By Paul Njie
The tender sound from a piano played in the background, as a mellow voice engrossed the audience at the Buea Freemind Center. It’s November 5, 2020 and a spoken word poetry performance is on.
“I want the kind of sleep where I’d close my eyes and never open them again,” the performer began. That was Tibi Chelsea, a 21-year-old spoken word artist, creative writer, motivational speaker and debater from Cameroon.
She was performing a piece about rape, at the inauguration of the center. Mid-way into her four-minute performance, viewers dashed for their phones, wanting to either film or snap the lady behind those words.
It all summed up to one thing: impact! The kind that made the audience not to help, but clap resoundingly at the end of Tibi’s presentation.
Tibi Chelsea did not just become an award-winning debater and an admired spoken word artist, creative writer and motivational speaker overnight. It took her lots of months of practice, reading books, articles and learning from others.
Stage performances of Mac Alunge, a Cameroonian spoken word artist, and the works of acclaimed motivational speakers like Oprah Winfrey and Priscilla Shirer, inspire Tibi to give her best each time she is on stage.
She is marvelled by their work.
Even as Tibi is very much praised today, she started off as a shy young lady, afraid to speak before an audience. In fact, when she opted to address people from about 15 African countries for the first time in 2017, it was a frightening experience for her.
“It was really scary when I started this thing,” she said.
She took up the challenge, anyway.
The more Tibi appeared on stage debating and performing spoken word poetry, the more courageous she became. She finally got rid of her stage fright. Well, not entirely, though!
“I can’t totally say that I am not afraid anymore, because whenever I want to go on stage, there is this little nervousness. But I believe it can be managed, because I’ve been managing it.”
Tibimotivates is touching lives
Upholding virtue, Tibi says, is the focus of her art. Sometimes when she reads her Bible and prays, ideas to motivate others would come up. Little wonder why she is out to “uphold virtue.”
“There are a whole lot of things that inspire me, but, first and foremost, God.”
“He’s my inspiration, because He’s the Father of all virtues. So, whenever I maybe study His word or come into His presence, I really feel this burden to share it out to others,” she told TWIF NEWS.
The 21-year-old produces contents with the hope that all those who come in contact with them are inspired. For this to happen, she does not seek for contents far-off. It only takes the little striking things happening in the society, for Tibi Chelsea to pen a powerful message, enough to encourage someone somewhere.
“Most often, throughout my presentations, I lament… I make sure that the kind of information that I’m delivering to people, I am seriously lamenting about the ills in society.”
But, it is far from ending at the level of lamentation. She also makes sure to “tell people about hope. There is hope in us changing; choosing to do good; choosing to be better… reminding people of their goodness, and telling them that we can be a lot better, if we choose to do what’s right.”
All this is conveyed under one brand ⸻Tibimotivates. It is gradually gaining grounds in different spaces around the country. That is the name most people recognise her work by.
A recent message on Tibimotivates’ Facebook page reads: “You’re someone’s answered prayer. Don’t hold yourself back from doing that good thing.”
With such messages, Tibi considers what she does as changing lives, and it means a lot to her, she says.
The ride hasn’t been easy, but she has support
Family and friends have always been there to support Tibi’s work. They have encouraged her, and that has given her the zeal to keep doing what she does.
Ndzi Giyo has worked with Tibi for a long time now. They have both participated in, and organised debates and public speaking contests. His thoughts about Tibi Chelsea and her work are appealing.
“She remains humble, regardless of the heights which she has gotten, regardless of how well she’s known now ⸻ her popularity,” Ndzi intimated in an interview with TWIF NEWS.
“I must confess she is one of the most inspiring persons I’ve known. Not just because she is my friend, but simply because I admire the courage and determination that she puts forth,” said Ngalla Carine, a friend and debater who has worked with Tibi closely.
It has not been a totally smooth ride for the lady who is inspiring many. Sometimes, dealing with unserious persons who fail to show up for her training sessions could be annoying. Well, not only that.
Being a postgraduate student warrants that she studies hard. But sometimes, inspiration to write the best motivational pieces only come when she is studying for school. This puts her in a tight spot. The point where she has to choose from binary options: school work or motivational content?
Also, Tibi says it is not easy to uphold virtues and live an exemplary life, but she has remained committed to these values. Her message to younger aspiring public speakers? They should always share their knowledge with everyone else.
Hope for the future
As Tibi takes delight in inspiring and motivating people, some of whom she barely knows, she fancies herself gaining national and international recognition in some years to come. A goal which could be achieved, if she maintains her character traits: good traits which her friend Ndzi Giyo believes will take her farther than people can imagine.