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Madonna Okpaleke

Degree:

EMBA

Location:

Nigeria

Industry:

Agriculture

Year:

Jan 2020 – Sept 2022

By Madonna Okpaleke

Protect the Tribe.

I woke up today thinking about my Tribe… I come from an ethnicity native to Eastern Nigeria called the ‘Igbo’ Tribe, but this is not the tribe I refer to.

Google defines tribe as “a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect.” In this case, my tribe is my community. I am an introvert who loves her space and a small part of me has revelled in the isolation that Covid-19 has brought. However, I know members of my tribe have been greatly affected.

I think the most challenging part of this pandemic is the uncertainty. The change it has brought upon life as we know it and the test of our capability to adapt and to evolve. We hear and read about people, even friends, who have lost loved ones. We know people within and outside our communities who have either lost their jobs or life savings, and for some, their homes, or relationships. Depression, anxiety, and fear are rampant. Businesses have gone under or filed for bankruptcy and world economies are calling for action to cushion the damage. Amidst the chaos, there are those who have grown from strength to strength and sectors that have steadily profited and flourished. We live in a challenging, uncertain world and even the experts are flummoxed.

Our way of life has forever changed. The way we eat, the way we travel, and even the way we interact with others is so different and weird now. On the days I leave my house, I feel like Shuri; Except in my case, I am armed with a face mask, hand sanitiser, clorox wipes and gloves on a daily basis, sometimes using old ATM receipts for opening doors to avoid touching public surfaces. I woke up this morning thinking about our cohorts currently going through difficult times. I have lost loved ones, though not to Covid-19, and it was hard. I have lost a job in the past; I have lost hope on occasion; and I have screamed and cried in frustration to the heavens. So, I suppose I can relate on some minute level to the anger and feeling of helplessness. Life is not fair, that is the truth. It does not care about how good you have been or how great you are. It does not care about your hard work or strife. It just keeps coming at you like a wrecking ball. It is why we need schools like the University of Oxford, with its great collegiate spirit and sense of community.

If you find yourself slipping into depression or struggling with dark emotions that you cannot fathom, talk to someone. You must summon the courage to ask for help when it all becomes overwhelming, there is no shame in that. Doing your best might look different each day, but that is okay, and it is enough. Being an introvert makes me a great listener, so reach out to me or anyone in our community if you need to talk. If we cannot help, we may know someone who can.

If you are reading this, take out time to check in with your classmates, neighbours, family members, and friends. You could be lending a helping hand to someone who may not even know they are in need. Sometimes, just being there for someone goes a long way. Protect the Tribe!

EMBA J20 matriculation

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