It takes a village to break into a dance.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

There is a saying in Africa, that it takes a village to train a child. In my case, the village more than trained me: they made me break into a dance.

In quite a serendipitous turn of events, my Social Media alter-ego found herself viral on the internet over the weekend. This was as a result of my dancing to receive the Certificate affirming my lawyer status, for the second time in one lifetime.

I became ’famous peoples'!

But the events leading to the drama of last weekend and the journey to my becoming a Canadian lawyer can actually be traced waaaaay back to 2012.


You see, I like to refer to the period between 2012 and 2013 as my "first missionary journey". (With a tad bit of tongue-in-cheek cynicism)

I had been awarded a double scholarship for a Masters Degree in Business Law by my (now) alma-mater, Dalhousie University.

Armed with naive optimism, my sheer swag, faith in "Naija-nor-dey-carry-last”, and ZERO preparation, I stormed the sleepy city of Halifax, to show them the stuff I was made of.

And I crashed.(Ish)

Actually, I fell yakata on my back; legs and hands flailing in the air.

I had not equipped myself with the prior knowledge I required to hit the ground running in my program. I had not prepared myself for the culture shock, or the numbing effect of the Atlantic cold on my hitherto tropical-African brain.

I had not prepared myself for anything.

So I found myself struggling, between coursework, research, writing, and surviving as a first-time immigrant in a new place.

Dropping out of the program was no option, and I was expected to hit high grades in all of my courses.

I failed to leverage on my network of family and friends who had gone before me, in order to obtain helpful information, and find out what to expect academically and socially. And I internalised the struggle I faced.

I was lost.

Around the time I finally began getting a grip on things, boom! My program was over.

(Wait... what???)

Ok. At least, my program was over. I could finally move on with my life and continue practicing... right???


I quite suddenly realised that all of my degrees were (practically) useless if I wanted to practice law, until I concluded the actual lawyer licensing process. This blindsided me, because I had merely 'presumed' I'd be able to practice with my Masters degree, and my prior lawyer licence.

All because I failed to ask questions, do personal research, reach out to my community and arm myself with readily available information.


But I was not ready to settle for "just anything". It was either continue practicing law... or nothing.

So with my virtual tail between my legs, I jejely packed my load on my head, and returned to continue practicing law in my country of birth. Despite the fact that I had fallen in love with my new "home".

Which is why when the opportunity presented itself years later for me to return, I did things very differently.

I took a lot of time to really think through the decision. I did required research on what I needed to do to hit the ground running, I asked all the right questions, and I saved up like my life depended on it.

I still hesitated in moving, and it was only when the universe began to throw heaps of rocks in my way that it became apparent that there was more waiting for me on this side of the world.

This time, I had the good sense to involve my "village": my personal network of family and friends. I tapped into their wealth of information, the support they were willing to provide, and their shared experiences.

My village came through for me.

There was the one who would purchase the books I required and send them to me to enable me begin preparing, even before I had come back in.

There was the one who made me meals, held my hands through the anxiety, and encouraged me to keep going, even when quitting was most attractive.

There was the one who stayed up late with me severally, because I had to finish a certain number of pages, and my head was bound to hit the reading table once they turned in for the night.

A core member of my village, often staying up late with me to keep me company while I studied.
There was the one who provided me with clarifications for the questions I had at different stages of the process.

There were the ones who ensured that my only preoccupation was studying hard, while they placed a roof above my head, and strangled worries over accrued bills. 

From miles away, there were the ones who kept cheering me on, and showing unwavering faith.

And those ones who prayed with me, held their chests in trepidation with me, and screamed with me in joy when all the results had finally rolled in, and it became apparent that this dream was certainly morphing into a pleasant reality.

But my village did not stop at supporting me through the arduous exams and other obstacles. In the days leading to my call to the Ontario Bar, I became pretty apprehensive. Because while I had been interviewing for various roles, I had not received a firm offer yet.

