On the train minding my business, sitting opposite me was a man in his late 70s. After staring at his tribal marks on his cheeks for a while, the silence was broken. I greeted Mr Ajala in Yoruba and so it all began.
Two Nigerians meeting for the first time bonding, talking with serious look on their faces, regardless of their age, tribe or religion, they were undoubtedly talking about the state of Nigeria. Usually, we tend to agree that the system has failed us and we yawn for change in all ways, however, after the talk, the shout, the anger, we’d retrieve back to our shells accepting that we could not effect any change and we will once again call on to God to help us as if God has not done enough by given us abundant natural resources, huge man power and brains to help us manage them well.
Of course God is not crazy and he has no time to waste with the likes of people who refused to learn and help themselves.
For the next one hour, Mr Ajala and I chatted away, I learned lessons about Nigeria history that I have never heard before from the horse’s mouth. Mr Ajala was one of the beneficiaries of generous scholarship in the 1960s. He said at the time there were only few secondary schools in Lagos State. In his final year at secondary school, his parents received a letter to say their son has been selected to study at University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
At the time Chief Obafemi Awolowo believed strongly that education is the key to a sustainable society. He pushed hard to get as many people to study outside the country in Yoruba at least so they could come back and teach the rest of us how to live and work together as a civilised society.
He had a big dream, he knew, innovation, productivity, efficiency could never be achieved without proper education. Mr Ajala said part of the deal at the time was that they must return to the country at the end of their courses, the deal he said all of them were glad to abide by as there were jobs waiting at home.
We have the power to make changes, let’s keep talking amongst ourselves and find a way to get our points across.
Below is Fela Kuti lyrics – Sorrow tears and blood as gentle reminder.
Further reading on Chief Obafemi Awolowo on his love for well educated nation. Here
This ted talk by Saki Mafundikwa of Zimbabawe is worth listening to. A much needed reminder that Africa has the ability to make things happen only if we look within. More personally, for Nigeria and her government – food for thoughts.