Friends Like Diamond
My first romance with the “33” Export lager brand was sometimes around 1989 back then in my home town, a certain place called Imagbon, then in Ijebu-Ode local government. The small town was later carved out of Ijebu Ode and currently sits as one of the economic hubs of Odogbolu local government area of Ogun State, if not the major, thanks to Nigerian Breweries or “33” as known by friends in local parlance.
As students in the Village’s only secondary school, “33” Export lager Beer’s annual Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives – such as the donation of a science laboratory, construction of a block of 4 classrooms among others to the school and other projects to the town endeared the “33” Export to all and sundry in the small town.
As they say, one good turn deserves another, to us at that young and tender age, myself and some intimate friends, developed natural affinity for the company and its brand, “33” Export. Though, we were not yet consumers of beer, some us were under 18 years of age, those who have gone past the age, had their dads’ reprimand to contend with. However, as friends, we swam like bees to the factory premises as we by-pass to the Yemoji river, the source of the water used for the bubbly beer. Yemoji is a landmark in Ogun state tourism and culture narration.
Bonding from day of Old
Yemoji holds attraction for all youth in the town and its environs including workers of “33” in those early days, especially on weekends. So, when we attained the drinking age, now most of us were out of secondary school, Yemoji Recreation centre and “33” Export offered us as friends, opportunities to bond, push the barrier and advance to become enterprising and diligent young adults.
As the natives of the host community, the company became our standard for measuring companies’ responsiveness to their operational environment or host community. Its presence also offered myself and a couple of friends opportunities for vacation jobs initially. To most of us, this was not of necessity, but a few of our parents saw the need to inculcate in us the entrepreneurial spirit usually associated with the Ijebus and also to be prudent with money.
“If you start to work and earn money early, then you learn not be frivolous or wasteful”, my dad who resided in Lagos would justify his father’s decision, each time he comes visiting. “You should be positively engaged, busy while pursuing your admission or else you may drift away”, he intoned.
So “33” provided me and my friends the opportunity to start working to earn money at a relatively young age when most youngsters of our ages were still tied to their mother apron-strings for the least of penny to spend. It was indeed a life’s lesson which impacted on us values of diligence, hard work and dignity of labour..
Beyond the Leisure
For the time we spent before our admissions sailed through, I, Niyi Badejo and Sunday Ogunniyi became best of friends, fired by our undying zeal for education, diligence and the camaraderie spirit helped in no small measure. At weekends, now as young men of “means”, (at least “33” pays whatever we deserved as our labour at that point in time), we would go for recreation. Our favourite spot being the Yemoji Resort, Imagbon.
As young men and friends who had their eyes on the future, aside the fun, relaxation and merry making, such outing for us was also designed for stock taking. We never allowed the inherent youthful exuberance had the better part of us. We consistently challenged ourselves, asked about one another’s progress report on our exams, intended courses and prospects for admissions. It is here we counseled ourselves on the next line of action to ensure success. Of course, such day was not complete without our beer, “33” Export lager under the recreation canopy where a larger ring of friends would join in the celebration.
Pushing the Envelope, No dropping the ball
A year barely passed, when all three of us gained admission into different institutions of higher learning. We graduated, served the mandatory National Youth Service Corps. Niyi joined Nigeria Breweries, Sunday worked with UACN while I majored a journalist.
We have gone far and wide, of course, time and space had had its effects on our friendship but about two years ago, respite came for this good old friendship or ‘association’ as some say “Old friends are better than new! May be, may be not, this is subject to debate. However, as one makes new friends, it is worthwhile to oil the wheel of old trusted friends especially friends of your youth, which could otherwise be described as “treasures”.
A ‘City of Friends’, Diamond Forever
With “33” city of friends, an enabler of friendship initiative by Nigerian Breweries, it is high time this treasures are re-united and the values of friendship harnessed for the good of all. As the unifying factor, friends call me Olori ebi (head of clan), the “33” City of friends activation has rightly inspired me to call for a re-union of both my old and new friends under the “33” City of friends umbrella. The response to this, wonderful.
We would reminiscence on the good old days, the values and ingenuity that made us, share new ideas and project into a brighter future, all these will be oiled by the enabler of friendship, “33” Export. With the “33” Export city of friend in mind, our friendship like diamond, will last forever.
Would you rather reunite with friends of your youth and expand your sphere of influence even among new friends. Let’s celebrate friendship today and always!