I was at Microsoft's UK headquarters with some of my students on a school trip last week. The event is part of Microsoft's way of providing useful career advise to encourage female students to consider opportunities in the IT industry. Speakers from the various departments gave speeches on various roles in IT and Microsoft in particular.
Whilst at times it came across as an exercise in self adulation but nonetheless it was intended to inspire the young audience to aspire. I have to say I was inspired and I couldn't help but thinking if only I had the same opportunity when I was in school to be given career advice by top experts in one if the biggest companies in the world. Not that a good career advice guarantees anything but it surely helps to make informed choices.
As I sat in the conference hall, at various times my thoughts often wandered about, buried in the thought if only such opportunities are possible for Nigerian children. Probably not, unless you're ofcourse the child of a 'big man'.
My experience so far working in education has further opened my eyes to the huge difference and impact early exposure and opportunities can make in young people's lives. Opportunities that are virtually non-existent to ordinary Nigeria children. Where a dysfunctional educational system continues to let them down.
The murky waters and cut-throat world of politics seems to be the only real attraction. No surprises there as we're all too aware our politicians (if you call them politicians) are more skilled in emptying the public purse than filling a pothole on their doorsteps.
I know things can be better or should indeed be better but if only...
I watched this documentary over the weekend about children who were fathered by American naval officers during the 80s in the Philippines. The US at the time had a naval base in the country and some of their officers met up with Filipino women who worked as prostitutes. In the process many of them got pregnant for these US military officers but when they returned back to the US, they left the women and more importantly their children behind.
At the time, the Philippines Authorities made representations to the US government but their case was dismissed. According to them the individual officers were responsible not the US government and they claimed prostitution was illegal in that country at the time. Anyway, what struck me the most about the documentary were the stories of two of the Amerisians, as they were referred to in the documentary. These two (a young man of 20 years and a girl of 16) were fathered by black American officers. This meant they had darker skin and were subjected to bullying and all sorts of name calling including the N-word in school and in their neighbourhoods.
What I found very sad about the whole story was the fact these children, though mostly adults now have grown up with an identity crisis. Whilst they struggle to gain acceptance in their home country, their father's country wouldn't recognise them as US citizens and for most of them their fathers aren't interested. During filming, the 16 year old girl mentioned earlier, got pregnant and dropped out of school. I found it hypocritical for the US to refuse responsibility or at least hold their officers responsible to look after their children but are at the forefront of championing child rights issues.
The issue of abandoned children is something that struck me during my university days in Nigeria. As a member of the Rotaract club, we often embarked on charity visits to motherless babies homes. Most of the children were victims of abandonment but to be fair we were never given the full details of how and why they ended up in the homes. Nonetheless whatever the circumstances, innocent children, who never chose to come into this world were made victims of a few minutes of 'fun'.
The decision to have children comes with huge responsibility and one that shouldn't be taken lightly. Whilst I accept there'll always be the odd cases of children born in this way but what they need is love and acceptance instead of stigmatisation and ridicule.
It's my birthday today and birthdays are always very special days to people and I'm no different as today means a lot to me. 11th of November every year provides me a unique opportunity to first of all say a big thankyou prayer to the Almighty God for his abundant blessings. It's a day that prompts me to look back down the years and reflect on my life's journey from where I have come from and where I am now. For someone who has spent just over three decades on earth, I wouldn't necessarily say my journey has been that long but nonetheless very eventful. If one day I decide to write a book, I'm sure it will be a very big book judging by life's ups and down which I have had to go through.
In my view, there are two most important days in anyone's life; the day you were born and the day you die. However, as much we all may want to live longer, what has become increasingly of more importance to me is what legacy do I leave behind when the inevitable day of demise arrives? As a husband, father, son, brother, cousin, friend, professional colleague and blogger to different people, the question I always ask myself is, how much contribution would I have made to other peoples' life when I'm long gone? Today is another constant reminder to ensure that I think and act in more ways than not to make positive contributions through my words, actions and thoughts to the lives of other people including the aforementioned.
My birthday will not be complete without a special tribute to my wife and two boys, their love inspires and motivates me and makes life more meaningful. And to all my blog followers, without you there will no one to blog for, you really rock :)
The written materials and ideas on this blog are subject to copyright and cannot be reproduced without written permission of the blog author who goes under the pseudo names Naija4Life (A Pen and A Heart). Unless stated otherwise all quoted articles, paragraphs, titles or excerpts must be credited to the blog author. To contact the blog author to obtain permission or other copyright issues, please email and await a response: