Hmmm…. How do I start this episode?
Somehow, the feelings are indescribable. I see so many students who engage in economic activities just to meet up with academic needs. Everyday, they hear their colleagues call their dad, “daddy, I need money”. But to them, such conversation only comes off strange as they hardly have a responsive father to call for financial assistance.
And so, from a student’s JAMB form purchase to his/her current level with even some already graduated, one carries these feelings of “my father did not send me/sponsor me to/in school, and so, he will never get a dime from me”. Some students/graduates may even bear the mindset “over my death body will I give my father my money”. Wow! Really?
Let me take us aback to where my own story started. As a first son, 8th position of nine children, the economic impact on a semi-jobless father could be overwhelming. I grew up to meet my father as a semi-engaged man. His income were meager and no more enough to fend for the immediate family. So, I grew up knowing my “BELOVED” mother as the “lion of Judah” indeed, a savior and the bread winner of the entire family. With proceeds from her petty kolanut business in the then Ughelli main market, she provided food and shelter with a measure of primary and secondary education from whence we (the children) took it upon ourselves to be educated.
In one of my publications titled “Western Perspective of African Authenticity: The Fault of a Single Story“, I described my mother as “With a family of nine children and an intact parent, totaling an 11-member strong family, a father out of job and a pure traditionally righteous African mother who stood by all with the proceeds from her petty kolanut business; food were rationed, rents remained unpaid and only lived at the mercy of a fellow Christian landlord with sometimes oppressive wife and children”.
The above exposed us (me especially) to a lot of economic activities. With what I can only describe as first hand stress, I passed through the university. Stress made my neck to be so long like these aboki shoe makers. Lack of sponsorship from any quarters made me always focused more on financial gains than any academic outcome. Some colleagues saw my results and wanted me to contend it. To them, I was better off, but to me, I realized the effect of economic engagements on students’ test scores. It was not until my post graduate studies that my true colours (academically) started showing off. The story later became a bit better when my hustle changed dimension to academic research. This laid the basis for my current in-depth knowledge in research matters.
All this while, father was basically incapacited financially. Of course, old age has set in. With no investments on ground that can generate income inorganically, the old man can only survive from the strivings of an exemplary African mother who stood by 9 children and a husband whose mouth can sometimes be sharper than the slicing edge of a razor blade.
Should I branch into the badmouth nature of father? His case was more or less of a personality gone wrong. Maybe that will be a story for another day. This is to ensure I focus on the issue at hand.
Under this scenario, I graduated without a dime from father. Could it really be his fault? Did he really have money but refused to give? Well, cases differs across boards. From various observations, I realized that there are many fathers who are wealthy but refused to give. There are those who do not have but strive, even borrow to give the little support they can. But mine was different. I could only see that he had nothing to offer me. So, paternal expectation of sponsorship was never in my mentality from youth neither was it written in my dictionary. Also, that uncle whose story has rented the space who never helped was also never in my thought. It was a struggle all through.
Maybe it was the way I grew up. I grew up learning how to how to buy little personal effect stuff for myself – ranging from shoes to clothes, wristwatches, etc. We also aid my mother a lot in her kolanut business. So, I became a monster business man from my youthful age. Least I realize how this will affect my real life. Even within my 100-200 level when I branched into okada riding, at mid night, the remaining bike men still working will ponder over my income. They would call me “adjeghroke” (ride till day break), “ejogba” (the income must be complete), “ejumovore” (eat alone) – this is not really me though. The titles culminated in “oguonigho” (a regular nickname in Urhobo land for workaholics always looking for money – no rest syndrome).
But alas! Now, why should I even wait for money from anyone including my father? I already built the mentality that I can actually work for any amount of money I want, so? Does it really matter? From my father or from me? As a matter of fact, I paid for all my university’s tuition fees from proceeds of my okada endeavours and later from my Golf 3 sports car I bought with the aid of loan from my relatives. So, the existence of a father became insignificant to me.
From my lower levels in the university, you can feel it all over me that “my father will never eat a dime from me”. You laughing? Yeah, I gotcha. But my mentality started changing when I had an encounter with Prof. Samuel Edoumiekumo, Vice Chancellor, Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State (2018 till date) who taught me ECO111 in 2010. In a normal teacher’s way of giving advice and away from class discuss, he said “do you say over your death body, your father will not eat a dime from you?”… “only one month salary you will hold in your hands, and you will say to yourself… ‘is this really me?’”
Hmmmm… you really wanna know how I felt? I just chilled. Really, I chilled. It was like the man was talking directly to me. It was like one of those religious sermons the preacher man was preaching what you have been doing or may have done the previous night and you begin to shiver in your very sitting. But then, I just heave a sigh of relieve and moved on.
Please, permit me to say thank you Prof. Samuel Edoumiekumo for that line, because it changed my mentality till date. This piece is also written because I knew that one person is already suffering from such paternal non-sponsorship and some cases may be worse off than mine and they may just need this to push on. Be rest assured that 1+1 is always 2 and as you keep on grinding and adding to your knowledge, add or think business too so that you too will sail through. Hardwork has never resulted to failure. It is always success just as the addition of 1 to 1 always gives 2.
If your father has never given you a dime all through your stay in the university, common! Move on. Or will you want to remain there uneducated? If you can strive, please do. But do not hold father accountable. The grudge will be too heavy to carry. Like my prof. I join to say, “soon, you will review your life and say ‘is this really me?’”