Lawrence is from Anambra, cool, calm, brilliant, fine and focused dude. I had newly returned to Kaduna from Ilorin. We meet on my first day at school and became quite close from there on in 1988.
After our promotion exams to the next class, he stopped coming to school.
I traced him to his ‘uncles’ shop at the central market by Taiwo road, where they sell electronics.
My first CD playing Sony machine that I still have till date was given to me by him, new from the carton.
He told me, “guy, na business I wan do. I no wan waste time dey go read book then come dey find job up and down”.
But then, life was relatively easy.
Our seniors got good jobs. At least the ones we know.
“But education is important,” I advised. Blablabla, can’t remember all I said to motivate him but he agreed and returned back to school.
We finished, results were delayed till following year but he wrote the Nov-Dec GCE and cleared all his papers even after WAEC released results for St John’s college now Rimi college and other schools in bits and pieces. He had 7 A-s and 2 C-s.
We wrote JAMB same year and he went to ABU Zaria.
Inbetween time, he was shuttling school and the shop, doing his business.
Then the fire that burnt down Kaduna Central Market happened and his uncle, who had moved from electronics, lost everything and had to start selling ‘fairly used clothes’. He eventually relocated back to the East, living Lawrence in Kaduna.
Then, Lawrence had finished serving him by a year but because of the fire incident, he could not settle him but Lawrence hung on.
During the 2000 Religious Riots, his shop was attacked. Everything he borrowed money to buy were either stolen by the hoodlums, destroyed or burnt down. He had taken a loan from a bank and collected goods from other friends to stock up his shop when the unfortunate riots happened.
Few months after, he relocated to Lagos and remained there but occasionally visit Kaduna to see some of his friends.
On one of such visits we got talking about life and all, “how’s your uncle?”
Lawrence, “he is fine. So many things befell him after his relocation.”
“His wife fell ill and later died. His 5 kids dropped out of school. The eldest girl got married to help the family. He went down with stroke too.”
“Oh dear Lord! So what are you doing to assist?”
“Well, God helping me, one of them is here at KadPoly studying marketing, 3 rest two are with me in Lagos. 2, learning to trade but the 3rd is in LASU but also learning to sell electrical appliances. The last born got scholarship to study and play football abroad. He is in Turkey.”
“Wow! Beautiful. But your uncle?”
“He is doing well now. God helping me, we have rebuilt his house into a 2 story building, with shops where he sells electrical appliances and co.”
“I am impressed bro. God will reward you”.
“Amen. I owe everything to God, him and you, for believing in me. When my father died when I was 12, he took me in as his son. He never punished me for once but always advising me. While learning trade under him, he encouraged me to go to school. I was not really interested but he urged me on. He was a drop out too but said he would have loved to have the certificate even if it is for decoration.”
We both laughed.
“You also encouraged me. But I was not focused on the certificate but the knowledge. So I can think outside the box and make my horizon bigger and better. Today, I import electrical appliances in my company name”.
He gave me 2 ceiling fans and a carton of energy saving bulbs plus other things as gift.
“Education is good. But looking at Nigeria’s future, if you don’t have a hand work, you may find it difficult to carry on when you retire or the job is lost. My family lives abroad now, my kids are learning some art to back up whatever certificate they will hold in the future. I recall you make cards while we were in school, you make banners, signboards, draw posters, et al, just to pay your bills and make ends meet. Don’t stop. In your hands and your head God has placed a way out of poverty. Use it”.
His daughter just graduated from the University somewhere abroad and she’s also an entrepreneur, helping young people find their talents and use them to promote themselves.
What is your God given talent?
Are you using it to make yourself better?
Find one, develop it. And God will prosper it.
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I am done, I am gone, I am ghost!