Olajumoke Awosemo: The Curious Case of the Meddling Parents

dreamstime_l_61279947As a young girl, I remember that my Dad used to get us tickets to watch inter-school dramas and poetry shows organised by some private primary schools back then. It was at the point when I became interested in arts, and my passion for reading novels grew. I recollect that my brothers and I would all take our turns reading our Dad’s stash of James Hadley Chase & Perry Mason novels and discuss them like we had watched a movie. Fast-forward to Secondary school and my love for Arts had blossomed. I had decided to study Law and was one of the brightest in Literature in English. Books like Macbeth and Animal farm were the basis of my everyday conversations. I could critically analyze how all animals were equal but some were more equal than the others.

So it came to filling out my jamb form and my Father suddenly decided that my desire for Law had to be prematurely aborted. To say I was in shock does not even describe how I felt. Is this not the same man who has encouraged me over the years? In fact, he sat me down for a two-hour long lecture on how there are so many lawyers roaming the streets doing ‘charge and bail’ as it’s not as lucrative anymore. I suggested Mass Communication and again my father came up with ‘it’s not exactly a career for a woman who wants to establish a good home’. You cannot win an argument with my dad; so I asked, what course do you now think is best for me? My father answered ‘Accounting’. What! I didn’t even do Accounting or Commerce or what is it commercial students do for subjects. He analyzed how I could do my ACCA alongside my degree and upon graduation be the next big thing! My dad struggled to understand why I didn’t see the good in his plan. I succumbed to his idea but after a rough start in Accounting and several family meetings, I navigated myself to studying Sociology.

What is it with Nigerian parents? Who made them authority over all university courses to understand what these courses are all about anyway? Who made them fortune tellers to be able to tell which course will make you boom or not? I had assumed that with all the enlightenment on the media and the civilization all around us, Nigerian parents would become less meddling but I thought wrong.

I was recently part of a conversation about a man who wanted all his kids to be professionals, like a Doctor, a Lawyer, and Accountant e.t.c. I marvelled at his ignorance; but then in retrospect, I wondered whether anyone can one really blame him. What future does the career of a professional drummer hold in this great country of ours? My British colleague at work told me his son is studying drumming in the university. My Nigerian mentality shock and curiosity made me ask her what the opportunities are for him and she went on to explain that his lecturers drive Ferrari and Jaguar to work and one lecturer in particular told the students that since becoming a professional drummer at the top of his career, he earns up to £80,000 per gig at social events. I was wowed and I suddenly remembered my father dearest. Mention drumming and you probably may not feel your jaw move for the next two hours or more from his hot slap.

This brought to mind my elderly cousin, who came to stay with us all the way from Kano, having struggled to gain admission into the university for years. He wanted to study Medicine, but was willing to just enter studying any science related course and hoped to cross over to medicine later. We literally all danced to church to testify when my parents pulled all their strings to make him secure a spot in Zoology just a day before matriculation (must have been the VC list). The aspiration of studying Medicine remained only a dream as he remained in Zoology till the end of his course. I doubt that my cousin ever entered another zoo asides the Easter family picnic at the UI zoo some years ago. He has since been working in the bank after graduating. How many thriving zoological gardens do we have in Nigeria for him to even practice? Why then would any Nigerian parent not think you are crazy to come up with some disreputable course for study in the university?

Since we have all long given up on our government creating any sort of developmental platform for actual passion to be pursued, then if you must do an infamous course, be ready to take the risk by studying infamously. For you, it is not a matter of thinking outside of the box, it’s really creating your own box.

