“A Week In The Life” is a weekly Zikoko series that explores the working-class struggles of Nigerians. It captures the very spirit of what it means to hustle in Nigeria and puts you in the shoes of the subject for a week.
The subject of today’s “A Week In The Life” is an Agripreneur and a teacher. He’s pursuing agriculture [with Farm Kwara] in a rural community in Ilorin to fund his passion for teaching. He tells us about life in the community, some of the challenges of agriculture and the educational system, and how he’s making an impact in the community through education.
My body is programmed to wake up by 5 a.m. every day. I wake up, read my bible, meditate and ask myself: “What do I want to achieve today?” After I’m done ruminating over the question, I set out for the farm and my day begins.
Supervising soya bean planting on a farm in the rural part of Ilorin has been an interesting experience for me. On some days, the sun beats my head so much that I go home with a mild headache. On other days, I have to walk for miles on end for farm inspection. But I don’t complain because it is what I signed up for. It’s easy to bear the stress of agricultural work because I know that by 4 or 5 p.m., we’ll close for the day and my day can really begin.
Because I live in the community where the farm is located, I have “free” time after work every day. I observed that because the school in the community has neither teachers nor books, the children are at an educational disadvantage. Therefore, I took it upon myself to teach the kids every day after closing from work. Every day between 5 – 7 p.m. is when my day truly begins.
My experience in the community has been eye-opening. Seeing suffering is humbling. Sometimes it’s difficult to see a future for the people in the community because everything there is killing them; no access to education, harmful beliefs, culture. However, I’m going to try my best regardless of the situation on the ground.
Everything I do is informed by my own experience and upbringing because I know what it’s like to struggle academically and to be at the mercy of strangers and extended family members. I’m happy I can make an impact through education.
It hasn’t been easy because it takes a level of perseverance to change the minds of people in the rural community. And this difficulty is transferred from parents to children. Even people with access to education are still struggling not to talk of those that don’t have access.
Compared to Western nations, our education system is backwards and not optimal — we don’t have effective tools for communication and many students can’t think outside of the curriculum. It’s surprising when I tell people about learning to code and they say it’s limited to only science class students. I gave a lecture a few weeks back where supposed graduates hadn’t heard of Linkedin before that day — how are these so-called professionals supposed to position themselves in a digital world? In future, I plan to do a campus tour on the relevant 21st-century skills because it appears that many graduates are in the dark.
People are always asking me “If you’re so passionate about education and impact, why are you an Agripreneur?” My reply is because cash funds passion. Trying to change things without money is a fool’s errand. Education is a long term goal for me and I need farming to build wealth. If I want to be an astounding educator, I need exposure and travelling because travelling is a form of learning. Passion can also make you wealthy, but there’s a high chance that if it doesn’t, frustration will make you abandon the passion.
Today is one of those passion vs. I can’t kill myself sort of days. I’m in no mood to teach the kids after returning from work because I just want to sleep. However, when I think of the kids and their desire to learn, I summon the energy to stand up.
I’ve come a long way with these kids and it has been rewarding. When I first got into the community, these kids couldn’t communicate in English talkless of memorising anything in English. During one of our classes, I taught them an affirmation — I am who I am because God made me so. I’m a solution provider and a generation that can’t be shaken. I had to explain the meaning of the song in Yoruba for the kids to grasp the importance. Imagine my surprise when I heard these kids reciting the song verbatim over the next few days. One boy in particular, Iyanu, made me so happy because he used to run away at the sight of a chalkboard and his mates termed him an olodo. It was such a huge moment seeing this boy recite the song alongside his mate.
I’m not shy to say that I feel fulfilled because of Iyanu and his friends. I love these kids.
I wake up by 5 a.m. today. I read my bible, meditate and tell myself: “An ideal future is one where I’ve built a sustainable wealth system that can fund my passion for impact. To achieve that, I must always be seeking ways to improve my value by constantly learning. An ideal future is investing in people’s lives such that when I’m long gone, my name will open doors for my children.” After I’m done with my affirmations, I set out for work.
If I become the minister of education, the first thing I’ll do is get teachers trained because nemo dat quod non habet — no one gives what they do not have. The next point of call would be to increase the incentives for teaching. I remember collecting irregular ₦20,000 as a teacher and telling myself that I couldn’t continue like that. As long as teachers still get paid poorly, they can’t perform effectively. Teachers are frustrated and passion can’t feed them.
The next thing I’ll do is revisit the curriculum; Nigeria needs to shift from paper-based learning to practical based. We need more real-life experiences if we hope to train graduates that can be useful in the real world. In addition, there would be bootcamps in tertiary institutions where trends in a particular field would be analysed, forecasts made and the curriculum tweaked to accommodate these realities. It’s only by staying on top of trends that we can produce relevant graduates, and it’s sad that the curriculum doesn’t accommodate this reality.
Thank God it’s Friday, so I’m not even going to bother my head thinking about Nigeria’s problems. I’m looking forward to the weekend because I’m travelling to Ilorin city to see my friends, grudgingly watch Manchester United play and read if I can. At least I’ll get a break until Monday when the hustle begins all over again.
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