I Made It Through 6 Chapter Four: Things Fall Apar

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Every rude awakening shocked and interrupted all of our busy lives in the early to mid-1980s. Nigeria suddenly underwent a military takeover of the democratically elected government. Military forces had overthrown the government in place and had taken over power. Great political unrest followed. Fear permeated the air as the unrest began, accompanied by a very deep economic recession. The nation quickly descended into a serious economic crisis.

Prior to this governmental change, both my parents had been educators by career, but my mother retrained in ma.s.s communication, working for many years at the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria. Her voice and diligent work ethic led to her carving a niche for herself as an announcer and presenter, producing and hosting a highly popular Yoruba morning talk show t.i.tled Pirilolongoji. The then governor of her state (Oyo state), Bola Ige, personally sent her a letter of commendation on the great success and popularity of her show. Also ftlling in as a news anchor, she later went on to television as an actress. One of her ftnal works on television was a major role in a drama produced by one of Nigeria's well-known Christian production companies. Her lovely singing voice had also earned her a spot on the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria's national choir, performing all over the country with them as well as in her local church's choir. Our father stayed in his fteld as educator to many, and for many years was the chairperson for various organizations and parents–teachers' a.s.sociations. Born to a very wealthy but largely Muslim family, my father had converted to

Christianity early in his life. This contributed to a complete separation from his very well- to-do family and resulted in many great hards.h.i.+ps for him. He would later become very active in and for his local church and various Christian organizations and ministries.

Worth a mention at this point—for the important role this fact was about to play and would continuously play in the life of every Nigerian—is that Nigeria is one of the world's largest oil-producing countries. With a maximum crude oil production capacity of 2.5 million barrels per day, Nigeria ranks as Africa's largest producer of oil and the sixth largest oil-producing country in the world. The nation also appears to have a greater potential for gas than oil. The management of this great wealth of energy resources and the nation's economy as a whole was about to greatly impact my family's individual story and that of all of the country's citizens.

Generally, the economy performed well when worldwide oil prices were booming, but the opposite effect was sharply felt almost instantly when prices fell. Having been so blessed with this one rich source of our nation's wealth, our leaders had mostly not developed other potential wealth-building sectors of the nation's economy. There were about 180 million people in Nigeria in 2012. In about twenty-ftve years, that number is expected to rise to 300 million people according to the UN—that's the current population of America fttting roughly into an area double the size of California. Being Africa's most populous nation, the past mismanagement of the nation's great wealth and resources has the potential to destabilize a great number of people in the continent of Africa. The artiftcial state of penury created in the nation by many years of alleged deep corruption and wealth mismanagement has been and continues to be a mystery and source of overwhelming misery to many Nigerians.

My paternal grandfather was from the Owu people, a part of the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria. He ftnally settled in a town called Gbongan, in Osun State, Nigeria, building the family's wealth on what was a vast cocoexporting business in the old Western region of Nigeria. The family was one of the business tyc.o.o.ns of their time involved in cocoa production and the transportation business. Their agricultural business prospered and expanded from Gbongan to Ibadan. The transportation business also prospered and spread its tentacles from Gbongan to Ife, Ilorin, Ilesa, Ofa, Ibadan, and other towns in the Western region of Nigeria. From this base, my grandfather was able to give his children the best education available at the time in Nigeria and England, producing a line of educators, senior advocates of Nigeria, architects and a Supreme Court Justice on our nation's highest judicial bench.
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Another of the nation's most valuable untapped resources is the wealth of agriculturally rich soil that covers most of the country. Hence the double green colors in the Nigerian flag, symbolizing agriculture. My parents, being pa.s.sionate and optimistic about the nation's future, had decided to take the very bold step of investing in her economy by reviving part of their family's great agricultural heritage. This was all prior to this sudden l a t e s t b o u t o f p o l i t i c a l a n d e c o n o m i c u n re s t . Reestablis.h.i.+ng the family's prosperous agricultural and other businesses was their vision as they retired from their careers early. After a lot of research, they ftnally took on their new roles as entrepreneurs. They invested most of their acquired wealth in a major acquisition of land for the venture and purchased various agricultural resources. Additional funding for their efforts also came in from wealthy friends, partners, and banks. Having procured equipment, hired needed staff, and received extra help from all of our immediate and extended family members to clear land, set up new buildings, and obtain all manner of necessary equipment, the new company opened its doors. They quickly settled into private business owners.h.i.+p after a homestead for our family was completed.

