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The Hope for the Light of Africa
The London Olympics accounts for another eventful moment of summer 2012. Although I have followed the events in a lackluster manner, I am intrigued by the inspiring stories of those who changed history.
First is the teenage African American gymnast, Gabby Douglas, who won the gold in both the individual and group team gymnastic competition, making her the first American to become an individual all round champion. At 16, Gabby has made her mark on the Olympics, and she has raised the bar in the game of gymnastics. Usain Bolt, again, reminds me the role of destiny in man’s life. From the little we know about him, Bolt spent most of his early time playing cricket in the street with his brother. It was his high school cricket coach advised him to try track and field after observing his speed. Soon after, P.J Patterson, the then Prime Minister of Jamaica, recognized Bolt’s talent and arranged the trip from his interior town to Kingston where he thought Bolt could become a better person. Today, he is someone to reckon with! He has broken margin in the 100m and 200m race and has set a record for the second time. Right now, his popularity has cut beyond borders!
I am even more impressed with Michael Phelps who now holds the prestige of world record breaker and the most decorated Olympian of all time—with 22 medals.
History will never forget these people, as they have made indelible marks.
By this medium, I wish to congratulate the government and people of UK as well as the Olympics organizers for another successful competition.
Last week I painted several scenarios of people who made a watershed at their 20s. The 20s are filled with potential and talent that conform to the modern world. I have come to realize that it is ideal to make it during the 20s. However, even if you do not, your fortune will more than likely be determined by the way you used your 20s.
Two weeks ago, I took a cruise around the small village of Mbamba along with an office colleague. I saw small kids who have limited opportunities, but filled with potential and power. These potentials can be transformed into opportunities if channelled in a positive way and given the necessary support.
On our way back, we met some NYSC members and we offered them a ride back to Yola. They shared their experiences– they were rejected from the WAEC office where they got posted.
Even though I understand their situation, one of them was not immediately impressed by my expression and she said, “I understand you have never been in such a difficult situation.” This is not true! I have crossed hurdles in life, I have survived a sea drench, and I have overcome! Ask Omorx
The young copper expected me to lament her situation but I did not. I was rather taken back by her failure to understand she could make a difference in spite of her situation, as I made sure to point to her.
The same can be said of some Nigerian youths today. The current waves of challenges facing the country have permeated the thinking box of many, and this is as problematic as the combined effects of these challenges, if not more.
In January 2009, I had the opportunity to represent my prestigious Alma mater at a nationwide conference at the NUC in Abuja. It was the largest ecumenical gathering of Nigerian students – all Nigerian universities were represented, including the ones seeking accreditation. I met with many student leaders and they all shared insight into the common challenges they faced as students in Nigeria. I realized there is a sharp contrast between my experience and most of the people there. It would not be exactly true to say that I did not feel and understand their inadequacies; a woman who said we should think outside our problems and never allow them to pin us down psychologically inspired me. At AUN, I have learned how to set goals and achieve them. I am never deterred by my challenges, and this has always been my guiding principle.
I had to reschedule my weekend plans when I received an e-mail on Friday that a power cut for nine hours on Saturday and Sunday due to on-going maintenance was being planned. I prepared ahead of the shortfall. My friends and I planned that we will be spending the weekend with a friend whose family house is domiciled in Yola. We ended up going nowhere and remained in the room throughout the period. I tried to do the usual and I must tell you the experience was not the same. That was the first time since 2008 that I had to stay without electricity and internet for more than three hours. Even though I know that is the typical lifestyle in Nigeria, I could not comprehend it at that point in time.
During this moment, I deliberated the challenges facing this nation along with my colleagues –the majority of the residents around me came to my room for this discussion. Having gritted about our temporary power shutdown, we all came to agree that an average Nigerian does not have access to unflinching internet and electricity the way we do at AUN. We also agreed that this country would have gone miles ahead of where it is today if all Nigerian youth had the same opportunities AUN students have.
More so, Nigeria would definitely be in a better place if we had ten universities like AUN providing exactly the same quality education. I know that my readers will wonder about my strong emotional ties to AUN. Well, the truth is, I love AUN; more so the American system of education, and I make no pretence that. I always relate my AUN experience to my readers and today is no different. The fact that I am still connected to AUN is the most important factor that makes me know that Africa’s rejuvenation is near. It reminds me of the fact that Nigeria will be great someday. The kind of life and vision we imagine in this country as youths are the standard of life already provided at AUN. The fact that things are right here awakens a renewed hope in me for Nigeria and Africa at large.
Let us pause and think about this for a moment: Imagine if all Nigerian universities were a replica of AUN? We would have better learning environments, more platforms that support business ideas, creativity and research, more community development initiatives, revamped infrastructures, real-time information access, more disciplined and well oriented Nigerians, and, ultimately, more equipped, competitive and productive young people! These are the values needed to push this country to where it should be. Even as I continue to imagine this within me, I know for sure that we will certainly get there. The mysterious making of AUN has proven this.
This university was founded by a man, Atiku Abubukar, who was orphaned at a very young age in a village close to Yola. The acendancy of AUN’s founder to power and fame from a poor orphan is a clear example of hard work and destiny. Unlike many AUN students, he had no iPad; neither did he have most technical devices we use to enhance our learning process. He went the extra mile to experience education. Today he is one of the most successful individuals in Nigeria. He has poured much of his fortune into the development of AUN and he is not stopping there, according to him.
One thing lingers in my mind: if Atiku, from what we know of his history, could be the one engineering functional education in Nigeria as the archetype of development, how much more will be expected from us with the “already-made” opportunities surrounding us? The answer to that question lies in the hope for the light of Africa.
I rest my case.