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14 Comments on Olajumoke Awosemo: The Curious Case of the Meddling Parents
  • Kender February 24, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    So true. Nigeria as a whole doesn’t encourage passion

    • Bradley February 25, 2016 at 6:29 am

      I saw Olajumoke and thought Bread Seller. LOL

  • Swizzle February 24, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    When people say ‘Nigerian parents’ I wonder when they conducted an interview to arrive at d conclusion that what the parents are being accused of occurs only in Nigeria. I understand the general thought behind this article but in defence of the parents I would like to point out some things:

    1. Most times when our parents do things like this, although some of them go overboard, it is usually from a good place.
    2. While their suggestions may go against what we think is good for us, it is sometimes the best they could come up with.
    3. If you find yourself at opposing sides to ur parents’ ideas, you have to go the extra mile to prove to them that you really want to do this and that you know where you want to go with it. Reasonable parents will support you. You cannot just say you want to study carpentry and expect them to support you when you have no solid plans.
    4. Parenting is really hard. A lot of our parents try their utmost best.

  • Ifeyinwa Mic February 24, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    It’s so funny. I have so many Nigerian friends that are mostly doctors, lawyers, engineers, or accountants. Most of them were given those four options as kids and “chose” one. A close friend of mine wanted to study nursing but was told that Nigerians don’t simply settle for nursing, so she went with medicine. She absolutely hates being a doctor today, but she says that she couldn’t go against what her parents wanted. I think it all boils down to Nigerian parents wanting to brag about their children’s accomplishments and be well taken care of in their old age (rightfully so), so they “encourage” (force) their kids into the most lucrative careers. When I asked about happiness and fulfillment, one cousin told me that making money would cover all of that. Not sure if there’s a right or wrong here. The parents want what’s best. The kids either want or are forced to listen to their parents. If i even have kids I will encourage them to pursue what they believe God has called them to do and hopefully that makes them happy. As long as they are applying their God given talents, aren’t doing things to harm themselves/others, can take care of themselves and afford the life that they envision for themselves and their kids, I’ll be happy.

  • Ni February 24, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    Oh my God!!! This is the story of my life!!! Very similar story. My dad even went as far as asking lawyers to talk me out of the course, telling me they stopped practising so as not to die of hunger. I eventually graduated with a Bsc in Accounting. But then I don’t exactly blame him. I didn’t get admitted to study law because we didn’t know “the right people”. I was a very frustrated Accounting student as I only did the Arts subjects in secondary school.

  • Corolla February 25, 2016 at 12:28 am

    This almost happened to me. My mom, aunty and one irritating uncle were trying to force me to do accounting o. Infact they carried me to my aunts house, put me in the center and everone started yelling and my uncle was like I should mark his words “you will regret not studying accounting”. I was sa stubborn and stuck to my chosen field, in which I am gainfully employed today.

  • Abike Akin February 25, 2016 at 9:49 am

    Hmn, where do I start from. The story resonates, as many can testify to. Growing up with my widower father, who had to do his best to put food on the table made me realise how little resistance we have to confront our parents. I wouldn’t know of the privileged kids though. You see, my father was an electrical engineer, via correspondence studies, due to paucity of funds. So, he had this life long ambition to make sure that all his children were certified professionals in his lifetime and he really tried his best. We hobnobbed with richer kids at the various Federal Government Colleges my siblings and I attended, but it seemed fate was poised to deal us a cruel blow. For starters, none of us could pass mathematics to save our lives. Despite his best efforts at personal coaching coupled with after school lessons, Maths was simply not going to be our ally. Eventually, for me, I had to leave science class when I kept failing my science subjects abysmally. After my SSI, I wanted to colour the shame a bit by going to commercial class, but my father, in his good wisdom, prevailed on me to go to Arts class, since I was never good at anything calculation. I resented him then, but now, I believe it turned out well. However, that was not the end of his meddling. When I wanted to fill my JAMB, I wanted to study Theater Arts, but my father threatened to hand me over to Baba Suwe to tutor me, rather than wasting his precious kobo on me with that course. Little did I know that he had set his sights on me becoming a professional( Lawyer). Yet, Mathematics would play a cruel one on me by being the reason I could not study Law, despite being on the merit list. The Dean insisted I must have a credit in Maths and all I could boast of was a pass. Till date, I’m still amazed at how my barely working father managed to secure law admissions for me in four different universities. Sadly, each admission was secured after the matric, hence I could not be admitted. Eventually, he was advised to let me be and focus on the English Studies major I was pursuing at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko. So, for me, his meddling had actually done me more good than bad, beyond the fact that I still have a secret desire to act, I have been guided beyond measure.

