On a particular day I was discussing with an Elder in the village. His name was MR. Otumba. We were talking about the importance of at least basic education. That there is no alternative to it. He cried out “Oh it was our father’s fault”. Then I cut in immediately asking him, “what’s your father’s fault”? He started to narrate his story to me. As he was talking, he was crying, then I comforted him not to cry because it was too late to do so. The mistake had been made for a long period of time
It was a real life story of what happened to him. In fact it was about him and his junior brother Edwin who had become rich because he was educated by the whites for free when they visited the village at first. He said it all started when the early Missionaries reached our village. We had not seen such color of people before.
That they were viewed as ghosts and everyone was running because we were black and had not seen white people before. While the white men were beckoning on people to come nearer, he said “we were running away”. Their color intimidated us he said. We therefore did not heed their plea to come, neither did we think they had good intentions for us.
But those who managed to come nearer were given basic education free. Some of us listened to our Primitive fathers or Parents who told us that these men were ghosts, that we should not go nearer the white men. My father said they would beat me seriously, instead that I should follow him to the farms. I obeyed my father and followed him to the farm and he appointed Edwin, who was regarded as “a heady Child” in the family to go there and receive the white man’s beatings with canes.
Edwin went to school and was educated. I cut in immediately and asked him, “but did you not see that he was progressing from your daily assessement”? He said he didn’t understand anything from him whether he was progressing or not. I cut in again and asked him “was it whose fault then”? He didn’t answer this question this time around.
He said “all I know was that he was going to school and coming back”. I also queried “when he went to school and came back, did you ask him if he was beaten at all by the white men”? He answered “I didn’t ask him about it and that’s where I made my own mistake”. Then I said “it was not all your father’s fault”.
So I said “you were also faulty, not only your father” and he said “yes”. He quickly added, “but even if I had asked him, he would not have given me a good answer”. Then I said, “I don’t agree with you because you couldn’t predict what you didn’t try out. And even if he lied to you, you would know the truth from others because he was not the only person going to school at that time, was he”?, and he now agreed finally. According to him Edwin was educated to the level called “Standard six” at that time. This level was offered the job of being interpreters to the whites because, having studied under the whites, they heard them well and would interpret their message to the people. This was the level the missionaries used to translate the Bible in the people’s languages. And this level played important roles at that time. Some of them were appointed kings or councilors by the whites.
Standard six people were also offered teaching jobs, and others appointed as “Court clerks” and “Village heads”. In fact Edwin was a teacher before the Nigeria civil war and was appointed as “Sole administrator” to the defunct East Central State, with Aba local Government headquarters immediately after the Nigeria and Biafra civil war, i.e in 1970. He made money through that office. He was driving his official car “Peugoet 504 GL”, one of the best at that time under the military regime. And he commanded a lot of respect in the village. In fact, no one challenged him in terms of money, because at that time we were trying to survive from the war.
As I was listening, he was narrating these things to me. He said “see his house beautiful” “his children schooling at one of the best schools in town”. I cut in again and asked, “but did you not enjoy going to the farm with your father”? Hear him “of what use is it now”? Then I continued “but why did you not insist that you want to go to school, when he didn’t complain to your father that the whites were beating him”? He said, “I wanted to answer and be seen as obedient child to my father, and now it has cost me a lot of things, see my children, no education for them and he does not care either. I asked again, “have you approached him for help with your children’s education”? He said he had not done so, but that at least he is seeing them at home on many occasions.
“But how did you enjoy the farm I queried again”? He answered, “well my father used to roast yams in the farm and we would eat it with some vegetables like “cent leaves” or “boiled bitter leaves”, and then we mixed them with Red oil and pepper, then adding Salt”. “No I won’t lie we enjoyed it he said”. “But it is not the alternative to basic education, in fact there’s no alternative to education at all”.
Mr. Otumba blamed all things on his father but admitted that he himself made a blunder through his father’s ignorance. Yes, when Edwin was going and coming back from school, he did not get any information from him, even from other Pupils who were allowed to go to school by their own Parents. As at that time he did not make any effort to join them, I believe his father would have left him to his choice to join others to school.
Now he is hipping all blames on his father who was ignorant of the happenings in the world.
Send your children to school for there is no alternative to education. Whatever one does on earth, education is important. Whether he would be a trader or a Driver, education will help him/her to a greater height than those who were not enlightened. It helps you even to communicate to your world, that which you want to offer to the people.
Education serves as a lifter to every height in business or in any other field.
From Joseph Azubuike-
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