It is my absolute pleasure to write what is my last letter to you, at least in the Letters to Self series. I think it is most appropriate, firstly, to acknowledge the significance of these letters to self. Why have I been writing letters to myself since 2014? The main reason is to mark the present point in time. Time passes and so many things happen. There is an abundance of meaning that is left unrecognised when we ignore or fail to note what is happening around us, what reoccurring thoughts we are having, what lessons we are learning. Time is always in motion and is not waiting for those slow to respond. Through these letters, I have documented my reoccurring thoughts and lessons. These documentations are invaluable for future reflection, though I will not be able to remember all that was once lived or relive the emotions of the moment, I will have these letters to read again. In this letter, I address the 19-year-old Emmanuel from the first letter to self.
I ponder on what you said in your first letter in 2014, to persevere and never give up on your dreams and aspirations because they are attainable. How right you were! I wish to hug and tell you 19-year-old Emmanuel from May 2014 that you persevered and achieved those dreams you imagined. You also very touchingly urged me to be proud of my identity and never to give up on it. These are words I intend to hold dear to my heart always. I intend to always be proud of my identity, of where I have come from and never to give up on my identity.
The remainder of your letters to self have focused on your higher educational journey, as you discuss choosing media production as an area of specialism, encountering research and seeing it change your outlook on life, embracing research wholeheartedly via the decision to undertake a PhD, making To Grow a Tree as part of your research journey, and experiencing feelings of crisis in your PhD experience because of political events in Nigeria. With this letter, I conclude this journey and tell you the journey was worthwhile. You achieved what you wanted!
You went into higher education wanting to study Media because you saw in it an opportunity to express yourself. You saw its potential to reach people with meaning, in a heartfelt, personal and creative way. You wanted to explore something ultimately meaningful and share it with a wide audience of people who would engage irrespective of where they come from. So, though your PhD was in education, you made a documentary-film as part of it, to remain true to your reason for going to university. You did that PhD and completed it and made that film and screened it!
The screening was a fulfilment of the dreams and aspirations you talk about in your first letter. The ideas of identity and belonging that you realised, developed into the focus of your PhD. Being so far from home at a young age, it felt like a struggle to understand who you were and where you belonged, and what you were to do with the fact that you were in a very different society to where you came from, at 19 years old at the time of your letter! But I wish to hug you again and tell you it finally made sense. The experience of being far from home is very deep and heavy to bear. You were also not alone with this feeling. Through your work, you have made sense of this far from home experience and helped people process similar feelings. You have made a difference! Your walk has not been in vain.
Well, I guess this is it. It is providential that my last letter to self is also the seventh in the series. Seven is the biblical number of fullness or completeness. There is a future ahead and in response, I look to God for sustenance. Because God knows the future, I am confident, content and at peace trusting him.