I have often told the story of how my parents were separated for twenty long years before I eventually reconciled them by the wisdom of God. And each time I shared that story, many of my school friends (except the very intimate ones) who never knew that part of my life ordeal, have often wondered how I was able to cope with all that and still kept a cheerful face in school. Some of them have even ventured to ask me how I was able to sustain a reasonable academic trend back then.
And each time I tried to answer those questions, I remember two events that happened when I was in Primary one (1st grade) and primary four (4th grade) back in Badagry, Lagos, Nigeria.
The first one happened after our first promotional exam in Primary one. Our then Headmaster, the over 6 feet tall Mr. M.A. Akande (late) had stepped out to announce the top three students in every class at the assembly ground, before the whole school. And just before I could focus my young, innocent mind on what the Headmaster was doing, he called out my name as the topmost student in Primary one.
Candidly, I must confess that I never knew what that meant. But because the whole school was clapping for me, and I was also supposed to step out and shake hands with the highly revered (if not feared) Mr. Akande, I knew subconsciously that it must have been something good.
So, after the handshake with our Headmaster, it was time to go home. Now, on the way home, a bunch of my friends surrounded me, commending my result…And after listening to all the pleasantries, and for want of something to do to show that I knew that whatever happened was a good thing, I burst out singing and dancing. And we all danced home, pulling our khaki shorts half-down to show some childish excitements. But the crescendo of that excitement was to be witnessed by me when I stopped over to show my report card to my dad at one of his four Pharmacy outlets.
I saw him seated under a shade with his friend late Chief Oyerinde (an influential chief in Badagry then) both laughing and unwinding with the game of draught. And before he could ask me why I did not go home straight, I showed him my Report card. And when he looked at it, he screamed, jumped up and ordered me a full bottle of Coca-Cola.
In case you did not know, that was my first time of drinking a full bottle of Coca Cola all by myself! Back then, the grown-ups would sip the first 3 parts and leave you the last quarter to drink. So, the idea of me drinking a full bottle of Coca Cola just because I came first in my class was the first act by my dad that helped me to see the importance he attached to my seriousness in academic endeavors. And the second thing he did when he got home was that he called up my Mom and told her that anytime I came home with that kind of result, he would take me to the Republic of Benin (which had the reputation of stocking original items back then) to buy me a nice Suit.
I dare say that I humbly took that as a challenge and ended up having several nice Suits because I repeated that feat several times over. And as that trend continued, he got the services of my Ghanaian Class teacher, Mr. Charles Arthur to also double as my private teacher in helping to groom me for the then very competitive Common Entrance Exams into Badagry Grammar School.
But while my private teacher was busy drilling me, I detested the idea of somebody encroaching on my soccer time and play time. And because of the fact that many of my other friends never had such a disciplined, straight-jacketed kind of schedule, I dreaded those moments the more. But dreading them was one thing, voicing out my displeasure to my dad was, however, something I dared not do because of his belief that a child is to be shown the way and not allowed to lead the way.
So, one day, he did something strange. And what was that, you ask?
He bought me a General Science textbook meant for those in class four in the Secondary school (10th grade) while I was just in Primary four (4th grade) and told my private teacher to ensure that I understood the content. And when my private teacher protested that it was higher than my comprehension level, he simply told him to show me the pictures in that book and tell me the stories behind them.
And guess what!
Those stories got me glued to school work…as I anticipated what the next story would be the next day.
And what was the result of that… You ask? Well, I was able to pass the common entrance exams jumping the class ahead of me! Not only that, I learned the zeal and enthusiasm that enabled me to stay focused even at the University when they (my parents) were separated for those twenty odd years!
So, as an adult, who has come to appreciate the word of God which says:
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:8)
I revel and marvel on a day such as this, at such depth of fatherly influence over my life. And that is why I am the more energized to engage the wisdom of God to show our children the ways they should go, so that when they grow up, they will not depart from them. HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO YOU ALL!
Dr. Iyke Nwambie is the President of the Advancement Ministries Inc. and the host of the Christian inspirational program, “The Advancement Strategies Broadcast.”
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