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BellaNaija Celebrates Academic Excellence – Class of 2013: Adetutu Ojo



BellaNaija presents “Celebrating You! Class of 2013.” A couple of months ago we called for submissions of graduating students who had excelled in their course of study. We acknowledge the fact that everyone who has graduated this year is a winner. We, therefore, want to celebrate people who have gone over and above the norm. People who have gotten meritorious distinctions and awards from their institution of study. We hope that you are inspired and we look forward to receiving more entries.

Today, we’re sharing Adetutu Ojo‘s story with you. Tutu is an incredible woman whose strength of purpose and will to live against all odds, helped her achieve achieve academic excellence. Tutu was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease called Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) or Lupus (which is currently incurable) in 2007.  Her story is so poignant and real.

My Journey
I had relocated with my family to Lagos from London in 2001 because my Nigeria loving parents wanted my brothers and I to ‘know our roots’ and though it wasn’t the easiest of adaptations, looking back, it was definitely worth it and I made lifelong friends. As I like to say, I may have been born and bred in England, but I definitely was buttered and jammed in Naija (dry jokes you learn in Nigeria.)

When I finished from Dowen College in July 2008, the next step was to move on to an A Level school in Lagos and carry on my education after which I would return to London to go to my dream university, Queen Mary. However, man proposes but God disposes. Over the summer I started to gradually lose weight and thin out, then came the fatigue, weakness and painful skin blisters followed by alarmingly high fevers. Being a stubborn one, I continuously refused to be taken to hospital until one day my mother begged me and said “Ma je kin sunkun omo” meaning “Don’t let me cry over my child”. On reaching the hospital, the doctor checked me out stating that not only was I suffering from acute malaria but severe anemia as my palms had turned completely white and that I needed a blood transfusion ASAP. My blood tests had also revealed that I had O negative blood group and then came the struggle to find safe blood as I could only receive O negative blood. Eventually I found a donor and what was initially meant to be one dose, turned into two. I got slightly better after a week or two and moved to my aunt’s house in Gbagada as it was closer to the hospital. By mid September, I had lost most of my hair, was looking like a ghost and confused as to what exactly was going on.

After spending some time at my Aunt’s, I eventually went back home to Lekki and on the day I returned, my parents took me to Eko Hotel for dinner with my brother. At dinner I was unusually agitated and this was heightened by the fact that there were some little kids playing near the pool, no lifeguard around and I kept having visions that they would fall in with no around to help. A bit extreme yes I know but soon you will understand why. I begged my parents for us to leave and when we got to the car, I almost fainted. Little did I know what was in store for me.

That night, my parents thought it would be best for me to sleep in their room which to the glory of God I did, because had I not, I doubt I would be here today. After falling asleep, the next thing I knew, I was in the back of my Dad’s car, on our way to the hospital, with my Mum saying “Tutu can you hear me?” “Tutu if you can hear me blink please or raise your fingers.”

Whilst sleeping, I had gone into shock and had a seizure which immediately woke my parents. On getting to the hospital, the doctor did what he could but couldn’t quite comprehend the nature of my illness and in the morning, he called a specialist from the Lagos General Hospital who examined me and noticed a particular rash under my eyes and around my nose, also known as the butterfly rash. He stated that during Med school he had read about something called Lupus but that Nigeria didn’t have the facilities to test for it and that my blood would have to be sent to South Africa to check if that was what I suffered from. We agreed to the test and a week later, it was confirmed.

It Was Real
Google became our best friend and the two doctors tried to manage it as best they could, putting me on a cocktail of about 60 tablets a day but soon it became evident that it was getting worse as I developed hallucinations, swollen feet and stomach ulcers along with all my other symptoms. Finally, it was decided that I would return to England for treatment and on getting here with my mum, I went straight to Queen Elizabeth Hospital. A few hours after I got there, I suffered another seizure followed by another seizure and had to stay in Intensive Care for a week. I was then moved to Kings College Hospital where I stayed for almost a month receiving treatment including a number of biopsy’s and lumbar punctures and got out right before Christmas. It wasn’t an easy move back as we no longer had our house but to the grace of God, everything sorted itself out.

