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Secrets of Academic Success: Passion
Chinua Achebe started school in 1936 at St Philip’s Central School, Apkakaogwe Ogidi. He was asked to attend religious classes where students engaged in singing and sometimes catechism, reciting English rhymes and general entertainment. After he spent a week in religious classes, his teacher, Rev. Nelson Ezekwesili sent him to the Higher Infant School because the child showed signs of intelligence. Achebe became an excellent English reader and during dictation lessons, he usually scored excellent marks. He had the best handwriting in the class and performed well in recitations, especially when reciting poems or essays on stage. During these years, his academic work in elementary school was consistently excellent.
In late 1942, Chinua Achebe moved to Nekede Central School as his elder brother John took Chinua to live with him in Nekede, Owerri. Before leaving, the headmaster of St Phillip’s Central School opposed Achebe’s exit from his school. He objected because Achebe was a student who made him proud at school.
In 1944, Achebe enrolled at Umuahia Government College. About 3,000 boys typically apply for the 30 places available. And all candidates sat for the entrance examination at centers across Nigeria and West Cameroon. Only the best candidates are admitted.
Not long after William Simpson, the headmaster of the school identified Chinua Achebe as one of the most promising students. Achebe rose from Class One to Class Two in his first year at Government College, Umuahia. The same year he received a scholarship due to his education and character. Achebe wrote the best English in his class and was the editor of the school magazine. He won a poetry award because his brilliant academic performance was unimaginable. The final examination of Achebe’s class at the government college marked the culmination of his outstanding secondary school career. His results were impressive. ‘Like’ in history, physics/chemistry, biology, geography, biblical knowledge and mathematics; High ‘Cs’ in English Language and English Literature.
Achebe wrote an examination for admission to the new University College, Ibadan. In those days, the fashionable courses at the university were engineering and medicine and John Achebe, his official guardian and patron, decided that Chinua should study medicine. Achebe accepted his elder brother’s decision and was admitted as one of the recipients of a major scholarship to study medicine.
Achebe’s academic work in his first year at university was not impressive. He could not handle the tough demands of the medicine department. The workload was intense, and it became clear to him in that first year that the grind of physics and eventually medicine required a different interest than the one he had brought with him from secondary school. For the first time in his life, Achebe passed without performing very well. It became very clear that he would never do well as a medical student. At this point he lost interest in science and medicine.
Achebe now made a decisive decision for the first time about his career and academic interests. He approached the dean of science at the end of that first year and informed him of his desire to change his course of study. His interest now is in fine arts. Fortunately, he was accepted into the Faculty of Arts. Unfortunately, he lost his scholarship, as the basis on which it was granted no longer exists. Losing his scholarship was a big blow but he was determined to follow his passion.
Achebe became a member of the Faculty of Arts and chose English, Geography and History as his subjects. Thus, his studies at the University College, Ibadan began in earnest at the Faculty of Arts. Achebe soon became one of the best in his faculty.
He scored Alphas in most of his subjects. By 1950, Chinua Achebe had settled down enough as an arts student to express himself as a writer. He started writing many articles and stories including; ‘Polar Undergraduate’, ‘In a Village Church’, ‘The Old Order in Conflict with the New Year’, ‘Mr Okafor Vs Arts Students’, ‘Dead Man’s Path’ etc. It was in this faculty that some of the seeds of Chinua Achebe’s creative and critical work were planted.
His book ‘Things Fall Apart’, published on 17 June 1958, became one of the most important books in African literature. Selling more than 8 million copies worldwide, it was translated into 50 languages, making Achebe the most translated African author of all time.
Affectionately called the “father of Nigerian literature,” Achebe is the recipient of over 30 honorary degrees from universities in England, Scotland, Canada, South Africa, Nigeria, and the United States, including Dartmouth College, Harvard, and Brown University.
Put a lizard in a river it will struggle to survive. A fish will not live long on land. The Creator of all things designed each human being for a certain discipline. Put differently, we were created to solve a specific problem or satisfy a specific need. The problem you are programmed to solve is not the problem I was created to solve because God has placed within us what we need to solve the problems we were assigned. Therefore, you cannot solve my own problems, and I cannot solve yours. Our brains are designed to solve the problem we want to solve. Bill Gate is known for software, Michael Faraday for electricity, Wright Brothers for airplanes, Henry Ford for motor cars, Tiger Wood for golf, Chinua Achebe for writing and many more.
Therefore, everyone must not be a doctor, lawyer or engineer because we are not the only problem in this world. It is unreasonable to choose to become a lawyer because your father or uncle was successful in the legal field or because you like the legal profession. A father told his son that he must become a solicitor because the former spent a lot of his court cases paying lawyers.
No one will force you to study any course you are not interested in. People are not following their passion because they want to chase after name and money. This is why there are thousands of quack building engineers killed every year because their buildings aren’t solid. We have doctors who carelessly kill their patients for not calling the medical profession. We see lawyers sending innocent clients to jail because their brains are not designed for discipline. Your wealth and fame are your purpose.
I have heard some students say: “I am studying a professional course.” We are deceived that there are certain courses that are professional. There are no professional courses or major courses anywhere. The day you become very proficient in your area you become a professional and make you a professional field. Every field is professional. Whatever you master is your profession; Therefore, any occupation can be a professional field.
That’s why we have professional footballers. Football is a professional career. Therefore, shoemaking is a professional course, a horticulturist is a professional and sports is a professional field. You don’t necessarily have to be a doctor, engineer or solicitor to be a professional; Each field is a professional one.
The day you know your purpose or area of interest, the day your studies begin in earnest, is the day you become a student. You can never succeed unless you have a passion for a course that is not an ambition. No one will force you to study any course you are not interested in. Follow your passion and achieve your vision.
Ignore your emotions and fall prey to errors. If you identify your area of interest, you will become a master overnight. Allowing someone to choose a field for you is suicidal; You can seek advice from professionals. Learning becomes cheap and interesting when you stay in your area of interest. Ben Carson said, “If we recognize our talents and use them appropriately and choose a field that utilizes those talents, we will rise to the top of our field.”
How do I know my area of interest?
Ask God: It is the producer who knows the functions and capabilities of his product.
Read Wide: There are some fields or courses of study that you are not aware of. Read biographies, autobiographies, professional journals, in fact, every good book or publication.
Know your passion: There are things you do with pleasure, without stress and without payment.
Seek advice from a professional or experienced person.
Be original: Don’t try to be like anyone else. You are completely different; You can’t be another. You can have a mentor in your field when you locate the field but be yourself.
Resist every pressure from any angle to force you into an area you have no interest in, because only you will suffer or regret it.
Take every aspect of school seriously. You may not know you have passion in that area.
Achebe failed as a medical doctor.
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