His story might be common, but the lessons he has learnt from them stand him out. His is all about attitude and perspective, and he bursts with wisdom and humility that strikes you. Listening to him is a delight.
Tell us a bit about yourself? I am Maple Tamunoinaemi Dappa. I was born on November 11, 1983. I’m from Kalabari area of Rivers State and a graduate of Marine Engineering from the Rivers State University of Science and Technology. I personally describe myself as MOLES (Motivated Optimistic Liberal Enthusiastic and Simple). I am a core change agent, who believes that we can have a better Nigeria if we become better Nigerians. I have the passion to build families, relationships, institutions, businesses and society (FRIBS). I am a very open-minded person, who is ever willing to share what he knows and also to learn from others. I can be hilarious too if you get closer.
How was growing up for you?
Growing up for me was like living in two worlds... First world: deep inside of me, I longed for the good things of life, which other kids were enjoying, but I refused to submit myself mentally to poverty and the slums where I once lived and so, I tried to always to maintain a positive perspective. I drank garri like it was salad instead of drinking it and nagging/complaining. When I come across some money, I give myself a treat just to be free from the fetters/manacles of poverty. Second world: this was the real world I faced. The realities of hunger and knowing that garri no be salad. The realities of homelessness for over one full year, slums/waterfronts, being exposed to some dangerous habits, believing that I was not poor and yet poverty was staring me in the face... many things to say, my brother!
But the interesting thing today is that the positive attitude, which I tried portraying in the first world, is now fast replacing the bitter realities. That is why I usually tell people that attitude is life.
What would you say was responsible for your positive attitude towards life?
Quite a number of things were responsible. First of all, my mum never used to complain about life. She took whatever she could get out of life graciously. If someone gave her a cup of rice, she was very grateful. She created the impression that life would get better and I keyed into it even as a child. When she could afford it, she prepared special meals such as coconut rice -- just to make us feel good. I realised that the worst thing about poverty is surrendering to it and so, I refused to surrender. Secondly, I usually compared myself to someone in a worse situation than I am and then, I have no option than to thank God for my own situation. I used to have tiny legs while growing up and it made me feel bad because other kids like teasing me about it, but I stopped worrying about my tiny legs when I saw a man crawling on his hands and knees. I realised how grateful the man will be to have my tiny legs so he can walk. Lastly, I am an early reader and I was reading positive things, which in turn made me to always think positively.
Temptations to take the short cut?
Temptations are everywhere; even those that are already wealthy are still being tempted to do evil in order to get more. A lot of opportunities came around, but when I figure out that they weren’t positive, I opted out. I did this because I have always wanted to become a man of Impact in the society and going into any evil wasn’t good for the future I had been envisaging. I had role models such as Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln and a lot more. I have vowed to pattern my life in the likes of these great people. I vowed to die hungry than to survive through evil and that is why I would rather be a hungry free man than to be a well-fed slave (to evil deeds).
Was there anyone to mentor or motivate you while growing up?
To be honest, I lived a very free life. I was at liberty to make my choices. My mum, grandma and other older relatives will always tell me what is wrong and what is right. It was up to me to decide what I want. They made me realise that the decisions you make today are the realities of tomorrow. Life was and is still my mentor. You can make it a positive mentor by taking lessons out of your experiences and ordeals or a negative mentor by surrendering to your unpleasant circumstances and giving in to despair, pain, depression, destructive habits, etc. I chose to make it a positive mentor.
How did you survive in the university?
My mum was supporting me with the little she could and in my 200 level, I got a scholarship of N50,000 per session, which was not being paid as at when due. I usually bought the books of lecturers that seemed compulsory and I photocopied other materials. Due to the lack I experienced, the family issues, and then the little distractions I allowed into myself in school, my grades suffered a lot, but you know in our school system, we strive to excel amidst difficulties. I was able to hold the line and I finally graduated with a second class lower due to an academic challenge I had and not my ordeals.
Delinquent youths that are victims of broken marriages blame their behaviour on their parents. What do you think?
People have different experiences, while some could be the fault of parents, others could be fate. I would dodge answering whether it is right or wrong. What I would say is that, as much as we are not the cause of our ordeals, we are fully responsible for what we make out of our ordeals. Our parents have lived their lives; we have ours still ahead of us. We have to correct the wrong of the past. We have to make our lives count by saving our children from experiencing what we experienced.
Aside from writing, what do you do for now and your plans for the future?
I have a one-year old consulting and training firm on Human Capital Development, Publishing, Ideas, Business support, and branding. I also administer a self-help school called The Maple Institute, where we seek to bridge the gap between what people learn in school and what they face in real life. I am also an inspirational speaker and a personal development trainer. I mentor young people who are still in school, graduates, and even young workers. I am currently working on a book that will transform lives and also re-position Nigeria for her Greatness. My future is all about inspiring people to greatness whether in their family lives, relationships, institutions, businesses, and even the society at large (FRIBS). You will hear about how I achieve this as years go by.
If you had to live your life over again, would you wish it differently?
No. There is no perfect life on earth. The tears some people cry on the outside, others cry it on the inside.