My village always reminded me of how much we had all achieved in so short a time, and laid to rest my fears that I would not break into the legal market. These members of my village filled me up with so much excitement that by that day, I was bursting at the seams in exhilaration.

A cross-section of my support structure. I did not have to walk this path alone.
And so, it was with a heart filled with gratitude, that I was ready to walk across that stage, as my name was about to be called.

I flirted with the thought of throwing a salute  to my village members in the crowd, to these ones who had toiled as hard as I did on this journey.

But there was that moment of hesitant fear: could I really break the norm??

I looked to my right, and saw a beautiful indigenous lady, also waiting to be called, with her orange cape seated squarely on her shoulders, and a sleek piece of white feather in her hair.

I looked ahead to the line, and saw the well manicured and smiling gentleman, his black turban impeccably wrapped on his head as he beamed with joy, waiting for his name to be called.

And in that moment, I was reminded that this amazing country was a proudly beautiful melting-pot of diversity in cultures and beliefs.

What better time to celebrate my Naija-Canadian heritage than by breaking into the revered shaku-shaku, at being announced as a Canadian lawyer?

So I first teased with the "Wakanda Forever" sign, in hopes that the crowd was as much of a Marvel enthusiast and a Black Panther addict as I was.

That roar in the hall, and the very warm twinkle in the Treasurer's eyes as he gently chuckled was all I needed to ignore the rest of the fear. (After all... a little fear never killed anyone)

The rest - as they say - is history. You can always come back to this post, and tell your children's children that "Look... that was the first lady to ever dance the shaku-shaku at her call to Bar ceremony".

Bants and jokes aside, I reflect on the past year, and my heart is so full of gratitude. That all my efforts and sacrifices - including staying away from this blog for weeks - were crowned with good success.

I have been too overwhelmed with the sheer support and love I have received on this journey, to worry too much about the future. I know that this is the start of a new chapter in my life, and have firm faith that it is a beautiful future which lies ahead. 😊

I am often reminded of the saying, that "if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together".

I have gone far, and I have gone through it considerably fast. Because of the undeniable support I had from my community; my "village".

And for this, I will always be thankful.



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  1. Congratulations once again.. Keep breaking new grounds because YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!!

  2. Thanks for sharing this account of your journey from the rainforest of Nigeria to the Canadian Bar. It gives insight on how I should go...

    @locke_esq writes from Asaba, Delta State.

  3. Congrats again. Nice one. Keep it up

  4. Congratulations again darlyn!
    I watch this video over & over and each time it brings tears of joy and pride to my eyes.
    Weldone, and you know this is just the beginning of your greatness!
    Just like "Our mother"...Generations will call you blessed!

  5. Congratulations again darlyn!
    I watch this video over & over and each time it brings tears of joy and pride to my eyes.
    Weldone, and you know this is just the beginning of your greatness!
    Just like "Our mother"...Generations will call you blessed!

  6. First time here. I don't know you but reading this story made me soooo emotional. I saw the video on Instagram and then I decided to trace the source and now, I'm here. You're a biggg inspiration dear. I wish you the very best in your future endeavours.

    1. Awww... Thank you so much for the kind words!

  7. I've watched the video a hundred times with moistened eyes. Your story is indeed inspiring and it has encouraged me to keep moving forward no matter what obstacles come my way.

    Thank you, Meg. You're indeed a 'success.'

    1. Thank you Maryam. Please keep moving forward... that's the only way to go!


  8. Good day ma'am
    I started following after the video of you dancing at your call to Canadian bar went viral
    I am a Nigerian lawyer but will be migrating to Canada later this year. I have done my research on how to qualify to practise in Canada but I would really appreciate it if you could give me some practical advise on how to go about it whenever you have the time.
    I know I have to assess my current certificate with NCA, take the necessary exams before enrolling to write the bar exams but considering that I might not be able to afford that immediately after landing in Canada, what other things can I do that'll help me get closer to the goal?
    Thanks in advance