by Dennis Okike
“The prize money was my jungle crush.”
I always auditioned in Lagos, that’s where I had friends to encourage me. I had contested the previous year and the year before that, and of course, the year before that year (Lol, talk about perseverance). The screening that year was quite hectic; It involved a lot of running and the interview wasn’t a funny ordeal. I had been stealing Dad’s car from the age of 18; So naturally, I aced the driving test. Fortunately, I got shortlisted amongst the final 30. Now, this was the hardest part.
It wasn’t the first time I had been shortlisted amongst the final 30 but I had high hopes this time because it was the 10th anniversary and of course, the money increased year after year. I had always wanted to be among the top 10 ultimate men. As I sat in the hall that day, awaiting my ‘fate’, lots of thoughts crossed through my mind but above all, I was very positive. When Freeze, the anchor, told me I had made it into the jungle; I was elated, it was a dream come true.
I was selected alongside 11 strong and intelligent men and women. Everyone had their unique qualities. I bonded with Bobby on the plane, he was my friend from the regionals, my plane padi. Edmund was stronger than I but he had a certain human likeness for me. As for those in my tribe, Anthony always kept me alert and on my toes. He made me push myself, despite the little squabbles we had. Mary was also there for me, she was the evil step sister of Martha but I was the master of mischief. I and Ifunanya had attended the same university and we were getting a bit close in the jungle but we didn’t really click.
My jungle crush would have been Mary but having a jungle crush would have been a distraction. Every morning in the jungle when I woke up, I had my eyes on the prize. The prize money was my jungle crush. I learnt persistence and patience; I learnt to be positive, to believe that I wouldn’t lose no matter what. I learnt to trust in God, it wasn’t by my own effort. There was a day I was last position in a task but I wasn’t evicted. The experience got me closer to God and the pressure I faced brought out more in me than I thought I had.
I’ve had struggles in life and I really wanted to do something for myself and my family. I didn’t go for service on time, it’s been the biggest problem I’ve ever had. It really got me frustrated, I couldn’t apply for a job as my papers were incomplete. I decided to do something I loved to do, something legal and legitimate that I’ll excel at. I needed to make myself a better person, I was lacking a lot of things so I applied for the Ultimate Search. Winning the Ultimate search was like heaven on earth, my biggest dreams had been actualized. I had evolved from being the regular Dennis, a normal guy with little ‘change’ in my account, to become The Ultimate Man.
Dennis Okike is the winner of Gulder Ultimate Search Season 10. He tweets from @TheDennisOkike
30 Days, 30 Voices series is an opportunity for young Nigerians from across the world to share their stories and experiences – creating a meeting point where our common humanity is explored.
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