Setting the record….
I’ve had a lot of people walk up to me and ask why I do what I do(writing). After perusing my educational background- degree, schools attended etc people look perplexed, asking if I somehow misplaced my priorities along the line (very funny, isn’t it?) This is indeed why I need to set the record straight so that I won’t need to answer these questions again, at least not to close friends and colleagues anymore. I believe friends who went to school with me shouldn’t be the one asking these questions but some of them still do. Maybe curiosity…
The truth of the matter is that I am originally an art-oriented person. My decision was to study mass communication or international relations. Well, those were my junior secondary school dreams. I had a big brother who was in the famous and highly sought after Wesley College and to cap it off, he was a prominent member of JETS club. And so he regaled us with gists about his friends in school, how they did four subjects a day instead of the regular eight subjects per day in my school, how they read in advance and asked questions in class. We were all intrigued. He wrote GCE in SS2 and had some distinctions. Mr Banji gave him a gift and boasted to high heavens. He had it in mind to be a medical doctor…yes, he eventually became one.
Now, the decision was made for me to write the entrance exam into this special school and I considered it a privilege. By this time, my brother had graduated. I wrote and passed. I didn’t see a big deal in attending a college of science. At this time, I was not yet a writer, I had written nothing before. However, the inherent abilities in me right from childhood were reading novels, newspapers, magazines and I passed English Language excellently. Aside this, there was nothing else.
By the time I gained admission into the college of science, as a fresh man in SS1,one day, I didn’t sleep far into the night and I started to write. It was a poem and it was my first attempt at writing and I like it. I was ecstatic. I ran and showed it to my brother. That was how I discovered myself through poetry. Then, I went on to write regularly for Tribune(poems mostly), participated in essay competitions(which I won mostly) and I knew I had found my path.
Nevertheless, I am not worried that writing has displaced my scientific practice(research/laboratory things). I believe that I am just going back to what I was originally destined to do. I am, however, very fortunate to have attended a college of science and a university of technology before going fully into writing. Biology is the study of nature, it further taught me how to write.
I have a long list of men and women who went into medical practice and other core professions and now combine it together with writing. There is even an organic linkage between literature and medicine which dates back to ancient times when the ancient greeks recognised and honoured the connection by placing both medicine and poetry under the dominion of Phoebus Apollo, their god of the sun. The invocation of Apollo as the patron of Medicine and Poetry stems from the belief that the Physician and the Writer can both be healers. Yes, writing is therapeutic, for me.
A writer like the late Chinua Achebe began but didn’t finish medical school. He was a celebrated writer. Everyone knows. By contrast, William Somerset Maughan finished his studies but never practised. Wale Okediran is a medical doctor, a prolific writer and a former parliamentarian-he has a blooming literary career which has now overshadowed his medical practice. Famous literary physicians include Oliver Goldsmith, John Keat, Tony Marinho, Femi Olugbile among others, who were able to combine literature with medical practice.
As a writer, I consider it my duty to tell the story around me in the best way possible. Not that I go around writing people’s personal stories and as such I get pissed when my friends say ‘don’t go and put my story on your blog o’. I also believe the duty of a writer is to write as honestly as possible what the society considers ‘unspeakable’.
Somebody should ask me about my initial childhood dream of studying mass communication or international relations.
Well, dreams do come true if you don’t give up on it and yourself. I got two opportunities to study international affairs and diplomacy(postgraduate level) at two prestigious universities at different times. While I declined one, am already pursuing the other.
Now, for mass communication, I have had the opportunity of learning what it entails without going to the four walls of a uni. I had the opportunity to work with NTA Ogbomoso back then in school and it was a unique experience. I had the opportunity of working on-air at a radio station in ibadan which I later declined through Mr Banji( a yoruba popular radio programme which many people would remember if I mention the name). Then, finally, I have had my major fulfilling work experience in a newspaper company.
I didn’t lose anything afterall. I thank God for making me to go through Wesley College and Uni where my skills were birthed and nurtured, where I met great people who are all doing well in different spheres of life. Keep believing in your dreams.
I hope I have been able to answer people’s questions. Further questions should be directed to me here on this blog and I would reply in the comment box. Thanks for reading
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