So long a go, in what appears now to be like a previous life, I lived and worked in the welsh town called Aberystwyth. It is a rugged and picturesque place, with lots of public art that imbues it with a sense of heroic history. The proud aborigines Wales retained the use of their local tongue and it was quaint to see road signs written in their Cymru script. I was a student then, and in between work and sightseeing, I also visited their universities and used their librarys. It was on one of such visits that I met Pastor Dr. Lanre**.
I was in a part of the library when this man, about a decade older than I, came and asked us to move out as he had some cleaning to do. The accent was unmistakable, another Nigerian! I was in that phase of living abroad when one longed to meet and greet every fellow national so I found a way to hang around, out of his way but in such a manner that I could find him when he was free from his stewardship responsibilities. When eventually I was able to approach him, he responded with such enthusiasm that I was embolden to ask him to join me for coffee and sandwiches. He obliged.
When you are willing to listen, you will hear great stories. He introduced himself as a Pastor (Mountain of Fire Ministries) and an academic. Just the previous year, he was a reader specializing in agricultural research at a prominent university in the Middle Belt area of Nigeria. There was some religious tension in that university and eventually he decided to seek his fortune elsewhere, pre-empting management’s attempt to relieve him of his appointment involuntarily.
Getting another job in academia was however not that straight forward. He had been retained after his undergraduate studies when he completed it top of his class. That was a decade and some years ago and he had not written a job application since. Just when he had accepted he was about to up and go back to his village to farm, he secured an offer of partial scholarship to study for (another) PhD. Thus was the plotting of the scattered dots that made the line which brought him to Wales. He was teaching and researching in the neighbouring university and doing extra hours of labour here to save money.
The man I met was upbeat. His daughter, who he said was just finishing high school in Nigeria will join him in Summer. She will attend school at the same institution where he does his Phd. She will study nursing at undergraduate level. She will work while she is studying too, there are lots of job opportunities in the health sector of UK. Her mother will stay behind for another year and then the whole family will reunite.
He could barely wait till that time. When he, his wife, and two eldest children are working in the UK, the family’s income will be many multiple times of his family income in Nigeria and it will be a great opportunity for his two eldest children to attend UK universities. Wales is such a decent place to bring a family up. Only God could have ordered these opportunities.
|Wales- 2010 (c) kiibaati.com|
When I got home that day, I googled him and confirmed much of his story. He was still listed on his former university’s website as well as that of his church. It was then I realised that I had unconsciously doubted his story. I did not believe a man could sacrifice so much. I can not do it. It did not make sense. He did not complain of the long hours he worked or the menial tasks he had to do to raise money to fulfil UK visa funding requirements for his family. God, he believed, had caused his boundary lines to fall for him in pleasant places. He will never go back to Nigeria. Those fated to succeed are deaf to doubts.
** Not his real name. I have used a pseudonym to protect his privacy and he will always have my highest regards.