The end of the world for me meant writing my final examinations, and finishing secondary school. Two years after my senior school certificate exam I majored in the arts. Arts for me represented a world without restrictions. A world in which I was free to explore and recreate myself as a warrior or king like those in the Greek and roman histories I had read.
Ever since my childhood, books had been my passion. I grew up in a household where everyone was constantly turning the page of one book or another. There were nights when amongst other children, I would sit beneath the brilliance of the full moon and listen to grownups tell stories, my uncle best of all, the stories which he told; enchanted me, transported me to newer worlds with strange happenings and fascinating characters.
During the day time, I would see him holding a book and when he wasn’t watching, quietly, I would pick up the book and try to discover the secrets behind the stories he told.
Armed with words and outlandish ideas I was unhesitant to venture into every intelligent banter, argument and debate.
I engaged myself with dramatic activities sometimes drawing up the plot for a play in which I would act and also direct.
‘David would end up a lawyer.’ a teacher once remarked.
‘You must study law!’ Boniface my closest friend at that time persuaded. I had read about civil rights struggles in faraway lands and names like Martin Luther king will not leave my mind. He must be a lawyer I reckoned and so applied for law as my course of study. But fortune was otherwise inclined.
In my country one is constantly faced with the reality that it is not merit that counts but family ties and oftentimes how much money one has to give out. In the company of my father I would go to plead with some professors asking them to lobby on our behalf and ensure that the university grants me and my brother admissions.
‘Admission is not easy nowadays.’ one professor said, taking off his rimmed spectacles and looking at us in a squint. My elder brother was applying to the university for the second time and he was more anxious than I was.
The admission list was finally released. Consumed with trepidation and curiousity applicants flooded the university premises. I too, after scanning the chosen candidates for law, I could not find my wig. I scanned the list for what could have been a hundred times. Wishing somehow that my name will magically appear or a certain David Amodu will alter itself and become David Onotu. That was the extent of my need.
Fortunately, my brother’s name came out in two fields of study; Microbiology and Medical Laboratory Science. All he had to do was chose. In his excitement he had printed out the entire admissions list of the university.
I had scored 236 in my JAMB examinations and my neighbor Mary had scored 210. We both had applied for Law and she had been granted admission. In disbelief and confusion I went through the admissions list again. This time from top to bottom, no course was left unchecked.
Onotu David Onimisi- Theatre and Communication Arts, came the faint lettering. I stared with mixed feelings. Should I be ecstatic or not? I could still hear bleak voices offering condolences to me as though I had been the victim of a grave misfortune. Inwardly I smiled as I recalled the words of my story telling uncle with the books and hooded eyes.
‘You must believe that there is a divinity that presides over the destinies of men.’
© David Oracle Onotu