As young adults, the harsh realization that nothing in life comes easy is a hard blow we find difficult to swallow. Quite a lot of us find it challenging to find balance after school. Our parents/guardians have tried, we believe it is time to repay them, but we’re stranded with unemployment! This is one of the harsh realities most youths face in Nigeria – it is one of the toughest heartbreaks we’ll ever experience.
Here is a typical story.
Tade and I were the only children of our parents. No, we weren’t their only children because they didn’t wish to have more kids; we were their only children because death crept in and took our choicest possessions, months apart. Papa left first, then mama followed.
We were lucky to be taken in by an Uncle who strived hard to ensure we were satisfied – but he could only try, as he has his own family of 5 to cater for, and he was only struggling.
Tade and I were content and grateful to our Uncle, Emeka (maternal Uncle, as our mother was Igbo). We couldn’t wait to finish secondary school and further our education. We were so eager. It came as a shock when our Uncle told us to start thinking about a hand skill to learn.
I mean, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise still, but we were hoping that with our Uncle’s little exposure, we’ll scale through. That was the first punch to our ego as an adult. Tade and I have always wanted to be educated. We sat down in our small room, thinking of what we could do. No idea was forthcoming, so we made our way outside.
We sat outside, under the mango tree in the compound. The mango tree was one of our favorite places to reflect. Tade and I joke about how easily the mango leaves breezes understanding to us, especially while studying for an exam.
‘Tailoring isn’t that bad, you know… Ever since you left for school, I had become a professional at my skill. I have a family of my own, I have had many apprentices, I’m better off than I use to…’ my younger brother, Tade, kept rambling in my ears. It’s always the same story each time I came to his shop.
It’s as if he’s indirectly rubbing his achievements on me. Instead of learning a skill, I had taken up a part-time course at the University while jumbling in between menial jobs to sponsor myself. It was such an experience!
Eventually, I graduated with a second-class upper division. The day I received my certificate was my happiest day on Earth! I felt so accomplished.
However, disappointment sets in while I was looking for a job to sustain myself. I have had so many hopes, but it seems all my hopes were shattered almost at once. I was battling in unemployment for months.
Eventually, I got a job! I was paid 15thousand naira monthly – I had so many bills to settle.
I pay a monthly house rent fee of 5000 nairas to my friend I was squatting with; my transport fare was 5,000 if I managed through shortcuts, I’m left with 5,000 nairas for feeding monthly. I could hardly provide, not to mention helping the family.
Wouldn’t it have been better if I had learnt a trade? This thought had crossed my mind so many times. The job employment I got felt more like unemployment.
I felt so useless and defeated. I’m 28 and terribly broke! I couldn’t even get married because of my financial status. I mean, what girl would even look at me? I never felt better in a day. If anything, I felt more depressed!
On a sunny Sunday afternoon, I was sifting through the books in the small room my friend, and I shared when I stumbled on a self-reliance book.
I took a momentary pause and thought about my life.
Do I even have to rely on a paid job to earn a living? I’d remain stagnant forever if I depend on this. I silently rejected the terrible thoughts that had crept into my mind.
Tade and I had always loved fashion since forever. We were both smart. I love to style clothes; I love being able to give something in return for cash.
I gave up all ego and started learning fashion designing from my little bro; we surfed the net for trending styles and the cutting. We changed the location of the shop and the overall look, we upgraded our marketing skills.
Mind you, my formal education had a tremendous impact on the life of my little bro, Tade. He decided to further his education also, as a part-time student at the University.
After the 6th month of learning fashion designing, I quit my job. On the same day, I found a wife. I knew right away; she was the woman for me.
I bought a sewing machine with my life’s savings… My store became both online and offline. Interestingly, people became interested in my designs, I charged for what I could do, and I am happy.
Did I tell you how unimaginably shy I was? I left the shyness behind to market my business. I stayed consistent and focused.
I made it!
I felt someone tapping me; I slightly opened my eyes, it was dark.
I had slept off under the tree. I realised it was all a dream, I had been dreaming!
But my mind was made up.
Tade and I would both learn a trade of our choices. We won’t have to be stranded with unemployment, and we’ll eventually further our studies when we are capable.
The story above is fictional but very relatable.
Sometimes, to give ourselves a living, we have to break our hearts at night (our darkest moments) and fix it for the sunrise ( a brighter future).
The story of unemployment in Nigeria is not one that is likely to change anytime soon.
We are the change we should believe in. With God by our side, we are enough.