#TheUnheardStory – From Poor Mushin Boy to Mandela Washington Fellow

THE UNHEARD STORY (2)

Good morning e-family, so sorry I went AWOL last week… my lappy went bad and I couldn’t get it fixed early enough for an e-Boost post. Please bear with me; will make up by publishing 2 or 3 posts this week. Thanks for forgiving moi, again. #ThanksAndHugs

Just before I move on to today’s topic, I want to specially welcome all new blog readers, followers and subscribers! I’m so delighted to have y’all here and do hope you’ll stay with us… as you do,  I also pray you contact the Excellent Spirit of Christ that radiates here on the blog.

And finally, Welcome to June everybody! I hope it isn’t coming too late, hehehe.

Moving on to today’s e-Boost, I will like to share a story with us all. An inspiring story to introduce – The Unheard Story Series. Please seat back, read, learn and share your comments in the box below.

God Took Me, A Poor Mushin Boy And Made Me A Mandela Washington Fellow – Kunle Adewale

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Kunle Adewale

“Victory is guaranteed when we discover our purpose, develop our potentials and fellowship with our maker.” – Kunle Adewale

I am Kunle Adewale. A Visual Artist and Educator. Growing up in my family and neighborhood was very tough… I was born and raised in the heart of Mushin, Lagos, Nigeria. Mushin is a place people dread because of its notoriety for violence and constant crisis. My father married two wives and I am the 9th out of 14 children. We all lived together in a single room apartment and I sometimes had to sleep under the staircase or out in the corridor because I could not stand the heat in our choked up apartment. I lived most of my formative years like someone without a future, a gambler and a carefree person. I was also a scavenger, moving from one street to another, looking for metal scraps to sell so that I would be able to afford what most of my mates had and also have some pocket money.

My parents weren’t rich – my mum sold food under the bridge at Mushin while my father went back to farming after retiring from the Nigerian Army. 3-square meals a day was a luxury we hardly had; I remember there were times I sneaked out of the house and followed my friends to eat left-over food at parties.  Before and during my teenage years, I hawked boiled eggs, kerosene, pure water and nylon bags after every school day, and on weekends too. This was a means through which money was generated for my school fees and welfare of my siblings. At some points, I had to become a bus conductor, a car washer, and a mason, respectively, in order to survive. I desired to be an Educationist but I didn’t know how that dream could be realized considering the financial situation at home. I couldn’t even speak or write correct English so university education remained a mirage for a long time!

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However, with God’s grace, persistence, focus and hard work, I finally gained admission to study Painting and General Arts at Auchi Polytechnic, Edo state, after failing WASSCE and JAMB 7 times and 5 times respectively. I also studied Fine and Applied Arts at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, where I graduated with an Upper Class grade. My mother hawked in the rain and sun, selling food by the road side and at different markets to keep me in the University. Unfortunately she died 3 months after I graduated from school.

To the glory of God, I am the first male university graduate in my nuclear and extended family; the first and only uni-graduate among my Mushin neighborhood childhood friends. God made my dream a reality and today, I have more than a decade experience as an Educator. The best part of the story is that my natural gifting in Painting and my passion for helping people through Art, is the channel God used to change my story from being a poor Mushin boy to being a Mandela Washington Fellow. Through it, I have also won lots of other local and international awards. God has given me the opportunity to touch thousands of lives with the potentials he endowed me with and I have impacted over three thousand (3, 000) children and young adults in 3 years.

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I launched my organization, Tender Arts Nigeria – a social enterprise, non-profit organization, dedicated to healing through Arts, in 2012. I pioneered Arts in Medicine Africa, the first Art therapy project in West Africa. This I did in collaboration with the Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria. I also work as ICEHA’s (International Coalition for the Eradication of Hunger and Abuse), International director for “Healing through Art”, a support programme for survivors of Boko Haram insurgency and other vulnerable population in Africa.

Some of my community based projects have been endorsed by International Child Arts Foundation, Washington D.C; Society of Nigerian Artists; Mandela Washington Fellowship; Young African Leaders Initiative; Terra-kulture Art Gallery, Lagos Nigeria; Quintessence Art Gallery Lagos Nigeria; Lagos State Ministry of Sports Youth and Social Development; Association of Private Educators of Nigeria (APEN) and Committee of Relevant Arts (CORA) Lagos Nigeria. I have facilitated many art workshops, participated in group art exhibitions and also had solo exhibitions in Newcomb Art Gallery, Tulane University, New Orleans. As a talent coach/mentor, many of my protégés are recipients of National awards and have participated in various international Art competitions and exhibitions.

