Welcome once again everyone. It’s time to enjoy a chat with a phenomenal woman! Grab a cuppa, sit back and enjoy.
Ama Duncan (AD): Thank you so much for making time to sit with me, Nelia.
Cornelia Opoku Gyemfi (COG): Thank you too for having me.
AD: I want to start by asking about your name. I’ve always known you as Nelia. Please share with us the special reason for the truncation of your name.
COG: My full name is Cornelia but my mum likes to give three syllables names(hehe) and growing up in a typical Ghanaian environment, people loved to shorten names which sometimes gave it different, appalling meanings and I didn’t like that. So when I was an undergraduate entering into final year, I stood for the SRC Women’s Commissioner (but I didn’t win, oops). After the elections were called and I hadn’t won, I still felt this burden within me to do what God had called me to do. I downloaded WordPress and sought some help from a friend who had been blogging for a while on how to go about it. As I began writing, the name that came to me was Nelia. I then went ahead to look up the meaning of Nelia since it was coined from Cornelia and Nelia actually means ‘horn’. It was a good spin off from my name and had a good meaning so I adopted it.
AD: Ahhh. You know, I’ve been following you for a while and first off, I want to commend your consistency. I believe you’re serving your audience well. Speaking of audience, what is The Phenomenal Woman about and what inspired you to start it?
COG: Backtracking to the SRC story, that was what inspired me to start. Though I had lost the elections, I still felt I could serve the school community in a way, with my talents and gifts still being useful in the school community and beyond. I started a blog called The Phenomenal Woman blog. My Mum is a Reverend Minister so I grew up in the front line of the church. One of the things I noticed growing up was that young women between high school and university, before they got into marriage, had a very awkward moment in our lives where the church didn’t really pay attention to our growth. It was more like you’re a child and then next you’re an adult but in between that space you don’t really know what you want to do with your life. I figured that is probably not what God wants for us as young Christian women. I believe God has a purpose for us whether we are married or single or teens or young adults whereby wherever we find ourselves, there is something that we can do that will serve humanity as well as please God. So that was the whole reason why I began and it later spun into a network.
AD: Fantastic idea! I remember that season of my life, such a network would have been really useful to me. Please share with us some of your activities and programs.
COG: For a while, about two and half years while I was back home in Ghana, we used to hold Breakfast Meetings or Brunch Meetings. However, I’m in Canada now and with COVID too, it’s been difficult to put that together but I’m looking forward to having those meetings again very soon. As of now, one of the things that we do constantly is hold Instagram live sessions where we talk about diverse, relevant situations and questions that bother us as young Christian women. I’m actually in the throes of dealing with the church’s notion and perception about the sexuality of young Christian women among many other things that people don’t like to talk about but I believe it is important to talk about them. I also have my weekly, short videos that I post which I call Lightbulb moments. During the week, anything that strikes me, anything that I think about, nothing scripted, I just say what comes to me. And I also have my blog serving as a good resource too for young Christian women. I’m also looking to start a monthly bible character session where we will go in depth about biblical characters making relevance to this particular era and our personal lives.
AD: That is so beautiful. I wish all your endeavors a success. Congratulations on your recent graduation from law school + your new book! First, let’s talk about the law school experience. I read some of your posts after graduation. Please share a brief of it and the key lessons it taught you.
COG: Alright. So I had my undergraduate education in Ghana, I studied law. But I couldn’t go to the Ghana Law School at that time because my institution in Ghana had some issues that were unresolved so I couldn’t apply. I applied for a Masters in Law to a university in Canada and got admitted. As I started the program I submitted my provisional transcript without my Degree which said I had fully completed the program. But here is the testimony, they didn’t state on my admission letter that my admission was conditional, pending my certificate because if they did, I wouldn’t have been granted a visa. I arrived two weeks later when classes had begun and was already disoriented. And then my faculty sent me emails that they needed my full admission documents to close my admission process because it was still open. At that point I panicked and honestly didn’t know what to do. I tried stalling but they kept coming back at me every now and then. Then I finally came clean with my Dean that I didn’t have what they were asking for. At some point they suspected fraud and because some of my documents from my school weren’t tallying. I was looking at being withdrawn from the program completely and returning back to Ghana. It was just a lot of things. I found out I could apply for a Leave of Absence and did. This enabled me to buy more time to sort out all the necessary things. At every point in time there was just something that was blocking me from completing the program so it was a big relief when I finally did! Being able to complete the program is something I’m so grateful to God for. One thing this taught me was, people’s actions or inactions can make you a victim. And when you go through that situation where it is not your fault, the only anchor you can hold on to is God. The other thing I learnt from this experience was, God will give us the grace to do things but sometimes, the grace is not enough. You will have to pull yourself and put some skin in the game. You have to be resilient. No matter how minimal, put in the effort but just do not give up. The last thing that this experience taught me was anything you put your mind to, you can actually do it because by God’s grace I was able to finish my research papers on four different areas within a timeline of ten weeks!
