Last week was the annual Social Media Week Lagos which also doubled as a brief stint in the world of 9-5ers. I’ve been in paid employment before but it was nothing like this. As a freelancer, I might not need to leave my house for an entire month except, of course for church on Sundays. SMWLagos meant that I had to leave home as early as possible to beat the traffic as well as attend a few 9am sessions at the other end of town. So, I cleared my entire schedule for a week and got ready for an exhilarating experience. It was so worth it!
I thought the venue was perfect and the stages, brilliant. The only previous one I attended had various multiple venues and this was refreshing. The best thing was probably the coffee stands stationed at strategic points. If I hadn’t known better, I would have said that the organizers were out to turn me into a coffee drinker given the number of cups I averaged daily. But they didn’t succeed, tea over coffee all day everyday.
I went to SMWLagos with the idea of being as inconspicuous as possible. I wasn’t in the least bit interested in meeting anyone – both old as in ”Twitter followers” and new. But then, things happen especially when the universe conspires to bring you out of your shell or you’re simply just good with faces. It’s hard to resist. Before I knew it, one day I was wearing sneakers and the next, strutting in stilettos and block heels with an aura of confidence I never knew I had. Don’t get me wrong, I’m hardly shy but in recent times, I’ve become somewhat socially awkward. Which meant that I was invariably compelled to approach people whose faces I recognized and those I didn’t hence making new acquaintances. What a splendid way to start the year! Unfortunately, that joy was cut short every time someone asked for my business card. Guys, this was rather novel to me. I mean, no one has ever asked for my business card. It never even came up. In my head, I’m just some writer who would rather be behind the
screen scenes. I’m not that important. NOT! Turns out, I’ve been underrating myself all this time. I have a serious problem with that. Discussion for another day. So, in the absence of business cards, what do you do? You improvise. Turns out, people were still interested in my handwritten details as well as my social media handles. Ha! There’s hope after all.
There was about 100 sessions during SMWLagos. Which meant a number of them were clashing. I had previously pre-registered about a month ago so I knew the ones I was attending. Well, things didn’t exactly go as planned as I had to make last minute decisions which involved spending about 15 minutes in one session so as to meet up with the next as well as climbing a flight of stairs severally. So happy I didn’t trip in those shoes.
Of course, some things stood out for me.
- I was exposed to most if not a fair number of careers available to us – online workers asides fashion blogging. *side-eye*. The information was overwhelming. In fact, I got to home to make double takes. Remember, I said something about the dilemma of career choices I’m facing at the moment? This just made it worse. I signed up for a few trainings and hope to come to a decision soonish.
- That thing about being good with faces (that I never knew I had) actually turned out to be helpful. The very first person I approached was Jite who was incredibly sweet. We’ve been following each other for a while now and I used all of the bits of information I knew about her to strike a conversation. Overtime, I met even more people. From Oghenelucia, to Jesse Oguns to Simi Olusola, Odun Eweniyi, Amanda Rylee and host of others I can’t remember now. Also, I finally met Chioma Chuka after winning her giveaway a few years ago. I think she’s doing an incredible job with her TechHer intiative. If only, I was that ambitious. Also worth mentioning is Bolanle Olukanmi who I thought looked totally out of place. For someone who is used to being in the spotlight, she looked so regular that I had to approach her. Ideally the conversation should have gone like this,
Me: Hi, are you Bolanle Olukanmi? I’m such a huge fan of your style (or presenting skills or Instagram?)
What does she do again?
Me: Hi, are you Bolinto? I’ve been seeing you around for a few days now and you seemed totally out of place. It’s nice to meet you.
No jokes! I couldn’t take it back. It was too late. She just smiled, grabbed her coffee and walked away which I think I deserve.
3. Then, there was the fashion blogger that approached me with the aim of interviewing me for her blog because she thought I had style. ME? STYLE? RIGHT! I told her to take any photos she wanted of me at that moment because I didn’t have anyone to send to her. She thought I was kidding. If only she knew. Also, one of the press guys asked to take a photo of me for their official Instagram because he thought I was stylish. Apparently pairing prints appropriately comes off as being afrocentric and stylish when really I’m all about that comfortable and convenient life. Guys really? I’m not interested. Although, I should have. I currently do not have any decent looking photo of myself.
It was also nice to put faces to online personas from Tolu Ogunlesi who I thought was a fantastic orator. In the sea of accents, he spoke so audibly that I didn’t want him to stop to Ayodeji Rotinwa who I recently followed on Twitter because why not? He’s cute! There’s something about his personality that screams, I’m nice and friendly! to Lisa Folawiyo. I’m not into fashion but damn! She looked amazing! To Yagazie Emezi who I thought looked incredibly bored during her session. According to her, she was listening. Yep! She replied me on Twitter. To Adebola Williams who was this close to me. Apparently, he’s really good at what he does. To Noble Igwe who is hilarious as hell! To Bankole Oluwafemi who couldn’t stop pressing his phone during his session. I thought that was rude. Ebuka Obi- Uchendu, Iyin Aboyeji, Peace Hyde – so close yet so far.
I had just one problem with a few of the sessions. You see, usually there’s a moderator and a handful of panelists for each sessions. Other times it’s just a
boring monologue. I found out later that I preferred the panel discussions with engaging panelists. More often that not, they did a rather decent job and even cracked us up a bit. The rest of the time, they just bore us to death which of course meant leaving the session at any point in time. Some people will agree with me when I say there were times when the moderators and panelists were out of sync. There was absolutely no connection. It felt like the moderators were informed just that morning which resulted into their ill-preparedness. Another problem was the panelists. Some of them were just ill-suited for the session. For instance, there was one called Freelance Focus. Personally, I was excited when I saw the schedule. I mean, finally someone was catering to us. Ideally, you would expect the panelists to be made up of actual freelancers who face numerous challenges especially writers, particularly in Nigeria. Instead, what did we get? Celebrities! Is this what we’re here for? Already made people with endorsement deals? Miss me with that! I was so mad that I walked out! Other than that, the sessions were generally enlightening and informative. I particularly loved the ones that were brazen and straight up! Did I mention the coffee? It was a life-saver! Most of the time, I couldn’t grab breakfast before leaving home so those cups were everything and made the sessions more bearable.
How about the branded merchandise? I literally got dragged to the front row of the Spice TV session and got rewarded with an all exclusive-to-the-front-row goody bag. How awesome is that? Although, I was so bummed that I didn’t attend the Rele session to see Ayodeji and get a gorgeous mug. Still not over it. So, I’m gonna go to the gallery to get myself one.
My only regret was missing the very first #SMWBooKCulture on Monday. The traffic wasn’t very pretty.
I think this a lot of recap already. For an entire week, I hope it justifies it even though I hoped to give a daily report but I was so damn exhausted when I got home that I couldn’t write a thing.
For more photos visit the SMW Facebook page. Hopefully, I find more photos I appear in and share them.