In September 2008, I managed to start my A Levels in Biology, Chemistry and Psychology as well as get a part time job and though at the end of it I didn’t get the required grades needed for my course, I still miraculously got accepted into Queen Mary for it. The first year was very tough for me as I lived on campus and fell ill quite a lot so much so that it reflected in my grades and I also had to quit my job. The second year was a little more bearable thanks to the support of my loving family. Not only was I Vice President of the African Caribbean Society (ACS), I also volunteered at the Olympic stadium for the London 2012 Olympics.

Against All Odds, I Made IT!
To the glory of God, I was able to redeem myself through hard work, extremely early mornings and late study nights to finally become a Second Class Upper Division (2:1) SBSc (Hons) Biology with Psychology degree holder. It was a long tedious journey but I’m so grateful to God that He pulled me through and is continuously doing so. I’m still under the care of Kings College Hospital, with a now reduced cocktail of drugs and though living with Lupus is an everyday struggle, I know its one I can and will overcome. I hope one day to make Lupus awareness more prominent in Nigeria and Africa as its cause is still yet unknown and it surprisingly mainly affects young women, with a higher occurrence in Africans and Caribbeans than any other race.

Shout Out
I want to use this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported me throughout this phase of my life and to everyone out there, never let anything stop your shine, always keep at it and pray to God to guide your soul, nourish your mind/body and bless your ways. It’s not by power nor by might, but by My Spirit says the Lord (Zec 4:6).

Live. Love. Laugh.

If you want to be part of this inspiring and amazing feature or if you know someone who is part of the Class of 2013 who should be featured here, please send an email to features(at)bellanaija(dot)com. We look forward to reading from you and sharing your academic excellence.


  1. Beauty

    August 17, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Thank God for ur life dearie may God continue to bless and keep u! Stay strong.

  2. Nathaniel's Daughter

    August 17, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Mehn… I’m so inspired. There’s really no excuse for failure.

  3. Xtsy

    August 17, 2013 at 10:23 am

    You will live to fulfill ur destiny IJMN.
    Thank God for the NHS.

  4. dee

    August 17, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Inspiring. God bless and keep you

  5. ronke

    August 17, 2013 at 11:56 am

    you are blessed and a mighty inspiration. youve just given me hope and i pray God perfects your healing, and makes your wedding and union a beautiful and blessed one. Our God is faithful

  6. Foxlike

    August 17, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Wow! Quite a story! Thank God for your life, He will complete that which He has started. Amen

  7. jackie

    August 17, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    God bless and keep you………I just love when I see Queen Mary Students….My beloved Uni of life….


    August 17, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Well done hun. To God be the glory!!

  9. ko matter

    August 17, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Wow, I am inspired. God bless you and keep you. You will live long to see your children’s children and you shall continue to be a blessing to your generation. All praises to God forever

  10. Omowunmi

    August 17, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    When i look back to all that happened, i cant but thank God. Im so glad you are my blood and I’m proud of you. Thank you God for everything. You alone be praised.

  11. ccc

    August 17, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    God bless you…!

  12. X- Factor

    August 17, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Yes You will overcome in Jesus name…..God bless U

  13. I Rock

    August 17, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    What an inspiring story. God is indeed forever faithful and I pray that He will always see you through, guide you, protect you and always make you shine in Jesus name, amen. Nigeria’s health system is quite shameful.

  14. Bvf

    August 17, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    God bless u my dear n u are forever healed in Jesus Name.. Amen

  15. sssss

    August 17, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    First heard of Lupus on America Next Top Model . One of the contestants had it and she had bouts of it during the competition. No cure. Good to see that you pulled through. May God also perfect his healing in your life.

    • Hidi

      August 19, 2013 at 12:18 am

      Yeah, I think her name was Mercedes.

    • aj

      August 20, 2013 at 9:14 pm

      Yeah I remember that girl…her name is mercedes.

  16. lulusky

    August 18, 2013 at 4:03 am

    ThankGod for his mercies over your life and he will continue to see you through…

  17. Sulu

    August 18, 2013 at 4:58 am

    May God Bless and Heal you.Very touching story and a lesson to all that you can achieve all you set out to achieve no matter what.