AD: I can imagine how this experience must have been for you! Can I just say, you are a phenomenal woman! Now to your new book – Being Phenomenal, congratulations once again! What is it about?
COG: It is a small book; I intended for it to be just so and very practical. This book came up from my curiosity about the purpose and identity of the younger Christian woman. This was because, being a young Christian woman especially in higher education, you come across so many theories especially some types of feminist theories that make you want to question your place and identity in this world and all. So I felt that we needed something that would remind us about our purpose and identity with God as a young Christian woman. I feel we are in an era where young Christian women do not know their seats in the world and so we are fighting to take up some seats that are not ours. So this is basically a reminder or an admonishment.
AD: Phenomenal! I’ll definitely add a link to where people can buy the book. Before we wrap up, complete the following with a short phrase or sentence:
If I could advise my younger self in one short sentence, I would say “step out of your comfort zone”.
I am fabulous because “there’s just one of me”.
One book that has greatly helped me in business is “The Richest Man in Babylon”.
AD: Yessss! Just one of me, I love it! Plus I love The Richest Man in Babylon! So tell me, where can people find the book and where do we find Nelia?
COG: You can send me a DM (Direct Message) on Instagram or Facebook to Nelia Gyemfi or through my website rubiesworth.com. There’s also a link on the website where you can buy the book or you can contact me directly to link you up to vendors in Ghana and also on Amazon. I’m also available for speaking engagements.
AD: Thank you for taking time off your morning schedule to do this with me looking at the difference in time zones. I’m very grateful and I’m happy to be a part of what you’re doing.
COG: Thank you Lady Ama. Before we wrap up, I just want to say how this interview is so dear to me. You are my mentor and I learn a lot from you. Thank you for giving some of us the opportunity to learn from you. I appreciate you and I love you.
AD: Aaaw. I love you too. Thank you so much!
Wasn’t that amazing? A beautiful time I had with her, I must say. What I loved about what she spoke about was when she said ‘God knows and is aware of wherever I am and what I’m going through’ and ‘we should get our skin in the game as Christians and be resilient. However little, put in the effort and have faith.’ Share with me in the comments what part of this interview you really enjoyed. You can access her book here and do reach out to her on social media as well. Until next time, be phenomenally fabulous!
Born Cornelia Opoku Gyemfi, she adopted the name ‘NELIA,’ coined from her first name after an experience that she has come to believe birthed her into purpose.
She believes that as daughters of God, our purpose is both individualized and collective. Everyone was put on the face of the earth at this time in history to fulfil a goal, an assignment that only they can. All while collectively, our purpose is providing an enabling environment to support each other to birth our purpose.
Professionally, she holds a Bachelor of Laws degree and a Master of Laws in Maritime Law. Her career ambition is to be an International Maritime Lawyer. She loves to introduce herself as a woman who aspires to pursue and live out her God-ordained purpose & assignment unapologetically.
She has devoted her life to reminding young women of faith of their purpose, worth and passion through the lenses of scriptures. She is a writer who has countless blogposts to her credit and recently launched her book ‘Being Phenomenal, A handbook for Today’s Young Christian Woman’.
She is also a speaker who inspires her audience through her lived experiences and realities, making them aware that no one is alone on this journey of life and faith. Being Phenomenal is a movement founded by Nelia, through which is committed to encouraging young Christian Women to be confident in their ambition while growing their faith.