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“Iya ti ko roju ri” – Oh My Grandma

Iya mioThe current certificate saga of General Muhammad Buhari made me start thinking about the where about of one of my certificate. More importantly though, I also start ruminating more about the process through which I got the certificate and the people involved in the process. Let me share the story with you, I promise to be very brief.

It was in the late 90s and I was in SS2, in case you are wondering what that means, it means I was a Junior in high school. I had started preparing for my senior secondary school certificate examination (SSCE) right from SS 1 (high school freshman). And one of my dreams was to pass the exam before I finish secondary school. I meant business then. I do not have any savings or any fancy cloth or pair of shoe. Every dime I got from family, friends or even from my little business ( yea, I was doing some business then too) is either spent on buying books or on after-school classes. I had almost all the basic books needed to prepare for the exams. One of my favorite was a New School chemistry book popularly called “Ababio”. Oh, my “Ababio”. My “Ababio” was special. It was binded in black color just like most bibles are in Nigeria. And literally Ababio was my bible for like 4 years. I sometimes take it to the church and glanced through it if the sermon sounds too boring to me. I usually made quotes to my friends from “Ababio” the way pastors quotes from the bible. Why am I telling you all these? Well, just to make the point that I felt so ready for my SSCE in SS2. But here is the thing, I couldn’t gather enough money to register for the exam.

The SSCE form then was about 1,600 naira….that’s about 8 dollars based on plummeting naira-dollar exchange rate at the moment. Everyone in my closely knitted family tried all their best to raise the money but all prove abortive. It was a very trying time for my family. My dad was out of job at the time. Primary school teachers were also on strike with no pay for several months. That means my mom had no income for long while still having the responsibility of feeding four hefty men. The 1600 naira was like a million dollar to us at that time. The more I think about that time the more sensible the Maslow Hierarchy of need become to me. At a time you are struggling for food and shelter, getting money for one examination (which can still be done in the following year anyway) become the least on the priority list. But, that’s not for my grandma. Mrs Abike Abigail Aluko is not the kind of person that will allow the dream of her son to go down the drain even if that will mean 7 days of self-imposed fasting for her. Before I tell you how my grandma raised my supposed “1 million dollar” within 24 hours, I need to tell you some of the things I went through in my quest to get money for my SSCE form.

With just 3 days to the closure of SSCE form and after trying all possible tricks I knew, I decided to do what I hated most, begging people for money. I pen down a strategy I thought would work at that time. I decided to go to three of my uncles and beg each of them to borrow me money for SSCE form with a promise of returning the money at certain time.  But there is a constraint on how to get to them. Uncle “A” lived in Isokun, which is in northern part of Ilesa while Uncle “B” lived in Bolorunduro in the southern Ilesa. My Uncle “C” lived in Imo Ilesa. Imo is a popular street in the eastern part of Ilesa. My school is located in the center part of the town, and I have to get to each of these Uncles within a window of 6 hours after school. To cut the long story I had to walk a total of about 10 kilometers that day in order to reach each of my uncles. At the end of the day I couldn’t get a dime from any of the uncles and I felt seriously dejected with a loss of hope on a dream I have had for 3 years.

Out of nowhere my grandma raised the money for SSCE form. And guess what, I passed all my papers in the exam. It was later that I learnt that she went to borrow the money from a popular weekly market in Ilesa called “Sabo market”. Yeah, that’s my grandma for you. Iya ti ko roju ri. She never hesitate to give HER ALL to me.

Upon seeing my grandma picture on my facebook profile 2 days ago, one of the esteemed friends asked “why did you look alike this much?” My response was simple. We look alike not just because of the biology but more importantly because I grew up in her hands, nourished on her lap, sleep on the same bed with her, eat same food and go to the same place for summer vacation with her (in our cocoa plantation …lol). I owe everything I am today to my grandma. So, when I learnt about the passing away of my grandma few days ago, I can’t but think of all she did for me while on earth. It is also a reminder of all she wants for me. She often tells me “Sanmi, you’ve got to do all you were sent to do to your generation as at when due. The world is waiting for you for fulfillment of your purpose. So, get to work as fast as you can.”

There is a popular saying in Yoruba that “Iya ni wura” – mothers are pearl. Truly, my grandma is my pearl and I miss my grandma.

“Eru owa obokun le, Ijesa modo aponada

Omo owa omo ekun, Ijesa obani ridi isana, ile lomo owa timuna roko

Ijesa osere omo eleni ateeka, omo eleni ewele”

Friends, join me in celebrating her life. Her life is really worth celebrating.