Mark 9:23 NKJV
Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
Before Facebook became Meta, before Mark became Metalokan, before he started restricting my accounts on Instagram and asking me to send mugshots (pictures which must not see the light of day or else I shall be stripped of my royalty), before he was made to wear suits and appear before the Congress to answer awkward questions; before Facebook became the place to check our memories and connect with old crushes; before all these, there was a boy on Facebook and his name was Emmanuel GodhonorsMe Faith.
This was before he became Emmanuel Faith and rebranded GodhonorsMe to Oluwaponmile; before he became EF and started building the best place to work; before he became the Emmanuel Faith, your favorite HR buddy; Faith was on Facebook writing poetry. And one day, he would send me a dm.
The date was April 20, 2016. This was six years ago. Faith sent me a message and the first thing he ever told me is this: You are a good poet.
Six years ago, Faith told me I am a good poet. This was before I had a blog, before I started putting my poems in pictures, before I started writing love poems, before people knew me as a poet. Faith saw whatever I was writing then and said I was a good poet. Six years down the line, he is still saying I am a good poet. If you are thinking this is about me being a good poet, you are still missing the point. If you ever wonder what it would look like to have a friend who would stick with you through thick and thin, when the waves of life are pushing you around, when you are confused, when you are about to give up, when life seems unbearable; if you are wondering what it would look like to have a friend to hold throughout this, then what you are looking for is Emmanuel GodhonorsMe Faith. I have known him since 2016 and today, he clocks another year. Happy birthday, Faith.
Honestly, I do not know how to say this but you know Faith, you know that you’ve been good to me. You came into my life in 2016 from my sister and Facebook. We talked and talked about poetry. I think you were just starting out then. I had been writing for years then but I just started writing poetry about three years before then. Isn’t it good that in those years, you’ve published three poetry chapbooks? Lagos Does Not Sleep, Adulting and December Blues? Isn’t it amazing that from asking “how do I get my poem published?” you’ve not only gotten your poems published but you’ve published chapbooks?
The next time you would message me, it was because you were in some Unilever Campus Careers contest and you wanted me to help.
Isn’t it lovely that you became a Unilever Campus Ambassador? And your experience and ideas have been instrumental in how I shape and manage the Cowrywise campus ambassador program?
Do you remember my earliest mail to you? Do you? The one I sent to your email (email@example.com)?
Yes, you were once walking around with that email address. Can you imagine? I am sure I complained multiple times and you kept on telling me it has some Greek or German history or something. Who cares man? This is not an email address. Change it. You later heeded the voice of royal wisdom and changed it to what you use now, what most people know you with. There’s a lot to talk about if we dig out the emails so I won’t. Instead, I will say, “Thank you.”
Thank you for six years. I am not one to do friendship for a few months or years and abandon it. It’s why I do not make friends easily. Thank you for making it easy. But how do you make it easy, Faith? Do you even know how?
By understanding. So I guess all I am trying to say actually is this: Thank you for understanding. Thank you for understanding that sometimes, I just need my quiet. I need my space. Thank you for understanding that I do not enjoy some movies you enjoy. Thank you for understanding that some of the books you read are not my type of books. Thank you for understanding why I don’t enjoy the terribly long voice notes you enjoy. Thank you for knowing that I may not call today for example, because calls are not my thing. Thank you for understanding that I will show you love still in the way I know how to show love and you will love it. Thank you for loving me as I am while still trying to make me better. Thank you for always making sure I do not die of hunger – literally. Thank you for taking me out. And thank you for that mail in 2018 when I sent you the story I was submitting for a contest. You said:
Thank you for dishing out the honest truth, even till date. Thank you for commending my writing and correcting it at the same time.
In March 2019, three years after we started talking, I asked that you read some books. I sent you an email saying:
“I am currently reading The Terrible by Yrsa Daley Ward. You should know her. She writes like Rupi Kaur and Nayyirah Waheed. But the beauty is she writes short fiction too. The Terrible however is more than just fiction. It is a memoir of her childhood and all. I am enjoying the book. It is fun and it is easy and engaging. It is my ninth book of the year. I have read Nicola Yoon’s Everything Everything and The Sun Is Also A Star. I have told you to read these books, EF. If you don’t, I will send my village people to attack you.”
Of course you did not read them because, why would you read a book Michael Inioluwa Oladele recommends right?
In this same email, I told you about my newly found happiness. These were my dark years, Faith. I was battling depression and other things so I did not even know I could be happy. I sent you:
“I am happy. It is strange, I know but I am happy. Happiness has suddenly become a strange feeling for me. I have grown used to the emptiness and depressive sadness that always ploughs the mind of a deep thinker but I am happy now and I hope to maintain this for as long as possible. I am reading. I am watching movies and I am seeing friends when I can.”
Isn’t it wonderful that we can look back at these moments and be thankful? That these days were once my reality but you stayed with me. Thank you for staying because it was not as though we knew that better days would come. It was not as though you had anything to hold on to, just fickle hope.
Thank you for understanding when I do not reply immediately. Like this time in 2019 when you had sent me three emails and I did not reply to them but sent this instead.
I can’t remember why any of these mattered. The fact that I was broke and had a 4k debt on my head. I cannot remember who I was owing. I cannot remember how I found myself in that debt. All that matters is that, just like always, you were there for me.
And perhaps this is the last snippet I will share from years ago. Here, I was asking you questions I now have answers to. Is it compulsory to have money? Yes but it is not compulsory to have a lot of money and be on some lists. I can decide to spend my entire life writing.
Why does it matter that I remind you of all these? It matters because today is your birthday and you should remember how good a person you are. You should remember that your dreams are valid. You should remember that the things that come easily today were once difficult and the difficult things today would be easy someday. It matters because we do not always agree on everything and we have our differences but you are my friend still. You are always understanding. You are always kind. It matters because someone asked me one week ago: “Are you and Emmanuel Faith very close?” And I said, “Close is relative.” I said so because I think close is an understatement. I said so because if I say we are very close now, what will I say next year or the year after?
It matters that I tell you all these things because tomorrow will come and the day after and everyone will return to their life and celebrate the next birthday out there. But you will here. And I will be here. And this post will be here as an eternal sign of love and friendship, to always remind of us of how far you’ve come, how far we’ve come.
We’ve come a long way, EF. Let’s go again this year, in mud and out of mud, in pain and poetry, in sorrows and stories, in noise and solitude, in lack and abundance; let’s keep going, Faith. Let’s keep going because there is no limit to how far we can go, because the bible says, To him who believes, all things are possible.
To wish my friend, Emmanuel Faith a happy birthday, please send him a WhatsApp message here: +234 817 900 1180. Tell him from the only king in Lagos. Thank you.