I know a man, whose name I wish not to mention. But whose story I have heard countless times and have wondered, “How did he make it?” To say that there is a man whose countenance roars from within him like a lion is but an understatement. His beginning was that of a bit of misfortune for his family. He was named after his father, an Igbo man who would say “Oyiri nna ya”. It is said that on the day he was born, his father’s shop where he made solid income, burned to the ground. His goods and fame went along into the ashes, never to be heard of again. Oyiri nna ya began life with little food to his stomach as his mother did all she could to sustain herself and the newborn. He wasn’t the first, he wasn’t the second.
He came as the third born, and he looked just like his mother’s father. What a surprise! Growing up wasn’t easy as other siblings came along and the need to select who would go to school began. “Oyiri nna ya, you have to wait for some time for your older ones to go to school.” Years went by and the story changed “Oyiri nna ya, your younger ones are already progressing and you need to take care of them”. Ha! When would he start schooling himself? He decided he was going to take a step and leave the comfort of his home, in search of education and some sense to have as a grown man.
By that time it was obvious that he was one of the eldest in class. He had begun to stay with an uncle, whose wife did not extend the kind of motherly affection to him. Yet he endured. The soup she would cook would be the soup of several days which he and some other young chaps would eat – it was never the fresh soup. He became used to her pattern and was blessed with a younger relative who loved him as her own child. To him, this was comfort and a way to learn all he could about life. When he started to go to Secondary school, this special aunty was there to encourage him to save up money for his WAEC.
Even while in school, he struggled to read and understand as his Primary school days were nothing to write home about. He saw he was deteriorating, and wouldn’t be able to amount to anything in life. So he had to change his thinking pattern. Before, while in class, he would sit at the very back with all the other bench warmers who couldn’t care less about learning. Then one day Oyiri nna ya said to himself, that he too could become like one of those girls who took the First position in the class. He made a bold step one fateful day to sit at the very front of the class so he could pay attention.
The entire strata of students were so disorganized by this new arrangement that another guy took the bold step of moving to the front seat! And so, friendship like no other began. Seriousness began. He was even liked and admired by most teachers, trusted even to handle financial contributions by his peers. Oyiri nna ya became a pacesetter. Something, he never thought he could do had he not had encouragement at home and within himself.
Fast forward to the end of his Secondary school days and he needed money to register for his WAEC. Of course, senior aunty and uncle refused to help him even after seven years of living with them. It was at this point that he left the home he had known for years with nothing to call his own but the savings he managed to raise with his aunty. Rather than going home feeling dejected, he bought gifts for the children around his uncle’s home and shared them with them. They were overjoyed and prayed for him, even going the extra mile to escort him as far as they could. His hopes grew and he completed his Jamb.
He made a single prayer and said something like this “Oh Lord, Abia State University is my first choice. If I do not get it, then I am done with school”. He applied and when admission lists began to roll out, lo and behold he made it! What a surprise to his family! He had finally made it! He would shuffle from his hometown to school after performing some menial jobs with the help of his mother who gave him foodstuff for school. Never did he miss his exams.
And in the year 20…yeah! He bagged his certificate! Looking back at his journey he would tell me, Ngee I suffered in life. And I would tell him congratulations, you are indeed a victor. You just cannot give up in life when God has not thrown in the towel. Where there is life, there is hope. Only begin, take a step even if it is one done with trembling. Believe and the universe will respond to your actions. Oyiri nna ya is an example of a victor.
Don’t let what others have determined about your future be the final say. Play that ball! And make sure you score in life’s net of “no and you can’t”. It only takes determination and a brave heart to soar.
About The Writer
Ngozichi Atasie is a Mass Communication major at the Abia State University, Uturu.