2:09pm…August 16, 1979

Where did the last 38 years go? Or is it 39 years? Or is it that I am getting to old to remember? I was reminded by a 52 year old friend that I am not even close to being old. It feels like yesterday I was packing my bags and heading off to Washington, D.C. to chase the fantasy of changing the United States of America and the world. But that was 15 years ago! Wow.

Today, I marked my 39th birthday! I am a believer that each person should celebrate their birthday. It’s the only special day that we will have to celebrate ourselves. This might sound conceited or selfish, but it’s my day! I might celebrate it with many other people, but it’s my day!

My day started at around 5:00am. An unidentified number kept calling and calling. My first thought was, “Its 5:00am in the morning! Who is calling me?” After the third ring, I decided to look at my phone. I noticed that my wife had been trying to reach me. So I answered…She said that she had been trying to reach me because she had friends that wanted to talk to me…AGAIN, its 5:00am in the morning…who does she have that wants to talk with me this early in the morning? It turns out that she convinced some of my friends from the U.S. to stay up past Midnight (one friend told me that he set an alarm to wake himself up to be on the call) to wish me a happy birthday. I was touched by what she had went through to organize a surprise birthday party all the way from Coventry, UK. What an amazing wife and what amazing friends…

Birthday Skype

The Skype call organized by my wife with friends in the US.

My day continued to get better with messages from friends wishing me well on my birthday and beautiful messages from my staff. I’m trying not to let those messages go to my head. I even got a video from friends in Washington, D.C. singing me happy birthday. It wasn’t Aretha Franklin (God rest her soul) but it was the next best thing. It was touching…

Finally, I must applaud my Sokoto State staff. Unfortunately, I am not even in Abuja. On Monday, I had to travel to Sokoto State in Northern Nigeria. I often joke with friends in Nigeria that Sokoto State is like Alabama…religiously conservative and extremely rural. The two main differences – Sokoto is the home of the Sokoto Caliphate. The Caliphate was an independent Islamic Sunni Caliphate that at one time was one of the largest empires in Africa . And second, the black population of Sokoto is 100 percent. Alabama is a religious state – a Christian State (in every sense of the world) with a black population of 27 percent. Anyway, back to my staff, they surprised me with a birthday dinner, cake and drinks (the non-alcoholic kind). It was a fun evening celebrating my birthday and marking the end to a busy week of meetings and political activities.

With my Sokoto State Staff and friends from DevTech and USAID

On Friday, I finally head back to Abuja where I will have a celebratory glass to wine to celebrate the big 39. (Even saying I will have a glass of wine makes me feel old…)

Thank you God for another year, for an amazing wife, great friends, and experience this thing they call Nigeria! I am forever grateful!

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