Interview: Mary Ajayi, 2015 MILEAD Fellow


Every year, Moremi Initiative identifies 25 extraordinary young African women between the ages of 19-25 who are drawn from every region in Africa and the Diaspora through highly competitive processes and according to criteria that include demonstrated leadership potential, service to their community, and commitment to women’s empowerment. As such, the resulting team of Fellows come with diverse social and professional backgrounds.

Moremi Initiative has released the list of its 2015 fellows and it includes a very vibrant lady who I believe everyone in the literary community in Ibadan knows very well. She is Mary Ajayi – a member of the Global Shapers Community Ibadan, she is also a member of the TEDxBodija team.

In a chat with, Ms Ajayi said she did not get the fellowship for herself; instead, she said the fellowship would allow her to do even more.

Mary Ajayi“I got it for no selfish reason. If anything, this is a chance to do more, contribute more to societies and people,” Ajayi said.

According to her, she first heard about the fellowship from her Essay Writing mentor, Temitayo Olofinlua-Amogunla, who sent the application to her via email.

“She said she thought I could do it and to go for it. Friends also shared on Facebook, especially Sodiq Oyedeji Alabi. When I applied, I did not think I could win. But I wanted to just try. So I applied. The announcement for the first shortlist was a bit delayed so I thought I did not make it. I forgot about it only for me to receive a mail saying I was one of the finalists and to prepare for two interviews – Skype and phone.”

She described the interview as ‘a really serious experience’. She scared and wasn’t sure of how it would turn out.

But…few days after, I checked my mail and it was there – the good news that I had been selected,” Mary said.

Nigeria produced 5 finalists but she was the last to be interviewed.

You can imagine how I felt seeing that mail from MILEAD,” Mary said.

Even though this is the first time she would be making such application, Mary said from the experience she learned to always try and seize opportunities.

During the fellowship, she will be attending the leadership summer institute in Fhaba where the fellows will be exposed to trainings on leadership and development, this will be followed by series of international programs, mentorship program.

“An important part of the fellowship is the MiChange Project. Each fellow is required and encouraged to host a project either at the community, national, or international level. This is to be done as a wrap for the one-year fellowship,” Mary told IBPulse.

So I asked her what Mary Ajayi generally hopes to achieve not just as a MILEAD Fellow, but as a person.

I want to do a lot but all revolves around people. People, I still believe, are the purpose of life,” she told me.

I asked her if Ibadan was mentioned in any way during the interviewed. She said yes.

Mary said: “I had to talk about my affiliation with the Global Shapers Community, Ibadan Hub. Besides, MILEAD wanted to know what I had done in my community. I had to mention TEDxBodija too and talk briefly about my role as the Director, Volunteering, for the conference.”

On the influence Ibadan has had on her as a person, Mary said it is beyond what she could obviously point out.

I cannot claim to say lbadan has influenced me in ways I can obviously point out. But this city has been past of my life for a long time. I was born here and have lived here for most part of my life. There are lessons it must have taught me, and it must have shaped me in deep ways, deep enough to make me want to solve problems and also contribute to development,” Mary told IBPulse.


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