The best graduating student shares how growing up without the warmth of a mother can be so depressing for a child of a two year old or three.
Ayooluwa Babalola found himself in a situation where he had to cope daily in the arms of his extended family members. Although they were nice, their affection could not fill up the gap of a mother’s love for her own child. His childhood perhaps became that of an incomplete world.
In his words “l think what actually stood out in my childhood is that I spent a whole lot of it living with my uncle’s family. From the age of two or three, my dad took me and my brother to Abeokuta to stay with my uncle.
“I remember my dad used to visit often, and during long holidays, he would take us home. I don’t remember my biological mom ever visiting. She never did. Literally, l was raised by my aunt whom I took as a mom and my uncle as a dad.
“I don’t remember the first time I heard the story of my mom’s separation from my dad, but I was told somehow somewhere sometime in the past. A better way to put it is that she left my dad, my brother and me. My dad made it clear that it was for our (my bro and I) good that they weren’t together. So I had questions as a child, what happened to her, why did she have to leave? So my childhood psyche was a little messed up.
“My uncle’s family were very nice people. They raised me well, taught me Christian values and sorts. I was not maltreated or anything of sort. My mum (aunt) raised me like her own son. Their children became like sisters to me…I regarded them as my sisters. In fact till now, I find it difficult to refer to them as cousins.
“In school when my mates asked about my parents (especially about my mom) I get confused, like who exactly should I talk about, my biological mom or my mum (aunt)? Well, I usually just ward off those questions and sometimes I would lie, but I don’t really recall what I would say.
“Yes at my uncle’s home there were good moments and bad ones. Times when I cried and wished things were a little different. You know when you are staying with people you know are not your immediate family, you begin to interpret so many actions that doesn’t go well with you. And the devil wouldn’t make it easy.
“I really do appreciate all my uncle’s family did. They were and still have been a blessing to me. However, when I was a child I wished my parents had not separated, not because my uncle’s family were not good people, but l guess its human psychology that when you know something isn’t yours, you can’t feel at home. I think I had the best case scenario of living with Uncles.”
Regardless of his parents separation, it did not deter Ayo from dreaming of a great future. He did believe after rain comes sun. His incomparable faith in God and determined spirit must have served him a rolling stroll in which his passion for living outstandingly drove on.
Being the best graduating student in an institution that existed in a ‘strange’ land where he had to learn the dialect while coping with the environment as a preacher’s kid, must have served him a life sentence of confusion.
But as it is said “tough times don’t last but tough people do”, Ayo stood out despite the odds. He went on occupying sensitive positions in church and this must have boosted his self esteem in a way.
He actually gave Voice Your Stories Team an highlight of his journey to being the first class citizen in University of Uyo.
“I wrote jamb twice. The first time l tried gaining admission with a score of 230 but was turned down. The second time l scored 198 in jamb and 264 in post utme. Thank God l finally had admission to study Economics in University of Uyo, this was a dream come true.
“While in school, l had a target of becoming the best graduating student in the Economics department. I wrote the dream down of making a first class with 4.75.
“However my dream was threatened when l was told that my predecessors who were classified with first class honours had less than 4.75. They said l was embarking on a mission impossible.
“In the midst of the discouragement, l was still steadfast that l will still make the dream a reality.
“I was in the middle of a tight schedule. l had to combine school with church activities and house chores. It was a bit difficult as the Agabe President and a choir minister. I had to be in church almost everyday. Sometimes, l left school in-between lectures just to go to the market and cook for the family.
Meanwhile, throughout my stay in school, I did not have a smart phone, this means doing assignments were difficult. Thank God I had good friends that would share their phones. But l was determined to meet up my target l had for every semester. With determination l had it back up with action by reading.
“On Saturday, November 2, 2019 by God’s grace, l exceeded my dream when l was announced as not only the best graduating student in Economics Department, but also the best in Social Science faculty and above all, the best graduating student in the University of Uyo with the highest cumulative point of 4.78, an extra three marks to the point l targeted ( 4.75). This was indeed a historical moment in my life.
“To be honest , to get a first class is not difficult and first class graduands will tell you the same thing. All you have to do is love the course, know the will of God, set a specific goals and develop ways in achieving these goals. I was always attentive in school and this contributed immensely to my academic success.
“The secret was to follow my targets, no matter the challenges.
“Everybody can succeed but it is important to find out where you are supposed to be and what you are supposed to do.
“If you can just locate where you are supposed to be, everything will just fall in place”, he concluded.
It was this touching nature of his life story that attracted the Voice Your Story crew to decorate him with the rank of the Personality of the Week.