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We need to develop our individual talents for self-sustenance

By Ijeoma Opara
25 March 2016   |   11:57 pm
Having taken after her father, Dr. Prince Akwaeke Abyssinia Nwafor Orizu, the first Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Udunna Jaanna Chigozie Nwafor-Orizu’s passion....
Dr. Udunna Jaanna Chigozie Nwafor-Orizu

Dr. Udunna Jaanna Chigozie Nwafor-Orizu

Dr. Udunna Jaanna Chigozie Nwafor-Orizu, scion of first Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and second Senate President is a writer, publisher and researcher. An advocate for horizontal education in contrast to the nation’s perpendicular system, she proffers solution to the unemployment situation in the country..

Having taken after her father, Dr. Prince Akwaeke Abyssinia Nwafor Orizu, the first Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Udunna Jaanna Chigozie Nwafor-Orizu’s passion for learning, education and knowledge led her into writing and publishing six books. They include Tributes and Tribulations: Poems on Contemporary Nigeria, Morning Rose and other Poems, both published by New Generations (2003), Verses of Sustenance: Right Attitude to Life, (2006) and Issues and Themes of African Literature: New Insights and Arguments (2013) published by Lambert Academic Publishing, Germany, her recent book is 92 Days in Power – Dr. A. A. Nwafor Orizu GCON as Acting President (October 16, 1965-January15, 1966).

She said of her background: “I was born into a highly education-oriented family. The name Nwafor-Orizu is synonymous with education with a bias to horizontal education. During the colonial era in Nigeria, the plan of the then imperial masters was to train Africans on the narrow perpendicular educational curriculum, in order to prepare them for civil service only. My father was an American-trained intellectual who then could appreciate the stagnation in knowledge and future economic deficit subtly enshrined in this limited perpendicular curriculum. That was why he boldly kicked against it when he launched the horizontal education.

“This was the broad-based American styled curriculum that would explore, develop and utilize fully the human potentials and talents for full growth and emancipation. His motto, ‘To educate the mind is to liberate it,’ was applied in my upbringing. Apart from this, my father authored 13 published books, about 10 yet-to-be published manuscripts. When I came of age, I became involved in his book writing even as I served in his office as his private secretary.”

Speaking on the reading culture of young people of today, Dr. Nwafor-Orizu said: “It cannot be overemphasized that reading is the surest way to go into the minds of people. Whether we believe it or not, the culture of reading is as good to the nourishment of the mind, as eating good food is sine qua non to the nourishment of the body. Therefore, all hands should be on deck to encourage and sustain this reading culture to help the upcoming generation. Let me reiterate that training our children is our responsibility. Whatever it takes the parents and the government to achieve this must be put in place. If we don’t practice what we say in this regard and expect our children to train themselves, it is self-deceit at its best.”

“If we expose the children to reading and sponsor effectively that culture, it will be stamped. And when they grow, they will not depart from it. The old saying is that the mind is like a clean slate and whatever we place on it holds, so, what has changed if not the commitment or lack of it on the part of parents and government? Today, all easy-going methods are put in place at the expense of properly supervised reading culture. Just as the discovery of oil in Nigeria virtually stopped the development of other resources, so is the screen destroying the intellectual initiative of a country that needs a well-educated generation. Handling of all sorts of devices is aggressively pushing away diligence and discipline necessitated in actual reading.

She noted that horizontal education for self-sustenance is necessary to achieve reduction in unemployment rate in the country. “There must be national reorientation in order to achieve a paradigmatic shift. Is it not totally ironical that the ruins left by the British perpendicular curriculum are still haunting us decades after their departure? It appears we are too lazy to face our own reality. Unemployment is simply a result of dwelling adamantly with a culture of dependence on employment by any other and not the employee. And this is because the school systems are generally tailored towards education for dependence on others’ employment.

“The duty of the government is highly over-rated in this regard. In the bid to be a party to sharing the national cake, we forget we owe it to ourselves to develop our individual talents for self-sustenance. That is why it appears that most of the time, the so-called uneducated people with good entrepreneurial spirit end up creating jobs for the so-called educated people who dwell more on theories, policies and laws.”

She added that if this culture of self-sustenance was fully put in practice, we shall discover that by now, most of our resources would have been put into proper utilization because people will be competing to buy into the development of these resources and government will be so rich as to raise the standard of life of the remaining government employees who should be there to manage government affairs. Any type of education that leaves us at the mercy of others per se has a lot to be desired.

“Again, the far reaching impact of this wrong or faulty arrangement is that education is no more inspiring since people end up moving about looking for jobs at the end of the day. What can be inspiring about an “educated” job seeker? If majority of job seekers were able to develop their talents for self-sustenance, and have everything to show for it at the end of the day, then people will be inspired to follow suit. It will reduce all these certificate oriented employment and entrench, for certain, performance-oriented employment and promotions,” she said.

Advising young people, Dr. Nwafor-Orizu said: “To those looking for direction in life, always know that our destiny is in our hands; that ‘destiny is an impartial god. It follows him who will, attend him who must, and joins him who can. There is no destiny where there is no plan and no destiny where there is no determined spirit.”

“This quotation is not for everybody, it’s only for those who want to be in charge of their life. Discipline means putting of loyalties and knowledge to efficient use, the ordering of life in the light of understanding and towards the attainment of purpose. It involves the subordination of the near to the remote, the regulation of desire, the postponement of satisfaction, the choice of the harder when the easier way is open. Discipline is never indulgent; it may be rigorously exacting but it assumes this severe form not because there is virtue in severity, but rather because such is the condition of achievement. This can be summarized under these tenets; vision, mission, focus, hard work, originality, resilience, self-confidence and prayers,” she declared.

The writer, publisher and researcher hails from Nnewi, Anambra State. She got her first degree in English Language and Literary Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1991. She bagged a Master of Arts degree from Nnamdi Azikwe University in 1996 and was awarded a doctorate by the same institution in 2011.

In 2014, she received the three-star Paul Harris Fellow, a merit award from the National Association of students of English and Literary studies of the University of Nigeria Nsukka, in recognition of her dedication to the literary arts and exceptional contributions to the field during the UNN literally arts festival.

Dr. Nwafor-Orizu is a well-travelled Nigerian who has made good use of her exposure with different languages and cultures. She is a potpourri of African tradition and Western culture. Her hobbies include, reading, learning, mentoring, and listening to good music, news, playing lawn and table tennis.