In 2014, I had the privilege of meeting the former president of Nigeria, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, during Nigeria’s centenary celebration in Abuja. I also met with European Union President, Jose Manuel Barosso. In 2015, I was invited by the President of United States of America, President Barack Obama for Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) award as a Mandela Washington Fellow (I can’t forget the feeling of that Presidential handshake with President Obama in Washington D.C). In December 2015, I was mentioned as the Best of 2015 by Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) in Washington D.C.

Kunle Adewale

I was nominated for Global Teachers Prize in 2014 and 2016 respectively by Varkey Gems Foundation in United Kingdom. I have been specially recognized as a young African ambassador for Arts and Culture by the Arts Council of New Orleans. I also have a special recommendation for my Art therapy programs in Nigeria from Smithsonian National Museum of African Arts Washington D.C. I was specially invited to the US Department of State, for presentation, two of my art works were donated and will be at the USA future state department diplomacy centre. I have been published and interviewed by various international and local media houses including Voice of America, Washington D.C; Voice of Nigeria; Channels TV; TVC; STV; NTA; The Guardian Newspaper; The Telegraph and The Nation. And by God’s grace, I serve as a judge and talent coach for the biggest gospel talent hunt in Africa “God’s Children Great Talent Project” powered by RCCG City of David in Nigeria.

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To someone reading this, remember my story when feel handicapped/disadvantaged by on your background, remember my story when you feel like giving up on God or on yourself. No matter the circumstance: Don’t give up on your future because of yesterday or today’s failure. You are destined to win! Victory is guaranteed when we discover our purpose, develop our potentials and fellowship with our maker. Don’t give up on God. Don’t give up on doing good. Your life is greatness under God’s construction and the supervision of His Grace.


Thank you Sir Kunle Adewale for sharing your inspiring #UnheardStory with us, really challenged and inspired by it… Two key lessons I learnt from this:

  • Your background does not determine your destiny.
  • Hardwork and passion pays – it’s only a matter of time.

I really do hope you too have been challenged and inspired by this #Unheard Story. Please share your thoughts and lessons in the comment box.

Connect with him: Facebook – Adewale Olakunle Joel, Instagram – @artunbi, Twitter – @KunleAdewale505

This is just the first story in the series – The Unheard Story Series. It’s natural for one to wonder what the Unheard Story Series entails so lemme answer before you ask. The Unheard Story is just its literal meaning – the hidden | unknown | unseen | unheard story of a person, behind the glory we see.

Most times, what we see or perceive is the glory, success, prosperity, grace and grandeur of a (wo)man but not the story behind it. And sometimes when they share their testimonies, we don’t get to hear the tests they went through before the testimony. So, The Unheard StorySeries is about hearing the story behind the glory we see. It’s about being encouraged and inspired by the tests and challenges others scaled through to get to where they are today.

The best part of this series is, you also get to tell your own Unheard Story and I will publish it on the blog!

How exciting is that?!!

So, if you have some Unheard Grass to Grace Story that can inspire someone, anyone, to be more excellent on all fronts, please share with us.

The Rules are Simple:

  1. You must be subscribed to the blog. Simply click on ‘Follow’, enter your email address and confirm the subscription email sent to your inbox. Shikena, you’re subscribed!

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  1. Your Unheard Story must not be more than 1, 500 words.
  2. I reserve the right to edit any sent in #UnheardStory.
  3. Your Unheard Story should be sent as a .doc (Word) file attachment to chinyeredistinguished@gmail.com
  4. Subject of mail should be “The Unheard Story – Your Name”
  5. Submission entries of The Unheard Story ends on 6 July, 2016.
  6. Based on Admin’s discretion, only the 15 adjudged most inspiring Unheard Stories which reiterate the guiding principles of the blog (the blog is centred on living life excellently on all fronts – personal, career, relationship, etc., especially as a Christian as explained HERE) will be published.

So what are you waiting for? Get writing and inspire someone with your Unheard Story today!

Thank you for reading today’s post, wishing y’all a Testimony filled June.

Much love,

ChinyereDistinguished

Cover Design: Mobolaji Olorisade of omobolaji.com

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12 Replies to “#TheUnheardStory – From Poor Mushin Boy to Mandela Washington Fellow”

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