Distribution and sales channels opened across many cities and various poultry and other organic produce became the products of their new poultry and agricultural company named Olu's Green Fields in Ajoda New Town, Nigeria. The business was named after the beginning of my dad's and all of our ftrst names. Eventually my parents moved our family from our familiar city life, family and friends to resettle us in this new resort-like area, a suburb of the city of Ibadan, in Oyo state, Nigeria. For my siblings and me, a.s.sisting them in every little way was a source of joy and pride as this was the new family business. We no longer needed to shop for much of our groceries. The freshest produce came from our farming section daily. Fruits (I loved the delicious fresh papaya and guavas), various vegetables, eggs, chicken, and ftsh from the pond at the edge of the land surrounding the homestead all became "free" for us!

My parents were extremely generous. Family members and friends who stopped by any time were always blessed with abundant supplies of free, fresh produce from the farm. Later, their generosity would also beneftt my college roommates as I went off to college. They would regularly give fresh eggs to my college roommates every time they visited my campus dormitory room.

They also decided that our mother should obtain visas and travel to Germany and the United States to learn more about the latest agricultural and other technologies that could be applied back home in Nigeria. Their intention was to raise awareness of this untapped resource in our nation, contribute to the country's economic success, and establish new partners.h.i.+ps abroad. The business took off and was booming until that latest bout of governmental upheaval again shook and destabilized the country. Inexperienced investors like my parents who had taken on the extremely high risk of investing substantially large amounts of capital to conduct business in an unstable economic and political system were hit the hardest. The very immediate effect of the fast-descending recession was felt in all sectors of the Nigerian economy. Burgeoning businesses that supported the nation's prosperity and provided jobs for many suffered, falling into rapid decline. With the ftnancial crisis, the value of the Nigerian currency (the Naira) plummeted, and before my parents could complete the second phase of their plan, the Nigerian economic bubble had once again burst and the nation's ftnances turned for the worst. I was in the midst of completing my university degree. Our family life would never be the same again.

A ma.s.s exodus of Nigerians, young and more matured alike, immediately begun in earnest; with many escaping to Europe and other nations to rebuild their lives and ftnd n e w s o u r c e s o f w e a l t h a n d o p p o r t u n i t i e s . Understandably demoralized, a great spiritual and economic darkness enveloped my parents as they scrambled to recover their rapidly disappearing capital, repay debts, and ftgure out new ways to support both our immediate and extended family members, staff workers, and all who depended on them.

The ripple effect on my life as they muddled through became a whirlwind of commuting between my university studies in Nigeria and quick trips to London, taking on odd jobs to support my two siblings who had been living in London for their academic studies. A third sibling, Kolade, would later join us. Not having our parent's ftnancial support for tuition, accommodation, transportation, meals, and so forth, and the choice of returning home to Nigeria no longer being a good option for said siblings, all of our very young lives were deeply traumatized by the new realities. From being a regular teenager with accompanying needs and my own university expenses, I was forced to take on the more than herculean task of trying to graduate and help support the family. What seemed like a crus.h.i.+ng weight was suddenly largely thrust upon my young shoulders. Managing to graduate in the midst of this unfolding turmoil was nothing short of a miracle, but with G.o.d's help, and I give Him all the credit, I obtained my university degree. I graduated from the faculty of Arts, University of Ife, in Ile Ife Nigeria.

I Made It Through 6 Chapter Four: Things Fall Apar

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I Made It Through 6 Chapter Four: Things Fall Apar summary

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