Sometimes, I stand to speak or give my opinion about something and people think “oh boy, that guy is educated”. Yes, I am educated but I am not educated in context to what they are referring to. This is a personal story, something I would have preferred sometime ago not to share but I am sharing it for obvious reasons.
To help someone who is about giving up.
I came from a home that moved from being average to being poor and then back to average. I am the second born of five children and we all grew up almost together. My elder brother was born February 1990 and I was born February 1991. My immediate younger twin siblings were born in 1993 while the last born was born in 1996.
We were all going to school almost at the same pace, I believe it was a bit challenging to pay all our school fees at once but my parents did the best they could. At a time, the five of us were all in the same Secondary school and I remember when the Dean of studies called up our family for positive recognition because my father doesn’t only pay school fees, he always pays on time and sometimes before the time.
Then the problem started.
Business crashed, my father lost all he had. Yes, he lost every single penny! We were almost withdrawn from school but the founder of our school, Winners International School intervened. May God’s blessings continue to be evident on her, she was an angel!
She didn’t only ensure we completed our studies, she also made sure I and my brother wrote NECO. We didn’t write WAEC because she wasn’t informed on time that we didn’t register. The only option then was NECO and she registered us with her money.
I remember how I and my brother could trek from our home at Nkpor to MCC Onitsha, close to Upper Iweka and then into the inland town where our examination centre was just to write exams.
It was also during this time that I was going about seeking a publisher who would accept my manuscript and get me published. I believed that somehow if I get published, I was going to be able to support my family and myself. That was how I exposed myself to a series of sexual abuse, a story I have shared in my short book “Raped at Seventeen”. You can Google it.
After we were done with Secondary school, it was difficult enrolling into the University. My elder brother was to study medicine and become a medical doctor, I was to study computer science being that my flair for computers was very evident even at a very younger age.
Eventually, because things were hard and with much sacrifice, my elder brother switched into studying education. He graduated later. While he isn’t practising today, looking at how well his life and career has turned is a shred of evidence that you can become what you want to be. You may just need to keep pushing.
After some time, in 2014, 6 years after I had graduated from Secondary school, I enrolled at National Open University, Awka. Sometimes I wish I had used the funds for something else.
I remember the first meeting we had in our department, I stood up to make a suggestion and someone said: “George, it’s easier for you to say because this is obviously your second degree but for some of us, we have never been to the University before, this is our first experience”. Unknown to her, it was my first too!
To cut the long story short, I was going to drop out just after a year of study with finance as the obvious reason. I watched my mates go to Lagos for their convocation and I’ll admit, I had mixed feelings. At some point I felt blames overwhelming me. I thought maybe, I didn’t work hard enough, I thought maybe there were things I didn’t get right.
At another point in my life, I nearly resorted to putting the blames on my parents. I felt that maybe they didn’t do enough, they didn’t put enough sacrifice. I missed out on several life-changing opportunities because I was degree-less of which the latest hit me so hard.
I would close my eyes to sleep and I see myself quarrelling with my parents over my academics. There was a time I had a dream, I was shouting on my dad and telling him how he was the reason I couldn’t finish school… I am being sincere. Then I woke up with so much anger and bitterness boiling in my heart against my father.
“This must be the devil,” I said to myself and I wasn’t in any way wrong! It was the devil trying to plant a seed of hatred in my heart against my father. God forbid! I rebuked it. To this moment, I keep loving my parents every day. I understand their sacrifices better now.
So, I made a resolve, never to settle for less whether I go to school or not. I am a strong advocate of getting educated anyhow, an advocate of going to school if you have the means but I also know that you can be much more even if you couldn’t make it through the four walls of the University. Not everyone had the opportunity to make it through Primary and Secondary school after all.
However, these days it’s easier to get educated. It’s easier to learn at your own pace; it will only take internet bills. I enrol in many relevant online courses as much as I can. I am always intentional about any academic opportunity that passes me by because I know that if I couldn’t make it the other way, I could make it this way.
I don’t look at people and judge them because of what they couldn’t achieve, I don’t look at poor people and judge them for being poor just in the name of motivational speaking, like saying “you are poor because you chose to”.
People who haven’t navigated this path of life may not understand it. Some who understood it have continued lying to themselves until the lies became truth to them, so they are struggling to make others believe their new truth.
If you have been privileged to go through school, no matter how terrible the systems are in whatever country you are, be grateful! It doesn’t matter if you sponsored yourself or someone sponsored you. It’s a privilege.
I have helped so many graduates navigate life after school. I have helped some find career paths outside what they studied in school and the beautiful thing is, you could hardly tell “he is not a graduate” because, of a truth, I am a graduate! Graduate of many disciplines only not just graduate of a degree, master and doctorate courses; a cap I hope to wear anytime in the nearest future, perhaps with my wife and kids cheering me on.