IYF CHARACTER SHOWCASE NOVEMBER 2019 – TEMIDAYO SERIKI
– Tell us about yourself
My name is Temidayo Seriki as you know. First and foremost, I am proudly a son of God and would be nothing without him. I am also the founder of Man Up Initiative, which is a platform created for men aimed at changing the narrative and cultures of men, especially as regarding their views of women. I am also into Finance and Management Consultancy in my day to day life and I love the idea of stripping a company down and rebuilding it. I love my country and I see myself as a problem solver. Whenever I encounter a problem, my first response would usually be to try my best to solve that problem; which is why Man Up started in the first place, to solve a problem.
– What led you to begin the Man Up Initiative?
The idea for Man Up Initiative came up in church, so I guess I can say God led me to start it. It’s a funny story. So shortly after I moved back to Lagos in 2017, they were advertising a programme for women in church and were showcasing courses and all the different lessons and skills that they stood to gain. This really got to me, because I was eager to learn new skills and develop myself. But I knew I would be unable to go, because I was a Man. That then got me thinking about how women have so many platforms available to help them, but men have close to nothing to assist them in their development. Coupled with the fact that as professed leaders of society, I would’ve hoped such platforms were readily available for and to men. That was when, with the help and motivation of a few friends, I decided that I would start this platform known as Man Up Initiative to help to solve the prevailing problem that is affecting our men today, which starts from a lack of identity and branches out into other things. It’s a massive long-term project but I know we can do it!
– What is your biggest source of motivation and inspiration?
What I would say is my biggest motivator is my patriotic spirit, as I said earlier, I love my country and I want to make an impact in this nation because I believe that we are so blessed, but poor leadership and greed have stopped us from reaching the heights that we are meant to be at. The idea that I am actively playing a part in making a positive change and an impact in my generation and in my country keeps me going. This, along with the importance of the role that men play in society makes me want to do this and helps me when it gets tough.
When it comes to inspiration, I am hugely inspired by Will Smith, I just believe that he embodies a lot of the values that we believe men should have, especially when it comes to treating women, being vulnerable and how to love.
– Today, there seems to be a lot of focus on women, the girl child, feminism and issues affecting the female gender. How important is building up and influencing the male gender for the better in this regard?
I believe that young men have actually been neglected in recent years, you hear parents these days kicking their sons out of the kitchen because “it isn’t a place where they are meant to be”. You hear fathers telling their sons to “man up” when they really need to be vulnerable and express themselves. I can’t say it is solely the parents’ fault, because this is how they were brought up, and in a country like Nigeria that is already extremely patriarchal, it is a lot worse because it makes the men much more toxic and affects their relationships with women. The development of men should be treated as extremely important in any society, because men have a direct impact on the path that society takes. Let me use Nigeria for an example, if you look at the rape culture in Nigeria, it all stems from the men that were not well educated, coupled with the patriarchal society, a lot of men grew up believing that women were less than them and that is why we are where we are today. At Man Up, we always say that Men are called upon to be leaders in society, this does not just apply to business, but it relates to all the pillars that make up society. Once men agree on cultures, that is usually the way it goes (just like the rape culture). With that in mind, it is really important for men to be able to lead society with the right values, which is why it is so important to help men to reevaluate their values and move from things like patriarchy, stigma and greed, to values such as respect for others, servitude, etc. that will lead society in the right direction and help this country move forward. The path society takes is directly in the hands of men. I am not saying women cannot make decisions or play a part, it is just how we are designed, and if men do not realise this at a young age, it will be detrimental to them and to society.
– What have been a few challenges you’ve faced from running an NGO, both personally and professionally?
Well, my biggest challenge is getting men to be involved, especially in Nigeria. I find that a large number of my following are women, and women are most likely to come to events and safe spaces than men, simply because it is not seen as very “manly” to be a part of these things. With that being said, there are also many guys who have shown support and praise, but many of them do not show up when its time to get down and dirty with the issues. Funding can also be a bit of a challenge, but that’s standard amongst NGOs. I have invested my personal money into this, and it gets really hard to source for funds elsewhere.
– How have you been able to manage these challenges?
When it comes to the funds, I would say it is the grace of God, because there have been times when I have no money and I really need something done, and God will just drop a blessing in my laps in the form of people and other things. Sometimes people do stuff for us for free, or just introduce me to someone, or something like that. When it comes to getting guys to come, the key thing is just to keep trying m. We, especially my team members, always go out of our way to make events and ourselves relatable to guys, so that they understand that we are all in this together. I strongly believe that because God gave me this task, he will meet me at every point where I feel like I have a need, and he hasn’t disappointed me yet.
– What is your vision for the Man Up Initiative in the next few years?
My dreams for Man Up Initiative are massive and in the next 5 year I expect to have taken large strides towards that dream. We are currently developing something for schools, unfortunately, I cannot say too much, but in the next 5 years, I expect this new project to be self-sufficient and running efficiently. I also look forward to be running yearly events which people will look forward to and make Man Up a part of the culture.
– Any final words?
Well I guess I would just say that we all have a part to play, and an equal stake in the development of Men in society. In the words of Dr Myles Monroe, Men have lost their way and lost their identities due to the drastic changes that have gone on in society. It is really affecting a lot of men, and the sad thing is that a lot of them also do not realise that they battle with knowing who they are. We, as men, need a reminder that we are called to be leaders; our purpose should be in line with making an impact and being leaders wherever we find ourselves. For those that are asking themselves what it means to be a leader, it just means service. It’s as simple as that, the best leaders are those who are able to serve others, and not those that wait to be served. I just want everyone reading this to tap into this ideology that we try to pass across so that we can finally start changing this culture and so that men can take their rightful places in society.
I would also like to say thank you for this opportunity because it has really helped me as well to do a lot of reflecting and I can’t thank you enough for that. God bless you
Contact Temidayo Seriki and The Man Up initiative:
Instagram: @Temidayoseriki @Manupinitiative