The world is celebrating AIDS day
today and 40 year old personal branding coach, Omokehinde Badamosi aka Kenny
Brandmuse, did the most amazing thing to mark the day.
He took to his Facebook page to
reveal how he has been living with HIV since 1999 and along with the
revelation, told his wonderful, inspiring story.
It is an inspiring story that chronicles his fears, his acceptance and his
decision to not let HIV be the end of him.
Read it below.
Today, Monday December 1st, is World AIDS day, and I’m celebrating my
resolve to live with this damn virus all these many years without letting it
define who I am. Every journey I take, every
picture of me you see, and every new challenge I take on are all huge reminders
that I must never stop living my best life. So, I decided to share my journey
with you today. Honestly, I don’t know what exactly you are dealing with but
I’m writing you this to hold tight to your dream. Here’s a quick sketch of my
journey from the first day I tested positive, some 15 years ago. My upcoming
book tells the full story.
1999. After three years of different pains and minor illnesses, I was
encouraged by my best friend and Professor Soyinka, an HIV specialist, to go
get tested so I could face my fear. I had just resumed work as a Copywriter at
McCann. I’d rather not know. I was working on Coca Cola, and I would rather
live in the joy of that dream. It was that point when you assured yourself this
was only a lie from the pit of hell. I had not been a ‘bad boy,’ I would assure
1999. I tested, and it came back positive. I blamed everyone but myself. I
wanted to end my life immediately. Trust me, I did try a few things. Then I
called on God. I told God to change the status because it didn’t look good on
him. I sang. I fasted. I gave offerings. Prophet offerings. I died several
times, but I didn’t die. I was always back to myself. I came up with a few
pseudo coping skills, but I was always depressed. The picture of HIV back then
was very gory, and I was wasting away.
2004. I realized I didn’t die yet. My flesh had not fallen off. My heart was
still beating. I still liked rice and pepper stew. I still had early morning
erections – and not just in the early mornings. Shouldn’t I be dead by now? I
began to question everything I ever knew.
2006. I had a local operation for tonsillitis, and it brought my immune
system to level zero. I was infected by everything you could name. But I was so
happy that I was going to die finally. Wouldn’t it be nice to die just like
that? Unfortunately, I did not die. I was bedridden for four months and was
forced to live by myself. It was there that my Exodus happened. I realized for
the 1st time that the real death is when we refuse to live out our full
potential. Death is not a physical thing. It is an emotional thing. When we
stop living. When we stop laughing. When we stop learning. When we stop crying.
Or feeling. So I couldn’t wait to get out of the hospital. There, I started the
anti-HIV medication. (Trust me, it doesn’t kill as I had feared)
2007. I started living and loving myself. As a creative person, I created
Orange Academy to start teaching people how to find their creative self. Love
themselves. Tell compelling stories. I put all my life into it. Then, I started
to undo all my pseudo coping skills. Oh, I had tons of them. Like getting
married, wanting people to accept me, being the ‘yes’ man to Ministers of God –
something I did in times past to assure myself I was doing ‘God’s will.’ I
stopped sending my money to Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and started
investing it on people I could see around me. Little did I realize that God
didn’t send me to do anything to gain his favor or search for him. God had
never been lost. I was meant to find myself and live my authentic life. Lift
people up. Fight the oppression around me. I started spending time with myself.
I started working out at the gym. I started to travel to enjoy the universe.
2008 – 2010. I looked in the mirror, and I saw a better me. A younger me. A
healthier me. No more lies. At Orange Academy, we started the ART OF POSITIVE
THINKING and started to use our arts and money to assist people living with
debilitating diseases or social conditions. I took those layers of lies off my
soul. I started writing my memoir – my full story as a preacher boy trying to
find God who art in heaven! [ THE EXODUS coming out next year ]
2014. November. I had an appointment with my doctor in Maryland, USA, and he
‘What’s your secret?’ All your medical tests are amazing. We tested for
everything possible. No new infections or conditions. Blood work is excellent.
Nothing at all to worry about. Perfect health. Just that you are still HIV+.’
‘Oh really?’ I said. ‘I thought that had disappeared.’
‘ Well, it’s still there, sadly. I hope Science gets the cure someday soon.’
We both laughed and then I fought back a little tear in my eyes. This dude
doesn’t know how grateful I am for HIV. Thank God for HIV. I wish I never had
it, but Lord I did! It made me run after myself. Maybe I would never have
understood myself; that no one can save us but us. Maybe I would never know the
refreshing power that loneliness can bring when we embrace our broken self.
Here’s what I want you to take away: don’t end your dreams just because you
are presented with bad news along the way. Remember, HIV doesn’t kill anymore;
it’s ignorance that kills. Use that bad news to ride onto your next phase. It
will be tough. I won’t lie. Don’t be afraid to live vulnerably. It’s
empowering. Empower yourself by loving yourself. Find yourself. Give yourself
to people without expecting anything in return. If you are a Faith person, keep
living your Faith in love for humankind. Empty yourself and accept to be filled
with kindness from others. Believe me, there are still angels out there to lift
*NOTE: Potentially I cannot infect anyone with HIV since my viral load went
to undetectable since 2008. Nevertheless, I still advise that you take
precaution with sexual partners as an HIV+ person, so they don’t infect you
with STDs. If you have not tested, know your status. It’s liberating. Starting
an HIV medication now doesn’t only protect your loved ones but can make you
live even longer than people without HIV. Want to chat? Send me an email at