them. Let’s go to our Universities and Polytechnics, you will see talents.
There was a young man that drew the picture of the President of France when he came to Nigeria. I saw the picture and I almost cried at the pure talent. There are many more of him across Nigeria… Let’s find them with the help of our Government.
Women supposed to be celebrated every day for their selfless contribution to the community but there is low level of participation of women in politics in the Nigeria unlike other countries? Why?
Women’s involvement in Nigeria politics is getting better now. Before I left Nigeria it was at the lowest. Now we have Senators, Ministers and highly placed politicians. Back then if you want to go into politics you are seen as a slut or prostitute. Now it is a legit terrain for women too without any stigma.
Can we still do better?
Sure. More women need to be encouraged to be involved in politics.
Women, if you like to influence change, if you want your voice to be heard positively, come out and be part of the change. Somethings are not just given; one has to go for it.
What do you like about African Culture?
Africa culture is rich, undiluted and accommodating to anyone. I love everything about my culture. Many people across the world are celebrating the culture with us now. I am proud to be an African.
Amazing memories are unforgettable; can u share with us most amazing memory?
I have so many beautiful memories but the one that I am willing to share is the birth of my children. The joy of motherhood is the kind that can’t be explained. I wish I can put it into words but it is divine.
What advice would you give the younger ones?
My advice to the younger ones. There is no manual to success. Everyone’s success story is different so don’t let anyone rush you. But, be focused on your dream. Have a mentor.
I can’t over emphasize the benefits of having someone that has gone through mostly what you are going through now that looks out for you. I have been blessed with awesome mentors that have guided me with so many parts of my life – career wise, marital, spiritually, In fact with everything. Life is a tough journey but it can be a little easier with a soldier of people that truly have your back!
Thanks for sharing with us.