  18. Yeyen

    August 18, 2013 at 6:14 am

    To God be all the glory!

  19. Dune

    August 18, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Big congrats to you….you deserve all the happiness. I was diagnosed with Lupus when I was 12 in 1998, and I can tell you it wasn’t a joke. After about 6 months in and out of both private and public hospitals in Lagos, it was the malar rash that sparked the light bulb in my doctor’s mind! I also lost all my hair (it never grew back so I’m a connoisseur of wigs) and had to take chloroquine everyday for 10 straight years!!!! The never ending medication, fatigue, and all other symptoms can’t, and won’t stop you because you are a survivor and that is all that counts! Goodluck.

    • aj

      August 20, 2013 at 9:16 pm

      I pray God heals you totally! God bless!!!

  20. Bumsylaw

    August 18, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    Thank God for you and your support network.
    I pray He that has began a good work in you will perfect the rest of your life’s journey in Jesus name.

  21. Simbi

    August 19, 2013 at 7:34 am

    Congrats on your great success!
    I can totally relate; i lost a VERY good friend of mine about 2 years ago to Lupus; she died only after about 8 months of diagnosis and i can totally understand the struggle living with an autoimmune disease!

  22. Nonye

    August 19, 2013 at 9:43 am

    By His Grace u will live to fulfill ur dreams

  23. Gyann

    August 19, 2013 at 10:19 am

    I want to join you in believing that God can do it. He is more than able. His healing in made evident in you now and forever in Jesus Name. It is done already ‘cos by His Stripes we were healed.

  24. bussie

    August 19, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Wow! so inspired! what excuse do i have?? Wish you the very best and i pray that God will perfect you healing and ALL that concerns you in Jesus name!

  25. S,H.A.S

    August 19, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    This is beautiful “It’s not by power nor by might, but by My Spirit says the Lord (Zec 4:6).

  26. Joshua

    August 19, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Waoh! Congrats Tutu…God bless your loving parents too…BN is doing great today oo

  27. Can Not Wait..

    August 20, 2013 at 1:34 am


  28. Osa

    August 20, 2013 at 7:58 am

    awwww very pretty lady. Glad to see this, it just made my day. Love it

  29. Purpleicious Babe

    August 20, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    awwww… AMAZING. Thanks for sharing. I pray God will make
    your healing permanent. I rejoice with you and members of your
    family for this testimony. You are sure witty with great
    personality. You will excel and make your stamp.. xoxoxo

  30. AAsh

    August 20, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    I thank GOD for your life; HE shall continue to strengthen you and grant you good health of mind and body. There’s no excuse for failure!….Am truly inspired by your story; Looking forward to your wedding post on BN. GOD bless!

  31. Eugenia

    August 20, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    The LORD will perfect ur healing in JESUS MIGHTY NAME. keep growing in d strength of D LORD.

  32. Peaches

    August 21, 2013 at 9:59 am

    God will see you through all your endeavors, keep strong.. for He sees our heart. His strength is made perfect in us. God bless u and ur family.

  33. Anonymous

    August 21, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    The Lord will perfect your healing dear. & keep staying strong. Sadly my half-Sister died of Lupus.


    August 21, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    Am so happy for You Tutu! By HIS stripes You are healed in Jesus Name.
    And I await your wedding feature on #BN Weddings

    In between, Bella Naija, how can I share my story too?
    Thank you kindly!

  35. Diva

    August 22, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    wow! i really needed to hear this – honestly cant stop the tears. Thank you lord for everything, for reviving my spirit through this story, for rreminding me of all i must be grateful for . There really is no excuse for failure…no excuse. God will surely see you through darling . This is just the beginning

  36. Z

    September 10, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Congratulations on your degree, beautiful! You are honestly a warrior and an inspiration. The obstacles you have overcome, the determination and relentless nature in which you have pursued your degree…you truly are an inspiration. Thank you for your positive outlook and for not letting anything stop your shine. 🙂 Looking forward to the wedding feature.

    May God grant you health and long life, a love that lasts a lifetime and always meet you at your point of need.

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