THE year was 2001, month of june. I was in SS3 reading for my WAEC. I was at home reading a newspaper [the Nigerian Tribune] when i came across an essay competition organised by the civil liberties organisation for senior secondary students and university undergrads. i got really interested. It was a theme on Child Labour. The topic was ‘The Implication of Child Labour for the development of the child’. A ten page essay to be written, typed in double space and sent to the address. I didn’t really have access to the internet as at then so i could not go to google it out. I had to rely on my lexicon, imaginations and events around me. To cut a long story short, i abandoned my school books for a while and focused on this essay writing. I wrote it in my own handwriting but had to type it. Since i didn’t have a computer, i told my mum and she directed me to the post office where i met a woman who agreed to type it for me on her typewriter at ten or twenty naira per page(cant really remember the exact amount now). I had to keep looking at every interval for typing errors and omissions. she had a small baby and at some points would have to pause to breastfeed the baby. After about three hours, i was through. But it was just seven pages instead of the ten pages. I bought an envelope(was it white or the brown one?) where i folded it in, sealed with my saliva, bought a postage stamp(twenty naira?),then posted it.
Then i forgot about it and started my examination in full gear. I think the first paper was even English(am i sure?). WAEC came and went and i was home waiting for the result. The result came out and was good. Still i didn’t hear anything about the essay competition. I was still reading my newspaper, checking for it but never saw anything like it.
One day, i was outside writing a poem when my neighbour who lectures in Adeyemi College of Education arrived home for the weekend. I greeted him and helped him with the load he was carrying. All of a sudden, he stopped and said ‘is your surname not olasiyan?’
I said ‘yes it is, sir’
You participated in an essay competition and i saw your name in the newspaper. Come and see me later so that i can give the paper to you.
I was dumbfounded. Behold when i got the paper, it was Punch. So the result didn’t come out in tribune and i was searching Tribune ever since. I started flipping through the pages. Gbam! It was there. I saw a lot of names with the university students names first then Senior Secondary Schools according to their geo-political zones.
Whoa! I couldn’t believe my eye; 1st prize southwest zone of Nigeria.
Award Ceremony at Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos.
The date was October 27&28, 2001. An invitation letter was said to have been to my school but i didn’t get it because i was already out at the time. Off i went with my dad to Lagos CLO office at Allen Avenue on the 27th.
There was a short introductory cum interactive session and then we were served lunch and moved to a hotel and our parents were asked to go home. I shared a room with a beautiful little lady at the time (probably she’s married now?) we were very comfortable, placed order for food, had a teevee to ourselves with a nice bed. The next day was the d-day by 4.00pm at Muson Centre. We woke up excited, bathed and had breakfast of bread, egg and tea. My parents came in the morning (my dad had gone back home the previous day). They thought the event was going to hold in the morning, unfortunately, they could not wait so they travelled back home. By 3’o clock we were driven to Marina. Then, the real experience began. I saw a reporter from punch newspaper who gave me her card and said i could be contributing to her page. Then, i saw Chief Gani Fawehinmi(now late) in white lace agbada exchanging pleasantries with everyone. So this is the legendary Gani Fawehinmi,senior advocate of the masses, the Lagos fiery lawyer(i mused to myself).
That was my first and last encounter with him before death came calling in September,2009. I miss his presence in Nigerian politics. We took pictures together, then everyone went inside and i saw more dignitaries.
Ayo Obe, president Civil Liberties Organization
Olisa Agbakoba, Senior Advocate of Nigeria
The Norwegian Ambasssador to Nigeria
Representative of the then Governor and deputy Governor of Lagos, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Kofoworola Bucknor Akerele
Television stations gave it live coverage; MITV,AIT,NTA
Newspapers came; PUNCH……
It was all successful
I received my first prize of an award certificate, a plaque and a cheque of fifty thousand naira only.
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