‘My mother wanted to decide my future. Because she wanted to choose a career for me.’ Obieke was soliloquizing.
Obieke was a promising young man whose parents made every effort to make choices for him. It wasn’t funny at all! He had siblings of both genders but was not treated in the same manner like his siblings. His own case was always different! Chike and Ikeobi were his good friends, so they from time to time visit each other for sit-out and other social benefits. On Sunday evening, Chike and Ikeobi visited Obieke as usual but this time, the noticed something different on Obieke’s face! Obieke was sitting alone close to the door of his father’s room with cloudy face.
Obieke was born in Okolochi, a remote community in Owerri West in one of the eastern states in Nigeria. He was smart and intelligent young man, born in a low class family. He was naturally endowed with skills and talents. That was the major reason he wanted to become an inventor and employer of labour. His mother’s decision disagreed with his, making it difficult for him to cope. He was about leaving the secondary school when a thought of deciding what his life would look like after leaving the college, which brought about the cloudy and moody look on his face when his friends met him. He saw his mother’s decision concerning his career as a threat to his innate talents and skills. For that reason, his freedom to decide his future was limited. He was struggling to object it. Unlike him, he had not objected any of his parents’ decisions. His father was Ezeji, a farmer and a well respected person in the village. Nnedinma was his mother’s name.
‘Obi as they fondly call him, what’s up with you?’ his friends enquired. ‘Come on let’s go to under the mango tree so that we can freely discuss.’ Ikeobi begged him. Without hesitation, he followed them to the mango tree. ‘We have been good friends for long, now we are about leaving the secondary school for higher institution; I see more reasons that our friendships should be more tight.’ Chike exhorted them. He continued, ‘now tell us what’s wrong with this time.’
It was two weeks ago that Nnedinma, Obieke’s mother told him to start preparing for the seminary entrance exams that would be coming up in a week’s time. This brought sadness to Obieke as he didn’t bargained for such at the moment. Nnedinma had already registered him for the exams without his consent. His father, Ezeji approved his wife’s decision. This left Obieke with no other option as his both parent had decisively concluded on his career.
His friends were still mute over his complaint and challenge, without uttering a word to soften Obieke’s mind because they felt that they were limited to making certain suggestions or advises to him, for they were still in their juvenile state. At last, they were able to talk with him until his mind is softened. They left the mango tree to the football field to watch the inter-village football competition. After the match, they led Obieke to his house and returned to theirs.
From the junior class, Obieke had been known as an electrician for helping his classmates repair their electrical gadgets. He was becoming famous for this. His famousness attracted the attention of the school management, and the principal, Mr. Ben Okorie sent for him.
‘Good day Sir.’ Obieke saluted the principal. ‘Yes, I sent for you. Sit down.’ The principal instructed. ‘Now tell me what you know about electronics and electrical works.’ The principal demanded to know. Obieke went on to explain, he never added that he learnt it. ‘Sir, I always imagine myself fixing electrical gadgets and appliances, and whenever I tried what I had imagined, I will do it perfectly. I didn’t learn it at all.’ Obieke submitted. ‘Excellent, this is amazing!’ The principal lauded him.
Mr. Okorie continued, ‘The school management has been unable to get a qualified electrician to fix the digital library for months now, of which you’re aware that it had power failure during the last practical we held two months ago.’ ‘Yes Sir, I am aware.’ Obieke replied in agreement. ‘Now, can you fix it?’ The principal requested. ‘Sir, I will be glad to assist, if you permit me. I will trace the fault, if it will be possible for me to fix, I will do it. But if it will not be possible, I will admit.’ Obieke commented.
It was reported to the pupils and teachers that Obieke had fixed the digital library which had been malfunctioning for almost two months. This grew his fame the more throughout the school and neighbourhoods. At 16, Obieke had already become famous due to his innate talents.
Ezinne, Ozioma and Ekene were Obieke’s younger siblings who were still in the junior classes in the same school with Obieke. Emeka and Gozie were his elder siblings. Emeka was learning trade in a textile company in Onitsha. Gozie was a medical student in Imo State University, Owerri. They chose their career and their parents approved them. Obieke’s case was a different one! This made him felt unloved by his parents whereas, he did not know their reasons for choosing priesthood for him instead of electrical engineer.
One fateful morning, after the family’s morning devotion, Obieke went to his parents to verify why he was not being allowed to pursue his chosen career. ‘Papa, good morning. Mama, good morning.’ Obieke saluted while greeting them as Igbo culture teaches. ‘Good morning our son.’ His parents replied. With an unhappy mood, Obieke asked, ‘Papa, please tell me, what is your reason for choosing priesthood for me?’ ‘Obi ‘nwa m’ which is translated (Obi, my son), his father pettily called him. Please calm down, put a happy mood and talk to your father.’ Ezeji calmed him. He continued, ‘I did not chose priesthood for you, your mother did. I know that you are old enough to choose your career. I only approved it after she gave me some reasons.’ ‘Nnedinma, since you are here, you better tell him your reason why you wanted him to become a priest.’ Ezeji commanded his wife.
