The human rights activist who wanted to be a nun

Joe Okei-Odumakin, president of Campaign for Democracy (CD), one of Nigeria’s foremost advocacy groups, says human rights activism thwarted her initial goal in life which was to be a Reverend Sister in the Catholic Church. Ms. Okei-Odumakin says her 27-year old career happened by chance.

The human rights activists was giving a lecture in Abeokuta, Ogun State, as a guest of the first Correspondents Chapel of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Annual lecture when she took a detour and gave a little insight into some of the things that helped shape her career.

Ms. Okei-Odumakin said her entry into activism was first sparked by her university lecturer during her matriculation ceremony.

“My plan and ambition was to become a Reverend Sister in life, to be a nun and to give my time to propagating God, but the ambition changed during my matriculation in the University,” she said.

A remark by the lecturer who read out the names of the new students birthed her journey into activism.

According to her, when the lecturer said, “you must be a brilliant student”, Ms. Okei-Odumakin felt the need to live up to the expectations which launched a thirst for knowledge in her.

“The lecturer said: ‘you must be a brilliant student’. Thereafter I got involved in reading lots of books, which eventually led me into falling in love with human rights struggle. I have since 1985 given my life to the struggle,” she said.

Ms. Okei-Odumakin who is unmoved by the risky nature of her career says she is ready to face death when it comes.

“Since I started the struggle in 1985, I have written my will but I want to say this; the human rights groups are yet to record enough achievements, but I have the hope that Nigeria will still arise,” she said.

The human rights activist says she always has her hair in braids in honour of Bob Marley. Ms. Okei-Odumakin says she believes in the philosophy of life of the late reggae musician and says he remains her model in the music industry.

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