    • The real D February 26, 2016 at 5:07 am

      lmso@ baba suwe as tutor…God bless your dad

  • Ada February 25, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Daddy dearest was a lawyer and already raised 2 lawyers. I was supposed to be his 3rd and his best as per his only daughter. I did not agree. He got colleagues to talk to me. He promised me I could do whatever I pleased after graduating, all he required of me was the law degree. I no gree. I chose to study Mass Comm! He went ahead to hustle for law when he tried to get me admission, as if the hand of God was in it, Law was full but Mass Comm was offered. I think I have done pretty well in my field but sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t have tried to get the law degree just for him. It would not have hurt me to at all!

  • Aanuolutomiwa February 25, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    THIS ARTICLE IS ONE OF THE BEST

  • MarieScarlett February 25, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    I totally agree with you, but I must correct your views on the notion that career opportunities for people who studied zoology are limited to the zoo. It is far wider than that, to name a few parasitology, microbiology, veterinary medicine, environmental science are all areas that zoology graduates can fit into .

  • Aanuoluwapo – The grace of God is plenty! February 26, 2016 at 2:45 am

    Hmm. THIS

    Ever since my primary school, anytime someone asks me what I would like to be, family members will say ‘aah Anu will be a doctor” “aah, this one is a doctor, always top in her class”
    Never mind my shrill voice blurting out “ACTRESS”, “SINGER”, “PILOT!”

    Of course at that age, I didnt know what I wanted to be, so when my mum (I love that woman) will always show me examples of my cousins and her friends daughters who were medical doctors and tell me how well everything was going for them. I felt, ‘yes why not, I could be a doctor’

    Okay fastforward to Junior WAEC. I opted for Arts class. My teacher called my mother to suggest that the school thought I would do well in Science class.
    There was shouting up and down at home, after all they have done for me, they said… I want to spoil my future. If I wanted to go to Arts class, why did I watch them send me to an expensive school? I should have saved them the money.

    Anyway my guilty conscience won. I moved to Sciece. Struggled with Further maths and Physics – they got me tutors, I finished WAEC and JAMB with flying colours.

    I got into ABU to study Pharmacy. They used connection to change it to Medicine. I didnt get past my third year.
    I had 2 resits and had to repeat a year.

    It was a rough period,
    Finally I changed my course. It was hard but I switched to Mass Comm in South Africa. Today, I have my Masters in my bag. Working on my PhD,I have a prestigious job and I am Happy. It’s the money from Mass Comm, I am using to buy tickets for my mother up and down oh

    Doctors, Lawyers and Engineers are amazing but Parents need to understand that wealth + stability will be yours. if God has pre-ordained it, regardless of what you study in the university.

    May we be better parents, and find the strength to encourage AND SUPPORT our kids in their choices.

  • larz February 26, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    You cant be successful in what you are not passionate about. Knowledge and brain can get you through the door but you just simply wont be the best. The probs with forcing people into professions that people’s life (e.g. doctors/ nurses) are being dealt with is that. The result of failure is usually death or ill health. All these people forcing their kids to becoming a doctor are doing them a great injustice.

    the tale of two sisters. My sis allowed my sister to push her into the direction she didn’t want (science class) and it took a while for her to find her path again. I didn’t let them despite much interference and had a much more straight forward career compared to her. I think sometimes it is about putting your foot down even at a younger age.

  • Osaretin March 2, 2016 at 8:20 am

    @larz love your comment!! Came to Canada to study Nursing as per mother wants job security and all. i Know they want the best but for the longest time couldn’t get in….along side i was minoring in french and i tell you my passion for french is indescribable. Let’s just say last term i decided i wanted it to be my major in school- had the talk with my Nigerian parents as shocking as it sounds they were supportive. Now i’m here doing what i love and that’s all that matters the most to them….I love them for that.

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