I remember my time as a youth corps member at a university in Makurdi. I worked under the HOD to my department. Apart from being his technical assistant I also had the duty of taking one of his classes – practical chemistry.
He would occasionally take me out on socials. Mostly just Isi-ewu and drinks on the odd Sunday or Saturday afternoon at one of the quiet joints in North Bank. He became some sort of mentor to me. I had just come out of a rough patch at UI and this quiet town was a place to reflect and plan the next phase of my life. Prof was just the right influence for me.
He was a very wise, soft spoken, strong willed, lean and bearded gentleman. He was an American returnee who could not help expressing his disillusion with the way things were now he was back home. But he was good to me and always seemed to say the right things that gave me hope without focusing on my shortcomings even as he gave me corrective feedback.
Things went downhill after I went to Prof’s house for Lunch, one Sunday. He did not treat his wife well. He would bark at her for not serving me with the right glass and for letting the baby out without proper clothing. They lived in a small official bungalow. Very basic minimalist furnishing…not by choice I suspected. The wife was very careful when serving lunch. She did not want to make more mistakes.
On the way out to dropping me off, we stopped at the same isi ewu spot. He apologized for the behavior of “that girl”. I was not happy. He kept denigrating her. She must have been an Onwa December type wife. Wide age and polish gap. So what?
So I started avoiding Prof. He had let me down. How could he be so kind to me and yet so cruel and unhappy at home? Then he called me one day and told me I was only there for a few months and he intended to ensure I got the full benefit of the exposure he could give in that time. He wanted the school to offer me a staff position. He noticed I was withdrawn after that day at his house. He advised me to never allow the personal lives of those I looked up to affect the mentorship I could get from them. He said no one was perfect and I would never know the story behind what I saw in people.
I took his advice and I have never looked back.
I was with my dad a few weeks ago and he told me how he thought Awolowo retarded Shagamu because of Remo politics (Akarigbo Adedoyin saga, etc.). My dad held that against the sage. Yet he told me how much more Awo did for him and the rest of his generation and the positive influence he had on the leaders that emerged from there.
I smiled. I remembered Prof and all the other formal and informal mentors I have had since then. You pick what you need and leave the rest. Don’t judge and don’t expect perfection in any human.
Good evening folks.