Education is the liberation of the mind. The most important use was captured by University of Nigeria Nsukka many decades ago: “to restore the dignity of man” [and woman]. Largely, unless you develop a mindset of service, the education is a waste; that service can be at work, home, or practically anywhere. When 55% of Nigerian youth have no jobs, it means we have not restored the dignity of our young people.
You have a gift – make it flourish. But that gift is possibly different from your friends’ gifts. Honour those friends, and be inspired by them, but do not lose focus on what you can do best. To make progress in life, find ways to blossom on your gifts.
In secondary school, I was the dean in classroom – the undisputed onwu n’egbu akwukwo [the death that kills books]. (At least, as of today, my grades in SSCE remain all-time in the school history.)
But I was nobody on the football field. The school captain was my friend – he was always playing football and learning new dribbling moves. He was getting better. I decided to also spend more time reading to get better in my own domain.
He was a captain on the pitch. I was captain in the classroom. When our teacher does not make it to school, I take over and teach the class to my classmates. My friend did that many times on the pitch. You must do all necessary to be inspired by the right people but at the same time do not lose focus on what makes you different.
That your friend’s startup raised venture money does not mean you need to leave your banking job to startup a company. Possibly, your gift is running what others have started while your friend is just good on starting things. Unless you have confidence in your vision, you will be rolling around, aimlessly to be like others, and that is a bad thing.
When farmers go on demonstrations asking governments for food [they are hungry], it means we have not restored the dignity of farmers. When our women die needlessly in unlicensed clinics, it means we have not restored the dignity of the mothers of the nation. When we have people struggling with certain disabilities when solutions abound, it means we have not restored the dignity of our fellow citizens with disabilities.
We need service in Nigeria at scale.
Unfortunately, we haven’t managed to understand and internalize the meaning and purpose of education. And just like in many other things, we thought we could succeed by bypassing education, in our usual way of trying to cut corners and still wish/hope for the best. This one has proven to be impossible, we simply cannot bypass handing to our compatriots that education, the type that truly liberates minds!
It takes a sound mind in a sound body to have a sound man or woman, no other manipulation, incantation or abracadabra can change that.
As if being clueless isn’t terrible enough, we somehow managed to mix it with ineptitude. Nothing is going to work well, until we aggressively liberate minds; the dignity seems not to be in existence in the first place, so the issue of ‘restoring’ it even makes what is before us more complicated.
Even if we build the finest physical infrastructures, with rotten minds, you only have decay staring at you. The national rebirth must start with education, nothing else can be meaningful.