Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Folorunso Alakija Speaks

           By Bayo Ogunmupe

     Folorunso Alakija Speaks is the title of an inspirational book from the richest woman in Africa, Mrs Folorunso Alakija of Lagos Nigeria. It is a new form of autobiography since Mrs Alakija compiled her own speeches into a book. This volume is a selection of her favourite speeches, carefully presented by the author, the skills she honed in decades of a distinguished career as a stenographer, motivational speaker and coach.
     Alakija's speeches covered  many topics and subjects ranging from business, motherhood, marriage, charity to education. Her other areas are Corporate Social Responsibility and nation building. The book also contains Alakija's acceptance speeches in universities where she received honorary doctorate degrees and her latest award as the first female chancellor of a government owned university in Africa, the Osun State University.
     The Folorunso Alakija Speaks(FAS) has nine chapters. It is grouped according to the type of speech and subject. Chapter one deals with acceptance speeches on awards from Yaba College of Technology, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, the University of Uyo and Osun State University. Chapter two has speeches on business and Finance. These speeches she delivered at the Africa/Asia Oil and Gas summit, rebranding and formal Opening of Digital Reality Print Limited, her personal printing facility. Also included is her speech at the Commonwealth Business Forum.
     In chapter three, Corporate Social Responsibility is highlighted as a means of promoting qualitative education. Education covered chapter four while leading through innovation is the theme of her motivational speeches in chapter five. In chapter six, her public presentation of Conversations With My Country authored by Mrs Funke Egbemode, President of Nigerian Guild of Editors.
     At chapter seven, she celebrated Women's Development in speeches made at Abuja; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Eko Hotel, Lagos Nigeria. Chapter eight she devoted to charity,whereby she spoke on her foundation, The Rose of Sharon Foundation and the launching of the book: The Cry of Widows and Orphans. Thereafter, she delivered a speech in Abuja on the Role of Governors' Wives in Grassroots Transformation in Nigeria. The chapter nine of FAS deals with interviews. There, she shares with us her interview by  the Cable News Network(CNN) at the State House, Marina, Lagos. Her last speech on record is her TW Magazine brunch with interviewers.
     As you have seen, this paperback book has nine chapters,200 pages, 20 of which are photographs. Also, the last page contains references. However, her most moving speeches that must be highlighted are the fifth anniversary of the Rose of Sharon Foundation and the farewell of its matron. The Rose of Sharon Foundation is Mrs Alakija's philanthropic foundation. It is one of the institutions through which she undertakes her corporate social responsibility and works of charity.
     In her celebration speech, Alakija espouses her commitment to the word of God as expressed in the Bible book of James 1:27 which says, "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world". Thus, she gives glory to God for enabling her to use the foundation to place 217 children in institutions of higher learning and 628 in primary and high schools in Nigeria. Moreover, 1,366 widows' children have received  scholarships in the states of Lagos, Oyo, Ogun and Benue. Over 2000 widows have been registered in their books and had their lives touched in Benue State; 970 widows have been empowered with micro-credits to run their businesses while 82 were given rented accommodation and shops. The loans are interest free and the scholarships have no conditions attached.
     But in her farewell address to The Rose of Sharon Foundation's matron, after eulogizing her husband Modupe Alakija, Mrs Alakija celebrated milestones and her notable achievements. Before 2008, she had empowered three widows financially. Progressively, since then, her foundation had empowered 761 widows and 1,425 scholarships were awarded to orphans and widows' children. She also launched the book: The Cry of Widows and Orphans, a tool to advance campaigns seeking to improve existing laws and push for the enactment of new protective laws.  In celebrating the International Widows Day, she used it as a platform to advance campaigns to end discrimination and violence against widows all over the world. Also, her Enterprise Development Training Programme is providing management skills with the view of helping  widows expand their businesses. This beautiful book  was published this year 2016 by Folorunso Alakija at www.theroseofsharonfoundation.org. The foundation is at Adeniran Ogunsanya Street, Surulere, Lagos.

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