Last week, I was stunned and in utter shock like many million of others, when I heard the news about the sudden and untimely passing of Ibidunni Ighodalo. I did not know Ibidunni Ighadalo personally. I did not need to. The life she lived, and her works spoke volumes.
Prior to last year, I had never seen or heard of this woman. I saw and heard her speak last year for the first time ever online in a deeply moving interview she gave on her life story. I was moved and deeply inspired by that interview. I knew I had to find out more about this woman.
As soon as the interview ended, I searched on Google to learn more about this intriguing lady. In the course of my research, I learned about her many accolades. By the way, not once during the course of the interview did she mention one of her many accomplishments. Her humility was striking!
As a Nigerian who has been is diaspora for well over 25 years, I made it a point to keep up to date with events in my country of birth. I prided myself on knowing a great deal about Nigeria. So you can just about imagine my shock and utter surprise when I found out that she was a renown and highly successful business entrepreneur in Nigeria.
How could I not have heard of this woman? Now I know why. Despite her fame and many accomplishments, Ibidunni had no airs and graces about her. I’m convinced she went to great lengths to remain under the radar.
The interview I watched, aired on Facebook, on The Bimbo Fola-Alade Show. Sadly, I cannot find any links to it anywhere, so I’m guessing the show no longer exists.
On that show, Ibidunni Ighodalo shared on her 11-year struggle with infertility before deciding to adopt two children with her husband of 13 years.
The Ibidunni Ighodalo Foundation was birth out of that struggle. The foundation provides grants for IVF to couples struggling with infertility. I am not certain on the exact number, but her foundation has sponsored over 20 IVF treatments for couples who struggled with infertility.
Through the work of her foundation, many couples that had given up hope of becoming parents have had their dreams of parenthood resuscitated. Many have even been blessed with births of multiple babies. She paid for many of the IVF Treatments personally.
Ibiduni Ighodalo was also a former beauty queen. I did not know this prior to the interview, but I was not surprised. Ibidunni was truly beautiful to behold.
She was considered a legend in the Event Management Industry in Nigeria. Her event management company: Elizabeth R Events is a mega leading events management company in Nigeria. Her other businesses include a bridal gown company, another company with a focus on wedding planning amongst others.
Her organization has worked with several of the large well known major brands in Nigeria. In weeks leading to her sudden passing, she led the construction of several mega Covid-19 isolation centers in different states of Nigeria. She was at Port Harcourt to erect another one of those centers when she passed away of cardiac arrest in her hotel room.
Looking at video clips and photos of Ibidunni on social media, it was next to impossible not to notice the gentility in her demeanor and personality. She was loved by many and loved on many.
She loved to give of her resources and of herself. She used her huge platform to help and bless so many. The many stories and tributes that have poured out since her sudden passing, have caused me to reflect deeply on my own life. Though Ibidunni died unexpectedly just short of her 40th birthday, she accomplished more than most will accomplish in a lifetime.
Here are several life lessons I gleaned from the life and passing of this iconic soul:
1. Discover your life’s purpose early and run with it.
Ibidunni Ighodalo was known for her great impact on every life she touched and her spirit of excellence. She knew what her purpose on this planet was. She ran with that purpose literally.
What if Ibidunni had not hearkened to the call of purpose ? so many would have lost all hope of ever becoming parents to children of their own.
Ibidunni understood what many of us fail to. The purpose of our existence is not just to take up space on Planet Earth or focus on self and our immediate needs. Our life’s purpose is about the many lives we have been called to impact with our gifts and callings. That truly is the secret to true contentment.
This explains why she always had that look of contentment and fulfillment in most photos and video clips- in spite of all she had been through. She truly lived a purpose-filled life.
If you know what your calling is, run with it. Time and tide wait for no man. Stop wasting time and do what you have been called to do. Go write that book now! Go start that business now! Go! Go! Go! Stop wasting time.
If you do not know what your gifts are, ask the one who created and endowed you with the gifts: The one true God. He will reveal them to you.
2. Life issues should not stop us from living life to the fullest :
Ibidunni was unable to have biological children. But then she did not let that stop her living. I’m sure it was hard, especially being from Nigeria where women unable to birth children naturally are scorned.
She went on to build several successful businesses. You don’t build a successful business- talk less of several, sitting around wallowing in self-pity. She still saw it fit to obey the call to serve others who were in the same boat as her: Other parents who could not have children naturally.
Think of the number “barren” people on this planet waiting for you to answer the call of purpose on your life. We should set the excuses aside, immediately stop wallowing in self-pity over setbacks and delays. Begin to be more intentional about life.
3. She alleviated the stigma associated with adoption and IVF
By choosing to adopt her beautiful daughter and son. She paved the way for so many that may have considered doing so, but did not go through with the idea out of fear of judgment from others. She used her mega platform to pave the way for them.
By going public with her story of 11 failed IVFs, she also helped to pave the way for others who may have considered IVF.
4. She knew how to give Real Hugs.
As I sieved through the many photos and videos of Ibidunni online, her smile and hugs stood out in almost all of them. She knew how to give the most loving hugs. Ibidunni’s hugs are #huggoals. I have made it one of my life goals to give loving hugs like Ibidunni did.
5. She was loving and very generous.
– I came across a video clip created by one of the many benefactors of her love and generosity. She said this of Ibidunni: “ she made me a Cinderella Bride”. Another friend Adebola Williams said this about her: ‘If generosity had a name, it would be Ibidunni”. She loved and gave extravagantly.
Truth is we don’t know exactly when we will take our last breathe on Earth. Ibidunni’s life should remind us all of how short our time on this side of eternity is. She might not be present with us physically, but her legacy will live on for a very long time.
She always looked content in all of her photos and video clips because she lived out Act 20:35:
“In everything I did, I showed you that we must work hard and help the weak. We must remember the words of the Lord Jesus. He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Act 20:35
So as I join millions and millions worldwide in mourning this beautiful iconic woman that left us too soon, I am inspired by her life: To Do Better, Be better and To Make Moment Count. In her sudden passing, she also reminds us all that:
“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count; it’s the life in your years. Abraham Lincoln
My prayer is this: when my time is up on this side of eternity, I will leave fully knowing that I have fulfilled to the very last letter – my purpose on this planet.
I can picture Ibidunni looking down from heaven with satisfaction and her huge signature smile, knowing she blessed so many souls and inspired an uncountable number of lives through her life and work.
I know her Heavenly Father welcomed her into heaven with these words found in Matthew 25:23 – “Well done, good and faithful servant”.
Continue to rest in God’s presence Beautiful Ibidunni Ighadalo. Thank you for a life well-lived.