How I Became A GoWoman

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My life’s motto has always been: Aut Viam Inveniam Aut Faciam… I Will Either Find A Way Or Make One…

This was because when I discovered my passion for writing and journalism very early on while editing my high school magazine, I knew that the industry that I wanted to progress in was a very competitive and ruthless one. My big dreams of relocating to the United States to work for Ebony, Essence and the like were short-lived. Very unrealistic when I think back in hindsight so thank goodness I never dwelt on them. I decided instead that I wanted to do something within and for my continent. In the very first autobiography I ever had to write I boldly stated thus: “My ultimate dream would be to edit a Vogue-like or Cosmopolitan-ish magazine for African women that deals not only with fashion and entertainment but also informs, promotes social awareness and celebrates our women in a fun and humorous manner.”

And I meant it. That was in the early noughties. I didn’t know how I was going to do it but I was determined. As a start I launched Royaume as a Facebook group at first and then an online blogazine in the mid noughties. I was initially disappointed. You know when you think you have a wonderful idea that everyone will embrace? The premise was that although we are known for diamonds, the real gems of a nation are its people. So I wanted to create a platform that shone the spotlight on those making strides. But I soon realised that in the real world, this is not how it worked. Your great idea means nothing without support. My call for stories or names of personalities was often met with cold silence.  And so it increasingly because less about the “realm of the free” and more about my “royaume”,  a scrapblog of me just expressing myself and showcasing my passions, my musings, rantings, discoveries and all the things I love, in the hope that someone somewhere will relate.

So there I was blogging my business when I received an email from the incomparable Ms Vickie Remoe. She has since described my writing as “distinguished” but I can tell you that when I read her email inviting me to become a GoWoman I was moved by her words. How she managed to communicate her passion to me via email I still have no idea but she packaged it well and I was sold. It read thus (sharing excerpts):

Dear PBDB

If yours is not quintessential “Go Woman” motto I don’t know what is…

I want the magazine to be the awakening of young West African women in the continent and in the diaspora….

Often times we are presented as shallow and materialistic (well if you see Nollywood) and on the other side we are either bare breasted on refugees camps or prostitutes suffering from the harsh realities of urban life. But that is not the full story as you know.

So Go Woman for me is about the full story. 

Will you join the team as Editor – in – Chief. I cant think of anyone else to better compliment my efforts as publisher…

Sending you love and ending on a quote from you

“I shall either find a way or make one. Most times, I ‘write’ one first…”

 

At this point I think it is important to note that we had never met. (We met for the very first time in December 2013.) But I knew of Vickie. After all there are very few Sierra Leoneans who do not know THE Vickie Remoe. I was moved that she had chosen to contact me. But I also felt it was fate and good karma that she had. Her email tugged at my heartstrings. Is this the opportunity that I had been waiting for? I humbly replied (again sharing excerpts):

Dear Vickie,

First and foremost I must say Thank You.

What “Go Woman” stands for is not only exciting, it is also exactly what I stand for and believe in…

I have been thinking about how I can be actively involved since you contacted me on Facebook. I was focused on content and possible column ideas but I would be delighted to serve as Go Woman’s Editor – in – Chief. I underline the word serve as I understand what being a start-up constitutes. I see this as an opportunity to share, work with like-minded women of strength, and give back. However I can also see that there is great potential here for growth in many ways and I’d be a fool to not be a part of this movement

I’m already reeling with excitement.

God bless you for “making a way” and for giving me the opportunity to be a part of it. 

And the rest as they say is history. That is how I became the other half of the two founding purveyors of the GoWoman lifestyle. The lesser known half. The behind the scenes half. The more conservative half. Over the weeks that followed those two emails, we would chat  via Blackberry, WhatsApp, Skype and Email and the first two issues were curated remotely with her being in Accra, Ghana, while I reside in Birmingham, UK.

It has been a crazy ride, a lesson in humility, a major learning curve too. I have been chastised by some for abandoning my own dreams to help someone else build theirs. Some do not understand how it works since Vickie and I are poles apart in so many ways. 10,500 website hits a month and 25,000 thousand Facebook fans later, not forgetting sleepless nights shared between WhatsApp and inDesign, I have come to realise that when we focus and get back to thinking about the vision and the mission, when we put aside all pride, personal feelings, egos and just focus on navigating through the business challenges and what GoWoman was conceived to be,  we are the yin and yang that the brand needs to exist. We balance each other out. We understand and respect each other’s role. We make GoWoman whole. She often says that she wouldn’t be able to do this without me. Today I would like to thank her for counting me worthy and for giving me the opportunity to make a dream come true. Through the wire, it remains at the back of my mind that successful business partnerships between women are rare. So whenever I think back to our very first conversation, the passion and dedication in her voice, the way she articulated the GoWoman dream and the role she imagined in it for me, I get a new burst of energy and feel the push to beat the odds. Everything I do and say as GoWoman Editor – in – Chief is shaped by that very first point of contact.

And so to that end, as we cover and live tweet (follow us @GoWomanAfrica) from the Women Mean Business event in Accra, Ghana on this International Women’s Day, I would like to celebrate and congratulate all women in successful business partnerships.  I would like you to know that we know your struggles and challenges but we also know that it can be done. Being in a partnership does not mean that you have to sacrifice your own personal goals. It just means that you have to reorganise and re-strategise. Hang in there. You’ll be surprised what you can achieve with mutual respect, communication and a shared vision. We have learnt over a very short period of time that two or more heads are better than one. It is not a cliché. It is the undeniable truth that will hopefully make GoWoman the successful brand we envisage it to be… for you.

Happy International Women’s Day though here at GoWoman our goal is to celebrate you everyday…

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GoWoman is the reawakening of the 21st Century African Woman - a bi-annual magazine sharing the complete stories of the African Woman who finds a way or makes one. We do this for self-love, for womankind and for the continent.

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