It is neither for eloquence nor erudition that history treasures Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream, Winston Churchill We Shall Fight on Beaches, Benjamin Franklin’s A Day in Infamy, and other great speeches it has engraved on the marble of time. It was exactly because Lincoln spoke to the hearts – not to the heads – of those gathered at Gettysburg for the burial of the fallen heroes of the Civil War that every American child is now made to memorize that speech’s opening. It was because the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. spoke from the depths of his heart to the bottom of the over 200,000 hearts assembled at Washington DC’s Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, that his I Have a Dream still echoes ‘from here to the moon and back.’ It was equally because Prime Minister Winston Churchill aimed at the heart of the British people that his We Shall Fight on Beaches became a game-changer for their World War II experience. How was it that a merely seven-minute-long speech was able to move a Joint Session of US Congress to declare full scale war on the Empire of Japan within the hour? It was because President Benjamin Franklin took over them with his Infamy Speech. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was even shorter, having lasted just 2 minutes and with a word-count of 272. The point is: great speeches minister to the heart.
To start with, why does next to everyone who knows her call her Anty Dayo? Mrs. Dayo Benjamins-Laniyi is called Anty Dayo because she so knows her way in and around next to everyone’s heart that one only gets to resist calling her mother – since doing so may be too much of a gesture. Though I met her just ones, it already feels like I’ve known her all my life; though I listened to her a couple of minutes, it feels like I’ve been her student like forever already. Anty Dayo stands out from the herd as simple, real, true, and authentic; she speaks with passion and affection; she connects with humility and empathy. Her diction is clear and her words as challenging as reassuring. And I just sat there. Listening. Enthralled. Staring. Wondering. Imagining. And questioning, “Where do I go from here?”
The date was October 15, 2016, exactly 48 hours away from Anty Dayo’s 51st birthday. The venue was Bolingo Hotel and Towers, Central Business District, Abuja. The event was the 3rd Motivators International Youth Organization Annual Conference. And I was there. Live! Looking back at that day, and everything that went with it, I can’t help but wonder if there would have been a better place on this planet to have been on that day. No doubt, too, the sacrifice of time and money was well worth it, having to have journeyed all the way from Enugu to be in attendance.
Of course, I’d always known that I’m fearfully and wonderfully made. I’d always read that humans are capable of attaining legendary heights and achieving incredible feats. I’d always been told that ‘impossible’ is only a word, that ‘yes we can.’ Though I’d known stuff, yet I was still fearful and fantastically undecided. Though I’d read stuff, yet I was still playing small. Though I’d been told stuff, yet I really didn’t believe stuff. Definitely, just being in the know of things has never been enough, merely reading good books amounts to little, and simply listening to revered and game-changing speakers can’t do much. But Anty Dayo beat all of my doubts to it. I left Bolingo’s Planet Hall convinced that that day had become the first day of the rest of my life, and that the word beautiful is actually a shortening of be you to the full, the realization of which has set me on the pursuit of authenticity – like never before.
Who is Dayo Benjamins-Laniyi? While you try finding out for yourself, I shall do a piece on her. Soon. However, let me leave you a clue: Doxa Digital Nig. Ltd. That’d help.