Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I will never forget that day, for it was a day that my eyes could not cry, my heart could not feel, a day that I could not bleed for I was frozen. Not because it was freezing cold outside but because I could not comprehend or accept what this woman before me was saying. Two days before that cold day, I received a letter from my daughter’s school, inviting me to a meeting with the principal. The letter stated that my daughter’s education was at stake. I was scared, for something inside me told me that is was happening all over again. I waited rather impatiently for the weekend which seemed like two years to end and finally………… Monday came.

I could not wait to hear what the principal had to tell me, and I guess she could not wait to tell me either. During the meeting I noticed how uneasy the principal was, her eyes kept evading mine and her hands just couldn’t keep still. She started by telling me how warm, gentle and wise Adesuwa was. She however went further to tell me what I was so scared of hearing. This would be the third time that someone would tell me that my daughter was sub-normal and that she needed special education. What other form of special education could she possibly need??!! This was the third school for special children that I had put her in and the last two all told me the same thing, that Adesuwa my daughter was sub-normal.

I could not understand or believe and I refused to accept that my child was anything but normal. At the time I was 35, divorced and worked two jobs to make sure that my special child got all she needed. My husband, Adesuwa’s father had left us two years ago when she was 9. He left us with no money, no food, absolutely nothing for another woman who he met on a business trip. I never saw this other woman but I heard she was as pretty as a goddess. I did not hate my husband for what he did, in fact I could not hate him because I didn’t even have the luxury of sufficient time to hate and because I could not afford to waste a speck of my emotions hating him when my daughter needed all the love she could get.

In 1982 I decided to resign from one of my jobs so that I could start homeschooling Adesuwa myself. My friends thought it was a bad idea but I knew I had to do it anyway. They wondered how I planned to teach someone that professionals could not. But she was not just someone, she was my daughter and I had something that those professionals did not have, I knew my daughter, I believed in her and I knew she was anything but sub-normal. The Monday morning that home schooling began was a Monday morning like no other. We had our breakfast washed the dishes and proceeded to arrange our school stuff on the dining table which was to be our make shift class room. I was happy because Adesuwa was happy with the whole arrangement, well except the fact that home schooling meant no more lunch money…….. she had and still has a great sense of humour.

I started to go through all her books again and then I stumbled on the book that would change both our lives forever. It was like a mini jotter and it was filled with Adesuwa’s hand writing. I began to read it and realized that it was a bunch of short stories most of which were about her and drawings of people that almost looked alive. I was astonished because her previous teachers had pronounced her dull, how then could she be responsible for all this. We got talking and it was then she spoke to me and I still remember clearly, she said…..” mummy, I hate that I have to remember and repeat, instead I will love to think and know” it became clear to me then that our educational system was taking from her instead of giving to her, that it was dampening the creative mind that I suddenly realized my daughter always had. Then it dawned on me that I was part of the problem. I carried her for nine months, I gave birth to her, fed her, clothed her, gave her all my love for 11 years and I was still too busy to know who my daughter really was.

That day we didn’t have school at all, well at least not for Adesuwa. We sat down and we talked, I felt like I was the one in school because I was learning about my daughter all over again. She told me about all the things she loved to do, how she loved to imagine and to write, how she enjoyed putting character into everything she drew. She said she loved discovering things and was very sad anytime she was told what to know and what to remember. I looked at her at that moment and what I saw in her eyes excited me and scared me at the same time. It scared me because I knew then that this child had the ability to be anything she wanted to be if given the chance to search, to know and to discover, but I knew I could not do it alone.

The next day I visited a missionary school down town, a school that was run by the sisters of St. Louis. I requested a meeting with the principal Sr. Mary Marcia, a very lovely and warm elderly woman. After hearing my story she encouraged me to enroll Adesuwa in their school. She said their style of education was very simple, their first step was to arm the children with information she however pointed out clearly that information is not knowledge and that their ultimate goal was to assist the children in finding knowledge. She believed that education can lead to knowledge when digested through reasoning and mind thinking, but that as long as it is only brain recording it is of no value to creative expression. She also pointed out that to remember and repeat through experimentation and other brain recordings of observed things, does not constitute knowledge, but only indicated cleverness. I was totally convinced that I had come to the right place, I also remembered Adesuwa telling me that she wanted to know and to discover, so I decided to look for another job and enroll Adesuwa in the St. Louis school for girls.

That was the best decision I had ever made in my life. Adesuwa started school two weeks later and from then on it was one way up the hill for her. That was where it all began.

My daughter is Mrs. Adesuwa Obaze. YES!!! The Adesuwa Obaze, one of the world’s most renowned writer and painter. How is it possible? You might ask. How could anyone think she was sub-normal when actually she was a genius just waiting to be free? She has proved once again that nothing is impossible and that is the honest truth. Adesuwa has won countless Awards for her work both home and abroad and I have won mine too, the award of watching my daughter become the genius that a bad educational system would have ruined.

I have learnt through quite observation, experience and research that a genius is not someone that possesses an overactive brain; rather he or she possesses the rare gift of a super active mind. Have you noticed that all the geniuses you can think of, were at one time in their lives classified as too dull for school. Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and more recently Bill Gates, were all thought to be sub-normal, possibly in need of “special education”.

As children, geniuses are usually low in marks because our educational plan slows them down by educating their brains instead of unfolding their minds. Education today is a sector that is governed by a “remember and repeat” principle, instead of (dare I say again) unfolding the imaginative faculties of young ones by teaching them to “think and know”.

