It’s day four! We have really come a long way together.
Today, we are going to explore a memorable encounter with someone from the past that we may never see again.
Wawa is a remote village at the center of Borgu, Niger State.
[Learn more about Wawa >>>>> here]
It’s such a laid back community, with no engine noise, traffic, and hustle stress to deal with. Blending here was quite difficult as there were language and cultural differences to battle.
It wasn’t a place I was expecting to meet anyone special. I could barely communicate with the local vendors and transporters let alone hold a decent conversation with the indigenes.
But life had other plans…
I met Malama Hassana on one of those hot days I had to go out and get a few items I had run out of.
She owned a small stall where she sold soft drinks, snacks, and homemade tiger nut juice. She had learnt I was the new corp member in the vicinity who was teaching at the school her nieces attended.
I remember greeting her casually in the local dialect and she responded warmly. She asked me to come in and have a seat which I reluctantly obliged. I wasn’t thinking of making any new friends but I was curious.
Our first conversation was so awkward. I could only make out a few words she was speaking. I understood she wanted to know more about me like where I was from and the rest. After struggling to communicate with me with her native dialect she switched to Yoruba which I was more conversant with.
I finally understood what she was trying to tell me. She needed me to teach her how to read and write! This was not what I expected but she offered to pay a fair amount which got me interested. I went back home pondering why she decided to do this after all these years.
Fast forward, I tutored her for months and our friendship blossomed. One evening, I came to her home to teach as usual and she broke down in front of me. She had been sick for weeks and was diagnosed with a brain tumour and all she just wanted to do before she departed to the great beyond was to learn how to read and write.
She learnt a great deal and improved immensely in her reading before I finally left the community. I learnt a lot about her life experience as much as she was willing to share. It’s been over a year now and till today, I still think of her and wonder how she is doing.
In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
– Albert Schweitzer