….Unveils reality TV show for street urchins
By BENJAMIN NJOKU
Nigeria’s foremost female drummer, Aralola Olamuyiwa popularly known as Ara, has made more revelations about her journey of life, recalling how she lost almost everything she laboured for in life, after things went from bad to worse for her.
The goddess of drums made these revelations during the week, while unveiling her pet project, a reality TV show tagged, “Eko Inspire Me By Ara”, and an academy for “Area Boys and Girls.”
Sharing her bitter experience at the unveiling ceremony, which was held at the EbonyLife Place, Victoria Island, Lagos, Ara said God took her on a journey to prepare her for what she’s doing today.
“In 2019”, she began, “I lost everything. When I say I lost everything, I lost everything I laboured for in life.”
She continued: “I sold all my cars and I was homeless. Nobody knew about my predicament except my family.”
“As at that time, I was somebody who used to give, not receive. I didn’t want to reach out to anybody. My landlord sent me packing because I couldn’t pay my house rent. On the day I was ejected from my house, I moved into a hotel with my child. While I was in the hotel, I reached out to one or two people whom I felt I could talk to.
“Sadly, I ended up staying in that one-room hotel for almost a year. I could not afford to feed myself and my child. In fact, I was eating the food that was meant for the kitchen staff. I moved from grace to grass and I started questioning God, why me?
“Everything I tried to do wasn’t working out for me. God practically cut everyone off me. When my mum knew what I was passing through, she reached out to me, but I told her I didn’t want to bother her. I started going to shows again. But the show that I normally charged between N3 million and N5 million, they started offering me between N100,000 and N150,000. I said to myself, what’s this?
“One day, I got a revelation and I said to God, is that the reason you are taking me on this journey? I prayed about it and I was told that nothing was wrong with me. This is God teaching me a lesson for a greater purpose. Nobody knew about what I was passing through because I am not a social media kind of person. Eventually, I picked the project again because I dumped it before now.
“I got frustrated trying to get people to key into the project. I went from organization to organization, but nothing seemed to be working out. So I dumped the project and God dumped me. I realized that He wanted me to feel what it feels like not to have a roof over your head, not to know where your next meal will come from.
“I cried profusely when they told me they were going to shut down the hotel where I was staying with my child because of COVID-19. I begged God to forgive me if I have done anything wrong. Later, they called me and said they weren’t going to shut down the hotel because of me. So, the moment I picked the project again, doors started opening for me. I said to God is that why you took me through this journey. Everything I lost gradually started coming back. I went from 100% to zero %. That’s why I said this project is the beginning of the beginnings for me,” the celebrity drummer, who was emotional, narrated.
Ara further explained that the initiative was borne out of her experience with some hoodlums over 10 years ago when she went to visit a friend at Oshodi area of Lagos. She said she made a promise to return to them in future, which she never fulfilled.
According to her, the experience changed her mentality about the street urchins. The drummer said she and her team were poised to make life better for over 2,000 area boys and girls in the next 10 years.
“Eko Inspire Me was conceived in my heart about 10 years ago due to a personal experience I had with some area boys in Oshodi,” she added.
Ara, however, thanked the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for his support to make the initiative a dream come true.
On the reality show, the celebrity drummer said “Nigerians will vote 100 of them, 20 out of the 100 into the reality show. The academy will run throughout the year while the reality TV show is once a year.
“We cannot take more than 20 people for the reality TV show, but the Academy can take as many as possible. We also want volunteers.
“If anyone has touched your life, it’s time to pay back by helping these guys.”
Also speaking at the event, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, said the initiative was in line with the Sanwo-Olu-led administration’s vision and pledged that the government will continue to offer support to ensure that more area boys and girls are kept out of the streets.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who spoke via a recorded video, also pledged to pick 20 area boys for mentorship.