The day my Dad drove me to Nibo-Nise, a small town in Eastern Nigeria, to check out what would become both school and home for the following 3 years, I had no idea just how much that encounter will change my life. I had passed a very rigorous exams which only a few aspire to and I was beyond excited at the prospects of being accepted into the Special Science School scheme of the state. I was also a bit apprehensive, because all the girls who would become my mates where undoubtedly the best of the pack.
I met the then principal, Mrs Josephine Obi, and a bunch of (8) young and bright-eyed girls all sitting together under a tree. The idea was to check the school out and decide if it’s a good enough option or if I should go ahead to Lorretta, another Special Science School located in a small village a few hours away, called Adazi.
The way Mrs Obi received us; her warm smile, her gentle, firm and assured manner and the confidence she exuded captured my young heart and convinced my parents that I couldn’t be in better hands.
20 years has passed since that first encounter, and I still remember very clearly every single detail of that meeting.
That meeting changed my life.
Mrs Obi as well as that school helped shape me into the woman I am today. Those 8 girls, most of them now successful ladies, unflinchingly made my life and that of many others difficult in more ways than one, for which I hold no grudge. They also taught me a valuable lesson in survival and self preservation, for which I’m grateful.
The other young girls who became my mates were a vital part of my story, the ones who loved me unconditionally, the ones who laughed with me or at me, the ones who came close, the ones who kept their distance, they were all crucial pieces of the puzzle that is my life. All in all, these special ladies are today turning out to be respectable icons in their own right, and for that I am proud. I celebrate our great school, even if some of us hold more memories of the difficulties we had to go through during our stay in Abagana (the school was later moved to another town).
After my Mum, Mrs Obi singlehandedly influenced my teen years the most. She reinforced most of the lessons my Mum taught us and she taught me some more. I am eternally grateful to providence for bringing her into my life. I stand tall today in defence of personal development, global education and leadership and my strongest wish is to influence as many people, students, clients, educators, and the world at large the way she influenced me.
She was many things, but above them all, she was a mother and an educator worthy of emulation.
She had been handed over a group of young bright-eyed girls with little or no resources. There were only 8 of them at the start. She took the mandate to establish a special school, not only for the kids who had been classified as exceptionally intelligent, but also kids who were eager teen girls! A herculean task some might say.
But, she took this mandate to heart. She chose to raise girls that will stand out. She chose to build legacies in their hearts. She chose to be a vessel in equipping them with the right values that will make them bright stars on our horizons.
And in the midst of mind boggling challenges, she set to work. And, she had a clear-cut vision when she worded the school pledge and prayer. Words filled with life on which destinies have been nurtured. On whose wings we continue to fly.
THE SCHOOL PLEDGE
I pledge to you Great Abagana Special.
To learn those habits which are responsible for “Healthy Growth and Development”, by developing the right attitude to enable me:-
Foster moral, ethical and spiritual values.
Learn to read and write.
Learn needed vocations.
Improve on My thinking and creative ability.
Learn proper hygiene.
Develop patriotism and good citizenship.
Use time wisely.
Develop the physical through games and exercises.
Learn to respect honest differences of opinion.
Acquaint Myself with countries other than My own.
May God strengthen me.
THE SCHOOL PRAYER
Almighty God, in Whom we live and move and have our being
Without Thee our toil is in vain
Establish our work in thee begun
That through the heat of our desire
We sow the seeds of noble worth.
Give us the wisdom to know when to say ‘Yes’ and when to say ‘No’
That we may use all law as needed discipline
For freedom of soul and mind
Equipped to face with fearless eyes
And steady faith life’s enterprise.
Preserve us from evil, anger and threats
Oh teach us to pay our parents and our country the debts we owe
On our teachers who spend their time on us
Thy blessings we pray thee bestow
Dear Lord, Wonderful father
These submissions we make through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen
A tribute to Mrs Josephine Obi who gave a young and impressionable girl wings to fly.
Thank you, ma’am!
For all the special girls who are already doing well, the sky is your starting point.
For the ones who are still struggling, you will make it.
To the ones who are aspiring to do more, and to be more, you can be all that you have been called to be.
You all are indeed special. Set apart. And called for greatness. No difficulty is big enough to extinguish your shine. Let us be reminded that she prayed and God has answered her in all of us.
These are the words on which your journey took off and so, be rest assured that if you believe, you cannot fail.
Eternally grateful to God for the choice my parents made to send me your way, Mrs J.E Obi.