Between Excuses and Your Response

The Easter Holiday Session with Oru Refugees

My first day during the easter holiday was spent speaking with refugees at the popular Oru camp in Ogun State, Nigeria. With a population of a bout 5,000 refugees from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Congo and Sudan, you can be sure that there’s an evident please help us for we cannot ehlp ourselves attitude within the camp.

I was invited to speak about ICTs (and suspect that the hosts wanted me to be quite technical and share thoughts with them on new ICT trends) but my few minutes around the camp just before the commencement of the meeting influenced my discussion (no longer a presentation, but a discussion that could allow me get to the people where it mattered). I walked a few meters and saw a unique structure, the 842 Computer Center. The computer center attracted my attention and I asked obvious questions: “who built this?” Eric Wowoh was incidentally in the car with me on our way to Oru but no one had introduced him to me then. Quiet and almost silent throughout the entire 90-minute trip, I came to learn that he was the brain behind the center.

Someone donated a computer to him and he played around, got used to the system, and at some point that he realised how his life was being changed, he worked towards training others. After a few years, the center was completed and now had ten (10) computers — and a standby generator. There, refugees — and some students of the nearby Olabisi Onabanjo University are trained at no cost! Eric’s life helped my presentation as I was able to present one of them to them. At the end of the discussion, post-discussions (informal talks with a few people who walked up) centered around their discovery of the fact that you decide what your life becomes. Being a refugee, being out of job, having the feeling of being in the wrong nation, any other situation will only remain an excuse if you decide not to elevate your life above the condition.

Between excuses (in the immediate) and our future, there is a choice of being able to respond. My response to an early embarrassment with computers ended up forming a major part of my career choice, and you may ask others who are not as much a work in progress as I am and they will sure tell you that your response to the seeming excuses that you could always give form part of their success stories. That even formed part of the discussion we had this evening during a recording for Patito’s Gang: you can keep blaming the employment market for your woe but at the end of the day, it is true that if you fail in the days of adversity, your strength is small.

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