Beyond My Shanty Hood: A Session with Tunde Awoyemi – by Ogunojuwo Damilola

For so many years I had assumed my hood to be that shanty type that encouraged nothing but an uncivilized society with mirage of early pregnancies, dropouts, smokers, thieves, bunkers and touts.  It never for once dawn on me that one could ever reach the top except one relocated from the area. Although, I came across few exceptions but to me nothing good will from this Nazareth proceed.

This same Nazareth crushed my near cousins into visible and invisible sexual endeavours; and my parents into becoming alcoholics. My siblings also had their shares as they grew to become incubated touts. Life in the hood is a composition of acute extremes fleshing defects as opium of escape from an economically, politically, socially, and culturally disadvantaged society. But knowing bro Tunde today changed everything. In fact, bro Tunde is the irregular testimony of my regular hood.

I remember Tommy and Bolu’s comment earlier in the day that ‘that bro Tunde is a normal guy. He was on an Okada when we saw him. He’s just like every other guy in the hood.’

Sometimes, the simplicity of who we imagine others to be limit our discoveries about their potentials which in most occasions serve as the necessary potent we require to get better. Bro Tunde, currently is pursuing a PHD degree from the University of Pretoria, South Africa and his dissertation is summarized as the next generation wireless technology.

According to him, ‘this technology is far above 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, in fact, what he is working on is a sophisticated cognitive wireless radio technology that can survive many generations’. He earlier highlighted that this work is a sort of development for the mobile wireless satellite technology he worked on during his master’s classes in the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa. For him, nothing would have worked if not because of God.

His seeming dimpled smile baked my focus as he took us back in time to how he started up from the hood up until where he is right now. He told us that his parents were the regular low middle class types, that is, his dad was a principal in a local secondary school and his mum a teacher in a public primary school. He revealed to us how the impoverished environment of his primary school made his dad transfer him to a better primary school. He was emphatic about sitting on the floor to receive lectures. His high school days passed by with him carrying unprocessed cassava proceeds from the mini farm his father had in  Government college in other to sustain the family.

I remembered him saying, ‘I really didn’t like doing that kind of job’ but he did it. His amazing story from Government College, Ikorodu would not have had a force on his audience if the influence of Gbenga Salako, his best friend, was pulled out of it. He told us how he borrowed his friend’s notes and text books and slept over at his place on unnumbered occasions. His cherished sister Seyi to him was a figure of adoration.

In fact, he said ‘I wish to have a girl child as my first. Sister Seyi was just too awesome.’

He snappishly moved over to his experience at the Federal University of Technology Akure from where he told us about his studying Electrical Engineering.

Brother Laolu, my elder brother, could not hide his gregarious motivation as he said ‘Tommy too is a student of FUTA. He’s a three hundred level student of the Department of Physics’.

‘Wow, that’s a tough Department…I remembered when I was there’ bro Tunde responded as he continued his story.

Post graduate life was more of a miraculous journey that seemingly started roughly but in the long run, is about ending successfully. He recounts his teaching experience at Albert Aluko schools, Ikorodu and his post graduate scholarship for master’s programme at University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.

He told us about times when things didn’t work out, that point when he almost gave up and God came into the picture. According to him, the planes of life are not always smooth but most rough paths are assuring indexical when the God factor is there leading all the way. The clues we seek most times are near us than the answers we get because a Holy Spirit conscious Christian is always informed and not deformed. This agrees with his testimony about his PHD programme in University of Pretoria where he told us how he heard God told him who his supervisor was.

He said, ‘I just heard Prof. Maharaj. Send an email to him, that’s what I heard. I don’t know him. I have never heard or seen him before.’

It was a clumsy experience sending a message to someone he didn’t know. Bro Tunde didn’t delay his direction, he went online, got his information, and then sent Prof. Maharaj mails. In South Africa, for you to enroll for a PHD programme you must have gotten a supervisor. No supervisor, no admission. Prof. Maharaj is a miracle indefinable because he got the message and replied the mails, accepting to be bro Tunde’s supervisor. A lesson that stroked me was the truth about bro Tunde sending emails; I had never for once valued my email because all I did with it was to receive messages from others and not myself sending to them. He wasn’t sure about acceptance yet he continued sending.

Bro Laolu wouldn’t allow this pass by as he told us about a guy who out rightly declared his intention of having a meeting with Bill Gate and eventually he did.

Like he said, ‘this guy had to send unnumbered mails, invites, likes  and followed Gate on every (social) event he could, he attended most programmes related to him and finally, he was able to have a coffee with him. That was fantastic.’

Sometimes, the length at which we can go to achieve what we so wish for is the closest to achieving them. Success is not a product of lackadaisical engagement; rather, it is a deliberate act of pulling our admired wishes nearer our unrelenting zeal of owning our item of admiration.

He continued his story of the initial five PHD students turning three. He told us how two of his colleges were frustrated out of their research programmes. He was very explicit on his being undirected about his finding a problem for the first one year.

‘A research is all about finding a problem or advancing a former discovery,’ he said.

He didn’t give up; he continued still until he gained the greatest rhema to his quest which is, ‘investigate the effect of theta!’

At this point, I felt lost because my joy of learning math wasn’t fueled enough beyond simplification, algebra, deviation, and quadratic equation. For him, math was life and life, so far as it could be expressed has a solvable equation. I really didn’t follow up the discussion not until he summarized everything to me saying ‘i got my long searched problem’, and within nine month I was way ahead my other colleagues.

Although, I am still working on the project and getting massive sponsorships form various international organisations bro Tunde said, yet my thanks go to God for His indefinite grace upon me and the influences of my mentors on me in all aspects of my life. The industrious roles of mentors in one’s life not only polish and cultivate a desire and willingness to grow in one; they also shorten the distance of time between one’s wishes and the realities of the wish. They do.

I think, I have to take a break here.

My hood is and can never be a limitation for me anymore rather it will make me focus better on my plans of becoming great in life. In fact, I am going to make another hood of success for myself right in the greater world just like bro Tunde who saw and is still seeing beyond my shanty hood.

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