The clock struck midnight; we were already in the sitting room as a family. We had already gone around the room, sharing our dreams and goals.
This practice had quickly become our tradition since we had moved to Zambia in 1997. Before then, the culture when we lived in Nigeria was to spend New Year’s at our Paternal home in Asaba, Delta State. It was always fun spending time with our cousins, aunties, and uncles.
However, since moving to Ndola, we were on our own. So we began a new tradition on New Year’s Eve. In Nigeria, people would go to church. But we decided to have our private service at home. We would begin by reflecting on the year that was about to end, then speak about our dreams and plans for the new year. Then we would pray and welcome in the New year by singing our family hymn,” O God our help.”
So here we were again, about to enter a new year and a new decade. I sat and listened as everyone in the family reflected and shared their goals and dreams. Finally, it was my turn. I shared how difficult the past year had been, and my struggles with keeping up with my studies. Then it was time to talk about my goals. Mine I recall was to finish secondary school well with good grades in my IGCSE’s and start looking and applying to universities.
2000 was going to be a make or break year for me. But for the first time in a long time, I was super excited. I had finally let go of some of the pressures that I had put on myself since we moved to Zambia in 1997.
A few weeks back, during the Christmas holiday, I had an in-depth conversation with my Papa about my future during a visit to Lusaka.
When we had moved to Zambia, I had become convinced that the best way I could make a difference was by becoming a medical doctor. After a few years at my school in Zambia, I realized that I needed to find another career path. The problem was I had no idea what that could be.
So I walked all around with my sad and droopy face. The reality was dawning, I was about to enter my final year of secondary school, and I had no iota of an idea what I would study next.
This was my mood until my dad called me out one evening just a few days to Christmas.
Ngozi, what’s the matter? Why the sullen face?
I stood there for a while, before I answered.
I have no idea what to do with my life,
I whispered in angst. It took a lot for me to utter those words. I felt like a failure muttering such a confession.
“Come here my child.”
So I went to him and sat down next to him.
Then I spent the next few minutes pouring out my heart.
All this while, he patiently listened and did not interrupt me.
Finally, he said,
Then he began to go through a list of academic and career choices I could venture into after my secondary and university education.
Political science, History, Sociology, these were some of the university courses he mentioned, and then finally, he said Journalism.
Everything stopped at that moment. The sun was suddenly shining again. Yes, that sounded like something I would love and be good at doing.
At that moment, I had found my calling. It all happened because a father cared enough to listen to his daughter.