‘My son, I meant well by making the decision. My reason was, I have four sons and two daughters. It will please me if one of my sons becomes a priest… I want you, Obieke my son, to become a priest. It will be great that one out of the six children God had given me becomes a priest as a sacrifice to God.’ His mother, Nnedinma revealed. Obieke’s heart softened after hearing from his mother. Nnedinam’s reason was genuine but who knows, if God whom she wanted to offer Obieke to as a sacrifice through priesthood would accept him? Maybe, I was destined for another great task.
After a while, Obieke gradually concurred to his mother’s decision. He began making preparation for the entrance exams to the seminary.
During school break on Friday afternoon, Obieke met with his friends. They played together and share good moments together. ‘Aha, I had just remembered something now.’ Obieke teased his friends. They became anxious to know what that could be. ‘Wait, wait a minute, are you sure you are not planning to fight Chikamso for stealing your pen yesterday in the class?’ Chike asked. ‘Not at all; he had already asked me for forgiveness so, I can’t fight him.’ Obieke cleared the doubt. He went further to tell them that he had agreed with his parents’ decision to become a priest. His friends were speechless. ‘So you are no longer going to marry? Wait a minute, what would happen to Adaku whom your heart has been beating for since our SSS 2 class?’ Ikeobi tried to convince him.
Their WAEC exams came up, and they all sat for it. Each of them departed. Obieke stayed with his parents, assisted them in farming. He patiently waited until the entrance exams date came up.
Finally, Obieke sat for the exams. When the result came out, he was among the best successful entrants. This brought joy to his parents especially his mother. With his result, everyone hoped he would be admitted into seminary school. After ten weeks, admission list came out and Obieke’s name was excluded. The mother became unhappy, begged Obieke to follow her to Seat of Wisdom Seminary, Ulakwo to reapply for next set. Obieke refused and told her point-blank that he is no longer interested in the priesthood. ‘My dream is to become an inventor, that’s the reason I want to study Electrical and Electronics or Geology in the university.’ Obieke spoke his mind.
The mother still insisted on enrolling Obieke into the seminary.
This brought a lot of disagreements between Obieke and his mother, at a time, his father started supporting Obieke. ‘You can’t force a young man into the seminary when his instincts have not agreed with him. Let him follow his heart.’ His father, Ezeji concluded. After some weeks, the mother brought the entrance exams payment slips of three different seminaries where she had applied for Obieke. ‘I must certainly be addressed as a priest’s mother like other women whose children became priests.’ Nnedinma concluded. Obieke’s father is not decisive to quench his wife’s irresistible stubborn heart. That made the matter to linger for a long period.
This brought an issue that attracted the attention of the Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Ebere Simon, who strictly advised that Obieke should pursue his dream. ‘For the best interest of this family, allow him to follow his heart. Do not force him to a career he is not ready for.’ The priest suggested. “Young man, it is not only in the priesthood that you can serve God. Be a good Christian and do what pleases God. That is what God needs from us. You can serve God without being a priest.’ He added. This softened the chaos in Ezeji’s family despite the unhappy mood on his wife, Nnedinma’s face.
Obieke applied for JAMB exams, wrote and passed and was admitted into electrical engineering department of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO). As the best graduating student, he came out with CGPA of 4.00 (first class in upper division). His famousness continued due to his skillfulness and commitment in studies. After the one year compulsory national service to Nigeria, known as National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), he was lucky to be offered an appointment as the Assistant Technical Supervisor at Exxon Mobile Oil Company in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.
His first visit to the village was unexpectedly as he presented a brand new Lexus car to his parents, bought so many things for his mother. The mother was over joyous and immediately asked him to bring her a wife so that she can see her grandchildren as soon as possible before her death. His siblings were happy for his success, the family background was upgraded. Emeka and Gozie were also doing well with their families but Obieke’s wealth surpassed theirs.
Obieke’s family wanted to decide his future at his mother’s desire. They have been making major decisions that mattered most for him. At a time, he had to say no to it.
He followed his heart. He finally made the best decision for himself. Before you make decisions for your children, consider their natural endowments. What they can possibly become with their talents or skills matters most than what you want them to become. If you’re an adult and can decide for yourself, make decisions in line with what you know and possibly can do. If it is academics, choose your course of study wisely, and if you can’t choose correctly, consult a career counselor for counseling. Once you make a mistake in choosing your career, it may have tremendous negative effects on you in future.