18 February 2019

Namibia: Nineteen-Year-Old Girl Inspires, Changes Lives Through Poetry

Lydia Festus, socially known as Lydia October, is not just your regular teenage girl having at the age of 19 years already made herself a brand and knows what it takes to be successful.

She is a poet, MC and the founder of the non-governmental organisation (NGO), October Foundation. To her, poetry is real and intimate and it means exposing very dark, hidden parts of her life that she wouldn't really talk about with even the closest people in her life. "Poetry has been with me, my whole life I figured. Anyone who knows or has been around me for a while would know how much I love English, literature, I meant that as literally," she says. "Before I became a poet, I was an MC, I still am, and it all began in high school. My friends and I went to crowd cheering for our matriculants and I received a call from one of our teachers, asking if I would love to host the school's matric party," she adds.

Poetry occurred to her that moment when she heard her inner voice telling her how the ignorant naysayers would constantly hate her "loud mouth", which pushed her to that point. "I agreed on hosting the event and to be honest it was one of the best experiences in my life. From that day onwards, I became the school's mistress of ceremony. I would host beauty pageants, public holiday events at school and so eventually I grew some exposure and soon other schools around town would ask me to host," explains she.

Festus describes herself as someone who would always look at life in a more colorful way even through dark times, and she writes about almost everything she finds poetic and her poetry became more exposed when she started attending the Open Mic poetry sessions hosted by poet and MC, Ashywn Mberi, and it became a priority to attend and when she feared performing her poetry. She says her last year of high school was one of the most interesting and intense years in her life as in Grade 12 she had built a platform for hosting events and voice-over skills. "As a learner in high school, at some point I lost interest in the whole idea of being a learner, nothing was going my way and I just stopped doing anything about it. I had been pressured so much into the idea of not failing, I stopped focusing on working hard towards not failing by studying hard but instead I focused more on poetry for some reason," Festus explains.

Also an author, she has written a book titled Tales of an open mind, yet to be published. "I spent so much of my study time expressing myself and how confusing life is as a teenager through poetry and had completely derailed my focus on the physics and chemistry exams that I had to study for," she adds.

She chose to focus on building herself as a brand because she knew already the outcomes of her results and she decided to drive to Windhoek for voice-over auditions at NBC, a week before the exams officially started. Even though she didn't make it in Grade 12, she didn't just stay home but went to the College of Arts where she was admitted as a radio production student, even though it was hard to convince her mother to let her pursue her dream at the college.

Festus's journey was not just a walk in the park, it was also filled with challenges and one of the biggest challenges that she faced was being robbed of her personal computer, which had her poetry book in it and most of her business ideas. "I remember crying myself to sleep, just thinking how much time and effort I have put in writing it, just to have it gone before I could even back it up," she reflects sadly.

But all that is now water under the bridge and life goes on. Her personal goal is to at least have a solid empire in terms of art, business and entertainment by 21 years old, and she is chasing it with all she has got, through God's grace and by her parent's lifelong lessons. "I look back into my life and just seeing how much I have experienced and accomplished at 19 is what keeps me going. I look up to my mom a lot, I never saw myself being so business-minded but now it all makes sense, I am walking in her footsteps and I appreciate how she and my dad have raised me to always humble myself and always respect the ones who came before me," Festus adds.

She currently has dropped out of college because of financial difficulties year and she thus decided to take a gap year and raise money to pay for her studies. "I recently partnered with Namibian actor, Carlos Leonard, who recently returned from Hollywood, for film and theatre training at the Beverly Hills Play House Acting School - he and I are now helping expose the Leonard Talent Management Agency cc (LTM) to the Namibian market as we would like to start managing Namibian actors, musicians, models and dancers," she says.

Festus is looking forward to publishing her poetry books in the near future, as well as becoming an actress within the Namibian industry and later on the international platform.

Festus advises the youth to start investing in their personal growth by discovering themselves, and where it is they feel they belong best in life. "Dropping out of school will never be an option if you don't have a plan worked out to back such decisions up - it will all lead to regret, trust me on that. Nobody can tell you otherwise to what God has already given you. Focus on your own race with your own battles at your own pace. Every day you wake up is do or die, swim or drown, so grab every opportunity with both arms and do everything right by giving it your all the first time around; it's rare for opportunities to come around twice believe me."

In her free time she gives back to the community through her foundation and at the moment she is mentoring young girls on teenage pregnancy, importance of business, arts and education. She also loves giving feedback to upcoming artists on their music.

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