‘Slow and steady wins the race’, they say. Nothing best describes my passage through life as does this adage: mine has been flanked by academic challenges and high family standards. Yet, I have not only always pulled through but have done so most gallantly, even finishing best at some levels.
Primary and Secondary Schools education were for me, not quite fulfilling, that is at first. I was quite poor in Mathematics. Having older siblings who excelled in all subjects did not make it any easier. Everyone compared me with them. As a result, I had a low self esteem and continued to perform poorly until my final secondary examinations. It was then that I told myself I could do it. I burnt the midnight oil for days on end and prayed frantically. The result was an all-round success which resorted to self-dignity and respect from my critics. I came to see that my family standards were indeed attainable; I only needed to work hard.
Another means by which I gained confidence in myself was my involvement with the Nigeria Red Cross Society in Katsina, northern Nigeria. I was able to secure First Aid Training as well as visit prisons, hospitals and schools in villages. These were places in which the Red Cross gave lectures and seminars on Basic Health Education. In the same vein, I participated in fund raising projects and welfare ventures for the less privileged. I interacted with the poor and people who were less fortunate than I was which made me especially grateful for the benefits that I had. I became a more loving person and began to realize how much I could do to alleviate suffering in my own little way.
The opportunity to study the French language in 2002 was an unexpected turn of events. I had failed to score the required number of points to study Political Science in the University of my choice. The alternative provided, French, caught my attention because I did not need to have prior knowledge of the language; Moreover, it was my dream to learn other languages. Even so, I realized that I would have to thrive among a large class of students most of whom could already read, write and speak French. With a foundation steeped in resolve, I again made up my mind to give it my best shot. I decided to do more than merely survive and so, I began teaching, on Saturdays, at a French club for children between the ages of 3 and 14. I used songs and poems as learning aids and assisted them in doing assignments from their various schools. I also spent hours in the university library, poring over any book that was written in French, and checking up French vocabulary in my dictionary. Although I had to sacrifice time that would have been used in leisure, it was well worth the effort. I graduated 5th best in a class of 135 people. The secret of my conquest was simple, albeit riddled with painstaking attempts and occasional...