You and I know that most intelligence tests are based on how many questions one can answer and to fully excel in such a test, one must have a photographic memory. A genius will not want to waste his time trying to develop a photographic memory, he would prefer to think for himself, explore and work things out on his own. That unfortunately is why these priceless minds are often considered stupid in school.
Many children are ruined by this process. They may actually be the brightest children with great creative abilities which if suppressed may ruin their creative faculties forever. Like Sister Marcia said to me once, “information is by no means knowledge”. Why should I know the date of Caesar’s death or the day Napoleon was born? I may have the whole encyclopedia in my head and still have no knowledge or wisdom.
We all say knowledge is power……… So then let us believe it and become the change we want to see in the world today!!!!!!!!

The people and places named in this story are all a work of fiction. They do not exist and this story is by no means based on a true life experience.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


The sun was so bright that day but its light was nothing compared to the light that I saw in her eyes. She was beautiful not because she had all the perfect features but because a perfect light shone forth from within her. As I thought of this mysterious light I heard her weak voice, but I did not hear her words. I looked around for Frank my friend and interpreter but he was nowhere around. I walked over to her bed side and sat down; I spoke to her with my eyes and my heart for I knew she would not understand the words of my mouth.

I felt like I had known her forever, like she was a part of me, but how could she be? The sun set and sooner than I expected, I had to leave her for it had become dark and she needed rest. On my bed that night I tossed and turned, I could not sleep. My mind wondered of to places that I had never physically gone before. I wonder now if I was losing my mind or I was just thinking of that little girl whose life changed so much in just two weeks as a result of man’s greed and his insatiable desire for power.

Morning came and like sand particles against the wind, I found myself floating once again to her bedside. This time fortunately I was with Frank. Aisha was no longer on her bed, she was nowhere in the tent, in fact no one but her mother was there. With a peaceful smile on her lips, she said something which I later discovered meant “she is alive”. This was ironical to me because Frank explained later that Aisha had breathed her last early hours of that morning. He made me understand that the Goro people saw death as life and life as death. When a child was born, they mourned and when a person died they rejoiced for they believed that death brought freedom and life to every soul.

I have never been more speechless in my life, I thought of the disparity between their world and mine, about their simplicity, their strength and most importantly their sense peace. I had totally forgotten why I was there, each day I learnt something new. In my quite time however I would remember that I had come there to teach, but how could I teach this people who were already the masters of their lives? I realized that I was so empty and they were full, what I thought I had, was only a drop when compared with their river of knowledge. I had nothing to teach them so I chose to learn instead.

I know now that nobody can know it all, that you can only learn when you accept your ignorance, that everybody has something good to teach and that no one is too primitive like we sometimes think. Aisha and many other children in her community died because a certain Mining Company decided that human lives were less important than the diamonds they were trying to find. They died because the so called people on top valued no one’s life but their own and because they were considered a small price to have to pay for a truck load of diamonds. Aisha and the other little ones died because of the greed of a few rich men!!!!

The Goro people believe that the way one lives his life on earth is important because it determines how he will live when he is free “dead”. Strangely, these people believe that a woman is a man’s only equal and the world can attain a state of harmony only when the two work together. They believe that whatever they give to the world or to others, the universe with God as its head will give back to them. So they try their best to live according to the Golden Rule and believe me when I say that they are people with golden hearts.

John Newton, writer of the popular song “Amazing Grace” was a preacher as well as the captain of a slave ship long before he realized that God made all men and women equal. His ships were responsible for transporting 20,000 slaves before he began to see the truth, a truth that is taking an eternity for the whole of mankind to discover.

The human race is a very interesting one, because we are all so different yet so amazingly alike. Different colors, shapes, heights, creeds, cultures, the list can go on for pages so I’ll just stop right here. The whole idea is to point out the fact that we have an astonishing list of differences, but even amidst those differences we are all just human………Don’t you think?

The color of a man’s skin does not define who he is; neither does the color of his eyes. What truly shows you what a man is capable of is the color of his heart. Is it white and at peace with the world or is it yellow and real, perhaps it black and filled with grudges. This color scheme fortunately is all in my head, I often imagine that all our hearts are colored, each color explaining why we act the way we do………what color is your heart?

Most times it frightens me to admit that I know people more by their hearts than by their names: My friends, family and even people that I do not particularly get along with. I’m sure we all have a number of wonderful friends and what attracted us to them was probably the way they spoke or dressed at the time. But if you think about it right now, you’d realize that it is the quality of their heart that keeps you around…………Isn’t it

I believe that as humans it is easier for us to become obsessed with human qualities that will fade with time than it is for us to celebrate those qualities that will last a life time, that are not shattered by age, time or circumstance, qualities that stem from the heart. I will never judge a book by its cover, because beneath the cover lies the true story, what the book is really about. So it is with all human beings and so it will continue to be………. Do you judge a book by its cover?

Years, months and even weeks ago, lives were lost because of silly labels and views, that one was not equal to the other or as important as he. The apartheid, slave trade, killing of Jews and so on were as a result of one man’s desire to be superior and on top of another. But what kind of a heart would believe that the world was created for him alone even when others exist in it and that it is his prerogative to eliminate the others hence creating a perfect world…….have you wondered too?

I have never understood why we cannot get passed our own version of pride and prejudice, why we think we are stronger when we are hard and inhuman to another. I think it all boils down to fear, fear of the unknown, fear of the next person’s abilities, fear that he might just be better than us and an inability to watch him rise above us……… Can you identify with this?

But the world is not stationary and circumstances are by no means static. What rises will fall and what is down will someday move up. Some people say that change is the only constant thing in life, but I don’t only say it…………. I believe it!!!!
Lets us become the positive change we want to see today!!!!!!!